Reference Number: 74

History of Stamford: 1641-1868
Institution: SLGS
Call Number: US/CAN Book 974.69/S1 H2h
Classification: ORIGINAL: GeneralHistory
Primary Geography: USA, Massachusetts, Stamford
Start Time: 1641 End Time: 1868

Entry Number: 1

Primary Person: WHITMORE, John
Entry Description: Historical Sketch of Emigration and Early Years in USA

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Page: 14-19

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     In the spring of 1640, a company of dissatisfied and restless men in Wethersfield, were anxious to end the contentions and feuds which for four or five years had rendered their home in that new colony comfortless and unprofitable. The reasons for that distracted condition, among a band of men who had left the father land not six years before, to seek a quiet and peaceful home for themselves, may never be fully made known. Certainly, no contemporaneous record which I have been able to find has reported them. But, both the town records, and those of the Connecticut colony, which then included only the three settlements at Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield, agree in representing the Wethersfield disagreement so positive as not likely to be harmonized, as long as the spirited factions should remain together. So thought the Peace Commissioners who went down from Hartford to see if the peace could be preserved. So decided the Church Committee from Watertown, who had been sent out into the wilderness to look after the brethren who had so recently emigrated from their company. So decided, also, that princely pioneer among our Connecticut worthies of that age, the Rev. Mr. Davenport, who had gone up from New Haven to see if fraternal counsel would not restore harmony to that disturbed community; and so believed the discerning men among the contestants themselves. Their judgment accepted the judicious advice of Mr. Davenport, and they proceeded to arrange the terms of a peaceful separation.
     The church at Wethersfield had only seven voting members, six who had come from Watertown, and one who had joined them. Four of them were on one side in the controversies which had divided the people, and three on the other, but the latter constituted the majority of the community. As a peace measure the majority of the church agreed to emigrate with the minority of the planters; while the majority of the planters conceded them the right of taking with them the records , and so transferring their church organization to the new field.
     But whither should, or could they go? All the region to the west of them, until they should reach the Dutch settlements in New Netherlands was as yet an unbroken wilderness. To the south, at New Haven, and down the river at Saybrook, new settlements were just established, but offered no inducements to so large a company of emigrants as they would muster. On the Sound, at Guilford, Milford, Fairfield, and Stratford, companies of pioneers were just breaking ground for the sites of their new colonies. Everywhere else the wilderness and savage held sway.
     But Mr. Davenport, who had advised the separation, though the enterprise of the young colony to whose success he had so largely contributed, was prepared to offer them a place for a home. The new Haven colony, in its zeal to maintain an equal footing with the Connecticut colony, whose seat was at Hartford, had just made a purchase, through their agent, Capt. Nathaniel Turner, of that tract which lies to the west of the present town of Norwalk. This they offered to the waiting company at Wethersfield. The Committee appointed by that company, accepted the purchase, and soon the arrangements were completed for the formal occupation of the place. The following record of the decision of the General Court of New Haven held the 14th of ninth month, 1640, exhibits the title under which the colonists were to take possession of their new domain:
     'Whereas, Andrew Ward and Robert Coe of Wethersfield were deputed by Wethersfield men the 30th of the 8th month commonly called October, 1640, to treat at New Haven, about the plantation lately purchased by said town called Toquams, which being considered of it was agreed upon by the said court and justices aforesaid that they shall have the said plantation upon the terms following: first, that they shall repay unto the said town of New Haven all the charges which they have disbursed about it, which comes to thirty-three pounds as appears by a note or schedule hereunto annexed; secondly, that they reserve a fifth part of said plantation to be disposed of at the appointment of this court to such desirable persons as may be expected, or as God shall send hither, provided that if within one whole year such persons do not come to fill up those lots so reserved that then it shall be free for the said people to nominate and present to this court some persons of their own choice which may fill up some of those lots so reserved if this court approve of them; thirdly, that they join in all points with this plantation in the form of government here settled, according to agreement betwixt this court and Mr. Samuel Eaton about the plantation of Totokett. These articles being read together with Mr. Samuel Eaton's agreement in the hearing of the said parties or deputies, it was accepted by them and in witness thereof they subscribed their names to the articles in the face of the court.'
     Thus were the founders of Stamford supplied with a place for their future residence. Providence had opened it as a refuge for them; and they gladly fled to it. They hoped to find in their new home, equally, freedom from the tyrannous rule under which they had been exiled from the land of their birth, and from the petty annoyances which had tried their patience and their temper in their brief sojourn on the banks of the Connecticut. Few pioneers among the emigrants from the old world to this, had been more severely tested than they had been; and we may be assured that they hailed with no common satisfaction the pleasant and quiet retreat to which they had been thus conducted.
     The story of their introduction to their new home, the company they constituted, the community they established, the plans they made and matured, their trials and their triumphs, let it be our present business to learn. Reverently and dutifully let us ask after the men, who in times of great trial, through days and years of weakness and suffering, of hope deferred and pressing fears, sustained themselves in the great work of laying deep and broad foundations for the permanent prosperity of their children's children in this new world.
     The following passage, providentially saved from the first book of the Stamford records, will introduce us to these men. Defaced as it is in some places, and wanting as it is in others, we may well be thankful that so much of it remains. It is the most effectual key we have to the earlier portion of our history. We will transcribe what remains of it, as a perpetual witness to some of the earliest and most vital facts of the story we are to trace. The portions of the record now effaced, which are supplied, will be included in parentheses. The remainder of it is the literal record as it was made by the original recorder himself. The first paragraph, which is a mere title, was evidently inserted after the name of the settlement had been changed, though written by the same hand which made the record following it. These earliest records are all in the handwriting of Richard Law.
     '1640-41 A town bo(ok of the) freeholders of the towne (of Stamford as it) was afterwards called, but now Rippowam, contay(n)in(g the acts) and conclusions of the companie of Wehtersffeld men, to (begin a) removal thither this winter. And also their most matteriall acts and agreements, touching the place how they came by it, theire rat(es) and accounts, theire divisions and grants of land, and records of every man's land, and passages of land from one to another.
     First these men whose names are underwriten have bound them(elves) under the paine of forfiture of 5 lb a man to goe or sende to Ripp(owan) so begin and psecute the designe of a plantation there by ye 16th o(f) may next, the rest, theire familyes thither by ye last of novembe(r) 12 months, viz.

