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The Bliss Branch

UPDATED    7 May 2016

Eleazer Arnold     General Benedict Arnold     Isaac N. Arnold

THOMAS BLISS (1588 - 1649)
Eye-crossing complexity of Blisses. Absolutely fascinating confusion of riches of possible interpretations of data.

The Harmon Genealogy, Artemas Canfield Harmon, 1920, p 251
Thomas Bliss, was b. in 1585-88 in Daventry, England, and d. about 1649, in Rohoboth, Mass. Thomas Bliss m. 1st, in 1614, Dorothy Wheatlie, who d. before 1646; he m. 2d, before 1647, the widow of -- Ide, in New England. Thomas Bliss was proprietor at Mt. Wollaston, Braintree, Mass., in 1639. Made freeman May 18, 1642, removed to Rehoboth, made freeman in Plymouth Colony in 1645, and town officer in 1647. His will of June 21, 1647, in court June 8, 1649, provides for his son Jonathan; eldest dau., the wife of Thomas Williams; Mary, wife of Nathaniel Harmon; son-in-law, Nicholas Ide; and son, Nathaniel. In June 7, 1648, Nicholas Ide petitioned the court for a child's portion of the estate (Pope's Mass. Pioneers).

Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Ellery Bicknell Crane, 1907, p 364
Thomas Bliss, of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, son of Jonathan Bliss, of Belstone, England, was born in Belstone, and on the death of his father in 1636 he removed to Boston, thence to Braintree, thence to Hartford, Connecticut, thence back to Weymouth, Massachusetts, and in 1643, with others he helped make the settlement at Rehoboth. He was a freeman at Cambridge, May 18, 1642, and in Plymouth colony January 4, 1645. In June, 1645, of that year he drew a lot of land at the Great Plain, Seekonk. In 1646 he was fence viewer, in 1647 the surveyor of highways, two important offices in the colonial days. He died at Rehoboth, June, 1649, and is buried in the graveyard at Seekonk, Massachusetts, now Rumford, East Providence, Rhode Island. His will was proved June 8, 1649.

New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial, Volume 3, William Richard Cutter, 1911, p1824
Thomas Bliss, the progenitor, lived in Belstone Parish, Devonshire, England. Little is known of him, except that he was a wealthy landowner and was a Puritan, persecuted on account of his faith by both civil and religious authorities under the direction of the infamous Archbishop Laud, that he was maltreated, impoverished and imprisoned. He was reduced to poverty and his health ruined by the persecution of the Church of England. He is supposed to have been born about 1550 or 1560. The date of his death was 1635 of about that year. When the parliament of 1628 assembled, Puritans or Roundheads, as the Cavaliers called them, accompanied the members to London. Two of the sons of Thomas Bliss, Jonathan and Thomas, rode from Devonshire on iron grey horses, and remained for some time in the city - long enough at least for the king's officers and spies to learn their names and condition, and whence they came; and from that time forth with others who had gone to London on the same errand, they were marked for destruction.

They were soon fined a thousand pounds for non-conformity and thrown into prison, where they remained many weeks. Even old Mr. Thomas Bliss, their father, was dragged through the streets with the greatest indignity. On another occasion the officers of the high commission seized all their horses and sheep, except one poor ewe that in its fright ran into the house and took refuge under a bed. At another time the three brothers, with twelve other Puritans, were led through the marketplace in Okehampton with ropes around their necks, and fined heavily, and Jonathan and his father were thrown into prison, where the sufferings of the son eventually caused his death. At another time the king's officers seized the cattle of the Bliss family and most of their household goods, some of the articles of furniture being highly valued for their beauty and age, since they had been in the family for centuries. In fact, the family was so reduced in circumstance that it was unable to secure the release of both Jonathan and his father, so the younger man had to remain in prison and at Exeter he suffered thirty-five lashes with a three-corded whip, which tore his back in a cruel manner. Before Jonathan was released the estate had to be sold.

