Part 2: The Second
Generation, Children of Aaron Stark [1608-1685]
Life & Times of William Stark (Senior) [1664-1730]
Stark (Senior) Headstone
in the Wightman Burying Ground west of Old Mystic, New
London County, Connecticut. William’s tombstone has
inscribed upon it "Here lieth the body of William
Stark died Sepr. ye 8, 1730 in ye 66 year of his
age." If he was 66 years of age in 1730, he was
most likely born before September of 1664 and after
September of 1663. His place of birth is the known
residence of Aaron Stark (Senior) within this time
interval. This photo has been digitally altered by the
Author to enhance the inscription, barely visible in the
original photo. After the word "year" could be
the word "of" which was not visible in the
original. Contributed by Todd Travis. Dated about
entry in the New London County records for June 3, 1685, informs
us William Stark was the son of Aaron Stark (Senior):
inventory of the Estate of Aaron Stark, deceased, being
exhibited in Court was proved and ordered to be recorded.
The last will and testament of Aaron Stark, being exhibited
in Court, was proved, approved and ordered to be recorded.
Aron Stark, John Stark, and William Stark, sons to Aron
Stark, Sr., deceased, appearing in Court and did declare and
desire Capt. Samuel Mason might divide the lands left there
by their father, and bound the same between them."
was born about 1664, most likely in Stonington Township, New
London County, Connecticut. In 1923, Helen Stark wrote
this sketch summarizing what we know about William Stark
Stark was primarily a farmer, but he also ran a sawmill
situated on the stream between his land and that of Elder
Wightman and in 1698 he was granted license to keep a "hous
of Puvlick Entertainment." Throughout his life he held
many minor offices in Groton, and he was sergeant of the
training band there. He was frequently called
"Mr." on the records, showing that he was
considered an important citizen, in spite of his break with
the established church. Some of the Culvers and Lambs were
arrested in 1704 for being absent from church, but the
Starks seemed to have escaped this.
1698 he bought a large tract of land joining his portion of
his father’s land estate, and from that time on he bought
and sold land frequently, mostly in Groton. At the time of
his death, however, he had disposed of most of it, for he
deeded farms to all of his children as soon as they were old
enough. Christopher [Second son of William] received the
homestead with the new house, on the understanding that
William should have a room there as long as he lived, and
that his ‘now wife’ should have it as long as she lived
as his wife or widow. If, however, she remarried, she was
‘to have nothing.’ In spite of this provision in the
deed, Christopher sold the farm during the lifetime of his
father and mother, so it is not clear where they lived
during the last years of their lives, but William at least
must have remained in Groton.
we have so complete a record of him, it seems a pity that we
know so little about his wife. Her maiden name is unknown,
and there seems to be nothing to even suggest her identity.
Her name appeared upon the records just three times; first,
when with her husband and two sons she joined the ‘Road
Church;’ secondly, when she signed the Dissenters’
petition; and thirdly, when in 1730 she signed a receipt for
her share of her husband’s estate. In addition to this,
William mentions her in the deed referred to above, but not
by name, nor does he name the ’dearly beloved wife’
mentioned in his will.
will was dated February, 1726, and probated at New London,
Sept. 21, 1730. He is buried in the old burial ground for
which he gave land, but if Elizabeth lies by his side there
is no longer a trace of her grave."
these words as a preamble to the Life and Times of William
Stark (Senior), let us examine the surviving records and see
what more can be learned about the life of this man and his
Helen Stark, Aaron Stark Family, Known Facts &
Authorities, Unpublished typed manuscript dated 1937.
Archived Connecticut State Library, Hartford, Connecticut.
Call Number 929.2 St. The source and its location was given by
Miss Stark as: "County Court Records [?New London
County?], formerly at Norwich, now in State Library at
Hartford." (Contributor: Pauline Stark Moore.)
William’s tombstone has inscribed upon it "Here
lieth the body of William Stark died Sepr. ye 8, 1730 in ye 66
year of his age." If he was 66 years of age in 1730,
he was most likely born before September of 1664 and after
September of 1663. The place of birth is the known residence
of Aaron Stark (Senior) within this time interval. See
photograph of tombstone above.
Stark Family Association 1923 Yearbook. Article by Helen Stark
entitled, "William Stark." Pages 19 thru 23.
Above quote on pages 22 and 23.
William Stark (Senior) have two Wives?
Stark’s article spoke of Elizabeth as the "now wife"
of William at the time he deeded his homestead to his son
Christopher. Could this choice of words indicate that William
was married to someone else before Elizabeth? At a later date
(1937), Helen presented a hypothesis suggesting that William
Stark (Senior) might have been married to two women.
first question regarding him [William Stark (Senior)] is
whether he had a wife before Elizabeth. He was thirty-three
or four in 1698, when his first two children were baptized.
Christopher [Christopher Stark], the second, married in
1722, but William [William Stark (Junior)], the first child,
married in 1710, and in 1712 was a freeman at Groton, so
must have been born by 1791. It was Christopher, not
William, who received the homestead, with the obligation of
caring for William and Elizabeth, the parents. William had
previously received his share of his father's land, the
double portion due him, but he almost at once sold this and
moved nearer his father-in-law. All this together with ‘now
wife’ had made me wonder if perhaps William might be the
child of a former marriage. The only possible clue to his
mother, if this is the case, is a deed in 1691 from Ephraim
Culver and William Stark, of land in Stonington, to Peter
Blatchford, and his brother-in-law, Owen McCarty. I was
unable to find where Ephraim Culver and William Stark
obtained this land, either jointly or individually, and
again I wondered if a possible explanation could be that
they had married sisters, who inherited if from their
father. Ephraim's wife was Mary _____."
Groton Town Meeting Records tell us that William Stark
(Junior) became a Freeman on May 22, 1712; this indicates he
was twenty-one years of age or more in 1712. Therefore,
William (Junior) would have been born no later than 1691, as
reported in Helen’s article. But there is another
record, which suggests he could have been born even earlier.
In 1710 William Stark (Junior) witnessed a deed between his
father, William Stark (Senior) and Isaac Fox. If William
(Junior) had to be twenty-one years old to serve as a witness
to a deed transaction, then his latest year of birth would
have been 1689, two years earlier than reported in Helen’s
article. Can we establish Christopher’s latest year of
Christopher Stark was baptized with his parents in October
1698, this would not fix his actual year of birth, for
individuals could be baptized at any age; for instance, we
know William Stark (Junior), baptized on the same day, was at
least nine years old then. On January 31, 1716/17, Christopher
Stark (Senior) received – as a gift – property from his
father, William Stark (Senior). Because property owners
were required to be twenty-one years of age, this document
suggests that Christopher Stark was born before January
1695/96. In theory, Christopher could have been six or more
years younger than William (Junior). This possible separation
in the births of William (Junior) and Christopher cannot by
itself be conclusive evidence that they had different mothers,
however. Is there any other evidence that supports Helen’s
wrote: "The only possible clue to his [William
(Junior)] mother, if this is the case, is a deed in 1691 from
Ephraim Culver and William Stark, of land in Stonington, to
Peter Blatchford, and his brother-in-law, Owen McCarty."
On October 5, 1691, William Stark (Senior) and Ephraim Culver
jointly sold 20 acres to Owen McCarty and Peter Blatchford for
all men by thes presents that we William Startt and Ephraim
Culver of New London in the Colony of Conetticot by our?
Joynt consent and upon good and matuer Considaration and in
Pticular in considaration of the full and just sum of seavan
pounds in centr? ??---?? three poundes to William Startt
reseved of Owin Carte and Petar Blachford to my good
Satisfaction and fouar Poundes to Ephraim Culver reseved of
Owin Cartte and Petar Blachford to my good Satisfaction...
signed our hands and sealls this 5 of Octobar 1691 and moar-
I Owin Carty and Petar Blachford do ingage that Wiliam Start
and Ephraim Culver shall have the usesall? of the
land.Signed: Epharaim Culver, William Startt.
Sealled and delivered in presents of wittnises: Samuell
Packer, Aron Stark**
William Stark and Epharaim Cullver appeared and personally
acknolidged the above written deed befoar mee Samuell Mason
Asstnt. New London March 23 1698/9.
upon record Febarary 20 1701 by me Nehemiah Palmer
the acknowledging took place on March 23, 1698/99, the
witness would have been Aaron Stark (the third); if this
Aron Stark witnessed this deed in 1691, then the witness
would have been Aaron Stark (Junior).]
Stark Family Association 1937 Yearbook. Article by Helen Stark
titled, "More Theories and Questions." Pages 28
Groton Town Meeting Records, page 34 (Transcribed by Eva
Groton, New London County, Connecticut; First Book of Records,
1705-1723. Church of Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ. Family
History Library Film #4293, pages 86 & 87 (Transcribed by
Gwen Boyer Bjorkman).
Ibid. Pages 333 & 334. "William Stark of Groton for
the love good will and affection which I have unto my well
beloved son Christopher Stark … give …[???A] … Isaac Foxes
land …part of his portion to him … Signed: William Starke.
Wit: Joseph Hadsall, Aabiel Stark. Ack and Recd 31 Jan 1716/17."
Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman.
Church of Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ Microfilm Film
#5593, Stonington, New London County, Connecticut Deeds
1664-1714. Book 2, page 282.
