Daniel S. (Daniel Steele) Durrie.

Steele family : a genealogical history of John and George Steele, settlers of Harford, Conn., 1635-6 and their descendants : with an appendix, containing genealogical information respecting other families of the name who settled in different parts of the United States online

. (page 1 of 12)
Online LibraryDaniel S. (Daniel Steele) DurrieSteele family : a genealogical history of John and George Steele, settlers of Harford, Conn., 1635-6 and their descendants : with an appendix, containing genealogical information respecting other families of the name who settled in different parts of the United States → online text (page 1 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook





Do Not


teele JFam Up.






1 6 3 5-6,














« • » » »

Some ten years since, the writer began, for Lis own amusement
chiefly, to collect genealogical information respecting the Steele
family in the United States. To this family he is allied, through
both paternal and maternal branches.

While makiDg investigations to this end, he learned that an-
other — A. J. Skilton, M. D. of Troy, N. Y., and also of the same
connexion — was zealously engaged in a similar pursuit. On finding
that our views and aims were identical, we henceforth united in
the prosecution of our inquiries as opportunities presented.

It was not anticipated at first, that the result of these investi-
gations would be such as to warrant publication. But in the course
of research, the amount of matter became so full, and the success
so complete, that in the autumn of 1857 it was resolved that the
manuscripts should be revised, and a copy from them prepared for
publication. Of this the charge was committed to Dr. Skilton. In
the spring of 1858, Dr. S. was removed from his earthly labors,
and the task was left to others.*

So much of the present volume as relates to the earlier descend-
ants of those two pioneers, in the first settlement of the Colony of

* Of the many virtues of Dr. Avery J. Skilton, it is not our purpose here to speak.
These were best known and most highly appreciated by those who knew him best.
To Historical and Antiquarian research, few men in this country devoted more time,
or with better success. Of the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
he was an active, zealous member.


Connecticut, John and George Steele, is mainly due to the re-
searches of Dr. Skilton. Gathered with unexampled perseverance
and care from the Colonial, Town, Probate, and other Records in
Connecticut, and from Cemetery Inscriptions and Family Regis-
ters, they present a true specimen of his accuracy and industry.
And in respect to the whole work, while infallibility is not claimed,
it is believed that facts, dates, names, and places, are given with
as much correctness as it was possible, in such circumstances, to

All varieties of obstacles, which every one engaged in this kind
of research must encounter, have been met and overcome. And
curious indeed are the phases of human nature in this manner
developed. To the inquiries for information, whether from Family
Records or from other sources, for the work, some manifested
perfect ignorance and indifference. Others indicated suspicion of
sinister motives in the inquirer, of some underhand measures in
searching for titles to property, or of some other concealed pur-
pose. The idea of any one troubling himself with inquiries of
this nature, except for some pecuniary advantage, seemed to them
inexplicable. Some, again, would furnish the information desired,
if paid for it — and some, if their own names could appear conspi-
cuously in the work. But others, and not a few, appreciated tho
undertaking, and favored it with an enlightened zeal, and a hearti-
ness of purpose, worthy of all commendation.

In the preparation of this volume, not only information from
private sources and unpublished records, but from all known
historical works relative to the subject, have been consulted, as
Trumbull's Colonial Records of Connecticut, Shurtleff's Records
of Massachusetts, Cothen's Ancient Woodbury, Farmer's Genea-
logical Register, Hollister's History of Connecticut, Hinman's
Catalogue of Puritan Settlers, Goodwin's Genealogical Notes, New
England Genealogical and Historical Register, &c.

Among the few articles inserted entire, is a copy of the Will of
John Steele — and a curious specimen it is — drawn in all due form
of the time, with its quaint phrases, causing a smile, and giving
some insight into the conditions, habits of life, labors, customs,
&c, of those concerned.

With these prefatory remarks, this little volume is offered to


the public, with the hope that it will add something to the Genea-
logical History of the Early Settlers of New England.



The author of this volume feels it to be a duty to tender his acknow-
ledgments to Rev. Ashbel Steele of Washington, D. C, author
of Chief of the Pilgrims : or, Life and Times of Elder William
Brewster, for many kind services, particularly in assisting in pre-
paring the Introduction, and collecting historical information re-
specting the life and public services of John Steele. Rev. Mr.
Steele has been for a long time engaged in preparing the Gene-
alogy of the Brewster Family, which will be a valuable addition
to Genealogical History. D. S. D.

A •%

c3 O

S 2








I .9 -

;r 'S ~

* P. -

^ .5

C ° -~

O 3> >


£ * ©

a * •-

>> CO ..
c3 >© 00

r-i «


<S 2 "a

§ s

6 2

T3 ^

§ cT«8

~ CO «J»

-ts «■■ «

© ° J§

a< ^

* -~ ff

fc ^ -3

a rf ■'»

to <~ ej

« © a

ta C ©

O o »>





3 °3
a S

o> a
a 'S
jo -2

* ea
« 2

^ ©

\*3 -3

> 1*
■7- ; • d>

,a o a

<C g 03

II « .2

£ 2 O

^ .a *

05 i< °

•2" b

.0 a ?s

■s .8

-51 3

*S ^ ^





It has in all ages been esteemed a duty and privilege to honor
the memory of those whose labors and self denial have result-
ed in good to their country and to their race. Such tribute is
justly due to those, whose labors and sore trials laid the founda-
tions of colonies in this western world — colonies that have re-
sulted in comparatively happy states, of which we ourselves have
the privilege of being members. Accordingly, we here bring to
view, acts or traces of one, who, in all these respects, deserves a
memorial at our hands.

Among the early pioneers from England, in the settlement of
a New England, particularly in founding the colony of Connecti-
cut, the subject of this memoir acted no unimportant part.

Mr. John Steele was a native of England, probably of the
county of Essex, and of some town near London, " from whence "
(says he with others) " we had our transportation." Of his
immediate connections there, as of the place of his nativity, we
have no reliable information.

Among those of the name, cotemporary with him, was William
Steele, Esq., Magistrate, Counselor, and not long after Recorder
of London, then created Baron, and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
A namesake, also, John Steele, Esq., was purchaser of the Lei-
cestershire estates, and married the daughter of Edward Nichol,
Esq. of Henderson, county of Middlesex, whose daughter married
Sir Charles Bromfield, Bart., of Barton-under-Needwood, county
of Stafford.

Baron Steele of London, took a lively interest in the settlement
and progress of the colonies, and was the active President of the
first corporation or society, organized in 1649, " to aid in
publishing the Gospel among the Indians in New England." In
the formation and success of this society, Winslow of the Ply-


mouth colony, when in England, was a most zealous and efficient

Our John Steele, like the other two of the name just mentioned,
appears to have been educated for the duties of the Magistracy,
and his apparent rank in life seems to have been well calculated
for his advancement in that calling. Qualified by education, en-
ergy of character, and all the requisites for founding new settle-
ments in a new world, and active and self-denying as he was in the
enterprise, it is to be regretted that such limited information has
been preserved respecting him. Even most of the particulars
recorded would be passed over, were it not " that small things, in
the beginnings of all communities, are of far higher importance,
and more worthy of being noted, and have a more enduring in-
fluence, than far greater matters, when a people or nation has
become established."

Mr. John Steele's name appears first in connection with Dor-
chester, one of the earliest settlements of the colony of Massachu-
setts, in the year 1630,f ten years only after the arrival of the
pilgrim company in the Mayflower.

Next, he is found to have been one of the proprietors of Cam-
bridge (first called Newtown), in 1632. Two others, George and
Henry Steele, were also proprietors at the same time. Mr. John
Steele, having been made freeman or elector by the court, in 1634,
was elected a representative from Cambridge in 1635 ; Cambridge
being designed to be the capital of the colony, as it was soon after
the seat of the university.

During this period, however, the numerous arrivals at Cam-
bridge, and the want of pasture lands in the vicinity, induced a
portion of the people, including a number of their chief men,
with the Rev. Mr. Hooker, their pastor, to seek another location.
Another inducement for their removal was, a dislike of some re-
gulations, which were thought to circumscribe their rights as
freemen. The proposed enterprise met with strong opposition,
but at length its advocates obtained the consent of the majority;
and Mr. John Steele, in the autumn of 1635, led the pioneer band
through the rugged, pathless wilderness, to a new location on the
Connecticut river. As Leader and Magistrate, he appears to
have conducted the expedition safely and wisely. Arriving late
in the season, they had to endure all the hardships and trials of
a severe winter, with the labors of clearing the forest, construct-
ing their rude dwellings, securing food, and of protecting them-
selves against cold and wet, the ravages of wild beasts, and the
warlike savage. Bravely persevering, while other expeditions
during the same season failed, and many perished, they succeeded.
And in the ensuing summer came the main portion of their com-

* Mass. Hist. Collection.

I" Farmer's Biographical Diet.


pany — men, women and children, with their minister — to their
new home.

Here, on the margin of the river, near the head of its navigable
waters, and through much toil, patient endurance, and trust in
an Almighty arm for success, they laid the foundations of a new
town, afterwards named Hartford ; and of a new colony (Connecti-
cut), the third of the colonies of New EDgland. And here, the
subject of our narrative, as a faithful head of a family, as an
active member of their church, as a magistrate, and as one of the
principal members of their legislative — judicial — colony court,
aided in establishing a community, the duration, wisdom, and
happy influence of whose institutions have been — with few excep-
tions — the glory of the state. During 23 years elected to the
principal colony court, he Avas present at 88 at least of its ses-
sions, and engaged in its legislation and judicial decisions, and
for 4 years its secretary or recorder. For nearly 20 years he
was also recorder of the town of Hartford, and for a time re-
corder of the town of Farmington.*

During these years, he was likewise called upon to act on
various principal committees or agencies, civil, military and
ecclesiastical, for determining the contested claims and bound-
aries of the colony ; for the peaceful acquisition of additional ter-
ritory ; for raising troops for special expeditions among the
hostile Indians — but especially were his exertions called forth in
efforts to heal the sad breach, and to bring to a peaceful termina-
tion that long and bitter controversy, occasioned by the require-
ments for admitting members into their church, and of those who
should present their children for baptism — which had caused a
separation between their teacher and a portion of the congrega-
tion on the one side, and those who were the dissentients, or had
withdrawn, on the other. On these points he appears to have
taken middle ground, as inclining to a less stringent course, but
with others pleading with all the energy of heart and soul for
reconciliation and peace.f

Thus — unambitious except to do good, and be faithful to every
trust committed to him, did he pass some thirty of the active
years of his life, in founding with others, according to their views,
a new home in the new world. At length, age and feeble health
caused him to retire from public' duty, and as a Christian, to
arrange all his worldly affairs, and to " commit his soul " into the
hands of Him who gave it, " and into the hands of the blessed
Savior, God ever gracious to him," and his body " to a decent
and comely burial. "J

* On the organization of Farmington, and its admission as a town by the court, it
is added in the record : "And Mr. Steele is entreated for the present to be recorder
there, until the town have one fit among themselves." — Col. Records, i, 1, 134, &c.

t Records of Coxn., 291, &c, and Trumbull's Hist, of Coxn., I, 297.

X See his will.


His closing years were passed in Farmington, and where also
he was a member of their church. His residence in Hartford
was on the main street, just north of the present Atheneum. His
will bears date, January 30, 1663-4. He died November 25, 1665.


Who was also one of the pioneers in the Connecticut colony,
we can furnish only a few particulars :

His name appears but a few times on the public records. All
the circumstances respecting him compared, seem plainly to indi-
cate that he was an elder brother of John Steele, Esq., whose
memorial has just been given. "With him he appears to have
come to New England ; with him was proprietor of lands in New
Town (afterwards Cambridge), in 1632; was admitted freeman
at the general court of Massachusetts, in May, 1634 ; was one of
the company in the settlement of Hartford, Conn., in 1635 or 6 ;
was one of the proprietors of undivided lands therein in 1639 ;
was a juryman in 1643, and also a plaintiff in three cases, before
the general court, in 1644 and 1647. Other and minor notices
we omit. His residence in Hartford, was on the lane, now Wash-
ington street, south-east of Trinity College. He died in 1663,
" very old."

Of his wife we find no record. He had 4 children, and his de-
scendants have been very numerous ; many of them having fille-
prominent stations in military life during the French war, and
during the American revolution. Not a few have held respond
sible positions in civil life, and in the Christian ministry.*

* Some 30 at least of the name have heen educated in the New England College,
10 of whom are known to have been graduated at Yale ; besides others in other
parts of the country.



From State Records, in Hartford, dated Jan. 30, 1663-4.

I, John Steel, of Farming-ton, I being stricken in years, and
weakness, do see necessary to sett our small occasions in the world
at a stay — I being therefore though sick in body, yet of compe-
tent ability for this work, hereby committing my spirit into the
hands of God that gave it, and into the hands of our blessed
Savior, who ever have been a gracious God to me — and also do
commit my body to a comely and decent burial in the common
place of burial in Farmington, appointed for that purpose.

I give and bequeath to my dear and loving wife Mary Steel,
the house wherein I now dwell, with the appurtenances belonging
to it, viz : three little closes thereunto belonging, also one barn,
during the term of her natural life.

Item. I give and bequeath the said Mary, a certain parcel of
household goods that were hers at the time that I married to her,
linens and woolen, brass and pewter, and other implements of
household goods, esteemed about <£18 : 10s.

Item. I give and bequeath to my loving wife, two cows and one
three year old heifer, and also one third part of all the provision
for the house, which is one third part of what meat is in my house,
which is for the maintenance of our family, as one third part of
our meat, and one third part of our malt, and one third part of
our butter and cheese, and one third part of our flax, and one third
part of our yarn, woolen or linen, as also ten bushels of wheat, and
six bushels of pease, and one hive of bees, and two store swine, and
one third part of what fowls we have, and three sheep with their
lambs, and a pint skillet, as also one bedstead, two mats, one linen
and two woolen sheets, and one beer barrel.

Item. I give and bequeath to my loving wife Mary Steel, the
one half of all the linen cloth that she has made since I married to
her — all which parcel of goods, or particular things herein above
written, or expressed, excepting the house and barn and three
closes, I give and bequeath to my wife forever,


Item. I give and bequeath to my loving wife, the parcel of pas-
ture land enclosed, esteemed as three acres, for her to make use
of during the time of her natural life.

Item. I give and bequeath to my son Samuel Steel, my best bed,
with the furniture belonging to it, which is a bed with one green
rug, one feather bolster, two good feather pillows, one sett of
green serge curtains, and one green serge vallance, as also the
great bedstead on which it useth to lie, and the curtain rods be-
longing to it.

Item. I give and bequeath to my son Samuel Steel, a silver
bowl, which was mine own, marked with three Guitar Stamps and
one S, all on the upper end of the bowl.

Item. I give and bequeath to my son Samuel Steel, the one half
of all my books, as also my gold scales and weights belonging to
them — all which as here above written — the bed with the furni-
ture, the silver bowl and gold scales and weights, I give and be-
queath to my son Samuel Steel and his heirs forever, to come to
the enjoyment of them, immediately after the departure of my
natural life.

Item. I give to my son Samuel Steel, a piece of enclosed pas-
ture land, by estimation three acres, abutting by Isaac Moore's
land south, and Matthew Woodruff's land west, and Samuel Steel's
land north, him and his heirs forever, to come to the enjoyment
of it immediately after the decease of mine and my wive's natural
life. And to avoid trouble of making other conve} 7 ances, of house
and lands, to my son Samuel Steel [of somewhat], I give to my
son Samuel Steel, at the marrying with his wife Mary Boose)', I
here express, as I then did, so here 1 do, and bequeath to my son
Samuel Steel, a parcel of land, with a tenement standing upon it,
which parcel of land contains by estimation two acres, abutting of
the highway east, and river west, and William Judd's land south,
and John Steel's land north — as also a small parcel of land of which
his still house stands, containing by estimation nine rods, more or
less, abutting on William Judd's land south, and of the highway
east, and on John Steel's land north and west.

Item. To my son Samuel Steel, one parcel of land in the great
meadow, containing by estimation seventeen acres, more or less,
abutting on John Norton's land south, and the river west, and on
John Wells' land [deceased] north, and on the highway east — one
parcel [of land] lying in the third meadow, containing by estima-
tion three acres and a half, more or less, abutting on the river
west, and on John Steel's land north — one piece of land lying in
Cok's Cronk, which is one third part of all that land which was
Cok's Cronk, which whole parcel of land was given by Farming-
ton inhabitants to me, also by the Indian now deceased, which
Indian was called by the name of Cok's Cronk, which parcel of
land given to my son Samuel Steel, is one third part of this lot,
parcel both for quality and quantity, all which parcels or pieces
of land, or house and land, herein expressed, given to my son


Samuel Steel, as I have already given, excepting the three acres
of pasture, not yet to be possessed by him, so unto the true pos-
session of my son Samuel Steel, so I do here confirm it again, that
I do give and bequeath to my son Samuel Steel and his heirs for-

Item. I give and bequeath to my son-in-law William Judd, one
third part of my land in Cok's Cronk, lying in Cok's Cronk.

Item. I give and bequeath to my son-in-law Thomas Judd, one
third part of my land in Cok's Cronk, which is all that was given
to me by Farmington inhabitants in that place, and by the Indian
called Cok's Cronk — and it is my will that that whole parcel of
land shall be divided equally, both for quality and quantity, among
my three sons, Samuel Steel, William Judd, and Thomas Judd, for
themselves, their heirs forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my son-in-law Thomas Judd, one
parcel of land lying in Hartford, in the neck of land, containing
by exact measure twenty acres, more or less, abutting on William
Wadsworth's land north, and the highway called Windsor high-
way west, and on a swamp called the Dead swamp east, and on
Capt. John Cullick's land east, which parcel of land J give to the
aforesaid Thomas Judd and his heirs forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my two sons-in-law, William Judd
and Thomas Judd, my new dwelling house and barn, and house
lot, yards, gardens, or orchard, thereto belonging, equally to be
divided betwixt these two aforesaid, William and Thomas, to them
and their heirs forever, to come to the enjoyment of them imme-
diately after the departure of mine and my wive's natural life —
further it is my will that a few small things should be disposed to
my loving wife, and children and grandchildren : to my loving
wife, the small silver spoons, and some small matter of linen ; to
Mary Judd, one piece of gold ; to Sarah Judd, one piece of gold ;
to John Steel, son of John Steel deceased, one silver spoon ; to
Samuel Steel, son of John Steel deceased, one silver spoon ; to Be-
noni Steel, one silver spoon; to Rachel Steel, daughter of Samuel
Steel, one silver spoon ; to be delivered to them by my son Samuel
Steel, at the date of their marriage ; only my two daughters shall
have theirs immediately after the departure of my natural life —
further it is my will, that if at any of these my three grandchild-
ren, John Steel, Samuel Steel, Benoni Steel, shall die before they
marry, then the forementioned spoons shall be divided among the
surviving ; or if all of them shall die, then it is my mind that these
forenamed spoons shall return to my son Samuel Steel, and his heirs.
And it is my will, that for the remainder of my silver spoons, broken
or whole, as also a small gold ring, I give and bequeath to my sou
Samuel Steel, and his heirs forever ; and for the remainder of my
estate, as cattle or horses, swine, sheep, fowls, corn, linen or wool-
en, or whatever movables in my house, brass, pewter, iron, earth -
ern, wooden vessels, or debts owing me, or whatever else is mine,
not yet disposed off in this my will, all just dues being paid, I g


and bequeath to my two sons-in-law, William and Thomas Judd ;
and do make the aforesaid "William Judd and Thomas Judd, my
whole and sole executors ; and do desire and make choice of my
son Samuel Steel, and James Steel, to be overseers of this my last
will and testament.




3fofm anti George Steele.


The first column of figures denotes the number of each individual,
and is continuous throughout the book. The second column shows
the number in each separate family, the eldest being numbered one.
This is designed to be regular, although some families are not ar-
ranged correctly. Figures immediately after the first name in each
paragraph, in parenthesis, thus (50), refer back to the individual of
the family in which he or she is first named. Figures which are
found after the name of a member of a family, in parenthesis, in-
dicate to refer forward to that number, when that family is traced
out. Example — on page 9 you will find next to No. 30,

" Children of Samuel 2 (8) and Mary (Boosey) Steel."

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryDaniel S. (Daniel Steele) DurrieSteele family : a genealogical history of John and George Steele, settlers of Harford, Conn., 1635-6 and their descendants : with an appendix, containing genealogical information respecting other families of the name who settled in different parts of the United States → online text (page 1 of 12)