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 Thomas Willett, Sr

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Thomas Willett, Sr

Colonial Mayor. First Mayor of New York City. Arriving in 1632 on "The Lion" (with a religious separatist movement that called themselves "The Saints", that fled England to Leydon, Holland then went back to England to follow the Mayflower voyage), Thomas Willett was a merchant that traded from Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts. He succeeded Captain Miles Standish as head of the Colonial Militia and negotiated what is now known as the "Rehoboth North Purchase" which acquired land (now known as Attleboro and North Attleboro, Massachusetts) from Wampanoag leader Sachem Wamsutta who was the son of famed chief Massasoit. He later conducted sea trade from the Colonies and was a navigator from 1651 to 1654. When the charter of "New Amsterdam" was changed to British possession, Governor Richard Nicholls granted the city charter on June 12, 1665 and the city, population 1,500 at the time, got Thomas Willett as its English representative/mayor, making him the first mayor of "New York". He served two concurrent one-year terms from 1665 to 1667. His property in that colony was confiscated when the Dutch reclaimed the area and he settled in the locale of Barrington, Rhode Island (while some accounts have his retirement in Sewansea or Seekoknk, Massachusetts, these towns are all close and at the time the town lines that currently exist were not the same.) He was married to Mary Brown and together they had fourteen children. There is a large memorial marker placed for him, and near it is the original weathered stone which, now unreadable is documented as having the following inscription "1674 Here lyeth the body of the worthy Thomas Willett, Esq. who dies August 4 in the 64th year of his age, and who was the first mayor of New York and twice did sustain the place."

Bio by: R. Digati


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: R. Digati
  • Added: 8 Jun 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8890542
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas Willett, Sr (Aug 1605–4 Aug 1674), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8890542, citing Ancient Little Neck Cemetery, East Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .