Rev Thomas Mayhew Jr.

Rev Thomas Mayhew Jr.

Birth
England
Death 1657 (aged 38–39)
Edgartown, Dukes County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Burial Details Unknown
Memorial ID 23856295 View Source
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REVEREND THOMAS MAYHEW, JR.

Came to New England in 1630 in Governor Winthrop's Fleet with his father; he was 10 yrs. old at the time. His father obtained the first land grant at Martha's Vineyard.. He resided in Medford and Watertown until his removal to Martha's Vineyard in 1642. He was a "famous Indian missionary"*, who was instrumental in educating the Indian people on the island and converting them to Christianity.

He married Jane Paine*, the daughter of his stepmother. . His father, Governor Thomas Mayhew, had married the widow of Thomas Paine, a London merchant, while on a trip to London and brought his wife and new stepdaughter to live with the family. Young Thomas married her about 1647.

*[this statement comes from Banks "History of Martha's Vineyard". The genealogist/historian on the island believes that there is NO evidence whatsoever that Jane's maiden name was Paine. She refers to her only as 'Jane']

Thomas Jr. was well educated and proficient in Latin and Greek, and also knew a small amount of Hebrew, according to C.E. Banks, in his History of the Vineyard, p. 127. By chance he was exposed to the many Indians of the area and began a ministry to them that lasted 14 years until he was lost at sea in 1657. There is a lengthy description of his life and works in the book "History of Martha's Vineyard, Vol. 1", pp. 213-232.

The following is an excerpt from the book:

....."It (the trip) was delayed a year, but after the annual meeting of the commissioners this year (1657), he was allowed to go. His intention was, naturally, to combine this personal business with his own public labors, and he arranged his plans so as to "give a more particular account of the state of the Indians than he could do well by the Letters, and to pursue the most proper measures for the further advancement of the Religion among them." To add a touch of realism to this part of his journey, he decided to take with him one of the converts,as a living evidence of the power of the Gospel of Christ. He chose a son of Miohqsoo, who was a preacher, and had been brought up by him in his own house. His intended departure with this young native caused the greatest and excitement among the people of his flock. His own projected absence was mourned in advance. It was said of them "that they could not easily bear his absence so far as Boston, before they longed for his return." He arranged a farewell meeting of his faithful followers, and the legend is that he went to the most distant assembly of them, probably in Taskemmy or Nashowakemmuck, where he held a service of worship and song, accompanied with a parting injunction to them to be steadfast in his absence. his journey towards the east end of the island became almost a triumphal procession. they refused to consider this a farewell, and followed him homewards till he came to a spot on the "Old Mill Path" , since known in song and story as the "Place by the Way-side," where by this time had gathered hundreds of others in anticipation of his return to meet with them. Here a great combined service was held, and the simple children of this flock heard their beloved shepherd give a blessing to them and say the last sad farewells to them individually and as a congregation. It was a solemn occasion, long held in memory by all who participated. He made his departure from Boston in the month of November, with his two companions, says Gookin, "in the best of two ships then bound for London, whereof one James Garrett was master." ..."Mr. Garrett's ship which was about four hundred tons had good accommodations greater far than the other: and shee had aboard her a very rich lading of goods, but most especially of passengers, about fifty in number; whereof divers of them were persons of great worth and virtue, both men and women; especialy Mr. Mayhew, Mr. Davis, Mr. Ince, and Mr. Pelham, all scholars and masters of arts. When the ship cleared the white receding shores of Cape Cod in her outward voyage, and headed for the green pastures of Old England, it was the last seen of this fine vessel and her distinguished passengers. It was never known what disaster overtook her."

Old Governor Mayhew still hoped for the return of his son for over a year, in the hope that he might have been captured by Spanish or Algerian pirates, but it was not to be. This young Christian Warrior was to be the first of hundreds of Vineyard men to perish at sea.

"The Place on the Way-Side," mentioned as the spot where he "solemnly and affectionately took his leave of that poor and beloved people of his," became in the minds of the Indians a sort of hallowed spot. It is part of the legendary lore of this spot, that no Indian passed by it without casting a stone into a heap, that by their custom had thus grown like a Cairn, in remembrance of him, to be a great monument to this sad event in their lives. It is one of the historic places on the island which has suitably been made a permanent memorial by the Martha's Vineyard Chapter, DAR, of Edgartown, who on 7-27-1901, dedicated a bronze tablet, set in a large boulder, placed on top of the stone pile above referred to. The boulder was brought from Gay Head, by descendants of the "poor and beloved "natives who raised the foundations when passing by in generations since gone. The tablet bears the following inscription:

THIS ROCK MARKS THE "PLACE ON THE WAYSIDE" WHERE THE REV. THOMAS MAYHEW JR., SON OF GOV. MAYHEW, FIRST PASTOR OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST ON MARTHA'S VINEYARD, AND THE FIRST MISSIONARY TO THE INDIANS OF NEW ENGLAND, SOLEMNLY AND AFFECTIONATELY TOOK LEAVE OF THE INDIANS, WHO, IN LARGE NUMBERS, HAD FOLLOWED HIM DOWN FROM THE WESTERN PART OF THE ISLAND, BEING HIS LAST WORSHIP AND INTERVIEW WITH THEM BEFORE EMBARKING FOR ENGLAND IN 1657, FROM WHENCE HE NEVER RETURNED. NO TIDINGS EVER COMING FROM THE SHIP OR ITS PASSENGERS. IN LOVING RMEMBRANCE OF HIM THOSE INDIANS RAISED THIS PILE OF STONES, 1657-1901. ERECTED BY THE MARTHA'S VINEYARD CHAPTER, DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. THIS LAND GIVEN FOR THIS PURPOSE BY CAPTAIN BENJAMIN COFFIN CROMWELL, OF TISBURY; THE BOULDER FROM GAY HEAD, A GIFT FROM THE NOW RESIDENT INDIANS. TABLET PURCHASED WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM MAYHEW'S DESCENDANTS.

From: Charles Edward Banks, "The History of Martha's Vineyard", Vol. 1, 227-230. Published Boston, 1911
also Banks: "The Winthrop Fleet, 1630"


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