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Family Events

The First Brocketts in America

The Pilgrims arrive in 1620

Embarcation of the Pilgrims
Robert W. Weir Oil on canvas, 12' x 18'
Commissioned 1837; placed 1843 in the US Capitol Rotunda

Protestant pilgrims are shown on the deck of the ship Speedwell before their departure for the New World via Southampton, England from Delft Haven, Holland, on July 22, 1620. William Brewster, holding the Bible, and pastor John Robinson lead Governor Carver, William Bradford, Miles Standish, and their families in prayer. The prominence of women and children suggests the importance of the family in the community. At the left side of the painting is a rainbow, which symbolizes hope and divine protection.

After leaving Delft Haven in Holland the pilgrims sailed to Southampton, England where they teamed up with the Mayflower. After leaving England the Speedwell developed a leak and both ships returned to shore. Everyone was squeezed on the Mayflower which set sail for the New World leaving from a site near the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth, England in September and arrived at what is now called Plymouth, Massachusetts in November of 1620. There were 102 passengers and a crew of 2530.

Their intended destination was an area near the Hudson River, in "North Virginia" where they had already obtained permission from the London Company to settle. However their ship was forced off-course by inclement weather and drifted north. As a result of the delay, the pilgrims did not arrive in Cape Cod until after the onset of a harsh New England winter. They tried to reach Virginia but could not navigate the treacherous waters off the southeast corner of Cape Cod. To establish legal order and to quell increasing strife, the pilgrims wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact after the ship dropped anchor at the tip of Cape Cod on November 21, in what is now Provincetown Harbor.
During the winter the passengers and crew remained on board the Mayflower, suffering an outbreak of a contagious disease described as a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis. When it ended, there were only 53 passengers, just more than half, still alive. Likewise, half of the crew died as well. In spring, they built huts ashore, and on March 31, 1621, the surviving passengers left the Mayflower.

 

Mayflower Sets Sail
The Mayflower leaves for the New World
Mayflower II
The Mayflower II
A 20th century reproduction of the original ship

Edward J Brockett's Historical Introduction

Reverend Davenport
Reverend John Davenport

Editor's Note: I, Tim Brockett, am honored to call myself a descendant of John Brockett. John was educated at Cambridge in England, was a man of means and good manners, possessed tremendous courage and faith, believed in the rule of law, democracy and freedom for individuals to worship in the manner they chose. He gave up a safe, secure and comfortable life in England and helped to carve a city and a new way of living from the American wilderness. His band of Puritans lead by Reverend John Davenport valued the individual and saw education and faith as a path towards success for everyone. They legally purchased land from the natives or Indians, lived in peace with them and protected them from enemies. Over the years John and his fellow citizens built a city they called New Haven in the state we call Connecticut. John also assisted in building the city of Elizabeth, New Jersey. Then he joined 100 other hardy, brave and industrious individuals and ventured north from the safe and now comfortable confines of New Haven into the wolf and hostile Indian infested wilderness. Again they brought peace and prosperity to the natives while carving a new settlement from the forest that would eventually bear the name of Wallingford. Today over one million people live in the cities John helped to create. John raised his family in Wallingford with his wife, Mary Blackwell Brockett. He passed away on March 12, 1690 at the ripe old age of 80 and left behind a family that I am honored to be a member of and a legacy that we can all be proud of.
Another John Brockett descendant, Edward J Brockett, wrote a wonderful book in 1904 titled "The Descendants of John Brockett". Edward accurately provides context and gives a richer meaning to the life and times of John Brockett with his historical introduction. Edward stated in 1904 what I believe is still true today. He said "This generation...is looking up...to catch an inspiration from the characters of those who laid the foundation of this [America], the most glorious nation of all times." May our ancestors bring hope, faith and inspiration to you too.
You may download Edward J Brockett's book for free or read it online at http://www.archive.org/details/descendantsofjoh00inbroc.

In 1620, when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, New England was one vast wilderness, inhabited only by Indians and wild beasts. For the first decade immigration was very light, and but few settlements were made. The oppressive acts of King Charles I. led to quite an increase of immigration between 1630 and 1640.
On the twenty-sixth of June, 1637, the ship Hector with its consort, arrived in Boston, bringing a company of immigrants, who received a warmer welcome than ordinary.
It was composed of persons of opulence, intelligence, and business experience, who had come with their families and whole estates from England for a home in America.
With them came Rev. John Davenport, who had become celebrated in London, first as a preacher, second for his courageous residence with and care of his flock during the dreadful plague in 1625, when the clergy generally fled, and, third, for coming in conflict with Archbishop Laud on account of his non-conformist views and through whose persecution he was led to withdraw from the Established Church and form a Puritan congregation in London.

