Thomas Trowbridge, Esq., was born in Exeter, Devonshire, England in
1632 1631, and baptized December 11 of that year. When he was seven he sailed with his father and mother, Thomas and Elizabeth, to Boston and then to New Haven. For some reason, the elder Thomas left New Haven before 1641 and put his three sons, Thomas, Jr., William and James in trust with a former servant, Henry Gibbons, along with his house, land, chattels and estate. According to the History of Connecticut (Biographical volume) p. 188: “Gibbons paid little attention to the affairs of his former master” and in November of 1641 the court placed the children under the care of Sergeant Thomas Jeffrey and his wife.
Thomas, Jr. received his early education from the Colonial schoolmaster Ezekial Cheever. He led a life of social and political prominence and became a successful shop keeper and merchant, trading with England, the West Indies and the Colonies. In 1668 he became a freeman and from then on filled many posts in the community: county treasurer, commisary of the expedition against the Dutch in New Amsterdam (New York), lieutenant of the New Haven Troop and a member of the Proprietors Committee. He was admitted to First Church in 1687 and was instrumental in establishing Hopkins Grammar School.
Thomas was on the committee to ask Mr. James Pierpont to come to New Haven to fill the pulpit of First Church, following the Rev. John Davenport’s resignation and departure for Boston. In 1690 he was a committeeman on the Military watch. Two years later he was chosen to handle a matter of a highway through the Indians (Quinnipiac) land and was instructed “to treat with the Indians lovingly.” (This road was probably the one to Morris Cove, now Townsend Avenue.) In 1696 Thomas was again called upon to exercise his judgement on the matter of enlarging the Meeting House. Thomas with his sons became leading merchants in the town. Their homes were facing the harbor on Meadow Street alongside the Rutherfords. Thomas married Sarah Rutherford in 1657. Thomas was granted permission to export ships’ staves for use in the cooperage business. In 1698 the town gave him liberty to “retail drink.”