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Thomas Bunce,
an original proprietor of
Hartford, Connecticut
and Some of His Descendants
— Part 1 of 4 —

Introduction.  Although at this point in time, I, and other members of my family, have been unable to prove Thomas Bunce was our ancestor, there are some circumstantial bits of evidence which point to that conclusion.  I am posting the following informa­tion on him and over 750 of his descendants, their spouses and some of their spouses' parents' names, gathered from many sources over the years in the hope that it may help other Bunce researchers, and perhaps also lead to more information on our direct line, as well.

Other than census, cemetery and a few land records, public information on my early Bunce lineage is scarce to nonexistent, since the town records for Egremont, Mass., Hillsdale, N. Y. and Barrington, N. Y. were all accidentally burned in the mid-1800s.  The bits of evidence I have found thus far linking my Bunce line with the Bunce family of Connecticut are the following:

These affidavits reveal that people from New England, i.e. Massachusetts and perhaps Connecticut, were living in Nobletown/Hillsdale as early as 1754, and probably among them was Jacob Bunce, and his family, whose name later shows up on the 1779 King's District tax list.  Additionally, a message posted on a genealogical mailing list stated that the writer was driving around Canaan, Litchfield Co., Connecticut and noticed a highway sign pointing to a road that would take travelers to Albany, New York, (Albany was formerly known as Fort Orange, and a story passed down in my family said that our ancestors lived in Fort Orange, N.Y.).  The poster of this message said that it occurred to her that many of today's roads were developed from trails or roads used by our ancestors, and she saw that road as the one taken by her ancestors to New York state; it may also have been the route taken by Jacob Bunce and his family, since Canaan was the town where he lived at one time.  This settlement predates the birth of my g.g.grandfather Peter Bunce, Sr. by about 18 years.

Please note that hypertext links are in green print.  To find a specific name, you may use the search or find feature on your web browser.

Last updated 1 November 2005.


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1.  Thomas Bunce born about 1612, possibly at Seabrook, Kent, England, married Sarah _______, and he died before August, 1683, at Hartford, Hartford Co., Connecticut. The Genealogical and Family History of the State of Connecticut, p. 535, and other sources state that Thomas Bunce was born in 1612 in England, said to have been from "Saybrooke, England," of English or Scottish ancestry. He was a "sturdy Puritan, who was at Hartford in 1639, a landed proprietor."

As a member of an army of about 90 men raised from Hartford, Windsor and Wethersfield, he served as an ensign in the Pequot Indian War of May, 1637, which was undertaken at the order of the General Court after 30 people had been killed. The Pequot nation (the word "Pequot" is interpreted as "The Destroyers") was considered to be the "most warlike and blood-thirsty Indian nation in New England" because having about 500 warriors (Hinman, First Puritan Settlers of Connecticut) and, along with other Indian tribes in the vicinity, they posed a threat of 4,000-5,000 warriors against the small English settlements of about 800 persons in the Connecticut Colony. Additionally they were trading with the Dutch, and the English were interested in settling in New York, then controlled by the Dutch. Thomas Bunce was granted 60 acres in 1671, and an additional 50 acres in 1672, by the General Court "for his Good service therein [in the Pequot Indian War]." His land was located near the present site of the state capitol.

He and his wife, Sarah, were early members of the First Church of Hartford, but separated from it, and had joined the Second or South Church by 1670.

Historians differ on when Thomas came to America and settled in Massachusetts, but it was sometime between 1632 and 1639. It is thought he marched with Rev. Hooker from Cambridge to Hartford in May, 1636. His name is inscribed on the Founders' Monument in Hartford as a proprietor "by courtesie of the town" which is assumed to indicate that he did not come with the first settlers, but settled there a short time later.

Thomas Bunce filled a number of civic offices in Hartford, i.e., was chimney viewer in 1646 and 1670, constable in 1648, juror in 1649, Townsman or selectman for the years 1653, 1661, and 1665; was Rate and list maker in 1669; and list maker in 1671, 1672 and 1673. He was an active investor in real estate in Hartford, as there are records of nine land transactions for him in the Grantor Land Files of Hartford, and he was also a land speculator in Wethersfield. From early records it appears he also was involved in construction in Hartford, since his will shows he helped to build a saw mill, and also he worked on repairs to the bridge across Little River in 1648. In September, 1672, he was relieved of military training, because he was then sixty years of age.

