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? 1164570 

It is now a quarter of a century, since I began, while 
residing in Boston, to make some inquiries respecting the 
ancestors of the Kev. John Eobinson of Duxbury, my great- 
grandfather. I had communication at the time with the 
Eev. Dr. T. M. Harris, Pastor in Dorchester, distinguished as 
an archceologist ; but, neither with his aid nor in any other 
way, was I able to bring the Minister of Duxbury into direct 
connection with either of the families of the name in Dorches- 
ter : from which town it was known that he originated. 

About ten years later, the like researches were again taken 
up ; and in September, 1844, I visited Plymouth and Dux- 
bury partly on this errand. The late Nathanael Morton 
Davis, Esq. of Plymouth, was so kind as to accompany me to 
Duxbury. We visited the old cemetery and the graves of 
the Eev. Mr. Wis wall and Mary Eobinson ; but found no 
early records either of the church or of the town. AVe were 
told, that all the church records, prior to about 1740, had 
been destroyed by fire. Two years later, Mr. Davis found 
a volume of the town records, covering the period of the min- 
istry of Mr. Eobinson ; and sent me various extracts from it, 
which are used in the following work. At the same time, 


(1844, 1845,) I was in correspondence with the late Dr. T. 
W. Harris, Professor and Librarian in Harvard University, 
and also with Mr. Ebenezer Clapp Jr. of Dorchester, the well- 
known antiquarian ; to both of whom I have likewise been 
greatly indebted in subsequent inquiries. But even with their 
zealous aid, I could then arrive at no definite conclusions ; 
and the matter was again suffered to rest. 

After another interval of ten years, my attention was again 
called to the subject by a request from the Kev. Dr. Sprague, 
in May 1854, to furnish a brief memoir of my father, to be 
inserted in an early volume of his " Annals of the American 
Pulpit." I was able, two years later, to supply the materials, 
from which he himself condensed the article ccntained in that 
work. Vol. II. p. 131. 

In reply to some inquiries made on that occasion at Leba- 
non, my fathei's native place, I learned, for the first time, that 
the family record of his grandfather, the Minister of Duxbury, 
was still in existence ; and likewise, along with it, that of his 
son, Ichabod Eobinson. It appears, that these leaves had 
been cut out of the old family Bible and preserved, when the 
latter, with other effects, was sold at auction. These records 
were transmitted to me, and remain in my possession. A sin- 
gle entry, in the handwriting of Mr. Eobinson of Duxbury, 
settles the question of his descent ; showing him to have been 
a son of Samuel Robinson, and grandson of William Eobinson 
of Dorchester ; whose name first appears as a member of the 
Dorchester church, in 1636 or 1637. A clue was thus ob- 
tained, by which I have since been able to trace out most of 
the genealogical and historical facts connected with the Dux- 
bury Pastor. The question as to his supposed descent from 
the Rev. John Eobinson of Leyden, which I have treated of in 


a Supplementary Note at the end of Part I. may now, I hope, 
so far as any evidence is known to exist, be considered as defi- 
nitely set at rest in the negative. 

The materials from which the Memoir of ray father has 
been drawn up, are mainly specified in the course of the work. 
They are few and scattered. The chief sources during the 
period included in the present century, are the recollections of 
his family and of other persons still living ; verified by com- 
parison with occasional entries and recorded dates, wherever 
such exist. 

In the Appendix, along with other matters, I have inserted 
somewhat extended, though imperfect, notices of the families 
into which my father married. Not unnaturally, that of my 
mother's family exhibits more fulness than the rest ; inasmuch 
as a considerable portion of it is drawn from my own personal 
recollections. The preparation of these notices required no 
little investigation and correspondence ; and I have every- 
where given the sources of the information, and expressed my 
obligations to those who aided my inquiries. 

Besides the acknowledgments already made, my special 
thanks are due to the friends, who so kindly furnished the 
letters comprised in Section VI. of the Memoir, Two of the 
writers have already gone to their rest. I desire also to re- 
cord my obligations to the Hon. James Savage LL. D. of 
Boston, and to Learned Hebard, Esq. of Lebanon, the present 
projmetor of the former family homestead. I have likewise 
received important notices and papers from Ashbel Woodward 
M. D. of Franklin, Conn, and from E. C. Herrick, Esq. Treas- 
urer of Yale College. 

This little work, brief and imperfect as it is, has not been 


compiled but at the expense of much time and labour. It has 
been prepared in constant consultation with my surviving 
biothers and sister ; and we offer it, as a filial though hum- 
ble tribute, to the memory of a loved and venerated parent. 

E. E. 

New York, Jannary, 1859. 




Introductiox. — Earliest ancestors in Dorchester, Mass. 1. Settlement of Dor- 
chester, 1. Removal of the church to Windsor, Conn. 1, 2. Rev. Richard Mather 
and church in Dorchester, 2. Date of covenant, etc. 2, 3. 

I. William Robinson of Dorchester. 

His name first found as appended later to the church covenant, 3. Notices, 3, 4. 
Owner of a tide-mill, 4. Where situated, 4, 5. He is killed in the said mill, 5, 6. 
His family, 6, 7. His will, 7, 8. 

II. SAiiuEL Robinson of Dorchester. 

Son of William ; notices, 9. His children, 9. His estate ; no will or settle- 
ment yet found, 10. 

Samuel Robinson Jr. son of Samuel ; notices, 10. His epitaph, 10. His 
descendants ; male line extinct, 11. 

III. Rev. John Robinson of Duxbcry. 

Second son of Samuel Rohinson; proof, 11. Notices, 12. Goes as missionary 
to Pennsylvania, 12. Recommendation of Boston ministers, 12. Joins the church 
in Dorchester, 12, 13. Receives a call to Duxbury, 13. 

Ddxbury and its early ministers, 13. Rev. Ichabod Wiswall, 13. The 
Wiswall family, 14, 15. Notices, 15. Marries Priscilla Pabodie, grand-daugh- 
ter of John Alden and Priscilla MuUins, 16. — John Alden, 16. Priscilla 
MuLLiNS, 17. Thek children, 17. Elisabeth Pabodie, 17, 18. — Family record of 
Rev. Mr. Wiswall, 18. His ministry, 19. Letter to Gov. Hinckley, 19. His 
salary mcreased, 19. Goes to England, 20. Is agent there for Plymouth colony, 
20. The town grants him land, 21. His death and epitaph, 21. His character, 
22. Peleg Wiswall his son, 22. Receives a grant from Massachusetts for his 
father's services, 22. Reflections, 22, 23. 

viii COxMTENTS. 

Delay in the settlement of Mn. Robinson, 23. Votes of the town, 23, 24. He 
transfers his church relations to Duxbnry, 2-i. His ordination, 2-i. Marries Han- 
nah Wiswall, 24. His family record, 25. Names compared, 25. Death of Mrs. 
Robinson and her daughter Mary by drowning, 26. Mary's epitaph, 26. The 
body of the mother found on Cape Cod, and there buried, 26, 27. Recent disap- 
pearance of her monument, 27. Her husband's record, 27. Elegy by Rev. Mr. 
Pitcher, 28, 29. Tradition, 29. — Ministry and character of Mr. Robinson, 30 sq- 
His library, 30. His preaching, 30. His eccentricity ; anecdotes, 31-83. Better 
side of his character, 34.' Pecuniary difficulties with his people, 34. His salary in 
arrears ; TOtes of the town, 34, 35. His proposed dismissal ; votes and answer, 
35, 36. Protest of the minority, 37. Further proceedings; violence, 37-39. 
Mutual council called ; its proceedings, 39. Result, dismissing and recommending 
Mr. Robinson, 39, 40. His last receipt, 40. Situation of his family, 40. Removes 
to Lebanon, 41. His property, 41. His general character, 42. Gives up his 
real esttite to his two sons, 42. His death and epitaph, 42, 43. Obituary notice 
in the Boston Weeklj^ Messenger, 43. His will, 44, 45. Inventory, 45. 

DESCENDANT.S of Rev. John Robinson, 4G-49. 

IV. IcHABOD Robinson of Lebanon. 

Birth and notices, 40. Exchanges his homestead, 50. A respected merchant, 
50. Is Clerk of Probate, 50. Twice married, 60, 51. His family record, 51-53. 
His business, 63. His general character, 53. Atint Nabby Hyde, 54. Difficulty 
with the Trumbull family, 54. Anecdotes, 54, 55. His library, 55. His later 
years, 55, 56. His death, 56. His will, 56. Letter of Prof. Silliman, 50. Letter 
of Hon. Joseph Trumbull, 57. 

Descendants of Ichabod Robinson, 59. 

Supplementary Note. 

Was the Rev. John Robinson of Duxbury descended from the Rev. John 
Robinson of Leyden ? 60-63. 

PART 11. 


Section I. 

His Birth and Education. 1754-1780. 
Pages 65-75. 

His birth, 65. Scanty materials for his biography, 65. His mother, 66. 
Grammar School in Lebanon, 66. Master Tisdale, 66. n. Enters Yale College as 
Sophomore, 67. Classmates, 67. His tutors, 67. His accounts in college ; books, 
67, 68. Habits of study, 68. Prize for declamation, 68. His friend Ezra Samp- 


son, 68. The two are leading scholars, 69. No valedictory, 69. Berkeley Schol- 
arship ; conditions, 69, 70. The two friends elected Scholars of the House, 70. 
Commencement in 1773 ; report, 70, 71. Mr. Robinson teaches school at Wind- 
sor, 71. 

He returns to Ya^e CoUege as resident Scholar, 72. His receipt for the 
Berkeley donation, 72. Enters upon the study of theology, 72. His associates, 
Dwight and Buckminster, 72. Unites with the college church, 72. Private cove- 
nant, 72. Is licensed to preach, 72. Takes his second degree, 73. Occupies 
himself in study and preaching, 73. Is invited to preach as a can.didate at North- 
ampton, 73. Rev. Dr. Stiles becomes President of Yale CoUege, 74. Mr. Robin- 
son as Tutor, 74. He preaches in the adjacent towns, 74, 75. His acquaintance 
with Dr. Bellamy ; veneration for him, 75. Anecdotes of Dr. Bellamy, 75. 

Section II. 

His Settlement in Socthington. 1780. 

Pages 76-92. 

Sodthington ; its situation, 76. First settlement ; early family names, 76, 7 7. 
Imperfect records, 77. Was part of Farmington, 77. Asks to be set off as a society ; 
votes, 77, 78. Petition to the General Assembly, 78, 79. Petition granted, 79. 
Petition for leave to lay a tax, 79. The Society small and feeble, 80. The first 
meeting-house, 80. Earliest preacher and settlers, 80. Reflections, 80. — Incon- 
venience of worshipping at Farmington, 81. Rev. Mr. Curtiss the first Pastor ; 
notices, 81. His epitaph, 81. Rev. Mr. Chapman ; notices and epitaph, 82. 
State of the church dui-ing their ministry, 82. Graduates at college, 83. — The 
town agricultural and poor, 83. The name Panthorn, 83. ileeting-houses, 84. 
The town incorporated ; its boundaries, 84. 

Mr. Robinson's first preaching at Southington, 84. His call ; votes of the soci- 
ety, 84, 85. Action of the church, ^o. Mr. Robinson's letter of acceptance, 86, 87. 
Preparations for his ordination, 87. Articles of faith, 88. Ordaining council ; 
letters missive, 88, 89. Hard winter and heavj' snow, 89. Difficulty of travelling ; 
the ordination delayed, 89. Dr. Stiles' record of tho council and ordination, he 
being the preacher, 89-91. Reflections, 91, 92. 

Section III. 

FiKST Half of his Ministry. 1780-1800. 

Pages 93-112. 

Few records, 93. Mr. Robinson boards in the family of Deac. T. Clark, 93. 
^Marries Naomi Wolcott, 93. Sets up housekeeping in a hired house, 94. Difficul- 
ties of the times ; economy, 94. Depreciation of money, 94. Mercy, a coloured 
domestic, and her son Peter, 94, 95. Illness and death of his sister Mary, 95. 
Birth of first chOd, 95. March of the French army through Southington, 95, 96. 
Stragglers, 96. Small-pox, inoculation, private hospitals, 96. Mrs. Robinson 
inoculated; her death, 96. Letter of Mr. Robinson to his father, 96-98. Her 


character and epitaph, 98. Mr. Robinson turns his attention to agriculture, 99. 
Purchases a house and homestead, 99. His neighbours, 99. Means of pay- 
ment, 99. Farming operations, 100. His diligence as Pastor, 100. — He marries 
Sophia Mosely, 100. Her only child William, 100, 101. Her death and epitaph, 
100, 101. 

Complaints of parishioners ; Mr. Robinson's proposal, 101. Prepares students 
for college, 101. — lie marries Anne Mills, 102. Grows in reputation, 102. In- 
cluded in Dr. Stiles' enumeration of New School divines, 102. Dr. Stiles' judg- 
ment of the New Divinity men, 102, 103. His prediction as to the writings of 
Pres. Edwards, 103. — Further purchase of land, 104. Birth of eldest daughter, 
104. Illness and death of Mrs. Robinson; her character and epitaph, 104. — 
Theological students ; Asahel Hooker, 105. Farming operations successful ; more 
land purchased, 105. Dr. Stiles' account of Mr. Robinson's farming, 105 ; and of 
" Wealthy Ministers in Connecticut," 105, 106. 

Mr. Robinson marries Elisabeth Norton ; notices, 106. Further purchases of 
land, and a mill, 106, 107. Miss Clara enters the family as a domestic, and re- 
mains till death, 107. Her character and epitaph, 107. — New contract with the 
society, 108. Widely engaged in agricultural pursuits, 108. Drawn off from the 
full cultivation of his powers, 108. Want of literary society, 108, 109. Gradu- 
ates at college from Southington, 109. — State and increase of the church, 109. 
Question as to the " Half-way covenant," 109, 110. Decision of the church, 110. 

Testimony to the character of Mr. Robinson at the close of this period, 110. 
From the Rev. Dr. Porter, afterwards of Andover, 111. From the Rev. Dr. 
Spring, of New York, 111. Reflections, 112. 

Section IV. 

Latter Half of his Ministry. 1800-1821. 

Pages 113-138. 

General activity, 113. Farming operations more systematized, 113. Lets out 
cows to Goshen, 113. Family dairy, 114. Wool and flax manufactured at home, 
114. Hired labourers, 114. His sons brought up to labour, 114. Visits his 
labourers in the field daily, 114. Sometimes aids in their labours, 114. His plans 
all practical, 114, 115. Introduces rotation of crops; clover, 115. Great crop of 
rye, 115. Indian corn ; plaster of Paris, 115. Anecdote, 115, 116. Manufac- 
ture of tin ware in Southington; tin pedlars, 116. Other manufactures, 116. 
Unfavourable influences, 116. Mr. Robinson's efforts, 117. He encouragss agri- 
culture in various ways, 117. Is ever ready to aid others, 117, 118. Is sometimes 
disappointed; losses, 118. 

His duties as pastor regularly fulfilled, 118. His preaching and visiting, 118. 
Regular attendance of the congregation, 118, 119. Complaints of some, 119. 
Committee appointed, 119. Mr. Robinson's answer and offer; the matter drop- 
ped, 119. Journey to the Whitestown country, 119, 120. Journey up the valley 
of Comiecticut river, 120. — Death of his eldest son, William ; notices, 120. His 
epitaph, 121. Spotted fever in Southington, 121. Sale of half his mill, 122. 

Reminiscences of Southington, 122-126. The first and second meeting-houses. 


122-123. Associations, 123. Sabba'day houses, 123. The deacons, 124. The 
aged men, 12-t. — Physicians, 124, 125. Lawyers, 125. Merchants, 125. Other 
leading men, 126. 

IMarriage of Mr. llobinson's eldest daughter, 12G. She removes to Catskill ; 
notices, 126. Her father's first visit, 126. Ezra Sampson in Hudson, 126, 127. 
His letter to Mr. Robinson, 127, 128. Their last interview, 128. 

Infirmities of Mr. Robinson, 128. Habits and symptoms, 128. His labours 
and success, as pastor, increase, 128, 129. Letter to the church and society, ask- 
ing for a colleague, 129. The church vote unanimously to comply, 130. The 
society decline the request, 130. Reflections, 131. Mr. Robinson continues to 
preach, 131. Subsequent vote of the society, 131. Mr. Robinson's reply, 132. 
Society votes to call a mutual coimcil for his dismissal, 132. No record of the 
causes or conditions, 132, 133. Further information, 133, 134. The action of 
the society thus far ex parte; Mr. Robinson's letter to the church, 134. The 
church consents to a council, 135. Record of the council and its proceedings, 
135, 136. Public services of dismission, 137. Notices, 137. Unanimity and at- 
tachment of the chui-ch, 137. — Histoiy and increase of the church during this 
period, 137. Large additions, 137, 138. 

Section V. 

His last Years, Death, and Character. 1821-1825. 

Pages 139-157. 

Plans ; relief from cares, 139. Pleasant relations with his successor, 139. 
Habits ; readmg, 139, 140. His infirmities increase, 140. His last domestic 
affliction; illness and death of his wife, 140-142. Her character, 142. Her 
epitaph, 142. — Mr. Robinson continues to decline, 143. Brief convalescence, 143. 
He overtasks himself; a relapse, 143, 144. Disease and lethargy, 144. His 
death, 144. Funeral, 145. His epitaph, 145. 

Character. His person, 145. Habit of early rising, 146. Habits of busi- 
ness, 146. Minor cares, 146. Diligent supervision, 147. Fixed habits ; a man 
of home, 147. His sound judgment, 147. Political views, 148. Mr. Gallatin, 
148. His hospitality, 149. Dr. Dwight, 149, 150. Anecdotes, 150.— As a Pas- 
tor ; his interest in Common Schools, 151. His parochial visits, 151. His inter- 
est in missions, 152. — As a Preacher ; doctrinal, etc. 152. Familiar with the 
Bible, 152. AjDpearance and manner in the pulpit, 153. EflFect of his preaching, 
153, 154. His discourses perhaps too exclusively doctrinal, 154. Encourages 
his people to discuss doctrinal topics with him, 154. Parallel between city and 
country hearers, 154. — As a Theologian ; his characteristics, 154, 155. His 
library, 155. — ^Personal Address, 155. Retiring and unostentatious, 155. This 
shrinking nature weighed him down, 156. Remembrances of his children, 156. 
His estate, 156, 157. 


Section VI. 

Letters on the Character of IIr. Robinson. 
Pages 158-185. 

Introductory remarks, 158. 

I. Letters from Mejibers of his Congregation. — From Rev. Fosdic Harri- 
son, 159-165. — From Julius S. Barnes M. D. 165-167. — From Romeo Lowrey, 
Esq. 167-171. 

II. Letters from his Successors in the Ministry. — From the Rev. David 
L. Ogden, 171-173.— From the Rev. Elisha C. Jones, 173, 174. 

III. Letters from Me.mbers of Hartford South Association. — From tlie 
Rev. Royal Robbins, 175-177. From the Rev. Joab Brace D. D. 177-181. 

IV. Letters froji other Clergymen. — From the Rev. Noah Porter D. D. 
181-183.— From the Rev. Heman Humphrey D. D. 184, 185. 

Section VII. 

Children of Rev. William Robinson, and theik Descendants. 
Pages 186-190. 

Their names, etc. 186-189. 

Supplementary Note. — Their relation to early ancestors in New EngLind, 


A. Letter from the Hon. James Savage, LL. D. - - 191,192 

B. MoNusiENT of Mrs. Hannah Robinson, at Provincetown. Its 

Disappearance, _ _ _ _ _ 192-195 
('. Yale College. — The Valedictory. The Bericeley Scholarship, 196, 197 

1). The Wolcott F.umily, - _ . . _ 197-199 

E. The Mosely Family, ----- 200, 201 

F. The Mills Family, ------ 201-204 

a. Wealthy Ministers in Connecticut, - - - 205 

H. The Norton Family, ----- 206-211 

K. The Strong and Hooker Families, _ - _ 211-214 

L The Strong Family, - . . - 211-213 

11. The Hooker Family, - / - - - 213, 214 




The earliest ancestors of the Kev. Williaro Robinson, in 
this country, were residents of the town of Dorchester, Mass. 
but were not among its original settlers. The first settlement 
of that town took place in A. d. 1630, by a company which 
assembled at Plymouth in Devonshire, England, from that 
and the adjacent counties. Before embarking they were con^- 
stituted as a church, under the pastoral care of the Rev. Mr. 
Maverick and the Rev. Mr. Warham (or Wareham), who 
both accompanied them to the New World. Dorchester was 
thus the earliest organized community in the colony of Massa- 

In A. D. 1635, many of the inhabitants of Dorchester be- 
came desirous of removing to the banks of the Connecticut 
river ; and during the summer several of them visited the 
tract around Windsor, Conn. In November of that year a 
large company, with their flocks and herds, proceeded thither 
through the forest, enduring great hardships on the way, and 

2 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

losing a large portion of their cattle. In the spring of 1636, 
they were followed by the Rev. Mr. Warhara and other set- 
tlers ; the Rev. Mr. Maverick having died at Boston the pre- 
ceding winter. In this way the main body of the church at 
Dorchester, with their surviving pastor, emigrated to Wind- 
sor, taking with them the church records. Thus the church 
organization at Dorchester was entirely broken up. 

In August, 1635, there arrived at Boston a company of 
about a hundred emigrants, who had embarked at Bristol in 
England. With them was the Rev. Richard Mather, the 
father of Increase and grandfather of Cotton Mather. Other 
companies of emigrants came over about the same time, either 
in that or the following year. Many of these emigrants settled 
down in Dorchester, and purchased the lands left vacant by 
the former residents. Mr. Mather was invited to the work of 
the ministry in Plymouth, in Roxbury, and in Dorchester. 
By the advice of the Rev. Mr. Cotton and the Rev. Mr. 
Hooker, he chose the latter place. A partial attempt was 
made to form another church in April, 1636 ; but it was not 
then successful ; and the church was not organized until the 
following August. The covenant bears date Aug. 23d, 1636,* 
and was signed by Richard Mather and six others. Mr. Mather 
continued to be their pastor until his death, in April, 1669. 

Those members of the former church, who did not remove 
to Windsor, did not all become members of the new organiza- 
tion. The name of Roger Clap, for example, is not found in 
the records of Mr. Mather's church. 

The covenant drawn up (probably) by Mr. Mather, forms 
the introduction to the early book of records of the present 

* This date, and all others in the following family records, before A. d. 1752, 
are of course Old Style. Up to that time, the year in the English mode of reckon- 
ing began with the 25th day of March ; and March was regarded as the first 
month, April as the second, etc. The time, however, between January 1st and 
March 25th, which in the Old Style belonged to the old year, and in the New 
Style to the new year, was for a century or more before 1752, as a matter of con- 
venience, marked with both years; thus, Feb. 14, 168f, or 1G86-7. By act of 
Parliament the Sd of Sept. 1752, was ordered to be called Sept. 14th, thus drop- 
ping eleven days. 


first church in Dorchester. It is fuUuwed by a list of " the 
names of such as, since the constituting or gathering of the 
church at Dorchester, have been added to that church, and 
joined themselves as members of the same body." This list 
contains no dates ; but as no other admissions are recorded 
until 4th 9th mo. (Nov. 4,) 1639, the list must cover an inter- 
val of more than three years.* 

William Robinson of Dorchester. 

In the list above described is found the name of William 
Robinson, the earliest ancestor of the family in this country. 
He was of course not one of the original founders of the 
church. From the position of his name, however, near the 
beginning of the said list, it is probable that he had joined 
the church in 1636, or early in 1637, not many months after 
its organization.f Of his antecedent history not a trace has 
yet been found ; but the circumstances just narrated naturally 
suggest the hypothesis, that he came over from England, either 
in the company led by Mr. Mather, or in some one of the 
other companies which arrived in 1635 and 1636. 

William Robinson is said to have gone to England in 
1644, and returned the following year. His name stands 
enrolled in the artillery company of Boston, now known as 
" the Ancient and Honorable." X He appears first as a grantee 
of land in 1656. He also bought the tide-mill, now known 

* The preceding facts are matters of general history. I have nsed mainly the 
History of the Town of Dorchester, Boston, 1851, etc.; Memoirs of Roger Clap 
Boston, 1844 ; Journal and Life of Richard Mather, Boston, 1850. The last two 
tracts constitute Nos. 1 and 3 of " Collections of the Dorchester Antiquarian and 
Historical Society." What is here or elsewhere said of the Dorchester Churoh 
Records, rests on personal examination. 

f He is sometimes reported as having become a freeman of Dorchester in 1636, 
which would also imply church membership; Hist, of Dor. p. 132. But no record 
has yet been adduced to sustain this report, though it is not unlikely to be true. 

I History of the Ancient and Hon. Artillery Company, p. 133. 

4 ANCESTOES. [Part I. 

as Tileston's mill, of Edward Breck.* He was chosen rater 
(or assessor) of Dorchester, in 1658, 1660, and 1661, and was 
constable in 1659 ; but seems to have attained to no higher 

As this tide-mill is an important item in connection with 
the life and tragical death of Mr. Robinson, I insert here some 
passages of letters received from the late Dr. T. W. Harris, 
professor and librarian in Harvard University, dated March 
28th, April 6th, and May 30th, 1855, the year of his own de- 
cease. They throw light upon this portion of the antiquities 
of Dorchester. 

" We know that he [William Robinson] owned a ' corn 
tide-mill ' in Dorchester ; half of which, with a small house, 
he sold to one Tileston. Said mill is extant in Dorchester to 
this day ; and is known still as Tileston's mill. Many a grist 
of corn I have carried on horseback to that mill, to be ground, 
when I was a boy, and was put upon the horse, with the bag 
duly balanced for my seat." | 

" The extract in my memorandum book from the deed of 
Robinson to Tileston, though very short, sufficiently identifies 
the spot, when taken in connection with other well-known 
facts. It is this : ' Oct 7, 1664, William Robinson of Dor- 
chester, husbandman, and Margaret his wife, consideration 
£96, sell to Timothy Tileston of Dorchester, cooper, a house 
and ten acres of land in Dorchester, bounded by Tide-mill 
Creeke ; and half a corn water-mill standing on the tide in 
the creeke, commonly called Salt Creeke or Brooke, near Cap- 
taine's Neck. Witnessed by Timothy Ffoster, Thomas Tile- 
ston, and John Minot.' § 

" Now we know, that Tileston's mill, so called for many 
years, was a tide-mill built on a dam crossing a saltwater 
creek ; into the up})er end of which creek flowed a brook, 

* These circumstances are taken from the History of Dorchester, pp 132, 133 ; 
but the authority for the first and last is not there given. 
\ Blake's Annals of Dorchester, Boston, 1846. 
X MS. Letter of l\Iarch 28, 1855. 
§ Suffolk Deeds, Book VI. p. 1. 


probably once a considerable stream. Said mill was situated 
midway between Commercial Point (which we believe is what 
was formerly Captaine's Neck) and Harrison Square ; and the 
road from the latter to the former passes over what was the 
dam across said creek. In a former letter I made mention of 
going to mill on horseback when a little boy, and carrying my 
corn to what was then Tileston's tide-mill, being the only 
grist mill in the easterly part of Dorchester at that time. It 
is my belief that this was the identical site of William Eobin- 
son's ' corn water-mill,' on Tide-mill Creeke or Brooke ; and 
that the Mr, Tileston, who owned it in my day, was the lineal 
descendant of the Timothy Tilston or Tileston, to whom 
William Robinson sold the half of it in 1664.* 

" The Old Colony railroad [coming from Plymouth], after 
crossing Neponset river into Dorchester, passes through a part 
of Harrison Square, and of course very near to the site of 
Tileston's mill, say, within less than one-eighth of a mile of it. 

" The earliest corn-mill or grist mill in Dorchester was 
also on Neponset river, near what is now Milton bridge. It 
was owned by Israel Stoughton, and is said to have been the 
first corn-mill in the colony. William Robinson's tide-mill 
was the next corn-mill in Dorchester ; and these two seem to 
have been the only ones for many years." f 

In this mill Mr. Robinson perished by a sudden and 
violent death, July 6th, 1668. Singularly enough, no men- 
tion of his decease is found in any of the Dorchester records ; 
nor does any memorial mark the place of his grave ; but a 
brief note of the sad event was jotted down in the church 
records of Roxbury, by the Rev. John Eliot, then pastor of 
that church. For this entry, which has never been pub- 

* " The old mill -svliich William Robinson bouglit of Edward Breck, and in 
which he lost his life, is stiU standing, probably most of it renewed ; and is in the 
hands of the Tilestons to this day." MS. Letter of E. Clapp jr. Sept, 22, ISo6. 

f MS. Letter, May SOth, 1855. See also Hist, of Dorchester, pp. 33, 34, 83. 
I visited the old tide-mill in July, 1857, It is a short distance south-east of Har- 
rison Square, on the dam or causeway, which now forms part of Mill Street m 
Dorchester. The mill has ob^-iously been renewed, perhaps more than once ; but 
ts StiU known as TUeston's miU. 

6 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

lished, I am likewise indebted to Dr. Harris. "The words 
are tbese, in the handwriting of the Rev. John Eliot, on 
one of the leaves of Roxbury church records, containing sun- 
dry reniarlvables noted by the apostle of the Indians : ' 6.5. 
1668, [July 6, 1668,] Eobinson, a brother of the church at 
Dorchester, was drawn through by the cog-wheel of his mill, 
and was torn in pieces and slain.' " ''•' That William Robinson 
was the person here referred to, is proved by the fact that he 
was the owner of a corn water-mill in Dorchester ; and also 
by the date of the probate of his will, which is given below. 

Mr. Robinson appears to have been married three times. 
His first wife, who seems to have been the mother of liis four 
children, was named Prudence, as appears from his will ; his 
daughter (or more probably grand-daughter) Prudence being 
there said, " to bear his wife's name," The second wife, Mar- 
garet, signed with her husband, in 1664, the deed of half the 
mill to Tileston. The third wife, Ursula, survived him, and is 
named as a legatee in the will. 

Of the children two were sons, Samuel and Increase ; and 
two daughters. Prudence and Waiting. These are all named 
in the will. The baptism of Samuel, the eldest, who lived in 
Dorchester, is recorded 14.3. [May 14th,] 1640 ; and that of 
Increase, 14.1. [March 14t.h,] 1642.t Of the latter, a note 
upon the records, in the handwriting of Rev. Mr. Danforth, in- 
forms us that he removed to Taunton. The v/ill speaks of the 
eldest son of Increase, who w^as called William. It appears that 
Increase had several other sons ; and many of his descendants 
remain in Taunton and the vicinity at the present day.:}: The 
eldest daughter. Prudence, married John Bridge of Roxbury ; 
the younger. Waiting, married Joseph Penniman of Brnin- 
tree. A step-daughter is also mentioned in the will, n;imed 

* MS. Letters, Mtirch 28th, April 6tli. 

•)• Dorchester Cli. Rec. — The entry of Samuel's liaptism was made at the hot- 
torn of a left-hand page ; and the adjacent corner of the leaf, on which the Chris- 
tian name was written, has been worn or torn off; so that the name ' Samuel' 
no longer appears. But the date and all the circinnstauces show conclusively, 
that the record refers to the eldest son of William Robinson. 

X MS. Lett, of Godfrey Robinson of Raynliam, Mass. dated Oct. 26, 1857. 


Mary Streeter, the daughter apparently of Ursula, the third 

The will of William Robinson is recorded in the office of 
the Court of Probate in Boston, in the volume for 1668, It 
bears no date, and was never executed, in consequence, doubt- 
less, of his sudden and tragical end. But the heirs accepted 
it ; and their assent is endorsed upon it under date of July 
31st, 1668, between three and four weeks after his decease. 
It shows that he was in prosperous circumstances as a farmer. 
It affords also definite information as to his family. I venture, 
therefore, to print it here for the first time ; preserving the 
ancient orthogra^Jiy. 


" My will is, that after the buriall of my body, and my debts honnestly 
payd, my loving wife Ursula shall have and enjoy my dwelling-house, 
together with the orchard and meadow adjoyning to the same, and hemp- 
yard, and that part of the new barne and old barne I now enjoy, stable, 
cowyard, and one halfe of the pasture within fence, and seaven acres of 
salt marsh by the river side, and halfe the fresh meadow by Thomas 
Trott's, and all my planting ground by my house within the great lots, 
eleven acres, be it more or less. My will is, that my wife shall have 
housing, planting land, meadow, pasture, and all that I now enjoy, with 
all the priviledges belonging to the same, during her natural life, if she con- 
tinue my widow. But at her marriage or death, then to leave all to ray 
sonn ; and while she hath it, to keepe housing and fencing in good ten- 
nantable repare, and to make no wast or stroy upon it, by falling wood or 
timber or any thing else. 

" And I give to my son Increase Robinson, after my wive's decease or 
marriage, foure acres of ni}^ salt marsh lying next Thomas Trott's ditch, 
being the west end of my meadow ; and all my land lying on the south side 
of the high [way] leading from my house to Neponset mill, which I pur- 
chased of John Minot, Mr. Withington, Enoch Wiswall, and Goodman 
Pearse, be it what it will, more or less, it lying out of fence, the south side 
lying next to the laind of Thomas Hilton, the east end to Brother How, 
and the north side with the highway above mentioned ; and halfe my lott 
lying by the sheepe pen ; and half of all my common rights I have in Dor- 
chester ; and that, with what I have already given him, to bee his portion. — 
My will is, that if my sonn Increase doe sell the foure aci'es of salt marsh 
and the foure lott ends mentioned before, then my sonn Samuell shall have 
it ; he paying for the marsh twenty pounds in money, and for the upland ten 

3 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

pounds in money ; and that hee shall not sell it to any else from his 
brother ; but if his brother will not give that price, then hee may sell it to 
whom hee will. 

My will is, that after my wive's death or marriage, my eldest sonn, 
Samuell Robinson, shall have all my houses, land, and meadow I have in 
Dorchester, to what I have already given him ; excepting what I have 
given to my sonn Increase Robinson ; and that to be his portion ; he pay- 
ing within two years after my death to my daughter Prudence Bridge of 
Roxbury the sume of twenty pounds in come or cattle ; and to my daughter 
Waiting Penniman of Braintry, twenty pounds in the same pay and kind ; 
to all my gi-audchildren that are then living ten shillings a piece ; excepting 
my sonn Increase eldest son that bears my name, and my [grand ?] daugh- 
ter Prudence, which bears my wive's name ; to them two twent}^ shillings 
a piece ; to be payed within two years after my death, their father giving 
discharge for it. These legacies and portions being paid, then my son is 
freed from all, and hath to his proper use as is above mentioned ; with what 
I gave hhn before, when hee was married, is worth three hundred pounds. 

My will is, and I give to my wife one cow and a mare which was Mrs. 
Shriaipton's, to bee added to what I have given. 

And I give to Mary Streeter, my wive's daughter, foure pounds, as a 
token of my love for her. 

And for all my household goods, bedding, linnen and woolen, brass and 
pewter and iron pots, andirons, all that is within my house that is mine 
whatsoever, as all my cattle of all sorts, all my husbandry tooles, as plowes, 
carts, wheeles, and chaines, and all iron tooles and carpenter's tooles what- 
soever, within and without, my debts being taken out, all the remainder 
to bee equally divided between Increase, Prudence, and Waiting, to bee 
theirs to what I have given above mentioned, if any. 

Endorsed : This will of our late deare Father, William Robinson, 

written on the other side with his owne hand which we acknowledge, we 

doe all agree and consent to bee allowed, and recorded, and made good ; as 

witness our hands, this 31 July, 1668. 


{Signed) Ursula ) Robinson, 

Samuel Robinson, 
Increase Robinson, 
John Bridge, 
Joseph Penniman. 



Samuel Eobinson of Doechester, 

Samuel, the eldest son of William Eobinson, baptized May 

14, 1640, inherited, as above mentioned, the estate of his 
father in Dorchester. • He appears to have been a thrifty 
manager, and acquired a large property. He was also a man 
of considerable note in the community ; was always entitled 
'Mr.'; and was chosen rater in 1677,1680, 1682, 1683; 
selectman in 1688 and 1693 ; and representative to the 
General Court in 1701 and 1702.* He died in Dorchester, 
September 16, 1718.t 

He is understood to have married Mary Baker, daughter 
of Richard Baker. " In the church record we find the baptism 
of Mary Baker, 2.12. [Feb. 2,] 1640 ; and against it written : 
' Married Mr. Robinson.' "X 

" The only children of Samuel and Mary Robinson, whose 
births are recorded in Dorchester [Town] records, are Samuel 
jr. born 13.4. [June 13,] 1666 ; and Mary, born 11.6. [Aug. 
11,] 1668. "§ To these, however, is to be added a son John, 
afterwards the Rev. John Robinson of Duxbury, born a. d, 
1671 ; but whose name has not yet been found in any of the 
Dorchester records, either of births or baptisms.]! It has been 
suggested, that he may have been baptized in some other 
town, during a visit of his parents. The evidence showing 
that he was the only brother of Samuel Robinson jr. and 
therefore the youngest son of the first Samuel Robinson, is 
given below, under his name. 

* Blake's Annals. 

f Ibid, p. 41. 

i Dr. Harris' MS. Lett, of April 6, 1855. 

§ Dr. Harris' MS. Lett, of March 28, 1855. Also Lett, of E. Clapp jr. May 

15, 1856. 

II There was in Dorchester another John Robinson, the son of James ; whose 
birth is recorded in the town records under the date of April 17, 1675. He has 
heretofore been often confounded with the Rev. John Robinson of Duxbury. 

10 ANCESTORS. [Part I 

No will of Samuel Kobinson has yet been found ; nor any 
record, not even the slightest, of the settlement of his estate. 
It is not improbable, that he died intestate ; and possibly his 
heirs may have divided the estate between them, without 
making any return to the court of Probate.* This absence of 
all notice of the disposition of his estate, which must have been 
large for those days, is the more remarkable ; since the wills of 
both his father and his eldest son appear in the Boston Pro- 
bate Eecords. His son Samuel succeeded to the estate in 

Samuel PiOBinson jr. of Dorchester was twice married ; 
first to Mary Wiswall,^ March 13, 1706, who died May 9, 
1715 ; and again to Dorcas Carver, Dec. 11, 1723, who died 
Nov. 27, 1746, aged about 81 years. He seems to have been 
a man of less influence than his father ; and to have held no 
office in the town, except once that of constable in 1709. § 
He died March 30, 1734 ; and lies buried near the middle of 
the old cemetery in Dorchester. The following is the inscrip- 
tion upon his tombstone : 

Here lies Buried the Body 

of Mr. Samuel Robixso:^', 

who died March the 30th, 

Anno Domini 1734, in the 

68th year of his age. 

* I learn from the Hon. James Savage of Boston, that such a mode of settle- 
ment was in those days allowable and valid. A division may liave been made 
before witnesses ; and then no deeds were required. Had the father in his lifetime 
conveyed his real estate to his sons, the deeds must have been recorded. But no 
such deeds, either by the father, or any by the sons, have yet been found. See 
the letter of Mr. Savage in Appendix A. 

f Tliere is a possibility, — a bai-e possibility, — that some document relating to 
the estate of Samuel Robinson, may yet be found among the few papers of his son, 
the Rev. .John Robinson of Duxbury, still preserved in Lebanon, Conn. They are 
in the hands of a very aged female, who is now in her 90th year; who lives by 
herself, and is unwilling either to part with the papers, or to let them be examined. 
My own personal application for permission to look at them, was refused ; as have 
also been several like applications since made in my behalf by Mr. Hebard of 
Lebanon and Dr. Woodward of Franklin. — Nov. 1858. 

■j;. " She seems to have been a daughter of Enoch and Ehzabeth Wiswall ; and 
was born Aug. 27, 1677. Greenleaf's Register, V. p. 468." Dr. Harris' Lett, of 
April fi, 1855. 

g Blake's Annals, p. 38. 


His will, executed a day or two before his decease, is 
recorded in the Probate office at Boston, in the volume of the 
same year. 

By his first wife Samuel Kobinson jr. had a son William, 
born Feb. 15, 1706-7, who married Ann Trott, Their son 
Lemuel, born March 4, 1735-6, married Jerusha Minot. The 
second daughter of this Col. Lemuel Robinson, married Dr. 
Amos Holbrook of Milton ; and their daughter Catharine 
became the wife of Dr. T. W. Harris.* — In the last interview 
I had with Dr. Harris, in May, 1855, he informed me, that the 
male line of this branch of the family (Samuel Eobiuson jr.) 
had become extinct. 


Rev. John Robinson of Duxbury. 

That this John Robinson was the second son of Samuel 
Robinson and grandson of William, as above specified, there 
seems no reason to doubt ; although no record has yet been 
found of his birth or baptism. The inscription on his tomb- 
stone and the obituary notice in the Boston News Letter, both 
copied below, fix his birth in the year 1671, probably in 
March. t An entry in his family record, now in ray possession, 
in his own handwriting, on a blank leaf of his family Bible, 
runs thus : 

Marcli 30, 1734. Died my only Brother, Samuel Eohin- 
son, in the 68th year of his age. 
It will be seen that this entry tallies precisely with the in- 
scription on the tombstone of Samuel Robinson jr. given 
above. The existence of this entry, and indeed of the said 
family record, became known only in 1855. Until then, John 

* MS. Lett, of Dr. Harris, Jan. 1845. 

t Tliis montli (^\-itliout note of the day) stands in the entry of his death hy a 
later hand, in the family record mentioned in the text. The month ■was probably 
traditional in the family. 

12 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

Robinson of Duxbury was usually regarded as the son of 
James Robinson of Dorchester, and born in 1675 ; notwith- 
standing the fact, that this was contrary to his obituary notice 
and to the inscription on his tomb-stone, referred to above.* 

Mr. Robinson graduated at Harvard College in 1695 ; be- 
ing the earliest graduate of the name in the New World. In 
the autumn of 1698 he went as a missionary to Pennsylvania, 
where he is said to have preached for a time at Newcastle.f 
To this work he, with another, had been recommended by the 
leading ministers of Boston and the vicinity in the following 
document : | 

Boston, N. England, Aiiff. loth. 1698. 
Inasmuch as divers well-disposed persons in Pennsylvania have desired 
that preachers of the everlasting Gospel may be from New England sent 
unto them, their desires have been particularly recommended unto two 
persons, namely, Mr. Jedediah Andrews and Mr. John Eohinson ; who 
have, with all possible encouragement from us, declared themselves willing 
to visit Pennsylvania on the design of preaching the Gospel, where they 
may hope it will find a reception. 

And that we may forward the good reception of these persons, and of 
their services, we do hereb}'' certify, that for the good character of piety, 
learning, and prudence, what hath been given them, we have thought them 
worthy of our countenance in this undertaking, which is now befoi^e them ; 
and that we now commend them and their pious labours to the acceptance 
of the people of God, wherever his holy providence may dispose of them. 
Humbly praying the blessing of Heaven to accompany them. 

Increase Mather, 

Jamks Allen, 

Samuel Willard, 

Peter Thacher, 

John Danforth, 

Cotton Mather, 

Benjamin Wadsworth. 

Mr. Robinson returned to Dorchester the next year. His 
admission to full communion in the Dorchester church is re- 

* See page 9, note. 

t See tlie obituary notice below. This was doubtless the Newcastle in Schuyl- 
kill Co. Penn. not far from Pottsville. 

\ The original of this document, with the autographs of the signers, is now in 
the possession of Ashbel Woodward M. D. of Franklin, Conn. 


corded October 15, 1699. It would seem that he must pre- 
viously have been ia partial communion with that church or 
some other ; since he could not well have been without a license 
to preach during his mission to Pennsylvania, and such license 
implies church-membership. 

In September, 1700, Mr. Kobinson received a call to settle 
as pastor of the church in Duxbury, Mass. then vacant by 
the recent decease of the Kev, Ichabod Wiswall, July 23, 1700. 
It may not be amiss to turn aside here for a few moments, and 
take a glance at the previous history of the church in Dux- 
bury, and especially of the Wiswall family, with which Mr. 
Robinson afterwards became connected by marriage. 

Duxbury and its early Ministers. — The town of Dux- 
bury was first settled in 1631 or 1632, by the people of Ply- 
mouth. Among those who removed thither were Captain Miles 
Standish and John Alden, who came over in the Mayflower ; 
and out of respect to the former, the place took the name of 
Duxbury, from Duxbury Hall, the seat of the Standish family 
in England.* Elder Brewster also removed early to Dnxbury, 
and settled in the neighbourhood of Captain Standish.f The 
church is supposed to have been gathered likewise in 1632 ; 
though there was no settled pastor until some years later. 

The first minister was the Rev. Ralph Partridge, who 
was settled in 1637. His ministry was peaceful and happy. 
He died in 1658, in a good old age, greatly lamented by his 

His successor was the Rev. John Holmes. He too was 
much respected, and was endeared to his people by the hu- 
mility and meekness of his character. He died Dec. 24, 1675. 

The next pastor of Duxbury was the Rev. Ichabod Wis- 
wall, who demands here a more extended notice. 

* Winsor's Hist, of Duxb. pp. 9, 11, 48, etc. 
f Winsor, ibid. pp. 48, 234. 

t Wiusor, pp. 171, 178. He is also spoken of 'with great respect in Mathers 

14 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

There is little room for doubt, that he came originally from 
Dorchester. At the time of the Kev. Richard Mather's 
arrival in 1635, or thereabouts, came also two brothers from 
England, John and Thomas Wiswall, who settled in Dorchester, 
and became members of that church, and later of other churches. 
John afterwards removed to Boston.* Thomas Wiswall's 
name (as also that of John) appears in the first list of addi- 
tions to the church of Dorchester, mentioned above as extending 
from 1636 to 1639. He is recorded as a grantee of land in 
1637; he subscribed to the school fund in 1641; was select- 
man in Dorchester in 1644, rater in 1645, and again select- 
man in 1652. f He was owner of the house and land formerly- 
belonging to the Rev. Mr. Maverick. Before 1656, he had 
removed to Newton, then a part of the town of Cambridge, 
Mass. where he had a farm in the village of about four hundred 
acres, including the pond which has long borne his name. 
Several years later, July 20, 1664, on the day of the ordination 
of the Rev. John Eliot jr. as pastor in Newtown, Mr. Wiswall 
was ordained as Ruling- Elder, or assistant pastor, to aid in 
inspecting and disciplining the flock. In 1668, he was ap- 
pointed by the authorities of Cambridge to catechise the 
children. He died Dec. 6, 1683 ; but no monument marks his 
grave, and his age is unknown. J 

The children of Thomas Wiswall were : Enoch, born 1633, 
who remained in Dorchester, and inherited his father's lands 
there. Esther or Hester, born about 1635, married Major 
William Johnson, of Wobnrn, 1655, and died Dec. 27, 1707, 
aged 72 years. Ichahod, born in 1737, minister of Duxbury, 
died July 23, 1700, in his sixty-third year.§ Noah, baptized 

* For notices of John Wisv/all, who was first a deacon and then an elder, see 
Hist, of Dorchester, pp. 137, 138 ; Jackson's Hist, of Newton, p. 451. Comp. Blake's 
Annals of Dorchester, 1645, 1()52. 

I Blake's Annals of Dorchester. 

:j: See generally, Jackson's Hist, of Newton, pp. 451, 452. Hist, of Dorches- 
ter, p. 138. 

§ Assuming that Ichabod Wiswall was born even as late as August or Sep- 
tember, 1637, no difficulty can arise from the record that Noah was baptized late 
in December, 1638. There would still be an interval of fifteen or sixteen months 
between them. 


in Dorchester, Dec. 30, 1638,* lived in Newton, and was 
killed, as captain, in a desperate fight with the French and 
Indians near Wheelwright's pond in Lee, N. H. July 6, 1690. 
Mary, married Samuel Pay son, of Dorchester. Sarah, bap- 
tized 1643, married Nathaniel Holmes jr. of Dorchester. 
Ebenezer, born 1646, was selectman of Newton in 1689, 
and died June 21, 1691, aged 45 years.f 

I have inserted this list of the children of Thomas Wis- 
wall, chiefly in order to show, that the birth of Ichabod Wis- 
wall in 1637, the year indicated by the inscription on his 
tombstone, naturally and appropriately occupies a place in the 
series; although no record of it has yet been found. To the 
same effect is the tradition of Dorchester, and also of Plymouth 
and the vicinity.^ Winsor questions his descent from Thomas 
Wiswall, but without assigning any grounds ; and, as it seems 
to me, without good reason. § 

The Rev, Ichabod Wiswall, the son of Thomas Wiswall, as 
we have seen above, was born in the year 1637.1{ He entered 
Harvard College in 1654, and left without a degree in 1657.^ 
From this time until his settlement in Duxbury, we hear little, 
if any thing, of him. There was an Ichabod Wiswall in 
Plymouth colony in 1667 ; where his name and that of Re- 
member Wiswall, perhaps his first wdfe, appear as attached to an 
instrument on record in the colony books.** 

Mr. Wiswall was settled as pastor of the church in Dux- 
bury in 1676. The salary at this period was small, only about 

* The Hist, of Dorchester wrongly places his baptism in 1640. In the church 
records no date is added ; but the entries preceding and following that of Noah 
Wiswall, are dated 30.10.1638, i. e. Dec. 30, 1638. E. Clapp jr. MS. Lett. Sept. 
22, 1856. 

t Jackson's Hist, of Newton, pp. 452-456. Hist, of Dorchester, pp. 138, 139. 

jj. This tradition is generally credited in Dorchester and Newton. See Hist, of 
Dorchester and Hist, of Newton, as above cited. Deane's Hist, of Scituate, p. 400. 
The antiquaries of Plymouth hold to the same view; as I was informed by the 
late N. M. Davis, Esq. 

§ Hist of Duxbury, p. 180. 

{{ Inscription on his tombstone ; see below. 

•([ Farmer says he was at college from 1644 to 1647, a mistake of ten years. 
This was corrected by Mr. Jackson from the college records, as he informed me. 
Hist, of Newton, p. 453. 

** Winsor, p. 180. 

16 ANCESTORS, [Part L 

£50 ; and it is no wonder that afterwards, when he came to 
have a large family, his mind should he much ' exercised ' in 
view of the prospect of their heing left destitute. He was 
twice married, and would seem to have had a daughter Eliza- 
beth by his first wife.* He married his second wife, Priscilla 
Pabodie (or Paybody), Dec. 10, 1679. She was born January 
15, 1653-4, and was a daughter of William Pabodie of Dux- 
bury, and Elizabeth Alden his wife, a daughter of John Alden 
and Priscilla Mullins, who came over in the Mayflower, and were 
afterwards married. A brief notice of these ancestors of Mrs. 
Wiswall is here appropriate. 

John Alden is supposed to have been born in 1599 ; and 
was therefore twenty-one years old when he arrived at Ply- 
mouth, in December, 1620. According to Bradford, " he was 
hired for a cooper, at South-Hampton, wher the ship victuled ; 
and being a hopfull young man, was much desired, but left to 
his owne liking to go or stay when he came here ; but he stay- 
ed, and maryed here." f His name appears among the signers 
of the celebrated compact of government, entered into by the 
pilgrims while still on board the Mayflower. He married 
Priscilla Mullins in 1621 ; the birth of their first child is re- 
ported in 1622. They had eleven children ; but the names of 
only eight have been preserved. "^ Mr. Alden removed with 
Miles Standish to Duxbury in 1631 or 1632. He was an up- 
right and trustworthy man ; and was accordingly trusted in 
the affairs of the colony. From 1633 to 1639 inclusive, he 
was annually elected an Assistant in the government ; for the 
next eleven years he did not hold this office, but was often a 
deputy from Duxbury. From 1651 to 1666 he was again 
elected to his former station, and for the last two of those 
years was senior Assistant.§ He died September 26, 1686, 
aged eighty-seven years. He was decided, resolute, and per- 

* See his family record, further on. 
f Bradford, Hist, of Plymouth, p. 449. 
X Bradford, ibid. p. 452. Winsor, Hist, of Duxb. p. 213. 
§ New England's Memorial, passim. For 1637 and 1639, see Bradford's Hist, 
of Plymouth, pp. 151, 367. 


severing ; a man of exemplary piety and incorruptible in- 

Priscilla Mullins, the wife of John Alden, was the 
daughter of William Mullins (or MoUines), who came over in 
the Mayflower with his wife, his son Joseph, his daughter 
Priscilla, and a servant. All these, except the daughter, were 
swept off by the pestilence of the first winter, and Priscilla 
was left alone. Mr. Mullins died Feb. 21, 1620-1. f She mar- 
ried John Alden in the course of the same year.:}: It is re- 
ported by tradition, that after the death of Rose, wife of Miles 
Standish, January 29, 1620-1, the latter sent John Alden to 
Mr. Mullins, to ask for him the hand of his daughter. The 
matter was referred to the daughter, who, after listening to it, 
said, with downcast eyes, " Prithee, John, why not speak for 
yourself ? " The hint was taken, and their marriage followed. 
This anecdote may not improbably have had some foundation 
in truth. But as Mr. Mullins died just three weeks after 
Rose Standish, the story of an application to the father is 
probably apocryphal. § 

The children of John and Priscilla Alden, whose names 
have been preserved, were the following : John, born 1622, 
lived in Boston ; Joseph, born 1624, lived in Bridgewater ; 
Elizabeth, born 1625, married William Pabodie ; David, was 
a prominent man in Duxbury ; Jonathan, inherited and lived, 
on the homestead ; Sarah, married Alexander Standish; Ruth, 
married John Bass of Braintree ; Mary, married Thomas 
Delano of Duxbury. 

Elizabeth Alden, the eldest daughter of the preceding, 
born in 1625, married William Pabodie of Duxbury, Decem- 
ber 26, 1644. II He was a son of John Pabodie, and resided 

* See generally Winsor, ibid. pp. 55-63, 213. ^ 

f Bradford, ibid. pp. 448, 452 ; Prince's Annals, p. 184. 

j Not until after the middle of May ; as the first marriage in the colony, that 
of Edward Winslow, was celebrated May 12th. Bradford, ibid. p. 101. 

§ Most certainly apocryphal is the legend, that John Alden took his wife 
home riding on an ox. In 1621 the pilgrims had not spread themselves beyond 
the narrowest limits in Plymouth itself; and cattle were first brought over iu 1624 
See Bradford, ibid. p. 158. 

J See generally Winsor, ibid. p. 285. 


18 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

in Duxbury, where he was " a man much employed in public 
affairs, and of much respectabilit3^" He died December 13, 
1707, aged eighty-seven years. His wife survived him for ten 
years, and resided with her son William, at Little Compton, 
R. I. where she died May 31, 1717, in the ninety-third year 
of her age. The following notice of her death is from the 
Boston News Letter of June 17, 1717. 

Little Compton, Zlst May. — This morning died here Mrs. Elizabeth 
Paybody, late wife of ]\fr. William Paybody, in the ninety-third year of 
her age. She was the daughter of John Alden, Esq. and Priscilla his wife, 
daughter of Mr. William Mullins. This John Alden and Priscilla Mul- 
lins were married at Plymouth in New England, where their daughter 
Elizabeth was born. She was exemplarily virtuous and pious, and her 
memory is blessed. She has left a numerous posterity. Her grand- 
daughter Bradford is a grandmother. 

They had thirteen children, two sons and eleven daugh- 
ters. Priscilla Fahodie, the sixth daughter and seventh 
child, born January 15, 1653-4, married the Eev. Ichabod 
Wiswall, as is above related. 

On one page of the family record of the Eev. John Robin- 
son, the successor and son-in-law of the Rev. Mr. Wiswall, and 
in his own handwriting, is the following record of Mr. Wis- 
wall's family. The first name seems to be that of the daugh- 
ter by his first wife, already mentioned above. 

Mizd. Wiswall was born Nov' 1670. 

Mr. Wiswall was married to his 2d wife [Priscilla Pabodie] 24 of 10, 
[Dec. 24,] 1679. 

Mary Wiswall, born 4 of 8, [Oct. 4,] 1680. 
EannaJi 22 of Feb ' 1681-2. 

Peleg the 5 th of Feb. 1683-4. 

Peres Nov' 22, 1686. 

Priss July 25, 1690. 

Deh Nov 22, 1693. 

Peres died May 7, 1692. 

Mrs. Wiswall died at Plimouth, now Kingston, June 3, 1724. 

Mr. Wiswall died July 23, 1700 . 


For some further account of the children of Mr. Wiswall, 
the reader is referred to the Histories of Duxbury and Newton.* 

Mr. Wiswall was a man of energy and piety ; and during 
his ministry both the church and the town prospered. He 
was greatly assisted in the affairs of the church by Deacon John 
Wadsworth, a pious and humble man, whose highest aim was 
the welftire of the church. His age was about the same with 
that of the pastor ; and he died only two months before the 
latter, May 15, 1700. 

The slender salary of the minister became soon, of course, 
insufficient for the support of his family ; and he was chiefly 
dependent on the liberality of a few. There were some, who 
refused to pay their just share of the contribution necessary 
for his maintenance. This state of things weighed upon his 
spirits. In 1685, soon after recovering from a severe illness, 
he addressed a letter to Grov. Hinckley, in which he laid before 
him various and weighty considerations, showing that ministers 
and their families ought to receive a sufficiency of support.f 
" It was a mournful reflection," he said, " when I thought 
what would be the condition of my family after my death. It 
was no small exercise in my sickness, to think y' when my 
eyes were closed in death, their eyes w^ould be forcibly kept 
open by streams of tears, in part because they must be turned 
out of doors, and could chalenge no habitation." He then 
proceeds to argue in behalf of a proper support for the ministry ; 
and pleads, not for himself alone, but for all the ministers of 
the colony. 

Nearly two years later, the town, at a meeting held Sept. 
10, 1687, voted to increase his salary, provided he does not 
charge '' those debtor that pay their proportions, for the neglect 
of those that refuse or neglect to pay their dews ; p'vided that 
the town does addres themselves to authority for the obtaining 
of the whole." This was not passed, however, without oppo- 

* Winsor, Hist, of Duxb. p. 180. Jackson, Hist, of Newton, p. 453. 
f Hinckley was Governor of Plymouth colony. The letter is dated Nov 6 
1685. HinckleyM8S. II. 12. See Winsor, p. 181. ' ' 

20 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

sition ; and at the same meeting several townsmen remon- 
strated against it. About the same time a petition was 
addressed to the governor of Plymouth colony, " in order to 
y-et in Mr. Wiswall's erariges for the work of the ministry 
among us." In the following year, the pastor received a grant 
of the use of a tract of land known as " Bump's meadow."* 

In 1689, Mr. Wiswall went to England, where he acted as 
agent for the colony of Plymouth, for the purpose of obtaining 
a new charter for the colony. Here he remained two or three 
years. At the same time, the Rev. Increase Mather of Boston 
was in England, as agent of Massachusetts for a like purpose. 
Mr. Wiswall did his best to obtain a distinct charter for 
Plymouth colony ; and strenuously endeavoured to prevent the 
union of Plymouth with either New York or Massachusetts. 
On the other hand, Mr. Mather exerted himself to prevent a 
union with New York, and to obtain a charter for Massa- 
chusetts, Plymouth, and Maine united. In this he was suc- 
cessful, and Mr. Wiswall was baffled. During the progress of 
the negotiations in England, some slight feeling of animosity, 
it is said, arose ' between the two clergymen. This appears 
from their correspondence with Gov. Hinckley and others. 
After their return home, Mather used to taunt Wiswall with 
his defeat, familiarly calling him " little Weazel." Writing 
home from England after the matter was settled, he hopes that 
the " old Weazel will be content in his den." There is, 
however, no doubt, but that Mr. Wiswall was a true and de- 
voted representative of the interests of Plymouth ; and that 
he stood high in the esteem of that colony for his ability and 
inteo-rity. Nor was he less highly esteemed also in Massa- 
chusetts ; for although he acted in England as the agent of 
Plymouth colony only, yet the General Court of Massachusetts, 
in June 1694, voted him £60, as a gratuity for his services in 
a voyage to England.f 

* Winsov, p. 1»2. 

•)■ This notice of Mr. Wiswall's visit to England is drawn mainly from Jack- 
son's Hist, of Newton, pp. 4.'>3, 454 ; with a few additions from Winsor, p. 184. 
See also, for the negotiations, Hutchinson's Hist. I. p. 359 sq. 


In 1694, the town appointed a committee to give to Mr. 
Wiswall a deed of " the towne house " and " the land he now 
lives on." This house had been built by the Eev, Mr. Holmes, 
and now belonged to the town. At the same time, the town 
granted him " halfe y® meadow called Kouse's meadow, y' 
belonged to the ministry, to him and his heirs forever, and y® 
use of y* whole his lifetime." The same grant also covered 
two other pieces of land. The town appointed Mr. John 
Wadsworth and Capt. Jonathan Alden to give him a deed ; 
but they dying without having done it, the town afterwards 
passed the following vote : 

At a town Meeting held in Duxborough, May y 7th, 1700, Mr. Samuel 
Seabury and John Sprague were chosen to give Mr. Ichabod Wiswall a 
Deed of y* land, which y* Town did formerlj'' grant unto him, in consid- 
eration that y° Men which were formerly chosen to doe it, did neglect it.* 

The deed was accordingly given, and bore date. May 20, 

1700. At this time Mr. Wiswall acquitted the town of all 

arrears from 1678 to the end of 1694 ; and also gave the town 

a quit-claim deed of all other former grants.f 

Two months afterwards Mr. Wiswall was called to his rest. 

He died July 23, 1700, in the 63d year of his age, after a 

ministry of twenty-four years. He was buried in the old 

(second) burying ground of Duxbury, near the southeast corner. 

His tombstone is the oldest in the cemetery. It is still clean 

and free from moss ; and the inscription is perfectly legible, as 

follows : 

Here lyeth buried 

y'body ofy' 

Reverend Mr. 

IcHABOu Wiswall, 

Dec'd .July y' 23, 

Anno 1700, 

in y * 63d year 

of his age.J 

* Copied by N. M. Davis, Esq. f Winsor, pp. 182, 183. 

\ This inscription I copied in 184:4:. — In July, 1857, I again visited the old 
cemetery in Duxbury. It lies on the north side of the main road leading I'rom Kings- 

22 ANCESTOES. [Part I. 

The will of Mr. Wiswall is dated May 25, 1700 ; and 
makes his wife his chief legatee. Inventory £351 15s. ; in- 
cluding books, £60.* 

Mr. Wiswall was greatly lamented by his people ; among 
whom he had so long lived as a friend, adviser, and. instructor. 
He had to struggle with difficulties ; and for many years was 
a teacher of youth. He stood very high in the estimation 
of the whole community for his talents, piety, and incorrupt- 
ible integrity. He was a sound preacher ; though not remark- 
able for popular eloquence. He wrote much ; and some of his 
compositions are highly creditable to him. His style was 
plain, though forcible and effective. He wrote a poem on the 
great comet of 1680 ; it is said to have been printed in Lon- 
don ; and a copy is preserved in the library of the Massachusetts 
Historical Society.^ 

Mr. Wiswall is said also to have been famous as an astrol- 
oger, and to have predicted, while in England, the death of 
one of his children. This was probably Peres, who died in 
May, 1692.:j: 

Peleg Wiswall, the eldest son of Rev. Ichabod Wiswall, 
and the only one who survived him, graduated at Harvard 
College in 1702, and was for many years Master of the North 
Free Grammar School in Boston. He died Sept. 2, 1767, 
aged 84 years. He petitioned the General Court for a grant 
of land, in consideration of the suffering and services of hitj 
father in the cause of the Province ; which petition was granted, 
and three hundred acres were assigned to him accordingly. § 

This episode upon the life and ministry of the Rev. Mr. 
Wiswall is here not out of place. The descendants of his 
successor and son-in-law, the Rev. Mr. Robinson, are also Mr. 

ton to Duxbury street. Its western side is skirted by a cross-road. This grave- 
yard haAJng been long disused, the surface of the ground is now covered with 
H thick coat of moss; into which, in a dry time, the foot sinks ankle deep. It 
would be much to the credit of the town, if they would cause this ancient resting- 
place of their fathers to he kept with more care and neatness. 

* Jackson's Hist, of Newton, p. 4.54. 

f Winsor, pp. 188, 184. Comp. Deane's Hist, of Scitiiate, p. 400. 

j Winsor, p. 184. Jackson, Hist, of Newton, p. 454. 

§ Jackson's Hist, of Newton, p. 454. j 


Wiswall's descendants, and owe him a debt of reverence as 
their ancestor. Through his wife Priscilla Pabodie, they are 
also descended from John Alden and PrisciUa MuUins his wife ; 
and thus claim direct kindred with the pilgrims of the May- 

The pecuniary troubles which hung around the ministry of 
Mr. Wiswall, arising partly from the backwardness of his 
people to make due provision for his support, and also partly 
from their suffering his slender income to fall greatly in arrears, 
were continued in like manner in the days of his successor ; 
and finally, in consequence of the less yielding, and perhaps 
less discreet character of the latter, terminated in an unhappy 

The Rev. John Robinson, as we have seen, was invited to 
settle as pastor at Duxbury, Sept. 2, 1700. He seems to have 
soon entered upon the duties of this office ; but was not or- 
dained until November 18, 1702, more than two years after- 
wards. The following votes of the town refer to his call and 

At a Town meeting held at Dusborough upon y' second day of Sep- 
tember, 1700, y^ town voted to call Mr. John Robinson to y' work of y* 
ministry here ; they also voted to give Sixty Pounds a year annually 
towards his maintenance in y° aforesaid work, one halfe silver money and 
y other halfe Corn or Provision at )'" common Price ; they also made 
choice of Mr. Seth Arnold, Mr. Edward South worth, Mr. Samuel Seabury. 
and Mr. William Brewster, as their agents to acquaint Mr. Eobinson with 
their proceedings herein, and also to discourse with him concerning his 
acceptance thereof, in order to his settlement amongst us in y" aforesaid 
work of y° ministry. 

At a Town meeting in Duxborough upon the 19th day of May, Anno 
Dom. 1701. y"" said town voted to give Mr. John Robinson, in order to his 
settlement hei'e in y* work of y' Ministry, Sixty Pounds in money ; y' 
said money to be raised by selling some part of y' Town's Common land ; 
y* said money to be his. if he live and dy here in y° aforesaid work of y* 

* The first of these votes is given also in Winsor's Hist, of Duxbury, pp. 
184, 185. — That and the others were kindly copied for me from the town records 
in 1846, by the late N. M. Davis Esq. of Plymouth. 

24 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

Ministry ; but upon his removing from ns he is to return y* said money to 
y' Town for their own use.* 

June y*" 15th. 1702. At a town meeting y^ town voted to give Mr. 
Robinson y' threescore pounds in order to his settlement, which was 
formerly given him ; and y" halfe of y" meddow which formerly lay to y' 
Ministry, y^ one halfe of which is given to Mr. Wiswall ; and y" improve- 
ment of y* meddow which was offered to John Partridge in exchange, 
called Rouse's point ; so long as he continues with us ; y'' money and y* 
first piece of meddow is his own perpetual, if he settle amongst us in y* 
ministr}^, and take oflBce in y church. 

It would appear from these votes, that the delay in the 
ordination of Mr. Robinson arose from the backwardness of the 
town to grant what he regarded as an appropriate amount of 

In view of his a[)proaching ordination, Mr, Robinson took 
his dismission from the church in Dorchester, Nov. 8, 1702, 
and united himself with the church in Duxbury.^ The Rev. 
Mr. Danforth, pastor of the church of Dorchester, and a del- 
egate, Elder Topliff, attended the council which ordained Mr. 
Robinson, Nov. 18, 1702. On that occasion the church in 
Duxbury renewed their covenant; '^ and so many were then 
joyned, as doubled the number of the fraternity."^ 

On the 31st of January, 1705-6, Mr. Robinson married 
Hannah Wiswall, second daughter of his predecessor in the 
ministry, by the second wife. She was born Feb. 22, 1681-2. 
Their union continued for nearly seventeen years. They had 
eight children : seven of whom lived to adult yeais. The fol- 

* The sum here voted to Mr. Robinson as a settlement has teen misapprehended 
by Winsor, as if it were for his annual salary. The latter had been fixed by the 
preceding vote. Compare also the following vote. Hist, of Duxbury, p. 187. 

f It is also related, that in 1701 the town voted to purchase a convenient place 
for n parsonage for the use of tlic ministry ; and Mr. Edward Arnold, Mr. Edward 
Soutbworth, and En.«ign Samuel Seabury were appointed a committee to make the 
purchase. Winsor, Hist, of Duxb. p. 187. — This vote appears not to have been 
carried into effect, at least during the ministry of Mr. Robinson. The house and 
farm which he occupied were his own ; and were sold by him on his removal from 
the town. 

:): This last circumstance appears from the minute of the council which dis' 
missed Mr. Robinson in 1 738. See below. 

§ Dorchester Ch. Records. 


lowing is the family record, now before ine, in the handwriting 
of Mr. Kobinson. 

January 31, 1705-6. I was married to my wife, H. "Wiswall, now Rob- 
inson, per Col. Thomas. 

My daughter Mary Robinson was born at Duxborough FeV 23, Anno 
1706-7, half an hour past 4 of the clock in the morning, being Lord's 
day. And was Baptized April 13, 1707. 

My second daughter, Hannah Robinson, born Nov' 2, 1708, about 11 of 
the clock in the morning of the 3d day of the week. And was Bap- 
tized Jan^ 9, 1708-9. 

My third daughter, Alethea Robinson, was born May 26, 1710, about 8 
of the clock in the morning. And was Baptized .July 2d. 

My fourth daughter, Betty Robinson, was born Sept. 28. 1712, about 7 
of the clock in the morning, being the Lord's day. And was Baptized 
six weeks after. 

My son, John Robinson, was born April 16, 1715, about 3 of the clock in 
the morning, being Saturday. And was Baptized about six weeks after. 

My second son, Samuel, was born July 10, 1717, being "Wednesday, about 
three q" past 6 at night. And was Baptized Sept' 1, 1717. And 
died Decem' 10th following, between 12 and 1 in the morning. 

My fifth daughter, named Faith, was born Decem' 13, 1718, hora 2** 
P. M. being Saturday. And was Baptized April 5, 1719. 

My third son, named Ichabod, was born Decern' 12, 1720, about 4 of the 
clock in the afternoon, being Alonday. And was baptized May 14th 
following, having been dangerously ill all that time. 

On comparing these names, it seems probable, that the 
eldest daughter, Mary, was so named after her paternal 
grandmother, the wife of Samuel Robinson ; and the second, 
Hannah, after her own mother. Of the sons, John, the eldest, 
was so named after his father ; Samuel, the second, after his 
paternal grandfather ; and Ichahod, the third, after his ma- 
ternal grandfather, the Rev. Ichabod Wiswall. — An idea has 
prevailed among some of the descendants of Ichabod Robinson, 
that he was so named as having been an infant at the time of 
his mother's death. But the record shows, that he was n early- 
two years old when that event took place, and had already been 
baptized a year and a half before her decease. 

The conjugal life of Mr. Robinson appears to have been 
happy ; his wife is always spoken of as virtuous, intelligent, 

26 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

and beloved. A sad history is connected with her and her 
eldest dauo-hter Marv. Havino; embarked at Duxbury on 
board of a small coaster plying between that place and Boston, 
the vessel in a sudden tempest was upset near Nantasket 
beach, and both mother and daughter were drowned. A young 
student of Harvard College, Mr. Fish of Duxbury, likewise 
perished. This happened Sept. 22, 1722. The body of the 
daughter was soon recovered ; and was buried in the southeast 
corner of the old cenietery of Duxbury, near the grave of her 
grandfather Wiswall. The following is the inscription on the 
tombstone : * 

Here lyeth y^ Body of 
Mrs Mary Robinson, 
Daugh"" of y" Rev. Mr John 

Robinson of Duxbury 

& Mrs Hannah his Wife. 

Drowned with her Mother 

in y' passage from Duxbury 

to Boston, Sept. 22, 1722, 

^tatis 16. 

Then are they quiet, because 
they are at rest. Ps. 107, 30. f] 

The body of the mother was not recovered until six weeks 
afterwards ; when it was found by the natives, at Provincetown, 
on the extremity of Cape Cod, in what is still called Herring 
Cove, a little within Eace Poiut.| It was interred in the 
public cemetery the next day. The body was identified by 
papers found in her stays ; and by a gold necklace, which was 
concealed by the swelling of her neck. This necklace was long 

* Copied by me in 1844. 

f The true reading of Ps. 107, 30, is : " Then are they glad because 
they be quiet." Whether the singular varuition on the stone is to be ascribed 
to the minister or the stonecutter, is uncertain. It is not found in any of the 
earlier English versions ; nor is it borne out by the Hebrew. 

X Mr. Deane says: "at Race Point, Cape Cod;" Hist, of Scituate, Bost. 
1831, p. 400. Herring Cove is a long reach of coast, slightly indented, beginning 
a little southeast of Race Point. See the Government Map and Chart of Cape Cod. 


preserved by her descendants.* A gold ring, which she wore 
on her finger, was lost ; plundered probably by the natives, 
who had cut off the swollen finger in order to obtain the ring. 
A monument, an ordinary tombstone, was erected over her 
grave, with an inscription by her husband, similar to that on 
the daughter's stone, and closing with this sentence from the 
Psalms : " So he bringeth them into their desired haven."f 
This monument was renewed about twenty years ago, by her 
grandson, Col. Trumbull the painter ; but it has since disap- 

Mr. Robinson made the following entry, relative to this sad 
event, in his family record : 

Sept ' 22, 1722. My dear, pious, vertious, Loving wife, Hannah, and 
my dear and lovely Daughter, JIary Robinson, were both of them drowned 
in the sea near Nantasket Beeche ; a most astonishing blow to me and 
mine ! The Lord sanctifie it to us, and support us under it ! — The corps 
of my Daughter was brought home and interred, Sept"^ 27. — October 30th, 
the corps of my dear wife was found ashore at Cape Codd, near a place 
called Herring Cove ; and was decently interred the next day, Oct. 31, 1722. 
Help, Lord ! 

This overwhelming; bereavement of Mr. Eobinson and his 
family excited deep sympathy throughout the community. 
An elegy, not indeed of the highest order of poetry, was 
composed by the Rev. Nathaniel Pitcher, then minister at 
Scituate ; which appears to have been extensively circulated, 
as printed on a single sheet. I venture to insert it here.§ 

* It was last in the possession of Jlrs. David Trumbull of Lebanon ; by whom, 
as I have been infoi-med, it was dropped into the box on occasion of a contiibution 
for some benevolent object. 

\ Ps. 107, 30. Hist, of Scituate, p. 400. — It thus appears, that the first part of 
the verse, Ps. 107, 30, incorrectly quoted, was placed on the tombstone of the 
daughter in Duxbury ; and the latter part on that of the mother in Provincetown. 

X For the disappearance of the monument of Mrs. Robinson, see Appendix B. 

§ See Deane's Hist, of Scituate, p. 398. — In 1844 I saw a copy of the origmal 
printed sheet, then in the possession of the Rev. Zephaniah WiUis of Kingston, Mass. 

28 ANCESTOES. [Part I. 

Elegy upon the sudden and surprising departure of Mrs. Hannah Rob- 
inson, ^tatis 41, late Consort of the Rev. Mr. John Robinson, who 
with her daughter Mrs. Mary Robinson, ^tatis 16, perished in the 
Mighty Deeps, Sept. 22, 1722. 

Inspire my Muse ! Ye lofty Beams of Light, 

In trembling airs perfume the sable Night ; 

Tread soft, while we relate the Tragedy, 

Performed by Him who dwells and rules on High. 

Let thundering billows in due concert meet, 

And raging winds and waves each other gi'eet, 

And all th' obsequious Elements combine. 

To pay Devotion to the Will Divine, 

Of Him, whose Infinite and matchless sway. 

The proudest of Created Powers obey. 

Behold the ghastly visage of each face, 

Besmear'd with Griefs, deep mourning in each place ; 

Not one without a tear upon the Hearse 

Of the bright subjects of my Fainting verse. 

Rev. Sir, 
Can Heart conceive, or Tongue express your grief? 
Can any hand but Heaven's give relief? 
Who wounds and heals, who kills and keeps alive, 
And when depressed, makes Grace to live and thrive. 
Behold bright Sovereignty in clear Displays 
Turning your Halcion into Gloomy days ; 
Your Nuptial Knot the fatal Stroke unty'd, 
By Heaven's Decree, on the Atlantick wide ; 
The Noisy Waters, on the Seas that move. 
Which cannot quench the streams of Boundless love. 
Translated yours unto the joys above. 
Transported far beyond all Fears and Harms, 
Guided by Angels to their Saviour's arms. 
You could not close your Vertuous Lady's Eye ; 
You must not see your dearest Consort dye, 
Nor her expiring, gasping agonies, 
Nor listen to her fervent Farewell cries. 
Bright Hannah's prayers for you are swiftly gone 
On Eagle's wings, up to the Sapphire Throne, 
And you are left to grieve and pray alone. 
One of the Gowned Tribe and Family, 
Of bright descent and Worthy Pedigree ; 


A charming daughter in our Israel, 

In vertuous acts and Deeds seen to excell ; 

As Mother, jMistress, Neighbour, Wife, most I'are ; 

Should I exceed, to say beyond compare ? 

Call her the Phoenix, yet you cannot lye, 

Whether it be in Prose or Poetry. 

For Meekness, Piety, and Patience ; 

Rare Modesty, Unwearied Diligence ; 

For Gracious Temper, Prudent Conduct too, 

How few of the fair sex could her outdo ? 

Beloved of all while living, an<l now dead, 

The female Hadadrimmon's* lost their head. 

Her precious Daughter bears her company, 

Taking her flight up to the joys on High 

To dwell and feast with her eternally. 

God's Will is done. 'Tis duty to resign 

Yourself and all unto the Will Divine: 

You often pray'd, " God, let thy Will be done ! » 

Still do so, now your dearest Ones are gone. 

If your Great Sovereign takes but his own due, 

You are obliged to Him, not He to you. 

May God Almighty sanctify this frown, 
To the bereaved Family and Town : 
May the tender brood, under your mateless wing, 
When Clouds are passed over, chirp and sing. 
May you, Sir, fill the Consecrated Place, 
With purest doctrines and displays of Grace, 
Till you have run and finished your Race ; 
That when j'our dust shall unto dust go down. 
You may receive the Bright and Massy Crown ; 
And with your Dearest Ones enhappy'd be, 
In light above. Throughout Eternity. 

N. P. 

Of the Mr. Fish, who perished at the saroe time, no further 
definite memorial has come to my knowledge. Yet I have 
heard the half-traditional report or suggestion, that he and 
Mary Robinson were engaged to be married ; and were on 
their way to Boston to procure articles for the wedding. This 
seems improbable ; seeing she was not yet sixteen years old, and 
he a student in college. And further, had such a relation 

* Compare 2 Kings xxiii. 29 ; Lam. v. 16 ; and Zech. sii. ] 1. 

30 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

existed between them, or between her and any one, it would 
have deepened the public sj'mpathy ; and some allusion to it 
could hardly have failed to have been made, in the various ac- 
counts of the catastrophe. 

The ministry of Mr. Eobinson was long ; and for more 
than thirty years was comparatively quiet. Its close was less 
happy. " Tradition speaks of him as a man of extraordinary 
powers of mind and accomplishments of eloquence." * He was 
a man of learning for his day ; and possessed an extensive and 
valuable library, comprising the best works of the leading 
English divines of the seventeenth century. The books " ap- 
pear to have been selected with good judgment ; and would 
most conclusively evince, that the proprietor was possessed of a 
polished taste." f Several of the books, in English binding, 
and marked v^^ith the date of 1699, are still in the hands of 
his descendants. The number of volumes must have been 
large, as he divided up his library in his will among four of his 
children. He seems to have encouraged literature ; and was 
himself a subscriber for six copies of Prince's Annals, befoi-e 
its publication.:}: 

As a preacher he was sound in his discourse, and senten- 
tious in his arguments. His sermons were usually written out 
in full, in a tolerably legible hand. Quite a number of his 
manuscript sermons are in my possession. Some of them are 
very long, forming almost a treatise upon a single text. These 
probably occupied several Sabbaths in the delivery. Among 
the sermons is one delivered by him in April, 1705, on occa- 
sion of the national thanksgiving for the victory gained at 
Blenheim the preceding year. On another is noted, that it 
was preached on the Lord's day, when during the service he 
received intelligence of the death of his wife and daughter by 
drowning. He was remarkable for his occasional sermons and 
texts ;'§ and the occurrence of great events or unusual phe- 

* This is the remark of Mr. Deane, History of Scituate, p. 400. 
f MS. Lett, of A. Woodward M. D. Oct. 24, 1855. 
X New England Hist, and Genealog. Register, Vol. VI. 1852, p. 197. 
§ This remark, and all that follows on the character of Mr. Robinson, as well 
as the anecdotes, are mainly drawn from Winsor's Hist, of Duxhury, Bost. 1849, 


nomena afforded themes to his hking, which he would treat in 
a manner as eccentric as characteristic. He seldom exchanged 
pulpits with his brethren in the ministry. 

He was a man of great eccentricity of character, which 
manifested itself on many occasions. He was impetuous, 
sometimes violent, and not always polished in his modes of 
expression. It is related, that he always appeared in the pul- 
pit in a short jacket ; and in consequence of this, as well as of 
his baptismal name, he was familiarly and irreverently spoken 
of as " Master Jack." It is said also, that he never wore an 
outside garment.* 

Mr. Robinson lived in a two-story house on a rising knoll, 
a little northeast of the present residence of Captain Richard- 
son. He had for a near neighbour one Josiah Wormall, with 
whom he lived in perpetual strife and turmoil ; and whom he 
was accustomed to denominate Alhvorm, or Wormwood, ac- 
cording to circumstances. Wormall usually went to church in 
a leathern apron, smoking his pipe until he reached the door 
of the meeting-house. On one occasion, having deposited his 
pipe in the pocket of his coat before extinguishing the fire 
within it, he walked up the broad aisle with due solemnity, 
leaning on a gigantic staff ; and having taken a seat directly 
before the pastor in the " old men's long seats," he fixed his 
gaze through his shaggy eyebrows upon the preacher. It was, 
however, but for a moment ; for suddenly springing from his 
seat with a stare of consternation, and seizing the skirt of his 
coat all on fire, he rushed from the house. " There," cried 
Mr. Robinson with imperturbable gravity, " there, brethren, 
neighbour Wormall comes smoking into the house, and he 
goes smoking out." At another time, as Wormall sat looking 

pp. 189, 190. Winsor derived his information chiefly from manuscript Notes of 
the Rev. Benjamin Kent ; who was pastor ia Duxbury from June 1826 to June 
1833. This gentleman appears to have exerted a very commendable diligence, in 
collectLng the historical and personal traditions of the town. 

* My father used to tell of a clergyman of about that period, (and I am not 
sure that it was not his own grandfather,) who never had a fire in his study even 
during winter. When asked how he could hold out during the severe cold, his 
reply was : " When I feel cold, I go to the kitchen and take a welding heat, and 
then go back again." 

32 ANCESTORS. [Part L 

up from his place, mimicking in miniature the gestures of the 
preacher, and pouting occasionally at what he deemed heret- 
ical doctrines, Mr. Robinson suddenly paused, looked down 
upon his auditor and audience, and said : " Brethren, I've 
done ! If you will follow me to my house, I will preach. 
But I cannot and will not preach here, while that man sits 
grinning at me." He instantly left the pulpit ; but was fol- 
lowed by Pelatiah West, one of the congregation, who gave 
him on the door-step the anxious assurance : " Why, Parson 
Robinson, I would not have left the meeting-house, if the 
devil had been there ! " " Neither would I," was the ready 

On another occasion, Pelatiah West wrote the following 
lines and handed them to one of the deacons, to be read and 
sung line by line, as was then the custom. They had refer- 
ence to some alleged or probably misrepresented sentiment of 
Mr. Robinson : 

" He that doth bring the fattest pig, , 
And eke the goose most weighty, 
He is the independent Big, 
And eke the saint most mighty. 

" But he that doth withhold his hand, 
And eke shut up his purse, 
The Lord shall drive him from the land, 
And eke lay on his curse ! " 

After an earthquake, which happened during his ministry, 
Mr. Robinson was visited by one of his people, who found him 
apparently in much distress. In answer to an inquiry he 
said : " Neighbour, you know there has just been an earth- 
quake, and I must preach about it. But I don't know what to 
do. I've no book that says a word about earthquakes." He 
preached, however, on the next Sabbath ; and two such ser- 
mons, his people said, were never delivered. 

In a case like the following, he probably well knew whom 
he had to deal with. When a member of his church once 


called upon him, he appeared to be in a meditative mood ; 
and some qiiestions being asked, he replied : " This morning 
I got up and went out of doors, and saw a hawk in the sky, a 
large hawk, and," he added with a look of assurance, " that 
dog sat upon his tail," This story was followed by another 
equally marvellous. The visitor expressed his astonishment, 
and even ventured to hint his disbelief. " Ah ! " said Mr, 
Robinson, " no one can believe any thing here without it is 
miraculously wrought before him," " Surely," replied the 
other, " one must be in a great delusion to believe a lie." 
Here the matter dropped. Not long after, at a meeting of 
the church, Mr. Robinson was called upon, in their presence, 
to explain the strange stories he had related. He rose, and 
remarked with an air of indifference : " Disbelieve it, if you 
please ; but I know that dog sat upon his tail," " Upon the 
hawk's tail ? " asked some one. " No," rejoined Mr. Robinson 
with emphasis, " upon his own tail, of course," 

Another anecdote is likewise characteristic. Having at 
one time applied for an increase of salary, one of his most 
bustling parishioners, who doubtless thought he had enough 
already, thus addressed him : " Well, Parson Robinson, what 
do you want now ? You know we have raised your salary 
once ; and, besides that, we have given you the improvement 
of Hammer Island, and upwards of thirty acres upland in 
Weechertown. Isn't that enough ? " " Ah, yes," replied 
Mr. Robinson, " Hammer Island ! and I've mowed it too this 
year, and I don't want a better fence around my corn-field, 
than one windrow of the fodder it cuts. My yearlings will 
come up to it, and smell of it, yes, smell of it, and then run 
and roar ! Weechertown ? thirty acres in Weechertown ? 
Why, if you were to mow it with a razor, and rake it with a 
fine-tooth comb, you wouldn't get enough from it to winter a 

Of a like character and spirit are the farewell words, which 
he is said to have addressed to the town on his departure : 
" Neighbours, I am going, never to return ; and I shake off 

34 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

the dust from my feet as an everlasting testimony against you, 
vipers as ye are ! " 

After all these anecdotes, it would be unjust to Mr, Kobin- 
son not to insert here the testimony of oi.e who of course knew 
him well, and who was eminently capable of forming a correct 
estimate of his character : " He was a learned and sound 
divine ; laborious and faithful in his Master's vineyard. In 
civil life he was just, generous, of a cheerful and pleasant dis- 
position, and a faithful friend." -••' 

We have seen above, that the delay of the ordination of 
Mr. Robinson was occasioned, apparently, by the backwardness 
of the people in providing a " settlement," as it was called. 
Mr. Robinson was then thirty years of age ; the son of a father 
well off in the world ; he had received a college education, and 
was the possessor of a good library. No doubt his sixty pounds 
a year, with a settlement of like amount, was sufficient for his 
support imder the circumstances. But when he married, and 
became the father of eight children, it is just as obvious, that 
his salary was quite inadequate for the support of such a 
family. Even Goldsmith's curate, who was " passing rich 
with forty pounds a year," f was not blessed with a wife and 
eight children. Hence it was natural and just, that Mr. Rob- 
inson should ask for an increase of salary ; which, it would 
seem, from one of the preceding anecdotes, was granted him ; 
but the amount is not known. He received also, at various 
times, grants of lands, the use of which he was to enjoy during 
his ministry.:}: These, of course, reverted to the town on his 
dismissal. His father died in 1718 ; and this son, doubtless, 
received his portion of the estate ; probably in money or in 
obligations for money ; since the landed property in Dorchester 
remained in the possession of his elder brother Samuel. 

The first traces of the pecuniary difficulties, which after- 

* See the obituary notice from the Boston Newsletter, given below ; wiitten, 
in all probability, by his son-in-law, the first Gov. Trumbull of Connecticut. 

I Goldsmith's Deserted Village. Forty pounds sterling are just equivalent to 
£60 New England money. 

\ See the anecdote on p. 33 ; also the third vote on pp. 23, 24. 


wards arose between Mr. Eobinson and his people, and embit- 
tered the last years of his ministry, begin to appear in the year 
1736. It is stated, that his salary for that year was £120.* 
There must be here, I think, some misapprehension ; for such a 
sum is much beyond the amount paid at that time by any 
country parish in New England to their minister. Many years 
later the celebrated Dr. Bellamy was satisfied with £80. It 
seems not improbable, that the £120 (if that sum was really 
allowed him) was intended to cover not only salary, but also 
a certain amount as a set-off against other claims, perhaps 
for interest on former arrearages. 

That such arrearages had been for some years accumu- 
lating, appears from the record of a town meeting held March 
14, 1737, when " the town chose Edward H. Arnold, Col. 
John Alden, Mr. Joshua Soule, Samuel Weston, and John 
Wadsworth, a committee to treat with Mr. Eobinson, concern- 
ing the making up of his salary, about which there is an 
action depending at the next Superior Court."f In that ac- 
tion, it appears, Mr. Eobinson obtained judgment against the 
town, the very next month, for £412 10s. 6d.| This amount 
implies arrearages running back through quite a number of 

On the 2d of June, 1737, Mr. Eobinson laid before the 
church a proposition for a dismissal. This is sufficiently set 
forth in the following preamble and vote of the town, on the 
3d of August following : l.i6457'0 

'•' Whereas there was a church meeting in and by y" church of Christ 
in Duxborough. on y° second day of June, 1737; and then the Eev. Mr. 
John Robinson their Pastor declared, that if y* town and church would 
give him a dismission from his Pastoral office from among them, he would 
accept of it. And at a town-meeting in Duxborough, August y' 3d, 1737 
y' town voted to accept of y° above s* Mr. Robinson's proposal."§ 

* Winsor, Hist, of Duxb. p. 187. 

•)• 'Winsor, p. 187. 

t See his receipt, given below, dated Nov. 11, 1739. 

§ MS. copy from N. M. Davis, Esq. 

36 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

This was the vote of a majority, who took sides against 
Mr. Robinson. There was, however, much diversity of opinion 
in the meeting ; and a number of the most respectable inhab- 
itants entered a protest against the whole controversy. The 
protest was signed by Samuel Alden, Joseph Soule, Philip 
Delano, Philip Chandler, John Wadsworth, and Samuel 
Chandler. After much contention, the meeting finally ap- 
pointed a committee to try to make an agreement with Mr. 

The attempt appears not to have been successful. The 
party opposed to Mr. Robinson, which now had the upper 
hand, seem to have been determined to drive him from the 
ministry. No further entry is found until December 5, 1737, 
when it was voted " to pay the difference between Mr. Robin- 
son and the town, and also the present year's salary, if he loill 
leave the ministry." These proceedings were sent to Mr. 
Robinson, who at once returned the following answer : 

Duxb. Decern'' 5, 1737. In answare to y° above vote, I promise to 
comply therewith, if y" town will make my salary for y' current year 
£170 1 and y^ which forthwith payed and y^ church will give me a dis- 
mission. John Robinson. 

The meeting then, in view of this compromise, voted to 
pay him £412 6s. lOd.ij: (which, however, was not paid until 
the November following,) and the present year's salary. They 
also desired him to preach on the next Sabbath as formerly.§ 
As to the £170 spoken of as salary in Mr. Robinson's note, 
I must here, as before, regard the term ' salary ' as used in a 
broad sense, so as to cover other claims. || 

It would seem, however, that among the better class of 
the community there was strong opposition to the violent 

* Winsor, Hist, of Duxb. pp. 187, 188. 

+ The "current year" appears to have been reckoned from November, the 
month in which Mr. Robinson was settled. 

\ This is probably a clerical error, for the £412 10s. 6d. specified in the judg- 
ment of the court. 

§ Winsor, p. 188. 

H See the remarks on page 35, at the top. 

Part I.] " REV. JOHN ROBINSON. 37 

course of the majority, and a desire that Mr. Kobinson should 
remain in the pastoral office. On the 16th of December, 
eleven days after the preceding meeting, the following protest 
against the proceedings of the majority was presented : * 

We the subscribers, inhabitants of j° town of Duxborough, being sen- 
sible of the Troubles and Contentions in y' s* town by reason of a party 
that are not willing to pay our minister, viz. y' Rev. Mr. John Robinson, 
so much in value as our engagement was to him as to his yearly salary, 
when he first settled among us ; nor to comply with y' judgement of Court 
relating thereto ; nor any other wayes to agree with him about y^ same ; 
but still are going on in their Contentions, which have occasioned great 
charge upon y° s* town, and is likely to occasion more, if speedy care be 
not taken to prevent. 

We therefore, whose names are hereunto written, do hereby declare 
our aversion to y° maintaining y^ s"* Contentions, and do protest against 
paying any further charge which may be brought on y* s* town by such 
Contentions ; and do declare our willingness to comply with y* juc'g©- 
ment of Court relating to y° above s^ salary, and to pay our parts of what 
yet remains due concerning y° same, so that s* Minister may be well sup- 
ported, and encouraged to continue in the work of y° Ministry among us. 

Signed by Joseph Soule, Isaac Peterson, Ebenezer Sampson, Moses 
Simeons, Pelatiah West, Philip Delano, Joshua Soule, John Simons (his 
mark), Araasa Turner, John Sprague jr. Thos. Southworth, Nathanael 
Fishj Joshua Cushman. 

This protest seems to have been of little avail. Either 
the neglect of payment on the part of the town, or some other 
like cause, renewed the contention. Mr. Robinson, as we have 
seen, was not unwilling to receive a dismission. At a town 
meeting, held July 5, 1738, a communication was received 
from him, stating " that he did not look upon himself as y^ 
minister of Duxborough ; but that he was dismissed by a re- 
sult of an ecclesiastical council, and said that he would be no 
hindrance to them in procuring another minister.^f What 
council is here referred to is unknown. Perhaps Mr. Robin- 
son meant only, that in his own view he was as miccJi dis- 
missed as if by an ecclesiastical council. Or if there was an 

, * This protest is in the MS. Coll. of Rev. Benjamin Kent. See Wiusor, p. 188 
f Winsor, p. 188. 

38 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

actual council, it was probably ex 'parte, and therefore disre- 
garded by the town. But there is no other trace of any such 
council ; and the fact that a mutual council was afterwards 
regularly called, seems to imply that none had been invited 

The majority now had every thing in their own way. On 
the 7th of August a committee was chosen to make up ac- 
counts with Mr. Robinson " from the beginning of the world 
to the present day." '■•'■" These few words exhibit the animus 
of the majority ; but they also imply, very definitely, that 
there had been unsettled accounts and arrearages of long 
standing. Another meeting was held on the 25th of Septem- 
ber, and was adjourned to the 3d of October ; at which latter 
time the following vote was taken : 

At a town meeting held at Duxborongh October y° 3d, x\. Domini 
1738, by an adjournment from Sept. 25th. 1738. The said town voted, 
that they would not have any thing to do with y' Rev"'' Mr. Robinson 
as their ecclesiastical minister or pastor in s* town ; and further, that y* 
s* town will not pay y" s* Mr, Robinson any salar}'- ever since he left off 
y° work of the ministry and preaching y'' Gospel in s* town, declaring 
solemnly that he was not y"" minister of Duxborongh, and that y" s'' town 
might proceed to get another minister to supply y' pulpit, he would be 
nothing against it; and then y^ s* town voted, that they w^ould join 
with Y church in procuring an ecclesiastical council to dismiss Jlr. Rob- 
inson from his pastoral office in y s* town.f 

The meeting was adjourned to the 19th of October, when 
the following violent measure was adopted by vote, and re- 
corded : 

Town meeting held at Duxborongh by an adjournment till October y° 
19, 1738. Then y" town voted, that ther meting hous should be shut up, 
so that no parson should open y*^ same, so that jNIr. John Robrson of Dux- 
borough may not get into s* meting hous to preach anay more, without 
orders from the town. J 

That this vote was the effect of malicious passion and folly, 

* Winsor, Hist, of Duxb. p. 189. 

f Copied by N. M. Davis, Esq. Winsor, ibid. 

\ Copied by tbe same. Winsor, ibid. 


is apparent from the preceding protest ; as also from the pro- 
ceedings and result of the mutual council, which convened at 
Duxbury Nov. 10th, 1738, and consented to the dismission of 
Mr. Robinson, because of his age and infirmities, " and for no 
other reason." This last paper is now before me ; having 
come into my possession in the summer of 1856. It is a cer- 
tified copy of the decision of the council, which was put into 
the hands of Mr. Robinson ; the original, with the autographs 
of the signers, havins; doubtless been delivered to the church. 

An Ecclesiastical Council, consisting of the Elders and Delegates of 
five churches, viz. the South and Xorth Churches of Scituate, the Church of 
Pembroke, the Church of Kingston, and the Second Church of Plj-mton, 
met at Duxborough on Nov'*'' the 10th, 1738, at the Desire of the Rev. 
Mr. John Robinson, Pastor of the Church there, and of Benjamin Alden, 
•James Arnold, Gamaliel Bradford, William Brewster, and Thomas Prince, 
a Committee for the said Church and Town, in order to the Dismissing of 
the said Mr. Robinson from his Pastoral Relation to the Church and Town 
of Duxborough ; he being (as he declares in the Letters sent on this occa- 
sion to our several Churches) by Reason of age and infirmities made 
incapable of performing any longer the work of the ministry. 

The Elders and Delegates of the before named churches, having formed 
themselves into a Council, asked Direction of God, and maturel}^ weighed 
the case laid before them, came to the following Eesult, viz. 

That it is the advice of this Council, that the church of Duxborough do 
grant to the Rev. Mr. John Robinson a Dismission from his Pastoral 
charge over them, and give him also a Eecommendation in the following 
words, viz. 

" Whereas our Rev. Pastor Mr. John Robinson manifested his desire 
to us, some years past, of being dismist from his Pastoral Care and Charge 
over us, by reason of his age and bodily infirmities ; and hath lately re- 
newed his Request, for the same Reasons ; we, the church, have taken it 
into serious consideration, and think it proper to grant his request ; and 
do hereby Dismiss him from his Pastoral office over us, and Relation to 
us as a Brother ; and recommend him to the Communion and Fellowship 
of the Churches of Christ, wherever the Providence of God shall lead him, 
and to the work of the ministry also, as being well qualified with minis- 
terial Gifts and Graces, in the Exercise of which we have many years 
rejoyced, and should be glad if we could enjoy them as in years past ; and 
wishing that his health may be restored and confirmed, and himself made 
further sex'viceable in the Church of Christ, we subscribe our names, etc." 

And this Council does, so far forth as concerns them, concur with the 

40 ANCESTORS. [Pakt I. 

said Church in Dismissing the said Mr. Robinson from his Pastoral Charge 
over them, for that (as he hath declared before the Council) he is by reason 
of age and infirmities incapable of any longer performing the work of the 
ministry, and for no other Beasoii;* and we do recommend him to the 
work of the ministry in any other place, in case his health should be 
restored, as we earnestly wish it may. 

Nicholas Sever Nath'l Eels, Moderator. 

David Clap Daniel Lewis 

Barnabas Shurtleif Joseph Stacy 

"Wrestling Brewster Shearj = Bourn 

Jacob Mitchell Otiiniel Campbell 

A true copy, 

Attest, D. Lewis, Clerh. 

On the day after this action of the Council, Mr. Kobinson 
gave the town the following receipt for the sum awarded to 
him by the court : 

Received of the town agents £412 10s. 6d. by judgement of the Court 
of Assize, in April, 1737. 

Nov. 11th, 1738. John Robinson. 

This sum the town had voted to pay, nearly a year before, 
as also the salary of the current year.f Whether the latter 
was ever paid, does not appear from any record hitherto dis- 

Thus terminated Mr. Kobinson's official ministry of thirty- 
six years. He had resided in Duxbury thirty-eight years ; but 
the ties which bound him to the place were now sundered. 
His four surviving daughters were all married, and gone from 
him. Ooly his two sons remained, and were unmarried. Two 
of his daughters resided in the town of Lebanon, Conn, and 
thither, it would seem, he had already made preparations for 
removing, in view of the anticipated close of his ministry. By 
a deed dated January ] 1, 1736, he had conveyed to Isaac 
Samson lands lying in the neighbouring town of Middleboro' 

* These words are underscored in the original, 
t See vote of Dec. 5, 1737, p. 36, above. 


for a consideration amountiog to £/l,380.* He afterwards 
purchased of his son-in-law, Mr. Trumbull,-|- two tracts of 
land lying in Lebanon, in the parish of Groshen, where the 
husband of his daughter Elisabeth was pastor. The convey- 
ance is dated May 12, 1737 ; the consideration was £1,500.:}: 

Accordingly, in the spring of 1739, Mr. Kobinson removed 
to Lebanon, with his two sons. He sold his homestead in 
Duxbury, containing sixty-six acres, more or less, to Eobert 
Standford, for £800 ; including house, fencing, orchards, barn, 
etc. The deed was dated May 17, 1739. The land is de- 
scribed as bounded, north, by lands of Josiah Wormall ; south, 
by lands of George Partridge ; east, by Salt bay ; and west, 
by former common land of Duxbury.§ — Whether Mr. Kobin- 
son had intended to reside on his land in Goshen, does not 
appear. But if so, he changed his mind ; and after another 
year, purchased of John and Israel Woodward, for £1,700, a 
homestead and wood lot in Lebanon itself. The former, con- 
taining ninety-six acres, was situated on the east side of the 
wide central street, half a mile or more north of the meeting- 
house ; and was later the residence of the second Gov. Trum- 
bull. The conveyance bears date January 10, 1740-1. 1| 

Here Mr. Kobinson passed his few remaining years, ap- 
parently in quiet ; although no memorials of his personal 
history during this period remain. The lands which he thus 
purchased, show that he was in possession of a large real 
estate ; and the recorded inventory of his personal property, 
after his decease, exhibits bonds, notes, and judgments, to an 
amount of about £2,800. The total amount of the specifica- 
tions of property in his possession at this time, is about £6,000, 
or $20,000. It is very obvious, that he did not lay up this 
sum in any connection with his salary and settlements in Dux- 

* Plymouth Records. — Nov. 19, 1730, he had likewise conveyed to Eben'' Bar- 
rows land in Middleboro' to the amount of £138. 

f Afterwards the first Governor Trumbull of Connecticut. At this time, and 
for years afterwards, he wrote his name Trumble. 

\ Lebanon Records. 

I Plymouth Records, B. 33, pp. 28, 29. 

I Lebanon Records. 

42 .\NCESTOES. [Part I. 

bury. We may therefore reasonably infer, that at least the 
larger portion of it was received; by inheritance, from the 
estate of his father. 

However desirous he may have been of receiving what was 
due to him, Mr. Robinson appears not to have been niggardly 
in the use of his property. His fine library, and his subscrip- 
tion for six copies of Prince's Annals, go far to contradict such 
an idea. There was also in his house quite an array of silver 
tankards, cups, porringers, and casters. Some of these I have 
seen, still in the hands of his descendants. Yet he gave his 
two sons only the most ordinary education of the time. It is 
not certain, however, that they would have been much prof- 
ited, had they been sent to college. Their turn of mind was 
not literary. 

In 1743, probably in order to relieve himself from further 
care, Mr. Robinson conveyed all his real estate in Lebanon to 
his two sons, in consideration of " love and affection." To 
John, the elder, was given one or both of the tracts in Goshen ; 
which he sold a few years later for £1,650. Ichabod, the 
younger son, who appears also to have been the favourite, 
received the homestead.* With him his father continued to 

The disease of which Mr. Robinson died, diabetes, is usually 
protracted in its nature ; but he appears to have suffered little 
until a short time before his decease. He died Nov. 14, 1745, 
aged seventy-four years. A sermon was preached at his funeral, 
from Gen. 47, 9, by the Rev. Solomon Williams, then pastor of 
the church in Lebanon. Mr. Robinson was interred in the 
old cemetery of Lebanon ; on the hillside not far below the 
vault of the Trumbull family. The grave-stone is much covered 
with moss, and some portions of the lettering are thus rendered 
almost illegible. The inscription is as follows : 

* Tlie deeds bear date April 11,1 743, and Dec. 1^, 17-i3. Lebanon Records. — 
It was probably at this time, that Mr. Robinson likewise conveyed to his son Icha- 
bod a cedar swamp, which still remained to him in Duxbury. It was conveyed 
by Ichabod Robinson, after 1793, to his son John ; by whom it was \iltimately sold. 


Here lies the bod}^ of the 

Kev* Mu. John Robinsox. 

late Pastor of the Chui'ch of 

Christ ia Dcxbukv ; which charge 

having faithfully and laudably 

sustained for the space of 

39 j-ears, he removed to 

Lebanon, where he changed this 

life for a better, Xov' 14'^ 

A. D. 1745. ^t. 74. 

Sic Pater, sic O, nnmerare fluxoe 
Nos doce vitEB spatium, cadueis 
Mens ut a curis revocata veri 
Lumen honesti 
Ceniat. — BucKn Psal* 

In the Boston Weekly Newsletter of Nov. 28, 1745, ap- 
peared the following- obituary notice of Mr. Robinson. There 
is every reason to suppose that this notice, and also the pre- 
ceding epitaph, are both from the pen of his son-in-law, Gov. 

Lebanon in Connecticut,) 
Kov. \Qth. \ 

This Day was decently interred the Body of the Rev. Mr. John Rob- 
inson ; who after about a Fortnight's illness of the Diabetes, decea>ed on 
the 14th inst. ^Et. 74. — He was born in Dorchester ; and educated in 
Harvard College, Cambridge. At his first setting out in the Evangelical 
Ministry he was sent to preach the Gosjiel at Newcastle in Pennsylvania ; 
from whence, after some time, he returned to his Native Country, and in 
the year 1700t was ordained to the Pastoral Office over the Church of 
Christ in Dusbury, where he continued till the year 1739 ; when by reason 
of bodily weakness, and some Difficulties arising on Account of a civil 
Contract between him and the People, he was dismissed from his Pastoral 
relation to them, by a Council of the Neighbouring Churches, "with a fair 
Recommendation. — After which he removed with the Remainder of his 
Family to Lebanon ; where he had several of his Children comfortably and 
creditably settled ; among whom he spent the Remainder of his days. — He 
was a learned and sound Divine ; laborious and foithful in his Master's 
Vineyard. In civil life he was just, generous, of a cheerful and pleasant 

* From Buchanan's version of Ps. 91, 12. 

f AVe have seen above, that he was caUed in 1700, hut ordained in 1702. 

44 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

Disposition, and a faithful Friend. — His Funeral Sermon was preached by 
the Rev. Mr, Solomon Williams of Lebanon, from Gen. 47, 9. 

The will of Mr. Eobinson was executed Nov. 8, 1745, six 
days before his death ; and was proved and recorded on the 
10th of December. The following is an authentic copy : ■■■'•■ 


In the name of God, Amen. This 8th day of November, 1745, 1, John 
Robinson of Lebanon in y° county of Windham and Colony of Connecti- 
cut in New England, being sick and weak in body, but of sound mind and 
memory, thanks be given unto God ; being sensible of my own mortality, 
and knowing that it is appointed unto all men once to die ; Do make and 
ordain this my last Will and Testament. That is to say : 

Principally and first of all I give and recommend my soul to God, who 
gave it ; and my body to the earth, to be buried in decent Christian man- 
ner, at the discretion of my Executors ; in certain hope of the Resurrection 
to Eternal Life through the merits and by the mighty power of Jesus 
Christ our Redeemer, the Lord of y' living and j" dead. 

And as touching such worldly Estate, wherewith it hath pleased God 
to bless me in this life, after all my just debts and funeral expenses are 
paid, I give, demise and bequeath y' same in y' manner and form following : 

Impr. To my eldest son, John, I give one quarter of my Books ; my 
Gold buttons ; my Gun and Cane ; and meanest bed and furniture for it ; 
and my pewter Alembic and Hatchet ; and my Riding Rod and a silver 

Item. To my son Ichabod, I give my best Bed and Curtains and other 
furniture belonging to it ; as also my silver Tankard and two silver Spoons ; 
and one quarter of my Books. 

Item. To my daughter Alethea Stiles, I give one quarter of my Books ; 
and one hundred pounds money, old tenor, to be paid her by my Executors, 
as I hereafter order in this my will. 

Item. To my daughter Betty Eliot I give two hundred pounds money, 
old tenor, to be paid her by my Executors, as I hereafter order. 

Item. To my daughter Faith Trumbull, I give one quarter of my Books ; 
as also my Brass Kettle and Looking Glass which she has in her custody ; 
and Two llundred pounds money, old tenor, to be paid her by my Exec- 
utors, as I hereafter order. 

Item. To m}^ Grand-daughter. Hannah Thomas, I give one hundred 
and fifty pounds monej?-, old tenor, to be paid her also by my Executors, 
as I hereafter order. 

* Windham Probate Records. Lebanon at that time belonged to the Probate 
district of Windham. 


And my will is, that excepting those things which I have above par- 
ticularly named, and given away to my two sons and my daughters Stiles 
and Trumbull, — that my two sons, John and Ichabod, shall have all y" 
rest of my estate real and personal, wherever and whatever it be, to be 
equally divided between them ; and that out of it they shall pay equally, 
or each of them in y' same manner and proportion, all y" several legacies, 
which I have above given to my three daughters and to my Grand-daugh- 
ter, within one year next after my decease ; except the legacy to my 
Grand-daughter, Hannah Thomas, which my will is should be paid on her 
marriage, or on her arriving at the age of 21 years. — The rest of my estate 
as aforesaid, to my two sons, and to their heirs forever. 

Furthermore, I do hereby constitute, ordain, and appoint my said two 
Sons, John and Ichabod, to be y* sole Executors of this my last Will and 
Testament ; ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last Will ; 
herebj"- revoking, disallowing, and making null and void all other wills 
demises, and bequests, and Executors by me made ; holding this and no 
Other to be my last Will and Testament. 

Dated at Lebanon the day and year above or before written. 
Signed, sealed, published, 
pronounced, and declared by the said 
John Robinson to be his last Will 
and Testament, in presence of us, 

Andrew Aldex t t^ r r, 

Isaiah Williams John Robinson. L. S. 

g^SoLOMON Williams. 

The legatees in the above will comprise the names of all 
Mr. Eobinson's sm-viving children, and that of his grand- 
daughter, Hannah Thomas.* 

The inventory of the personal estate, not including books, 
amounted to ^^3,032 8s. 9d. Of this, as has been already 
related, the large proportion of £2,797 lis. 9d. consisted of 
bonds, notes, and judgments. The real estate in Lebanon had 
all been previously conveyed to his sons. 

* I liave seen it somewhere reported, that Mr. Robinson, in his will, gave to 
his son Ichabod £2,000 and lands, and a negro man Jack; to his daughter Alethea 
£4:00, etc. Such statements are disproved by the wiU itself. 

46 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

Descendants of Kev. John Eobinson. 

Of tlie seven children of Mr. Eobinson, who lived to adult 
years, the youngest, Ichabod, is the subject of the next ar- 
ticle. The eldest, Maey, as we have seen, was drowned with 
her mother. A few brief notices of the remaining five, with 
their children and grandchildren, may not be out of place 

HANNAH married Nathanael Thomas of Kingston (then 
a part of Plymouth), Sept. 1, 1729 ; died Feb. 19, 1730-1. 
Their only daughter was Hannah, mentioned in her grand- 
father's will. She married Col. John Thomas, of Kingston ; 
and was the mother of a second Col. John Thomas, and of the 
wife of the Mev. Zephaniah Willis of Kingston. f The follow- 
ing entry of his daughter Hannah's death was made by Mr. 
Eobinson in his family record : 

1730-1, February 19. God was pleased to take out of this world, and 
I hope unto himself, my very dear and pleasent daughter, Hannah Thomas. 
She had but a short sickness. She was in y" 23 y"^ of her age. She died 
of a fever ; and has left my poor and distressed family in deep affliction 
and sorrow. She died about 10 of the clock in the evening. 

ALETHEA married Eev. Abel Stiles of Woodstock, 
Conn, an uncle of Pres. Stiles. — " Mr. Stiles was minister of 
the first society in Woodstock. This society, at the time of 
his settlement, composed the eastern half of the town ; and 
during his ministry was divided into two parishes. Mr. Stiles 
went to the north parish, called Muddy Brook, and lived there 
until his death. Mrs. Stiles had but one child, a daughter, 
who married Hadlock Marc3^ Their only child, a daughter, 
married a Captain Fox ; whose daughter, Mary Fox, married 
a Mr. Freeman." :j: 

* For the birth of all the children, see Mr. Robinson's family record, above 
given, p. 25. 

f Deane'sHist. of Scituate, p. 400; Winsor's Hist, of Duxb. p. 18-4. 

j From MS. notes of the late John McClellan, Esq. of Woodstock, Conn. 
These I copied in 1845. They were then in the hands of the late Mrs. Faith 
Wadsworth, wife of Daniel Wadsworth, Iv-q. of Hartford, Conn. Mrs. Wadsworth 
was the eldest daughter of the second Gov. Trumbull. 


BETTY married Rev. Jacob Eliot of Goshen, a parish in 
Lebanon, Conn, and died March 15, 1758.—" Mr. EHot, the 
minister of Goshen, married a Miss Robinson. Her sister, 
who married Gov, Trumbull, came from Duxbury to visit her ; 
where, as I have been informed, the acquaintance took place 
between her and her husband.* — Mrs. Eliot had one daughter, 
who married a minister by the name of Ripley, and lived in 
Abingdon, a parish in Pomfret, Conn. 

" After the death of his first wife, Mr. Eliot married a 
second wife ; who tormented the poor man all his life after. 
I have his journal of the ' venged quarrels,' as he called them, 
which he had with her from day to day." f 

JOHN appears to have led a somewhat unstable life. He 
married a Miss Hinckley of Lebanon, January 17, 1743, nearly 
three years before his father's death. He at first, as we have 
seen, resided in Goshen ; but in 1747 sold his land there, and 
purchased of Thomas Martin a smaller farm in Lebanon. In 
1755, June 22, he removed to Portsmouth, N. H. where he 
taught school. He afterwards returned to Lebanon ; and died 
Aug. 21, 1784, at the house of his son Samuel, in New Con- 
cord, a parish of Norwich, Conn, now the town of Bozrah. % 

His son Samuel Robinson, was born June 7, 1752. He 
first resided in New Concord (Bozrah) ; but afterwards re- 
moved and died at Oxford, N. Y. March 2, 1815. He left 
several children : John W. Robinson, born April 5, 1779, 
lived at Wilkesbarre, Pa. where he died not far from the year 
1840, leaving a son. In 1847 two brothers were said to be 
living in Oxford, N. Y. and also a brother Andreio at Nor- 
wich (Bozrah ?) Conn. § In 1853, or thereabout, an An- 
drew Robinson, aged about 60 years, perhaps the same, went 

* Wiusor says : " Mr. Trumbull became acquainted with lier wliile on a visit 
to Duxbury on business; " Hist, of Duxbury, p. 185. The statement in tlie text is 
the family tradition ; and is the more probable, as ]\Ir. Trumbull was the owuer of 
lands in Goshen, and lived near by. 

f MS. notes of J. McClellan, Esq. See note on p. 46. 

\ Frona the family record of John Robinson jr. in the hands of the widow of 
John W. Robinson of Wilkesbarre, Pa. Copied by me iu 1847. Wiusor's note on 
him is incorrect; Hist, of Duxb. p. 184. 

§ Family record ; see the preceding note. 

48 ANCESTORS. [Pakt I. 

from the south-western part of Lebanon, Conn, to Galveston 
in Texas, where he died.* 

FAITH, the youngest daughter, married Jonathan Trum- 
bull of Lebanon, Conn. Dec. 9, 1735,t and died May 31, 1780. 
They had six children who lived to adult years, viz. 

Joseph, born March 11, 1737, was the first commissary- 
general of the army of the Kevolution. He married Amelia 
Wyllys, and died without issue July 22, 1778, aged 41 years. 

Jonathan, the second Governor Trumbull, born March 26, 
1740, died in office Aug. 7, 1809, aged 69 years. He resided 
in Lebanon. Two sons died in infancy. His three daughters 
were : Faith, born Feb. 1, 1769 ; married Daniel Wadsworth 
of Hartford ; died October 19, 1846. Harriet, born Septem- 
ber 2, 1783 ; married Professor tSilliman ; died January 18, 
1850. 3Iaria, born February 14, 1785 ; married Henry Hud- 
son of Hartford ; died Nov. 23, 1805, aged 21 years. 

Faith, born Jan. 25, 1743 ; married Jedediah Hunting- 
ton of Norwich, and died at Dedham, Mass. in a state of 
mental derangement, Nov. 24, 1775.^ She left one child, the 
late Deacon Jabez Huntington of Norwich. A daughter of his 
became the first wife of the Rev. Eli Smith D. D. missionary 
at Beirut. 

Mart, born July 16, 1745 ; married William Williams, 
son of the Eev. Solomon Williams D. D. of Lebanon, and one 
of the signers of the Declaration of Independence ; she died 
February 9, 1831. Their children were : Solomon, who lived 
on the family homestead ; William T. a lawyer in Lebanon ; 
and Faith, who married John McClellan, Esq. of Woodstock. 

David, born Feb. 5, 1751, resided in Lebanon ; died 
Jan. 19, 1822. His children were : Sarah, married her 
cousin, WiUiam T. Williams ; Abigail, married Peter Lan- 
man of Norwich ; Josejih, the third Governor Trumbull, re- 
sides in Hartford ; John, resides in Colchester ; Jonathan 
G. W. resided in Norwich, and died a few years since. 

* Communicated by L. Hebard, Esq. of Lebanon. 

\ See above, p. 47, and note. 

X See Col. Trumbull's Autobiography, p. 22. 


John, well known as Col. Trumbull the Painter, born 
June 6, 1756, died in New York Nov. 10, 1843. He married 
an English lady, but had no children. He published an Auto- 
biography, New York, 1841, 

The eldest Gov. Trumbull was one of the most remarkable 
men in the history of Connecticut. He was a native of Leba- 
non, born Oct. 12, 1710 ; and graduated at Harvard College 
in 1727. He studied theology ; was admitted by the church 
to full communion, Dec. 30, 1730 ; and was invited to become 
pastor of the church in Colchester. But being called to settle 
the estate of his brother, who was lost at sea, he turned his 
attention to secular business. In his twenty-third year he 
was chosen a member of the General Assembly ; was elected 
to the Council in 1740 ; became Deputy Governor in 1766 ; 
and Governor in 1769. This ofiice he held during theEevolu- 
tion, and until A. d. 1783, when he declined a re-election. He 
died Aug. 17, 1785.* He was a man of piety, of incorruptible 
integrity, of sound practical judgment, and was a wise and 
prudent counsellor. As a patriot and statesman, he merited 
and enjoyed the unreserved confidence of Washington ; and 
rendered great services to the cause of his country. 


IcHABOD Robinson of Lebanon. 

IcHABOD, the youngest son of the Rev. John Robinson, 
was born, as we have seen, at Duxbury, Dec. 12, I720.t He 
was named apparently after his maternal grandfather, the 
Rev. Ichabod Wiswall ; | and, before he was two years old, 
lost his mother by the sad catastrophe already related. In 
1739 he removed with his father to Lebanon, Conn, where he 
succeeded to his father's homestead, as above narrated. 

* See Rev. Mr. Ely's Fimeral Sermon on the death of the first Gov. Trum- 
bull, delivered August 19, 1785. 

\ See the family record of the Rev. John Robinson, above, p. 25. 
I See above, page 25. 


50 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

This house and farm of ninety-six acres he exchanged in 
1746 with his brother-in-law, Jonathan Trumbull, for a smaller 
tract of twenty-nine acres, situated south of the former, on the 
east side of the same wide main street, nearly half a mile 
north of the meeting-house. The deeds of exchange are dated, 
the one, Kobinson's, Sept. 23, 1746 ; the other, Trumbull's, 
Nov. 20, 1746. The consideration of the first is £2300 ; that 
of the second £1200. This new homestead, with its dwelling- 
house built in the fashion of the olden time, with a long low 
back roof, or lean-to, became the permanent residence of 
Mr. Robinson. The old and decayed mansion was torn away 
some thirty years ago ; and its place is now occupied by a 
modern dwelling, erected by the present proprietor, L, Hebard, 

Here Ichabod Eobinson spent the remainder of his life, as 
an intelligent and respected country merchant. He made his 
purchases chiefly in Boston ; and sometimes imported goods 
throuo-h that city from England. His shop, which was not 
larffe. stood on the line of the street, in the north-western 
corner of his front yard ; and partly (if I remember rightly) in 
front of the dwelling-house. Here in later years was his library; 
and many an hour have I, as a boy, sat there in his great arm- 
chair and devoured his books. 

In May, 1747, Jonathan Trumbull of Lebanon was made 
Judoe of Probate for the district of Windham ; which office 
he held for twenty-one years. He at once appointed his 
brother-in-law, Ichabod Robinson, to be Clerk of that court ; 
and he held this post during the whole time that Mr. Trum- 
bull continued to be Judge, and until June, 1768. So far as 
I can learn, this was the only public office to v^^hich Mr. Rob- 
inson was ever appointed ; with the exception of one or two 
inferior trusts in the town, such as key-keeper in 176.0, and 
ganger from 1750 to 1770.« 

He was twice married. His first wife was Mary Hyde, to 

* His name is not found in the State Records at Hnrtford ; neither as Repre- 
sentative nor as Justice of the Peace. For tlie other offices sec the to^vTi records 
of Lebanon. 



whom he was united Ma}'' 25, 1749. She was the second 
daughter of Capt. Caleb Hyde of Lebanon and his wife 
Elizabeth Blackraan, This Capt. Hyde was the fourth son of 
the second Samuel Hyde, who was a grandson of William Hyde, 
one of the original proprietors of Norwicli, Conn. His daugh- 
ter, Mrs. Robinson, was born July 3, 1731 ; and died without 
issue, July 1, 1750, aged nineteen years. 

Mr. Robinson's second wife was Lydia Brown, a cousin of 
the first wife ; to whom he was married January 16, 1752. 
She was the daughter of Ebenezer Brown of Lebanon, a repu- 
table farmer, and Sarah Hyde his wife, a sister of Caleb Hyde 
above mentioned, and great grand-daughter of the same William 
Hyde of Norwich.* Their daughter Lydia (Mrs. Robinson) 
was born March 19, 1720 ; and died August 23, 1778. Mr. 
Robinson had by her six children, five of whom, three sons and 
two daughters, lived to adult years. 

The following is the family record of Ichabod Robinson, in 
his own hand-writing ; it forms a continuation (in the same 
Bible) of that of his father, the Rev. John Robinson. 

Thursdaj/, Maij 25, 1749. Between eight and nine o'clock p. m. I was 
married to Mary Hide, now 'Sl^vy Robinson, per the Rev. Jacob Ehot of 
Goshen in Lebanon. 

Sablath day evening^ July y'l, 1750, At f after 9 o'clock, God was 
Pleased to take out of This World, and, I Trust, to his Kingdom of Glory 
above, my verj^ dear, Pleasent, Loving, Pious, and Virtuous Wife, Mary 
Robinson, after eleven daj-s sickness with a Dysentery. Help, mighty 
God, or I fail ! — She was Born July the 3d, 1731 ; aged nineteen years 
wanting Two days And her remains were decently Interred the next 
Day toward Evening. 

She died committing her Soul into The hands of Jesus Christ, her 
dear Redeemer ; and went rejo3'cing out of This world of Sin, Sorrow, 
Teers, and Paine, To Christ her Espoused Husband and Head, where all 

* Ebenezer and Sarah Brown had three sons, John, Joseph, and Daniel Brown ; 
and three daughters, Martha Mason, wife of Elijah Mason, Ann Bissell, and Lydia 
Robinson ; as appears from the last will of the said Ebenezer Bro-i\Ti, dated May 
18, 1755, now in my possession. — Mrs. Sarah Brown, or, as she was later called, 
Widow Sarah Brown the elder, was born in 16'J7; married Ebenezer Brown, 
February 25,1714; and died March 1, 1797, aged one hundred years. Her ex- 
ecutor was Joseph Robinson, her grandson. For most of these data respecting the 
Hyde family, I am indebted to the kindness of the Hon. R. Hyde Walworth. 

52 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

Sin, Sorrow, and Paine shall be Seen and Felt no more, and all Tears 
shall be wiped from her Eyes. 

Now, O Lord, what wait I For? My help and hope are all in thee, 
0, may thy grace be sufficient for me in this my Great Distress ! May I 
be also ready to go at thy Call, as thy Handmaid was. 

We were denied the Great Blessing of children ; tho' we had more than 
once the Prospect of it. Children are the heritage of the Lord. No, 
Lord, give me thy Grace, and that is enough. 

Thursday^ l&tli January, a. d. 1752. Ichabod Robinson and Lydia 
Browx, daughter to Ebenezer Brown of Lebanon, were married at my 
own House, between 7 and 8 o'clock p. m. per the Rev. Mr. Solomon 

Saturday, 4:tli day of IS^ovemder, a. d. 1752, N. S. At half after 10 
o'clock A. M. our First Child and Son Bourn ; and Baptised the next Day, 
being Sabbath day, by the Rev. Mr. Sol" Williams, hy the Christian name 
of Joseph. 

Thursday, 15t?i August, a. d. 1754. Just at 9 o'clock p.m. our second 
Son and Child was Born ; and Baptised the next Sunday, by the Christian 
Name of William, by the Rev. JNIr. Solomon Williams. 

Sunday, 2St7i day of Deccmher, A. Domine 1755. One quarter after 
11 o'clock in the Evening, our Third Child was Born (a daughter) ; and 
Baptised the Sunday Following, by the Christian Name of Mary, by the 
Rev. Mr. Solomon Williams, being Jan'' 4th, 1756. 

Thursday, 2l)?7i day of Oetvder, 1757. Five o'clock a. m. our Fourth 
Cliild born; and Baptised the Sunday Following per y* Rev. j\Ir. Solomon 
Williams, by the Christian Name of Lydia. 

Saturday, the 2Q>t?i day of April, 17G0. At 39 minets after 1 o'clock 
p. M. our Fifth Child was born (a Son) ; I being in the Room ; Mrs. Clark 
the midwife Coming in a Critical moment For the Life of the Child ; and 
was Baptised the next day By the Rev. Mr. SoI° William, by the Christian 
Name of Johx. 

Tuesday, the \lt?i Octoler, 17G3. Just ^ after 10 o'clock p. m. our 
Sixth Child, a Son, was born ; and Baptised the next Sunday save one, by 
]Mr. Williams, By the Christian Name of Ernest. 

Sunday, IZth January, 1705. At 35 minits after 4 o'clock p.m. a 
day to be Remembered, departed this Life our dear Son Ernest, of a Can- 
ker, after about a week Illness, aged 15 months and 2 days ; a very Extra- 
ordinary Child. Help, Lord, 

Loi'd^s day, 2od August, 1778. At 1 after 5 o'clock p. m. my Dear 
Pleasent, Pious, Virtious Wife, Lydia Robinson, was Taken out of this 
world to the Heavenly World, I trust ; after a long, lingering disorder. 
She was born in March, 1720. 

Wednesday, 11th Octoler, 1780. x\t 8 minits after 10 o'clock a. m. 


Departed this Life, my Dear, Pleasent, Lovely Daughter, Mart Robinsox, 
of an unusual sore-throat of 2| years, in grate distress ; and died at last 
by Starving to Death. — She and her Blessed mother, whose death is re- 
corded above, both Died in a Chereful and firme Expectation of the mere}' 
of the Lord Jesus Christ to Eternal Life. Hebrews 6, 12. 

Mr. Kobinson continued liis mercantile occupation during 
the Revolution, and for some years afterwards. His business 
seems to have afforded him the means of a comfortable 
support for himself and family. But he appears not to have 
accumulated any great amount of property ; or if so, it was in 
great part lost, probably by the depreciation of the continental 
currency. In his letters to his son William in New Haven, 
from 1770 to 1776, his language is that of a man without 
much ready money, and with few regular receipts. At the 
close of his life, the homestead was about all that remained. 

He seems to have been very much of a fixture, and very 
rarely left his home. He made, of course, occasional journeys 
to Boston in connection with his business ; and once took his 
daughter Mary with him. Once too he and his wife travelled 
as far as New Haven, while their son William was in College. 
But he never visited his son after the latter was settled in 
Southington; although earnestly entreated to do so. 

If I may trust my childish recollections, Ichabod Robinson, 
my grandfather, was a man rather above the medium height, 
and in his old age of a spare form. But my memory only 
goes back to a time, when he was at least eighty years old. 
My father, in his semi-annual visits to his parent, sometimes 
took me along ; and I have a distinct, though I can hardly say 
a pleasing impression of my ancestor. It was his habit, I 
remember, to drink only rain water, as the purest ; but it was 
caught from the roof, and stood long in the large tub. 

He is still remembered by many in Lebanon, after the 
lapse of half a century, as a man respected indeed, but not 
beloved ; of a disposition inclining to be peevish and irritable ; 
of good intentions, but in some respects eccentric. My father 
used to say of him, that he was prone to despondency, and 

54 ANCESTOES. [Part I. 

always looked at the dark side of things ; while his wife pre- 
ferred to look at the bright side. In my visits as a boy, I 
have no recollection of a single kind word or look from him ; 
while from Aunt Nabby Hyde, as she was called, one of the 
excellent of the earth, who was a friend of the family and often 
present, I remember very many words and deeds of kindness.* 

In a letter from Col, John Trumbull to my father, dated 
July 29, 1775, written from the camp at Roxbury, allusion is 
made to a continued state of ill feeling between the families ; 
which, hov/ever, did not extend to the children. The occasion 
of this ill feeling is unknown. It is not, however, impossible, 
that the jealousy of a narrow and querulous mind may have been 
excited at the success and influence of a brother-in-law ; and 
therefore suspicion indulged, and offence taken, where there 
was no just ground. It is not probable, that a man like Grov. 
Trumbull would in such a case put himself in the wrong. 

Several anecdotes are still related, as exemplifying Mr. 
Eobinson's character and temper. One pleasant morning, 
some young relatives, who were visiting at his house rather 
longer than he desired, addressed him : " A fine morning. 
Uncle." " Yes, yes," was the reply, " fine morning for cousins 
to go home.""!" 

He once had a quantity of hay cut ; which was caught in 
several showers, and nearly spoiled. At last, after great effort, 
on a fine sunny day, he had succeeded in drying it ; and had 
just commenced carting, when a cloud suddenly arose, and the 
rain came down in torrents upon the hay. His neighbour Mr. 
Alden was passing, and remarked : '' A fine shower, Mr. Eob- 

* Abigail Hyde was the youngest daughter of the third Samuel Hyde, a 
brother of Caleb Hyde and of Sarah wife of Ebenezer Brown. She was therefore first 
cousin to both the first and the second wife of Ichabod Eobinson. This Samuel 
Hyde married, January 14, 1725, Priscilla Bradford, a great grand-daughter of 
Governor William Bradford of the Mayflower. Their datxghter Abigail was born 
at Lebanon, November 4, 1744 ; and died unmarried late in 1830, aged eighty- 
six years. No record of her death is found in Lebanon ; but her last Will M'as laid 
before the Court of Probate January 4, 1831. I well remember her as a lady of 
gentle demeauour, great tact, and a pattern of good works. In the Robinson and 
Trumbull families she was always a welcome Iriend. — Comp. MS. Letters of the 
Hon. K. Hyde Walworth and L. Hebard lisq. 

■j- For this trait, see further the letter of Prof. Silliman, p. 57. 


iuson, truly refreshing." Mr. Kobinson was not in a mood to 
be congratulated, and replied : " You walk along, Mr. Alden ; 
walk along. Sir." 

In his later years, while he could still walk abroad, he was 
accustomed to go to the post office, situated near the meeting- 
house, after the arrival of the mail, in order to read there the 
Boston Centinel, which was taken by his nephew, David Trum- 
bull. One day either he had come later than usual, or the 
paper had been taken away earlier ; it was not there. Mr. 
Kobinson was vexed and irritated. Mr. Trumbull, who lived 
just by, heard of the difficulty, and sent back the paper for his 
perusal. But he would not touch it.* 

Mr. Robinson was a man of reading ; and his library con- 
tained many of the best works, which appeared in England for 
the half century prior to the American revolution. There I 
first saw the original edition of Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. 
There too I first became acquainted with the Spectator and 
Gentleman's Magazine, in which last the papers of Dr. John- 
son's Idler were then appearing. This work my grandfather 
took for ten years (1757 to 176G), when there was no periodi- 
cal in this country. His education had obviously been neg- 
lected ; and his orthograiDhy and style were as defective as 
possible ; as is evinced by his family record above given. A 
series of letters from him is now before me, written to his son 
William in Yale College. They afibrd still worse specimens 
of orthography and style ; and bear the impress of a mind 
strong perhaps in itself, but narrow in its grasp, and mainly 
occupied with everyday cares and trifles. Yet he gave to two 
of his sons, William and John, an education at Yale College. 

