Friday, March 18, 2016

Allen line: Henry Burt 1595-1662, Immigrant

Question: What do Ethan Allen, Grover Cleveland, and Winston Churchill have in common? 
Answer:  They are all descendants of Henry Burt, as are we of the Allen family.  I think that's so cool!  I haven't done the actual research to bear this out, but these are statements I've found on-line, and they appear to be plausible. 

This blog post is mostly based on research found at  It is a thoroughly referenced source, and I'm grateful to have found it.  There's even an online book about Henry and his descendants, which is rather wordy but interesting.  Basically I'm using these and other sources to paraphrase what they've found, and to add my own little twist to this ancestor's story.

Henry Burt was born in 1595 in Harberton, Devon, England, the first child and first son of Henry and Iseult or Isolde Burt. (Her parents are as yet unknown.). Henry Senior was a clothier and seems to have done rather well for himself by the time he died in 1617.  Harberton was small (population about 1300 currently) so for a person to own 93 sheep and 32 lambs, plus cloth and yarn, several houses, an orchard, nursery, various out buildings, and more, he must have been at least of the middle class. 

Our Henry was one of at least seven children (these children were mentioned in the will, there may well have been others who died before Henry Sr.s death in 1617).  He was left 5 dwellings in his father's will, but there seems to be no mention of the sheep, cloth, and yarn that would have given Henry a trade, so perhaps that went to son John, who was left half the residue of the estate.

Henry did in fact become, or already had been, a clothier also, and was doing well enough financially in December of 1619 to marry Eulalia Marche.  He was a Puritan, of such measure that he occasionally read Sunday sermons to the congregation in his later years, apparently when the church was without a pastor or the pastor was ill or out of town.  Henry was in his early 40's when he decided to move his family to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

It's believed that they came, perhaps as a family, to Boston in 1638, although it could have been earlier.  By 1638 they were in Roxbury, where we learn that their home burned.  This would likely have included the tools of the clothing trade also, so it was a terrible loss.  It appears that there was some sort of "settlement" of about 8 pounds to the family, as recompense, and by 1639, the family was in Springfield, Massachusetts, which had been founded just four years earlier.

Henry quickly settled down in Springfield.  His town lot bordered on the Connecticut River.  He was on an early jury, was selectman for the town several years, and was made a freeman in April of 1648.  He was "Clerke of the Band", the militia, starting in 1648 also, and in 1649 was chosen "Clerke of the writts for this Towne." He was involved in two or three lawsuits during his lifetime, suing for debts he was owed.  Plus, there was the reference to his reading sermons on Sunday, perhaps because he was Clerke, perhpas because he had a strong speaking voice, or perhaps because he was regarded as a pious man. 

The Burts had children, a lot of children.  I'm finding lists of anywhere from 11 to 19 of them, some of whom died young.  It may have been after the birth of one of her children in England that Eulalia herself was thought to have died.  The family tradition is that she was laid out in her coffin and regained consciousness during her own funeral.  Further tradition has said that she brought the coffin to American with her and was buried in it many years later.  I suspect the "regained consciousness during her funeral" may be true but I wonder about the coffin story.  It's fun to think about it, though!

Henry died in Springfield on April 30, 1662, without a will.  However, there is a thorough inventory.  It includes, among other things, the house and land in town, two other parcels of land, farm implements and animals, two guns, and books valued at 10 shillings.  The total estate was 181 pounds, of which 47 pounds was owed, mostly to "Mr. Pynchon."

Eulalia, mother of many children, did not remarry, and died August 9, 1690, outliving her husband by 28 years.  She evidently still had her own housing, for she gave cows, bedding, land and household goods to her children.  This post is about Henry, but it certainly appears that he chose wisely in marrying Eulalia. 

There is much more that could be said about Henry, but this is intended to be a sketch only, so we at least know a bit about our immigrants.  Sometimes that leads to famous cousins, and interesting stories, and those are some of the reasons I write this blog. 

Here's the line of descent:

Henry Burt-Eulalia Marche
Abigail Burt-Francis Ball
Samuel Ball-Mary Graves
Mary Ball-John Hitchcock
Samuel Hitchcock-Ruth Stebbins
Margaret Hitchock-Richard Falley
Samuel Falley-Ruth Roote
Clarissa Falley-John Havens Starr
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants