Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Founder of Hartford – William Lewis

B. in England
M. 7 Feb 1618 in England
Wife: Felix (last name unknown)
D. 1683 in Farmington, Connecticut
Emigrated: 22 Jun 1632 on the ship Lyon

William Lewis' origins are unknown. He was from England and married a woman named Felix (last name unknown) on February 7, 1618. The couple have been reported to have been from Cardiff, Wales, but this has been called a "fraudulent pedigree" by people trying to verify it. They are only known to have had one child, a son named William.

The Lewis family migrated to America on the ship Lyon, which departed from London on June 22, 1632 and arrived in Boston on September 16th. They settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where William was admitted as freeman on November 6th. The following year, William and his family joined a company of settlers who moved to Braintree.

In 1635, William became part of a group under Reverend Thomas Hooker who trekked through wilderness to found a new settlement on the Connecticut River. The group included "100 settlers with 130 head of cattle" and they called the place Newtown, renaming it in 1638 as Hartford. The motivation for the move was because Hooker disagreed with the leadership in Boston that put too much restriction on voting rights.

William had a sister Ann who migrated from England in 1642. She had been married to a man with the last name Staines; it's unclear when he died. Ann moved back to England not long after she arrived, and in 1649, William traveled to England and paid to bring her back to America. She lived out the rest of her life in Connecticut and died about 1670.

In 1659, William moved to Hadley, Massachusetts where he served as representative to the General Court in 1662. Then in 1664 he was in Northampton and served as representative from there. He was back in Hadley in 1671, where his wife Felix died. By November of 1677, William moved to Farmington, Connecticut.

William died in Farmington in 1683. He left a will written at the end of his life where he referred to himself as "stricken in years" and gave his property to his various grandchildren, who were all children of his son. William's name is inscribed on Hartford's Founders Monument with 24 other men. The plaque reads:

In memory of the courageous adventurers who inspired and directed by Thomas Hooker journeyed through the wilderness from Newtown (Cambridge) in the Massachusetts Bay to Suckiaug (Hartford) – October 1635

Famous descendants of William Lewis include Franklin Delano Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, W.K. Kellogg, television inventor Philo Farnsworth and Mitt Romney.

1. William Lewis –  B. about 1620; D. 18 Aug 1690, Farmington, Connecticut; M. Mary Cheever (~1640-1728), 22 Nov 1671, Boston, Massachusetts

Passengers on the "Lion" from England to Boston, 1632, and five generations of their descendants, Sandra Sutphin Olney, 2008
Book XVIII of the Genealogy of the Lewis Family, Simeon D. Lewis, 1891
Bennett and Allied Families, Edgar John Bullard, 1931
Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford [website]
Thomas Hooker [Wikipedia article]
GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]

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