Pannaway is probably an American Indian word (Abenaki) meaning “place where the waters [of the ocean] spread out” into the marshes.
It was the name given the site of the first settlement in New Hampshire in 1623. Located in what is now Rye, New Hampshire, over time this area has been called Panaway, Pannaway Fort, Little Harbor, Rendezvous Point (American Revolution), Paskataway, Pascataquack, Piscataqua, Odiorne Point (for the Odiorne family who lived there), and Fort Dearborn.
David Thomson was granted a tract of six thousand acres in New England, including an island (later known as Thomson’s Island) in Boston Harbor. He and ten companions were the first to settle on a ridge of land that is now called Odiorne’s Point. Thomson gave the plantation the name of Pannaway.
Here Thomson built “a strange and large house,” enclosed “in a large, high palizardo,” with “mounted gunns, and a terror to the Indians.” [per Samuel Maverick]. Thomson built the house of rubble stone, and called it the “Stone House.” The chimney and some part of the stone wall was standing in 1680. Thomson brought his wife with him.. In his first year here he was visited by Miles Standish of Plymouth Colony, who was looking for aid “for the refreshing of the Plymouth colony.” He did not leave Pannaway empty handed.
There are two schools of thought about John Thomson, David’s son. Indeed a son John was born and baptized in England, long before David left for New England. He could not have been born in Pannaway. A second school of thought believe that the first son John died young, and a second son John was born on Thomson Island off the coast of Boston. Whichever is true, neither story places John’s birth in New Hampshire, and so he would not have been the first white child born there.
Christopher Levett in his 1623 “Voyage to New England” states he spent a month “at Pannaway, where one Mr. Tomson hath made a plantation.” [Some argue that this spelling of "Pannaway was a clerical error or a misprint, and that they meant Piscataqua]. During Levett’s month there, Governor Robert Gorges, son of Sir Ferdinando Gorges arrived. In June or July of 1623, one Thomas Weston of Mesaguscasit (now Weymouth, MA) was shipwrecked near Hampton or Rye. There he was attached by Indians, stripped of his clothing and was in a very bad plight when he made his escape and reached Pannaway.
After four years of fishing and trading with the native peoples, in 1626 Thomson left Pannaway and settled on his island in Boston Harbor, which still bears his name.When Captain Walter Neale, the first Governor of New Hampshire arrived, he took possession of the land and house at Pannaway and made it his “chiefe habitacon,” and called his home the “Pascataqua House.”
Captain Mason never saw the New Hampshire plantation. He died in November 1635, and his title became the source of great litigation and argument. He bequeathed, to his grandson Robert Tufton (Mason),–then an infant–his manor of “Mason Hall,” to to his grandson John Tufton (Mason), the remainder of his estate in New Hampshire. In later years the Pannaway Fort area would also serve as a “haven for fishermen of the Isles of Shoals in the off season.”
David Thomson’s exact death date is unknown. By 1628 Thomson’s wife Amais is called a widow. She married 2nd to Samuel Maverick and kept house for him, their three children, and his mother. They moved to Noddle’s Island (East Boston) in 1663 and remained there until 1650. Subsequently the Mavericks lived in Saco Maine and in New York City.
In 1942 the government bought out 265 acres (actually they took it by eminent domain), bulldozed the houses and started building Fort Dearborn. By 1948 the fort was deactivated. The land was never returned to the family. Instead it was declared surplus property and sold to the State of New Hampshire in 1961 for $91,000.
A monument to honor David Thomson was moved to the Odiorne cemetery in 1955, and is carefully maintained by the Colonial Dames.
As for the genealogy of David Thomson. He was baptized 17 Dec 1592, at St. Andrews, Plymouth, Devonshire, son of Richard and Florence (Cromlan) Thomson. He had come from Plymouth Devonshire, England in 1623 with his wife. They had married 18 July 1613 at St. Andrews, Plymouth, Devonshire England to Amais (Amies, Emes, Amyes) Cole. She was born 1592-3 in England, daughter of William Cole, a shipwright of Plymouth, Devon, England, and Agnes Briant. David Thomson was an apothecary, and an agent for Gorges. On 16 Nov 1622 the Council for New England granted David Thomson 6000 acres of land and one island in New England. He remained in this place (Pannaway) for about six years, building a house (as noted above) but then removed to Thomson Island in Boston Harbor. David Thomson died about Dec 1638 probably on Thomson Island, Massachusetts. After David’s death, she m2) abt 1630 to Samuel Maverick, son of Rev. John Maverick. On 3 Sep 1672 she was living when her son Nathaniel Maverick of Barbadoes mentioned her in his will.
Children of David & Amais (Cole) Thomson:
1. Ann Thomson, baptized St. Andrews 1 Oct 1615, buried there 14 Oct 1615
2. Priscilla Thomson, bap. St. Andrews 23 Oct 1616; no further record
3. John Thomson, baptized St. Andrews 5 January 1618/19; living as late as 1651 when he
is called ‘John Thompson of London.” (Some have assumed that the John Thompson who resided at Weymouth and Mendon was the son of David Thompson, but in 1992 Douglas Richardson set for cogent reason why these are two different men. The NEGHS states, “At his majority, Mr. John Thomson, son and heir of David Thomson deceased, petitioned the General Court saying that ‘the said David Thomson, in & about the year 1626 did take actual possession of an island in the Massachusetts Bay, called Thomsons Island, & being then vacuum domicilium & before the patent granted to us of the Massachusets Bay, & did erect the form of a habitation, & dying soon after, left the petitioner an infant, who, so soon as he came to age, did make his claim formerly & now again [Massachusetts Bay Company Records 3:129-30]. Not wishing to deny him his rights, the Bay granted him the island called ‘Thomson’s Illand’ 13 May 1648 [MBCR 3:130] SOME believe that this John
died young, and that a 2nd son John was born in New England. [see details]
4. Ann Thomson, bp St. Andrews 22 Nov 1620, buried there 26 Nov 1620
1. Early Portsmouth history, by Ralph May, Boston, C.E. Goodspeed & Co., 1926, page 66
2. History of the Town of Rye NH, by Landgon Parsons, Concord NH; Rumford Print Co,
1905, page 9-12
3. NEHGS, The Great Immigration Begins: David Thomson
4. Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, 1628-1686, Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, ed., 5 volumes in 6 (Boston 1853-1854)