Ninth Great-Grandfather William Seward

William Seward is an ancestor of whom I know very little, but thanks to Google Books, I’ve found that he certainly set a great example for his descendants to follow. He was born circa 1627 in England, and immigrated from Bristol, England to Taunton, Massachusetts in 1643. He later settled in New Haven, which was still part of New Haven Colony which would later be part of Connecticut.

William married Grace Norton of Guilford (daughter of Thomas Norton and possibly Grace Wells) in New Haven to April 2, 1651. It seems that he moved to Guilford sometime after 1652 and took the oath of fidelity there on May 4, 1654.

By trade, William was a tanner who did well for himself. He owned plenty of property and enjoyed good standing in town. William’s name comes up often as a leader in the early history of the town. On June 1, 1665, he was appointed captain of the guard in Guilford. He served as a deputy between 1674 and 1685 and as representative to the General Assembly in Connecticut between 1683 to 1686.

William and Grace’s children were:

  • Mary, born Feb 28, 1652 in New Haven; married John Scranton, Jr. on March 12, 1673; died 1688
  • John, born February 14, 1653/54; married Abigail Bushnell* on June 25, 1679; died December 6, 1748
  • Joseph, born 1655; married Judith Bushnell* on February 7, 1681/82; died February 14, 1731/32
  • Samuel, born August 20, 1659; died before 1666
  • Caleb (who I spoke of in this post), born March 14, 1662/63; married Lydia Bushnell* on July 14, 1686; died August 2, 1728
  • Stephen, born August 6, 1664; never married
  • Samuel, born February 8, 1666/67; died April 8, 1689; never married
  • Hannah, born February 8, 1669/70; married Joseph Hand; also married John Tustin
  • Ebenezer, born December 13, 1672; died October 19, 1701

*Abigail, Judith and Lydia Bushnell were sisters.

William died on March 29, 1689 (age 62) (some sources say March 2). Grace died March 5, 1704. Sadly, I don’t know where either of them are buried, although I am sure it is somewhere in Guilford.

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The Sewards, Back to Caleb

In my post about my Fifth Great-Grandfather Thomas Strong, I introduced his wife Phebe Seward (also my ancestor). I don’t have her line going much further back, but it is very interesting.

Phebe was born February 3, 1723 in Durham, New Haven County, CT, the second child and oldest daughter of Thomas Seward and Sarah Camp. Since we’ve already explored her life after her marriage, I will move on to her father.

Thomas Seward was born December 19, 1694 in Guilford, New Haven County, CT. He was the fourth child of the seven children of Caleb Seward and Lydia Bushnell. He married Sarah Camp on March 31, 1720 in Durham. Their children (all born in Durham) were:

  • Solomon, born January 19, 1721; married Alenor Baldwin
  • Phebe (just discussed)
  • Amos, born March 25, 1726; married Ruth Rogers on January 16, 1751 [in Durham]; died May 8, 1794; buried in Edgewood Cemetery in Wolcott, New Haven County, CT
  • Catherine, born December 28, 1727
  • Nathan, born 1730 (baptized June 14, 1730)

Sarah died on March 12, 1762. Thomas died before then (since she had remarried to a Daniel Benton), and is said to have died in Wallingford. I have not been able to find their burial places.

Thomas’s father Caleb is who I’ve been most interested in. Caleb was born March 14, 1662 in Guilford, New Haven Colony, to William Seward and Grace Norton, the fifth of nine children. He married Lydia Bushnell (daughter of William Bushnell) on July 14, 1686. They first made their home on East Creek in Guilford. Then on May 4, 1699, they and their four oldest living children moved to the area of Coginchaug, where Caleb was soon to be given a land grant. This ended up giving them the distinction of being the very first settlers of the town of Durham, which was incorporated in 1708.

Caleb had the honor of being the first town clerk in 1706-1707, and then was a representative to the General Assembly in Connecticut on and off between 1710 and 1723. This was in addition to his usual job of being a tanner.

