He "DEA. WILLIAM1 DOUGLAS, was born in the year 1610, without doubt in Scotland, though in what part of Scotland there is no means of knowing. Had he been born in England, and been acquainted with his wife from childhood, there would doubtless have been some mention of the Douglases on the parish records of Ringstead, the home of his wife and her family, the Mattles. His father, whose name there is reason to believe was ROBERT DOUGLAS, was born not far from 1588, and beyond this point no effort has been able to penetrate, in this line. How and where William Douglas became acquainted with his wife, Ann Mattle, is unknown; but their marriage must have taken place at his parish church, probably in 1636, when they were, each of them, 26 years old, as their daughter Ann was born in 1637.
Ann Mattle was the only daughter of Thomas Mattle, of Ringstead,(*) Northamptonshire, England, where she was born in 1610, the year of her husband's birth. She had two brothers, both older than she, Robert, born in Ringstead, Oct. 5, 1595, and William, baptized at the parish church, April 6, 1599. Of these, William appears to have died young, no mention being made of him when the family estate was inherited by Ann; and Robert, the eldest of the children, was unmarried or without descendants at the time of his death, for Ann was the "next heare." Robert and the father, Thomas, both died previous to 1670, the latter probably many years before, and their property fell to Ann. It thus appears that Ann's descendants are the only descendants of Thomas Mattle, who, judging by the birth of his son Robert, was born as early as 1575, more than three hundred years ago.
(*) There are several Ringsteads in England. Ringstead in Northamptonshire, is a parish pleasantly situated in the midst of a gently undulating, upland country, on the London and Northwest Railway, 4 1/2 miles north-northeast of Higham Ferrers, where there is a fine old church. The parish is now united with Denford parish, the vicar residing at Thrapston.
William Douglas emigrated to New England with his wife and two children, Ann and Robert, in 1640, though the exact time of their arrival and the name of the ship which brought them are unknown. The very common tradition is that the company landed at Cape Ann.(+) William settled at Gloucester,Ø near by, but removed to Boston that same year. The first mention of him on the Boston records is under date of "The 31st of the 6th moneth, 1640," [Aug. 31, 1640].
"William Douglas is allowed to be a townesman, he behaving himselfe as becometh a Christian man."³
(+) "Cape Ann Lane," the first street settled in New London, Conn.,
whither William subsequently removed, is said to have received its
name from his owning land on it.
Ø See SAVAGE'S Genealogical Dictionary of New England, p. 63.
Previous to 1752 the year began with the 25th of March, that month
being reckoned as the first.
³ Boston Town Records, Vol. I, p. 45.
He did not, however, remain in Boston, but removed the next year to Ipswich, where he was entitled to a share of the public land, Feb. 28, 1641.(*) He remained at Ipswich some four years, returning to Boston in 1645.
(*) Ipawich Records, Vol. I.
He followed the cooper's trade in Boston, and May 1, 1646, purchased of Walter Merry and Thomas Anchor, "one dwelling house in Boston, situate betweene the lotts of John Sweete and John Seabury, to-gether with the shopp which was Thomas Anchors and the ground thereunto belonging;"(+) also, March 12, 1647, of Walter Merry, "one little house with the ouse late in the tenure and occupation of John Newgrove, adjoining to the former house and ground."(+)
(+) Book of Possessions, (compiled by order of the General Court of April, 1684.) p. 148.
June 20, 1648, he sold "unto Henry Browne of Limehouse, mariner, a parcell of land, part of his houselott in Boston, containing fifty six perches, three quarters, of land, be the same more or lesse; being in front at the sea thirty one foote, and in fronte toward the streete fyve rod, three foote, or thereabouts." In December, 1659, he purchased of William Hough, of New London, Conn., "the house that was Robert Isbell's in New street." Soon after, in 1660, he removed with his wife and three of his children, Robert, Sarah and William, to New London. That same year he purchased "a house on the so. side of meeting-house hill." A tract of land "by the waterside, on the bank so. of Mr. Raymond's" was also granted him by the town. He had besides, two farms, both granted him in remuneration of services to the town; the first, in 1660, consisting of 60 acres, and described as being "three miles or more west of the town plot, with a brook running through it."