Ri Denton

Ri Gildersleue

Tho Weekes

Sam Sherman

ma matchell

Edm Wood

Jon Wood H

Hen Smith

Thur Rainor

Jo Wood

Jer Jagger

Vincint Simkins

Robt Coe

Jer Wood

J Jisopp

Dan Finch

And Ward

Sam Clark

Jo Seaman

Jo Northend

     And whereas the purchase of the place and viewing of it first mayde by our frends of new hauen and we stand indebted to them for it: it (is) ordered at the same time That 100 bushells of corne at 35 a bushell be paid in towards it we raised and sent them as followeth, m(r) ma mitchel


(14.3) Sergt M.M.

(3.2) Jo Reynoulds

(2.3) Jo Northend

(2.2) Tho We(eks)

(5.3) T R inre

(3.1) Jo Whitmore

(2.3) Jonas Wood, H

(2.1) Jer (Wood)

(4.1) Mr Denton

(3.1) Ro Bates

(2.2) Edm Wood

(2.1) Th(o Morehouse)

(4.1) And Ward

(3.1) Ri Crab

(2.2) Jon Wood

(2.) (Ro Fisher)

(4.1) Ro Coe

(3.1) Sa Sherman

(2.2) Sam Clarke

(2.0) (Jo Jissop)

(4.0) Ri Gildersleue

(3.1) Jef Firries

(2.2) Fra Bell

(1.3) (Hen Smith)

(3.2) Ri Law

(3.0) Dan Fiuch

(2.2) Jer Jagger

(1.3) (Vincint)

(2.1) Jo Not or M.M.

(1.3) Jo Seaman

     Of the above list, all the names appear on our subsequent records, excepting that of 'Jo Nott.' Though John Nott did not settle in the town, he is at this late date worthily represented in the seventh generation by Samuel Nott Hyde, Esq., son of Susan Nott, daughter of Samuel Nott, D.D. as in note.
     Of the thirty men above named, only twenty-eight came to Stamford in the summer of 1641, as the record immediately following the list shows. On the 19th of October of that year they were notified by a 'sufficient warning, to come in,' to make choice of those who should administer the affairs of the new colony. Mr. Denton, Mathew Mitchell, Andrew Ward, Thurston Ranier, and Richard Crab were this provisional government. Their commission, given by that pure democracy then assembled, made them in all essentials the authoritative rulers over the people. Enough of the record remains to show what their prerogatives were: to order the common affairs or intended plans of the people, and to determine the differences that shall arise; and 'settle them according to equity, peace, law, and convenience.' That they were not unequal to the honor put upon them, and that the people did not find their trust betrayed, the progress of our history will show.
     The next item on the records of special interest to us in determining who the settlers of the town were, and how they sought the interests and rights of each other in the very beginnings of their civil arrangements, is the account of the first assignment of lands to the settlers. The entire list of names is preserved on the records, though portions of the statement of the principles on which the appropriation is made are indistinct:
     'Also this is to be noted, that in a full meeting of the company that was intending to come hither the same spring that we came, every of those TWENTY-EIGHT men aforementioned and John Jisop were severally considered of and what quantity of (land) was meet for every man determined of -- the man under consideration absenting himself while his case was in hand, and so successively; and when he was called in again and demanded if so much gave him content, and so contentment and satisfaction was by every one of these men acknowledged; and they set down these numbers of acres of marsh and upland after the same proportion as followeth:

28 Math Mitchell

11 Jo Renoulds

8 Jonas Wood H.

6 Jer. Wood

20 Thurston Rainer

10 Jo Whitmore

8 Jo Northend

6 Thos Weeks

14 Mr. Denton

10 Ri Crab

7 Jer Jagger

6 Jo Seaman

14 And Ward

10 Jeff Firries

7 Edm Wood

5 Ro Fisher

14 Ro Coe

10 Ro Bates

7 Jon Wood O.

5 Jo Bissop

13 Ri Gildersleue

10 Sam Sherman

7 Sam Clark

3 Hen Smith

11 R Law

9 Dan Finch

7 Fra Bell

3 Vincint,----

7 Tho Morehouse

276 -------

     The above record is authoritative as to who the first twenty-nine landholders of Stamford were.

Editor's Comment:
     This excerpt gives a short history of the early life of John Whitmore (ID#535) in the Stamford, Mass area.

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Entry Number: 2

Primary Person: WHITMORE, John
Entry Description: Historical Life Sketch

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Page: 46

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     Whitmore, John, came with the first company of settlers from Wethersfield. His name is on the second and third lists of the colonists, and he received, in the first distribution of lands, ten acres. His lot in Wethersfield, of 54 acres, was sold to Richard Treat. He was murdered by the Indians, here, in 1648. The inventory of his estate, 217 4s 2d., was presented at the Court of Magistrates in New Haven, May 26, 1656, and had been made Dec 8, 1648, and prized by Robert Hustis and Jeffry Ferris. He was held in honor, while living here, having represented the town in the New Haven Court. His children, Savage thinks, were all born in England - Thomas, born about 1615; Francis, born about 1625; John, born about 1667; Ann, born about 1621; and Mary, born about 1623.

Editor's Comment:
     This is a short family history synopsis of John Whitmore's Family (ID#535). Note that the author must have made a mistake pertaining to the son John's birth date. The record reads that John was born in 1667 when that is quite impossible. The true date should read 1627.

Reference Entry Content Tags:

P533 WHITMORE, Francis Name - MEDIUM
P533 WHITMORE, Francis LinkCToFather - MEDIUM
P533 WHITMORE, Francis BornD - MEDIUM
P535 WHITMORE, John DiedCause - MEDIUM
P535 WHITMORE, John LinkFToChildren - MEDIUM
P849 WHITMORE, Thomas BornD - MEDIUM
P849 WHITMORE, Thomas LinkCToFather - MEDIUM
P849 WHITMORE, Thomas Name - MEDIUM
P851 WHITMORE, Ann LinkCToFather - MEDIUM
P853 WHITMORE, Mary LinkCToFather - MEDIUM
P854 WHITMORE, John LinkCToFather - MEDIUM

Entry Number: 3

Primary Person: WHITMORE, John
Entry Description: FreeMan Declaration

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Page: 68

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     On the sixth of the next April, 1642, Mr. Mitchell and John Whitmore are accepted from Rippowam, as members of the New Haven Court, and 'accepted the charge of freemen.' At this session of the court Rippowam is by legal authority changed to 'Stamforde,'

Editor's Comment:
     Here John Whitmore (ID#535) is made a freeman.

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Entry Number: 4

Primary Person: WHITMORE, John
Entry Description: Description of Death and Case Surrounding Murder

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Page: 108-111

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     In the autumn of 1649, a new tragedy was enacted in Stamford. John Whitmore, one of the most respectable of the settlers, who had already won a good name here, left his house one morning to look for his cattle in the common grounds to the west of the village. He never returned. The utmost excitement prevailed throughout the settlement. The most diligent search brought no clue to the discovery of the body. Messengers were sent in every direction. Help was summoned from New Haven and Hartford, but the search and help were of no avail.
     The perplexity and apprehension occasioned by this mysterious disappearance were very extensive. The general court at Hartford made it an occasion of serious deliberation. They felt that none of the colonists, in any of the Connecticut settlements, would be secure, if such surprises were to be possible. They enter on their record this minute, as expressive of their convictions of what was due themselves in the perilous crisis:
     'This courte, taking into serious consideration what may bee done according to God in way of revenge of the blood of John Whitmore, late of Stamford, and well weighing all circumstances, together with the carriages of the Indians (bordering thereuppon) in and about the premises: doe declare themselves that they doe judge it lawfull and according to God to make a war uppon them. This courte desires Mr. Deputy, Mr. Ludlow, and Mr. Taylecoat to ride to-morrow to New Haven and confer with Mr. Eaton and the rest of the magistrates there about sending out against the Indians, and to make returne of their apprehensions with what convenient speed they may.'
     Meanwhile, the search for the body of Mr. Whitmore was going on. By a providential arrangement, Uncas, the great Mohegan, who for years had now been the polite friend of the whites, was now, with a band of his clear-sighted warriors, in this vicinity. So unusual was such a visitation, as to leave the impression that his main object in the expedition was to aid the Stamford men in their search. To this he might easily have been induced by the Connecticut colony; and to this he set himself earnestly and successfully to work.
     As, nominally at least, sachem over the tribe whose limits had once embraced all this territory, he spoke with some show of authority. Assembling the neighboring Indians, he demanded of them the body of the murdered man. Taphance, the son of Ponus, and Rehoron his subject, both of whom had been suspected as being either the principles in the murderous deed, or chief instigators to it, now feeling the pressure of Indian resolution and fearing the consequences of further endeavors to mask themselves in the presence of these sharp- eyed and now suspecting detectives, led the way into the woods directly to the mangled remains.
     It would seem that this would have been sufficient to justify the prompt arrest of these two suspected guides. It is true they denied having any hand in the murder. They had previously charged it upon Toquattoes, an Indian who had come down from among or near the maddened Mohawks, with a deep revenge in his soul, to be appeased by the scalp of some white man. Meeting Whitmore alone and without defense, he had satisfied his vengeance against the race by his sudden death, and escaped beyond their knowledge and pursuit. But from the day of the murder, wherever questioned by the neighbors, these two neighboring and now suspected Indians, had shown the deepest concern and fear; and now, while leading the way to the remains, which had already laid three months concealed, they are seized with a terror which makes them pale with fear, if not with conscious guilt. And yet the authorities allowed them to escape. They concealed themselves so effectually as to elude the officers of justice for several years.
     At length, in October, 1662, Taphance is brought before the Court of Magistrates, held in New Haven, on a warrant issued by the governor. The trial is detailed at length in the New Haven Colonial Records, transcribed and published by Charles J. Hoadley, pages 458-463. The court decided that there was strong grounds of suspicion against Taphance. His own acknowledgement, his trembling, his stealing away after promising help in searching for the murderer, his suspicious looks and actions before Uncas, were in evidence against him. The testimony of Mr. Whitmore's wife and children as to his fawning manner on the very day of Mr. Whitmore's murder, was also in proof. The testimony of Mr. Law and John Mead, who were together when he came to Mr. Law's the second morning after the murder, and the testimony of Richard Ambler and Goodman Jessop, who also saw and heard Taphance at Mr. Law's, was in proof. These agreeing testimonies influenced the court to decide:
     'that in ye whole there stands a blot upon him of suspicion; that there was sufficient grounds for his apprehending and committing to durance, and all that he hath said at this time canot clear him of a stain of suspicion; but as being guilty of ye murder, directly or accessory, he did pronounce him not guilty in point of death; but yet must declare him to stand to pay all charges that hath been about him and leave him guilty of suspicion; and that he stands bound as his duty to doe his best endeavor to obtain ye murderer, and now to remain in durance until ye next session of ye court, about a fortnight hence, except he can give some assurances of his payinge the charge before, which charge was concluded to be ten pound.'
     Taphance accepted the judgement of the court and promised to do his best towards securing the murderer. He pleaded his poverty and asked to have his chains removed, pledging himself not to run away under forfeiture of his life. Upon which he was set at liberty, after providing to appear at the next court.
     No further mention of the case appears on record.

Editor's Comment:
     This is the description of the circumstances surrounding the death of John Whitmore (ID#535).

Reference Entry Content Tags:

P535 WHITMORE, John DiedCause - HIGH
P535 WHITMORE, John DiedP - HIGH

Entry Number: 5

Primary Person: WHITMORE, John
Entry Description: Listed as General Count Representative in New Haven

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Page: 463

Reference Entry Quote:
     (Paraphrased Quote) "John Whitmore" is listed as a "Representative in the General Court at New Haven" for the year 1642. The other representative for the year 1662 with John Whitmore was "Matthew Mitchell."

Editor's Comment:
     This is John Whitmore (ID#535) serving on the General Court at New Haven.

Reference Entry Content Tags:

P535 WHITMORE, John Profession - MEDIUM

Entry Number: 6

Primary Person: WHITMORE, John
Entry Description: Listed as Selectmen of Stamford

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Page: 470

Reference Entry Quote:
     "John Whitmore" is listed as a "Townsmen or Selectmen of Stamford" for the year 1641.

Editor's Comment:
     This is John Whitmore (ID#535) listed as a Selectmen of Stamford in 1641. The above quote was paraphrased from the original document.

Reference Entry Content Tags:

P535 WHITMORE, John Profession - MEDIUM