March 23, 1698/99, this deed transaction (which occurred on
October 5, 1691) was recorded and acknowledged by both William
Stark (Senior) and Ephraim Culver. Why would Ephraim Culver and
William Stark (Senior) have had joint ownership of this property
in 1691? Could they have been brothers-in-law, with their wives
having the same surname? Ephraim Culver most likely was married
to a daughter of John Packer and was the brother-in-law of John
Stark when he died in 1689 (John’s wife has been shown in an
Chapter 5 to have been Elizabeth Packer). Evidence that
Elizabeth Packer and Ephraim Culver’s wife were sisters is
most likely suggested in the following deed, dated June 23,
Weeks, Elizabeth Weeks, Ephraim Culver, Sarah Packer and
Luke Brumley, all of New London, sold to Samuel Fosdick land
lying by the harbour in New London formerly belonging to Mr.
John Packer late of New London, deceased - ‘belonging to
us in Right of our wifs as part of their portion’ ; deed
dated 24 June 1693, not recorded until 6 May 1728."
an earlier section also reported, John Weeks and Elizabeth
Weeks (widow of John Stark) were husband and wife, while
Ephraim was most likely the spouse of a daughter of John
Packer – her given name not revealed in this
document. On April 10, 1716: "Administration of
Ephraim Colver's estate was granted to his widow, Mary Colver."
This statement would suggest that Mary (Packer) Colver was
most likely the daughter of John Packer. Therefore, if William
Stark’s wife had the surname Packer, her given name was most
certainly not Elizabeth or Mary; nor were other daughters of
John Packer (well documented in the records) known to have
married anyone named Stark. A more likely scenario would be
that in October 1691, William was executing this deed
transaction on behalf of his sister-in-law, Elizabeth (Packer)
Stark, who was most likely a very young widow at that time.
hypothesis contained these words: "William had
previously received his share of his father's land, the double
portion due him, but he almost at once sold this and moved
nearer his father-in-law. All this together with ‘now wife’
had made me wonder if perhaps William [William (Junior)] might
be the child of a former marriage." Do the records
support this theoretical conclusion?
March 24, 1716/17, William Stark (Senior) deeded his homestead
to his son, Christopher, inserting this clause in the
only that the sd William Starke shall have the premises
above menshoned to possess and improve during his natural
life & if sd William Starks now wife shall outlive him
then she shall have the lower roome in the new house and one
third part of sd land for her maintainance during her
widowhood but in case she shall marey again to have nothing…"
deed was the source of the term "now wife"
mentioned in the 1923 and 1937 articles by Helen Stark that
were cited above. The phrase now wife could be
interpreted, literally, as nothing more than a reference to
the wife of William (Senior) at the time the deed was signed,
without any other implication. Another possibility is that the
phrase was intended to release Christopher from the obligation
in the deed should William (Senior) remarry at a later date.
The reference, though, might give us a clue that William
(Senior) was previously married, as Helen‘s article
suggests. Could the manner of distribution of land to William
(Junior) by his father reinforce Helen’s theory the use of
now wife in this deed may indicate that the woman was not the
mother of William (Junior)?
Stark stated in her 1923 article: "In 1698 he [William
Stark (Senior)] bought a large tract of land joining his
portion of his father's estate, and from that time on he
bought and sold land frequently, mostly in Groton."
On December 21, 1713, William Stark (Junior) received a
substantial gift of 500 acres from his father.
Stark Sener of Grotton … yeoman … for love good will and
affection which I have and do bear towards my well beloved
son William Stark Juner of the town and county aforesaid
yeoman … a certain tract of land being in the town of
Groton which I purchased of John Plasto … north east
corner tree it being a Chestnut tree marked on four sides
with WS and VW standing by a brook then running by the brook
till it comes to the main brook near east then running up
the main brook till it comes to a maple tree standing in the
brook marked on four sides then running near east to a black
oak tree by the side of the hill marked on four sides with
WL on it then running by the Indian path near north to the
first mentioned bounds … 21 Dec 1713 …Signed: William
Starke.Wit: Valentine Wightman, Isaac Lamb.
and Recd 26 May 1714."
See URL <http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=shook&id=I5975>.
Silvernale-Shook Genealogy, by Steven R. Shook <email@example.com>.
Last update of site was April 18, 2006. Reports source was New
London County Deed Book 9, page 54.
Ibid. Reports source was "Colver/Culver Family
Genealogy: As Descended from Edward Colver of Groton,
Connecticut, to the Thirteen Generations in America,"
Groton, New London County, Connecticut; First Book of Records
1705-1723. Book 1, page 385. Transcribed by Gwen Boyer
Ibid. Page 225. Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman.
was the property William Stark (Senior) had purchased in 1698
from John Plasto; it was north of and adjoining the property
William (Senior) had inherited from his father, Aaron Stark
[1608-1685]. Certainly, this gift would suggest William Stark
(Senior) held his son in the highest regard. But soon after
receiving this gift, William (Junior) sold the property.
Stark of Groton yeoman … I the sayd William Stark Juner
for 150L paid by Isaac Lamb of Groton … 500A adjacent to
the land of Valentine Whitman … Ephraim Collvers land …
Indian path … the sayd Isaac Lamb his heirs and assigns to
his and their own sole and proper use benefit and behoof
from hence forth for ever and the sayd William Stark … 1
Apr 1714 …Signed: William Stark.Wit: John C Cooke his
mark. Huttson X Springer his mark.
Stark Juner the subscriber personally appeared and ack the
above written instrument to be his free act and deed before
me 2 Apr 1714. Nehemiah Smith Justice. Recd 2 Apr.
April 10, 1710, William Stark (Junior) married Experience
Lamb, the daughter of Isaac Lamb. Within one year, William
(Junior) had sold the property he had received as a gift from
his father to his new father-in-law. However, this was in fact
part of an exchange of property, for on the same day as that
sale (April 2, 1714), William (Junior) purchased from his
father-in-law 50 acres in a commercially attractive location
near the Mystic River.
Lamb of Groton for 170L payd by William Stark Juner of
Groton … 50A … near Mistick River bounded with Majher
Winthrop's land and on the north with land layed out to
----- Springer and towards the west with a brook commonly
called Colvers brook and …. The South with land in the
possession of sd Craig … Major Winthrops land fifty and
two Rods together with all such buildings and … timber
fruit trees above and under woods ways rights libertys …1
April 1714. Signed: Isaac Lamb.
John C Cooke his mark. Huttson Springer his X mark.
and recd 2 Apr 1714."
could argue this was an excellent exchange, but how would
William Stark (Senior) have taken this news that his son had
disposed of the gift this way? Perhaps we learn something from
the deed (dated March 3, 1715/16) in which William Stark
(Senior) gave William Stark, (Junior) his "second
portion" of acreage. This portion was much smaller than the
first, but in addition William (Senior) inserted a restrictive
clause in the deed. This clause reads as follows: "...
and appurtenances to ye same belonging to him the sd William
Stark Junr during his naturall life and after his decease to my
Granchild Jonathan Stark and his heirs forever..." This
clause prevented William Stark (Junior) from selling the land
during his lifetime, and upon his death, ownership of it was to
pass to the son of William (Junior), Jonathan Stark. This deed
would seem to show that William Stark (Senior) was not at all
pleased with his son for selling the earlier property, and it is
most likely the reason, too, that Christopher Stark appears to
be the favorite in the March 24, 1716/17 deed transaction. In
both of these deeds, William Stark (Senior) has made it
difficult for his sons to sell the property he had given to them
as a gift.
the possibility of William Stark (Junior) and Christopher Stark
having different mothers cannot be completely dismissed, there
was no factual information in the above analysis supporting
Helen Stark's theory. Assuming Elizabeth was the mother of
William Stark (Junior), the marriage most likely occurred in
1688 or before. Elizabeth’s given name appeared in the records
just three times beginning in October of 1698: first, when
William Stark (Senior), Elizabeth, William Stark (Junior), and
Christopher Stark (Senior) were baptized in the Stonington
"Road Church;" second, when she signed the Baptist
dissenters petition; and third, when she signed a receipt for
her share of her husband's estate in his 1730 probate record.
Comment: Because we cannot say
with certainty that William Stark (Senior) had two wives, this
article will presume he was married once – to Elizabeth –
who for the purposes of this text was the mother of all of the
children of William Stark (Senior). Elizabeth’s parentage
and origins have been much discussed by many past and present
researchers. However, after examining the theories and
evidence presented, I’ve seen nothing that would be
conclusive enough to offer my own suggestions or opinions.
Therefore, I will leave it to others to attempt to resolve
Groton, New London County, Connecticut; First Book of Records
1705-1723. Book 1, page 385. Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman.
Ibid. Pages 232-233.
Ibid. Pages 341-342.
First Baptist Church of Connecticut
May of 1650, the General Court of Connecticut added a provision
to the colony’s General Laws that made attendance at church on
and decreed by this Court and authority thereof, that
wheresoever the ministery of the word is established
according to the Gospell throughout this Jurissdiction,
every person shall Duely reporte and attend thereunto
respectively upon the Lords day…"
everyone in the community was required by law to contribute to
the salary of the Congregational Church’s regional minister:
doe order, that those who are (taught) in the word in the
severall plantations, bee (called) together, that every mann
voluntarily sett downe what hee is willing to allowe to that
end and (use): and if any man refuse to pay a meet
proportion, that then hee bee rated by Authority in some
(just) and equall way; and if after this any man withhold or
delay due payment the Civill power to bee exercised as in
other just debts."
March of 1658, the General Court passed the following
court orders that there stall be no ministry or church
administration entertained or attended by the inhabitants of
any plantation in this Colony distinct and separate from,
and in opposition to that which is openly and publicly
observed and dispensed by the settled and approved minister
of the place except it be by approbation of the General
Court and neighboring churches; provided always that this
order shall not hinder any private meeting or godly persons
to attend any duties that Christianity or religion call for,
as fasts or conference. Nor take place upon such as are
hindered by any just impediments on the Sabbath day from the
public assemblies by weather or water and the like."
proclamation by the Connecticut General Court established the
Congregational Church as the Church of the Colony of
Connecticut. These laws were in force when Groton Township was
created in 1705 and were modified somewhat in 1708.
Stark, his wife Elizabeth, and their children were baptized at
the Stonington Congregational Church in October of 1698 by
Reverend James Noyes; their daughter, Phebe Stark, was
baptized on July 6, 1701. Years earlier, the so-called
Half-Way Covenant had gained wide acceptance throughout New
England; under it, the baptism of adults and their children
was deemed sufficient to enable those baptized to enjoy
limited membership in the church. To become full members, the
applicants had to testify to their personal experiences with
God in the form of autobiographical conversion
is no surviving baptismal record for William and Elizabeth’s
son Daniel, who most likely was born between 1702 and 1704.
This suggests the parents became Baptists after Phebe was
baptized at the Stonington Congregational Church in mid-1701;
most likely, they were converted during visits to nearby Rhode
Island or as a result of visits by Baptist ministers to
Connecticut. Evidence that William and Elizabeth Stark had
changed their religious philosophy came when they, along with
ten others, signed a petition to be presented to the General
Court of Connecticut when it convened in October of 1704.
Stark, Charles R., "Groton, Conn. 1705-1905."
Printed in Stonington, Connecticut for the Author by The
Palmer Press, 1922. Page 109 & 110.
Charles R. Stark, "The Aaron Stark Family, Seven
Generations of the Descendants of Aaron Stark of Groton,
Connecticut." (Wright and Potter, Boston, Massachusetts
– 1927). Page 2.
Donna M. Campbell‘s web page entitled "Puritanism in
New England." Puritan churches believed full
membership in the church was reserved for the elect. The test
of election required applicants to testify to their personal
experience of God in the form of autobiographical conversion
narratives. Many in the first generation had passed the test
of election; but as time passed, full church membership began
to decline as the older members began to die and younger
members could not pass the test of election. During this
period, children of the elect were allowed limited membership
for the church believed they would undoubtedly pass the test
of election. About 1662, the Half-way Covenant was introduced
which granted the same privilege of baptism (but not
communion) as had been granted to the children of the elect.
This encouraged congregations to baptize adults and their
children and awarded them and their children limited
membership in the church; but did not admit them to full
membership unless they passed the test of election.
petition identified those who had signed it as dissenters; named
their ordained minister; and requested permission to hold their
own religious meetings – at the home of William and Elizabeth
the Honorable Cort Setting at New HavenThese are to signify
that we differ from you in Som Poynts of Religion but yett
we desier to Live Pesably and quiettly with our Neighbours
and in order hear unto we Send These to signify That since
it has Pleased the Almity God to putt it into the hart of
our Gracious Queen to grant us dissenters Proclamated
liberty of Consiense which both you and us are greatly favor
with and whereas she hath given you Power to surpress
Imorality and Vice we humbly submitt our selves to it and to
all others that do not prohibitt the liberty of our
Consienses and we understanding that your laws Requiers us
to Petition to you for the settling of our Meeting we humbly
submitt thereto and do beseech of you That you would not
deny us hearin, we do desier that our meeting might be
stated and held at Will Starks in New London our Sosiaty are
chiefly These Underwritten;
Minister or Teacher Daniel Piearse
William Stark, John Seigr Culver, Isaac Lamb, Ephraim
Culver, William Chubb, John Hammett
Marcy Culver, Elizabeth Lamb, Elizabeth Stark, Mary Hadsell,
Margett Chubb, Sarah Culver
have Sent the Articles of our faith with this our Petition
by Captain Daniell Witherell That Thereby you may Understand
our Prinsiples; October ye 5th 1704."
other religious practices had been disallowed by the
Connecticut General Laws of 1650 and 1658, what had changed to
prompt the small group of dissenters to submit this petition?
"Act of Toleration" was adopted by the English
Parliament on May 24, 1689, during the first year of the reign
of William and Mary. This act granted freedom of worship
to non-conformist protestants – Baptists,
Congregationalists, and Quakers – who dissented from the
Church of England, but excluded Catholics from this privilege.
When Queen Anne ascended the throne in 1702, tolerance of
non-conformist protestants continued.
the Starks and their fellow petitioners were most likely
referring to the Act of Toleration when they stated:
since it has Pleased the Almity God to putt it into the hart
of our Gracious Queen to grant us dissenters Proclamated
liberty of Consiense which both you and us are greatly favor…"
have Sent the Articles of our faith with this our Petition
by Captain Daniell Witherell That Thereby you may Understand
our Prinsiples; October ye 5th 1704"
required by the Act of Toleration, the petitioning dissenters
had identified themselves; sent their petition requesting
permission to hold their own separate religious meetings to
the proper authority (the General Court of Connecticut); named
their ordained minister; and given the articles of their faith
to a representative of the General Court, in the person of
Captain Daniel Wetherell – a General Court assistant
representing New London County.
adhering to the prescribed requirements, then, the petitioners
were requesting freedom of worship as non-conformist
protestants who dissented from the Congregational Church.
Strictly interpreted, however, the Act of Toleration
identified non-conformist protestants as those who dissented
from the Church of England. Most likely, the phrase "which
both you and us are greatly favor" was intended to
remind the court that as Congregationalists they were granted
freedom of worship as non-conformist protestants who dissented
from the Church of England. The petitioners seemed to be
implying that this privilege should also apply to protestants
who dissented from the Congregational Church. (At the time
this petition was signed, the General Court of Connecticut had
no freedom of worship provision for dissenters and would not,
as we will see, address this issue until 1708.)
General Court convened on October 12, 1704, in New Haven, and
the records from that date report that Captain Daniel
Wetherell was present. Nowhere do the official proceedings for
that date refer to the petition from the Starks and their
coreligionists, which suggests that the petition was acted
upon (presumably, rejected) without discussion in open court.
Yet, according to Charles R. Stark, the record of this
petition had survived to his day (1922): he cites a copy of it
that could be found in the Ecclesiastical Records, Book I, at
the Connecticut State Library at Hartford. If the
document survived into the 20th century, then the General
Court must have received and filed it. Why didn’t they
discuss it? Discussion of how an earlier controversy involving
religious dissent in Connecticut was handled may hold the
Stark, Charles R., "Groton, Conn. 1705-1905." Page
126 and 127.
Toleration Act, 1689. Full text.
Stark, Charles R., "Groton, Conn. 1705-1905."
Page 126. Presumably the petition can still be found at the
location referenced by Charles R. Stark. The above was a
transcription found in this text and in another Charles R.
Stark book published in 1927 entitled "The Aaron Stark
Family, Seven Generations."
November of 1691, Reverend Gurdon Saltonstall was ordained as
the new minister of the New London Congregational Church,
replacing the recently deceased Reverend Bradstreet. Saltonstall
came from an aristocratic family of rank and wealth and at the
age of twenty-two was rigid and uncompromising in his religious
beliefs. As a clergyman of unusual ability, he made many friends
both in and out of the colony and established himself as a
staunch and talented advocate of Congregational Church rule.
Through these friendships, especially among the clergy,
Saltonstall acquired considerable influence among officials in
the County Courts and at the General Court of Connecticut.
Bradstreet was minister, the non-conformist protestant group
known as the Rogerenes, led by John Rogers, had caused
considerable religious disruption within the New London
Community. After many years of disagreement, the community and
Reverend Bradstreet had settled into an uneasy tolerance of the
Rogerenes. However, after a few fresh skirmishes with the
Rogerenes, and especially with John Rogers himself, Saltonstall
set about finding a way to silence this non-conformist group
that was disturbing the Congregational policies Saltonstall so
desired to re-establish and have enforced by the authorities. In
May of 1695, at a special session of the General Court, Reverend
Saltonstall, Daniel Wetherell, and John Christopher accused John
Rogers of using words that were presumptuous, absurd, and of a
blasphemous nature. The verdict was guilty, and the sentence was
an imprisonment that could only end when Rogers agreed to the
court’s definition of "good behavior." Not
surprisingly, Rogers would not accept these terms in exchange
for his liberty.
May of 1697, John Rogers (Junior) was bound by a bond of £40 to
appear before the General Court of Connecticut "to
answer what may be objected against him for bringing a printed
book or pamphlet into this colony which was not licensed by
authority, and for selling the same up and down the colony, as
also for other misdemeanors." The pamphlet in question
was entitled, "Remonstrance in Behalf of Peaceable
Dissenters." In summary, this pamphlet charged, that
the present actions of the authority (Connecticut) showed that
the King has nothing to do with this colony; that making
dissenters pay towards the maintenance of a Congregational
Minister was contrary to law and therefore rapine and robbery;
that the rights of peaceable dissenters had been of late, by
permission of the authorities, violated; and that the authority
had illegally oppressed them.
pamphlet, which apparently received widespread circulation
within the colony (according to Anna B. Williams), most likely
prompted the General Court to beat a retreat, for in the October
session it set John Rogers at liberty "in the
expectation that he will behave himself civilly and peaceably in
the future."106 The term expectation would appear to be
considerably more liberal than the terms stated at the time of
sentencing. Considering that the principal figures involved in
the incarceration of John Rogers (Saltonstall, Daniel Wetherell,
and John Christopher) were the same ones who considered the
Baptists’ petition in October 1704, we might suppose that the
court decided not to risk reviving the earlier controversy by
addressing the issue of religious toleration in open court at
or not the General Court actually approved the petition in late
1704, the Baptists forged ahead and established their own
church, apparently without restraint. The next year, in 1705
(the year in which the township of Groton was incorporated), the
small group of dissenters called a young man from Rhode Island
to become their pastor, and under his leadership the church was
formally organized. Valentine Wightman was the son of George and
Elizabeth (Updike) Wightman, his father being a lineal
descendant of Edward Wightman of Burton-on-Trent, the last
martyr by fire in England (at Lichfield April 11, 1612). Young
Wightman had married Susannah Holmes and was the father of two
children at the time of his coming to Groton, on Sept. 6, 1707.
William Stark deeded to his pastor a house and twenty acres of
land, as the following deed shows:
Stark of Groatan … for the love, good will and affection
which I have and doe bear towards my loveing friend
Valentine Wightman of Kingston in the Naraganset Countie in
the Colony of Rhoade Island … one house and land … in
the town of Groaton … 20a …1 Sep 1707 …Signed: William
Starke.Wit: John Collver, the mark of Stephen S Starke,
15 Jun 1708.
31 July 1708."
Anna B. Williams, "The Rogerenes: Part II, History of
the Rogerenes." Boston: Stanhope Press, 1904. Page 164,
168, 176,183, 188, 191. [Anna B. Williams comments on page 191:
Could a copy of this pamphlet be found, great light might be
thrown upon this stormy period, by revelation of the full
circumstances leading up to the desperate entry of John Rogers
into the meeting-house in 1694, the plot of Mr. Saltonstall and
the "Remonstrance in Behalf of Peaceable Dissenters."
That this book, sold "up and down the colony" by John
Rogers, Jr., was for the enlightenment of the people at large
regarding the cause, and lack of cause, for the long
imprisonment and cruel treatment of his father, with
representation of the case for the non-conformist, can scarcely
be doubted. We can picture this talented and manly youth going
from place to place, eagerly seeking and finding those who will
listen to his eloquent appeal to buy and read this tale of wrong
and woe, in the almost single-handed struggle for religious
liberty in Connecticut.]
Church of Latter-day Saints Family History Library Film #4293;
Groton, New London County, Connecticut; First Book of Records
1705-1723, Book 1, pages 29-30.
Armitage, a Baptist historian, described Elder Wightman as
first Baptist pastor of Connecticut was an extremely serene
and quiet character, but his amiable soul flashed the fire
of a true witness from his eye upon the bigots who would
interfere with him. He possessed sound learning, great zeal
and deep piety. A certain calm discretion made him
symmetrical and consistent, and adapted him to cautious but
intrepid leadership in his new and trying position. He was a
close student of the Scriptures and a powerful preacher,
caring tenderly for the flock of Christ. Then, he brought
from his native commonwealth a mild tolerance of spirit for
all men, with a love for their salvation which disarmed
opposition. Yet no Church could legally exist without
permission from the secular power; but it was doubly
difficult to secure this tolerance for Baptists. Moreover,
Wightman sought not the approbation of the neighboring
clergy, for he contended that it was the right of every man
to worship God as he pleased. His quiet firmness had much to
do with that gradual relaxing of the law which at last
permitted a man to show that he was a member in a Baptist
Church and paid toward its support, and so could be
furnished with a certificate of exemption from liability to
distraint or imprisonment for refusing to pay the minister's
tax of the State establishment."
did not, in the early years of his ministry in Groton, escape
persecution at the hands of the Congregational leadership in
Groton. Wightman and his wife were warned by the Magistrate to
depart on October 17, 1707. A month later, on November 25,
1707, Wightman was sentenced to pay 20 shillings for not
complying. He was warned again in December of 1707, but again
he did not comply. After Wightman’s second refusal to pay
the fine, William Stark posted bond for him.
May of 1708, Connecticut finally enacted a religious
toleration statute, which allowed groups to exercise
"sober" religious dissent if they qualified.
it is further enacted, for the ease of such as soberly
dissent from the way of worship and ministrie established by
the antient laws of this government, and still continuing ,
That if any such persons shall at the countie court of that
countie that they belong to, qualifie themselves according
to an act made in the first year of the late King William
and Queen Mary, granting libertie of worshipping God in a
way separate from that which is by law established, they
shall enjoy the same libertie and priviledge in any place
within this Colonie, without any let, hindrance and
molestation whatsoever. Provided always, that nothing herein
shall be construed to the prejudice of the rights and
privileges of the churches as by law established in this
government, or to the excusing any person from paying any
such minister or town dues, as are now, or shall hereafter
be due from them."
provision most certainly was enacted to comply with the 1689
Act of Toleration, as the following passage confirms:
made in the first year of the late King William and Queen
Mary, granting libertie of worshipping God in a way separate
from that which is by law established…"
passages of this act did not, however, save the Baptists from
further harassment. On April 20th, 1709, apparently after
their failure to comply with the requirements of this act,
William Stark, John Culver, Isaac Lamb, Joseph Culver
(Junior), Aaron Stark, and Stephen Stark, along with their
spouses, were accused by the grand jury of holding unlawful
meetings and of assisting Valentine Wightman in settling in
the community without the approval of the New London
Selectmen. No surviving record makes reference to this
matter, which suggests that the issues were resolved. Perhaps
the accused reminded the court that the dissenters had
complied with the requirements in their 1704 petition, or
perhaps they amended their original petition to report the new
members of the congregation and the new minister. We can
interpret the silence of the records thereafter as evidence
that the Baptists were allowed to worship in peace.
Thomas Armitage, "History of the Baptists";
New York, NY Bryan, Taylor, 1887.
Eva Butler of Old Mystic, Connecticut, Transcribed some of the
New London Court Records. In her records were the following:
"Town of Gro vs. Wightman and wife warned to depart
Oct. last now Nov 25, 1707 sentenced to pay 20 s sign a bond
with sufficient secure..…;" In a second document
dated in December 1707, "John Avery. Mr. Starks house.
Went to house of Wm Stark formerly, where Whitman had lately
moved last (summer?) and warned him…"
Connecticut (Colony). The Public Records of the Colony of
Connecticut, from April 1636 to October 1776 ... transcribed
and published (in accordance with a resolution of the General
assembly). Hartford: Brown & Parsons. 1850-1890. Volume 5,
Eva Butler transcribed record from New London Court Records.
"William Starke, John Coulver, Isaac Lamb, Joseph
Colver Jr., Aron Starke, Stephen Starke and wives all of
Groton have and do in a common manner attend upon an unlawful
and seprat meeting from that which is Established by law
calling & settling Vallantin Whitman....…"
March 24, 1717/18, William Stark deeded one and one-half acres
of land to the church membership:
all men by these presents that I, William Stark of the town
of Groton, County of New London and Colony of Connecticut,
yeoman, for a valuable consideration which is six pounds
current money of New England to me in hand received of
Valentine Wightman, Isaac Lamb, Joseph Culver, John Stark,
Robert Burus, Stephen Stark, Joseph Culver, Jr., Thomas
Lamb, Samuel Lamb, Aaron Stark, Mary Walworth, Hannah
Burrows, James Culver, David Culver, William Stark, Jr.
Abiel Stark, Christopher Stark, Mary Culver, all of Groton
in the County and Colony aforesaid the receipt whereof I do
hereby acknowledge myself satisfied and contented have and
do by these presents give, grant, bargain sell, alienate and
pass over from me the aforesaid William Stark my heirs
executors administrators and assigns forever an acre and a
half land within the land of the aforesaid William Stark at
the burying place and where the meeting house frame standeth
etc.""In witness and confirmation of what is above
written I the aforesaid William Stark have hereunto set my
hand and affixed my seal this tenth day of March....our Lord
one Thousand seven hundred and eighteen. It is to be
understood that this is for a burying place and
meeting-house and ways to it and from it, and that the
aforesaid William Stark doth reserve to himself the
convenience of the burying of himself or any of his.
Ephraim Culver, Jonathan Culver"
R. Stark had these comments on the importance of this deed to
William Stark and his family:
this deed two points are well settled, that the land granted
was already used for a burying ground — probably that of
the Stark family on whose land it was located — and also
the date of the erection of the first Baptist meeting house.
The building stood a little to the southeast of the entrance
gate of the Wightman Burying Ground, and the original
structure served the church from the time of its erection in
1718 until 1790, when it was taken down and another building
was erected on the same site.
these early setbacks, the small church continued to flourish
and (albeit at a different site today) celebrated its 300th
year of existence in November of 2004.
to Wightman Burying Ground
[Contributed by Eugene William Stark. Year: 2007]
Church of Latter-day Saints FHL Film #4293; Groton, New London
Co, CT First Book of Records 1705-1723, Book 1, pages 374-375.