This farm was inherited by his second son, William, and has remained in the family, in the direct line of his male descendants, for over two centuries. Miss Caulkins, the historian, speaking of the house in 1865 says: "The house is very ancient, and a part of it, which has heavy timbers overhead and is propped with rude posts in the area, probably belongs to the first dwelling built upon the spot, which was before 1670."
In the winter of 1662-3, William Douglas and Cary Latham were appointed appraisers of property for the town of New London. They duly made their appraisal, which was delivered to the General Court at Hartford. But, for some reason, the court was not satisfied with the result, and
"At a Gen" Assembly held at Hartford, March 11, 16 6/6 2/3. "This Court hauing duly considered the valuation of ye estate of N: London, apprized by Cary Latham and William Douglas, doe judge, that they haue not attended any rule of Righteousness in their worke, but haue acted very corruptly therein, and therefore doe order the Treasurer that he send forth his Warrant to ye Constable of N: London, to Levy Four pounds vpon ye estate of Cary Latham, and Two pounds vpon Mr. Douglas his estate, as a fine for their corrupt and deceatful acting therein."(*)
(*) TRUMBULL'S Colonial Records of Conn., Vol. I., p. 392.
At this proceeding, which was altogether too severe, the town was indignant; and, at a Town Meeting held March 31, it was resolved that,
"Whereas Cary Latham and Mr Douglas are by the Court fined for not fully presenting the town list anno 1662, the town see cause to petition the court as a grievance, not finding wherein they have failed, except in some few houses."(+)
(+) New London Rec.
The remonstrance had the desired effect, and
"At a Gen" Assembly of Electors held at Hartford, May 14, 1663. "This Court remits Cary Latham and Mr. Douglas fine, wch was imposed upon them by the Court in March, for there transgressions in making their list."Ø
Ø Col. Rec. of Conn., Vol. L, p. 405.
In 1665, the church at New London began to feel some uneasiness in regard to their minister's views. In 1661, the Rev. Gershom Bulkeley (so written by himself) had succeeded the Rev. Richard Blinman as preacher. When he came, he entered into a covenant, as Miss Caulkins says, "to become minister of the town on a salary of oe80 for three years, and afterwards more, if the people found themselves able to give it." Feb. 25, 1664-5, their uneasiness had increased, but the town voted that "they were willing to leave Mr. Bulkley to the libertye of his conscience without compelling him or enforcing him to anything in the execution of his place and office contrarye to his light according to the laws of the commonwealth."
June 10, 1665.--"The Towne understanding Mr. Buckleys intention to goe into the Bay have sent James Morgan and Mr Douglas to desire him to stay untill seacond day com seaventnight wich day the Towne have agreed to ask againe Mr Fitch to speake with him in order to know Mr Buckleys mynde fullye whether he will continue with us or no to preach the gospell."
The application was unsuccessful; and Oct. 9, another town meeting was held, in which "Mr Douglas by a full voate none manifesting themselves to the contrary was chosen to goe to Mr Wilson and Mr Eliott to desire there advise and help for the procurinage of a minister." Nov. 24,--"a town meeting concerning what Mr Douglas hath done about a minister" was held, and they decided to extend a call to the Rev. Simon Bradstreet, of Boston. In consideration of his journey to Boston for a minister, twenty acres were added by the town to Mr. Douglas's farm.
Mr. Bulkeley now stood in debt to the town for his year's salary, paid in advance; and Jan. 12, 1666, "Mr Douglas and goodman Hough are voted by ye Towne to demand the 80 pound of Mr Buckley which he stands ingaged to pay to ye towne." It was not, however, till after repeated dunning, and Mr. Bulkeley had mortgaged his house, that he paid back his salary.
