Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Allen line: John Williams, Immigrant

Maybe I don't have enough information to write about this man.  In fact, I certainly don't have enough information.  What information I have found is confusing.  He was born here, or he was born there. There are no records of when he arrived in the colonies.  He married her or he married her.  He died then or he died 54 years later.  Do you see what I am talking about?  This post is going to be based mostly on either/ors, with a few things thrown in that I do believe related to our ancestor.

The first either/or is the place of his birth.  Most sources list St Giles, Cripplegate Parish, London, England in 1618, with his parents being Robert Williams and Elizabeth Stratton.  Others say he was born in Norfolk, England, or unknown parents.  Since we can't pin down where he was born or the names of his parents we also know nothing about his life in, presumably, England. 

We don't know when he came to the Colonies, but we know he is listed as a founder of Windsor, Connecticut, and there is probably a record of him there in 1639.  I say "probably" because I can't find another researcher who has pointed this out, perhaps as a matter of delicacy.  It shows our ancestor, if this is indeed our John Williams, in a somewhat unsavory light, as he was sentenced in Hartford court in 1639 "to stand upon thee pillory from the ringing of the first bell to the end of the lecture, then to be whipt at a cart's tail and to be whit in a like manner at Windsor within eight days following."  (From The History of Ancient Windsor by Henry Reed Stiles).  The charge was "behaving in an unclean manner" which could mean anything from visiting a prostitute to touching a woman, or any manner of other possibilities.  Two other men were sentenced with him at the same time, but whether they were all involved in the same event is not clear.  At this time, John would have been about 21 years old, old enough to know better but perhaps too young to care.

He apparently recovered from this event and saved enough money to buy land in 1644, 14 acres.  This wasn't enough to support a family but it was probably enough to raise pigs, sheep and chickens for a family to live on.  This was important because in the same year John married, in Windsor, Connecticut.  His wife was Mary, but it's not clear what her last name was.  It may have been Burley, or Berkly, but does not seem to be Bulkeley, as has often been reported.  (That means a whole lot of my family tree is wrong and we are not nearly as much of royal pains as I had believed.)

John and Mary, however are our ancestors and they did raise a family in Windsor, of at least eight children.  We find John's name on a list of horsemen formed in Windsor in 1657-58, but he isn't on a list of people who purchased pews in the church in 1659-1660. Mary died, apparently in Windsor, in 1681 and five years later John married Esther or Hester Kelsey.

 There doesn't seem to be any further reference to him in Windsor after 1658, until his will written February 10, 1707/08, in which he says is is of Windsor.  However, there is a confusing reference to John and Mary in Westfield, or it may be that it was their daughter who was in Westfield, Massachusetts.  Someone by his name was a fence-viewer in Westfield.  More research needs to be done to track the last years of his life.  There are those who say that he died in 1658,but that doesn't appear to be correct.

At any rate, his will in 1707/08 says he was of Windsor.  The will was filed four years later but when  filed in 1712 it was contested because no executor had been named and because John "as [a} person 96 years of age, had become childish and infirm in his intellectuals."  The court approved Hester to claim her widow's share of the estate, but there were court proceedings 25 years later attempting to divide up a small part of the estate among heirs of his heirs.  The estate, when originally inventoried, had been valued at 222 pounds.  Hester lived until 1720.

The line of descent is:

John Williams-Mary Burley
Mary Williams-John Gunne
Mary Gunne-Samuel Root
Martin Root-Eunice Lamb
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 descendants

Fun fact:  John and Mary are the ancestors of Humphrey Bogart, making him a distant cousin.