|Born - 1673 - Swansea, Bristol, Massachusetts, USA
|Biography/Personal History - The thirty men who signed the petition to the legislature were typical of the stock upon which Bellingham was to be built. Some remained for a few years and departed for other lands. Others stayed, had families, and eventually died here. Many of their tombstones can still be seen in the various cemetaries in the town.
George Partridge, in his 1919 History of Bellingham presented a brief sketch of each of the petitioners. Of some, he revealed much, of others, little. His sketches are presented here verbatim.
XVI. DEACON THOMAS SANFORD
He had sold his land here when the town was formed, and probably lived in Mendon then, and yet no one had more to do with than he. He was the son of Robert Sanford who was in the First Church of Boston in 1651, and sold land on Court Street there in 1678, but went to Swansea. He married Elizabeth Skelton, the daughter of the first minister of Salem, and the great aunt of John Marsh, who bought his Bellingham estate of Thomas Sanford in 1712. Thomas was born at Swansea in 1763, and was a town officer there at 20 years old, and later, town clerk. He was at Mendon in 1700, and bought Rawson's Farm with Hayward and Burch as has been told in 1700 and 1701. He sold a part of his share of the farm in 1702 to John Marsh and Samuel Rich, and the rest later for 300£ to Pelatiah Smith, including about 200 acres near Stall Brook "now laid to Mendon", his share of a sawmill there, and his "mansion house", which must have been something grand to need such a description. He went to live in Mendon, and was chairman of a committee ther in 1735, to oppose the formation of the East Precinct, which became the town of Milford, 45 years later.
His wife's first name was Christian, and that rare name was given to one of her daughters, who was my great great great grandmother. Her sister Bathsheba or Bathshua, as they called her, married David Holmes of Woodstock, Connecticut. She was a remarkable woman and lived to a great age. She did much of the work of a country doctor, and in the great snowstorm of 1717 she left her house by a window and traveled on snow shoes with the help of a long pole carried by two men, to care for a sick woman in the next town. She was the great great grandmother of Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Thomas Sanford's second wife, Tabitha, was murdered by a negro named Jeffs in Mendon about 1745 or 1750, who struck her with an axe as she stepped up from the kitchen into the main house with a basket of cheeses. He hid in a great pine tree and watched the funeral from there, the story says, but was caught when he came down. He was the first criminal executed in Worcester County, and the Mendon doctor kept his skeleton.
In his old age Thomas Sanford lived with his daughters in Medway, where he died in 1764, 91 years old. The Bellingham records contain the following statement: "I Thomas Sanford resident in Medway being now in the 87th year of age testifie that in the year 1700 I purchesed one quarter and Wm Hayward one half and Thomas Burch the other quarter of 800 acres of land of Wm Rawson his wife and two sons being the N E part of 1840 acres of land lying between Sherborn, Mendon and Dedham land and in the year 1701 I with Said Wm Hayward and Thomas Burch purchased of said Wm Rawson 740 acres of land in the aforesd 1840 acres being westerly of the sd first purchase, the two purchases containing all the notheast part of the 1840 acres next to Sharborn as by Sd deed may more fully appear. That I removed on the Sd first purchase of 800 acres in the 1701, lived there 14 years. - - Bellingham, Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA
|Died - 15 Mar 1764 - Medway, Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA
|Buried - - Evergreen Cemetery, Medway, Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA