First Settlers of Connecticut

First Setters of CT coverOther than Vermont, the five New England states had significant European-derived settlements in the early colonial period. In late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, “genealogical dictionaries” were produced for the states of Rhode Island,[1] Massachusetts,[2] and Maine and New Hampshire (together).[3] Such a dictionary was not completed for Connecticut, but Royal Ralph Hinman had made an earlier attempt in the mid-nineteenth century which can serve as an initial reference when researching seventeenth-century families of Connecticut.

A Catalogue of the Names of the First Puritan Settlers of the Colony of Connecticut is Hinman’s “first attempt” at such a catalogue. It was published serially in five numbers beginning in 1846 and ending before 1852. Hinman did not write the volume entirely as a “dictionary,” but more as a variety of lists and other items.

In 1852, Hinman started publishing a similarly-titled volume, A Catalogue of the Early Puritan Settlers of the Colony of Connecticut (the only difference being his replacement of the word First with Early). This work was certainly Hinman’s attempt at a more straightforward dictionary of families in Connecticut, with many families being brought down nearly to the present time (although with no sources). The first four numbered sections go only through the surname Danielson, however, and in 1856 he jumped ahead to the letter H with A Family Record of the Descendants of Sergt. Edward Hinman, which is paginated as if it is a continuation and labeled “No. 5.” Then Hinman abandoned the second catalogue project. He moved from Hartford to New York City and died in 1868. His papers were given to NEHGS and organized by Anson Titus into eleven large folio volumes, which contain valuable information “obtained from manuscripts since lost, and some of it from the recollection of persons now dead.”[4]

Had Hinman continued with his “second attempt,” the result would be a more standard Connecticut genealogical dictionary. But the earlier work, his first attempt, with lists for the entire alphabet, is our best general reference for early Connecticut genealogy.

Two overall lists are given in this volume, “First Settlers of the Colony,” from pages 12 to 109 (going from A–Y), with an appendix (pages 110 to 159) containing additions and corrections. A second list, with surnames from A to W, follows the appendix, on pages 182–247. Together, these lists serve as a reference to all of Connecticut. While generally focused on the seventeenth century, they mention occasional events in the eighteenth century. Because sources are generally not given, the researcher needs to infer the primary records Hinman consulted – probably original state and town records that he had immediate access to, having lived in Hartford and served as the Secretary of State of Connecticut from 1835 to 1842.

The remainder of this volume includes lists generally relating to Connecticut: for example, a short piece on chimney viewers; town-centric lists relating to first settlers of Windsor, Hartford, Wethersfield, and Enfield; a list of Mayflower passengers; a transcription of the tobacco law of Connecticut in 1647; and a list of officers of the first general court.

Adapted from the foreword to Hinman’s First Puritan Settlers of Connecticut.

 

Notes

[1] By John Osborne Austin.

[2] By Charles Henry Pope.

[3] By Charles Thornton Libby, Sibyl Noyes, and Walter Goodwin Davis.

[4] Proceedings of the New England Historic Genealogical Society at the Annual Meeting, January 4, 1888, p. 26.

About Christopher C. Child

Chris Child has worked for various departments at NEHGS since 1997 and became a full-time employee in July 2003. He has been a member of NEHGS since the age of eleven. He has written several articles in American Ancestors, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and The Mayflower Descendant. He is the co-editor of The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton (NEHGS, 2011), co-author of The Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2011) and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus and Alice Nelson Pratt (Newbury Street Press, 2013), and author of The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2014). Chris holds a B.A. in history from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

7 thoughts on “First Settlers of Connecticut

  1. The first settlers of Connecticut, although probably an interesting read when I have time, did not pertain to my immediate research. If you are interested in the Pioneers of Massachusetts by Charles Henry Pope, you can find a copy at the Digital Public Library. Once you go to their home page, do a search and you will be taken to
    http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=loc.ark:/13960/t5q81ng7b;view=1up;seq=1

    Thanks for the article. Otherwise, I would not have known about the Pioneers of MA.

  2. Let me second that kudo. You’ve been “all-in” on your “bliss”, a good thing to see, and a hard worker and may the rewards flow. And this excerpt from your Hinman introduction demonstrates also the skill in analysis and presentation you’ve achieved. Keep at it!

    Here’s a positive idea for more hard work, rather than being engaged in one more re-packaging of something that should have been superseded a long time ago, which is derived from what you wrote above:

    “The Hinman-Titus-Child Genealogical Dictionary of Settlers of Connecticut to 1775,” citiable in Anderson-fashion as GDSC.

    Now there’s a best-seller, a real “good for 100 years” of being THE reference point in Connecticut history and genealogy. And also a valuable addition to the NEW ENGLAND GHSociety’s proprietary databases. And it is all to hand as:

    The Society has eleven (11!!!!!) “LARGE FOLIO VOLUMES” of material that Himan collected and Titus organized and likely amended in areas, too. And the Society has done nothing with this?

    (That there IS such a collection is actually real news to me. News. Definitely a collection in which at least background to a New Haven 1831 marriage (between Charlotte Wallis Tucker and Henry Newton Quiner) I will need to review.)

    Take the alphabetical sections of the published Hinman, meld them into one alpha format, then add-on and add-in EVERYTHING Titus has in those volumes. Do the corrections as necessary as sub-sections in smaller font. Co-sponsorships with various CT societies can be sought for subsidized funding, but really, in the end, this will be a MUST HAVE for all serious genealogists and gen-libraries. Will pay for itself.

    Because if the Society — and YOU — don’t do this, perhaps Cambridge U. P. will get around to it in its own way as another Companion volume in that series–they’ve just about exhausted the meaningful New England literati.

    Just Do It.

    Become Top Dog of Your Scholarly Generation fer shure.

    Regards, RMG

    P.S. Hey, Ralph and Brent bought my 2000 idea to turn the manuscript collection guidebook into a saleable publication, so why not this?

    1. P.P.S. I see from the just-arrived-to-my-mailbox copy American Ancestors that the Society is developing Scott Bartley’s Early Vermont Settlers to 1784 as a proprietary database. So if actual hard-copy publication is considered too pricey (and given how the GM stuff sells, I can’t believe that), then go this route, using, perhaps, Anderson’s GM Directory format as detailed in the same Spring 2015 issue.

      Hey, Brent, Ryan, Go For It. Get ALL the NE states covered.

      Then you can move onto New York and the little “New Englands” of Long Island and northern New Jersey.

  3. …… but of course the first European settlers in what is now Connecticut were Dutch. I assume that many of these migrated closer to the present New York area to exercise those freedoms that were denied to these Connecticut Puritan settlers —- such as religious freedom or even to dress without strict oversight.

Leave a Reply to Jeff Record Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.