Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Allen line: John Steele 1591-1665 Immigrant

This immigrant ancestor is a little easier to trace than some.  John Steele was born to Richard Steele and an unknown wife on or about December 12, 1591 in Fairstead, Essex, England.  There is a later marriage of Richard Steele to Elizabeth Bredy in 1595 in the same location, so it may be that John's mother had died.  If this is the same Richard Steele, then John would have been raised by a step mother.  He had an older brother, George, but we don't know of any other siblings.

Fairstead is a very small village, and always has been, so this would have been a town where everyone knew everyone.  I've not located a church for the village but it is possible that there was one.  If not, the family would have had to travel four or five miles to a neighboring town such as Braintree, for church and probably for marketing needs.  Richard would have been a farmer, and possibly John also. 

The records, however, seem to indicate that one way or another John acquired an education, since some of the positions he held in Connecticut would have required more than just the basics.  He also seems to have been a man of good sense.

On October 10, 1622 in Fairsted, Essex, England, he married Rachel Talcott, the daughter of John Talcott and Anne Skinner.  The couple would go on to have 9 children together.  Four of them, John, Samuel, Daniel and Rachel, were born in England before the couple came to the new world.  "The Great Migration" states that John migrated in 1633, but it is only a guess that his family accompanied him at that time.  We do know that he became a freeman on May 14, 1634 at Cambridge, Massacushouetts, so he would have been a member of the church there before that.

(Note:  An 1862 Genealogical History of John and George Steele states that John with his wife Rachel and Samuel, John, and Hannah, came in 1630 and that he was first at Dorchester, before being one of the proprietors of Cambridge (Newtown) in 1632.  This may be based upon the above names being listed as on board the ship Lyon, and arriving in Salem in 1630. So we may be missing a few years of John Steele's history.)

At any rate, he was here early and was appointed the Massachusetts Bay commissioner for new settlements on the Connecticut River on Maarch 3,1635/6.  He is listed as one of the founders of Hartford, Ct. and the Steele genealogy referred to earlier states that he led the pioneer band of settlers there in 1635, arriving at the onset of winter, and that Rev. Hooker and the rest of the company came in 1636. John had acquired several plots of land in Cambridge and he sold them to Richard Bradish just before making the move to Hartford.

He was quite active in Hartford politics, being appointed the recorder in 1640 and for 20 years thereafter.  He was also the recorder for Farmington,  He was a representative to the colony court for 23 years and was present for at least 88 of its sessions.  He was also active in his church and as the head of his large family.

The Steele family moved to and helped found the town of Farmington, Ct in 1645.  There Rachel died on October 24, 1653.  A little over 2 years later, John Steele married again, to Mercy Ruscoe Seymour.  They had no children, but they did have a marriage that lasted 9 years and he called her his "dear and loving wife" in his will. 

John Steele died at Farmington February 27, 1664/65.  His will left his home and appurtenances to his wife for the rest of her life, and then land mostly to his sons and sons-in-law.  He made token bequests to his grandchildren, and a piece of gold to his two daughters.  He had a few books in his home when he died, and 2 Bibles, and two quires of writing paper. 

The line of descent is:

John Steele-Rachel Talcott
Lydia Steele-John Bird
Rebecca Bird-Samuel Lamb
Samuel Lamb-Martha Stebbins
Eunice Lamb-Martin Root
Martin Root Jr-Ruth Noble
Ruth Root-Samuel Falley
Clarissa Falley-John Havens Starr
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendents

I've loved writing this post.  I had very little about John Steele in my files, but there is a lot of information on-line, as it turns out.  I particularly recommend "The Great Migration Begins" by Robert Charles Anderson as a starting place.