We’ve arrived at the end of the Scranton line in the “New World”! One thing I’ve discovered is that when you trace your lines back to this point, you may find books and articles written about your ancestor, but just like online family trees, you also find plenty of conflicting information. Which only goes to show that there is nothing like finding original primary sources or at least sources contemporary to your events. I’m saying all this because I’ve found quite a bit of information on John Scranton, the forefather of my Scranton line, but some of this information does not agree with each other. What I’ll attempt to do is tell John’s story as best I can, trying to note conflicts where I’ve found them.
John Scranton’s birth was estimated to be around 1609-1610 in England. It is possible that he may have lived in Guildford, England with his fellow immigrants. (Guildford is a town that is 27 miles southwest of London.) While in England, it is thought that John married his first wife Joanna (whose last name is unknown).
When John left England is uncertain. I’ve seen an article state that he and others left in 1637 for Boston, Massachusetts; another stated that he was among the twenty-five families that traveled with Henry Whitfield to New Haven in May of 1639, to later take part in the “Fundamental Agreement” that formed the government of New Haven Colony. As his name is nowhere on the document, I think it was unlikely. I feel that the article that stated that John arrived in a second ship that arrived in New Haven in July 1639 is a more likely conclusion. Whenever he actually arrived, he was among a number of families that left England to escape religious persecution from the Church of England. He is credited to be among the original group who settled in Guilford Plantation on October 10, 1639. (Today, Guilford is a shoreline town that is bordered by Branford, North Branford, Durham, and Madison. I’m sure it took up most of these lands during its colonial days.) Minister Henry Whitfield was the leader of the settlers. Whitfield’s stone house (which also doubled as a fort and likely the settlement’s initial church meeting place) still stands. The early settlers helped build the house, so I have to wonder if John Scranton was one of them. Certainly he must have spent some time there.
Henry Whitfield House, the oldest stone house in New England. Courtesy Wikipedia.
One account I read said that John Scranton first had two acres on East side of State Street. It’s unclear whether it was here or in the “Hammonasset Quarter”, where he moved in 1656, where he experienced success as a farmer, though I suspect it was the earlier spot. It was John who started the practice of cutting down trees (as opposed to digging them up) to clear the land before planting his wheat. He had “…astonished the people by gathering from [his acre of land] twenty bushels”.
John and Joanna’s known children, all born in Guilford, New Haven Colony were:
- John, Jr., born circa 1641; married Mary Seward, March 12, 1773/4; married Elizabeth (Bishop) Clark, December 10, 1691; died September 2, 1703 in East Guilford (now known as Madison)
- Thomas, born circa 1643; more info on him found here
- Sarah, born May 16, 1645; married John Bushnell, May 15, 1665; they lived in Saybrook, Connecticut
John was admitted as a freeman on May 22, 1648. He later served as a Marshall from 1661 to 1662, and then as a Deputy to the New Haven Colony court during the “extra session” of January 1664. Soon after, New Haven Colony merged with Connecticut Colony.
Joanna Scranton died July 22, 1661. Less than two weeks after New Haven County was formed, John remarried Ada or Adaline (most recently widowed by Robert Hill) on May 22, 1666. John continued in public service as a Deputy to the General Court in 1669 & 1670. He later died on August 27, 1671.
Being the closest ancestral land to where I live now, I’m probably long overdue for a trip to Guilford. I would love to visit the Whitfield House and walk on the land where my ancestors walked. Perhaps if I’m lucky, I will find some records that will clarify John Scranton’s life.