Mr. Bradstreet arrived early in the year, and the town purchased of Mr. Douglas, a house and lot for the new minister, until they should build a parsonage. June 1, it was "Voted by the towne that the house now agreed upon to be built for the ministry and also the house and land bought of Mr Douglas together with ye land which hath hitherto been reserved for the ministry both to us and our succeeding generations never to be sold or alienated to any vse forever." To this day the land is occupied by the old first burial ground of New London, and there repose the ashes of the good old deacon.
He was always active in the church economy. There appears upon the records under date of Aug. 15, 1667, while he was town clerk:--"Myselfe chosen to hold the box for contributions and this to be propounded to Mr Bradstreet to have his advise therein. William Nichols is also chosen for that worke." Mr. Douglas was chosen one of the first two deacons of the church in 1670.
Dec. 9, 1667, another farm of one hundred acres was granted him "towards the head of the brook Jordan about four miles from town," on the northeast side of the swamp called "Cranberry Meadow." Across the farm ran the Indian path from Mohegan to Nayhantic. It was inherited by his oldest son, Robert, and this, too, is still in possession of the family in the direct line of male descendants.
At the breaking out of King Phillip's war in 1675, the colonists took active measures for their safety. A General Council was convened at Hartford. At a meeting of this council, May 19, 1676,--
"This Councill doe appoynt and fully impower Mr Daniel Witherell and Mr William Douglas of New London to be Commissarys to the army at that place or elcewhere as they shall be appointed, to see to the provisions, arms, ammunition and other such things as shall be needfull for the warr, and to provide what shall be wanting and dispose of such things as are committed to them or either of them, according to such orders as shall be giuen them, and the duty of that place in all respects: and what either of them shall doe in attendance of that duty shall be held as good, whether it be for impressing or quartering or any other thing within the compass of that office; and they are to keep true accompts of all their transactions, and to render their accompts, or any estate of the country's in their custody, to such as shall be impowered to require and receive the same."
June 21,--"The Councill ordered that Mr Willerby and Mr Dowglass send to Norwich to be deliuerede to Commissary Tracey seven hundred of bread, a barrell of porck, ten bushells of pease and fifty bush: of Indian corn, and the powder and bullits in their hands and fifty pounds of tobaccoe; and in case Capt. Denison send for any Indian corn, what he sends for is to be abatted out of the fifty bushells of corn they are to send to Norwich, all of which is to be at Norwich Munday night next."
As may be seen from the foregoing and from the frequent mention of his name on the records of the town, Dea. Douglas was one of the most prominent members of the flourishing community of New London. His education, for those times, was liberal. He was consulted on all occasions of embarrassment or danger, and manifested a lively interest in the welfare of his town. He was one of the townsmen in 1663, 1666 and 1667, recorder and moderator in 1667 and 1668, sealer and packer in 1673 and 1674, and on various important committees from year to year. He was chosen deputy to the General Court at Hartford in 1672, and once or twice later. He continued to take an active part in the affairs of the church and town till the time of his death. The Rev. Simon Bradstreet, in his diary, which is still preserved,(*) says:--
"1682 July 26, Mr William Douglas one of ye Deacons of this Church dyed in ye 72 year of his age. He was an able christian & this poor chh will mvch want him."
(*) The original MS. journal of Mr. Bradstreet is in possession of Henry
Stearns, Esq., of Springfield.
In May, 1670, Mrs. Douglas made a journey to Boston and appeared before Gov. Bellingham in order to establish her claim to an inheritance which had fallen to her in the old country.+ James Johnson and the widow Elizabeth Meares, then of Boston, but formerly of Little Broughton, Northamptonshire, testified that they had known her and her family in England, and that she was the daughter of Thomas, and sister of Robert Mattle, of Ringstead. But father and brother were now dead, and
+ A copy of her deposition is on file in New London, and is printed in
the Appendix to this volume
Ann was proved to be legal heir to both. She was at this time 60 years of age, and was, consequently, born in 1610. She must have been possessed of great energy and endurance, to have performed, at her advanced age, the journey from New London to Boston and back, when the conveniences for traveling were extremely limited. Mrs. Douglas died at New London about 1685. They had but five children as far as known.