He was considered a wealthy man, as he owned land in Hartford and Wethersfield at the time of his death. His wife survived him by ten years, dying in January, 1693/94, leaving a will dated 1689, which mentioned their grandchildren, Sarah, Thomas and Mehitabel Meekins, and the two oldest children of her son, John Bunce, leaving the remainder of her property to her sons John and Thomas Bunce, executors of her will. A copy of her will also appears in A Digest of the Early Connecticut Probate Records, in Vol. 1, p. 283, but is not reproduced here, but it has been transcribed on the genealogy message board for Hartford County, Connecticut. In some records Sarah (______) Bunce is confused with her daughter-in-law Susannah (Bull) Bunce, who married her son, Thomas Bunce, Jr.

(NOTE:  For additional information and other sources, please see Thomas Bunce Family, which is part of Pam's Genealogy Page and also the online edition of James Savage's A Genealogical Dictionary of The First Settlers of New England, Before 1692.)

Thomas Bunce's will is recorded in a series of books, A Digest of the Early Connecticut Probate Records, compiled by Charles William Manwaring, 1902, R.S. Peck & Co. Printers, Hartford, Connecticut, in Vol. 1, p. 418 and reads:

Will of Thomas Bunce, Hartford, Inventory £1024-03-00. Taken August 3, 1683, by James Steele, Nathaniel Stanly, John Easton, in Hartford. £767-03-00. Taken 1683, by Samuel Talcott, John Deming, Wethersfield. A Home lot and dwelling house, £100; to 9 acres of Meadowland at the Pond, £70; to land at the Wherle pool, £9; to Land in the Wett swamp £6; to 30 acres of Land in the Wett swamp, £30; to 6 Acres dry swamp, £12; summe £257; £767-03-00-£1024-03-00. Will not dated.

I, Thomas Bunce, do give and confirme to John Bunce, my sonn and his heirs forever, all that my house and Lott and barn with all the appurtenances belonging to it (which I bought of Thomas Gridley) within the Bounds of the Township of Hartford and my 40 acre Lott which I bought of the aforesayd Gridley which Lyeth near Weathersfield Bounds, together with my whole, right, title and interest in the saw mill built by Mr. Gardener, Stephen Hosmer and my selfe, and doe put him in present possession thereof. Moreover I doe give and bequeath unto my sayd sonn John Bunce six acres of Meadow land in the South meadow on the south side of my Lott Lying by John Wattson's, Thomas Catlin's and Steven Hopkins' Land, as I also give and bequeath to him my Lott lying over against Mr. Webster, which abutts on the Highway east and on John Wattsons land on the west and on John Richards' Land on the South and on the Highway on the North. These last two parcels of land my sayd son John Bunce is to possess immediately after the decease of me and my wife Sarah Bunce. Moreover I give to my sayd (sonn) John Bunce out of my moveable estate £10. I doe give unto my dau. Elizabeth White £20. I doe give unto all my grand­child­ren to each of them £5. I doe give unto my cousin Elizabeth White £5. I doe give unto my sister Katheren Clark £10. I doe give to my wife all my moveable estate, both of cattell and household stuffe, to be to her use and behoofe whilst she shall Live and to dispose of it at her decease to our children. I doe give unto her the use and improvement of all my houseing and Land that I stand possessed of at my decease, to be for her comfortable subsistence, she keeping houses and fences in good repayre; provided, if she marry again she shall have but one halfe of my houseing and Lands. I do give unto my son Thomas Bunce, Jr. and his heirs forever, after the decease of my wife, all my houseing and lands of what nature and kind they soever be, or wheresoever situated. I doe nominate my sayd sonn Thomas Bunce to be my whole and sole Executor and to enable him to per­forme this my will and to pay such legacies as I have herein given, I do grant him the power to sell any part of my Land at Weathersfield for the end afore­sayd, not with standing any clause or bequest in this my will to the contrary and that he may have a refuge to repayre unto for advice and councill in all difficul­ties that may arise in the attendancy of this my will, I do desire my Breathern Ens. Nath Standly and Steven Hosmore to be my desired overseers to assist him with council and advice as there shall be need.