Stark, Charles R., "Groton, Conn. 1705-1905." Pages
127 and 128.
the end of the 17th century, New England’s prosperity depended
on a trading system that serviced the economy of the West
Indies. With the dense forests and high-quality timber to be
found in New England, a shipbuilding industry began to emerge.
According to Author Alan Taylor:
1674 and 1714, New England built more than twelve hundred
ships, totaling at least 75,000 tons. By 1700, Boston alone
had fifteen shipyards, which produced more ships than the
rest of the English colonies combined. Indeed, Boston ranked
second only to London as a shipbuilding center in the
New London County, Thomas Wells was engaged in ship building
on the Pawcatuck River as early as 1677 and John Leeds was
building ships before 1700. Later, in 1720, master shipbuilder
Captain John Jeffery came from Portsmouth, England and
established a ship-building facility on the Groton Township
bank of the Thames River.
had an abundance of high-quality timber, ideal as material for
building superior ships and sloops. What Gordon lacked were
sawmills and a transportation network to process and move the
harvested trees to the rapidly developing shipbuilding
facilities. On July 5, 1709, a country road was laid out
running from a ferry at Groton (on the Thames River),
maintained by Cary Latham, to another ferry at Mystic,
maintained by Robert Burrows. Numerous Groton deed records
show this country road partly ran through William Stark’s
property. With a large number of trees on his property and
that of his neighbors, William decided in January of 1711/12
to invest in the construction of a sawmill that would cut the
harvested timber into planks. The country road provided a
means for his neighbors to bring their harvested trees to the
sawmill – as well as a means of transporting the planks to
the ship builders.
1699, William Stark, along with others, had assisted in the
repair and rebuilding of the Winthrop Mill, as described by a
group of Culver Family Researchers:
Winthrops later admitted that the mill was in the wrong
place. In 1699 Peter Cary was placed in charge of repairing
and rebuilding the mill. He said he asked nothing for his
"Diet" nor for that of his son but wanted
£7-04-00 for three months of hard ‘labour.’ George
Wheeler framed the mill. Samuel Adams was the millwright. He
and his men worked 34 weeks at "4s" a week. James
Cornish, Henry Williams, Samuel Coy, Ephraim Colver, James
Springer, James Fanning, and Benjamin Burrows all worked on
the mill. William Williams, William Stark, Peter Crary, Jr.,
and Samuel Fish carted timber, with Fish having his oxen on
the job four Dayes. Fergus MacDowell furnished the nails.
James Dean made the rest of the iron work."
page title: Collver, Culver, Colver. Description: Dedicated
to all the Colver, Culver, Colliver and Collver Derivatives.
(Note from Author: Their source of the above is not known.]
suggested earlier, William Stark and Ephraim Culver were
friends, and the Stark and Culver families are found on the
Baptist Church petition of 1704. The above research suggests
that many families associated with William Stark were familiar
with mill construction and repair and most likely furnished
assistance and labor to enable William to build a sawmill.
the country road was a brook (known as Haley’s Brook today)
running through William Stark’s property and that of
Valentine Wightman – this being the same property William
had given to his minister in September of 1707. Apparently,
the ideal place for the erection of a sawmill on Haley’s
Brook was a portion of the brook running north to south within
the boundary of the Wightman property. Therefore, William
Stark had two problems to solve: one was obtaining capital for
the construction of the sawmill; and the second was obtaining
access to the property for building the sawmill.
January 3, 1711/12, William sold six acres of property to the
Groton School Master, John Bernard.
Starke Senior of the town of Grotton …. Yeoman for and in
consideration of the sum of 15L … paid by John Bernard of
the said town of Grotton School master … certain tract of
land … 6a …. Bounded by Springers brooke and south by
the Country highway and by Peter Carary's his land … 3 Jan
1711. Signed: William Stark. Wit: John Collver, Thomas Parke.
Ack 4 Jan 1711/12. Recd 4 Jan 1711/12."
the same day, William (Senior) purchased property from
Wightman of the town of Grotton … for 25L received of
William Stark of the town … certain tract of land in
Grotton beginning at Ephriham Colvers west corner … land
of Ephrham Coulver … eastery bounds of the land which I
formerly purchased of the above said William Stark …Signed:
Valentine Wightman. Wit: Joseph Coillver, Stephen Starke.
Ack 4 Jan 1711/12. Recd. 4 Jan 1711.12."
Alan Taylor, "American Colonies; The Settling of North
America." First published by Viking Penguin, a member
of Penguin Putnam Inc, 2001. Page 177.
Stark, Charles R., "Groton, Conn. 1705-1905."
Pages 341 and 342.
Church of Latter-day Saints Family History Library Film #4293,
Groton, New London County, Connecticut First Book of Records
1705-1723, Book 1, page 104. Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman.
Ibid. Page 105.
first property was most likely sold to John Bernard for 15£ in
order to raise funds to pay Valentine Wightman the purchase
price for the above property. William Stark paid his Baptist
minister 25£ for that portion of the property which lay to the
east of the brook, the brook now becoming the boundary between
Wightman and Stark. Although the deed between Wightman and
William Stark does not mention a brook, an agreement made
between Wightman and Stark on the same date reports: "…viz
I William Stark having purchased all the Land lying on the east
side of the brook with the medow of Valentine Wightman…"
(See Below.) By buying back the eastern portion of the property,
William Stark was now able to control the east side of Haley’s
Brook and could build his sawmill there. On the same day William
(Senior) purchased this property from Wightman, the two men
signed an agreement that allowed a meadow on Wightman’s
property, located on the west side of the brook, to be flooded
from November to May and provided for a "passable cart
way through my land to the commons." These three
transactions were performed for the purpose of allowing William
Stark (Senior) to build a sawmill on Haley’s Brook for the
purpose of cutting timber into planks to be used for building
of agreement made concluded and fully agreed upon the sixth
day of December between William Stark Senior of Groton …
and Valentine Wightman …viz I William Stark having
purchased all the Land lying on the east side of the brook
with the medow of Valentine Wightman do therefore agree and
promise that I will be at equal charge with the aforesaid
Valentine Wightman for the making a dam for the drounding
(drowning) or seeing of the medow at the place called the
upen dam and it is forther agreed that the water being damed
shall not be let out till the medow is sufficiently drounded
except it be at sum times between the first of November til
the first of May only for the driving of a mill or mills
that may be erected on the same stream and it is further
agreed upon and promised by Valentine Wightman aforesd that
William Stark and his assignes shall have a passable cart
way through my land to the commons and it is agreed upon
further and promised by Valentine Wightman aforesd that
William Stark his heirs or assignes shall have full Liberty
of making dames for mill or mills on any part or place of
the streem aforesaid and for the due performance hereof we
bind ourselves each to the other our heirs and assignes in
the penal sum of forty pounds to be well and truly paid by
the defective party to the party performing in witness
whereof the parties to these presents have set their hands
and seals hereunto the Sixth day of December 1711Signed:
Joseph Collver, Stephen Starke.
4 Jan 1711/12.
4 Jan 1711/12."
provisions that allowed William to dam the brook during
sawmill operations, thus flooding a meadow on the Wightman
property, would allow William to direct the full flow of the
brook through a water shoot to drive the mill wheel. From the
phrasing, the sawmill would apparently be operational from
November to May of each year. During the months from May to
October, William and the family were probably involved in
preparing the fields for planting, sowing seed, cultivating,
would demonstrate William was quite the entrepreneur. With the
introduction of the sawmill, William was able to provide work
for his neighbors and family year around.
Stark’s Gifts to his Children
Taylor described the New England Family as follows:
and realistic, most New England families sought an ’independent
competency.’ ’Independence’ meant owning enough
property – a farm or a shop – to employ a family,
without having to work for someone else as a hired hand or
servant. A ’competency’ meant a sufficiency, but not an
abundance, or worldly goods: enough to eat, adequate if
simple clothing, a roof over their heads, some consumer
goods, and an ability to transmit this standard of living to
same can be said for William Stark (Senior) and his family.
They seem to have worked as a family unit. As already
discussed, William Stark (Senior) deeded 500 acres –
adjacent to his property – to his son, William Stark
(Junior) as a gift on December 21, 1713. Before this gift was
made, William (Junior) had married Experience Lamb. On April
14, 1714, William (Junior) sold the property to his
father-in-law, Isaac Lamb. In exchange for the land, William
(Junior) purchased 50 acres located near the Mystic River from
Church of Latter-day Saints Family History Library Film #4293,
Groton, New London County, Connecticut First Book of Records
1705-1723, Book 1, page 106.
Alan Taylor, "American Colonies; The Settling of North
America." Page 172.
