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Peter Thomas

Listed in Thetford, Orange County in 1791 census with four other free persons in his household.

He appears to have died by 12 Sept. 1796 when his estate was administered.  A widow, Freelove Thomas, is mentioned.  The estate was declared insolvent.  The inventory totaled £105 14s 17p, including 39 acres of land valued at £75.  The widow was given some household items, totaling £7, 4s, 7p; she petitioned for her dower, and was allotted eight acres of the real estate together with the use of one third of the barn, but I’m not sure she got it, as the administrator asked to be able to sell the property and the amount is given as 39 acres.  I think the property was purchased by Jedediah P. Buckingham, who was the Judge of the Probate Court!

The Secretary of State’s Office has an account of Stephen Pellom of Thetford dated 11 Sept. 1777 for boarding Peter Thomas and His Wife and taking care of him in sickness for 13 days, moving him from Norwich, pastured his cow for five weeks, finding a horse for them to move to Strafford.

There is a second account dated 1778-1779 of Commissioners of Sale for Orange County.  Some of the men mentioned were from Thetford and Moretown, but several men had no residence listed after their names.  Peter Thomas is one who doesn’t have a residence listed after his name.

Gwenda Smith, Strafford, VT historian, has shared with me the information in the following paragraph:

One of Strafford’s first settlers was Peter Thomas, “a Negro man.”  His earliest land purchase is recorded on page 197 of a book originally called “Book A” but later labeled “Strafford Records, 1761-1785” when it was given conservation treatment and rebound.  In this deed, dated 18 March 1768, William Pennock “of Hebron, in the county of Hartford, colony of Connecticut in New England . . . for divers good causes & consideration moving me thereto & especially for the consideration of ten pounds lawful money” conveys to Peter Thomas, “a free Negro of the town county and colony aforesaid one full share or right of land lying in the township of Strafford late in the province of New Hampshire in New England now said to be in the province of New York.”  The land is further described as having been conveyed to William Pennock on 16 Feb. 1768 and previously granted to Joshua Phelps of Hebron as part of the original grant of “said township” by the former Governor of New Hampshire.  The deed was not recorded until  2 April 1785.

An interesting thing is that the Pennock family members were noted for being on the side of the British during the Revolutionary War.  Could Peter Thomas have sympathized with them as well?

There is a Peter Thomas with a residence of Manchester, MA who served in the Revolutionary War; however, I doubt that it is the Vermont Peter Thomas, as there were Continental Army pay accounts for service from April 1, 1778 to June 28, 1779 and the above Peter Thomas was in Thetford at that time.  There is a pension file, but it only contains Gen. Washington’s discharge.  He was reported to be a mulatto.


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