Home > 002048. James Mattocks > John Lewis of New London, Conn.; Joseph Lewis of Simsbury, Conn.

John Lewis of New London, Conn.; Joseph Lewis of Simsbury, Conn.

Source: Donald Lines Jacobus, “John Lewis of New London, Conn.; Joseph Lewis of Simsbury, Conn.,”
American Genealogist 37[1961]:123-28.

The Lewis family of Waterbury, Conn., descends from Joseph Lewis of Simsbury, Conn., who died in 1680. Most printed accounts call this Joseph Lewis son of John Lewis of New London who died in 1676 and assert that this John Lewis was the man of that name who came to New England in the Hercules in 1635. Both of these statements are questionable.

Over a century ago, Miss Frances M. Caulkins published (1852) her History of New London, in which (p. 325-6) she had this to say: “The name John Lewis is found several times repeated among the early emigrants to New England. One came over in the Hercules, from Sandwich, in 1635, with wife Sarah, and one child; and was enrolled as from Tenterden, in Kent. This is probably the same that appears on the list of freemen in Scituate, Mass., 1637. He afterward disappears from the records of that town, and we suppose him to be the John Lewis, who came to New London, 1648.” She then gives an account of John Lewis, Jr., proved son of John of New London, and ancestor of a Lewis family of Lyme. She also states: “Nathaniel and Joseph Lewis, are names that appear on the rate-list of 1667, as partners in estate. They were transient residents….”

Savage, in his Genealogical Dictionary of New England, vol. 3 (1861), p. 87, mentions several early settlers named John Lewis. He starts with John of Scituate, of whom he says “was of Tenterden in Co. Kent, and came in the Hercules, 1635, with w[ife] Sarah and one ch[ild] as the vicar of T[enterden] and the mayor certify for him. He rem[oved] in a few yrs. to Boston, where his w[ife] d. 12 July 1657.” Although familiar with Miss Caulkins’ work — which he often quotes — he makes John of New London a separate person, who died 8 Dec. 1676 and had a son John; and that is virtually all he says about him. Further down he mentions a John of Boston, butcher, who married 22 Nov. 1659 Alice, widow of Nathaniel Bishop, and daughter of James Mattock, and by her had three children [actually, Boston records show the births of four children of this marriage]. On page 88 Savage mentions Joseph and Nathaniel of New London 1666 as “perhaps sons of John of New London, and suggests that this Joseph “may have been s[on] of John, perhaps of Windsor 1675, and d. at Simsbury 1680″ and then gives the children of Joseph of Simsbury. [Italics are ours.]

It will be seen that the early writers are responsible for suggesting that John of New London was identical with the Scituate settler who came in 1635, and that Joseph of Simsbury was a son of the New London man, but that these were merely suggestions, and it is clear that Savage did not accept the Caulkins identification of John of New London with the 1635 emigrant in the Hercules (she only said we suppose him to be the same), but stated that the 1635 emigrant settled in Scituate and moved from there to Boston. In that, he has since been proved correct. However, the bare supposition of Miss Caulkins that John of New London was the 1635 emigrant, and the “perhaps” of Savage that Joseph of Simsbury was a son of John of New London were accepted by later students of the Lewis families as if they were proved facts and were indeed stated by them as facts.

In 1893 the late Carll A. Lewis took over the publication of the Lewis Family Letter of which three volumes had previously been issued under different editorship; he rechristened it Lewisiana and continued its publication to 1907. He was a great collector of Lewis data and a fine editor, but in the main he merely arranged and published the material sent him by his many correspondents. He seems to have done little record research personally and to have accepted the generally credited accounts of the early generations of the various Lewis families. Hence in his publication, Joseph of Simsbury having been originally accepted as son of John of New London, and the latter as the emigrant of 1635, these statements seem never to have been questioned, verified, or corrected.