After the death of his wife and eldest daughter, his eldest 
son, Joseph, and his younger daughter, Lydia, continued to 
reside with him during his life. Both of them remained un- 
married. Joseph early took charge of the farm ; and Lydia 
managed the household affairs. The shop was fitted up as a 

* This rage for newspapers is more fully described in the letters of Prof. Sil- 
liman and Hon. Joseph Trumbull, below. 

56 ANCESTORS. . [Part I. 

library ; <and there Mr. Kobinson spent most of his time. 
Some three or four years before his death, he was crippled by 
a fall ; by which his thigh was broken. He was afterwards 
able only to move a little around the room on crutches ; or as 
drawn abroad in a small hand-cart constructed for the pur- 
pose. In this he was sometimes drawn to church and into the 
broad aisle, where he sat during the service. To this circum- 
stance the Eev. Mr. Ely made allusion in the sermon preached 
at his funeral, as an evidence of his sincere piety, and his love 
and zeal for the service of God's house. — During this period 
his nephew, the second Governor Trumbull, who lived near by, 
made it a point to visit him daily. 

Ichabod Kobinson died January 20, 1809, aged eighty- 
eight years. He was buried in the old cemetery in Lebanon, 
near his father. But no stone marks his grave ; and now, 
after the lapse of half a century, the precise spot is not known. 

His last will and testament was dated October 25, 1793, 
more than fifteen years before his decease ; with a codicil dated 
February 4, 1806. It is recorded in the Probate office at 
Windham ; but contains no details elucidating his family 

More than a year after the preceding pages respecting 
Ichabod Kobinson were completed, I received from the vener- 
able Prof Silliman of Yale College and from the Hon. Joseph 
Trumbull of Hartford, the following letters, farther illustrating 
his character. It may be remembered, that the first wife of 
Prof Silliman was a daughter of the second Gov. Trumbull. 

From Prof. Silliman. 

New Haven, December 28, 1857. 

My Dear Sir, — As to your Grandfather, Ichabod Rob- 
inson, I have very little legendary and still less personal knowl- 
edge of him. I remember to have seen him at his door and 
about the premises ; but do not recollect that I was ever in- 
troduced to him. 


Mrs. Trumbull, my wife's mother, had a spice of pleasantry ; 
and " Uncle Robinson" was sometimes the theme. Among 
other things, his eager desire to obtain the newspapers, and 
have the first opening, as well as the first reading, was a 
matter of some amusement at the Governor's ; whose papers, 
I believe, he regularly or often obtained from the post office, 
and possessed himself of their contents before they were handed 
over. It was even said that, to secure the priority of reading, 
he sometimes made a cushion of the papers, in order that no 
other hands might be laid upon them. The times were then 
very exciting. 

With respect to " cousins going home," I have heard Mrs. 
Silliman tell, that when Mr. Robinson was going out from the 
house, he would say : " Good bye, cousins, you will be gone 
before I return ;" or perhaps : " Eat heartily, as you are going 
to ride." But as there was a mirthful spirit abroad about the 
old gentleman, these little things may have been apocryphal, or 
at least coloured. 

The impression left on my mind was that of a rather in- 
flexible and somewhat angular old gentleman, who would have 
his own way, albeit it might be a good way. 

Truly and respectfully yours, B. Silliman. 

From the Hon. Joseph TrumhuU. 

Hartford, December 28, 1857. 

My Dear Sir, — Your favour has just reached me, re- 
questing from me what I recollect about Ichabod Robinson, 
the brother of my grandmother. 

Mr. Robinson was a man above the ordinary size, erect, 
and well-proportioned ; as I remember him, he was a venerable 
looking old gentleman. He had a strong mind, well furnished 
from the books within his reach ; and, notwithstanding his 
eccentricities, he commanded the respect of his cotemporaries. 

He had but little intercourse with us boys ; and to us he 
seemed severe ; and his deportment towards us we thought 
quite commanding. 

58 ANCESTORS. [Pabt I. 

He had, in the earlier part of his life, kept a store of goods 
for sale ; hut, at the time of which I speak, the shop was used 
as his reading room. I well rememher him, seated in the 
southwest corner of the room, (his window looking into the 
street,) with his broad shoulders, and a head covered with hair 
as white as snow. — I do not suppose he had a had temper ; 
but his deportment was such, that the youngsters feared to 
incur his displeasure. 

My uncle Jonathan Trumbull, and my father, took the 
New York and Boston newspapers ; and Uncle Robinson was 
very fond of reading them. I remember being frequently sent 
with the papers, immediately after their arrival, to Uncle 
Eobinson, with a strict injunction not to open them ; for it was 
well understood, that unless the old gentleman could have the 
first opening, he would not look at them at all. After he had 
done with the papers, they were returned to us for family use. 

During the season for taking shad from the Connecticut 
river, it was customary for the neighbours to purchase and 
bring them home, not only for their own use, but for the sup- 
ply of others in the vicinity. Uncle Eobinson had a strong 
dislike to shad ; and no person was permitted to bring one 
within his premises. If any one presumed to offer him a shad, 
" Begone with your stinking fish," was the invariable and 
prompt reply. 

During the revolutionary contest. Uncle Robinson was a 
whig ; but when the constitution was framed, and the laws 
relating to voting were enacted, he objected to the oath which 
was required ; and I have always understood, that he declined 
the exercise of that privilege ; saying, that "if his patriotism 
was not a sufficient guaranty for his fidelity, he would leave 
the voting to others." 

I have made these few remarks about our ancestor, merely 
to let you into the private character which he bore in the 
vicinity. — He was a very upright and worthy gentleman, but 
queer. With great respect, yours, 

Jos. Trumbull. 


Descendants of Ichabod Eobinson. 

The second son, William, is the subject of the following 
Memoir. Four other children lived to adult years. 

Joseph did not marry. He remained upon the homestead 
as a farmer, and died August 27, 1813. 

Maky, the eldest daughter, died as related above, Oct, 11, 
1780, in the 25th year of her age. 

Lydia, the second daughter, remained unmarried, and 
lived with her father until his death. She was subject to 
great variations of animal spirits ; sometimes for a year or 
more highly excitable, and at other times for a similar period 
greatly depressed, even to the verge of mental derangement. 
After her father's decease she and her eldest brother did not 
live happily together ; and a smaller house was built for her on 
the southwestern part of the homestead. Here she resided 
until her death, x\pril 23, 1825. 

The third son. Rev. John Eobinson, graduated at Yale 
College in 1780 ; studied theology ; and was ordained pastor 
of the church in "Westborough, Mass. January 14, 1789. He 
was dismissed October 1, 1807. After the death of his brother 
Joseph, John purchased the homestead from the other heirs ; 
and in 1815 removed thither. After the decease of his sister 
Lydia in 1825, he removed into the house which she had 
occupied. He died suddenly in a fit, May 2, 1832. — He 
married Abigail Drury, who died Dec. 29, 1816. Their chil- 
dren were : Laurinda, born Aug. 1799, died at Lebanon, 
June 1823, aged 23 years ; and JoJin Augustus, a successful 
and respected merchant in New York, now retired from mer- 
cantile business. — The second wife of Rev. John Robinson was 
Elizabeth TiiFany, whom he married in Feb. 1824. She still 
survives him at a very advanced age. 

Since the preceding pages were written, a family monu- 
ment, an obelisk of granite, has been erected in the old ceme- 
tery at Lebanon, by John A. Robinson of New York, to his 

60 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

immediate relatives ; including also the names of all the mem- 
bers of the Robinson family, who have died and lie buried in 
Lebanon. The number of names is in all eleven. 

Supplementary Note. 

Was the Bev. John Rohinson of Duxbury descended from 
the Rev. John Rohinson of Ley den ? 

A sort of indefinite impression has gone abroad among 
some of the descendants of the Rev. John Robinson of Dux- 
bury, and especially in the Thomas and Trumbull families, 
that he may, in some way, have been a descendant of the Rev. 
John Robinson of Ley den." As is well known, the wife and 
family of the latter, after his decease, came over to this country 
and landed at Plymouth in a. d. 1629.f It is singular, that 
no definite trace is afterwards found, either of the widow or 
of any child, except Isaac Robinson, who lived for a time at 
Scituate and afterwards at Barnstable ;J and whom Prince 
had seen as a very old man.§ Indeed, there is no direct evi- 
dence that there was more than one child. Before the voyage, 
only the wife is spoken of; after it, only the son Isaac. 

This supposed relationship between the two divines, did 
not, of course, arise as a matter of history, or as a matter of any 
definite tradition ; for it is only quite recently (1855), that 
the descent of Mr. Robinson of Duxbury has been distinctly 
traced from William Robinson of Dorchester. Pie has more 
usually been referred to an entirely different line, and set down 

* Similar statements have even appeared in print ; see Col. Trumbull's Auto - 
biography, pp. 2, 3. Works of the Rev. John Robinson of Leyden, Boston edit. 
Preface, fin. 

f Bradford's Hist, of Plymouth, Bost. 1856, pp. 247, 248, notes. 

X Deane's Hist, of Scituate, p. 332. In the Plymouth Records (Voh I. p. 80) 
there is recorded a deed of land from Isaac Robinson to John Biddle, dated July 
4, 1G35, for the consideration of £6. — Deane speaks also (from Farmer) of another 
son, John ; but the account is now generally discredited ; ibid. See below at the 
end of this Supplemcntai-y Note. 

§ Prince's Annals, p. 238. 


as the son of James Kobinson, born in 1675. The late Dr. 
T. W. Harris of Cambridge, whose wife was a descendant of 
the said William Robinson, at one time supposed there was a 
floating tradition, that the said William came to Dorchester 
from the Old Colony ; but on further inquiry, as he informed 
me, he found it amounted to nothinof at all. Not the slightest 
trace of this William Robinson has been found in any con- 
nection with the colony of Plymouth ; nor with any other town 
than Dorchester. While therefore there would be no historical 
impossibility, that he might have been a son of Mr. Robinson 
of Leyden, and have come over in 1629 ; yet, as he first appears 
in 1636, and only in Dorchester, it is most probable that he 
came from England, where the name is very common, either 
with Richard Mather in 1635, or not long after. 

At a public celebration of the New England Society of 
New York, held on Monday December 23. 1844, there was 
exhibited at the dinner a small silver cup, then in the posses- 
sion of J. G. W. Trumbull, Esq. of Norwich, Conn, and sup- 
posed to have been a relic of the Rev. John Robinson of Ley- 
den.* This cup, now in the family of Mr. Trumbull's son, I 
have examined. It has no engraved inscription whatever. 
Scratched upon the bottom, as with the point of a penknife or 
the like, are in one place the letters " I. R." and in another : 
" S. R. to J. R. Jr. 1717." Now if these last letters mean 
any thing, they can only mark a gift from Samuel Robinson of 
Dorchester, who died in 1718, to his grandson, John Robinson 
Jr. who was born in 1715. The letters "I. R." are then 
probably nothing more than a usual form for J. R. The date 
itself shows the absurdity of any attempt to connect the cup 
with John Robinson of Leyden. — Possibly the cup may have 
been originally a gift from the elder Samuel Robinson to his 
grandson and namesake Samuel, second son of John Robinson 
of Duxbury ; who was born and died in 1717. After his death 
the gift might easily have been transferred to his elder brother 
John, and the letters scratched upon it. How the cup came 
into the possession of the Trumbull family is not known. 

* See the New York Observer of Dec. 28, 1844. 

62 ANCESTORS. [Part I. 

There is, moreover, definite and indubitable testimony, that 
John Eobinson of Diixbury was accustomed to declare, that 
there tvas no connection hetiveen him and John Robinson of 
Ley den. It would appear, that the idea of such a relationship 
had already found a place in the minds of some of his own 
children ; and that this declaration was made to them. The 
fact rests upon the testimony of his son, Ichabod Robinson. 

There is a very distinct impression upon my own mind, 
that when I was once at home during a college vacation, I 
made some inquiry of my father as to our supposed descent 
from the Puritan of Leyden. In reply he told me what he 
had often heard his father say ; and repeated the declaration 
of his grandfather, as above. 

But the matter does not rest on my impressions alone. In 
1844 I visited the Rev. Zephaniah Willis, at his home in 
Kingston ; then in his eighty-seventh year, but hale and hearty 
as he had been at sixty. His wife was of the Thomas family ; 
and in early life he had endeavoured to ascertain, whether there 
was any ground for assuming the supposed descent from the 
Leyden divine. For this purpose, about 1794, he visited 
Ichabod Robinson, then the only surviving child of John Rob- 
inson of Duxbury ; who told him " that his father had often 
spoken on the subject, and said that there was no connection 
between him and John Robinson of Leyden." This statement 
I wrote down from the lips of Mr. Willis. 

As John Robinson of Duxbury was the grandson of Wil- 
liam Robinson of Dorchester, he could not but have known 
the fact, had the latter been a son of the great Puritan divine, 
and come over to this country from Holland. 

From a consideration of all these circumstances, I am con- 
strained to regard the idea of a supposed descent from the 
Leyden minister, not only as unsupported by any historical 
evidence, but also as disproved by direct and sufficient testi- 
mony. However much I might rejoice in a rightful claim to 
an ancestry so honourable, I am nevertheless loth to seek it at 
the expense of historic truth. 


An example of a like kind occurs in the case of Abraham 
Robinson, (not John, as Farmer has it,) who died at Glouces- 
ter, February 3, 1645. He is regarded by some of his later 
descendants as a son of the Leyden pastor ; and is so reported 
by Farmer. But there seems to be no particle of direct evi- 
dence in favour of such a relationship ; nothing, indeed, more 
than an impression or hyiDothesis of some of his descendants 
after several generations. The little value of such an hy- 
pothesis we have seen above ; and I am not aware that any 
.stronger testimony exists in respect to Abraham Robinson of 
Grioucester, than in the case of William Robinson of Dor- 

* See Mr. Deane's Note to Bradford's Hist, of Plvmoutli p. 2i7. 

PART 11. 



His Bikth and Education. 

The Rev. William Robinson, the subject of the present 
Memoir, was for forty- one years Pastor of the Congregational 
Church in Southington, Conn. He was the second son of 
Ichabod and Lydia Robinson ; and was born in Lebanon, 
Conn. August 15, 1754. 

The materials for a biographical sketch of Mr. Robinson 
are few, and mostly unwritten. The minister of a retired 
country parish, he was not widely known to the public ; he 
rarely spoke of himself or of the events of his life, even to his 
family ; those who best knew him in youth, and during the 
first twenty years of his ministry, have passed away ; and the 
recollections of his children and of the generation now living 
reach back only to the early years of the present century. He 
never was addicted to the writing of letters ; and those which 
he wrote were always brief and confined to the business in 


66 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

hand ; affording few details of bis personal or family history. 
Yet it is to a few scattered reminiscences, occasionally uttered 
by him in conversation with his children, and to a few letters 
to and from his father and sisters and some of his college 
classmates, that we are indebted for all that we know re- 
specting his youth, his college course, and the earlier portion 
of his professional career. 

His grandfather Brown, as he used to relate, was a man of 
great size and strength ; and these qualities he himself inher- 
ited, through his mother, in a large degree. She was a woman 
of strong mind, and of an earnest and energetic character. 
His father was not an early riser ; but his mother was always 
up before daylight. He was his mother's boy ; and she was 
accustomed to take him from bed when she rose herself Thus, 
as a child, he acquired the habit of early rising ; which he 
continued regularly through life, and regarded as having been 
a main foundation of his success. Indeed, in his whole tem- 
perament and character, he much more resembled his mother 
than his father. Of the eccentricities of the latter he inher- 
ited no trace. 

He received his early education in the celebrated Gram- 
mar School of Master Tisdale in Lebanon ; of which Col. 
Trumbull the painter, who was Mr. Robinson's cousin and 
two years his junior, thus speaks in his Autobiography : * 
" My native place, Lebanon, was long celebrated for having 
the best school in New England ; unless that of Master 
Moody in Newbury Port might, in the opinion of some, have 
the precedence. It was kept by Nathan Tisdale, a native of 
the place, from the time when he graduated at Harvard to 
the day of his death, a period of more than thirty years, with 
an assiduity and fidelity of the most exalted character ; and 
became so widely known, that he had scholars from the West 
India Islands, Georgia, North and South Carolina, as well as 
from the New England and northern colonies." f 
* P. 4. 

f Jtlaster Tisdale graduated at Harvard College in 1749, at the age of 18 
years ; and died January 5, 1787, in the fifty-sixth year of his age. His school 

Sect. I.] fflS EDUCATION. Q*J 

la the same school young Robinson was prepared for Yale 
College, where he entered the Sophomore class in the autumn 
of 1770. He appears to have enjoyed in a high degree the 
confidence of j\l aster Tisdale ; who continued to correspond 
with him while in college ; and also received very favourable 
accounts of him from his college tutor.* He graduated in 
1773 ; being the first alumnus of the name upon the catalogue 
of that venerable institution. 

Among his classmates were James Hillhouse, afterwards 
senator in Congress ; Benjamin Tallmadge, member of Con- 
gress ; Ezra Sampson ; and the two brothers, Enoch and Na- 
than Hale, the latter the martyr spy of the Revolution. Mr. 
Robinson, in after life, often spoke of Nathan Hale, and of 
his early fate ; and said he was found out from having his 
college diploma in his pocket. 

The tutors during Robinson's first or Sophomore year in 
college were Joseph Lyman and Buckingham St. John, who 
both entered upon the office in 1770, and left in 1771. "Which 
of them had charge of the Sophomore class does not directly 
appear ; yet it was undoubtedly Lyman ; for in Robinson's 
account-book, there is a charge of one shilling as his contribu- 
tion towards a ring for Lyman. He was afterwards the Rev. 
Dr. Lyman of Hatfield, Mass. between whom and my father 
there existed a mutual friendship and affectionate intercourse 
during their lives. In 1771 the new tutors were John Trum- 
bull, author of McFingal, and Timothy Dwight ; and they 
were joined in 1772 by Nathan Strong, afterwards of Hart- 
ford. But neither of these had any thing to do, apparently, 
with Robinson's class ; certainly not Dwight ; for the first 
class which he taught graduated in l775.t 

There is still extant a very exact account, kept by Robin- 
son, of his expenses during his college course down to the 
May vacation of his Senior year, including his journeys between 

therefore continued for more than tliirty-seven years.. See hia epitaph, copied in 
Barber's Conn. Hist. Collections, p. 325. 

* Letters of Ichabod Robinson, March 2 and June 12, 1771. 

f Memoir of Dr. Dwight, prefixed to his Theology. 

68 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

Lebanon and New Haven. The amount for the three years 
is a little less than seventy pounds ; or not far from $233. 
Yet this small sum, as it would now be reckoned, was not 
provided for him without difficulty ; as appears from his 
father's letters. His clothing was furnished from home. Of 
the above sum, about six pounds ($20) were spent for three 
works, purchased in his Senior year, which are not usually 
found in the libraries of college students, viz. Prideaux's Con- 
nections, Rollin's Ancient History, and Robertson's History 
of Charles the Fifth. These were fine English editions, well 
bound, and are still in the hands of his children. Deducting 
this amount, the average of his annual expenses in college 
would seem to have been not far from $75 a year. 

Of his habits of study in college nothing is known ; but he 
was a successful student. This appears from his tutor's re- 
port to Master Tisdale as above related ; and also from his 
high standing in the class. After one year spent at New Ha- 
ven, the question appears to have been agitated, whether h' 
should not remove to Harvard College. This was not unnat- 
ural ; since his grandfather, his uncle Trumbull, his teacher 
Master Tisdale, as also his cousins of the Trumbull family, 
were all educated at Harvard. His father wisely left the mat- 
ter to his own decision ; and Master Tisdale wrote, apparently 
dissuading him from the step, and saying that " he had much 
the lead where he now was." The project appears to have 
been abandoned before the middle of his Junior year.* 

In 1773, his Senior year, he took the Berkeley prize for 
declamation ; such being the way in which the funds given to 
the college by Dean Berkeley were to be partly appropriated. 
The prize that year was a copy of Mill's Septuagint, in two 
volumes duodecimo, now in the possession of the writer, 

Robinson's most intimate associate and friend in the class, 
was Ezra Sampson, who was five and a half years older than 
himself. Of him he used in after life to relate, that he was 
the Sampson of the class, in physical strength as well as in in- 

* Ichabod Robinson's Letters of Sept. 9, 1771, and Feb. 28, 1772. 

Sect. I.] YALE COLLEGE. 69 

tellect ; and that to liim of right belonged, and was awarded, 
the first standing in his class : though, in consequence of his 
subsequent non-residence, the benefit devolved on Robinson. 
This was the position of first " Scholar of the House" on the 
Berkeley foundation ; Mr. Robinson being the second. 

At that time, in Yale College, a valedictory oration by a 
member of the graduating class, now regarded as the first 
honour, had not yet been introduced. The valedictory, in 
those days, was in Latin ; and, like various other orations, 
was delivered by a candidate for the degree of Master of Arts. 
The present form of the valedictory was introduced in a. d. 
1*798 ; but for nearly thirty years it was not necessarily, nor in 
all cases, given to the best scholar. Since 1835, however, it 
has been regularly so assigned ; and by the public it has ever 
been considered as the highest appointment."''' 

The scholarship established by Dean Berkeley, afterwards 
bishop of Cloyne in Ireland, known also as " the Dean's 
Bounty," was founded in 1733 ; when the Dean gave to the 
Corporation of Yale College his farm of ninety-six acres, situ- 
ated in Newport, R. I. for the purposes and on the conditions 
following, viz. : 

I. That the rents of the farm should be appropriated to 
the maintenance and subsistence of the three best scholars in 
Greek and Latin in each class, who should be called Scholars 
of the House, and reside in college at least nine months of each 
year between their first and second degrees. 

II. That on the sixth day of May annually, or in case 
that should be Sunday, on the seventh, the candidates should 
be publicly examined by the President or Rector, and the 
senior [Episcopal] Missionary within the colony, who should 
be present ; and in case none should be present, then by the 
President alone. 

III. That all surplus moneys which should happen by any 
vacancies cr non-residence, should be distributed in prizes of 
Greek and Latin books to such under-graduate students as 

* See more iu Appendix C. 

70 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

should make the best composition or declamation, in the Latin 
tongue, upon such a moral theme as should be given them.* 

In accordance with the requisitions of the Dean's scholar- 
ship, Mr. Robinson was, on the 6 th of May, 1773, elected one 
of the Scholars of the House, as appears from the following 
record : f 

1773. Memorandum. That on this 6th day of May, a. d. 1773, we the 
subscribers, having publicly examined, in the college chapel, according to 
the directions of Dean Berkeley's deed, all those that offered themselves 
candidates for the donation therein specified, do elect Ezra Sampson first 
Scholar of the House. We do also elect William Robinson and Roger 
Alden to be Scholars of the House. Naphtali Daggett, Pres*. 

Bela Hubbard, Sen'' Missionary. 

Mr. Sampson did not reside ; and of course received no 
portion of the bounty. Mr. Eobinson, as we shall see, resided 
only during his third year, from the autumn of 1775 till the 
summer of 1776. 

The public commencement of the class took place on the 
second Wednesday or 8th day of September, 1773. As was 
then usual, the candidates for the degree of Master of Arts 
took a large share in the proceedings. The following account 
of this commencement is copied from the Connecticut Journal, 
the newspaper then published in New Haven, dated Friday, 
Sept. 10, 1773 : 

Last Wednesday the Public Commencement was attended in this 
town. The Exercises in the forenoon were introduced with Prayer by 
the Rev'd President [Daggett]. A Latin Salutatory Oration was pro- 
nounced by Mr. Wyllys ; succeeded by syllogistic Disputations. Then 
followed a Forensic Debate by Messrs.J Beckwith, Fairchild, Mead, and 
Flint, on this question: Whether a large Metropolis icoiilcl le of yuhlie 
advantage to this Colony ? This was succeeded by a Dialogue in English, 
by Messrs. Alden, Keys, and Marvin, on the three learned Professions ; 
and an English Oration on Prejudice, by Mr. Williams. The Exercises in 
the forenoon were then closed with an Anthem. 

* See more in Appendix C. 

■j- Register of the Berkeley Scholarship. 

jj. As the title Mr. is above rightly used to mark a candidate for the Master's 
degree, the application of Messrs. in the plural, to members of the graduating class, 
■would seem to be hardly appropriate. 


In the afternoon the Exercises were introduced by an English Oration 
on the state of Private Schools in this Colony, by Mr. Davenport. This 
was succeeded by a Latin syllogistic Disputation ; which was followed by 
a Forensic Debate, by Messrs. Hale,* Sampson, Robinson, and Tallmadge, 
on this question : Whether the Education of Daughters le not, loithoutany 
just reason, more neglected than that of Sons ? After the usual Degrees 
were conferred on the Candidates, the Exercises were closed by a Latin 
Valedictory Oration by Mr. Lewis, an elegant Anthem, and a suitable 
Prayer by the President. 

The degrees conferred are recorded in the Triennial Cata- 
logue of the college. Among the honorary degrees were that 
of D. D. conferred on the Kev. Solomon Williams of Lebanon, 
and that of LL. D. on Kichard Jackson, Esq. of London. 

The question discussed by Eobinson and his colleagues, on 
female education, was a theme which, to judge from the or- 
thography and grammar of the correspondence of ladies of 
that day, was not wholly inappropriate. 

The next two years were spent by Mr. Eobinson as teacher 
of a school in Windsor, Conn. Of the character of this school 
nothing is known ; and the fact of his residence there appears 
only from a few letters, preserved not by himself, but at his 
home in Lebanon. He at this time corresponded with several 
of his college classmates, as Sampson, Tallmadge, the two 
Hales ; and also afterwards with William Lockwood, who was 
a year after him in college, and with his cousin John Trum- 
bull, whose letters are mostly dated from the American army. 
Yery few of these letters have been preserved ; and they aflFord 
scarcely any facts illustrative of his personal history. Early 
during his residence in Windsor, he appears to have made the 
acquaintance of Miss Wolcott of East Windsor, to whom he 
became attached, and whom he afterwards married. f 

* That this was Nathan Hale, is stated in Stnarf s Life of Nathan Hale, p. 21 . 

•j- Id Stuart's Life of Nathan Hale, p. 28, is given an extract of a letter, dated 
January 20, 1774, from William Robinson to Nathan Hale, then at East Haddam ; 
comp. pp. 21, 22 : " My school is not large ; my neighbours are kind and clever ; 
and (siimmatim) my distance from a house on your side of the river, -which contains 
an object worthy the esteem of every one, and, as I conclude, has yours in an es- 
pecial manner, is not great." The place here referred to can only be East Windsor ; 
and the object was probably ]Miss Wolcott, with whom Hale doubtless was acquainted. 
Mr. Stuart refers the passage to Alice Adams, to whom Hale was betrothed while 
yet in college. But she hved in his father's family in Coventry. Ihid. 

72 MEMOIR. [Paet II. 

In the autumn of 1775, Mr. Eobinson returned to New 
Haven as a ' Scholar of the House ; ' and received his propor- 
tion of the Dean's bounty tor that year. The following receipt 
is in his own handwriting : 

New Eaven, Rov. 5. 1776. 
Rec'^ of the Rev. President Daggett the sum of eleven Pounds two 
shillings and two pence halfpenny, as my proportion in full of Dean Berke- 
ley's Donation, due to me as resident Scholar of the House for the year 
ending Sep' 1776. Wm. Robinson.* 

At New Haven Eobinson now entered upon and pursued the 
study of theology. At that period Timothy D wight and Jo- 
seph Buckminster were tutors in Yale College ; and both were 
apparently already preparing for the work of the Grospel min- 
istry. Mr. Robinson stood in close relations of friendship 
with both these eminent men, which continued through life. 
But under whose guidance and counsel the three pursued their 
theological studies, is unknown. There appears not to exist 
any college record or tradition on the subject. President 
Daggett was then Professor of Divinity ; but whether he also 
gave private instruction in theology, we are not informed. 
This is not improbable ; for Mr. Piobinson, as well as the other 
two, was in close connection with the college.f 

On the 5th of May, 1776, Mr. Robinson united with the 
church in Yale College. On this occasion he wrote a solemn 
private covenant, in which he consecrated himself to the 
service of Grod and the Lord Jesus Christ ; and in which tlie 
prayer is prominent, that he may be made instrumental in 
doing good to God's heritage. This covenant was found after 
his decease, among his most private papers, nearly fifty years 
after its date. No other mortal eye had seen it meantime ; 
but the spirit of his whole life was the spirit of that covenant. 

He was licensed to preach the Gospel by the New Haven 
Association, at Wallingford, May 29, 1776. His certificate 

* Register of the Berkeley Scholarship. 

f The Memoirs ofDwight and Buckminster throw no light whatever on this 
subject. Nor does there appear to be any tradition respecting it among their 


of license, in the beautiful handwriting of Benjamin Trumbull, 
the venerable historian of Connecticut, is still extant. He 
preached his first sermon Sept. 1, 1776, in the parish of Goshen 
in Lebanon. 

A few days later, at the commencement in Yale College, 
he took the degree of Master of Arts in course. But I do not 
remember ever to have seen the usual A. M. connected with 
his name. 

During the ensuing two years, Mr. Robinson appears to 
have occupied himself with study, with the preparation of 
sermons, and in frequent preaching. He made Lebanon his 
home ; and most of the remaining letters of his correspondents, 
during the interval, are directed to that place. Yet he was 
not uufrequently in New Haven ; and preached in various 
places in the vicinity of Lebanon, New Haven, and Hartford. 
In October, 1776, he preached in Hatfield, Mass. being then, 
it would seem, on a visit to his friend and former tutor, Mr. 
Lynran ; who was settled in Hatfield in March, 1772. In 
March and April, 1777, Mr. Robinson had an engagement to 
preach for six weeks at Killingworth. In the course of the 
season following, there are notes of his having preached at New 
Haven, Hartford, Wethersfield, Windsor, East Windsor, 
Hadley, Mass. and several other places. 

In November, 1777, a committee of the Ecclesiastical So- 
ciety in Northampton applied to Mr. Robinson to preach for 
several weeks in that place. The letter was delivered to him 
by his fiiend, Mr. Lyman ; and the application was probably 
made at his suo-gestion. It was understood to be made with 
a view to his subsequent settlement as the pastor of that church. 
This invitation he declined absolutely ; partly because of 
his youth and inexperience ; (he was then twenty-three years 
old ;) expressing also his determination not to settle in the 
ministry immediately. What would have been the result, had 
he thus entered upon a different sphere of life, and become a 
successor of Jonathan Edwards, no one of course can tell. But 
not improbably his career of usefulness would have been very 

74 MEMOIR. [P^uiT II. 

different ; and his memory might have stood forth before the 
world, not as a follower, but as a leader, in the profound theo- 
logical discussions of those days. 

The Rev. Ezra Stiles D. D. having been elected President 
of Yale College, and having removed his family to New Haven, 
was inducted into office by the Rev. Warham Williams as a 
committee of the Corporation, June 23, 1778. At the same 
time Mr. Robinson and Mr. Atwater were inducted as Tutors.* 
They succeeded John Lewis and Joseph Buckminster ; Abra- 
ham Baldwin remaining as the Senior Tutor. Dr. Stiles was 
inaugurated a fortnight later, July 8, 1778 ; when Mr. Robin- 
son appeared as one of the Tutors in the procession. f He 
took charge of the Sophomore class ; and remained in office 
until the commencement in September of the following year. 

In June, 1779, by the resignation of his colleague Abraham 
Baldwin, he became Senior Tutor ; and as such delivered the 
usual farewell address to the Senior class, at the time of their 
early dismissal before commencement. Mr. Baldwin was suc- 
ceeded by William Lockwood, the friend and correspondent of 
Mr. Robinson. When the latter gave up his charge, his place 
was filled by Ehzur Goodrich. In his letters, Mr. Robinson 
speaks of his situation in the college as " on many accounts 
pleasing and advantageous ; " and mentions the fact, that 
"college affairs went on withregularity and order." In April 
the class under his care made him the customary present of a 
" genteel seal ring," in token of their affection and esteem. 
This was first used in sealing a letter to Miss Wolcott, to 
whom he was now engaged ; and both the impression and the 
ring yet remain. $ 

During his residence as Tutor in the college, Mr. Robinson 
continued to preach occasionally in New Haven and the adja- 
cent towns ; especially in Southington. Three Sabbaths of the 

* Records of the Corporation. — Mr. Atwater was afterwards the Rev. Noah 
Atwater of Westfield, Mass. 

•j- An account of the inauguration was published in the Connecticut Journal of 
the time ; and is copied in Barber's Connecticut Historical Collections, p. 177. 

X Letter, to Miss W. April 8, 1779. 


winter vacation were spent at Norwalk. In tlie May vacation 
there is a note of his having preached at Norwich ; and he 
visited Lebanon, East Windsor, Hartford, etc. After giving 
up his office at commencement, he made a journey up the 
valley of the Connecticut river, as far as to Dartmouth college ; 
where he notes having preached in September, 1779. 

