William Richard Cutter.

Genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of the state of Massachusetts; (Volume 3) online

. (page 42 of 145)
Online LibraryWilliam Richard CutterGenealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of the state of Massachusetts; (Volume 3) → online text (page 42 of 145)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

baptized in 1595, which shows that she was
nearly thirteen years older than her husband.
"She was of a good family and had been deli-
cately reared and when her husband desired
to come to America, though a truly religious
woman, she dreaded the undertaking and
shrunk from the hardships to be encountered.
While the subject was still under consideration
she had a dream forshadowing that if she
went to America she would become the mother
of a long line of worthy ministers of the gospel.
The dream so impressed her that she cheer-
fully rose up and began to prepare to leave her
home and kindred for the new and distant
land." The dream was fulfilled, but not in
the mother's day, for she died October 24,
1674, leavine no son in the christian ministry.
Nine years afterward, her grandsons, John
and William Williams, cousins, graduated
from Harvard College, two of a class of three
and the day of fulfillment began. Robert
Williams was much interested in education
and made liberal arrangements to assist the
free schools, was a subscriber to and for many
years a trustee of the funds raised for their
benefit, and was one of the most influential
men in the town affairs. He disposed of his
property by a will, which is still extant. The
children of John and Elizabeth, so far as
known, were : Samuel, Mary, a daughter,
John, Isaac, Stephen and Thomas.

1 57 1 '


(II) Captain Isaac, supposed to have been
the third son of Robert and Elizabeth (Stal-
hani ) Williams, was born in Roxbury, Septem-
ber i. 1638, died February 11, 1809. "He
settled in Newtown, which then included Cam-
bridge. He represented the town in the Gen-
eral Court five or six years, and it is said that
he commanded a troop of horse." He is
referred to by his own son. Rev. William Will-
iams, as well as by Mrs. Pitkin and others as
Captain Williams. He married (first) Martha
Park, daughter of Deacon William Park, of
Roxbury, and sister of the wife of his brother
Samuel. Deacon Park was a man of property
and note in the town and represented it in the
legislature for many years. He died May 10
or 1 1, 1685, at the age of seventy-nine. Martha
died in October, 1674, and Captain William?
married (second) Judith Cooper. The chil-
dren of first wife were: Isaac, Martha, Will-
iam. John, Eleazer, Thomas and Hannah. The
children of second wife were: Peter, Sarah
and Ephraim.

(III) Rev. William, second son of Captain
Isaac and Martha ( Park ) Williams, was born
in Newton, February 2, 1665, died August 29,
1 741. He graduated from Harvard College
in 1683, entered the ministry, and was settled
over the church in Hatfield in 1685, before he
was twenty-one years old. "There he con-
tinued laboring with great zeal and exerting
a wide influence till death put a period to both
his ministry and his life." Rev. Jonathan
Edwards preached his funeral sermon, in
which he describes him as a christian scholar
and minister more fully than any writing fur-
nished by his contemporaries is known to have
done. Dr. Charles Chauncey, in a letter to
President Stiles, comparing him with Rev.
Solomon Stoddard, of Northampton, writes:
"Mr. Williams of Hatfield, his son-in-law, I
believe to have been the greater man, and I am
ready to think greater than any of his own
sons, though they were all men of more than
common understanding." The following
inscription is on the tablet erected to his mem-
ory in the cemetery in Hatfield : "The tomb
of the Rev. William Williams, the evangelical
pastor of Hatfield, who died 29 August, 1741,
in the 76th year of his age and the 56th of his
ministry" "My flesh shall rest in hope, for
Jesus said I am the resurrection and the life."
Mr. Williams married (first) Elizabeth, daugh-
ter of Rev. Seaborn Cotton, of Hampton, New
Hampshire, son of the celebrated Rev. John
Cotton, of Boston. She died May 7, 1698,
and he married (second) August 9, 1699,

Christian Stoddard, third daughter of Rev.
Solomon Stoddard, of Northampton. She died
April 2^, 1764, aged eighty-seven. The chil-
dren by wife Elizabeth were: William (died
young), William, Martha, Elisha and John.
Those by wife Christian were : Solomon,
Elizabeth, Israel and Dorothy.

(IV) Rev. Dr. Solomon, son of Rev. Will-
iam and Christian ( Stoddard ) Williams, was
born January 4, 1701, at Hatfield, died Febru-
arv 28, 1776, in Lebanon, Connecticut. He
graduated at Harvard College in 1719, and
was ordained pastor of the church in Lebanon,
Connecticut, December 5, 1722. Sprague
says : "Dr. Williams undoubtedly held a place
among the most prominent of the New Eng-
land clergy. His influence was felt among the
churches not only in Connecticut, but through-
out New England, and his services were very
often called for on important public occasions.
He had an extensive correspondence in Europe
and America, and among his correspondents
abroad he numbered one or more of the
Erskines and the celebrated Maclaurin, author
of the well known sermon 'Glorying in the
Cross.' " Dr. Williams was a fellow of Yale
College from 1749 to 1769, and received the
degree of D. D. from that institution in 1773.
He was the pastor of a patriotic, spirited, self-
sacrificing people. How much this may have
been owing to his own influence cannot now
be known with certainty. Trumbull, the only
colonial governor who supported the American
cause — the wise and efficient friend and coun-
selor of Washington, on whom he depended in
the most trying emergencies — had studied
theology with Dr. Williams after leaving col-
lege, and was his neighbor and parishioner as
long as the good pastor lived. Certain it is
that they were in full accord in their spirit of
resistance to British oppression, and that the
voice and pen of Solomon Williams and his
son William did much to inspire the people,
abroad as well as at home, with ardor and
courage for the strife. Dr. Williams shone in
the sacred desk with peculiar lustre. His
whole deportment was such as greatly recom-
mended the ministerial character — grave,
devout, solemn, affectionate and animating. In
prayer he was copious, fervent, unaffected,
devout, spiritual: endowed with an amiable
talent of adapting himself to every varying
occasion, and omitting nothing which was perti-
nent, yet always concise, never tedious. But
the art. the talent of preaching, was all his
own. He was truly a primitive apostolic Chris-
tian divine and preacher. In his family he



was an example of conjugal tenderness and
parental affection : remarkable for the care and
pains which he took to give the best education
to his children in every regard. Dr. Williams
married, January 22, 1723, about the time of
his settlement in Lebanon, Mary, daughter of
Hon. Samuel and Joanna (Cooke) Porter, of
Hadley, who was born November 4, 1703, and
died September 30, 1787. The house in which
he lived and in which his children were born,
a good sample of an old New England colonial
house, remained in the hands of his descend-
ants for a hundred years or more, and is still
standing in good preservation in old Lebanon,
not far from the house in which his distin-
guished son \\ illiam lived. The children of
this marriage were: Solomon (died young),
Solomon, Eliphalet, Ezekiel, William, Mary,
Christian, Moses, Samuel and Eunice.

(V) Ezekiel, son of Rev. Solomon and
Mary (Porter) Williams, was born in Leb-
anon, Connecticut, May 4, 1729, died in
Wethersfield, February 12, 1 818. Of the five
sons of his father who lived to maturity he
was the only one who did not receive a col-
lege education. He was of a very ardent, active
temperament, and probably preferred business
to study. December 12. 1752, land in Wethers-
field was conveyed to Elisha Williams Jr., and
Ezekiel Williams, both of Wethersfield. From
this it is inferred that Ezekiel Williams settled
at an early age in Wethersfield and engaged
in active business. In 1759 he bought the land
upon which he soon after built the large house
now standing at the head of Broad street, in
which his children were born and reared. He
was appointed sheriff for the county of Hart-
ford, then an office of more honor than now.
His character and official service have been
written of as follows : "During the time that
tried men's souls, he was warm and active in
the cause of his country. Silas Deane sneer-
ingly calls his ardor 'boiling zeal.' During
most of the time of the Revolutionary War,
he was commissary of prisoners for the State
of Connecticut, and his voluminous corre-
spondence with the venerable Boudinot, com-
missary general, shows that the duties were
arduous. In adition to this he held the office
of sheriff of the county of Hartford, which
he resigned in the year 1789, after twenty-
two years of service." It is further stated :
"He was appointed by the General Assembly
captain of the first company of the Sixth
Regiment of Connecticut Militia in May, 1 761.
The same authority also appointed him sheriff
of Hartford county in 1767. He was (with

Mr. Pitkin, Thomas Seymour, and Oliver
Ellsworth) on the Committee of the Pay Table
from April, 1775, to the end of the
Revolutionary War accounts of the colony and
state. In May, 1775, he with ten others were
constituted a commission to take charge of the
prisoners of war of Connecticut. In May,
1777. upon the request of Congress, the Gen-
eral Assembly appointed him commissary of
prisoners. He was thereafter called deputy
commissary general and usually titled colonel."
He was many years, from 1774 until his death
in 1818, deacon of the Church of Christ in
Wethersfield. His official duties were dis-
charged with great promptitude and fidelity.
He was uncompromising in his principles,
active in the cause of Christ, and devoted to
the welfare of his fellowmen. His hand was
ever open to the calls of the poor and destitute,
and his heart devised liberal things for the
benevolent operations of the day. He was a
tender and loving husband, and an affectionate,
anxious father. His solicitude for his children,
especially for his sons, led him to secure for
them the best teachers at home, and to place
them under eminent instructors abroad. Ezekiel
Williams married, November 6, 1760, Pru-
dence Stoddard, his second cousin, daughter
of Colonel John Stoddard, of Northamp-
ton. Massachusetts. She was born March
28, 1734. died July 1, 1822. Her temperament
was just the reverse of that of her husband,
and though his profuse hospitality often inter-
fered with her domestic arrangements, it is
believed that it never disturbed her equanimity
or disposed her to check his kindly impulse.
Their children were : Emily. John, Harriet,
Ezekiel, Prudence, Mary, Esther, Solomon
Stoddard, Christian, Thomas Scott, and
Samuel Porter.

( VI ) Prudence, third daughter of Sheriff
Ezekiel and Prudence (Stoddard) Williams,
was born in Wethersfield, Connecticut, Octo-
ber 2. 1767, died March 24. 1853, in Spring-
field, Massachusetts. She married, May 12,
1790, Rev. Bezaliel Howard, D. D. (see
Howard V). A sketch of her says: "She
was a most gentle being, of very calm exterior
and almost unfit to cope with the harsher
world without." Rev. Dr. Spragie, a near
neighbor and friend, said: "Mrs. Howard was
a highly intellectual and benevolent lady." In
her youth she was a person of great beauty.

(The Dwight Line).

The Dwight family have been very widely
noted for their love of liberty, their belief in



progress, and their readiness to adopt pro-
gressive ideas looking to the continued advance-
ment of humanity and civilization. Many of
the men of this family are remarkable for their
natural executive ability under whatsoever
conditions may confront them, whether in
material concerns or matters affecting the
higher interests of the community.

(I) John Dwight, who is believed to be the
ancestor of nearly all of the name in New
England, came with his wife Hannah and a
daughter Hannah and two sons, Timothy and
John, from Dedham, England, to America, in
the latter part of 1634, or the beginning of the
year 1635. The Dedham records, which began
September 1, 1635, on the day when the first
town meeting was held, show that twelve per-
sons assembled together at that time, of whom
John Dwight was one. The record of the set-
tlement in brief is as follows: In the year 1635,
the general court then sitting at Newtown,
granted a tract of land south of the Charles
river to twelve men. The next year, nineteen
persons including the first twelve petitioned
the general court then at Boston for an addi-
tional grant of all the lands south of Charles
river and above the falls, not before granted,
and for a tract five miles square, on the north
side of Charles river, for the purpose of mak-
ing a settlement. The petition was granted,
and included the present towns of Dedham,
Medfield, Wrentham, Needhatn, Billingham,
Walpole, Franklin, Dover, Natick, and a part
of Sherburne. The original nineteen grantees,
of whom John Dwight was one, were the sole
owners of these large tracts of land, until they
admitted new associates, which they did, at
first, without demanding any compensation.
There is a tradition in the family that John
Dwight was a woolcomber, or at least the son
of a woolcomber. He brought with him to New
England it is said a valuable estate, and was
a wealthy farmer of Dedham, and eminently
useful as a citizen and Christian in that town.
In Winthrop's Journal it is stated that John
Dwight and others conveyed the first water
mill to Dedham, in September, 1635. John
Dwight, besides his homestead, owned thirty
acres of dividend land in Watertown, and was
grantee in the great dividends, and in the
Beaver Brook Plowlands, both of which he
sold to Davifl Fiske. In "the first great divi-
dend' of land, bounded on the south by Beaver
Brook Plowlands, his lot was No. 21 (among
31 ) and his number of acres thirty. The first
free school supported by a town tax, that was
ever thought of in America, was established at

Dedham in 1644. Three of the forty-one per-
sons that were assembled on February 1, 1644-
45, in Dedham, in town meeting, and voted
such a measure, which was far in advance of
their day, were Ralph Wheelock, John Dwight
and Richard Everett, ancestors respectively of
three subsequent college presidents of their
own names: Dr. Wheelock, of Dartmouth,
President Dwight, of Yale: and Edward
Everett, of Harvard. Of the committee
of five feoffees (or trustees) to whom
the management of the school was com-
mitted, two were John Dwight and Michael
Powell. That John Dwight was the sec-
ond man of wealth in Dedham is evident
from his being second on the assessment roll
for taxes. He was admitted freeman May 2,
1638. In 1636 he signed the constitution or
covenant of Dedham. He is described in the
town records as "having been publicly useful,"
and "a great peacemaker.'' He was selectman
for sixteen years, 1639-55. He was one of
the founders of the Church. of Christ, which
was formed in Dedham in 1638. His wife
Hannah died September 5, 1656, and he mar-
ried (second) Mrs. Elizabeth Ripley, widow
of William Ripley, and previously of Thomas
Thaxter, January 20, 1658. She died without
issue July 17. 1660. The children of John and
Hannah Dwight were : Hannah, Timothy,
John, Mary and Sarah.

(II) Captain Timothy, eldest son of John
and Hannah Dwight, was born in England in
1629, died in Dedham, Massachusetts. Janu-
ary 31, 1718. He came to this country with his
father's family in 1634-35, at the age of five.
He was admitted freeman 1655. He was cor-
net of a troop in his younger years, and after-
wards a captain of foot. He went out ten
times against Indians — nine of whom he killed
or took prisoners- — such was the constant guer-
rilla warfare that they kept up aginst the town.
The land granted to the first settlers of Ded-
ham was subject to the Indian title, which they
were bound by law of the colony to extinguish
by equitable contract. In 1660 two agents
were appointed to treat with the Sagamores
who owned Wollomonopoag (now Wrentham ) ,
who were Richard Ellis and Timothy Dwight.
They reported in 1662 that they had made a
treaty with King Philip for lands six miles
square, and exhibited his deed thereof under
his hand and seal. After six days the town
ratified the deed, and assumed their common
rights, to the amount of twenty-four pounds,
ten shillings, as the stipulated price to King
Philip for his deed. In November, 1669,



Philip, (Sagamore) of Mt. Hope, offered a
treaty for his lands not yet purchased. The
selectmen appointed accordingly Timothy
Dwight and four others to repair to him on
the morrow, with authority to treat with him
for his remaining right thereabouts "provided
that he can show that he has any, and provided
that he will secure the town against future
claims of other Sachems." In 1681 it was
voted that all deeds and other writings relat-
ing to the town rights should be collected for
the purpose of being more carefully preserved.
After the vote had been duly published, Cap-
tain Fisher and Captain Timothy Dwight
brought to the selectmen seven Indian deeds.
These writings were ordered to be deposited
in a box kept by Deacon Aldis, but they were
not recorded, and are not now to be found.
Timothy Dwight was for ten years town clerk,
selectman for twenty-five years (1664-89),
and a representative of the town in the general
court (1691-92), before the new charter, and
perhaps later. It is recorded of him that "he
inherited the estate and virtues of his father,
and added to both." He is thus described in
the church records : "Timothy Dwight, Esq., a
gentleman truly serious and godly, one of an
excellent spirit, peaceable, generous, charitable,
and a great promoter of the true interests of
the church and town." Rev. Samuel Dexter,
pastor of the First Church in Dedham for
thirty years, says, in "A Century Discourse,"
preached November 23, 1738: "I shall only
add that beside. those in the ministry this
church and town have been favored with very
valuable and worthy men in the magistry, and
others in a more private sphere. A Lusher, a
Fisher, and a Dwight have been among our
men of renown." Worthington says of him,
in his History of Dedham : "He was admitted
into the church in 1652. He was the town
recorder, selectman, and an agent in much
town business during the lives of Lusher and
Fisher. He was also, after their decease, a
deputy to the general court. He was a faith-
ful and upright man, and greatly esteemed for
his personal merit and for his public services."
"John Dwight and Captain Timothy Dwight
are, from their active participation in the first
crystallizing processes of civil society upon our
shores, historic characters in the family, and
should be so remembered in it rather than in
their own separate individuality," writes Ben-
jamin W. Dwight in his "History of the
Descendants of John Dwight." In 1707 Tim-
othy Dwight conveyed by deed of gift several
tracts of land to his son Michael and his other

sons. On May 12, 1710, he settled his estate
and gave his property to his sons. He was
buried in the cemetery at Dedham. Captain
Timothy Dwight married (first) November 11,
165 1, Sarah Sibley, (as named in her father's
will ). In the town records she is called Sarah
Perham. She was probably a widow, bearing
the latter name, at the time of her marriage.
She died in childbrith. May 29, 1652. He
married (second) May 3, 1653, Sarah Powell,
daughter of Michael Powell. Michael Powell
was a representative from Dedham to the gen-
eral court in 1641-48. He afterward removed
to Boston and taught without ordination in the
second church of Boston, previously to the
settlement of the first minister, Increase
Mather. Sarah died June 27, 1664, and Timo-
thy married (third) January 9, 1665, Anna
Flynt, daughter of Rev. Henry Flynt, of
Braintree (now Quincy), and Margery
(Hoar) Flynt. She was born September 11,
1643, died January 29, 1686. He married
(fourth) January 7, 1687, Mary Edwind,
widow, of Reading. She died without issue
August 30, 1688. He married (fifth) July 31,
1690, Esther Fisher, daughter of Hon. Daniel
Fisher. She died January 30, 1691. He mar-
ried (sixth) February 1, 1692, Bethiah Moss.
She died February 6, 1718, without issue. The
tradition is repeated and positive in different
family lines that he and his sixth wife were
buried together on the same day in the family
vault. Captain Dwight had fourteen children.
Those by Sarah Powell, second wife, were :
Timothy, Sarah (died young), John, Sarah
(died young); by Anna Flynt, third wife:
Josiah (died young), Nathaniel, Samuel (died
young), Josiah. Seth, Anna (died young),
Henry Michael. Daniel, and Jabez (died

(Ill ) Captain Henry, son of Captain Timo-
thy and Anna (Flynt) Dwight, was born in
Dedham, December 19, 1676, died in Hatfield,
March 26, 1732. Nathaniel Dwight, of North-
ampton, and Henry Dwight, of Hatfield,
brothers, were induced to remove from their
paternal home at Dedham to Western Massa-
chusetts, in the following way: "The General
Court had given to the town of Dedham eight
thousand acres of land, to be located anywhere
within the jurisdiction of the court, in exchange
for two thousand acres granted by that town
to the Natick Indians, converted under John
Eliot. Lieutenant Fisher and John Fairbanks
were appointed commissioners to examine the
country and locate the claim. This they did,
and selected Deerfield as the spot, and employed



Major John Pynchon of Springfield to pur-
chase the lands of the Petumtuck tribe of
Indians, taking him in, with some others also,
as joint proprietors with them in the pur-
chase. He paid the Indians some £94 and a
half as purchase money, which had been raised
fcr the purpose by the people of Dedham."
Thus it was that the lowlands of the Con-
necticut in Western Massachusetts became
early known as Dedham, and thus that the
course of the two chief progenitors of the
Dwight family in the third generation became
determined thitherward. Captain Henry
Dwight was active in the subsequent purchase
of the territory, comprising the towns of Great
Barrington, Sheffield. Egremont, Alford. etc.,
in what is now Berkshire county. A copy of
the original deed of purchase and sale may be
found in the records as given by Cankepot,
Poueyote, Partarwake, Naurriauquin, and
other Indians. "All of Housatonack, for four
hundred and sixty pounds, three barrels of
cider and thirty quarts of rum, to Colonel John
Stoddard, Captain Henry Dwight, and Captain
Luke Hitchcock, committee appointed by the
General Court to purchase a certain tract of
land lying upon Housatonack river." Henry
Dwight bought one thousand two hundred
acres of this land in June, 1722, for £180. In
1726 Henry Dwight and John Pynchon, of
Springfield, and John Ashley, of Westfield,
were appointed, by the general court, commis-
sioners under "the Act prepared for issuing
£100.000 in bills of credit" for government
purposes. From records at Northampton it
appears that Captain Dwight had a negro slave,
Humphrey, for whom he paid £60, and a slave
woman. Rose, for whom he paid a like sum.
Captain Dwight was a man of wealth, and
always a farmer. He was also a trader at
Hatfield. At different times in his earlier
history he is designated as "clothier" and
"shopkeeper." None but men of means and
enterprise could be traders in those days ; and
none but the best men in the community,
"gentlemen" in the technical sense that the
word then had, and deacons were licensed "to
be innholders, taveners and common victuallers,
and to retail strong drink." Captain Henry
Dwight was thus licensed in 1728, as Colonel
Samuel Partridge before him, who was one
of the great men of Western Massachusetts,
and chief justice of the court of common pleas
for Hampshire county for thirty years. The
communion service now used by the Congre-
gational church at Hatfield is said to have been
given to it by Captain Henry Dwight nearly

two hundred years ago. The Dwights of that
day figure largely in Western Massachusetts
as jurists. Five of them, all closely related to
each other, sat at different times as justices
upon the bench of the same court, that of com-
mon pleas, of Hampshire county. These were
Captain Henry Dwight. of Hatfield, Colonel
Dwight, of Northampton, his nephew, two sons
of Captain Henry Dwight, namely. Colonel
Josiah Dwight, of Springfield, and General
Joseph Dwight. of Great Barrington, and

Online LibraryWilliam Richard CutterGenealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of the state of Massachusetts; (Volume 3) → online text (page 42 of 145)