In 1912 Miss Elizabeth French (afterward Mrs. J. Gardner Bartlett) published in the New England Hist. and Gen. Register, 66:353-356, an account of the Meed family of Tenterden, Kent, England, which proves that John Lewis married Sarah Meed. Her account of Sarah reads:

“Sarah, bapt. 29 Nov. 1612; married at Tenterden 1 Mar. 1631/2, by license dated 21 Feb. 1631/2, John Lewis, a butcher of that place. They sailed for New England in March 1634/5, and settled at Scituate, Mass. He became freeman of Plymouth Colony 7 Feb. 1637/8, and later moved to Boston, where was bapt. “Sarah of —- Lewis of Scituate 5 day 11 mo. 1650″ [5 Jan. 1650/1], and where his wife died 12 July 1657. He married (2), 22 Nov. 1659, Alice Bishop, widow of Nathaniel, by whom he had Samuel, Joseph, and Benoni [she omits a fourth child Nathaniel]. No clue to his parentage has been obtained. Deane in his History of Scituate says that he was a brother of George Lewis, who was of East Greenwich in Kent, a place on the Thames near London. He certainly was not a native of Tenterden, but probably came to live there for business reasons.”

The printed Boston Vital Records do indeed show these Lewis items:

  • Sarah, of —- Lewis of Scituate, bapt. 5.11.1650.
  • Sarah wife of John Lewis died 12 July 1659.
  • John Lewis m. Alice Bishop 22 Nov. 1659.

Children of John and Alice Lewis recorded:

  • Samuel, b. 18 Jan. 1661.
  • Joseph, b. 11 Feb. 1662 [1662/3].
  • Benoni, b. 25 Jan. 1664, bapt. 29 Jan. 1664/5.
  • Nathaniel, b. 5 July 1666, bapt. 8 July 1666.

The early Suffolk County Deeds, which include Boston, are in print. There I find (Liber 4, pp. 83-86) a conveyance given by John Lewes Sr. of Boston, Butcher, on 2 March 1662/3; and another given by John Lewes, Sr., of Boston, butcher, 3 Aug. 1669 (Liber 6, pp. 83-84), his wife Alice relinquishing her dower right in the latter.

This sequence should be noted. We have the marriage of John Lewis, a butcher, to Sarah Meed in Tenterden in 1632; the emigration of John Lewis with wife and child in 1635; shortly after, John Lewis of Scituate becomes a freeman; a child of —- Lewis of Scituate is baptized at Boston early in 1651; Sarah wife of John dies at Boston in 1657; in 1659 John marries at Boston a widow named Alice; and thereafter John Lewis of Boston, calling himself a butcher, and having a wife Alice, conveys. This sequence of events, the identity of trade, and the identity of the name Sarah as that of the first wife, serve to convince me that we have here some of the history of the John Lewis who came in the Hercules in 1635.

John Lewis of New London was there before 1650; he was certainly there continuously from then until his death in 1676, since Miss Caulkins cites various records pertaining to him in different years through this period and I have a note of two such records: he sold land, signing by mark, 1 March 1659/60 [New London Deeds, 3:76]; and he requested certain land from the town, 26 Jan. 1662/3 [Town Meetings 1662-1664, p. 2]. Hence he cannot be the John who emigrated on the Hercules 1635, who, as we have shown, was living in Scituate and Boston during this period. I also find that John Lewis [the younger] sold land in 1692 that was his father John’s deceased [Deeds, 5:156]. This proves that he did have the son John ascribed to him. I have seen no records to indicate that he had other surviving sons, and if Miss Caulkins in her combing of New London records had found any proof of the existence of other sons, she would certainly have mentioned them in her account of the Lewis family, as she did in other family accounts.

Hence it is disproved that John Lewis of New London was the emigrant with whom he has so often been identified. No proof that he had a son Joseph has been seen.

Joseph Lewis of Simsbury married at Windsor, Conn., 30 Apr. 1674, Elizabeth Case. A year later, on 16 June 1675, a John Lewis married (at Hartford, according to the Windsor record) Mary Humphrey [of Windsor], and they had six children recorded at Windsor:

  1. John, b. 24 Feb. 1675/6, d. 10 May 1675.
  2. Samuel, b. 6 Aug. 1677.
  3. Mary, b. 18 Nov. 1679.
  4. Elizabeth, b. 6 Mar. 1681/2.
  5. Sarah, b. 6 Mar. 1683/4.
  6. John, b. 1 Feb. 1693/4.

The Case and Humphrey families into which Joseph and John Lewis married were both of Windsor but removed early to the new town, Simsbury. Joseph Lewis died at Simsbury in 1680. John Lewis remained in Windsor and died there 22 Apr. 1713.

When two men of the same surname, of marriageable age and apparently of the same generation, appear at about the same time in a town where the name was previously unknown and marry and settle there, it is usually a fair guess that they were brothers. Now John Lewis who settled in Windsor a year after Joseph Lewis married there has been positively identified as son of John Lewis of Charleston and Malden, Mass., and the latter did have also a son Joseph whose history according to Lewisiana has never been learned!

For a clear understanding of the family groups involved, the following brief schedule of the Charlestown family is given below; some further details may be seen in Thomas B. Wyman, Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, Mass. (1879), 2:617, and other sources.

John Lewis of Charlestown by wife Margaret had children:

  • John, b. 12 Sept. 1638.
  • Joseph, b. 29 Mar. 1640.
  • Mary (twin), b. 29 Mar. 1640; d. young.
  • Samuel, b. 24 June 1641.
  • Elizabeth, b. 10 Sept. 1642; m. Bryant Borden.
  • Sarah, b. 24 Dec. 1647; m. Joseph Brabook.

The wife d. 10 Mar. 1648/9; John m. (2) 10 Apr. 1650 Mary Brown and had further issue:

  • Abraham, b. 10 Dec. 1650.
  • Jonathan, b. 4 Jan. 1651/2; d. 10 Feb. 1651/2.
  • Mary, b. Jan. 1652/3; m. 30 Nov. 1675 Samuel Penfield.
  • Hannah.
  • Isaac.
  • Trial, b. Jan. 1657/8, posthumous.

The father John Lewis d. 16 Sept. 1657.

Lewisiana prints [vol. 4, p. 9] information received from Rollin H. Cooke of Pittsfield, Mass., who was very active in genealogical research at that time (before 1900). He cites deeds in the Middlesex, Mass., Registry. One, dated August 1695, reads: “Samuel Lewis of Malden and John Melvin of Charlestown, sailor, attorney for my brother-in-law John Lewis of Windsor, Abraham Lewis of Rumney Marsh [now Chelsea], and Bryant Borden who married Elizabeth Lewis, and Samuel Penfield who married Sarah Lewis [this is wrong, he married Mary Lewis, and Sarah married Joseph Brabook; perhaps a misprint or a line omitted in printing], Triall Lewis, and Thomas Pratt [nothing to show his interest], heirs of Isaac Lewis [perhaps Pratt was acting for them], all children and heirs of late John Lewis of Malden, deceased.” Another deed, 2 Oct. 1695, is from John Lewis of Windsor, cordwainer, and names “my brother Abraham Lewis of Rumney Marsh” and “our father, John Lewis, of Malden, deceased.” While the deeds may not have been read or printed with exactitude, they leave no doubt that John Lewis of Windsor was the son of John of Charlestown and Malden, born 1638, even though that makes him about 37 at marriage.

Since John of Windsor did have a brother Joseph, born 1640, the question arises, is it not likely that this was the Joseph Lewis who married in Windsor a year ahead of John’s appearance there and settled in Simsbury? The only count against this theory is that Joseph seems not to have mentioned in the above deeds. However, Joseph himself was not then living, having died in 1680. It seems possible, at least, that the administrators of Joseph’s estate, who were his widow and her second husband John Tuller, may have conveyed Joseph Lewis’s interest in the Massachusetts property. In that case, the deed would be indexed under Tuller, and Mr. Cooke may well have looked in the deed index only for the Lewis name.

Lewisiana prints [vol. 7, p. 54] records pertaining to the trial of one James Hall in 1671; testimony shows that Hall went to Malden and lodged at Bryan Bredane’s [this was Bryant Borden husband of Elizabeth Lewis]; he had a mare of Bredane’s and carried Sarah Lewis behind him to Concord and there left Sarah at her brother Joseph Lewis’s and “Joseph came down with her last Tuesday night” etc. This at least proves that Joseph Lewis survived until 1671 when, at the age of 31, he was living in Concord, Mass. This was three years before the marriage of our Joseph at Windsor.

While the evidence is insufficient to conclude that Joseph Lewis of Simsbury was identical with the son of John Lewis of Charlestown, it seems to provide a strong clue to his origin. Further research in Massachusetts might confirm (or possibly disprove) the theory.

Joseph Lewis, whatever his origin, died at Simsbury, Conn., (before 2 Sept.) 1680; married at Windsor, Conn., 30 Apr. 1674, Elizabeth Case, born about 1658, died at Simsbury 9 Oct. 1718, daughter of John and Sarah (Spencer) Case of Windsor and Simsbury. She married second, about 1684, John Tuller, of unknown antecedents, who survived her, married again, and died at Simsbury, very old, before 28 Jan. 1741/2.

Joseph Lewis first appears in Connecticut records at the time of his marriage and seems shortly thereafter to have moved from Windsor to Simsbury, where the birth records of all his children were entered. He died only six years after his marriage, so records of him are few in Connecticut.

He was called of Simsbury when the inventory of his estate was taken by John Case and Samuel Willcoxson. Administration was granted, 2 Sept. 1680, to “Elizabeth Lewes, the Relict,” with John Case [her father] to assist. Another inventory was taken long after, on 13 May 1706, limited to lands valued at £24, and six months later a Quietus Est was granted to the administrators, John Tuller and Elizabeth his wife, they releasing their dower, and the lands were divided between the children, Joseph Lewis, John Lewis, and Elizabeth Smith. [Manwaring’s Digest, Hartford Probate District, 1:330; 2:90].

Children, births recorded at Simsbury:

  1. Elizabeth, b. 20 Mar. 1674/5; m. —- Smith.
  2. Joseph, b. 15 Mar. 1676/7; d. at Waterbury, Conn., 29 Nov. 1749; m. at Waterbury, 7 Apr. 1703, Sarah Andrus (or Andrews), b. at Waterbury, 16 Mar. 1683/4, d. there 6 Mar. 1773, dau. of Abraham and Rebecca (Carrington?) Andrus. She m. (2) 14 May 1750, Isaac Bronson, when she was 67 and he 80, and Mr. Bronson d. 13 June 1751. Joseph Lewis served the church as Deacon and the town as Sergeant and as Deputy to the General Assembly for 16 sessions between 1713 and 1741. Eight children.
  3. A son, d. young.
  4. John, b. 8 Jan. 1680 (1680/1?); d. at Simsbury (before 18 Jan.) 1713/14; m. at Simsbury, 22 June 1711, Abigail Bacon, b. there 8 Dec. 1693, d. there 17 Dec. 1719, dau. of Thomas and Abigail (Maskill) Bacon. She m. (2) at Simsbury, 4 Aug. 1715, Gillet Adams. Only child:
    • John, bapt. 2 May 1714; on 17 May 1733, aged 19, he chose for his guardian his aunt Bethia Bacon, resident in Hartford (Manwaring’s Digest, 2:252, which misreads the age of John as 12 instead of 19). John Lewis, Jr., m. at Simsbury, 27 Sept. 1736, Rebecca Butler of Middletown, Conn., and had five children recorded at Simsbury, born 1737/8 to 1744.
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