Privateer Jean Thoreau was born in St Helier, Jersey, in about 1754. He emigrated to America in 1773, changed his name to John, and married Jane (Jennie) Burns ( -1796) in 1787.
He went to America involuntarily when he was 19, after being shipwrecked and rescued. He was a short man, stout and very strong - a powerful man for his size. He began as a merchant on Boston's wharf with one barrel of sugar and went privateering again. Eventually he would own a fortune of $25,000 and a home on Prince Street.
John Thoreau married Jane Burns in 1781 when they were both 27. She was the daughter of a Scottish Quaker and joint heir to a house on Prince street with her aunts Ann and Hannah Orrok.Jane and John had seven of their eight children in that house. John bought out the aunts’ portion of the house and became sole owner of 57 Prince Street.In 1796, Jane died. John remarried to Rebecca Hurd, who was the widow of Mr Kettell. She died in 1814.
In 1800 John moved to Concord , where he bought what is now the north end of the Colonial Inn.
He died in 1801, aged 47, of tuberculosis aggravated by a cold caught while patrolling the streets of Boston against an anti-Catholic riot.
His son John was 13 when the family moved to Concord. He became a storekeeper, a trader, and a pencil-maker. He married Cynthia Dunbar and they had 4 children: Helen (1812-1849), John (1815-1842), Henry David (1817-1862) and Sophia (1819-1876)
Henry David Thoreau was a writer, naturalist, philosopher, pencil maker, surveyor, Transcendentalist and inspector of snow storms.