New Hampshire Missing Places: Pannaway

Photograph: Tablet at Odiorne's Point, marking first settlement in New Hampshire. St. Clair Studio 1899-1920. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Digital Public Library of America.

Photograph: Tablet at Odiorne’s Point, marking first settlement in New Hampshire. St. Clair Studio 1899-1920. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Digital Public Library of America.

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. [see David Thomson’s Indenture of 1622].

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



1623 Panaway from Piscataqua Plantations Blog (Tim Colletto)

Old Pannaway, First NH Settlement

Odiorne Point Cemetery

The History of Fort Dearborn

Photographs of Fort Dearborn

Odiorne State Park

Thompson Island

Thompson DNA Project

Some Sources:
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)

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8 Responses to New Hampshire Missing Places: Pannaway

  1. I am a descendant of David Thomson ( he was my 10th great-grandfather), and thank you for maintaining this web site of information. It has greatly helped me in gathering information for my research in family genealogy. If anyone else has further information on David Thomson or his son John, please post. Thank you.

  2. Regarding your statement that David Thomson was the son of Richard and Florence (Cromlan) Thomson … Other sources with which I am familiar – most particularly the “Tommies” site — have left his ancestry as a toss-up between two alternatives:

    1. Born Clerkenwell, Middlesex, England, son of Richard Thompson, a mariner who helped fight Spanish Armada.
    2. Born Corstorphine, Scotland, son of Rev. Richard Thompson whose social connections based on royal descent [from Scottish king, Robert II] got son into University of Edinburgh and introduced DT to influential people.)

    I’m not sure which, if either, of these two was married to Florence. Have you found something new on this topic?

    Mark E. Dixon
    Wayne, Pa.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Wayne, thanks for reading and for the information. And no, I have not found something new. As you realize, certainly, as time passes and research becomes easier (though that is debatable) other information has come to light on Richard Thomson. My story is MORE on the location of Pannaway but I welcome always comments and suggestions. If someone is able to provide documents to show something I’ve written is incorrect, then I change it of course.


  3. Penny Kresl says:

    I see some of these replies are from years ago, and I am looking for the Boston Merchant John Thomson/Thompson, along with other Boston Merchants Creditors in 1649 who took inventory of the Stephen Sergeant(aka Sargent) Estate on Isle of Shoals, after Stephen Sargent drowned. He had a son LT John Sargent who went to Saco, Maine. Records say LT John Sargent eventually sold Stephen’s Property and settled in Saco/Biddeford where his children were born. I know the line well. Our YDNA Sargent study also points to the Sargent documentation in the Maine coast. The Males of this line do not line up with any other Sargent line in Massachusetts and further back in England. Stephen Sargent was from Devon, England and worked for Robert Trelawney(see Trelawny papers by James Baxter) But John Thompson has some sort of connection to Stephen Sargent, Master Fisherman. He is repeatedly mentioned in Genealogical Dictionary of Maine & New Hampshire, by Libby, Davis & Noyes. Sargent was a Foreman of the Operations there I think as he is called Gent and seemed to have more responsibility to John Winters. I am trying to find a connection to David Thomson and Stepehn Sargent since they both came from Plymouth in Devon County, England. Apparently lived very close to one another. Some of Edward Sargent’s(John Sargent’s son) Descendant’s stayed in Portsmouth. NH. My Thomas Sargent in Boston later married an Elizabeth Thomson in 1728 and I believe she is also related to the Thomson line in some way. It might be from Samuel Thomson son of the second John Thomson? The Sargent couple named my 5th X Samuel Sargent.

    • Penny Kresl says:

      Sorry Stephen Sargent was called “Mr” giving the authors reason to believe he was a boss over the men. He also built the Ship Richmond here(America) and sailed several times back and forth to Plymouth.

  4. Pingback: 1623 Panaway (Odiorne) Rye – Piscataqua Plantations

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