It was during his residence at New Haven as a theological 
student and as Tutor, that Mr. Eobinson became personally 
acquainted with the justly celebrated theologian, the Rev. Dr. 
Bellamy. He always spoke of him with profound respect and 
veneration ; and probably received from him stronger influences 
in reference to his theological views, than from any other per- 
son. Yet it does not appear that he was ever a pupil of Bel- 
lamy, or ever visited him at his home. But his theological 
system was more conformed to that of the latter, than to any 

He loved to relate anecdotes of Dr. Bellamy ; most of 
which are well known. When the Doctor was once asked, if in 
preaching in the college chapel he did not feel abashed before 
so many learned men; "Not in the least," he replied, "ex- 
cepting only the Sophomores." — Not long after Mr. Robinson 
was settled. Dr. Bellamy sent word to Mr. Upson of Kensing- 
ton, (I think,) that on a certain day he should pass through 
the place, and would dine with him. Several young ministers 
of the vicinity, his disciples, were invited to meet him. After 
dinner the Doctor proposed, as a topic of conversation, the in- 
quiry : " Why was Judas permitted to be so long the com- 
panion of our Lord, when the latter knew him from the first 
to be a traitor ? " Some answered the question in one way, 
and some in another. Finally, Dr. Bellamy said : " You are 
all wrong ; it was that he might be at last an unimpeachable 
witness to the innocence and purity of our Lord's character." 

76 MEMOIR. [Part II. 


His Settlement in Southington. 

As the town of Southington became the field of Mr. Rob- 
inson's labours during the remainder of his life, a few words 
respecting its history may here not be out of place. 

The town is situated on the westernmost road leading 
from New Haven to Hartford, nearly midway between the two 
cities ; its centre being about twenty miles distant from the 
former and eighteen from the latter. It has Cheshire on 
the south, and Farmington on the north. It was originally a 
part of the township of Farmington. It occupies a broad 
rolling tract, interspersed with several plains, lying between 
two parallel ridges of mountains ; the range of East or High 
Rock and the Blue Hills on the east, by which it is separated 
from Berlin ; .and the Green Mountain range on the west, 
which extends to West Rock near New Haven. West of 
Southington, and occupying the rugged table land upon the 
mountain, there was formed later an ecclesiastical society made 
up from a corner of Farmington and a portion of Waterbury ; 
and therefore called Farmingbury. It is now the town of 
Wolcott. The area of Southington may be regarded as a 
square of about six miles on each side. 

In the early years of the last century, several families would 
appear to have fixed themselves here as settlers, principally 
from Farmington. This was before 1722 ; in which year the 
tract was first surveyed and divided into lots.* Among the 

* Prof. Porter's Historical Discourse on Farmington, p. 39. 


names of the settlers, the following are reported : Andrus, 
Barns, Clark, Ciirtiss, Dunham, Gridley, Hart, Langdon, Lee, 
Lewis, Newell, Eoot, Woodruff, and others. These names are 
still frequent in Southington ; and most of them, if not all, in 
Farmington likewise. 

The following sketch, prepared by the late Judge Lowry 
of Southington, explains the manner in which the Ecclesiastical 
Society in that town was originally founded :"'•' 

" The early records of this church, and of the society, for 
many years after the settlement of the first minister in 1728, 
are very imperfect ; and there is no record extant, either of 
the church or society, from the time the society was incorpo- 
rated until 1728. 

"Prior to 1721, the territory comprised within the present 
limits of the town of Southington, was inhabited by a few 
families. They were probably a part of the original propri- 
etors of Farmington, or their descendants. They attended 
upon the preaching of the Kev. Samuel Whitman, who was 
then the settled minister in Farmington ; and paid their 
taxes there for the support of religious worship. They were 
called ' The Farmers south of the Town,' and sometimes ' the 
Southern Farmers.' 

" The great inconvenience of attending public worship at so 
great a distance, especially in the winter season, induced the 
Southern Farmers to apply to the society in Farmington, for 
the privilege of setting up a meeting among themselves in the 
winter season ; and at a society meeting held in Farmington, 
December 18, 1721, the following vote was passed : 

" That in consideration of the Farmers south of the Town having hired 
Mr. Buck to preach among them this winter season, to abate the said Farm- 
ers one third part of each their proportion towards the payment of Mr. 
Whitman's rate. 

* Prefixed to the " Confession of Faith and Covenant of the Congregational 
Church in Southington;" printed in 1851. 

78 MEMOIR. [Pakt n. 

" The following year, December 10, 1722, a similar vote 
was passed ; abating, however, one half of the tax payable by 
them to Mr. Whitman, upon condition that the said Farmers 
hire a minister to preach among them three months in the win- 
ter season. And at the same meeting, upon the application of 
the Southern Farmers, a committee was appointed, to con- 
sider and make report upon the propriety of said JSouthern 
Farmers constituting a ministerial society among themselves. 
This committee consisted of Mr. John Hooker, Samuel Wads- 
worth, and Samuel Newell ; who, at a meeting of the society 
held in Farmington, December 26, 1723, made their report, 
in which they say : 

" That having considered the application of the Farmers south of the 
Town, to become a distinct ministerial society by themselves, they are of 
opinion, that considering the weakness and inability of said Farmers, at 
the present, it is nearest their duty to content themselves in the way they 
are now in, for another year or years ; yet they are willing to give them 
all reasonable encouragement, so soon as they are able. But if nothing 
else will content them but to become a distinct society now, and a major 
part shall see fit to gratify them, that they ought to be set oflF. subject to 
certain conditions. 

" [Among these conditions was this, that the new society, at their first 
meeting, should fix upon a place for a meeting house ; and should lay a 
tax sufficient to raise the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds, current 
money, which should be carefully laid out in building the first meeting 

"The question being put to the society, if they consented that the 
Southern Farmers might be a ministerial society, according to the terms of 
said report, the answer thereto was in the affirmative by a clear major 

" This vote was passed December 26, 1723 ; and at the 
next session of the General Assembly, the following petition 
was presented in behalf of said Southern Farmers : 

" To the Honourcible the General Assembly^ sitting at Hartford., May 
the lUh, 1724. 

"The memorial of Benjamin Denton and the rest of the inhabitants of 
a place called Panthorn, in the southwesterly part of Farmington, humbly 
sheweth ; that the first society in Farmington, (to which we at present 
belong,) at their meeting the 26th of December, 1723, solemnly reflecting 


upon our extreme remoteness from the place of God's public worship, 
etc. granted us their consent, to be a society by ourselves. 

" Whereupon we entreat your Honours to grant us the privilege of a 
parish, within the following bounds ; that is, all that division of land called 
and known by the name of Division South from the town, between the 
mountains ; to abut on the east and west bounds of said division, east 
and west ; south to the extent of the bounds of the said Farmington ; 
northward so far as said division extends, including those three families, 
Samuel Stanley, Joseph Andrus. and John Andrus, eastward of that 
called the Pond river, on that called reserved land, at the north-east comer 
of said division. Benjamin Denton, 

for himself and the rest. 

" Hartford, May the 16, 1724. 

" This petition was granted by the General Assembly, and 
a bill in form passed, incorporating said inhabitants as a sepa- 
rate society ; but it does not appear that any other corporate 
name was given to the society, than the one mentioned in the 
foregoing petition. The Kmits of the society have remained 
as they were then established ; with the exception of some little 
alteration in the eastern boundary, made in or about the year 

" At a meeting of the society held in 1726, Samuel An- 
drus being clerk, a vote was taken appointing James Pike as 
their agent on behalf of himself and the rest of said society, 
to petition the legislature, for liberty to lay a tax of two pence 
on the acre on non-residents' lands. In compliance with his 
instructions, he presented his petition to the General Assembly 
in 1726, in which it is stated : 

" That through the great indulgence of the Assembly, they have laid 
the foundation of a new Society for their attendance on public worship ; 
that they have already been in considerable advance towards accommoda- 
ting a Gospel Minister in his settlement ; and that much more must of 
necessity be advanced, in building a meeting house, minister's house, and 
other things requisite for a Society ; that as it is the common fate of new 
beginning Societies, so we, wanting money to carry on those aifairs, from 
your Honours' wonted goodness in such cases, are emboldened to make 
this address ; that is, to lay a tax of two pence on the acre, on non-resi- 
dents' lands. 

80 MEMOIR. [Paet II. 

" This petition was granted, and they were authorised to 
levy a tax of one penny on the acre, for twelve years, on the 
lands of non-residents ; and, at the same time, the name of 
Southington was established by the General Assembly, as the 
name of the society. 

" From these facts it appears, that the society, at its first 
organization, was small and feeble. Yet they proceeded at once 
to build their meeting-house ; which was erected at the south- 
east part of the burying-ground, about one mile north of the 
present meeting-house.* The house was small, as appears by 
the timbers, which now constitute the frame of a building near 
the centre of the town. It is probable, that they commenced 
meeting in their new house about the year 1726 ; as they 
commenced burying in the grave-yard, near where the house 
stood, about that time.f 

" No ipention is made of any minister, except Mr, Buck, 
before the settlement of Mr. Curtiss in 1728 ; nor can it be 
known with certainty, who were the first members of the 
church. The names of Hart, Woodruff, Barns, Upson, Dun- 
ham, and Clark, occur most frequently in the early records of 
the settlement ; and probably some of them were among the 
founders of the society, and the first members of the church. 
But of this we have no recorded evidence. 

" We cannot now realize the inconvenience under which 
the early settlers of this society laboured, and the sacrifices 
which they made, in establishing and maintaining the religious 
institutions, which they have transmitted to us. These were 
the first objects of their toil and care ; and it should be our 
great object to maintain the fundamental doctrines of the Gos 
pel, and to inculcate upon those who come after us the impor- 
tance of supporting the worship of our fathers' God." 

* My own impression has always been, that this first meeting-house stood west 
of the path leading througli the burying-ground from south to north, about mid- 
way of the surface of the hill ; at a sightly spot over against two large trees ; 
where formerly there were traces of earlier foundations. Still another tradition 
places it in the field lying south of the bvirying-ground. — More in accordance with 
usao-e, and therefore more probable, is the sightlier spot. — E. K. 

°\ The earliest stone I was ever able to find, many years ago, bore the date of 
1726.— E. R. 


As illustrating sonie of the inconveniences above referred 
to, I remember the tradition current in my boyhood, and 
perhaps still current, that before the formation of the society, 
while the people yet attended on the ministry of Mr. Whit- 
man, many were accustomed to go on foot to Farmington on 
Saturday afternoon, a distance of seven or eight miles ; and 
return after the public services on Sunday. 

No church appears to have been constituted until the year 
1728 ; when the Rev. Jeremiah Curtiss was chosen the first 
Pastor. He was a native of the place ;'•* was graduated at 
Yale College in 1724 ; and was ordained as Pastor, November 
19, 1728. The earliest deacons, Thomas Barnes and Samuel 
Woodruff, were chosen a week later, November 27, 1728. The 
ministry of Mr. Curtiss continued for twenty-seven years ; he 
having been dismissed in November, 1755. He continued 
to reside in the place for nearly forty years afterwards ; and 
died March 21, 1795, at the age of eighty-eight years. The 
following is the inscription over his grave : 

This MoxuMEXT is 

erected in Memory of the 

Rev. Jeeemiah Cuetiss. 

He early devoted himself to the 

Gospel [Ministry. 

He was settled Nov. 1728, in the 23d year 

of his age, and continued in that work till 

he was regularly dismissed, Nov. 1754.t 

Integrity, meekness, and humility, 

were conspicuous and acknowledged 

parts of his character, both in 

public and private life. 
He died March 21, 1795, in the 

89th year of his age. 
The memory of the Just is blessed. 

* In my childhood, a sayiug of his was current in tradition to the efifect, " that 
he was bom while his father and mother were both gone to meeting ; " that is to 
say, while they were absent from home, over Sunday, in Farmington. 

f This date, 1754, is ^^Tong. The church records give it correctly as 1755. 
The list of admissions to the church, during his ministry, closes Sept. 28, 1755. 



32 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

His successor was the Eev. Benjamin Chapman ; who 
graduated at the College of New Jersey at Princeton in 1754 ; 
and was ordained Pastor over the church in Southington, 
March 17, 1756. He was dismissed September 28, 1774, 
after a ministry of more than eighteen years ; but continued 
to reside in the place until his decease, June 22, 1786, aged 
sixty-one years. The following is his brief epitaph : 

This Stone is erected 

ia memory of 

Eev. Benjamin Chapman, 

who died June 26, 1786, 

Aged 62 years.* 

From the time of Mr. Chapman's dismissal until 1780, 
a period of more than five years, the church was without a 

There is no record extant of the names or number of the 
original members of the church. During 1729, the year fol- 
lowing the settlement of Mr. Curtiss, twenty-five persons were 
admitted ; and in 1741, twenty-eight. The whole number 
admitted by him, during his ministry of tv/enty-seven years, 
was two hundred and nineteen. The records kept by Mr. 
Chapman, it seems, were so irregular and confused, that the 
number of admissions during his ministry, and until the settle- 
ment of Mr. Robinson, cannot now be ascertained. There is 
therefore a blank, extending from the beginning of 1756 to the 
close of 1779. 

To judge from the preceding statements, the church in 
Southington, during the ministry of Mr. Curtiss, and appa- 
rently under that of Mr. Chapman, was not without a good 
degree of prosperity. It partook also in the movement and 
results of the " Great Awakening" in 1740 and the following 
years. The people were mostly farmers, residing upon their 
separate farms, some in remote parts of the town. Few, if 

* Here again the figures vary from those of the church records. The latter 
place his decease, June 22, 1786, aged 61 years. 


any of them, were " rich in this world's goods ; " but they ap- 
pear to have been moral in their habits, well instructed in the 
doctrines and duties of the Gospel, and regular in their attend- 
ance on the services of the sanctuary. There was not much of 
literary cultivation among them. I am not iware of more than 
four natives of the place who were graduated at Yale College 
prior to 1780, all of whom became ministers of the Gospel, 
viz. the Eev. Mr. Curtiss in 1724; the Kev. Samuel Newell of 
Bristol in 1739 ; the Rev. Levi Hart D. D. of Preston, in 
1760 ; and the Rev. LeviLankton of Alstead, N. H. in 1777.** 
Nor does it appear that down to the same period and later, 
any person educated at college resided in the place, except 
the ministers. 

The soil of the township, at the present day, is in general 
of moderate fertility ; and much of it is very easy of tillage. 
It is best adapted to the production of rye, oats, and Indian 
corn ; and with proper culture, large crops are not unfrequently 
obtained. As in all New England, so here, the land has long 
been worn out in respect to wheat ; though this grain formerly 
flourished well upon its warm and loamy plains.f A century 
ago the people of the neighbouring towns rather looked down 
upon Southington. According to the testimony of aged per- 
sons, living at the close of the last century, the phrase " poor 
as Panthorn " was a proverbial expression to denote abject 
poverty. At the time of Mr. Robinson's settlement, it was 
even doubted, whether they would be able to support a min- 
ister. This, however, was during the last half of the revolu- 
tionary war ; when money was depreciated, and every branch 
of industry and labour depresped. The little produce which 
the farmers were able to raise, could hardly be converted into 
money on any terms. 

It appears by the preceding documents, that the name 
Southington was not given to the society until 1726. Before 
that time it was known, sometimes at least, as Panthorn ; 
the occasion of which name is not known. It has usually been 

* Sprague's Annals, 11. p. 373. 
•j- Porter's Histor. Discourse, p. 39. 

iB4 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

regarded as a nickname ; but it is found in the earliest pe- 
tition of the inhabitants to the legislature, as above given. 

The society, as we have seen, was small and feeble in its 
beginning. The first house of worship on the hill now occu- 
pied by the burying-ground, over which the broad highway 
once ran in a straight course, gave place in 1757 to the second 
meeting-house, which stood near the middle of the village 
green, In connection with it, a tall and graceful steeple was 
erected by subscription in 1797.* The sound of the fine- 
toned bell I still remember with pleasure. This second house 
served as the place of worship for more than seventy years ; 
until superseded by the present edifice, which was dedicated 
June 16, 1830. 

Southington was incorporated as a town by the legislature, 
at its October session in 1779. The boundary lines were then 
defined as follows : South, by the north line of Cheshire and 
Meriden ; West, by the town of Waterbury ; North, by a 
highway between Farmington, New Cambridge (Bristol), and 
Southington ; East, beginning at the north-east corner of 
Southington, in a twenty-rod highway, until it meets Meriden 
north line. — This western boundary, of course, included that 
portion of the society of Farmingbury (now Wolcott), which 
belonged originally to Farmington. 

During the visits of Mr. Robinson at New Haven, he had 
occasionally preached at Southington, as early as February, 
1777, if not before that time. In March, 1778, before his re- 
turn to Yale College as Tutor, the society voted to " apply 
to Mr. Robinson to continue to preach with us." This he ap- 
pears to have done, though not regularly ; for in December of 
that year we find his friend Lock wood just closing an engage- 
ment there. At the same time, December 7, 1778, the society 
voted, that their committee should "apply to Mr. William 
Robinson, Tutor at Yale College, to come and settle with us 
in the work of the Gospel ministry." 

* Society Records. 


The further progress of the matter is shown by the follow- 
ing votes of the society : 

February 1, 1779. Voted, that the Committee apply to Mr. Robinson, 
and inform (him) that we still continue our call to him to come with us in 
the work of the Gospel ministry ; and to desire him to come and preach 
with us, as soon as his circumstances will admit. 

September 6, 1779. Voted, that we continue to give Mr. Robinson 
a call to settle with us in the work of the Gospel ministry. 

Voted, to choose a Committee to confer together and agree upon a sum, 
that shall be thought proper to propose to JNIr. Robinson for a settlement 
and salary ; and also to prepare a vote to lay before the society for their 

September 10, 1779. The Committee appointed to consider of proposals 
to be made to Mr. Robinson, reported their opinion ; upon which : 

Voted, to give Mr. Robinson, on condition of his settling in the work 
of the Gospel ministry in Southington, one hundred pounds lawful money 
salary, to be annually paid by the first day of March ; in Wheat at four 
shillings per bushel, or Rye at two shillings and eight pence per bushel, or 
Indian Corn at two shillings per bushel, or current money equivalent 
thereunto ; and also to deliver twenty-live cords of firewood, cut fit for use, 
at his dwelling-house annually by the first day of March : during his con- 
tinuance in the work of the Gospel ministry in said Southington. 

And also two hundred pounds settlement, viz. one hundred pounds to 
be paid within one year after his ordination, at the same rates and in the 
same manner as is above mentioned ; and the remainder, or the other hun- 
dred pounds, within two years after his ordination, to be paid in the same 
manner as is above written. 

Voted, that Mr. Jonathan Root, Capt. Timothy Clark, and John Cui-- 
tiss, be a Committee to wait on Mr. Robinson, and acquaint him with the 
above vote, and request of him an answer. 

The Society having thus completed its call and proposals 
to Mr. Robinson, the Church also took action in the matter ; 
and on the sixth of October, 1779, made choice of Mr. Robin- 
son as their Pastor. A committee, consisting of Deac. Timo- 
thy Clark, Deac. Jonathan Woodruff, and Lieut. Aaron Web- 
ster, was appointed to wait on Mr. Robinson, to inform him of 
the said choice and request an answer. 

On the 15th of November, 1779, adjourned meetings of 
both the Society and Church were held ; and the following 
answer of Mr. Robinson, in writing, was laid before them : 

86 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

^^ To the Church and Society in Soutldngton. 
"■ Brethren and Beloved, 

■'' He who is King in Zion, having put it into your hera'ts 
earnestly to desire the re-settlement of the Gospel ministry 
among you ; having in the course of his providence caused a 
remarkable union to take place ; and having also caused, that 
this union should centre upon me as its object ; I have thought 
it my duty to take your call into serious and careful consider- 

" Notwithstanding my own unworthiness and the great 
importance of the undertaking ; relying on the favour and 
assistance of Him, whose grace I humbly hope will be suf- 
ficient for me ; I had determined in early life to spend and 
be spent in the service of my Master, in the character of a 
Minister. Being sent for by you, therefore, I made no hesitJi- 
tion in coming unto you. I have laboured with you for several 
njonths ; in which time you have had opportunity to become 
acquainted with my manner of life and preaching. 

" As a people, you have ever appeared disposed to lend 
me an attentive ear, while explaining the great things of the 
Kingdom ; and now, in a deliberate manner, have kindly de- 
sired me to take the immediate charge and oversight of you as 
a Church and people. You have further evidenced the sin- 
cerity of your desires and affection, by engaging, according to 
Gospel rule, to furnish me with a handsome and generous sub- 
sistence during my continuance with you in the important 
woik. From such favourable beginnings, I have been induced 
to ho])e for happy consequences. 

" Having taken the matter into serious consideration, and 
having endeavoured to make use of every proper help for 
rightly determining my judgment, / do now therefore signify 
my acceptance of your call ; relying upon you for every 
proper encouragement ; and promising, by Divine assistance, 
to be a steady and faithful Pastor to your souls. 

" I have said, ' I do now signify my acceptance of your 
call.' Upon this give me leave to observe, that although 


there has been nothing in your conduct, which gives me the 
least ground to suspect your sincerity ; yet when I observe 
the manner in which the best, the most faithful and respecta- 
ble ministers in the country, are treated at the present day, I 
feel myself necessitated to proceed with the utmost care and 
circumspection. I feel myself necessitated to bear public tes- 
timony against the gross fraud, which is now almost universally 
practised in the payment of salaries ; and to assure you, that 
as I mean to devote my life to your service, I shall depend 
upon your punctually complying, at all times, with the full 
spirit and intention of your proposals. While this is the case, 
(and I flatter myself it will always be so,) you may rest assured, 
that the main object of my attention shall be the interests of 
your precious and immortal souls. 

" Now that grace and mercy may so abound among us, as 
that your minister may come to you in the spirit of the Mas- 
ter, in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of peace ; and 
that you, by your Christian conduct, may encourage his heart 
and strengthen his hands in the performance of his work, is 
the sincere desire and prayer to Grod of him who subscribes 

" Your friend and servant in the Lord, 

" William Eobinson. 
" Southington, November 15, 1779." 

After the reading of this reply, the Society voted " to 
accept the answer of Mr. Robinson to their call, given in 
writing." They also appointed Mr. Jonathan Root, Capt. 
Daniel Lankton, and Lieut. Aaron Webster, " to be a Com- 
mittee to join with the Church's Committee, to consult with 
Mr. Robinson and appoint the time for his ordination." Three 
weeks later they chose Mr. Jonathan Root, Capt. Asa Bray, 
and Capt. Reuben Hart, as a Committee " to represent the 
Society before the ordaining Council." 

On the same day with the Society, and at another subse- 
quent meeting, the Church adopted the following votes : 

88 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

November 15, 1779. Voted^ to comply with Mr. Robinson's answer 
with respect to his settling in the work of the Gospel ministry with the 
said Church. 

At the same meeting, Deac. Jame.s Smith, Deac. Timothy Clark, Deac. 
Jonathan Woodruff, Capt. Josiah Cowles, and Lieut. Jonathan Andrews, 
were chosen a Committee, to confer with Mr. Robinson upon a Plan of 
Church Discipline, and exhibit the same to the next Church meeting. 

Voted also, that Deac. Timothy Clark be appointed to wait on the 
Committee of the Association, to take their directions respecting the ex- 
amination of Mr. Robinson. 

November SO, 1779. The Committee appointed at the last meeting, to 
confer with Mr. Robinson upon a Plan of Church Discipline, reported, that 
they had agreed with Mr. Robinson upon a Confession of Faith, Church 
Covenant, and Articles of Discipline ; and exhibited the same. 

Voted, to adopt unanimously the Confession of Faith and Church Cove- 

Voted also to adopt the Articles of Church Discipline. 

Voted^ that Captain Josiah Cowles, Deac. Timothy Clark, Lieut. Aaron 
Webster, and John Curtiss, be a Committee to wait on Mr. Robinson, in 
order to agree with him upon a time for his ordination ; and also to agree 
upon an ordaining Council, and to send letters to them in the name of the 

Voted, that the same Committee be desired to appoint a day for the 
Church fast, previous to ordination ; and invite two of the neighbouring 
Ministers to preach upon it. 

The Confession of Faith and Covenant, thus unanimously 
adopted by the church, were drawn up by Mr. Robinson ; and 
have remained until the present day in full validity and with- 
out change.* 

The day of the ordination was appointed for Wednesday, 
the 12th day of Januaiy, 1780 ; and letters of invitation to 
join in the ordaining Council were sent to the churches in 
Farmington, New Cambridge (now Bristol), Farmingbury, 
Cheshire, and Kensington, President Stiles had consented to 
preach the sermon ; and a separate letter of invitation was 
sent to him personally. The church in Yale College, of which 
Mr. Robinson was a member, and of which the Rev. Dr. Dag- 

* See the " Confession of Faith and Covenant of the Congregational Church in 
Southington," printed in 1851. 


gett, as Professor of Divinity, was still Pastor, seems not to 
have been invited ; or, at least, was not represented. 

The letter to Dr. Stiles has been preserved in connection 
with his Diary. It is in the handwriting of Mr. Kobinson ; 
and reads as follows : 

The Church of Christ in Southington, to the Rev. Ezra Stiles D. D. 
President of Yale College, sendeth greeting : 

It having pleased God in his providence to unite the hearts of this 
Church in the choice of Mr. William Robinson for our Gospel Minister, 
this is to desire your presence on the twelfth day of January next, to assist 
in setting him apart to that important work, according to the directions of 
the Gospel. 

Wishing that grace, mercy, and peace may be multiplied unto j'ou, we 
subscribe ourselves in the name and at the request of the Church, 
Your brethren in the Lord, 


Timothy Claek, f Committee of 

Aaron Webster, C the Church. 

John Curtiss, J 
Southington, Dec. 20, 1779. 

N. B. The Council is desired to meet at 12 o'clock the preceding day, 
at the house of Mr. Jonathan Root, a little north of the meeting-house.* 

The winter of 1779-80 is still remembered as the cele- 
brated Hard Winter ; when the inner bay of New York was 
frozen over from the city to Staten Island, and the roads in 
all parts of the country were blocked up by immense masses 
of snow. In consequence of the heavy snows, the Council was 
unable to convene at the time appointed ; and the ordination 
was deferred till the day following. No record of the proceed- 
ings of the Council is known to exist, except that preserved by 
Pres. Stiles in his remarkable manuscript Diary. The follow- 
ing extract comprises the whole of his entry relative to the 
subject : 

" 1780, Jan. 12. This was to have been the day of ordi- 
nation, according to the letters missive which I received from 

* On the back of this letter Dr. Stiles endorsed the proceedings at the ordina- 
tion ; but gives them more fully in his Diary, as coiDied further on. 

90 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

the church of Southington. But through the severity of the 
day, and high winds, blowing the snow and filling up the 
paths, only two churches and three ministers* were convened 
to-day, and it was deferred till to-morrow. This afternoon, 
however, we formed and examined Mr. Robinson, the Pastor 
elect ; and the church committee laid before us their transac- 
tions and votes respecting his call. In the evening Mr. New- 
ell arrived ; having been all day in coming seven miles, and 
forty men employed in opening the ways. Next day arrived 
Mr. Pitkin and Mr. Gillet ; the latter came part of the way 
on snow-shoes. The Council this evening allotted the parts, 
and voted to proceed to ordination to-morrow. 

" Jan. 13. This day the ordination of the Rev. William 
Robinson, late Senior Tutor of Yale College, was attended ; 
a very large congregation assembled on the occasion. 

" Extract of Result of Council. 

" At a meeting of an Ecclesiastical Council of Elders and 
Delegates of the Churches of Christ, convened at Southington, 
January 12, 1780 : 

" Elders present : Rev. Dr. Stiles, President of Yale College, 
Rev. Samuel Newell, Pastor of the Church in New Cam- 
bridge. Rev. Timothy Pitkin, Pastor of the Church in 
Farmington. Rev. John Foot, Pastor of the Church in 
N. Cheshire. Rev. Alexander Gillet, Pastor of the 
Church in Farmingbury. Rev. Benoni Upson, Pastor of 
the Church in Kensington. 

" Delegates present : Deac. Stephen Hotchkiss, from Church 
in N. Cambridge. Deac. SethLee, from Church in Farm- 
ington, Deac. Samuel Beach, from Church in N. Cheshire. 
Brig. Gen. Seth Hart, from Church in Kensington. 

" Dr. Stiles was chosen Moderator, and Mr. Foot and 
Gen. Hart were chosen Scribes. 

" Mr. Upson made the first prayer ; then I preached on 

* Dr. Stiles and Messrs. Foot and Upson. 


1 Tim. iv. 14-16. Mr. Foot made the ordaining prayer, during 
the imposition of the hands of the Presbytery. Mr. Newell 
gave the charge. Mr. Pitkin made the concluding prayer ; 
and Mr. Foot gave the right hand of fellowship. These, with 
Mr. Gillet, laid on hands. Hands were not laid on during the 
charge, according to custom lately in some of the Consocia- 
tions ; though this Council was not a consociated Council, 
but one elected at large. Three Psalms were sung in Dr. 
Watts' version. I was two hours in sermon. We began 
about eleven, and finished at three o'clock ; nearly four hours 
in service. A very decent, crowded, and attentive auditory. 
The whole was performed with a serious solemnity. 

" The Council dined at Mr. Root's. After dinner, as 
Moderator, I concluded, as I had begun the Council, with 
prayer ; and dissolved it. 

" Jan. 14, Very blustering. Visited the venerable and 
aged, the Rev. Mr. Curtiss, ^t. 80 et supra,^' the first Pastor 
of the church in Southington, who resigned the ministry about 
twenty years ago.f He attended the ordination with entire 
satisfaction, and dined with the Council. — Visited also Rev. 
Mr. Chapman, dismissed five or six years since from the pas- 
toral charge of the church. 

" Jan. 16. Lord's day. I preached all day for Mr. Rob- 
inson, A. M. Rom. V. 21; p. m. 1 Thess. ii. 19, 20. After sermon 
Mr. Robinson performed a baptism. 

^^ Jan. 18. Returned to New Haven. Snow very deep." 

Thus was Mr. Robinson introduced to a sphere of active 
life and duty, in which he continued for more than forty-one 
years. He found a home, in which the whole of his after 
life was passed ; and his ashes, with those of many members of 
his large family, now repose in the. public cemetery upon the 
hill, surrounded by the numerous graves of his parishioners. 

The circumstances of his settlement were auspicious. He 

* The good President is here a little at fault. IVIr. Curtiss died in 1795, aged 
eighty-eight years. At this time, of coiirse, he was seventy-three years of age. 
•j- More nearly, twenty-Jive years. 

92 MEMOIR. [Part II. . 

was now in the twenty-sixth year of his age ; the people of his 
charge were united in their respect and affection for him ; and 
they had pledged to him what he regarded as " a handsome 
and generous'"' support. But the first ten years of his ministry 
were shrouded with heavy domestic afflictions ; and the resto- 
ration of peace and the consequent change of circumstances 
rendered his income inadequate for the support of his family. 
Hence a new direction was given to his effoits ; one which he 
himself had never foreseen. Instead of the habits of a secluded 
student, he acquired those of an active business life. 

As to his salary, however small it may now appear, (and it 
was never increased,) he was at the time probably at least on 
an equality with most of his brethren settled round about him. 
His grandfather had been settled on sixty pounds ; and Dr. 
Bellamy, in 1769, had fixed the amount of his own salary at 
eighty pounds. In 1758 Dr. Smalley was installed in New 
Britain on a salary oi fifty pounds and wood, with a settle- 
ment of one hundred and fifty pounds ; but in 1763 his salary 
was increased to ninety pounds.* Dr. Strong, of Hartford, had 
one hundred and thirty pounds.f By the terms of his con- 
tract with the society, Mr. Robinson was to receive his dues 
mainly in various kinds of grain at fixed rates ; and the exact 
accounts kept by him show, that he thus at first, in many in- 
stances, collected his own salary, in produce, from individuals. 

* Porter's Histor. Discourse on Farmington, pp. 39, 67. 
f Dr. Sprague's Annals, II. p. 35. 



First Half of his Ministry. 

The professional life of Mr. Robinson, after his settlement 
at Southington, may be considered in two parts ; the first ex- 
tending over about twenty-one years, and ending with the last 
century ; the other beginning with the present century, and 
embracing the remainder of his ministry until his dismission. 
The materials for an account of the first portion are exceed- 
ingly scanty ; as are also those in respect to the last, excepting 
the recollections of his family and a few surviving friends, over 
which are already spread the deepening shadows of from thirty 
to almost sixty years. 

During his previous visits to Southington, Mr. Robinson 
had made his home in the house of Deac. Timothy Clark, who 
lived a mile west of the meeting-house, on West street, so 
called. After his ordination he continued to be an inmate of 
the same family, until ready to set up housekeeping for him- 

About a month after his ordination, Mr. Robinson was 
married, by the Rev. Mr. Perry, February 8, 1780, to Miss 
Naomi Wolcott of East Windsor, to whom allusion has already 
been made ; and to whom he had now been engaged during 
five or six years. She was the daughter of Capt. Gideon 
Wolcott and Naomi Olmstead his second wife, and was born 
Sept. 28, 1754* She still remained for some weeks at her 
own home in the family of her brother ; and did not remove 

* For some account of tlie Wolcott family, see Appendix D. 

