Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Allen line: Sgt RIchard Beckley about 1618-1690 Immigrant

When I win the lottery (which will be sometime after I buy my first ticket), I would love to spend much of that fortune tracing down these immigrant ancestors.  Richard Beckley is another mystery.  He must have had leadership qualities because he was elected or appointed sergeant of the New Haven Artillery Company in 1648.  He must have been a successful person, because he was able to leave homes to each of his sons at his death.  He was respected in his communities, for he was many times a juror, and sometimes appointed to commissions.  But we don't know much more than this, which seems so very little to know.

He is traditionally given a birth date of 1618, in "probably" Hampshire, England, but as far as I know there is as yet no documentation for that.  His parents were John Beckley and Mary Elliott, and he is known to have had at least one brother, Simon.  That is as much as we know of his youth, or for that matter, of his marriage.  He is believed to have been married at least twice.  It has been suggested that his first wife was Mrs. Alice Daniels (maiden name not known, unless it was Daniels), but the circumstances surrounding that marriage, if correct as reported, are bizarre and worthy only of the gossip columns.  I'm not sure that the Richard Beggarly in England, alleged adulterer, and Richard Beckley, fine upstanding citizen, more or less, in Connecticut are the same person, but I'm simply noting it as a possibility, however remote.  His second wife is believed to be Frances Deming, and that marriage took place probably in either 1662 or 1665.

So, sometime Richard married someone, and had children Sarah, John, Mary, Benjamin, Nathaniel, and Hannah, all in New Haven, Connecticut, except Sarah may have been born elsewhere.  Richard and presumably his wife had arrived there by 1639, so New Haven was still a very small community at that time.  They stayed in or near New Haven until about 1660, when they moved to Wethersfield, Ct.  Richard purchased land in 1668 from Turramuggus, which was 300 acres and was located on both sides of the Mattebesset River, in what is now the "Beckley section" of Berlin, Ct  He was clever in purchasing his land, for it allowed him to build a mill on the river.  I've not found references to attacks on the settlement during King Philip's War, but militia from Connecticut were certainly involved in some of the battles and since Richard was a sergeant earlier, it is likely that he participated in at least some of them.  (He apparently wasn't 60 years of age yet, so would have been in the militia unless he had a health condition that prevented it.) 

In Wethersfield/Berlin, Richard and family apparently prospered.  Towards the end of his life, Richard was granted license for an ordinary (he may have been licensed earlier but records haven't been found), which may have been an easier way to make a living than the farming he had been doing.  His children or and grandchildren may have helped with the chores of this tavern/inn. 

Richard died August 5, 1690.  His estate wasn't settled until 1701 so his wife may have outlived him.  His inventory taken September 2,1690 was valued at 383 pounds, 5 shillings.  Among the items I can read on the inventory are 15 books, carpenters tools, and six hives of bees. I think this is the first inventory I've found that mentioned bee hives, but it makes sense since it's known that he had an orchard. His inventory and will are on the new database at Ancestry.com, and I just found them today.  It's pretty cool to be able to sit here and read (or not) some of the last wishes of such a distant ancestor!

The line of descent is:

Richard Beckley-unknown first wife
Sarah Beckley-John Church
Richard Church-Elizabeth Noble
Jonathan Church-Ruth Hitchcock
Ruth Church-Stephen Noble
Ruth Noble-Martin Root Jr.
Ruth Root-Samuel Falley
Clarissa Falley-John Havens Starr
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants