Saturday, April 11, 2015

Stephen Clayson or McClay and Elizabeth Periment

My father's seventh great grandparents are Stephen Clayson and Elizabeth Periment of Stamford, Connecticut. Tradition says that Stephen was Scots and his original name was McClay. He and his brother Williams fled to France because of Cromwell, perhaps survivors of the battle of Worcester. There they changed their name to Clayson (the meaning of McClay and Clayson is both the son of Clay). William eventually returned to Scotland, but Stephen came to Stamford and settled there. He married Elizabeth Periment 11 Nov 1654. Her originals are unknown. There are possible links to the Pennoyer family, but this has not been proven.

Stephen died sometime after 1699/1700. He left a will where he left his estate to son Samuel, his wife while a widow, sons Stephen and David, daughter Elizabeth, wife of Francis Dann, grandson Stephen, son of Jonathan and sister Sarah. My dad descends from his son David and his wife Mary Hardy.

Elizabeth Periment Clayson is more well known because she was accused of witchcraft. Sgt Daniel Westcott said she had bewitched his servant girl and a bill was found by the Grand Jury. The water test was applied and she floated like a cork when put in water bound hand and foot. A lot of stupid testimony was taken but her neighbors gave testimony in her favor and the Petit Jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty. She was tried with Mercy Hollingsworth Disbrow who is the stepdaughter of my tenth great grandfather on my mother's side. Apparently, she also survived the trial, unlike those in Salem where a witch hunt was also going on in Sept 1692.

Friday, April 10, 2015

General Benjamin Mooers

Although my son, Ben, was not named after this ancestor and our last name is not quite the same, I've always felt an affinity to General Benjamin Mooers. He is the fifth great uncle of my mother-in-law, Connie. His brother Jonathan Mooers married Elizabeth Gage and Connie is descended from this line.

 General Ben was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts on 1 Apr 1758, son of Benjamin Mooers and Abigail Hazen. He entered the Revolutionary Army in June, 1776 as a private in the militia. In March, 1778 he was promoted to Ensign and by 1780 he was Lieutenant and Adjutant of the Regiment. He had participated in most of the important battles of the Revolution including Ticonderoga, Saratoga, White Plains, and he was at Yorktown when General Cornwallis surrendered.

After the war he moved to Clinton County, New York and settled in Plattsburg. He was elected to the state legislature and was appointed an Elector to choose the President and Vice-President. He stayed in the state militia and was eventually promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

In 1811 he was promoted to Major General and commanded the state militia at the battle of Plattsburg on Sept. 11, 1814 in the War of 1812 against the British. He commanded a total of six brigades extending from Franklin to Albany counties.

He died 20 Jan 1838 and is buried in Plattsburgh, New York. His house still stands in Plattsburgh and a cannonball that came in through an open door and lodged in the wall still shows today.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

John Meigs and wife Thomazine Frye Meigs of New Haven

On my Grandfather Fairchild's side, my 10th great grandfather is John Meigs or Meggs of Guilford and New Haven, Connecticut. He is the son of Vincent Meigs who came with his family from Dorset/Devon, England in 1639 to Connecticut and settled in the New Haven area. John married Thomasine Frye.

John is famous because on the night of May 12, 1661 he rode from Guilford to New Haven to warn the regicides Whalley and Goffe who were hiding at Rev. Davenport's that agents of the King were on the way to arrest them. Whalley and Goffe had been among Cromwell's men who sentenced King Charles I to death. Once Charles II ascended the throne, he planned revenge on the men who had had his father beheaded.

John Meigs supposedly helped them hid in Judges Cave on West Rock where they escaped justice. There is a plaque there to commemorate the occasion.

His daughter Elizabeth married Richard Hubbell through which the line descends to the Glover family in Newtown, then to the Fairchilds.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Edward Gove of Gove's Rebellion

On my son's paternal side through his mother's Fitz/Dearborn side we have Edward Gove. He was born in London, England but came to New England as part of the Great Migration. He came to Salisbury, Massachusetts where he married Hannah Partridge and became a large land owner.
He moved to the new Province of New Hampshire (Hampton) where eventually he, along with many others, came into dispute with Edward Cranfield, the new Governor of the province. Cranfield was greedy and corrupt.
From the Lane Memorial Library website - By 1683 Gove was a person of considerable property, lieutenant of the military company and somewhat popular, and as Randolph, an English devotee of Mason, affirmed, "a leading-man and a great stickler in the late proceedings of the assembly." He resolved, almost singlehanded, to redress his own and others grievances. "He makes it his business," said Randolph, "to stir the people up to rebellion, by giving out that the governor as vice-admiral acted under the commission of his royal highness, the Duke of York, afterwards James II, who was a Papist and would bring Popery among them; that the governor was a pretender and his commission was signed in Scotland. He endeavored, with a great deal of pains to make a party, solicited many of the considerable persons in each town to join with him to secure their liberties. Gove declared "that his sword was drawn, and the he would not lay it down till he knew who should hold the government." The governor, having received information of his movements, immediately sent messengers to Hampton and Exeter with warrants for the constables, requesting them to arrest Gove, but fearing this show of opposition and that Gove's party might become too strong for the civil power, he forthwith ordered the militia of the whole province to be in readiness.
Gove undoubtedly expected that when his arrest was attempted, there would be resistance and then a general uprising. At first he eluded and repulsed the marshall (who was a local man) and others who attempted to arrest him in Hampton, and hastened to his men at Exeter. He suddenly returned to Hampton Jan. 27, 1683, with twelve men, all being mounted, and nearly all being of Hampton, armed with swords, pistols and guns, a trumpet sounding, and with his sword drawn, riding at their head. They entered the town and Gove, seeing no demonstration in his favor at his appearance, lay down his arms and gave himself up to the authorities of the town, as did the others. They were taken into custody by the militia, except the trumpeter, who escaped. They were imprisoned and heavily ironed. When Governor Cranfield was informed of the arrests, he was mounting his horse to lead a part of the troops in pursuit of Gove and his party.

Edward Gove was the only one who's arrest for high treason was permanent. He was eventually sent to the Tower of London in England to be hanged, drawn and quartered. He stayed there for about 3 years but was eventually pardoned by King James II and sent back to New England. He died in Hampton in 1691.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

William Hamilton, first whale killer

William Hamilton is my 8th great grandfather on my Grandma Fairchild's side. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland and came to Massachusetts around 1668. He is famous for being the first person to kill a whale while living on Cape Cod. Being persecuted for killing the whale, by the inhabitants of the Cape, as one who dealt with evil spirits.'" In a slightly different rendition of the story, told by historian Gertrude Wickham, William's family was "driven away as witches." He moved to Rhode Island where he married Mercy or Lucy Berry. In their old age they came to Danbury, Connecticut where he died in 1749 at the advanced age of 103. Supposedly he died in his chair at the home of his son-in-law, Thomas Benedict.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Ragnor Lodbrok - a fun but not necessarily accurate ancestry

This week was the Season 2 finale of History Channel's The Vikings. An interesting take is  There is a descent through the Chellis family (my mother-in-law's maternal side) that has Ragnor Lodbrok as my boys 34th great grandfather through his son Sigurd Snogoje or Snake-in-the-Eye, as the show calls him. He is named this because his iris has the image of a snake encircling his pupil.

While Ragnor may be a composite of various Nordic rulers, Sigurd was a real person, along with the other sons, as told in Ragnarssona battr, The Tale of Ragnor's sons, After Ragnor's death, his sons took revenge but I don't want to give away any spoilers for the show. Ragnarssona þáttr informs that when his father died, he inherited Zealand, Scania, Halland, the Danish islands, and Viken. He married Blaeja, the daughter of king Ælla of Northumbria and they had the children Harthacanute and Aslaug, who was named after her grandmother Aslaug.

Could Viking blood explain the red hair on the Chellis side?
An 1857 painting by August Malmström depicting
King Aella's messenger before Ragnar Lodbrok's sons.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

 I've been watching the new TV show, Turn, on AMC that tells the story of the Culver Spy Ring. This was a group of spies based out of Fairfield, Connecticut and run by Benjamin Tallmadge that worked with others, Abraham Woodhull (played by Jamie Bell on the show) that were based in Long Island and passed information about troop movements, etc. The show is beautifully filmed (though in Virginia, not New England) and I've found it really interesting.

My family has tenuous links to the Culver Spy Ring through my mother's grandfather, Frank Garfield Beers, who was descended  from Andrew Eliot, D.D. through his daughter Sarah, who married Joseph Squires of Fairfield. The Squire descendents eventually married into the Beers family.
Andrew Eliot D.D. was the pastor of the New North Church in Boston and was one of the few ministers who remained in the city during the Revolutionary War (the letters shown were sent to his son describing the seige).

His son and Sarah's brother, also named Andrew, was minister of the Congregational Church in Fairfield, Connecticut. There are a series of letters written from the younger Andrew to his father that refer to the spy activities going on in Fairfield at the time. A book called Missing Links to the Culper Spy Ring by Bernadette Fawcett details the letters and shows how involved the Eliots were in the spy ring.

As I said, the TV show is excellent and I heartily recommend it to lovers of American history.