B. 1605 in Braunton, England
M. 2 Feb 1626 in Braunton, England
Wife: Margaret Wyatt
D. 1 Feb 1670 in Windsor, Connecticut
Emigrated: about 1633
Matthew Allyn was one of the most influential men of his day in what would become the colony of Connecticut, and was listed on the document that officially designated it as a colony. He was born in 1605 and and it's believed he was baptized on April 17th that year in Braunton, England, which is in Devon. Little else is known of his early years, except that he had two brothers named Thomas and Samuel.
Matthew married Margaret Wyatt in Braunton on February 2, 1626. They had three children born between 1628 and about 1635. The first two were born in England, then the family migrated to America in about 1633 as a member of the Braintree Company, possibly aboard the ship Griffin, which arrived on September 4th.
Matthew's name first appears on a land grant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, giving him 45 acres of land at "the Common Pales," the largest share by far of any settler, and he was also given an acre for his cow and three acres for planting ground "on the Neck." He received more land grants in 1635 at Watertown and Charlestown. He was admitted as a freeman on March 4, 1635 and made a representative to the General Court in the spring of 1636.
In about 1637, Matthew moved to Hartford, Connecticut, joining the earliest settlers there. He owned 110 acres of land in Hartford and was credited for having built the first mill there. In 1638, Matthew made a purchase of land in Windsor, Connecticut from the Plymouth colony. He would later purchase properties in Killingworth and Simsbury. Matthew seems to have owed money to someone in Massachusetts and was considered somewhat of a fugitive; in a letter dated October 7, 1641, officials in Connecticut were ordered "to send back the prisoner Mathewe Alleyn, or satisfy the debt & damage."
At some time during the early 1640s, Matthew had some differences with the church of Hartford, which was led by Reverend Thomas Hooker. As a result, he was excommunicated. On June 3, 1644, Matthew appealed to be reinstated as a church member, but this was denied by the court which said he didn't prove his case. Soon after, Matthew moved to Windsor and joined the church there. He claimed he should be exempt from paying Connecticut taxes because he had bought his land from the colony of Plymouth, but it was ruled he had to pay. In 1650, Matthew was once again in trouble for not repaying a debt, this time with his brother Thomas. Several lawsuits were filed and ultimately Matthew was ordered to pay his brother.
When Matthew built his house in Windsor, it was said that the wood for the door frame came all the way from England. Probably he had reused the wood from the old house that was on the property, which was built by colonists from Plymouth and the lumber they used came from England. Matthew's house was torn down in 1830 and this story was never verified.
Matthew held many offices in Windsor. He was representative to the General Court almost every year 1648-1658 and in 1657-1667, he was a magistrate. In 1660-64 he was commissioner for the United Colonies of New England. In 1649, when the General Court decided to begin hostilities against the Indians, Matthew was one of three deputies appointed to raise troops. He interacted with the Indians regarding decisions of the commissioners in 1657, and served on a committee to divide up Indian lands in 1659.
In 1661, Matthew was on the committee to petition the new king of England, Charles II, to issue a charter for the colony of Connecticut. John Winthrop sailed to England to deliver the petition and after a couple of unsuccessful meetings with the king, managed to win him over by giving him a ring that had belonged to his late father, Charles I. The charter was granted and Matthew was one of 13 men named on the document. This charter was used to define the government of Connecticut until 1818.
Matthew died in Windsor on February 1, 1670. He left an estate of over £466 and was buried at the Ancient Burying Ground in Hartford. His name is inscribed on the Founder's Monument which was installed at the Burying Ground in 1936.
Famous descendants of Matthew Allyn include Nancy Reagan, Mitt Romney, Bess Truman and Mike Huckabee.
1. Mary Allyn – B. 1628, Braunton, England; D. 29 Jul 1689, Windsor, Connecticut; M. Benjamin Newberry (~1624-1689), 11 Jun 1646, Windsor, Connecticut
2. John Allyn – B. Feb 1630, Braunton, England; D. 11 Nov 1696; M. (1) Hannah Smith, 19 Nov 1651; (2) Hannah Lamberton
3. Thomas Allyn – B. about 1635, Braunton, England; D. 14 Feb 1695, Hartford, Connecticut; M. Abigail Warren
Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford [website]
The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Robert Charles Anderson, 1995
Families of Early Hartford, Connecticut, Lucius Barnes Barbour, 1977
Maternal Ancestry of Charles Whiting McNair, Hannah Louise MacNair Crawford, 1912
The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut – The 1662 Connecticut Charter [website]
GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]