Thomas Bunce
Witness: John Allyn
Joseph Whiting

Children of Thomas and Sarah (______) Bunce (not in order of birth):

Second Generation

2. Sergt. John Bunce born about 1650, married Mary Barnard, dau. of Bartholomew Barnard and Sarah Burchard/Birchard. John died before 1734, Hartford, Hartford Co., Connecticut. In Genealogical and Family History of the State of Connecticut, p. 535, it says John Bunce and wife were admitted to the South Church of Hartford, 1686. He was townsman or selectman in 1701, 1711 and 1715. His estate was valued at £538-6-8. In his will dated 16 Jul 1730, he left one-half of his homestead to son James and one-half to Jacob, John and Isaac, the children of his son John, who was given right to live in his house during his life; also there were small legacies to three daughters not named in his will. He "owned" the Church covenant on 22 Feb 1670. Their children:

3. Thomas Bunce, Jr. married Susannah Bull, born about 1650, Hartford, Hartford Co., Connecticut, dau. of Thomas Bull and Susannah _____, who died 1683 in Hartford. Thomas died about 1711 in Hartford. According to Hinman's First Puritan Settlers of Connecticut, 1852, pp. 403-05, Thomas Bunce, Jr. was "a man of large estate in lands; had many lots south of Little River, on Rocky Hill, in Wethersfield, east of Great River, his house and home-lot in Hartford where he lived, a right in five-mile purchase, interest in mills, etc." In his will, dated 25 Apr 1709, he referred to himself as an "aged man." He and his wife were received into the Second Church of Hartford 24 Mar 1677/78. He served as townsman, 1679-80, '84, '89, '93, '98 and 1703. Their children were:

4.  Sarah Bunce born about 1634, Hartford, Hartford Co., Connecticut, married (1) John White, Jr., born about 1630, died 15 Sep 1665, Hatfield, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts, married (2) about 1668, Nicholas Worthington, born about 1635, England, who died 6 Sep 1693, Hartford. Sarah died 20 Jun 1676. The following is from Genealogy of the Worthington Family, complied by George Worthington, 1894:

p. 13-14—Nicholas Worthington of Hartford, Conn. married Sara White, dau. of Thomas Bunce, widow of John White, Jr.  Sara d. 20 Jun 1676, and Nicholas m. (2) Susanna, who, after Nicholas' death, m. Capt. Jonathan Ball of Springfield, Mass. Capt. Ball d. 21 May 1741. Nicholas d. 6 Sep 1693.  Susanna d. 9 Mar 1727.  Thomas Bunce, father of Sara, served in Pequot War, m. Susannah dau. of Thomas Bull, under whom he served during war.  Had issue: Thomas, John, Sara, Mary and Elizabeth, who m. Jacob White, brother of John.  Nicholas and Sara had issue:  William b. 1670, Elizabeth b. 1672, Mary b. 24 Jan 1673, died young.  Nicholas and Susanna had issue: Jonathan and John, b. 17 Aug 1679.

5. Mary Bunce born 17 Sep 1645, Hartford, Hartford Co., Connecticut, married (1) Thomas Meekins, born 8 Jun 1643, Hatfield, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts, died 19 Oct 1675, Hatfield, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts, married (2) 1676, John Downing, born about 1640, Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts. The date of birth for Mary Bunce, dau. of Thomas and Sarah (_____) Bunce is from p. 109 of book, Families of Early Hartford, Connecticut, by Lucius Barnes Barbour, published by Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc. 1977. According to p. 60 of the book, Oliver-Miner, Ancestors and Descendants, by Frederick L. Oliver, 1956, Thomas Meakins of Hatfield was killed by Indians 19 Oct 1675, and his widow afterwards married John Downing of Hatfield.

Third Generation

6.  John Bunce, Jr. married Abigail Sanford, born 11 Oct 1692, Hartford, Hartford Co., Connecticut, dau. of Zachariah Sanford and Sarah Willet, who died 2 Nov 1774, and was buried in the Center Church cemetery. John died 1743. A record of the family of John Bunce, Jr. is in the book, Oliver-Miner, Ancestors and Descendants, compiled by Ret. by Capt. Frederick Lansing Miner, privately published 1956, pp. 60-64. He listed the following as his sources for the section on the Bunce family:


From A Digest of Early Connecticut Probate Records, Vol. III, p. 17: Bunce, John, Hartford. Invt. £538-06-08. Taken by Jonathan Olcott and Jonathan Steele. Will dated 16 July, 1730.