His and Lydia’s children were as follows:

  • Daniel, born 16 October 1687; died April 28, 1688, both in Guilford
  • Lydia, born May 22, 1689 in Guilford; married John Howe on April 5, 1714
  • Caleb, born January 2, 1691 in Guilford; married Sarah Carr on January 21, 1713 at the Church of Christ in Durham; died July 4, 1769; buried in Old Durham Cemetery
Caleb Seward (the younger)'s grave.  Author's collection.

Caleb Seward (the younger)’s grave. Author’s collection.

Sarah (Carr) Seward's grave.  Author's collection.

Sarah (Carr) Seward’s grave. Author’s collection.

  • Thomas (discussed above)
  • Noadiah, born August 22, 1697 in Guilford; died 1744
  • Ephraim, born August 6, 1700, having the distinction of being the first white child born in Durham; married Abigail Wetmore on October 19, 1743 in Durham; died 1780
  • Ebenezer, born June 7, 1703 as the second white child born in Durham; married Dorothy Rose; died October 19, 1795 in Chester, Hampshire County, Massachusetts

Caleb died in Durham on August 2, 1728, and Lydia followed much later on August 24, 1753. Both are buried in Old Durham Cemetery, and I was able to see and photograph Caleb’s gravestone myself. To see the words “first inhabitant” on the stone, and think: “That’s MY ancestor!” was pretty exciting!

The grave of Caleb Seward, First Inhabitant of Durham!  Author's collection.

The grave of Caleb Seward, First Inhabitant of Durham! Author’s collection.

Next time, we’ll take one more step back in the Seward family tree.

Sixth Great-Grandfather Eliakim Strong

Eliakim Strong was born on September 26, 1688 in Northampton, Hampshire County, MA, the third child & second son of Thomas Strong, Jr. and Mary Stebbins. Like many of his Northampton family members, he was a member of Northampton First Church.

Eliakim married Mehitable King (daughter of John King and Mehitable Pomeroy) on April 13, 1712 in Northampton. He was a farmer in there from at least 1712 – 1725, then in Durham, New Haven County, CT starting from sometime between 1725 and 1730. He joined his father Thomas Strong, Jr., who already moved to Durham in 1708.

Eliakim and Mehitable’s children were:

  • Catherine (or Katherine), born January 8, 1713 in Northampton; married Bryan Rosseter September 2, 1736 in Durham; after Bryan’s death in 1755 married Gideon Leete in Durham; died April 11, 1778 and is buried next to her first husband in Old Durham Cemetery
    Katherine (Strong) Rosseter grave.  Author's collection.

    Katherine (Strong) Rosseter grave. Author’s collection.

    Bryan Rosseter grave.  Author's collection.

    Bryan Rosseter grave. Author’s collection.

  • Mehitable, born September 5, 1715 in Northampton; married Aaron Alvord, November 6, 1739 in Durham; they seem to have moved to Torrington, Litchfield County, CT between 1755 and 1760
  • Eliakim, born March 7, 1720 in Northampton; married Hannah Seward, June 4, 1751 in Durham; moved to Freehold, Greene County, NY (which is now Durham, NY); died 1800 in Freehold, NY
  • Thomas, born November 17, 1722 in Northampton; married Phebe Seward January 16, 1746 in Durham (more about them here)
  • Hewett (died young)
  • Experience, baptized January 3, 1730/31, probably in Durham; married Noah Norton, December 29, 1757 in Durham
  • Mary, born September 8, 1734 in Durham; married Rowland Rosseter, April 11, 1753 in Durham; died November 17, 1799; buried in Old Durham Cemetery

Eliakim died January 24, 1744 in Durham and is buried in Old Durham Cemetery. Many online trees suggest that his wife Mehitable died in 1778. I assume that she also is buried at Old Durham Cemetery.