2. i. ANN2, b. in Scotland(*) in 1637; m. Nathaniel Geary.
3. ii. ROBERT2, b. in Scotland(*) in 1639; m. Mary Hempstead.
4. iii. ELIZABETH2, b. in Ipswich, Mass., Aug. 26, 1641; m. Dea. John
5. iv. SARAH2, b. in Ipswich, Mass., April 8, 1643; m. John Keeney.
6. v. WILLIAM2, b. in Boston, Mass., April 1, 1645; m. 1st, Abiah
Hough, 2d, Mrs. Mary Bushnell. "
Children of Deacon William1 Douglas and Ann Mattle were:
He "DEA. WILLIAM2 DOUGLAS (William1), born in Boston, Mass., April 1, 1645; baptized March 8, 1646. He came to New London, Conn., with his parents, in 1660. Lands were set off to him in Voluntown, March 29, 1706, which he afterward sold to his son William3, of Plainfield. He also inherited the farm of sixty acres in New London, which the town had granted his father in 1660. This farm he gave to his grandson, William4, son of Richard3, on condition of William's4 living with him and taking care of him till death.
He and his wife, Abiah, were received into the church in 1670. The church records also give the dates of admission of his three sons:--
"July 24, 1689, W. Douglas--oldest son of Deac. Douglas.
"July 20, 1705, Richard Douglas Son of Deacon.
"March 6, 1709, Samuel Douglas ye son of ye Deacon."
After the death of his father, in 1682, he was chosen deacon, an office which he held for upward of fifty years, until his death. In the ancient burial ground in New London may still be seen a moss-covered tablet, carved with curious figures and crumbling with age, bearing the inscription--
Here Lyeth ye Body of Deacon William Douglas who died Mar ye 9th 1724-5, Aged 80 years.
Deacon Douglas was twice married. His first wife, whom he married Dec. 18, 1667, was Abiah, daughter of William Hough, of New London, and granddaughter of Edward Hough, of Westchester, Cheshire, England. She was born Sept. 15, 1648; and died Feb. 21, 1715. William married, second, in July, 1715, the widow Mary Bushnell, who survived him. His children, all born in New London, were by his first wife. Children:--
i. ELIZABETH3, b. Feb. 25, 1668-9; m. Aug. 4, 1686, Daniel2 (Richard1) Dart, New London, b. May 3, 1666; rem. abt. 1716 to Bolton, whither most of their children accompanied or soon followed them; had: 1. Thomas4 Dart, b. July 8, 1687. 2. Elizabeth4 Dart, b. Oct. 14, 1689. 3. Daniel4 Dart, b. Aug. 31, 1691. 4. John4 Dart, b. Dec. 2, 1693. 5. Maria4 Dart, b. Nov. 13, 1695. 6. Ebenezer4 Dart, b. May 16, 1698. 7. Abiah4 Dart, b. Dec. 2, 1701. 8. Lydia4 Dart, b. Nov. 4, 1703. 9. Samuel4 Dart, b. Dec. 12, 1705. 10. Jabez4 Dart, b. March 12, 1709. 11. Ruth4 Dart, b. Aug. 26, 1711.
ii. SARAH3, b. April 2, 1671; m. Aug., 1702, Jared3 Spencer, Saybrook, prob. b. Jan. 15, 1683, s. Jared2, Hartford, (who m. Dec. 22, 1680, Hannah, dau. John Pratt,) and gr. s. Thomas1 Spencer, Hartford.(*)
iii. WILLIAM3, b. Feb. 19, 1672-3; m. Sarah Proctor.
iv. ABIAH3, b. Aug. 18, 1675; d. Aug. 12, 1689.
v. REBECCA3, b. June 14, 1678; d. after March 15, 1725.
vi. ANN3, b. May 24, 1680; m. Sept. 3, 1702, Thomas Spencer, Saybrook, prob. s. Jared, Haddam, whorem. to Saybrook. Thomas Spencer d. before 1703;+ prob. had no children.
vii. RICHARD3, b. July 19, 1682; m. Margaret Abell.
viii. SAMUEL3, b. abt. 1684; m. Sarah Olcott."