I, John Bunce of Hartford, do make this my last will and testament: I give unto my wife Mary Bunce the use and improvement of all my houseing and lands during life, and all my moveable and personal estate to be at her own dispose as she pleases, to and amongst my children after my wife's decease I give all my houseing and lands, the moiety or half-part thereof, unto my son James Bunce, and the other moiety or 1/2 part thereof unto my grandsons, Jacob, John and Isaac Bunce, to be equally divided to them, my sd. son James Bunce 1 part, and my sd. grand­sons, Jacob Bunce, John Bunce and Isaac Bunce, the other part, to be to them and their heirs forever. Binding and obliging my sd. grandsons, when they are of lawful age and come into possession of what I have given them, to pay 20 shillings a piece unto their father (my eldest son) John Bunce, Jr., per annum during his natural life. I give unto my sd. son John Bunce 20 shillings besides what I have formerly given him,, to be paid him out of my estate. I give unto my three daughters 5 shillings apiece besides what I have formerly given them, to be paid out of my estate.

Witness: George Wyllys, John Bunce, LS. John Dod, Elizabeth Wyllys.

And further, I, the above-named John Bunce, do make this codicil to my aforewritten will: that my son John Bunce shall have liberty to dwell in, my house, which is now the dwelling house of my son James, in case he shall live to survive me and my wife, during my sd. son John's natural life if he my son John shall desire and require the same. And further, it is my will that my son James and my grandchildren, Jacob, John and Isaac, to whom I have given the 1-2 of my houseing and lands, shall have an equal right in my well to use the water thereof as they have occasion. And further to explain what is above written wherein it is my will, that he shall have my house which I now dwell in for his property after me and my wife's decease.

Witness: Thomas Ensign, Jr., John Bunce, Ls., Hezekial Lane, John Dod.
7 October 1733.


Furthermore, it appears this family was the subject of the following paper which was quoted in a letter to Mrs. Alice K. Howard from Louise Howes Burnett (who died last year and had collected family history for 55 years) on page 3 of the letter, a copy of which Mrs. Kennedy sent to me in 1977:

Also, from xerox copy of a letter enclosed with cover letter from Mrs. Alice (Kennedy) Howard dated May 6, 1977:

From:
Louise Howes Burnett
3 Lyncrest Dr.
Paramus NJ 07652

Mrs. Howard's handwritten note about Louise:  "She was assisting me in gathering data of Nathaniel b. Mar. 10, 1780 and Cynthia (Fish) Bunce. - Their son Nathaniel R. m. Mary J. Suffern & their dau. Ella Augusta m. Henry Rowlands. Another dau. Florence de La Mongagne (d. unm.)"

"In the possession of the Rowlands family is a paper once owned by Florence De La Montagne Bunce, who collected family history. It reads as follows:

"Abraham Settled in New York State and had a family which scattered to Long Island and the western part of Conn.

"From the family the only Bunces in England, belonged D'Bunce and four sons at Isle of Wight all living in 1821.


Their children were:

7.  Deborah Bunce married 20 Dec 1704, in Hartford, Hartford Co., Connecticut, Edward Cadwell, born 24 Sep 1681, Hartford, who died 3 Sep 1751. Deborah died 1 May 1772.


From record copied from world wide web site:

Town of Hartford
Center Cemetery
Inscriptions Before 1800
Compiled by Charles H. Hale, State Military Necrologist
(Original at Connecticut State Library)

CADWELL
    * Deborah, w. Edward, d. May 1, 1772 ae. 84
    * Edward, d. Sep 3, 1751 ae. 70
    * Matthew, d. Apr 1719 ae. 50



The children of Edward and Deborah (Bunce) Cadwell:

8.  James Bunce married (1) 6 Aug 1718, Sarah King, born 10 Mar 1697, probably at Northampton, Massachusetts, dau. of Joseph and Mindwell (Pomeroy) King, married (2) before 6 Jul 1749, Elizabeth (Barnard) King, born about 1698, Hartford, Connecticut, dau. of Joseph and Lydia (Howard) Barnard, who died 26 Feb 1783, Second Church Hartford, Connecticut, and was buried in the Center Church cemetery. James died 9 Mar 1774, Hartford and was buried in the Center Church cemetery. From Oliver-Miner Ancestors and Descendants by F.L. Oliver, 1956: "His will, Dec. 19, 1757, proved Mar. 9, 1762, mentions my beloved wife Elizabeth; sons Aaron, Joseph, Phinehas, Perius (Perez) and George. Land at Northampton which came by my first wife to my youngest daughter Unis King. All the rest of my estate to be equally divided amongst all my children." The names of the children of James Bunce differ between the two books, Oliver-Miner and Families of Early Hartford, Connecticut since the Families book lacks the names of the children named Mindwell, Sarah and Jane.

