|The first Thomasson of record in Henry County dates to the late 1700s. William Thomasson purchased 100 acres on 'the branches of Leatherwood' Creek in 1793 from John Collier. Tracing him back a ways we have him as William Thomasson (1734-1800) son of George Thomasson (1703-1783) son of Thomas Thomasson (b. 1728) son of George Thomason (book collector) and Katherine Hutton (b. 1612) daughter of Francis Hutton (1578-1614) and Mary Fetherston (1580-1614) daughter of Cuthbert Featherstone. English given names do repeat but one of these is a bit more interesting than the rest. The first George Thomason was very significant historically because of his book collection. He joined the Stationer's Company in 1626 and engaged in the publishing and bookselling business. He became famous for his collection of the English Civil War Tracts. Beyond that not much is known of his life other than the executors of his will in 1666 - his son Henry and son-in-law, William Stonestreet.
Thomason's is quite a collection and consists of over 22000 printed items, bound together in 2000 volumes. Many are now unique and the copies also includes Thomason's own annotations with publication dates and attributions of authorship. The 7200 news pamphlets and newsbooks form just one part of the collection and offer detailed accounts of battles, negotiations, and political machinations.
This collection is unrivaled in the British Museum's archives for the study of British history. They are one of the most important sources relating to the turbulent period of the English Civil War in the mid-17th century. The collection of printed pamphlets, books, and newspapers is vast and was printed mainly in London between 1640 and 1661. The collector George Thomasson was an important London bookseller and the friend of John Milton (1608-1674). Thomason was extremely well placed to build up a systematic collection of pamphlets and other works as they were published. Often these items, relating in the main to the most burning religious controversies and political conflicts of the day, have survived nowhere else.
Thomason himself appreciated the significance of his collection: his will emphasised the efforts and money that had been expended and the unparalleled scope and size of the collection. During the 1650s, the tracts were moved several times for safe-keeping and in the years following Thomason's death in 1666, various attempts were made to sell the collection to the University of Oxford, to the nation, and to several of the wealthiest private collectors of the 18th century. All of these attempts failed, mainly because of the high price being demanded, and for almost a century this vast collection remained inaccessible, in private hands, ignored and neglected by historians. It was not until 1762 that the pamphlets were finally sold to the Earl of Bute, acting on behalf of the young King George III, who presented them to the British Museum, thus securing them for future generations of historians. Although the 7,200 or so news pamphlets and newsbooks in the collection (one of which is displayed above) form part of the newspaper foundation collections of the British Museum Library, the Thomason Tracts collection is kept together in its entirety, and thus held at St. Pancras. back : next