 
Descendants of John Brockett
The Descendants of John Brockett
Title Page - 1904

Also with them came Theophilus Eaton, a prosperous merchant, Deputy Governor of the East Land Company, and who for several years had resided in Denmark as an agent of King Charles I. On his return to London he left the Established Church and became a member of the Puritan congregation of the Rev. John Davenport. He had been one of the original patentees of the Charter of Massachusetts. Not only the people of Boston, but the whole Colony of Massachusetts were desirous that this company should settle within its Commonwealth and made liberal proposals to them, but this was not in accord with the purposes of either Davenport or Eaton. Davenport's idea seemed to be to found a colony which should be absolutely controlled by the church; only church members eligible to office, or even allowed to vote, transferring to this country the English idea of "Church and State"; only, instead of the Episcopal Church, it must be a Church of the Congregational order with which he was identified.
During the summer of 1637 that portion of the southern shore of Connecticut, lying between Saybrook and Fairfield, had been discovered through the pursuit of the Pequots by the Colonists ; and on the thirty-first of August, 1637, Theophilus Eaton headed an exploring party and came by water from Boston to the mouth of the Quinnipiac River. They were so well pleased with the locality that they left seven of their number to hold possession and prepare for the permanent occupation of the place. In the ensuing April (1638) the whole company, including John Brockett, whose descendants are given in this volume, arrived from Boston.
On the Sunday following their arrival the company assembled under the trees twice for public worship. Mr. Davenport preached from the text : "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit to be tempted of the Devil," warning his hearers that even here temptations are to be encountered and the fight with Satan has not ended, though they have changed the battleground from London to the wilderness. Ever after public worship was maintained.

Among their first acts they purchased from the Indians two tracts of land, one of which covered many miles on each side of the Quinnipiac River, extending northward ten miles. By a fair treaty and subsequent fair dealings the Colonists made firm friends of the Indians, and were never seriously molested. A town plan was laid out and house lots assigned to each planter, according to the number of persons in his family and the amount of estate on which he was able and willing to pay taxes.
On June 4, 1639, " a meeting of all the free planters was held to consult about settling the civil government according to God, and the nominations of persons that might be found, by consent of all, fittest in all respects for the foundation work of a church which was intended to be gathered in Quinnipiac."
At this meeting a covenant was entered into by the proprietors and in a formal and very solemn manner a resolution was adopted, "that only church members shall be free burgesses and they only shall choose among themselves the magistrates and officers."
This covenant was signed by all the freeholders. Theophilus Eaton was elected Governor, and reelected each year from 1638 until his death in 1657. John Brockett, a civil engineer and surveyor, was appointed "to lay out the large square in nine equal sections" ; also to lay out the "neck of land." Later, in the Colonial Records, mention is made of the accuracy of the angles and the equality of the sections as laid out by him. These remain to this day unaltered in boundaries, and comprise what is now known as the New Haven Green and the grounds of Yale University.
On December 12, 1641, the town "ordered that a free school shall be set up in this town," which is said to be the first free school in New England.
The interest of the colonists in education was further manifested in 1644 (fifty-seven years before Yale College was founded), in the passage of the following: "It is ordered that Joseph Atwater and William Davis shall receive of everyone in this plantation, whose heart is willing to contribute, a peck of wheat, or the value of it, for the relief of poor scholars at the College at Cambridge" (Harvard).

 
Edward J Brockett
Edward J Brockett - Author of
The Descendants of John Brockett

Sunday was observed with the greatest reverence, no one being excused from attending "meeting" except for sickness. Nonattendance was punished by fines and sometimes by whipping.
"New Haven was from the first a compactly settled town of more than one hundred and thirty families, and many of its inhabitants not only refined but wealthy. New Haven excelled all the other plantations in New England in the elegance and costliness of its domestic architecture. Hubbard, the historian, who was seventeen years of age when New Haven was founded, speaks of its 'error in great buildings,' and afterwards alludes to it again, saying: They laid out too much of their stocks and estates in building of fair and stately houses, wherein at the first they outdid the rest of the country.'
According to Atwater's History of New Haven "Tradition reports that the house of Theophilus Eaton was so large as to have nineteen fireplaces, and that it was lofty as well as large. Its principal apartment, denominated as in the mother country 'The Hall/ was the first to be entered. It was sufficiently spacious to accommodate the whole family when assembled at meals and at prayers.
Family worship was an important feature of domestic life in a Puritan household. It was important because of its frequency, regularity, and seriousness. Whenever the family came to the table for breakfast, dinner, or supper, there was a grace before the meat ; and when they left it, a grace after meat, every person standing by his chair while the blessing was asked and the thanks were given. The day was begun with worship, which included the reading of Scripture and prayer, and ended with a similar service, all standing during the prayer."
The simple, regular life of a planter's family was favorable to health. As compared with the present time, there was but little excitement and but little worry for man or woman. News from home was communicated to the neighbors by "letters of intelligence," an institution which during the existence of the colony began to give place to printed newspapers. These were passed from hand to hand. Corn was husked and houses were "raised" by neighborly kindness. The whole plantation sympathized with a family afflicted with sickness, and the neighbors assisted them in nursing and watching.

Families entertained travellers after the manner of Christians of the first century, and highly prized their visits as seasons of fellowship and opportunities for learning the news of the day.
The names of very many towns in Connecticut were taken from England. That of Wallingford, derived from the Anglo-Saxon Gaullhen, i.e., "old fortification," was the name of an old town in England which Leland thus quaintly describes: "The town of Wallingford hath beene a very notable thing and welle waulled. And by the patentes and donations of Edmunde, Erie of Cornewaul, and Lord of the House of Wallingford, ther wer 14 Parish Chirchis in Wallingford."
The town was formerly surrounded by a wall; the castle stood by the river. Camden, in his "Britannia," says : "The castle's size and magnificence used to strike me with astonishment." He believed it to have been built by the Romans, afterward destroyed by the Saxons and Danes, and re-built under William I.
In 1667 the General Assembly of Connecticut granted to "the town of New Haven, liberty to make a village on the East River, if they see it capable for such a thing, provided they settle a village there within four years from May next."
In 1670 the same authority incorporated "New Haven Village" as a town, and named it Wallingford.
According to Davis' History of Wallingford "It appears that Abraham Doolittle and John Peck were on the ground in 1668, and John Brockett and John Moss in the autumn of 1669, which fact was undoubtedly the cause of their being selected as a committee to superintend and manage the affairs of the new village ; but it was not until the month of April, 1670, that the first permanent settlement at Wallingford was made.
"In May, 1672, after the planters had received their respective allotments, built their houses, and had assumed the form of a regular and settled community, the committee who had arranged all the preliminaries and incipient stages of the new plantation surrendered all their power and the title to the whole territory into the hands of the planters, who thereby became a corporate body; in other words, a town. The lands within the town limits became thus the property of the town, to be by them disposed of in such ways and to such persons as they might deem fit.
"In these various transfers of the land, from the Town of New Haven to the committee, thence to the associated planters, and ultimately to individual proprietors, no money or consideration of any kind was paid. The land was worth literally nothing until actually settled and cleared. From time to time, as families became larger and individuals became able to bring more land under cultivation, additional allotments were made by town vote to each planter. At various times there were 'divisions' in this manner, until the whole territory was occupied.

 
Early New Haven Connecticut
New Haven, Connecticut - Nine squares
enclosed by a palisade. Circa 1700

In arranging these divisions, the whole population was classed into three 'ranks,' according to their ability to pay taxes. In all assessments, the first rank paid double the amount of tax charged on the 'loest rank,' and one-third more than the middle rank.
Wallingford is the only town whose territory was taken out of that of the Town of New Haven before the incorporation of the city, in 1784. The subtraction of fifty families from its census, for the settlement of Wallingford, made the growth of New Haven appear less than it really was. The inhabitants of Wallingford, though in a different town, were tributary to New Haven in the way of trade.
In the New Haven Colony Laws for 1656 we find "That none shall be admitted Freeman or free Burgesses within this Jurisdiction, or any part of it, but such planters as are members of some one of the approved Churches of New England." Also, "It is ordered, That no single person of either Sex, do hence forward board, or Sojourn, or be permitted so to do, or to have lodging, or house room within any of the plantations of this Jurisdiction, except in some approved Family, licensed thereunto, by the court, or by a Magistrate, or some Officer or Officers in that Plantation, appointed thereunto, where there is no Magistrate." Also that the head of the family should : "Duly observe the course, carriage, and behaviour, of every such single person, whether he, or she, walk diligently in a constant lawful employment."
So careful were they in guarding the character of their new settlement that even the land which was appropriated to individuals as their private property was held under the condition that no sale was to be made to any stranger until the character of the proposed purchaser had been examined and approved by the town and leave granted by express vote of the town for such transfer of land.

According to Davis' History of Wallingford "The 'hopp ground land' was that which produced the materials for making hoops. Such land, though swampy, was then most valuable in the town. For in the great scarcity of a circulating medium, and of means for purchasing all foreign produce, these hoops and staves always found a great demand and a ready sale in the West Indies. Of course our farmers in trading with the New Haven merchants found these hoop-poles as useful as cash. Accordingly we find in the records of the town that these 'hopp ground lands' were most carefully managed, were granted out in very small quantities, and in the various grants recorded, each man was very careful that a piece of this precious land should be included in his farm.
Hoops were made in large quantities in the winter season, when the farmers had nothing to do, and commanded from $20 to $45 per thousand in New Haven, according to their size and the wood from which they were made. Hoop poles twelve feet long brought $40 per thousand. This trade has entirely ceased since 1880.

 
Brockett Map New Haven Connecticut
The Nine Squares of New Haven, Connecticut
John Brockett's land is marked with a blue bar
Produced in 1641 Courtesy Yale University Library

Quoting Davis' History of Wallingford"Wallingford furnished her quota of troops for the French and Indian wars of 1690, and again in 1694 for the defense of Albany. The whole amount of taxes paid by Wallingford, in common with other towns, for the defense of New York and Massachusetts, amounted to the enormous burden of about twenty pence on the pound; so that at the close of the year 1695 the colony had drawn from the pockets of the people and paid out seven thousands of pounds. We cannot but admire the self sacrificing spirit of the citizens, especially when we remember that they submitted to this heavy drain from their resources from the most unselfish motives that ever actuated a people.
"In October, 1774, the General Assembly met at New Haven and a law was enacted to raise one-fourth of the militia for the special defense of the Colony, formed into companies of one hundred men each, and into six regiments. The companies from Wallingford were commanded by Captain Isaac Cook and Captain John Couch.
" That each Soldier that Engages in the Continental Service, for the Quota of Wallingford, shall be paid by the town the sum of five pounds Lawful money by the year, for three years, unless sooner discharged, to be paid the beginning of each year.
" 'Voted fourpence halfpenny on the pound for the aforesaid purpose.' 'December 16, 1777, voted a tax of threepence on the pound for the benefit of the Soldiers and their Familys that are now in the Continental army.' "
It is difficult at the present day to imagine the immense difficulties our fathers had to undergo in traveling from one town to another. Over mountains, through swamps, across rivers, fording, or upon rafts, with no compass to point out their irregular way; now in the open space of the forest, where the sun looked in ; now under the shade of the old trees ; now struggling through the entanglement of bushes and vines, with perhaps a "bridle path" cut through the trees. Wherever a road had been built it was little better than none at all.
Our ancestors wrought with a love and kindly fellowship with Nature. They planted and admired the Elm, the Oak, and the Chestnut for their beauty and for their long life. Their descendants seem to have inherited their love for these trees, as New Haven still abounds in its Elms and rejoices in being called "The City of Elms."
The religious convictions of these early settlers influenced their social life. In view of the frequency with which the planters were convened in greater or less companies, it is evident that, however affected by their Puritanism, they were a social people.
The restrictions in regard to the sale of property gave them a community of sterling integrity, religious character, and loyalty to each other and to their country.
It is well, therefore, to trace the career of their descendants, who have been, as Miss Blakeman said of the Welch people, very respectable, well-to-do, religious, practical, temperate, industrious and honest.
The design of genealogical research is to preserve the memory of local events and enterprises, as well as family history, and to record the manners and customs, the character and services, the sacrifices, toils and sufferings of our fathers, and to glean from old records and family traditions, well worthy of preservation, material which would otherwise be lost to the State and Country. In furtherance of this design, this volume has been prepared.


Note In the summer of 1636 several vessels recently arrived from England being in the harbor of Boston, Thomas Miller, the master's mate of one of them, was apprehended and brought before the Governor for saying to some one who came on board that the Colonists were traitors and rebels because they did not display the King's colors at their fort. The ship on which this insufferable speech was spoken was the Hector, of London, William Femes, Master. Sailing from Boston in July, she was chartered, after her arrival in London, by the company afterward known as the "Planters of New Haven."
While they were preparing for another voyage to Boston she was seized by the Lords of the Admiralty for the King's service, to which the owner made a petition that the vessel was previously chartered and great loss would ensue. The Admiralty refused, and the captain made a second petition. Ultimately, the Hector was released. The names of the freighters were withheld in all the negotiations for release.
The Lords of the Council were not ignorant that a considerable emigration to New England had already taken place, but supposed them to be, for the most part, poor and mean people of little advantage at home, and they were unaware how strongly this emigration was leavened with Puritanism. If they had known that several wealthy merchants of London inclined to non-Conformity, had embarked their whole estates in the Hector and were intending to go to New England with their families, they would have found means to frustrate their undertaking.
As the names of those who embarked in the Hector are not found in the register of the emigrants from London in that year, some conclude that they may have sailed from some other port. We know that several ships sailed from Bristol. Among others, the Angel Gabriel and the James (which latter brought the Rev. Richard Mather and the Rev. Daniel Maude to Boston), but no record of that port remains. I am confident, however, that the Hector sailed from London.
The correspondence between Captain Femes and the Admiralty sufficiently proves it. The company doubtless left England about the middle of April, for soon after, and perhaps to meet cases similar to this, a proclamation was issued restraining the disorderly passing out of the Kingdom to America, and commanding that none of the King's subjects be permitted to go without a license from the Commissioners of Plantations and a certificate that they had taken the oath of allegiance and of conformity to the discipline of England, returns to be made every half year to the Commissioners. Atwater's Colony of New Haven.

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