94 MEMOIR. • [Part II. 

to Southington until the latter part of April. Mr. Kobinson 
rented a house standing on the west side of Queen street, so 
called, about a mile and three quarters north of the meeting- 
house, at the north end of the remaining part of the f )rmer 
twenty-rod highway, which ran over the buiying-ground hill. 
The house was afterwards occupied for many years by Na- 
thanael Jones. Here the nc'wly married CDupIe began their 
housekeeping with pleasing hopes ; which however were des- 
tined to be fleeting. 

It is difficult at the present day to realize the economy 
and shifts, which our fathers and mothers were com])elled to 
practise in their household affairs, especially about the close 
of the revolutionary war. One s})ecimen may here suffice. In 
a letter which Mr. Robinson wrote to his wife while she yet 
remained at her home, dated April 5, 1780, occurs this [)as- 
sage : " I have purchased of Mr. Trowbridge a clock, biass 
kettle, iron pot, coffee mill, pair of flats, pair of brass candle- 
sticks, brass andirons, and looking-glass ; so I hope we shall 
be able, upon the whole, to set up housekeeping with some little 
decency." In a postscript he adds : " A warming-pan I can 
borrow for the next winter." The warming-pan would seem 
to have been a matter of previous discussion; for in a letter to 
her husband of the same date, and which must have crossed 
his on the road, the lady, who apparently had a mind of her 
own, writes curtly : " 1 have purchased a warming-pan." 

Such too was then the depreciated state of the continental 
currency, that the prices paid lor various articles now seem 
absolutely fabulous. In the letters which ])assed in 1779, it 
is mentioned, that a fine piece of satin might be obtained at 
fifty-six dollars the yard. Cider at the same time was fiom 
twenty to thirty dollars the barrel. In February, 1780, Mi'. 
Robinson bought ten and a half bushels of wlieat tor four hun- 
dred and twenty dollars, or forty dollars the bushel. At the 
same time oats were sold at ten dollars the bushel, and flax at 
five dollars the pound. 

Mrs. Robinson brought with her to Southinyton, as a do- 

Sect, in.] HOUSEKEEPING. 95 

niestic, a coloured girl, named Mercy. She was a slave ; and 
married, a few years later, Antony, a coloured man in the 
family of Dr. Joshua Porter ; where she spent the rest of her 
life. She had one son, Peter ; who, as having been born after 
March 1, 1784, was by law not a slave ; but was held to ser- 
vice as an apprentice, until the age of twenty-five years."-'' 
This service belonged to Mr. Ptobinson. The boy, up to the 
age of fourteen, lived mostly in the family of the Piev. Dr. 
Smalley of New Britain. He then returned to Mr. Robinson 
until his majority, at twenty-five ; and was afterwards em- 
ployed by him for several years as a hired labourer. Peter was 
not very intelligent, nor very trustworthy ; and afterwards lived 
a roving life in the eastern part of the town, where he died 
some years later. 

As early as 1779, some of the letters of Mr. Piobinsou 
speak of the severe illness of his favourite sister Mary. Her 
disease was a very unusual species of sore throat ; which at 
times hindered her from taking any sustenance for several 
days. At other times she would seem to be very much bet- 
ter. In the latter part of July of this year (1780), she was 
able to visit her brother and his wife at Southington ; and 
returned home with good hopes. But the disease recurred 
again with still greater violence ; and she sunk under it, and 
died October 11, 1780, in the twenty-fifth year of her age. 
She died in great distress, and strictly of starvation, as was 
supposed. Her father's record speaks of her as having died in 
good hope of a blessed immortality.f Her letters show her to 
have been a person of vivacity, of much good sense, and of 
more intellectual cultivation, than was perhaps common at that 
time among females of her position. Her brother always spoke 
of her, throughout his life, with the utmost tenderness. 

The next spring, April 12, 1781, Mrs. Eobinson gave birth 
to her only child, a son, William, who died four days after- 

The main highway through Southington was, at that time, 

* Laws of Connecticut. Connecticut Reports, 
f See above, pp. 52, 53. 

96 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

one of the great roads of communication between tlie east and 
the American army stationed around New York and in New 
Jersey. In 1781 the French troops from Newport marched 
through the place, on their way south to the siege of York- 
town. They were everywhere welcomed by the inhabitants ; 
who opened their houses and set out refreshments for their 
allies. My father used to relate, that two French officers 
entered his house, where the tea-table was spread, and they par- 
took. Some sprigs of sage were on the table ; pointing to 
which, one of the officers remarked, " One do give dis de horse 
in my country." But besides reinforcements for the army, 
there were also companies and stragglers returning from the 
army, some of them sick or disabled ; and often scattering 
along their route the terrors of small-pox and other diseases. 

At that time inoculation for the small-pox was common ; 
vaccination being as yet unknown. Within my own recollec- 
tion, in the early years of the present century, private hospitals 
were occasionally opened, in the outskirts of towns, as far as 
possible from any other house, where patients were received 
and treated for this terrible disease. In the early months of 
1782, it would appear that danger was apprehended from the 
spread of small-pox ; and a temporary hospital was established 
in Southington. To this hospital Mrs. Eobinson repaired; but 
through the ignorance or mismanagement of the attending 
physician, the disease terminated fatally, and she expired April 
16, 1782, in the twenty-eighth year of her age. She was 
buried the next day ; and on the day following Mr. Eobinson 
wrote to his father an account of the aggravated features of 
her case. It was written in the anguish of his soul ; and may 
stand here as a slight contribution to the history of the town : 

" Southington, Ai^ril 18, 1782. 

" Deak and Honoueed Fathek, — I yesterday followed 

the corpse of my dear wife to the grave. Mrs. Robinson is no 

more. As we live upon a great road of travel from the army, 

she had long been timorous and fearful of taking the small- 


pox. She therefore determined upon being inoculated. In 
consequence of this determination, a general leave having been 
previously given by the town for this purpose, she put herself 
under the care of a certain Dr. Richards of Farmington, who 
had been highly recommended to her ; and went into a hos- 
pital, at about the distance of a mile and a half from home. 

" This man, directly contrary to my particular direction 
and his own promise, inoculated her and a number more only 
with the matter which had collected in the arm of a person, 
who had been inoculated but two days before. It so happened, 
that in the course of about six days she had a little breaking 
out upon the body, as is very frequent. This was at once, by 
the ignorant Richards, declared to be the small-pox. At the 
end of fourteen days she was therefore directed to be cleaned 
up and dismissed. This was a week ago last Saturday. 

" She continued well till Tuesday morning, when she was 
taken with violent pains in her head and back. As she had 
been very apprehensive herself, that she had not had the 
small-pox, she at once concluded that these feelings were the 
symptoms of its approach in the natural way. She continued 
extremely ill and very much distressed till Saturday, when it 
was evident to the physician who attended her, and indeed to 
every one that saw her, that her difficulty was what she had 
apprehended. I therefore removed her back again to the hos- 
pital ; and after meeting on the Sabbath, I went in myself to 
attend upon her. She had been taken with the disorder com- 
mon to women just at the time of the eruption ; which was a 
a little before morning on Friday. This now rose to an ex- 
ceeding height. Dr. Hosmer, as being the most skilful phy- 
sician in the neighbourhood, was by her desire called to attend 
her. The power of medicine was however baffled ; and she 
expired in my arms at about six o'clock on Tuesday evening. 

" Pray for me, my dear Father. You yourself have felt 

grief ; I know that you will feel for your distressed son. My 

grief, I fear, will be greater than I can bear. While my house 

was a house of joy, my Father has always declined my urgent 


98 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

invitations to come and rejoice with me. But, my dear 
Father, you love to mourn ; 0, do not, then, refuse me the 
consolation of your company, and that of my sister. 0, come 
and see my emj)ty house, and drop with me a tear upon the 
grave of my dearest wife. Farewell, my Father, and do not 
forget the distresses of your son ! William Robinson. 

" P. S. Towards twenty, out of about forty, who were in- 
oculated with Mrs. Robinson, were treated in the same man- 
ner, and have shared the same fate ; except that their lives are 
not yet gone." 

The above touching appeal to his father drew out no re- 
sponse ; and although the latter lived for a quarter of a century 
after this event, he never visited his son in Southington. 

The affection of Mr. Robinson towards his first wife, 
with whom he was united a little over two years, was the 
earliest and probably the most devoted attachment of his life. 
He loved her for her personal qualities ; and cherished the 
highest respect for her character. This indeed is manifested 
in the inscription upon her tombstone : 

In Memory of 

Mrs. Naomi Robinson, 

"Wife of the Rev. William Robinson. 

She was born at East Windsor, Sept. 28, 1754, 

of the ancient and honourable family of the 


She was peculiarly beloved in life, 

and at death universally lamented. 

She died of the Small Pox, 

in the 28th year of her age, 

April 16th, 1782. 

Hers was the character so strikingly 

described in the 31st chap, of Proverbs ; 

and to none could the closing verse 

be more properly applied, than to her : 

" Many daughters have done virtuously, 

but thou excellest them all." 


At what time Mr. Eobinson began to turn his attention to 
agriculture, is not known ; but it seems to have been early. 
It was doubtless the smallness of his salary, and the necessities 
of a family, with which he had now begun to be acquainted, 
that led him to the cultivation of a farm, as a means of meet- 
ing these Avants, and of obtaining a more comfortable support. 
In so doing he had before him the example of Edwards and Bel- 
lamy, and a host of other clergymen; who were driven to have 
recourse to the same means of subsistence for their families. 

It was during the summer of this year, 1782, that he made 
his first purchase of real estate. He bought of Samuel Cur- 
tiss the homestead of the latter, which had been a portion of 
the farm of his father, the Rev. Mr. Curtiss, It was situated 
on the east side of the high road, about three-quarters of a 
mile north of the meeting-house; and besides a well-built house 
with a lean-to or long back roof, comprised about forty five 
acres of land of medium quality. The date of the deed is 
August 19, 1782 ; the consideration nine hundred pounds. 
Three years later, for the consideration of forty-eight pounds, 
he added about four acres more on the south, including a beau- 
tiful copse of oak wood covering the hill-side. By further 
gradual additions on the south, the homestead was in a few 
years enlarged to about seventy acres in all. 

On this homestead he passed the remainder of his life. 
His next neighbours, at first, were his two predecessors in the 
ministry, Mr. Curtiss on the north, and Mr. Chapman on the 
south. How he contrived to pay the £900, or $3,000, due as 
the price of the first purchase, is not known; as be received 
no patrimony from his father. But he often spoke in after life 
of the great kindness shown to him by Col. Jeremiah Wads- 
worth of Hartford, in that he had loaned him money in his 
time of need, letting it lie for many years ; and thus enabled 
him to lay a foundation for success. Not improbably the 
payment for this homestead may have been the main occasion 
referred to. It is also a recollection of my boyhood, that once 
when I was with him in Hartford, he called on the maiden 

100 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

sisters of Col. Wadsworth, to pay the interest of money of 
theirs, which he had in his hands. 

Here, in his own home, Mr. Kohinson appears to have 
commenced his farming operations. They were at first Kmited. 
He seems to have begun by letting out his fields on shares ; 
and this practice he continued more or less through life. It 
was often a great benefit to a mechanic, who had no land of 
his own, thus to be able to till a field, and gain a part of the 
crop. In the language of Dr. Barnes, who was in later years 
his family physician, and learned it from the old people of the 
town, " he purchased cows and let them out ; he kept bees, and 
let them out ; he bought land and let it out ; all on shares." 
As in these pursuits his uncommon talent for business became 
more and more developed, his success also became greater and 
more striking. 

During all this time his appropriate duties as a minister 
and pastor were never neglected, and were performed to the 
general satisfaction of his people. To his preparation for these 
duties were devoted the earliest and best hours of every day ; 
and with them nothing was suffered to interfere. 

On the 16th of September, 1783, Mr. Kobinson was mar- 
ried to his second wife. Miss Sophia Moscly of Westfield, Mass. 
The ceremony was performed by his friend and former col- 
league in Yale College, the Rev. Mr. At water, who was now 
settled as pastor in the place. She was a daughter of Col. 
John Mosely, one of the leading men of the town ; and was 
born October 7, 1760. A younger sister afterwards married 
the poet Honeywood."" 

The memorials of the second Mrs. Robinson are very few ; 
and the brief record of her life is soon brought to a close. 
She gave birth to her only child, a son, August 31, 1784, who 
received the name of William. Not long after his birth, the 
mother fell into a quick consumption, and died Dec. 31, 1784 ; 
less than sixteen months after her marriage. The following 
is the inscription on her tombstone : 

* For some account of the Mosely family, see Appendix E. 


Sect. III.] SECOND WIFE. 101 

In Memory of 
Mrs. Sophia Robinson. 

Wife of the 

Rev. William Robinson. 

She was the daughter of 

Col. John Mosely, 

of AVestfield. 

Born Oct. 7. 17G0. Died Dec. 31, 1784, 

of a quick consumption, 

in the 25th year of her age. 

She was pleasant in her life, and at death 

she found the comforts of Religion. 

Her end was peaceful and resigned. 

Her son William lived to graduate at Yale College in 
September, 1804 ; but died of consumption in November of 
the same year. 

As the country revived after the peace, and the prices of 
grain advanced, some of the parishioners became dissatisfied 
with the low rates, at which their pastor was entitled to re- 
ceive their produce. In December, 1786, a committee of the 
society waited on him to confer upon this subject. A letter of 
his in reply is extant, dated December 18, 1786 ; in which he 
expresses his willingness to assent to any just arrangement, 
which the society may propose ; and suggests, that for that 
year the salary (£100) should be paid in money ; although in 
that way he would sutler loss. Nothing fiu'ther seems to have 
been done in the matter : and the former arrangement was 
continued until 1795. 

Daring this period of his second bereavement, and perhaps 
earlier, Mr. Eobinson occasionally received young men into his 
family, to prepare under his instruction for entering Yale 
College. He did not, however, make a regular business of 
teaching ; nor were his pupils numerous. The only ones 
whose names are still remembered, were Asahel Hooher and 
Giles H. Cowles, both of Farmington, who were college class- 
mates, and graduated in 1789.* 

* Afterwards the Rev. Asahel Hooker of Goshen anrl Norwich, Conn, and 
the Rev. Giles H. Cowles D. D. of Bristol, Conn, and Austinburg, Ohio. See 

102 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

After more than two and a half years thus passed in be- 
reavement, Mr. Robinson was mari'ied, by his friend and neigh- 
bour, the Rev. Mr. Upson, to his third wife, Miss Anne Mills 
of Simsbury, August 13, 1787. She was born June 11, 1761 ; 
and was a daughter of the Rev. Gideon Mills, who had for- 
merly been for seventeen years pastor of the church in Sims- 
bury, and was afterwards pastor in West Simsbury. He is 
still remembered in tradition as a man of deep piety and godly 
sincerity. A brother of hers, the Rev. Samuel Mills, was for 
many years pastor of the church in Chester, Conn. With 
another brother, Deacon Jedidiah Mills, an intelligent and 
respected farmer of West Hartford, my father and his family 
continued to hold frequent intercourse down to the close of his 
lite. More known to the public was her cousin, the Rev. Samuel 
J, Mills of Torringford ; whose son, Samuel J. Mills Jr. was 
one of the first to awaken in this country an interest in Foreign 

Since his settlement in Southington Mr. Robinson had 
been growing in reputation among those to whom he became 
known, both as a preacher and a theologian. He was, as we 
have seen, an admirer of Bellamy, though not strictly his dis- 
ciple ; and he took his position among the followers of the 
" New Divinity," as it was then called. Indeed, his friend Dr. 
Stiles speaks of him as one of the leaders of that ' pestilent' 
school, which was a source of so much solicitude to the good 
President. In his Diary, under date of August 10, 1787, 
occurs the following passage ; which I insert here, by permis- 
sion, as interesting both in reference to the history of that day, 
and in its relation to Mr. Robinson :f 

" President Edwards has been dead twenty-nine years, or 
a generation. Dr. Bellamy is broken down, both body and 
mind, with a paralytic shock ; and can dictate and domineer 

Sprague's Annals, II. p. 330. This residence of Mr. Hooker with Mr. Rohinson, 
was a family tradition in my childhood. 

* For some account of the Mills family, see Appendix F. 

f Diary, 1787, pp. 59, GO. — This extract, and also the one next following, 
were copied by me from Dr. Stiles' manuscript, for this work, in 1855. They 
have since been published by Prof Fisher, In the Appendix to his Discourse on the 
History of the Church in Yale College, 1858, p. 81. 


no more. Mr. Hopldns still continues, but past his force ; 
having been somewhat affected by a fit and nervous debility. 
Mr. West is declining in health ; and, besides, was never felt 
[to be] so strong rods as the others. It has been the ton to 
direct students in Divinity, these thirty years past or a gener- 
ation, to read the Bible, Pres. Edwards, Dr. Bellamy, and Mr. 
Hopkins' writings ; and this was a pretty good sufficiency of 
reading. Now, the younger class, but yet in full vigour, sup- 
pose they see further than these oracles, and are disposed to 
become oracles themselves ; and wish to write Theology, and 
have their books come into vogue. The very New Divinity men 
say, they perceive a disposition among several of their bretliren 
to struggle for pre-eminence ; particularly Dr. Edwards, Mr. 
Trumbull, Mr. Judson, Mr. &'malley, Mr. Spring, Mr. Robin- 
son, Mr, Strong of Hartford, Mr. Dwight, Mr. Emmons, etc. 
They all want to be Luthers. But they will none of them be 
equal to those strong reasoners, Pres. Edwards and Mr. Hop- 
kins. If health permit, Dr. Wales, Mr. Backus, Mr. Perkins, 
Mr. Chauncey, and perhaps others not yet born, may bear 
away the palm." 

In the same connection, .Dr. Stiles utters the following judg- 
ment and remarkable prediction, in respect to the writings of 
the elder Edwards :* 

" Pres. Edwards' valuable writings, in another generation, 
will pass into as transient notice, perhaps scarce above oblivion, 
as Willard, or Twiss, or Norton. And when posterity occa- 
sionally come across them in the rubbish of libraries, the rare 
characters who may read and be pleased with them, will be 
looked upon as singular and whimsical ; as in these days [is] 
an admirer of Suarez, Aquinas, or Dionysius Areopagita." 

The above is a striking instance of the fallacy of human 
opinion. In spite of the prophecy of the good President, ut- 
tered more than seventy years ago, the influence of the writings 
of Edwards was probably never so wide or so great, as at the 
present moment. 

* See the preceding note. 

104 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

Apart from the gradual enlargement of his homestead, 
already referred to, the first purchase of land made by Mr. 
Eobinson in another part of the town, was a lot on Nashaway 
plain, so called, about a mile south of the meeting-house, and 
nearly two miles from his own dwelling, on the road leading 
to Meriden. It was a triangle in form, lying in the fork of 
two roads, containing about thirteen acres. The date of the 
deed was April 5, 1788. Two years later he purchased a lot 
of fourteen acres, lying west of the above, and separated from 
it only by the highway. 

The birth of his eldest daughter, Naomi Sophia, took place 
May 30, 1788. She grew up ; married James Woodruff; and 
died November 21, 1849, aged 61| years. 

But the domestic happiness of Mr. Eobinson was again 
destined not to be of long duration. Early in July of the next 
year, his wife was seized with the measles. After giving birth, 
to a dead infant, (July 7th,) she sunk under the disease, and 
died July 10, 1789, at the age of twenty-eight years, and less 
than two years after her marriage. She used to be spoken of 
as a lady of fine person, of much intelligence, and of firm re- 
ligious character. The following inscription is on her tomb- 
stone : 

In Memory of 

Mes. Anne Robinson, 

Wife of the 

Rev. William Robinson. 

She was the daughter of the 

Rev. Gideon Mills 

of Simsburj. 

She was born Jmic 11, 1761 ; and died of the 

Measles, in her 29th year, July 10, 1789.— Why 

the amiable and the virtuous of our race 

are often cut down in the midst of life, is 

among the inscrutable Mysteries of Heaven. — 

This however is enough for us to know, that 

all the ways of GOD are just and right ; though 

many of them may now be hidden from our view 

by impenetrable clouds and darkness. 


AVhether Mr. Kobinson still continued to prepare young 
men for college, does not appear. Mr. Hooker, mentioned 
above, after having graduated at Yale in September, 1*789, 
returned to pursue the study of theology with his former in- 
structor ; who is spoken of as his " friend and benefactor." 
Mr. Hooker was ordained as pastor of the church in Goshen 
in September, 1791; on which occasion Mr. Robinson preached 
the ordination sermon.* 

Before the year 1790, his farming operations appear to 
have been carried on chiefly within the limits of his own home- 
stead. These, and his lettings of stock and bees, had been 
successful ; and he was now led on to extend his property in 
land very considerably. In the course of the year 1790, be- 
tween February and November, he purchased four tracts of 
land ; one on Nashaway plain, as above mentioned ; and the 
rest near the foot of the East mountain, at least two and a 
half miles distant from his own house. They comprised in 
all eighty-two acres, at a cost of about one hundred and fifty 
pounds. Of his circumstances at this time we have a brief 
notice by Dr. Stiles, written apparently in September, 1790.f 

'•' The Eev. Mr. Robinson settled at Southington in 1780, 
worth nothing. Now, 1790, he is possessed of a good two- 
story house, and a farm of one hundred and fifty acres. This 
year he has about a dozen acres of Indian corn, and perhaps 
as many of English grain. He has forty hives of bees. He 
has stock, about a hundred cows, let out in different parts of 
his parish, and six or eight pair of oxen ; besides two pair 
oxen he keeps himself He hires two men and sons ; and will 
sow this fall twenty-three acres of wheat ; from which is 
expected four hundred bushels next year." 

It was not very far from the same time that Pres. Stiles, 
who sometimes complains in his own case of the res angusta 
domi, enumerates in his Itinerary quite a number of those 

* Sprague's Annals, II. p. 317. 

\ This notice is written with a pencil on a loose leaf, preserved in Dr. Stiles' 
Itinerary, Vol. V. p. 222. This is a different work from his Diary. 

106 MEMOIR. [Part II, 

whom he styles " wealtliy ministers'"' in Connecticut, Among 
them were the following :* 

Mr. Eobinson, Southington, 150 head of cattle. 

Mr, Smalley, New Britain, 150 " 

Dr. Bellamy, Bethlem, £1800. 

Mr. Pitkin, Farmington, £3000. 

Mr, Lockwood, Andover, £2500. 
In the course of the same year, August 10, 1790, Mr. 
Eobinson was married by the Eev, Mr, Olcott, to his fourth 
wife, Miss Elisabeth Norton of Farmington. !She was born 
Jan. 13, 1761 ; and was the eldest child of Col. Ichabod Nor- 
ton and Euth Strong his wife. She was a niece of the Eev. 
Cyprian Strong D, D. of Chatham, and sister of the Eev. Asa- 
hel Strong Norton D. D. of Clinton, Oneida Co. N. Y. and of 
Seth Norton, first Professor of Languages in Hamilton College, 
of which he was perhaps the most efficient founder, f This 
union continued for nearly thirty-four and a half years ; she 
having died about eight months before her husband, Tiiey 
had six children ; two of whom died in infancy, and the rest 
still survive.:]: 

For the next ten years the life of Mr. Eobinson was of an 
even tenor, varied by few incidents out of the usual course. 
His preparations in his pastoral office regularly occupied his 
morning hours ; while the remainder of the day was given to 
visiting his people at their homes, to religious services ap- 
pointed on a week-day in different parts of the town, and to 
the claims of business connected with his farm. His business 
prospered evidently beyond his expectation. With this pros- 
perity came also the desire and the ability for further enlarge- 
ment ; and he continued to make purchases of land, larger or 
smaller, in almost every year, (1792 and 1798 alone excepted,) 
until the close of the century; at which time he was the owner 
of about three hundred acres in all. This included a grist- 
mill in the southeast part of the town, three miles distant from 

* See Dr. Stiles' full list of " Wealthy Ministers in Connecticut," in Appendix G. 
f For some further accoxmt of the Norton family, see Appendix H. Yor notices 
of the Strong and Hooker- families, see Appendix K. 

X For the children of Mr. Robinson by his fourth wife, see below in Sect. VII. 

Sect. III.] FOURTH mFE. 107 

his house, which he bought of Samuel Church in 1795, for 
three hundred and forty pounds. A few years hater a saw- 
mill was built in connection with it by other parties ; whom 
he afterwards bought out. The other lots purchased lay, one 
tract of fifty-three acres on the ' Lower Plain,' so called, south 
of Dr. Joshua Porter's ; and the rest near the foot of the East 
mountain, and extending west to the road leading by the for- 
mer dwellings of Robert Foot and Jacob Tyler. 

It was during the year 1794, that a female domestic, 
Clarissa Hitchcock, familiarly known as Miss Clara, became a 
member of his household. She proved to be a most valuable 
acquisition ; and continued a member of the family until it 
was broken up by the death of Mr. Robinson. Afterwards, 
the days of her worn-out strength were passed in the family 
of his son, until her death, March 6. 1831; after a service of 
nearly thirty-seven years. Her integrity and fidelity were 
never questioned. The affairs of the house, and also the 
children, were cared .for as if they had been her own ; and no 
amount of fatigue or watchfulness was ever spared or shunned. 
In her prime she was an excellent housekeeper, and always took 
the main charge of the household. It is a pleasing duty to offer 
here, even this late tribute to the memory of the faithful nurse 
of our childhood, the kind and careful friend of later years. 

She became a member of the churcii in 1799. Her grave 
is with the numerous graves of the family, among whom her 
life was spent ; and her tombstone bears the following in- 
scription : 

In ]\Iemoiy of 

Clarissa Harlow Hitchcock, 

Daughter of 

Xathanael Hitchcock, 

■who died March 6, 1831, 

Aged GS years. 

She resided in the family of the 

Kev. William Robinson from 1794 

until her decease. 

Faithful and true was she in life, 

And in death she was not forsaken. 

108 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

In 1795, the complaints which had already existed in 
1786, in respect to Mr. Eobinson's salarj^ growing out of the 
advanced prices of grain during the iifteen years which had 
now elapsed since he was settled, were revived and brought 
before the society. I find, however, no correspondence on the 
subject among his papers. But a new contract was made, 
which now lies before me in the handwriting of Koger Whit- 
tlesey, dated February 2, 1795. It stipulates, that the salary 
shall thereafter be one hundred and ten pounds [$366.66] law- 
ful money, in Spanish milled dollars or their equivalent ; and 
this to be in place of all former stipulations as to grain, and 
also as to the twenty-five cords of firewood. It is signed on 
the part of the society by their committee : Roger Whittlesey, 
Job Lewis, Thomas Stanley Day, John Upson, Timothy 
Clark, and John Curtiss. — No further change was ever made 
in relation to the salary. 

At the close of this period, (1800,) Mr. Robinson was 
thus engaged in agricultural pursuits to ^n extent which he 
himself, doubtless, had never purposed or anticipated. The 
success which had attended his eflbrts ; the consciousness of 
business talents, such as few of those around him possessed, 
and which were regarded with wonder by his parishioners ; 
and the pecuniary aid which his habits of enterprise and entire 
punctuality enabled him to command ; all these had led him 
on beyond any expectations of his own or of others. He was 
not drawn off from his ministerial labours ; for these were ever 
performed with conscientious regularity and fulness. But he 
was drawn off from the further cultivation of his intellectual 
powers, in the walks of literature and science ; except in the 
most general way. 

In this diversion of his powers, he may also have been in 
part influenced by the fict, that among all the inhabitants of 
his parish ; all those indeed with whom he had daily inter- 
course ; (with the exception of his two predecessors, one of 
whom died in 1784, and the other at a great age in 1795 ;) 
there was for twelve or fifteen years not a single person who 


had received a college education, or paid any attention to lite- 
rary or scientific pursuits. Several of the young men of the 
town had, indeed, meantime graduated at Yale College ; some 
of them, perhaps, induced hy his example or advice ; but not 
one of them remained in Southington. Such were Samuel 
Woodruff in 1*782, and Jonathan Barnes in 1784 ; who settled 
down as lawyers, the first in Wallingford and the other in 
Middletown. The others all became ministers in various 
places, viz. Gad Newell, graduated in 1786 ; Whitfield 
Cowles in 1788 ; Josiah B. Andrews in 1797 ; Pitkin Cowles 
in 1800 ; and Elisha D. Andrews, who entered college in 
1799, and graduated in 1803. 

During all this interval, the records of the church show a 
constant series of accessions ; but no extensive revival of re- 
ligion. In 1780, the first year of his ministry, thirty-eight 
persons were admitted as members ; in 1781, nine ; in 1786, 
seventeen ; and in 1799, twenty-two. Most of the intervening 
years show additions varying from two to seven in each year. 
In 1783, 1784, and 1791, there were no additions. The 
whole number admitted by him, down to the end of 1800, was 
one hundred and forty-two. In this amount of growth, the 
church would doubtless compare favourably with other neigh- 
bouring churches during the same period ; and certainly there 
is nothing which marks or implies remissness on the part of the 
pastor. On the contrary, the earliest years of his labours 
were among the least fruitful. In some of the latest years of 
his ministry, the accessions to the church were much larger ; 
as we shall see in the next Section. 

In the latter part of 1782, the church appears to have 
been troubled for a time with the question of the " half-way 
covenant," so called. A certain William Dickinson had been 
admitted, in the language of the times, " to own the cove- 
nant," at Stepney, now Kocky Hill, Conn, and had been 
recommended, some years before, as upon that standing, to 
the church in Southington. It does not appear that the 
church had ever acted upon his case. The matter was now 

110 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

brought up by his requesting baptism for his child. It was 
referred to the church ; which desired to have a copy of the 
profession which he had made. This the Rev. Mr. Lewis of 
Stepney declined to furnish. The church then, at a meeting 
Dec. 4, 1782, came to a vote upon the following question : 

" AVhetherit be the mind of this Church, that the practice of admitting 
persons to own the covenant, as it is called, and receive baptism for their 
children, at the same time absenting themselves from the Lord's Snipper, 
is according to Gospel institution ? " 

On this question the vote was unanimously in the nega- 
tive. A second question was then proposed, as follows : 

"AVhether it be the desire of this Church, that the practice abovemen- 
tioned should be introduced here, with respect to persons who are not now 
upon that standing; or kept up with respect to those who are ? " 

This question also was decided by vote in the negative ; 
though, a[)parently, not with equal unanimity. 

Nearly a year and a half afterwards another meeting of the 
Church was held, May 31, 1784, at the desire of " certain 
brethren professing themselves to be aggrieved" by the pre- 
ceding votes ; particularly " in their application to the case of 
William Dickinson." The question was proposed in this form : 

" Whether it be the mind of this Church, that this meeting should be 
adjourned, and that a committee should be appointed to confer with Mr. 
Dickinson, and attend to a copy of the profession made by him, if he can 
now procure it ? " 

This was decided by vote in the negative ; and then the 
final vote was taken : 

" That it is not the desire of this Church, that Mr. Dickinson should 
have his child baptised upon his present standing." 

The matter of the half-way covenant was never again 
moved in the church. 

During this period there is testimony of no little value in 
respect to the talents and standing of Mr. Robinson ; coming, 
as it does, from competent and impartial judges. 

In 1793 and the following year, Ebenezer Porter, after- 
wards the Rev. Dr. Porter, Professor at Andover, was pursuing 

Sect, in.] DR. PORTER. DR. SPRING. m 

the study of theology with the Eev. Dr. Smalley of New 
Britaia ; and during the intervening winter taught, for a few 
months, the central district-school in Southington. Twenty 
years later, while pastor at Washington, he is reported to 
have said : " I also have some acquaintance with Mr. Kohin- 
son, having sat for a time under his ministry ; and I regard 
him as possessing native powers of mind superior to those of 
any other minister in Connecticut." He added something 
further like this : " Had the energies of his powerful mind 
beer^ exclusively devoted to the ministry, he would have taken 
a higher stand than any other,"* 

To the same effect is the following note from the Eev. 
Gardiner Spring D. D. of New York, under date of April 17, 
1857 ; a reminiscence of almost sixty years : 

" My dear Sir, 

" My recollections of your revered father are of so remote 
a date, that I fear they are almost worthless to your fiUal and 
praiseworthy design. Late in the autumn of 1800, I spent a 
few pleasant days in his family at Southington, at the request 
of your much loved and much lamented brother William, then 
my class-mate at Yale.f Your father's kindness, and Chris- 
tian, gentlemanly bearing, made a deep impression on my 
youthful mind. He stood high in the esteem of my own 
father, who knew him well. As an acute theologian, an able 
preacher, and faithful pastor, he had few superiors in Connec- 
ticut ; while the small stipend on which he was condemned to 
subsist, drove him to apply his active and business-like mind 
to pursuits of a secular character, for the support and educa- 
tion of his family. Had he been able to 'live by the Gos- 
pel,' he would have stood on the same platform with Smalley, 
Dwight, Hart, and Strong. 

" Yours affectionately, Gardiner Spring." 

* See the circumstances more fully narrated in tlie letters of tlie Rev. Mr. 
Harrison, in Sect. VI. 

f This was at the annual Thanksgiving in 1800, Mr. Spring was afterwards 
out of college for one year ; and graduated in 1805, 

122 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

Such is the brief history of Mr, Kobinson's life and 
labours during the first twenty-one years of his ministry, ex- 
tending down to the close of the eighteenth century. His 
path had been often darkened by heavy domestic afflictions, 
which left their traces upon his character and feelings. The 
fathers of the parish, who best knew him, have passed away 
with him, leaving fev/ memorials ; and the recollections of his 
children and others now living, do not go back to the scenes 
of this period. At its close he was already past the middle 
ajze : and his habits and manner of life had become fixed. 




