Friday, October 23, 2015

Holbrook line: Reverend Ephraim Hewitt, Immigrant

I am so excited to write about this ancestor of ours.  He has been on my tree for quite a long time, but I hadn't done any real research to learn about him. All I can say is, "Wow!" 

Unfortunately, it is not known when he was born or who his parents are.  Many internet sites give his birthdate as 1604 at Wraxhall, Somersetshire (or Warwickshire), England.  By my calculations, he couldn't have been born after 1595 because he matriculated (enrolled) at St John's College, Cambridge University, in 1611. (His Find a Grave memorial says he was born in 1591 at Ansley, Warwickshire, England, which makes sense, but there's no documentation shown.)  Men were mainly between the ages of 16 and 20 when they matriculated, although it is always possible that he entered as an older student.  Also, knowing that he enrolled at St John's makes one wonder, how did he afford the fees?  Were his parents paying for his education?  If so, we should be able to trace them.  (See further speculation about parents further in this post.) 

We do know, thanks to Frederick Lewis Weis in "The Colonial Clergy and the Colonial Churches of New England," that he was a curate at Cheshire and at Knowle, Warwickshire, England, and that he settled at Wroxhall, Kenilworth, England, in 1626, where he became the rector.  Basically, curate seems to mean he was what we would call the assistant pastor and rector would be the pastor.  This was in the Church of England, the only recognized church at the time.  Of course, there were Puritans worshipping in their own way, too.  We don't know when Ephraim became a Puritan, perhaps he was always one at heart.  However, we do know that he was "silenced by Archbishop Laud" in 1638.  Laud was the powerful Archbishop of Canterbury who insisted on church ritual that Puritans (and probably many others) did not support. 

He married Isabel Overton at Tarvin, Cheshire, England on April 22, 1622.  Their children were born from 1632-1640, with the youngest being born in America. 

After Ephraim was "silenced," meaning he no longer had a livelihood, he came to America in 1639.  He went directly to Windsor, Connecticut, to join Rev. John Warham in leading the church there.  He was ordained there, as a "teacher", which leads to a puzzle back in England.  Did he graduate from St. John's?  Was he ordained there?  It seems that he wouldn't have been appointed a curate and then a rector unless he had been ordained, but once again, records are lacking.  He may have been ordained in Windsor as a Puritan pastor, since earlier he would have been Church of England. 

He and his wife had four daughters, Susannah, Lydia, Sarah, and Mercy, and a son, Nathaniel, who died before his father.  Reverend Ephraim was a busy man with four young daughters to raise, a church to help grow, and a  book to write.  The book was called "The Whole Prophecie of Daniel Explained" and was the first complete commentary on prophecy written in the Colonies.  He had earlier, in 1626, authored another book called"The Anatomy of Conscience."  These books also lead to my belief that he did graduate, either from St John's or from another college.  Our ancestor also seems to have been responsible for the design of the meeting house there, which was designed to protect against attacks from the native Americans.  He was a multi-talented man!

Reverend Ephraim died in 1644 at Windsor and left an estate of over 633 pounds, which would be considered a sizable estate.  This leads to my speculation that either his books were runaway best sellers, or he had inherited or been given money at one time or another.  This again leads back to the speculation as to who his parents may have been.  If they were well-off, there is a good chance they can be found.  He left his "Great Island" at the Falls, to the Court of Hartford, for the use of the country.  I don't know what value his "Great Island" had (possibly a mill of some sort?) but it seems to have been a valuable gift, and I hope the "country" appreciated it. 

I know that I appreciate this ancestor a lot more, after learning this much about him.  Even though there is much we don't know, it's a joy to find this much about our immigrant-"teacher"-author ancestor.

The line of descent is:

Ephraim Hewett (Huett Huit)-Isabel Overton
Mary Hewett-Thomas Strong
Maria Strong-Samuel Judd
Elizabeth Judd-Ebenezer Southwell
Eunice Southwell-Medad Pomeroy Jr.
Eunice Pomeroy-Libbeus Stannard
Libbeus Stannard Jr-Luceba Fay
Hiram Stanard-Susan Eddy
Louis Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants

Fun fact:  Ephraim Hewett is also shown as an ancestor to Herbert Hoover.  It's fun to find another distant presidential cousin!