ORIGIN: Unknown
REMOVES: Sandwich by 1648, Barnstable by 1657, Boston by 1676
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: Thomas Dexter Sr. was admonished for "sleeping in time of service," 4 August 1646 [ EQC 1:101].
FREEMAN: 18 May 1631 [ WJ 2:442; omitted from MBCR 1:366 because of later disenfranchisement, but in original]. On 4 March 1632/3 the court ordered that "Thomas Dexter shall be set in the bilbowes, disfranchised & fined £40 for speaking reproachful & seditious words against the government here established, & finding fault to diverse with the acts of the Court, saying this captious government will bring all to naught, adding that the best of them was but an attorney, &c." [MBCR 1:103]; in the general amnesty of 6 September 1638 £30 of this fine was remitted [MBCR 1:243]. Admitted freeman of Plymouth Colony, 1 June 1658 [ PCR 3:136]. (Oath of fidelity, Barnstable list of 1657 (as "Mr. Thomas Dexter, Seni[o]r") [PCR 8:179]; Barnstable section of Plymouth Colony list of freemen of about 1658 (as "Mr. Tho: Dexter, Seni[o]r") [PCR 8:200].) In Barnstable section of freeman's list of 29 May 1670 [PCR 5:277].
OFFICES: Plymouth Colony grand jury, 7 June 1652, 7 June 1659 [PCR 3:9, 162]. Committee to lay out a highway, 20 June 1654 [PCR 3:61]. Petit jury, 7 October 1651, 6 March 1654/5, 5 June 1656, 2 October 1660 [PCR 3:73, 200, 7:56, 79]. Committee to set the bounds between Sandwich and Plymouth, 1 June 1663 [PCR 4:40, 5:41]. Highway surveyor, Sandwich, 7 June 1648, 4 June 1650 [PCR 2:124, 155]. Committee to gather in the minister's maintenance at Sandwich, 1 June 1675 [PCR 5:172].
ESTATE: Granted 350 acres in the 1638 Lynn land division [EQC 2:271].
On 24 October 1638, "Thomas Dexter of Lynne ..., yeoman ... for my natural love and good affection that I bear unto my son & heir apparent Thomas Dexter" granted him one mansion house and appurtenances, and one water mill, and six hundred acres of land, meadow and pasture to the said mansion house belonging "lying and being in Sandwich by the Indians heretofore called Shawme" in Plymouth Colony, and if "my said sone ... shall not think good to accept of the premises hereby granted, that I will pay him the sum of five hundred pounds upon reasonable demands" [ Lechford 24-25]. On 30 October 1638, the previous deed was amended to include Thomas Dexter's gift of oxen, plough and a horse and to commit to writing the agreement that young Thomas would "pay or cause to be paid unto Mary Dexter & Frances Dexter his [Thomas the elder's] daughters, for and towards their portions the sum of one hundred pounds" each when the younger Thomas "shall enter into & upon the said lands ... after his marriage, or at such time as he or his executors ... shall demand & receive the said five hundred pounds, in case the said Thomas Dexter above bounden should marry a wife and die at sea before his return into these parts of New England, or not be well advanced in marriage according to the good liking of the said Thomas Dexter the father" [Lechford 34-35].
On 16 July 1639 Samuel Maverick of Noddle's Island, gentleman, and Thomas Dexter of Lynn, yeoman, bound themselves in the amount of £800 to pay William Hooke, merchant, £436 on 16 January 1639/40 [Lechford 116]. On 20 August 1640, Thomas Dexter of Lynn, yeoman, mortgaged the eight hundred acre farm in Lynn and twenty head of cattle to Humphrey Hooke for payment of a £500 judgment against Dexter [Lechford 285-86]. This debt was not easily paid, and Aspinwall recorded that "Alderman Hooke of Bristol, merchant" and "Tho: Dexter of Linn" in a difference over £440 due to Hooke agreed to have four men value "lands towards or in satisfaction of the said debt" 10 September 1643. On 30 June 1648, Thomas Dexter was described as "late of Lin & now of Sandwich" when he confirmed that he had assigned one hundred acres of plowland and five hundred thirty acres of pasture near Charlestown line to Samuel Bennet as ordered by Mr. William Hooke [ Aspinwall 135-37]. William Hooke wrote of the matter to John Winthrop, indicating that he would give Dexter as much time as he could, but that his father pressed for the money [ WP 4:274].
"John Frend" had Thomas Lechford record a list of "money due to me from my father-in-law Thomas Dexter" about spring 1641. It included over £100 borrowed from Friend prior to the marriage and "My wife's portion was to be 100. to be paid at the day of marriage w[hi]ch was in October 1639...." Evidently not being able to pay the various sums, Thomas Dexter bound the mill to Friend 26 June 1640 [Lechford 385].