William (Senior) was most likely disappointed by this action, on
March 3, 1715/16, he again deeded property (thirty acres) to
William (Junior) as a gift – but, this time, with a deed
restriction that would not allow William (Junior) to sale the
all Christian people to whom this present deed of Gift may
come William Stark of Groton in ye county of New London in
Conecticut Collony in New England Senior sendeth Greeting
know ye that I ye abovesd William Stark for ye good will and
kinder affection I bear to my son William Stark Junr and my
Granchild Jonathan Stark both of Groton in ye County of New
London aforesd have fully freely and absolutely given
granted aliened ensealled and confirmed unto William Stark
Jun aforesd a certain tract of land during his naturall life
and then to my grandchild Jonathan Stark aforesd and his
heirs forever laying in Groton and Fuffed? & bounded as
followeth (viz) adjoining easterly to Thomas Park beginning
at a maple tree at a dark swamp running northerly to land
adjoining to Joseph Culver and Samuell Lamb by ye brook side
to a maple tree then running west and by north east upon the
brook to a black oake tree marked on four sides from thence
running by a l… of rocks near South about eighty rods the
by ye road to the first mentioned tr by ye dark swamp it
being thirty acres more or less together with all ye trees
wood timber hearbidge? Rivers brooks common…edges and
appurtenances to ye same belonging to him the sd William
Stark Junr during his naturall life and after his decease to
my Granchild Jonathan Stark and his heirs forever to thear
only proper use and behooffe and ye sd William Stark aforesd
do by these presents declare that he hath a good and lawfull
right whereby he doth give and make convayence of ye sd land
unto ye above sd Will Stark and Jonathan Stark and his heirs
forever to be unto…estate of inheritance and …the sd
Will Stark doth declare the sd premises are free and clear
as clearly … to any part thereof from by or under him or
from or by his heirs executors or administrators to the sd
Will Stark and Jonathan Stark aforesd his heirs executors
administrators he will warrant and forever defend In witness
whereof he hath hereunto sett his hand and seal this third
day of March In the second year of our Soveran Lord George
King of great Briton and In ye Year of Our Lord one thousand
seven hundred and fifteen sixteen.
Sealed & delivered in presence of Nehemiah Smith Junr,
William Stark the subscriber personally appeared and
acknowledged the above written Instrument to be his free act
and deed before me Nehemiah Smith Justice March ye 3the
to be recorded March ye 3th 1715/16."
Stark was born on December 10, 1712 and was the son of William
Stark (Junior) and Experience Lamb. The deed allowed William
(Junior) to use and improve the property during his lifetime
but prevented him from selling the property. As the deed
specified, Jonathan Stark became the owner of the property
after William (Junior) was deceased.
the same day as the above property transfer (March 3,
1715/16), a deed was recorded reporting that William (Senior)
paid William (Junior) 125£ for 40 acres of land on January 6,
1715/16 – three months before this gift of property was
made. This 40 acres was part of the 50 acres William (Junior)
had purchased for 175£ from his father-in-law, Isaac Lamb, on
April 1, 1714. We know this from the earlier deed
description which mentioned: "with land layed out to
… Springer and towards the west with a brook commonly called
Colvers brook…" In this January 6, 1715/16 deed
transaction – made almost two years later – was the
Stark Senior of Groton … for 125£ … unto William Stark
Junr … 40A … beginning at a bridge called by ye name of
Springers bridge … 6 Jan 1715/17.Signed: William Starke.
Danl. Eldredge. Edward Han Cox.
and recd 3 Mar 1715/16."
Family History Library Film #4293, Groton, New London County,
Connecticut First Book of Records 1705-1723, Book 1, pages
Ibid. Pages 332-333 for January 31, 1716/17 deed. Page 364 for
November 21, 1717 deed.
was indeed a generous exchange. William (Junior) received some
property as a gift, along with an additional 125£ for 40 of the
50 acres of property he had purchased from Isaac Lamb. It is
evident William (Senior) desired his son to have more than the
10 acres of property; the 30 acre gift located near the property
of William (Senior).
January 31, 1716/17, William (Senior) sold this same forty acres
to Joseph Hadsall, a resident of Rhode Island.
Stark of Groton for 25£ from Joseph Hadsall of Westerly in
the Collony of Rode Island … 40A … 31 Jan 1716/17.
William Stark. Wit: Aaron Stark, Ephraim Collver. Sergt.
William Stark ack. 1 Feb 1716. Recd 1 Feb 1716."
the abstract of this deed is lacking in detail, this may have
been the same forty acres William (Senior) purchased from
William (Junior) one year earlier. On November 21, 1717,
William (Senior) then paid Joseph Hadsall the same
compensation (25£) to regain ownership of this property.
the same day William Stark (Senior) sold forty acres to Joseph
Hadsell, Christopher Stark (Senior) received a gift of
property from his father.
Stark of Groton for the love good will and affection which I
have unto my well beloved son Christopher Stark … give …[???A]
… Isaac Foxes land …part of his portion to him …Signed:
William Starke. Wit: Joseph Hadsall, Aabiel Stark. Ack and
Recd 31 Jan 1716/17."
was single at the time he received this gift and would have
been twenty-one years of age or older, for men under the age
of twenty-one were not allowed to own land. Either one year
later, or perhaps three months later, Christopher received a
second portion of land.
Starke of Groton … for love & affection for his son
Christopher Starke … give … north east corner of Isaac
Foxes land at a stone marked with WS … at the countrey
roade that goeth from New London to Stonington … about 100
rods eastward from sd William Starks now dwelling house on
the north side of sd roade which bound is William Starks
Junr corner tree … to the corner of his sd sons own land
from thence bounded with his own land … reserving only
that the sd William Starke shall have the premises above
menshoned to possess and improve during his natural life
& if sd William Starks now wife shall outlive him then
she shall have the lower roome in the new house and one
third part of sd land for her maintainance during her
widowhood but in case she shall marey again to have nothing
… 24 Mar 1716.Signed: William Stark. Wit: Ephraim Collver,
Jonathan Collver. Sergt William Stark ack and recd 24 Mar
deed transaction signed by William Stark states that the
document was executed on "24 Mar 1716." The deed was
acknowledged by William "24 Mar 1717/18." Did
William acknowledge the deed on the same day? This cannot be
determined with complete accuracy from the document.
Therefore, this deed transaction either occurred on March 24,
1716/17 and was acknowledged a year later, or the transaction
and acknowledgement occurred on the same day.
March 25, 1729, William Stark (Senior) revoked the requirement
placed on Christopher in order to allow William (Senior) and
his wife to live on the property until both had died.
William Stark of Groton Yeoman for love and affection unto
my son Christopher Stark of Groton husbandman and also for
the reason of the insufficiency of two deeds of gift from me
to Christopher the one baring date 1717 and the other 1718
… part of my homestead … 250A … Daniel Stark’s NW
corner … William Stark Junr his SW corner … Whitman’s
land … Mr. Niles NE corner …. Dated 25 Mar 1729 … Recd
31 Mar 1729 …Signed: William Stark …Wit: Ephraim Collver,
Daniel Stark, Mary X Collver her mark."
was most likely done in anticipation of selling the property,
for on August 30, 1729, Christopher deeded the property to
James Smith for the sum of 1,500£. On April 28, 1730, the
same James Smith sold 121 acres to Christopher Stark for
Stark of Groton for 1500L by John Smith of Groton … 250A
… there is about one acre and half of land within said
bounds where the meeting House stands and the buriing place
which sd Stark’s Father hath already sold, is excepted …
5A of salt meadow adjoining to Mistick River toward the head
of it … Daniel Denison and David Collver … and also a
swamp lying within sd Whitman’s Land by estimation 4A …
Dated 30 Aug 1729 … Recd 8 Sep 1729 …Signed: Christopher
Stark. Wit: Luke Perkins, Moses Fish."
Smith of Groton husbandman for 15L paid by Christopher Stark
of Groton … neck of the land known by the name of Navayunk
Neck containing 2 and ½ acres 48th lot in the second tier
of the second division … Dated 28 Apr 1730 … Recd 18 May
1730 Signed: John Smith; Wit: Samuel Burrows, Luke
Family History Library Film #4293, Groton, New London County,
Connecticut First Book of Records 1705-1723, Book 1, pages
Ibid. Page 385.
FHL Film #4294 Groton, New London County, Connecticut Second
& Fourth Book of Records , Book 2, pages 529-530.
Ibid. Pages 537 and 538. Pages 538 and 529.
excluded from this transaction was the one and one-half acres
deeded to the Baptist church and the property upon which the
sawmill had been erected.
August 26, 1725, William Stark (Senior) gave a lot on Fort Hill
to Thomas Walworth:
Stark of Groton, Yeoman, for love and good will to his son
in law Thomas Wallsworth of Groton, wood lot first division
on Fort Hill. Dated 26 Aug 1725. Recd 27 Sep 1726. Signed:
by William Stark. Wit: David Collver, Daniel Stark [Brother
of Phebe Stark]."
deed shows that Thomas Walworth was the son-in-law of William
Stark (Senior). Because William (Senior) only had one
daughter, Phebe, this transaction was most likely a gift of
property to his daughter and son-in-law. This would be the
first document suggesting Thomas Walworth was most likely the
husband of Phebe Stark. It is also the first appearance of the
name Daniel Stark. This was most likely William (Senior)’s
son, who would have been twenty-one years of age or older when
he witnessed this deed.
there was a problem with the deed, which was corrected March
8, 1731/32, as follows:
through a mistake there was a wood lot or first division
laid out to Sergent William Stark late of Groton now
Deceased as may appear by a survey bareing date June the 26
1721 on a place called fort hill in sd Groton and was called
his right which was a mistake for Some years before the
laying out of sd Lot on sd fort hill he the sd Wm. Stark had
sold all his right and Title in all the Common undivided
land in the Township of Groton aforesd -----as appears on
record therefore we the ----- Committee being chosen and
Impowered to let the Common and undevided land in Groton
according to a voat of sd Town passed April 16, 17?? Have
laid out to Thomas Wallsworth of Lebenon one woodlot in
first Division that was originally the right of Isaac Fox
late of sd Groton now of Norwich and by purchase is now the
right of sd Thomas Wallsworth as appears on Record and is
laid out on fort hill aforesd on the place where the abovesd
lot was laid through mistake as before mentioned is bounded
as followeth beginning at a rock marked W S which was South
East corner of the Two rod way and adjoining in the four rod
highway with the North East End of sd Two rod --- Joyening
abovesd and by sd four rod high way on the west side the …
8 Mar 1731/2. Signed: Joshua Bill, Samuel Lester, Luke
Perkins, Comtee. Recd 26 Oct 1732."
Stark received a gift of property from his father May 6,
William Stark of Groton husbandman for love and affection
for son Daniel Stark do give part of my homestead south of
the Contary [Probably County Road] Road Mr. Niles his
orchard.... Thomas Wells... 100A. Dated 6 May 1728. Recd: 28
May 1728. Signed: William Stark. Wit: Ephraim Collver,
could have possibly married Sarah Culver in this year or soon
after – for this may have been a wedding gift to the newly
wedded couple. Sarah Culver was most likely the daughter of
Joseph Culver (Junior) and Mary Stark, and so Daniel’s
cousin. Mary Stark was the daughter of Aaron Stark (Junior)
and Mehitable Shaw.
Aaron Stark (Senior) died in 1685, his property was divided by
Captain Samuel Mason, as requested by the three sons of Aaron
(Senior). Most of the boundaries were designated by trees,
rocks, brooks, and other natural objects. After many years,
these boundary markers often had been moved, destroyed, or
changed. As might be expected, descendants of William Stark’s
brothers, John Stark and Aaron Stark (Junior), had disputes
with the boundaries of the property they inherited.
first of these boundary challenges came when Isaac Fox became
the husband of Hannah Stark. According to the Groton Township
vital records, Elizabeth Stark married John Newbury on April
5, 1707, and Elizabeth’s sister, Hannah Stark, married Isaac
Fox a few days later, on April 21, 1707. Both women were
daughters of John Stark. A deed dated November 20, 1708,
transferred Elizabeth Stark’s share of her father’s estate
to Isaac Fox.
Nuberry of Groton, weaver, for a valuable sum of money paid
by Isaack Fox of Groton yeoman, sell, one messuage tenement
of land, being in the town of Groton lying by and partly on
the hill west of William Starks, be the number of acres,
more or less which land came to me by the heirship of my
wife formerly Elizabeth Stark daughter to John Stark late of
New London, deceased, which land lyes undivided between me
and my brother Isaack Fox of Groton aforesd that is to say I
John Nubery do sell to Isaack Fox … 20 Nov 1708. Signed:
John Newberry, Elizabeth A. Newberry her mark. Wit: Nehemiah
Smith Junr, Andrew Davis. Ack: 20 Nov 1708 and recd 5 Jan
FHL Film #4294 Groton, New London County, Connecticut Second
& Fourth Book of Records , Book 2, page 197.
FHL Film #4295 Groton, New London County, Connecticut Third Book
of Records, page 74.
FHL Film #4294, Book 2, pages 376-377.
Groton, New London County Vital Records, Book 1, page 110 &
FHL Film #4293, Book 1, page 35.
property of William Stark (Senior) shared a boundary with this
property and to confirm the accuracy of the boundaries, William
and Isaac had the boundary surveyed and recorded on December 20,
FHL Film #4293 Groton, New London Co, CT First Book of
Records 1705-1723, Book 1, pages 86-87; "William Stark
and Isaac Fox all of Groton … that the bounds hereafter in
this writing mentioned shall forever … the bounds of the
land of John Starke deceased now in the possession of the
said Isaac Fox … this is our mutuall and finall agreement
and determination we have hereunto sett our hands &
seals in Groton aforsd this [blank] day of [blank] in the
ninth year of her majesties reign anno domini 1710. Signed:
William Starke, Isaac Fox. Wit: Valentine Wightman, William
Stark Juner. Recd. 20 Dec 1710."
William’s brother, Aaron Stark (Junior), died about 1698, most
of the property Aaron (Junior) had inherited in 1685 was passed
to his son of the same name, Aaron Stark [the third]. This
property also shared a boundary with William Stark (Senior).
John Morgan, William Morgan, and Jonathan Williams were
appointed by Nehemiah Smith to determine the dividing line. On
April 29, 1721, they prepared and signed the following document,
which was intended to settle the dispute.
underwritten free holders of ye town of Groton &
Stoningtown being appointed by Nehemiah Smith Esqr. One of
his majestie's justices of the peace … to fix a deviding
lane between mr. William Stark of sd Groton and his Cozen
Aron Stark son to Aron Stark decd ye brother of ye sd
William Stark according to ye last will & testament of
Mr. Aron Stark decd. Father to ye above said Brothers ye
boundary --- being lost and we being sworn according to that
Law page 246 to a faithfull discharge of our duly and having
heard ye severall pleas made to them & Evedences given
in and informed our selves by Runing dividing lines by ye
Surveyors We have fixed and stated the deviding line between
ye sd William Stark and his Cozen Aron Stark as follows to
say Aron Stark his land on ye west & William Stark's
Land on ye East We began on a Ledge of Rock South Westerly
from ye now dwelling house of sd William Stark in Sight of
his house at an old ---- that by ye brinck of ye Ledge by a
Rock wch a heap of stones by itt to --- Living Evedences to
be ye north East Corner of ye Land given by sd Will to Aaron
stark decd. Thence to Run a South Line two hundred &
Twenty Six Rods by marked trees to another stone standing by
a whit oak tree markt with ye Leters M MM W wch Line is the
Deviding line between the parties as Wittness our hands
& sealls this 29th of Aprill anno 1721. Present: John
Plumb Surr. Signed: John Morgan, William Morgan, Jno.
soon after this dividing line was proposed, Aaron Stark [the
third] purchased (on May 9, 1721) the Isaac Fox property
mentioned earlier for 400£. Combining Aaron [the third]’s
property with Isaac Fox’s property most likely reopened the
earlier dispute. Both parties apparently returned to the
committee with renewed arguments; finally, on June 5, 1721,
William (Senior) and Aaron [the third] agreed to the boundaries
by signing the following document:
there has been a great difference & controversy between
Wm. Starke of Groton … on one part & Aron Stark of
Groton aforesd on ye other part about & confirming ye
boundary of their land as to settling ye bounds between them
according to ye Last will & Testement of Aron Stark late
of New London deseased father of ye above sd Aron Stark Be
it known to all people whom it may Come in that these
artickels of agreement made & finished this fifth day of
June in ye year 1721 … ye abovesd parties have mutually
& Loveingly agreed for each of our selves and our heirs
after us upon a dividing line & bounds between us to
stand good for ever as followith viz beginning att a -----
stone …. Near a white oak tree standing at ye west end of
Thomas Parkes his Land & so running westerly 23 rods to
another meet stone att ye west end of a great Swamp &
from thence twenty one rods to a meer stone ye east side of
a pond so to run westerly throught ye pond sixteen rods to a
heap of stones upon ye south west end of a small ledge of
rocks & from thence westerly 41 rods to a great ledge of
rocks to a meer stone by a great rock wth stones upon it ye
ledge being in sight of ye above sd Wm. Starks now dwelling
house to ye southward of sd house and from sd rock with
stones upon it across ye ledge westerly to a meer stone by
and … devided between Isaac F???? & sd Wm. Stark …
we ye abovesd Wm. Stark & Aron Stark do mutually agee
upon … Wm. Stark doth for my self … aquit all my right
… land that was my father Aron Starkes to ye southward of
ye aforesaid dividing line & ye sd Wm. Stark also aquit
my right title & interest as aforesd to all ye land said
Aron Stark bought of Isaac F??? … sd Wm. Stark … sd Aron
Stark do by these presents aquit all my right title … unto
land or lands that was my grandfathers Aron Starks which is
to ye north of ye aforesaid dividing line and further I the
sd Aron Stark do by these presents promise …Signed:
William Stark, Aron Stark. Wit: Nehemiah Smith, Thomas
Chipman, James Chipman. Ack and recd 5 Jun 1721."
November 25, 1721, just five months later, Aaron Stark [the
third] sold both properties to Nathaniel Niles (Junior), as
stated in the following deed abstract:
Starke of Groton for 1800£ paid by Nathanael Niles Junr of
KingsTown in Rhode Island … sold … two tracts of land
… 460A of upland & also of fresh meadow joining to ye
same containing 30A … bounded by lands of ye widow
Wallsworth … Gideon Cobb … Capt. Samll. Fish … on ye
hill called Wolfpit Hill … Thomas Wells … lands of
William Starkes … & Margret Starke ye wife of me ye
said Aaron Starke doth give all her right of dowry &
power of thirds … 25 Nov 1721.Signed: Aaron Starke,
Margret Starke. Wit: Samll Avery, William Starke, John
Starke. Ack and recd 25 Nov 1721.
FHL Film #4293, Book 1, pages 86-87.
Ibid. Book 1, pages 551 &552.
Ibid. Book 1, pages 567 and 568.