Children of William2 Douglas and Abiah Hough were:
232. William3 Douglas (William2, William1) in 1699 removed to Quinnebaug, and afterwards to Plainfield, where he had lands on the east side of the River; he also owned the lands of his father at Voluntown; married Sarah Proctor;161 born 19 Feb 1673 at New London, CT; died 10 Aug 1719 at Plainfield, CT, at age 46.
He "DEA. WILLIAM3 DOUGLAS (William2, William1), born in New London, Conn., Feb. 19, 1672-3. He was admitted to the church, July 24, 1698. The next year he removed with his wife and two children to "the new plantation on the Quinnebaug, which was afterwards named Plainfield." Here lands were set off to him "on the east side of the river." He also owned lands in Voluntown, which he purchased of his father, Aug. 18, 1715, for "thirteen pounds of good and current money."
He was one of the little company that covenanted together and formed a church in Plainfield, in 1705. The Rev. Joseph Coit was called to the charge of this little flock, and William Douglas was chosen the first deacon. In the old burial ground at Plainfield, an ancient gravestone bears this inscription:--
"In memory of Mr William Douglas, Who was ye first Deacon of ye chur of Christ in Plainfield who Departed this Life August ye 10th A. D. 1719 in ye 46th year of his Age."
Deacon Douglas died in the prime of life, and greatly lamented. All the church and town records, and all but a few files of the probate records, of Plainfield, were consumed at the burning of the town by Arnold, in 1781. Among the probate records saved, was the will of Dea. William Douglas. It was dated July 6, 1717, and proved Sept. 25, 1717. In it he provides for his wife, Sarah, and eleven children, all of the latter under twenty-one years of age. His wife was Sarah Proctor, but no date of his marriage can be found in the New London records. His eldest two children were born in New London, all the others in Plainfield. His widow, Sarah, was living in 1729, but no record of her death has been found. Children:--
i. HANNAH4, b. Sept. 7, 1696; bapt. Feb. 14, 1696-7; m. Feb. 9, 1713-4, Thomas Williams, Plainfield.
ii. WILLIAM4, b. Feb. 19, 1697-8; m. Mary Hanover.
iii. SAMUEL4, b. April 13, 1699; bapt. May 28, 1699; d. June, 1703.
iv. ABIAH4, b. Feb. 26, 1701-2; m. May 3, 1720, Henry Holland, Plainfield; had Sarah5 Holland, b. Jan. 8, 1720-1.
v. JOHN4, b. July 28, 1703; m. Olive Spaulding.
vi. SARAH4, b. Dec. 7, 1704.
vii. JERUSHA4, b. April 26, 1706.
viii. SAMUEL4, b. Dec. 3, 1707; m. Mary (???).
ix. BENAJAH4, b. Sept. 17, 1710; m. (???) (???).
x. JAMES4, b. May 20, 1711; m. Rachel Marsh.
xi. THOMAS4, b. Nov. 26, 1712; m. Martha Gallup.
xii. ASA4, b. Dec. 11, 1715; m. Rebecca Wheeler. "
Children of William3 Douglas and Sarah Proctor were:
233. Sarah4 Douglas (William3, William2, William1); born 7 Sep 1704 at Plainfield, CT; family records give only "1704 or 1705;"161,160 married Samuel Danielson, son of Sergeant James Danielson and Mary Rose, 26 Mar 1725;30 died 29 Mar 1774 at age 69.29
Children of Sarah4 Douglas and Samuel Danielson were as follows:
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