The father and mother went to live with their daughter who had married a man of the Established Church, Sir John Calcliffe. The remnant of the estate was divided among the three sons who were advised to go to America where they might escape persecution. Thomas and George feared to wait for Jonathan who was still very ill and they left England in the fall of 1635 with their families. Thomas, son of Jonathan and grandson of Thomas (I), remained with his father who finally died, and the son then came to join his uncles and settled near Thomas. At various times their sister sent from England boxes of shoes, clothing and articles that could not be procured in the colonies and it is through her letters long preserved, but now lost, that knowledge of the Devonshire family was preserved. Children: Jonathan, died in England, 1635-36; Thomas, born in England, about 1585, at Belstone; Elizabeth, married Sir John Calcliffe, of Belstone; George, born 1591, settled at Lynn and Sandwich, Massachusetts, and Newport, Rhode Island; Mary or Polly.

George, son of Thomas Bliss, was born in Belstone, England, in 1591, and settled in Lynn and Sandwich, Massachusetts and Newport, Rhode Island. He came to New England with his brother in 1635. He had a grant of land for a home lot at Sandwich, April 16, 1640, and was appointed to make and mend arms at Newport in 1649. He was one of the original proprietors of Quononicut and was admitted a freeman before 1655-56. He died August 31, 1667. He had a son John, mentioned below.

New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial, Vol. 4, William Richard Cutter, 1914, p1824

Jonathan Bliss, son of Thomas Bliss, of Belstone, was born about 1580, at Belstone, died in England, 1635-36. On account of his non-conformist views he was persecuted and suffered heavy fines, eventually dying at an early age, from a fever contracted in prison. Four children are said to have died in infancy, and two grew up: Thomas, mentioned below; Mary.

Thomas (2) Bliss, son of Jonathan Bliss, of Belstone, England, was born there, and on the death of his father in 1636 he went to Boston, Massachusetts, from there to Braintree, Massachusetts. He next went to Hartford, Connecticut, and finally to Weymouth, Massachusetts, where in 1643 he joined in making a settlement at Rehoboth. He was made freeman at Cambridge, May 18, 1642, and in Plymouth Colony, January 4, 1645. In June, 1645, he drew land at the Great Plain, Seekonk; in 1646 he was fence viewer; surveyor of highways in 1647. He died at Rehoboth in June, 1649, and is buried in the graveyard at Seekonk, Massachusetts, now Rumford, East Providence, Rhode Island. His will was proved June 8, 1649. He married Ide --. Children: Jonathan, born about 1625; daughter, married Thomas Williams; Mary, married Elizabeth Harmon, of Braintree; Nathaniel, seems to have left no descendants of the Bliss name.

Nielsen Hayden genealogy

From the Bliss Family History Society:
"One widespread and completely erroneous idea about the English roots of Thomas Bliss of Hartford, Connecticut should be laid to rest. The false genealogy is becoming ever more widely spread by the power of the internet and the trust still placed in the veracity of a hired researcher in Victorian times. BELSTONE IN CO. DEVON WAS NEVER THE HOMETOWN OF THOMAS BLISS OR ANY OTHER BLISS. ALL GENEALOGIES BASED ON BLISSES AT BELSTONE ARE MISTAKEN. [...]

"THOMAS BLISS of Hartford Connecticut was probably a native of Co. Gloucester, England, and we now think he lived his adult life prior to emigrating in the city of Gloucester. First wife, ?Margaret, wife of Thomas Blisse was buried 4 Jun 1621 at St. Nicholas Church in Gloucester. Thomas had children by his first marriage to Margaret (maiden name unknown): THOMAS born c 1618, ANN born c 1620, Sarah christened 23 Apr 1620 at St Nicholas. Thomas then married Margaret Hulins of Rodborough at Gloucester St Nicholas 18th Oct 1621. Their son Nathaniel was baptised at Rodborough 28th Dec 1622. Other children by Margaret Hulins were MARY born c 1625, LAWRENCE born c 1628, HANNAH born c 1633, JOHN born c 1635, Samuel christened 4 Feb 1637/8 St Mary de Crypt, Gloucester, HESTER & ELIZABETH twins born c 1640 (Hartford?)."

Fullers, Sissons and Scotts, Carol Clark Johnson, 1976, p17

Name: Thomas BLISS Sex: M Birth: in Daventry, England Death: 7 JUN 1648 in Rehoboth, Bristol County, MA Change Date: 31 DEC 1999 Reference Number: 7366 Note: 5. Thomas-1 Bliss was born circa 1590 in Daventry, England, and married there Nov. 22, 1614 Dorothy Wheatley, daughter of John Wheatly. She died in England, mother of four children. Thomas married (2) the widow of Nicholas-1 Ide and mother of Nicholas-2 Ide who was born in En gland circa 1624. Thomas brought his family to New England in 1636 and took up residence with or near his uncle Thomas Bliss who lived on the south shore of Boston Bay. His other uncle, George Bliss, was then living in Lynn Mass. on the north side of the Bay. They arrived too late in the year to build new homes and they had to buy houses where they were available. About 1639 Thomas the son of Jonathan moved to Weymouth and on May 18, 1642, took the freeman's oath there. I n 1643 the family left Weymouth with the first group of settlers for Seekonk which in time wa s renamed Rehoboth. Thomas, a blacksmith, held Commonage Rights of L153 there and participated in the early land divisions.

He d. there in 1649, his will proved at Plymouth June 8, 1649. The will was dated Dec. 7, 1647. Thomas bequeathed to his son Jonathan his house and homelot, the tools of his trade as well as two oxen named Spark and Swad, a calk and a heifer named Traveler. To his "eldest daughter" Elizabeth and Thomas Willmore he gave two oxen called Quick and Benbo, a heifer, and a cow named Damson, and all his wearing apparel. To daughter Mary and Nathaniel he left three steer calves. He named Nicholas Ide; and left his store of leather hides to his four children. His beloved friends Richard Wright and Steven Payne were asked to be overseers. His inventory was appraised by Payne and Richard Boweb ar L117.16s.4d.G These are the first generations of the three Bliss pioneers in New England. THOMAS BLISS of Hartford Connecticut was probably a native of Co. Gloucester, England and we now think he lived his adult life prior to emigrating in the City of Gloucester. First wife? Margaret wife of Thomas Blisse was buried 4 Jun 1621 at St Nicholas church in Gloucester. Thomas had children by his first marriage to Margaret (maidenname unknown)

THOMAS born c 1618 ANN born c 1620. Sarah christened 23 Ap 1620 at St Nicholas. Thomas then married Margaret Hulins of Rodborough at Gloucester St Nicholas 18th Oct 1621. Their son Nathaniel was baptised at Rodborough 28th Dec 1622. Other children by Margaret Hulins were
MARY born c 1625
LAWRENCE born c 1628
HANNAH born c 1633
JOHN born c 1635 Samuel christened 4 Feb 1637/8 St Mary de Crypt, Gloucester,
HESTER & ELIZABETH twins born c 1640 (Hartford?). THOMAS BLISS blacksmith of Rehoboth, Mass., son of JOHN of Preston Parva, Co. Northants. Married 22 Nov 1614 at Daventry, Co. Northants. DOROTHY WHEATLEY. Children:
ELIZABETH bap Daventry 19 Sep 1615
MARY bap Daventry 16 Mar 1617
JANE bap Daventry 14 Jan 1618 (buried 16 Sep 1621)
JOHN bap Daventry 21 Nov 1620 (died?)
MARTHA bap Daventry 8 Dec 1622 (Note Martha not Nathaniel!)
THOMAS bap Daventry 19 Sep 1624 (buried 14 Aug 1628)
JONATHAN bap Daventry 2 Apl 1626. Dorothy died and was buried 10th May 1631.

Thomas remarried Abigail Southam Feb 1632/3. They had two children but both died and were buried at Daventry. It is not known if Thomas Bliss was accompanied by his second wife when he left for Boston MA c1638 but an Abigail Bliss, blind, was buried at Holy Cross, Daventry 6th Oct 1681.

GEORGE BLISS blacksmith of Newport, Rhode Island, son of JOHN of Preston Parva, Co. Northants and brother of Thomas of Rehoboth. Married 30 May 1635 at Daventry ANN SHAW. One son JOHN born c 1645 (Sandwich Mass.)

More Information on Bliss: Sort this out?

Thomas BLISS (1588 1647)
Nicholas Ide His Stepson, Not Son-in-law

JONATHAN BLISS (1742 - 1822)

Biographies, p 374-5

Jonathan Bliss, jurist, was born in Springfield, MA. Descended from Thomas Bliss of Belstone, Devon, he was the son of Captain Luke and Mercy (Ely) Bliss. His parents were well-to-do, and he received a good education, entering Harvard College where he graduated in 1763. He then read law in the office of Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, where he was a fellow student of Sampson Salter Blowers, and on his admission to the provincial bar, commenced practicing in Boston. He acquired a good connection and quickly came to the front.

In 1768 he was elected to the General Court of MA from Springfield, and was one of the minority of seventeen who were in favor of acceding to a demand of the home Government that a certain obnoxious vote should be rescinded -- hence the reproachful term "rescinder."

He was a consistent supporter of the British Government throughout the pre-revolutionary troubles. At the outbreak of hostilities in April 1775, he accompanied Earl Percy on his march to Concord following the skirmish at Lexington. Later in the same year he removed to England and resided there for nine years, joining the New England Club of Loyalists in London. His name appeared in the Massachusetts Proscription Act, 1778, as an enemy of the State, and as such he was forbidden to return thither.

In 1785 he was appointed by the Crown attorney-general of the newly formed province of New Brunswick, and leaving England, took up his residence at St. John, New Brunswick, where he practiced for twenty-four years. The year of his arrival he was elected member for St. John in the House of Assembly, and was intimately associated with all the legislation of New Brunswick's formative period.

His legal ability gave him a leading position at the bar, and he appears as counsel in most of the important causes of his time. He was retained in 1790 by Benedict Arnold in the suit for slander which the latter brought against Manson Hart. In 1809 he was appointed chief justiceof New Brunswick and retained this position till his death at Frederickton, N.B.

He married a daughter of Hon. John Worthington of Springfield, MA. As a lawyer he ranked high in the estimation of his contemporaries, and in his public career he consistently adhered to the principles of loyalty to the Crown which he had imbibed in his youth. As attorney-general and chief justice he enjoyed the unreserved confidence and respect of the people of New Brunswick.



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Bliss Family History Society
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Thomas Bliss 1588-1647
Sgt Jonathan Bliss 1625-1687
Famous Descendants of Thomas Bliss
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Photographs of Bliss Family Members in the Civil War
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Bliss and Holmes - Descendents of Ephraim Bliss
Descendants: genealogical data, biographical sketches of Ephraim Bliss of Savoy, MA, & Israel Holmes of Waterbury, Ct., and related families, by E.B. & A.B. Dayton. 184p. 1961. $40.00
Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America
From about 1550 to 1880, by J. H. Bliss. 811p. 1881. (free pdf)
Romantic History of the Bliss Family from the time of its beginning in England to its advent
into America. C. A. Hoppin. 184p. 1913. $41.50


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The Civil War: Strange & Fascinating Facts
Of the many songs originated in the war, at least one became a well-known hymn -- "Hold the Fort, For I Am Coming." [YouTube] It was born in an incident of the fighting around Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia, when the Confederates isolated General J.M. Corse with his 1,500 men in Allatoona.

When a division of 6,500 Southeners attacked the outpost, and all seemed lost for the bluecoats, signalmen flapping their flags on Kennesaw Mountain sent Corse the messages:

Sherman is moving with force. Hold out.
Hold on. General Sherman says he is working hard for you.

Corse did hold out, despite 705 casualities and 200 men lost as prisoners. Near the end, when Sherman sent a message asking if Corse had been wounded, the defiant reply went back:

I am short a cheekbone and one ear, but am able to whip all hell yet.

Of these materials Philip Paul Bliss wrote his popular hymn.

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