Aspinwall recorded a bond of £80 from Thomas Dexter to John Fish of "Wroxall in the county of Warwicke" dated 7 November 1640 and another bond from Dexter to Fish for £60 dated 26 December 1640 [Aspinwall 235].
In the division of meadow at Sandwich on 16 April 1640, "Mr. Thom[as] Dexter" was granted twenty-six acres "if he come to live here" [PCR 1:150].
On 29 June 1640 "Tho: Dexter of Lynne" granted to Mathew Cradock of London, merchant, in security "for the payment of one hundred & fifty pounds unto the said Math: Cradock his farm at Linne w[i]th the appurtenances thereof" [ SLR 1:15].
On 22 December 1640, Samuel "Peerse" received £32 2s. for the use of Mr. Thomas Santley from "Mr. Thomas Dexter of Linne" [Aspinwall 144].
At court 9 July 1644 "six acres of land lying by Farmer Dexter, given him by the town, challenged by Tho. Dexter by a former gift. It is agreed that he shall have the six acres near Mr. Holliock's twenty acres. He said that he bought one hundred and fifty acres, house and wares, at twelve pence per acre" [EQC 1:62].
On 25 January 1646[/7] Thomas Dexter of Lynn, yeoman, sold to "Richard Ledder"
for the use of the ironworks, all that land which by reason of a dam now agreed to be made shall overflow and all sufficient ground for a watercourse from the dam to the works to be erected, and also all the land between the ancient watercourse and the next extended flume or watercourse together with five acres and an half of land lying in the cornfield most convenient for the ironworks and also two convenient cartways that is to say one on each side of the premises as by a deed indented bearing date the twenty-seventh of January 1645 more at large appeareth [ ELR 1:2].
Administration was taken on the estate of "Thomas Dexter Senior" 9 February 1676[/7] by "Capt. James Oliver his son-in-law and Thomas Dexter Jr., his grandson" [ SPR 12:16]. The grandson soon died and in court in November 1679 "Ensign Ri[chard] Woodde" was named in his place [SPR 12:16].
An inventory was sworn 25 April 1677 on the estate of "Thomas Dexter Senior late deceased in Boston and as far as is known" totalling £70 with no land, except "a claim of some lands" at Lynn, which were unvalued [SPR 12:138].
Capt. James Oliver and Thomas Dexter, Jr., administrators of the estate of selectman Thomas Dexter Sr., deceased, sued the town of Lynn and Thomas Laiton regarding the ownership of Nahant, appealing the Court of Assistants' ruling of 1 September 1657 [EQC 6:325]. The judgment was in favor of Lynn, 26 November 1678 [EQC 7:124-25]. The most telling evidence against Dexter was probably the deposition of about 1677 made by "Clement Couldam aged about fifty-five years" who said that "about thirty-four years since he lived with old Thomas Dexter and the latter coming from the town meeting told Mr. Sharp of Salem, in his hearing, that he had given up his right in Nahant to Line and the town had given him a considerable tract of land on the back side of his farm which would be of more advantage to him" [EQC 7:127].
BIRTH: By about 1594 based on estimated date of marriage.
DEATH: Boston after 26 October 1676 (when Samuel Sewall "had a very good supper at Mr. Dexter's" [ Sewall 27]) and before 9 February 1676/7 (administration granted).
MARRIAGE: By about 1619 _____ _____; not seen in New England records.
  i MARY, b. say 1619; m. (1) in October 1639 John Friend [Lechford 385]; m. (2) Capt. James Oliver.
  ii THOMAS, b. say 1624; m. by 1649 Elizabeth _____ (daughter Mary b. Sandwich 11 August 1649 [PCR 9:9]). (The marriage at Sandwich of "[blank] [blank]" to Mary Vincent on 8 November 1648 has been appropriated to this couple [PCR 8:6], but this may well belong in another family.)
  iii FRANCES, b. say 1626; m. Roxbury 29 December 1646 Richard Woody.
  iv WILLIAM, b. say 1628; m. Barnstable in July 1653 Sarah Vincent [ MD 4:223].

ASSOCIATIONS: At court in November 1651, John Fuller, aged thirty years, testified that "meeting his brother Dexter and Edward Brose at Boston they informed him that they were employed by the Lady Moodye to sell her farm ... afterwards being at Lynne, his brother Dexter told him that the farm was sold to Mr. King" [EQC 1:241]. How John Fuller might have been related to Thomas Dexter has not been determined. (Later, at Plymouth court 10 June 1662, Mr. Thomas Dexter, Senior, complained of Lt. Fuller and sundry other neighbors for pulling up a fence and turning in cattle [PCR 4:21-22]; this was almost certainly not the John Fuller of the Essex case.)
COMMENTS: Mary Dexter, born at Barnstable 11 August 1649, was the child of Thomas Dexter the son of the immigrant, contrary to the statement of Savage.
"Farmer" Thomas Dexter was a persistent presence in the Essex courts, frequently suing or being sued for debt and even shady practices. His son of the same name was often cited as well [EQC 1:36, 37, 52-54, 57, 62, 79, 83]. At an early date Thomas Dexter accused John Endicott of battery, and on 3 May 1631 the case was tried before a jury, which decided in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him 40s. damages [MBCR 1:86; see also WJ 1:64, WP 3:25-26].
On 3 July 1632 the court ordered "that Thomas Dextor shall be bound to his good behavior till the next General Court, & fined £5 for his misdemeanor & insolent carriage & speeches to S: Bradstreet, at his own house; also, at the General Court is bound to confess his fault" [MBCR 1:97]; on 7 November 1632 £4 of the fine was forgiven [MBCR 1:102].
On 3 September 1633 the differences between John Dillingham, Richard Wright and Thomas Dexter were referred to John Endicott and Increase Nowell for arbitration [MBCR 1:108]. On 1 October 1633 Thomas Dexter was fined 20s. for drunkenness [MBCR 1:108]. On 3 April 1637 Thomas Dexter was one of the "ten men of Saugust" who were granted land to establish the town that would become Sandwich [PCR 1:57]. In 1647, "Farmer Thomas Dexter" caused copies of a 1638 agreement between him and Richard Chadwell of Sandwich to be entered in the court records at Plymouth as they began arbitration of a debt [ PCLR 12:148, 149].
On 29 June 1641 Thomas Dexter Sr. was ordered to return the sack and its contents taken from William Harper [EQC 1:29]. He was in court against William Harper and arbiters were assigned to the case 25 January 1641[/2] [EQC 1:34]. He was still having troubles with Harpers, this time Richard, 27 June 1643 [EQC 1:55]. At court 27 December 1643, Thomas Dexter was presented for "evading justice in challenging cattle of Mr. Otley under execution, and putting others in their room" [EQC 1:58]. Robert Nash agreed to pay a considerable debt due Mr. Simon "Broadstreet" in beaver on behalf of Dexter, 4 November 1645 [EQC 1:87, 90].
At court 31 March 1646 Samuel Hutchinson of Lynn sued Thomas Dexter, Sr., of Lynn, for assault and battery and won a 40s. judgement against Dexter [EQC 1:95]. The depositions of several neighbors who were going to work and passed "Goodman Dexters" said that Dexter struck Hutchinson "with the great end of his stick about twenty blows, that the man was a quiet man and that Goodman Dexter had no cause to complain" [EQC 1:100].
At court 30 June 1657 Thomas Dexter sued the town of Lynn for trespass, claiming that he owned Nahant. Among the many depositions brought in regarding this case, "Christopher Linse" succinctly stated that "Thomas Dexter bought Nahant of Black Will or Duke William, and employed him [Linse] to fence part of it when he lived with Thomas Dexter." William Winter, aged seventy three years or thereabouts, remembered that "Black Will or Duke William ... came to my house (which was two or three miles from Nahant) when Thomas Dexter had bought Nahant of him for a suit of clothes" and asked him what he would give for the land Winter's house stood on [EQC 2:43]. The court found for the defendants. Thomas Dexter and his son-in-law Richard Wooddy appealled.
He was ordered to record the bounds of his allotment at Conahassett 3 May 1653 [PCR 3:27]. He asked that someone go and set the bounds of his property at Barnstable, 4 October 1653. Eventually Governor Prence went, but there was no settlement of the issue, even as late as 1680 [PCR 3:41, 108, 4:133, 6:51].
The Dexters were hard masters. Thomas Jenner found it necessary to write from Saco 6 April 1646 to John Winthrop asking Winthrop to see to the matter of a child of Mrs. Allin of Casco whose only son had been placed "by Mr. Tuckar and Mr. Cleaves" with "one Goodman Dexter of Lyn." "The truth is, the boy is used very hardly: I saw the youth at Dexter's own house most miserable in clothing, never did I see any worse in New England ..." [WP 5:77]. Dexter was heard to say over the dying body of young Thomas Fish, crushed in the collapse of a bank at the mill dam, that "It is too late to go to work today" [PCR 4:85].
"Mr. Thomas Dexter, Senior," brought eight debt suits to court 6 March 1648/9 with mixed results [PCR 7:43-44].

source: Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-33