Children by Sarah King:

9.  Thomas Bunce III born Hartford, Connecticut, married 2 Jun 1709, in Hartford, to Elizabeth Easton, dau. of Joseph and Hannah (Ensign) Easton, who died 27 May 1741, in Hartford, and was buried in the Center Church cemetery. Thomas died 30 Dec 1711, in Hartford, Connecticut. Information on family of Thomas Bunce III is from Families of Early Hartford, Connecticut by Lucius Barnes Barbour, pub. 1982, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. p. 111. Thomas Bunce's estate worth £1185-10-3 in 1712. Thomas Bunce owned the covenant (or basically confessed his faith) at the First Church 27 Oct 1710, wife owned the church's covenant at the First Church on 23 Feb 1695/96, and was admitted to the First Church on 18 Jan 1712/13.

From A Digest of the Early Connecticut Probate Records, Vol. II, Hartford District, 1700-1729, page 168-169.

Page 179. Bunce, Thomas, Jr., Hartford. Invt. £1185-10-03. Taken 26 March, 1712, by Joseph Wadsworth, Hez: Wyllys and James Steele.

Court Record, Page 57-7 February, 1711-12: And this Court grant letters of Adms. on the estate of Thomas Bunce, Jr., late of Hartford, deed., to Jonathan Bunce, brother of the said deceased, and to Elizabeth Bunce, widow of the said deceased.

Page 59-60-3 March, 1711-12: Mr. Richard Edwards, attorney for Mrs. Elizabeth Bunce, moved this Court to set aside their order of 7 February, 1711-12, appointing Jonathan Bunce with said Elizabeth as Adms., and to grant letters entirely to Mrs. Elizabeth Bunce. The Court refusing, an appeal was taken to the Superior Court, Jonathan Easton, her brother, giving bond.

Page 110-2 February, 1712-13: Elizabeth Bunce, Adms. exhibits invt.

Page 48 (Vol. X) 7 March, 1726-7: Caleb Bull, in right of Elizabeth his wife, Adms., being cited to appear with Adms. account, produced several sums paid, but no receipts. He was ordered to procure and produce receipts.

Page 150-4 April, 1727: Exhibits now account of Adms. Accepted. Estate now £1185-10-03 Order to dist: To Elizabeth Bull, relict of the decd., and to Susannah, the only child. By John Skinner, James Ensign and James Easton.

Page 151-Susannah Bunce, age 16 years, chose James Easton of Hartford to be her guardian. Rec., £400.

According to an entry in the book, Records of the Second Church of Hartford, by Edwin Pond Parker, published in 1892, Widow Elizabeth Bunce was admitted to the Second Church on 18 Jan 1711/12. Their child:

10.  Jonathan Bunce married 16 Dec 1700, in Hartford, Hartford Co., Connecticut, Sarah Sanford, born 1681, Hartford, dau. of Zachariah and Sarah (Willet) Sanford, who died 26 Jan 1761, at Hartford and was buried in the Center Church cemetery. Jonathan died in Jan., 1718. Their children were:

11.  Joseph Bunce married (1) 27 Apr 1708, in Hartford, Hartford Co., Connecticut, Ann Sanford, born 27 Aug 1689, Hartford, Connecticut, dau. of Zachariah and Sarah (Willet) Sanford, who died 18 Oct 1710, in Hartford, married (2) after 1712, Amy Bishop (or House). Joseph died 9 Jun 1750, Hartford, and was buried in the Center Church cemetery. Helen McDonald's Notes: "Apparently Joseph Bunce did not leave a will, so the court granted adms. to Amy Bunce, widow, who gave bonds with William Hooker of Hartford. Then on 10 Aug 1750 Amy Bunce Adms. exhibited an inventory which was accepted. It was made and dated 13 Jul 1750 in which the court granted 'Amy, the widow to serve without bond' and the following agreement: 'We the subscribers being the only heirs to the estate of Joseph Bunce do agree to divide the estate as follows.' etc. and the following children are mentioned: Abjiah, Gideon, Jerusha, Ann, Amy, Martha, Mary, Abigail and Sussanah. No mention was made in the above record of William, Thomas, Joseph and Timothy, but baptism records were found for them, so it is assumed they died before this settlement date."

Children by Ann Sanford:

12.  Abigail Bunce married 15 Feb 1704/05, in Hartford, Hartford Co., Connecticut, Caleb Stanley, Jr. Their child: