More About Thomas Chandler Homestead, Site of

Captain Thomas Chandler, older brother of innkeeper William, was one of the “original proprietors of Andover.” Three members of Thomas’s immediate family were accusers in 1692. Thomas himself, aged 65, testified against fortune-teller Samuel Wardwell saying, “I have often heard Samuel Wardwell of Andover tell young persons their fortune and he was much addicted to it…” An accusation of fortune-telling was enough to bring suspicion of witchcraft in the 17th century. However, Thomas later signed petitions in support of the accused.


Thomas’s daughter Hannah, married to Daniel Bixby (alternate spelling Bigsby) and living nearby, claimed that the specter of widow Mary Parker afflicted her. Another accused in Andover, Abigail Faulkner Sr. was examined and three afflicted girls from Salem Village – Ann Putnam Jr., Mary Warren, and Mary Walcott – accused Faulkner of also causing Hannah Bixby’s torments.


Thomas’s granddaughter Sarah Phelps, the oldest child of his daughter Sarah and her husband Samuel, was the family member who complained the most about afflictions. In early August she had seizures and torments. Ten-year-old Sarah was also a niece of Elizabeth (Phelps) Ballard, whose long illness is credited with escalating the Andover hysteria. Author Richard Hite, in his book In the Shadow of Salem: The Andover Witch Hunt of 1692, suggests that young Sarah Phelps may have witnessed her aunt Elizabeth’s sickness and eventual death and was frightened by it, especially if she believed it was caused by witchcraft. Sarah’s afflictions may in turn have influenced her aunt Hannah Bixby.


Thomas Chandler was born circa 1627 in England, and emigrated with his family to Roxbury, MA in 1637.  After his father William died in 1642, his mother Annis remarried John Dane. This made Thomas, his brother William, and his sister Hannah step-siblings of John Dane’s son, longtime Andover reverend, Francis Dane.


Thomas married Hannah Brewer in 1651, and was likely in Andover by that time. According to Sarah Loring Bailey’s Historical Sketches of Andover, published in 1880, Thomas was a representative to the General Court in 1678, and “was a blacksmith, ultimately a rich man, carrying on considerable iron works, of which he makes mention in his will, giving to each of his sons a fourth part of his share in the iron works.”


Thomas Chandler died in Andover in 1703. A memorial stone for his father William and Chandler descendants is in the Old North Cemetery in Concord, NH. Listed on the stone are Thomas (with incorrect birth and death dates) and three other Chandler descendants, including fifth generation Captain John Chandler who settled in Penny Cook, NH, today known as Concord, in 1726.


Additional note: One of the earliest settlers in Andover was Job Tyler, who had legal entanglements with Thomas Chandler dating back to 1662 and lasting for years. The Tyler family would also be caught up in the witchcraft hysteria of 1692. In 1708, Job’s grandson Jonathan Tyler married Thomas Chandler’s niece Phebe Chandler, accuser of Martha Carrier. Perhaps it was just as well that both Phebe’s father William and uncle Thomas were deceased by that time.


Thomas Chandler owned many acres along the west side of the Shawsheen River, where he had his home and ironworks. According to the Plan of Andover in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, Essex County, 1692, a map created by the Andover and North Andover Historical Societies in 1992, the property was on what is today Lowell Street/Route 133, and encompasses much of what would become Shawsheen Village in the 1920s.