Ibid. Book 1, pages 620 to 624.
by the end of 1721, William Stark (Senior) and his sons still
owned portions of the original homestead of Aaron Stark
(Senior), but the properties inherited by his other sons, John
and Aaron (Junior), had new owners. During 1721, Aaron Stark
[the third] appears to have been divesting himself of all of his
property in Groton township in anticipation of a move to
Colchester Township, Connecticut, for on September 25, 1725, a
deed shows that Aaron Stark [the third] was a resident of
Property Purchases and Sales of Interest
mentioned earlier, William Stark (Senior) purchased from William
Stark (Junior), 40 acres of the 50 acres William (Junior) had
obtained from his father-in-law, Isaac Lamb. On January 31,
1716/17, William (Senior) sold this property to Joseph Hadsall
for 25£. Mary Hadsell was one of the dissenters reported
in the Baptist Church petition to the General Court of
Connecticut dated October 4, 1704. The surname Hadsall appearing
in these surviving documents was the source of the following
speculation by Helen Stark in the 1937 Stark family Association
who was the wife, Elizabeth? [Referring to the wife of
William Stark (Senior).]. I have long felt that the list of
petitioners for that first church might be the key to her
identity. The Culvers, the Lambs and the Starks were Groton
families and we know something at least about them. But who
were the teachers, Daniel Pearce, William and Margaret
Chubbs, John Hammett, and Mary Hadsall, the other
petitioners? Did they, too, live in Groton? Where did they
come from? How long did they stay in Groton? I so much want
to know what the Groton records tell about each of them. The
next list of church records gives none of them. And in
wondering about them I discovered that Joseph Hadsall of
Westerly bought land from William Stark, though he soon sold
it back again. It was land in Groton, sold by William
January 31, 1716-17, the same day upon which William first
deeded land to his son Christopher, and Joseph Hadsall was a
witness to this deed to Christopher. And then I noted
further that while William was constantly buying and selling
land, Joseph Hadsall is the only Rhode Island man with whom
he had any land dealings. Has this any significance?
I looked for any Hadsall family which included a Mary and
Elizabeth and a Joseph. I found one at Gloucester, Mass.
Joseph Hadsall married Mary Graves. They had Mary, born in
1676, Elizabeth 1679, Joseph 1681, and one other son.
Nothing was found about their moving to Westerly or Groton
and different ancestries of Joseph of Westerly have been
given me, though there seems no certain line for him.
Elizabeth, born in 1679, could not possibly have been mother
of a child born in 1691, but one born in 1698 would
certainly be possible.
this is too vague to be called a theory, but when there are
no real clues one grasps at straws. But I should very much
like to have these first church members looked up, and very
especially, Mary Hadsall. (Groton and Stonington Deeds,
Savage’s Genealogical Dictionary)"
given names for the Hadsall family mentioned in Helen’s
theory suggest that Mary Hadsall may have been a widow and
Elizabeth’s mother; she was most likely living with her
daughter in 1704. Joseph Hadsall of the later deeds could have
been Elizabeth’s brother – the above Joseph Hadsall
reported to have been born in 1681. Although this is an
interesting theory, the fact that Christopher received his
first property from his father on January 31, 1716/1717,
suggests that he was born at least twenty-one years earlier
(before January 31, 1695/96). If Elizabeth was born in 1679,
she would have been about sixteen or seventeen years old by
January of 1695/96 – not an impossible age to have given
birth to Christopher; but she is unlikely to have been the
mother of William Stark (Junior) if he was born before 1688,
as suggested earlier. Again, we cannot discount the
possibility Elizabeth’s surname was Hadsall and William
Stark (Senior) was married to two women, but neither theory
can be supported by the surviving documents found at the time
of this publication.
November 21, 1717, William (Senior) paid Joseph Hadsall the
same compensation of 25 pounds to regain ownership of this
Hadsall of Westerly in the Collony of Rode Island yeoman for
25L from William Stark of Grotton … 40A in Grotton … 21
Nov 1717. Signed Joseph Hadsall. Wit Hannah Fox, John Lambe.
Ack and recd 18 Dec 1717.
August 19, 1723, there were a series of deed transactions that
are a bit baffling. On this date, Christopher Stark (Senior)
paid William (Senior) 300£ for a 150-acre tract of land that
was apparently part of the original Aaron Stark (Senior)
Stark Senr of Gorton yeoman for 300L by Christopher Stark of
same … 150A … Christopher Stark’s corner, Mr. Nyles
land, Thos. Wools’ land. Dated 19 Aug 1723 …Recd 20 Aug
1723. Signed by William Stark …Wit: Valentine Whighman,
the same day, William Stark (Senior) then paid Christopher
200£ for a parcel of land in approximately the same
Stark of Groton yeoman for 200L paid by Sergt. William Stark
… Mr. Nyles corner, land sd Nyles bought of Mr. Aaron
Stark … Mr. Whitman’s south line. 19th day, 10th year of
his majesties reign 1723. …Recd 20 Aug 1723. Signed: by
Christopher Stark …Wit: Valentine Wightman, David
FHL Film #4294, Book 2, page 176.
FHL Film #4293, Book 1, page 365.
FHL Film #4294, Book 2, pages 14, 19, and 20.
then there was this property transaction, also on that
all men that I Christopher Stark of the Town of Groton for a
valuable consideration paid in hand by my father William
Stark … 4A … SE corner of land that Whitman bought of my
father which was formerly Mr. John Slaters?? Dated 19 Aug
1723 …Recd 20 Aug 1723. Signed: by Christopher Stark …Wit:
Jonathan Hinckley, John Smith"
October 13, 1726, there was this deed of exchange between
Christopher and William (Senior):
of Exchange Christopher Stark of Groton for one certain
tract of land … may appear by a deed passed from the sd
Christopher Stark to his father Willm. Stark bearing date 19
Aug 1723 … 151A … Dated 13 Oct 1726. Recd 8 Nov 1726 …Signed:
Christopher Stark …Wit: Ephraim Collver, John Wallsworth
description appears to be the same 150 acres Christopher
purchased from William (Senior) on August 19, 1723, for 300£
. In exchange, Christopher received the property William
(Senior) purchased for 200£, plus the same 4 acres described
above. What would have been the purpose of these deed
February 7, 1726/27, just three months after these deed
exchanges, William Stark (Senior) prepared and signed his Last
Will and Testament, which included the follow statement:
give and bequeath unto my son Daniel Starke all my Lands to
the South of the Countey Road bounded as May appear by a
Deed of Exchange from Christopher however otherways Bounded
on Record and half my husbandray Tools."
William (Senior) had prepared his Will in February of 1726/27,
he did not die until September of 1730. On May 6, 1728, most
likely about when Daniel Stark married Sarah Culver, William
(Senior) deeded 100 acres of this property to Daniel as a
wedding gift. A marriage would seem a reasonable presumption,
for Daniel was at least 21 years of age on August 26, 1726,
when he witnessed the gift of land to Thomas Walworth. William
(Senior) most likely retained until his death the remaining 50
acres, which then passed to Daniel as his second portion of
land when William (Senior) died in 1730.
that William (Senior) had deeded property to his son-in-law,
Thomas Walworth, on August 26, 1726. William (Senior)
purchased the property from William Walworth, who we learn
from the following was the brother of Thomas Walworth:
Wallsworth of Groton yeoman, for 14 sheep and 10L from
William Stark of Groton, yeoman, a wood lot, first division
"rock marked W.S." … laid out on Fort Hill by
Samll Lester, Nehemiah Smith Esq. & Joshua Bill …
Dated 21 Mar 1724/5 …Recd 25 Sep 1725 …Signed: by
William Wallsworth. Wit: John Smith, Elizabeth Avery"
Stark’s Last Years
Stark (Senior) prepared and signed his Last Will and Testament
on February 7th, 1726. William (Senior) may have been in poor
health from the time he made his Will until his eventual death
September 8, 1730. He appeared to be disposing of his property
after making his Will, and Christopher seems to have benefited
the most – at least as measured by the numerous gifts of
property and deed exchanges with his father. On March 22nd,
1727, for a total of 255 pounds, Christopher purchased 100
additional acres from his father and one right of a share in
the after divisions of the commons or undivided land in the
township of Groton, along with another tract of land lying in
named Christopher Stark and Thomas Chipman as executors of his
estate. William’s wife was to receive 1/3 of his estate
during her natural life. Named in the will were his other
children: William Stark (Junior), Daniel Stark, and Phebe
(Stark) Walsworth. On September 8, 1730, William Stark,
Sr., died and was buried in his plot, which had been set aside
in the deed with the Baptist Church and which would later be
known as the "Wightman Burying Ground."
all indications, William was a person of means within the
community of Groton. Although the community had opposed the
founding of the Baptist congregation, William's rather large
land holdings and sawmill probably commanded his neighbors’
respect. This was most likely one of several factors that
enabled the little Baptist Church to survive and prosper in
Groton. William was undoubtedly a generous man who gave land
to each of his children as gifts when they were old enough; he
also contributed to the community of Groton in a like way
throughout his life. The community, church, and his children
were all benefactors of his generosity.
FHL Film #4294; Book 2; pages 231 and 233.
FHL Microfilm Film #1025051, Connecticut; New London County
Probate Packets, Year 1730, Packet #5070. Transcribed by Gwen
Boyer Bjorkman. See appendix to review the complete text of
William Stark (Senior)'s probate record which includes Last
Will & Testament, Inventory, and payments from estate.
FHL Film #4294, Book 2, page 196.
Ibid. Book 2, pages 373 and 374.