John Thorndyke (or Thorndike), younger brother of Abbey clergyman Herbert Thorndyke, emigrated to New England in the early 1630s and married Elizabeth Stratton, with whom he had seven children. John Thorndike made his will on 29 July 1668, shortly before sailing to England with two of his daughters. He died in his brother's house in the precincts of the Abbey not long after their arrival and was buried on 3 November 1668 in the north east corner of the cloisters of Westminster Abbey.
His only son, Paul, is thought to be the Paul Thorndike baptised in Westminster Abbey on 18 April 1663, though there is nothing in the Abbey's own records to confirm this. It is certain, however, that Alice and Martha Thorndike, who continued to live with their uncle Herbert after John's death, were baptised in the Abbey on 10 April 1669. Herbert made considerable provision for them in his will on condition that they would not return to New England and would marry only "such as sincerely cleave to the Church of England".
Herbert's will stated that he wished to be buried alongside his brother John "without any solemnity of a Funerall Only the Ordinary Services".The Latin inscription which Herbert had requested for his gravestone seems never to have been cut, possibly because it included a prayer for the repose of his soul. In 1723 John Dart, in his history of the Abbey, recorded the following inscription:
Canon of this Church
In spite of the spelling on the stone it seems that Herbert himself always used the form "Thorndike". This area of the Cloisters was covered for many years by a ramp leading up to the Church but when this was removed in 1998 no trace of the above inscription could be found.
"A Thorndike Family History. Descendants of John and Elizabeth Thorndike" edited by S.Steward and J.B.Arthaud (Newbury Street Press, Boston, USA, 2000)