Latter Half of his Ministry. 

During the first half of Mr. Robinson's ministry, as we 
have seen, the church under his pastoral care enjoyed at least 
an ordinary measure of prosperity in spiritual things ; and the 
same was true during the present period, or latter half ; but 
with brighter results near the close. In secular matters, also, 
his course of life during the last ten years of the preceding 
century had been marked by successful activity and accumula- 
tion ; while, in like manner, the first ten years of the present 
century were no less full of active labours ; though these lay 
in a difterent direction. No more lands were acquired in per- 
manency ; but the attention of Mr. Eobinson was turned more 
directly to the cultivation of the farm he already possessed ; 
both as a means of support and profit, and more especially as 
an example to his people of the benefits of agricultural indus- 
try and skill. 

In the early years of the present century, to which the 
memories of his children and surviving friends dimly reach 
back, his farming operations had become more systematized, 
and were more under his own control. He no longer let out 
bees ; though he usually himself kept quite a number of hives. 
Nor did he let out cows singly, as formerly ; but, in the spring, 
farmers from Goshen and other towns in Litchfield county were 
accustomed to come and hire cows for the season, and return 
them in autumn with a certain weight of cheese as the hire of 
each cow. In this way, for a number of seasons, Mr. Eobinson 

114 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

obtained a supply of cheese for his family ; though sometimes 
the dairy was managed at home. Butter sufficient for the 
family, and sometimes more, was always made within doors. 

At the same time, and in like manner, all the linen and 
woollen cloth needed in the family, for clothing and other pur- 
poses, was spun, woven, and made up, at home. The spin- 
ning was mostly done by my mother and Miss Clara, already 
mentioned ; and was carried on chiefly in the kitchen, which 
was also the common sitting room of the family. The busy 
hum of the spinning-wheels, both large and small, and the 
click of the loom in the wash-house, are among the indelible 
remembrances of ray childhood. The first article of foreign 
broadcloth, that I remember in the family, was the coat of 
my brother William during his last year in college, 

Mr. Eobinson still continued to let fields to small farmers 
or mechanics, to till on shares. But the chief amount of ag- 
ricultural labour was carried on under his own supervision. 
He usually hired one or two men by the year, and others for 
the summer season. Some of these remained with him for 
several years. They all formed a part of his own family ; and 
were always regarded and treated as such. His sons, till thir- 
teen or fourteen years of age, were brought up to labour with 
them in the field. Much of his land lay at a distance from 
his house, from one mile to three miles ; and of course much 
time was occupied by men and teams in passing to and fro. 
But wherever the labourers were employed, there was scarcely a 
day in which they did not receive a visit from Mr. Robinson, to 
inspect the progress of their work. In the seasons of haying 
and harvest, he often laboured with them ; sometimes for the 
whole day. At other times, and especially early in the morn- 
ing, before breakfast, he took great pleasure in the care of his 
garden. These habits of supervision continued until the 
autumn of 1821 ; when his youngest son returned home from 
college, and took the principal charge of the farm. 

The agricultural pursuits of Mr. Robinson were successful 
and prosperous. He followed no visionary or impracticable 


theories ; but if any real improvement was suggested, he 
adopted it at once. He was no great believer in labour-saving 
machines ; yet he once purchased a washing-machine, which 
for a time promised well ; but it proved a failure, and was 
soon laid aside. His farming utensils were all of the best 
kind then known ; some of them equal to any since introduced ; 
while others,of course, were still far from the perfection^ which 
the subsequent lapse of half a century has now brought into 

At that time there were no agricultural societies in the 
country, and few agricultural books. Whatever advances or 
improvements, therefore, Mr. Robinson may have made beyond 
the forming of his neighbours, were mainly the result of his 
own observation and experience. He was the first in the town 
to practise a rotation of cro[)S ; and it was he, especially, who 
introduced the cultivation of clover ; gathering the seed, at 
first, by a machine drawn by a horse. By these means he 
made the partially worn-out plains of Southington for the time 
highly productive. In 1803, on a field of twenty acres on tlie 
lower plain, he turned in a stout crop of clover, much to the 
surprise of some of his neighbours ; and sowed the field with 
rye. The next harvest returned to him such a crop of rye, as 
had never before been seen in the town. He occasionally tried 
to raise wheat, and sometimes had partial success ; but it did 
not thrive well upon that soil. Hence he was led to the 
pithy remark, which is still remembered and repeated, that 
" whoever in Southington wishes to eat wheat, must raise rye." 

At the same time, too, he cultivated Indian corn exten- 
sively. Hence he was induced to try the efficacy of plaster of 
Paris ; which upon that soil had a wonderful effect, both in 
respect to Indian corn and clover. He was thus led to urge 
the use of it upon his neighbours ; though not without en- 
countering much prejudice. The following anecdote illustrates 
this remark ; as it also shows the peculiar estimation in which 
he was held by his parishioners. He had let a field on the 
southern plain to a farmer, to plant Indian corn on shares ; 

llg MEMOIR. [Pakt II. 

and he proposed to furnish plaster of Paris for the whole field, 
if the farmer would apply it. The latter declined. As Mr. 
Robinson was to have one half of the crop, he then proposed, 
that they should divide the field ; each takiog two rows of 
corn alternately. This was agreed to. He applied the plaster 
to his own portion; and the appearance in favour of his rows 
soon became so striking, as to attract much attention. One 
day Mr. A. a noted horse dealer and village wit, was riding by 
the field with some strangers. The latter were filled with 
wonder, and were curious to find out the reason of the differ- 
ence, "Oh," said Mr. A, "I can tell you; the large rows 
belong to our minister, and the small ones to his people." 

About the year 1795, the manufacture of tin-ware had 
been introduced iuto Southington ; and, being found profit- 
able, had in a few years spread extensively. A consequence 
was, that the business of a tin-pedlar had also come into vogue ; 
and the young men of the town, v/ho in summer were indus- 
trious farmers, wandered off" in winter through the middle and 
southern States, to dispose of their loads of tin-ware, and later 
also of dry goods. They returned sometimes as successful 
traders ; but often also with their habits of industry broken up, 
and their morals corrupted. 

In the general encouragement of manufacturing interests, 
which marked the beginning of the present century, several 
smaller and local manufactures were also established in South- 
ington ; such as wooden clocks to some extent, buttons, horn 
combs, wooden combs, spoons, brushes, bellows, awl-hafts, and- 
irons, etc. Later also, and on a more extensive scale, were es- 
tablishments for making iron bolts, lasts turned from a model, 
and the machines for manufacturing tin-ware now in general use. 
All these brought into the town, as workmen, a new class of in- 
habitants, trained elsewhere, not always very enlightened, and 
sometimes of loose habits and morals. Such persons, of course, 
did not usually attend the worship of the sanctuary ; and could 
not be reached by a pastor's ordinary labours. The effect of 
all these circumstances upon the modes of thinking, the habits, 


and the morals, of a population hitherto wholly agricultural, 
and especiall}' upon the young, were seen and deplored by all. 

Mr. Robinson was not the man to neglect any thin"-, 
whether in precept or example, which could serve to stem this 
unhealthy aspect of things, and preserve among his people (so 
far as possible) their agricultural habits and pursuits. That 
the course which he followed, during those years, was adopted 
by him of set purpose to counteract those growing tendencies, 
it would perhaps be too much to affirm. But there can be 
no question, that it was the course best adapted to turn off 
the attention of his people from novel schemes, and confirm 
them in their inbred attachment to agriculture. 

In connection with his mill, already mentioned, he pur- 
chased large quantities of rye ; the flour from which was of a 
quality so superior, that the brand of his miller, L. Andrus, 
became celebrated. More largely, however, did he engage in 
preparing Indian meal for the West India market. In this 
way he benefited his people, and acquired, perhaps, the greater 
portion of his own estate. A market was thus opened to his 
parishioners for all their grain, at their very doors ; and they 
were in this way stimulated to enter with energy upon the 
culture of Indian corn. Indeed, he used, in the spring, to 
engage the leading farmers to raise for him each a certain 
quantity, to be delivered in the autumn ; he often advancing, 
if necessary, part of the price. In this manner he encouraged 
the industry and efforts of his parishioners ; and, of course, 
they too became more prosperous. Indeed, the influence of 
his own successful agriculture, and of the encouragement he 
afforded to others, was apparent throughout all that region. 
It was the saying of Roger Whittlesey, the leading lawyer in 
the place, than whom there could be no more competent judge, 
that " it was Mr. Robinson, who taught Southington people 
how to live." 

In all his own success, he was ever ready to help others. 
The Rev, Dr. Brace writes : " If a poor neighbour's cow were 
about being seized for debt, Mr. Robinson would say : ' Here, 

118 MEMOIR. [Pakt II. 

I will buy your cow, and let you keep her for rent, ($4 a year,) 
and let you redeem her, whenever you can do it/ He would 
possess forty or fifty cows in this way, relieving the men, en- 
couraging their industry and frugality, and laying a foundation 
for them to become men of property. If a man were in debt 
for his house and land, and liable to a forced sale, Mr. Robin- 
son said to him : ' I will lend you money to pay your debt ; 
take a mortgage of your firm ; and let you redeem it just as 
soon as you can.' Thus he saved many ; while he might be 
obliged to hold the property of the inactive and improvident, 
who had not energy and calculation enough to work their 
way out. He put them into a condition to help themselves, if 
they had the resolution to do it." 

In view of this habit of affording aid to others, it is not sur- 
prising, that Mr. Robinson should have had many applications 
of the kind from various quarters ; not iinfrequently from 
farmers and mechanics, who, not content with their legitimate 
business, aspired to something higher and more profitable. 
Sometimes they succeeded in persuading him to aid them ; but 
their speculations, perhaps in most cases, turned out unsuc- 
cessfully ; and in this way Mr. Robinson suffered losses to a 
very considerable amount, especially in the later years of 
his life. 

During all this period, his attention to the duties of his 
ministry was unremitted. Besides the regular exercises of the 
Christian Sabbath, he often made appointments for preaching 
on week days in the different parts of the town, in school- 
houses or private dwellings. He was frequent and faithful in 
visiting his parishioners at their homes. His own regularity 
and punctuality led him to inculcate the same habit upon his 
people, and to expect it from them, especially in their attend- 
ance on public worship. It used to be related of him in pleas- 
antry, that if any one were absent from his seat on Sunday, 
Mr. Robinson was sure to see him during the week, and usually 
met him with pressing inquiries after his health. At any 
rate, although many of his people resided at the distance of 


three or four miles from the meeting-house, they were all 
trained to a regular and punctual attendance on the Sabbath, 
such as is now found in few parishes. Indeed, here as else- 
where, the remark was true, that those who lived most remote, 
were the most regular and punctual in their attendance. 

There were, nevertheless, some in the parish, not however 
among the regular attendants on his preaching, who thought 
their minister gave his attention too much to secular business, 
and neglected his pastoral duties, especially the visiting of the 
sick and afdicted. In December, 1801, the matter was 
brought up in a meeting of the society ; and a committee was 
appointed to confer with Mr. Kobinson. The committee con- 
sisted of Timothy Clark, Esq. the Deacons Kewell, Dutton, 
and Barnes, Timothy Lee, Heman Atwater, Eoswell Moore, 
Stephen Pratt, and Maj. Hart. The society wordd appear 
not to have laid any great stress upon the complaint ; as the 
committee was mainly composed of early and staunch friends 
of the pastor. The charge, in general, was, neglect of that part 
of the miuistr}^, which consists in " visiting the people in their 
distresses, in sickness, etc." This charge Mr. Robinson denied 
in toto. At the same time he declared himself ready to give 
up all his secular business, if the society would pay him a sal- 
ary sufficient for the support of his family and the education 
of his children. And further, since both he and his friends 
regarded the movement as arising, not from the motives alleged, 
but out of opposition to the doctrines which he preached, he 
expressed a willingness to be dismissed from his people, if 
such were the wish of the society. The society, however, 
were not ready for either alternative ; nothing was done ; and 
the matter died away. Similar complaints, perhaps, were 
afterwards heard among the same class of persons ; but no 
further public notice was ever taken of them. 

In the summer of 1802, Mr. Robinson, with his wife, made 
a journey to the " Whitestown country," as it was then called, 
the "far West" of those days, on a visit to her brother, the 
Rev. A. S. Norton of Clinton, Oneida Co. K Y. A church 

120 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

had been organised there in 1792 by the Rev. Dr. Edwards of 
New Haven ; and on his recommendation, Mr. Norton was em- 
ploj'ed to preach as a candidate. He was ordained as pastor 
of the church, March 25, 1793.-'-" The country was still new, 
and in great part forest ; and the roads were very rough. Mr. 
Robinson travelled in his own top-wagon with two horses. 
They were a week upon the road in going ; and as long in re- 
turning, after a visit of a fortnight in that region. The iron 
horse now makes an easy route of seven or eight hours between 
the same points. This journey was often alluded to after- 
wards by Mr, Robinson ; and was always spoken of as the great 
journey of his life. A few years later he and his wife travelled 
up the valley of Connecticut river in their chaise, to visit several 
friends, and particularly the Rev. Dr. Lyman of Hatfield. 
This was his last visit to that friend of his youth ; though they 
may have met afterwards on public occasions. 

In 1804, Mr. Robinson was again called to sustain a 
heavy domestic affliction, in the untimely death of his eldest 
son William, the only child of his second wife. Having fitted 
for college with the Rev. Dr. Chapin of Rocky Hill, he en- 
tered the Freshman class of Yale College in the autumn of 
1800. There, although suffering much from frequent affec- 
tions of the lungs and general ill health, he took a high stand- 
ing in his class ; and it is the testimony of his still surviving 
classmates, that few, if any, among them were his superiors. 
Early in 1804 his health gave way ; symptoms of consumption 
supervened ; and in April he left college never to return. In 
the distribution of the appointments for commencement, which 
took place later, there was assigned to him, notwithstanding 
his absence, an oration, then as now one of the higher honours. 
During the summer, hope and despondency alternated, accord- 
ing as the disease seemed to relax its hold or strengthen its 
grasp ; but the progress of decline was in general rapid. 
Once his friend Chester Whittlesey accompanied him on a 
journey to the mountainous southern part of Massachusetts, to 

* Spragiie's Annals, II. p. 332 sq. 

Sect. IV.] HIS ELDEST SON. 121 

a celebrated root doctor ; and they returned, bringinfi^ with 
them sundry jugs of tinctures prepared from roots and herbs, 
and the body of a rattlesnake, skinned and dressed, which was 
to be administered in some way. But all was in vain. His 
Alma Mater included his name among the graduating class, 
and sent him his diploma. But he died two months later, 
November 14, 1804, at the age of twenty years. His funeral 
was attended by a great concourse of people. A sermon was 
delivered by the Eev. Mr. Foot of Cheshire. The epitaph, 
drawn up soon afterwards by his father, expresses the deep 
feeling of the latter : 

The Body of 

William Robinsox Jr. A. B. 

Lies beneath this 


He died Nov. 14th, 1804. 

Cut off at the age of 20 years, 

he affords a striking 


of disappointed Hopes and Expectations. 

Bright were his Prospects, 

High were his Hopes, 

Pleasing were tlie Expectations of his Friends, 

But GOD lias laid them in the dust. 

Beware, Youth, 

Improve the present moment, 

Prepare to meet thy GOD ! 

Four years later, in the spring and summer of 1808, 
Southington and some of the adjacent towns, especially Farm- 
ington, were visited by a pestilence, known as the spotted 
fever. In Farmington many died. In Southington, though 
many were sick, there were in Mr. Robinson's congregation 
only eight deaths from the disease ; but among these was the 
lamented and estimable physician of the town, Dr. Theodore 
Wadsworth. He died June 2, 1808, aged fifty-five years. 
The terrors of the pestilence itself were aggravated in the 
minds of the people, by a strong difference of opinion among 

122 MEMOIR. [Paet n. 

the physicians as to the proper mode of treatment, viz. 
whether stimulants were to be administered, or medicines of 
an opposite character. 

Towards the close of the year 1805, Mr. Eobinson sought 
relief in part from the cares and anxieties of business, by dis- 
posing of one half of his mill. This he sold to Noah Gridley 
Jr. who thenceforth took the main charge of the establish- 
ment. The deed is dated December 5, 1805; but was not 
recorded until April 28, 1808. The other half was retained 
by Mr. Eobinson, comparatively as a silent partner, until his 

I venture to insert here a few brief reminiscences of the 
old (second) meeting-house, and of some of the aged people 
who gathered there upon the Sabbath during my childhood. 
The time to which these reminiscences relate, may be stated, 
in general, as from about 1801 to 1812 ; in June of which 
latter year I ceased to be a resident of Southington. The 
sketch was drawn up, for a wholly different purpose, several 
years ago. If there is a seeming want of reverence in the 
manner of speaking of some of the aged men, I may remark, 
that it is precisely the way in which they were usually spoken 
of, at the time, by the middle-aged and the young. 

" Do you remember the old meeting-house in our native 
place ? It stood out alone in the middle of the open square ; 
which had been given for the purpose by some of the neigh- 
bouring land-owners.* A still earlier meeting-house stood in 
the wide highway, upon the hill, where the graves of the 
fathers still cluster around its site, and the graves of our own 
family extend in a long row. Further north there is yet seen 
a tract of that broad public way, known to our childhood as 
Queen street. That first house must have been built, or at 
least its site selected, about 1726 ; which, as you may remem- 

* It has sometimes been supposed, that this open square was a portion of the 
broad highway hxid out through the town, including Queen street, and running- 
over the burying-ground hiU. But that highway lay at some distance eastward 
from the second meeting-house. 


ber, is the date upon the earliest adjacent grave-stone. The 
first minister was settled in 1728. 

" The meeting-house in the village was erected in 1757; and 
forty years later, in 1797, the tall steeple was added ; tall in- 
deed, but mostly hidden from distant view by the surrounding 
hills. One of my very earliest recollections goes back confu- 
sedly to the raising of that spire. More distinct is my remem- 
brance of the assembly in that house early in 1800, in com- 
memoration of the death of Washington ; when a stage was 
erected in front of the pulpit, and an oration delivered by Pit- 
kin Cowles, then a Senior in Yale College. Many later school- 
boy recollections throng about that house ; — its interior with 
its stiff square pews, in which a portion of the audience sat 
with their backs towards the minister ; its galleries ; the 
steeple ; the belfry and fine-toned bell ; the lightning-rod ; and 
even the space beneath the floor, to which we sometimes got 
access ; all were the scenes and aids of childish glee and busy 

" So too the long row of Sahha'dcnj houses on the east side 
of the square ; which you perhaps hardly remember. They 
were already mostly in ruins in my early boyhood ; yet a few 
remained in a better state, either with a stable below and a 
neat room with a fire-place above ; or with the room and stable 
side by side. Here the good people, who came three, four, and 
five miles to meeting, sheltered their horses ; and had a com- 
fortable place for themselves during the brief intermission. 
Their attendance on the public worship of God was something 
to occupy the day, a day's work ; and not the convenient mat- 
ter of a few hours. Hence they were ever regular and punc- 

"All is now gone ; all is now changed ! The former house 
of God has disappeared ; and the lofty and ornamented sound- 
ing-board of its pulpit was degraded to become the roof of a 
dove-cote ! And with the house, the old men of those days, 
who thronged its seats, have likewise departed. The fathers, 
where are thev ? 

124 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

" The minister's pew you recollect, where we sat, at the 
foot of the pulpit stairs. In the deacons' seat, Lelow the pul- 
pit, I can just remember the heavy form of 'Squire Curtiss ; * 
the pleasant countenance of good 'Squire Clark ;"j" and the then 
younger face of Deacon Newell.:}: In 1801 Deac. Dutton and 
Deac. Barnes were added ; but the latter removed from the 
town in 1805, and his place was not filled for many years. 

" In the pews in front of the pulpit and nearest to it, sat 
the old people of the congregation ; the pews being regularly 
seated, that is, assigned to occupants in the order of age. 
Here sat Lieut. Smith, long the oldest person in the town, 
who lived to the age of ninety-five years ; a man of rough 
manners, but of kindly feelings.§ He came always to meeting 
on his old white pony, and returned galloping eagerly past the 
long line of chaises and wagons. There too sat Mr. Samuel 
Woodruff the elder, Capt. Daniel Langdon, Capt. Sloper, 
Uncle Job Lewis, and his brothers Uncle Nathan and Uncle 
Tim Lewis, Asa Barnes the elder, and many others. All are 
gone ; from the tall gaunt form of Uncle Tim Lee, with the 
huge curls of his sorrel wig (irreverently so called) in winter, 
and his clean white linen cap in summer, to Mr. 'Siah An- 
drews with his face half covered by a crimson mark. The 
places that once knew them, now know them no more ! " 

I may add here a few words in relation to some of the 
other leading men of the town during the same period. 

The principal physician was Dr. Theodore Wadsworth ; 
whose lamented death from spotted fever has been noted 
above. He was a man of sound judgment and much expe- 
rience ; and the people confided in him greatly. At the same 

* John Curtiss, Esq. son of Rev. Jeremiah Curtiss, died March 25, 1801, aged 
sixty-one years. 

f Timothy Clark, Esq. died March 1, 1812, aged seventy-nine years. 

I Pomeroy Newell, chosen deacon in 1795, died 1831. 

§ Lieut David Smith died June 22, 1817, aged ninety-five years. He was a 
farmer ; and had been in his younger days a blacksmith. I once accompanied 
him on horseback to the sea-shore iu I^^ast Haven or Branford, where he had two 
brothers. One day the three brothers, all of them above eighty years of age, went 
out a fishing in a small boat^ taking me with them. 

Sect IV.] LEADING MEN. 125 

time Dr. Mark Newell, a native of the place, lived and mainly 
practised in the northern part of the town. Neither of these 
had receiv'ed a college education. 

The first lawyer resident in the town was Koger Whittle- 
sey, who graduated at Yale College in 1787, and settled in 
Southington ahout 1793. In 1794 he married the daughter 
of the Eev. Dr. Sraalley of New Britain. At the time here 
referred to, he was in his best years and in full practice. He 
was a sound lawyer and an upright man ; and was regularl}- 
sent as representative to the legislature, whenever he was will- 
ing to go. He was an excellent farmer, though not on a 
large scale ; and every thing pertaining to his house and 
grounds was kept with the utmost neatness. 

Ahout A. D. 1802, Samuel Woodruif, who has already 
been mentioned as a lawyer in Wallingford, returned again to 
his native town. Here he continued the practice of his pro- 
fession ; and was for some years a judge of the county court. 
He afterwards removed to Grauhy. His son, Samuel H. 
Woodruff, was a lawyer in Southington for several years. He 
then removed to Simsbury and Tariffville ; and has been like- 
wise a judge of the county court of Hartford county. 

The principal merchants in the place, at this time, were 
the brothers Chester and Asaph Whittlesey, who came from 
Salisbury ; the former in 1799 and the latter two or three 
years later. They were both intelligent men, and their busi- 
ness was prosperous. During one winter Chester taught the 
central district-school ; and was followed by Asaph for two 
winters. The latter ultimately removed to the town of Tall- 
mad 2;e in Ohio. 

For a time, also, Joel Root, a very enterprising business 
man, had a larger store at ' the Corner,' as it was then called 
now Plautsville. As a young man he had been aided by the 
counsels of Mr. Eobinson ; and afterwards went as supercargo 
on a voyage to the East Indies. He was wont to say, that he 
was indebted to Mr. Robinson for his success in life. He after- 
wards removed to New Haven. 

126 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

During the same interval, Selab Lewis and Lucas Curtiss, 
who married sisters, were leading men in the business of the 
town. The former was active and brisk in his movements ; 
the latter heavy and slow. Both were fiirmers ; Mr. Lewis on 
a larire scale, and Mr. Curtiss on a smaller one. Both acted 
also for several years as constables. The latter, a son of 
Deac. John Curtiss, was often sent to the legislature ; and was 
for many years town-clerk. , 

Selah Barnes likewise was an active man of business ; he 
lived near his mill, and entered largely into the preparation of 
corn meal for exportation. His brother, Ira Barnes, carried 
on business largely at the Corner for several years ; and then 
removed to New Haven. Koswell Moore resided on his farm 
upon the mountain, in the northeast corner of the town ; he, 
too, was prominent in the affairs of the town, was justice of 
the peace, and was often sent to the legislature. 

The preceding notices are of course intended to be exceed- 
ingly brief ; and cannot therefore include many persons and 
things, otherwise deserving of mention. — The present prosper- 
ous Academy in Southingtou had not then been founded. 

On the 24th of March, 1811, Sophia, the eldest daughter 
of Mr. Kobinson, and the only surviving child of his third 
wife, was married by him to James Woodruff, eldest son of 
Judge Woodruff mentioned above. IShe soon removed to 
Catskill, N. Y. where her husband was established in mer- 
cantile business. In the summer of 1812, I visited her there, 
on my way to Clinton, Oneida Co. where in the autumn I 
joined the first Freshman class in Hamilton College. In Jan- 
uary, 1814, I came to Catskill, to pass the college vacation. 
Here I was seized with a violent inflammation of the lungs 
and chest, which for a time threatened to prove fatal. The 
intelligence was sent to my parents ; who immediately set off 
for Catskill in their own sleigh. This was their first visit to 
Catskill ; but they subsequently were there several times. 

I graduated at Hamilton College in 1816 ; and in Feb- 

Sect. IV.] EZRA SAMPSON. 127 

ruary, 1817. repaired to Hudson, N. Y. where I spent the 
summer in the law ofHce of James Strong, Esq. afterwards 
member of Congress. Here I became acquainted with the 
Rev. Ezra Sampson, my father's former classmate and most 
cherished friend ; who was then residing in Hudson, retired 
from the ministry and from all business." The college cor- 
respondence of the two friends had closed in 1777 ; and they 
appear not to have met again until the sojourn of Mr. Samp- 
son in Hartford in 1804 and 1805, as an editor of the Con- 
necticut Courant. While there, Mr. Sampson laid his plans 
to visit my father at Southington. But his purpose was 
frustrated ; and he wrote a letter expressing his disappoint- 
ment, under date of September 24, 1805, the day before he 
left Hartford. Ko further letters had passed between them. 

As the son of his old friend Mr. Sampson took an interest 
in me ; and the intercourse I was permitted to have with him, 
and the wise counsels which he imparted, are among the most 
cherished recollections of my early life. After my departure 
in September, Mr. Sampson wrote once more to my father. 
From this letter, as touchingly illustrating the way in which 
age looks back upon the feelings and friendships of its own 
youth, I give an extract. 

"Hudson, September 26, 1817. 

" My Dear Sir, — I have sometimes found, by my own 
experience, that certain things, for a long while faded from 
recollection, are brought back anew and with freshness by an 
association of ideas ; and never, perhaps, in all my life, has it 
been more remarkably so with me, than in the instance I am 
about to mention. 

" Between us two, there was in our juvenile days, the closest 
intimacy. But time and distance, the lapse of half a century 
and the wide space that separates us, had well nigh obliter- 
ated in me the minute particulars of that intimacy ; when an 
acquaintance with your son, alike unexpected and pleasing, 

* For a Memoir of the Rev. Ezra Sampson, see Sprague's Annals, II. pp. 122- 

128 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

seemed at once to bring them up from oblivion into clear view. 
Believe me, clear Sir, in thought I am now and then walking 
with you in the suburbs of old Yale, just as we used to walk 
together, when your own age was about the measure of his. 
It is thus I dream with my eyes open. * * '''■ 

"I learn that you have a daughter living at Catskill, whom 
you will probably visit at some future time, and I earnestly 
hope to see you then at my solitary chamber. 

"Ezra Sampson." 

Mr. Sampson was at this time sixty-eight years old, and 
Mr. Robinson sixty-three. The wish of the former was grati- 
fied ; my father having subsequently once visited him in Hud- 
son, on a journey to Catskill. It was their last meeting on 
earth. ]\Ir. Sampson removed to New York in 1820 ; where 
he died December 12, 1823, aged seventy-four years. 

The infirmities of advancing years had already begun to 
make inroads upon the athletic form of Mr. Robinson. He 
had never spared himself in respect to exertion or exposure. 
Of late years he had become more corpulent ; and of course 
less alert and vigorous. He had long given up riding on 
horseback ; and now drove about the town every day in a light 
one-horse wagon, living much in the open air. When about 
the age of sixty years, his feet and lower limbs began to swell ; 
so that he had difficulty in walking, and especially in standing 
long in the pulpit. These infirmities gradually increased; and 
ultimately dropsical symptoms supervened, with an occasional 
difficulty of breathing. From all these indications he could 
not fail to be impressed with the conclusion, that his labours 
in his Master's cause were drawing to a close. 

For several years before this time, these labours had been 
in no wise diminished, but rather increased. As years rolled 
on, and he had attained the object for which he first gave 
attention to secular pursuits ; as his children were now grown 
up and mostly removed from him ; as his early friends, the 
fathers of the parish, had passed away, and left him compara- 
tively alone ; it was natural, that the claims of business, and 


worldly matters generally, should have less hold upon him ; 
and that he should exercise the functions of his sacred office 
with even more delight and diligence, and in a more spiritual 
frame. For the last ten or twelve years of his life, he was 
evidently looking forward more and more to another and a 
better country ; to a glory still to be revealed. His preaching 
was, perhaps, not less doctrinal, but more earnest and impres- 
sive. The fruits were seen in the large accessions to his church 
from about the year 1813 onwards ; most of which were from 
those who had grown up under his ministry. A more detailed 
account of these additions is given at the close of the present 

In view of all these circumstances of declining health and 
approaching old age, Mr. Kobinson, in the summer of 1818, 
addressed the following letter to the society, under date of 
July 27, 1818. A copy of the same was also communicated 
to the church : 

" To the Inhabitants of the Ecclesiastical Society estab- 
lished by laio in Southington. 

" Gentlemen, — My years, and growing infirmities in my 
feet and limbs, admonish me of my approaching dissolution. 
They render it impossible for me regularly to discharge the 
duties of my ministerial office. It has been with much pain 
and difficulty, that I have stood in the pulpit for several years 
past. Your inconveniences in consequence of my infirmities 
have not been inconsiderable. They will probably increase. 

"' It is therefore my request, that you will take regular 
measures, to furnish yourselves with another preacher. 

" I have spent my life in company with the ministers of 
Christ, as a member of an Association, and a pastor of a con- 
sociated church. I have seen one generation of ministers pass 
away, and another rise. I have enjoyed much pleasure, sat- 
isfaction, and peace, with them all. — I have worn out my 
strength, and grown grey, in the service of you and your fathers. 
I think I may call God to witness, that I have not shunned 

130 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

to declare to you the whole counsel of God, and have kept 
back nothing that could be profitable to you. I have sought 
not yourSj but you. — It is my desire to close my life in the 
same company and employment. 

" It is therefore my wish, that you would agree to place a 
colleague with me in the ministry ; one who may take on him 
the active part of service ; one with whom I may harmonize 
in sentiment and feeling ; one who may serve with me as a 
son with a father in the Gospel.* In that case, nothing that 
I can do, by counsel and advice, by occasional labours, or sub- 
stantial assistance, for him or for you, will be left undone by 
me while I continue. 

" Should it however be your choice, that I shall be thrown 
by as a broken vessel, that another may independently occupy 
the whole ground, I shall make no resistance. In either case 
I shall be content to agree on terms, against which reasonable 
men shall find no cause of complaint. 

" I am your friend and servant in the Lord, 

• ^ " William Eobinson." 

In reply to this communication, the church, at a meeting 
held August 26, 1818, voted unanimously to comply with the 
request contained in it, to settle a colleague with Mr. Kobin- 
son ; and a committee was appointed to take measures accord- 

The society decided not to settle a colleague ; as appears 
by the following vote : 

At a meeting of the Ecclesiastical Society in Southington, legally 
warned, and held on the 5th day of September, 1818. 

Voted, that the Society are willing, that the Rev. Mr. Robinson be 
dismissed from his clerical duties, provided he chooses such dismission. 

Two months afterwards, however, the society formally 
invited their pastor to continue his services, as God should 
give him strength. 

At a meeting of the Ecclesiastical Society in Southington held by ad- 
journment on the 19th day of November, 1818. 

* PhD. 2, 22, 


Voted, to apiioint a Committee to request ]Mr. Eobinson to continue 
in the ministry, so far as his health will admit, and, if he wishes to be 
dismissed, to get his terms, and report to this meeting. 

Voted, that Ichabod C. Frisbie, Benjamin Button, and Timothy Hart 
be the aforesaid Committee. 

Thus the aged pastor's hopes of relief from labours now 
become difficult, were for the present disappointed. His 
friends and nearest neighbours in the ministry, Dr. Smalley 
and Dr. Upson, had enjoyed great relief and comfort in con- 
nection with their colleagues ; and such an arrangement would 
doubtless have contributed greatly to solace the declining years 
of Mr. Robinson. 

He continued to preach for more than two and a half 
years longer ; though often with great pain, and difficulty in 
standing. No further steps were taken for his relief until 
November, 1820 ; and even then, it would appear, not from 
any effort or direct communication on his part. At a meeting 
of the society, held November 27, 1820, the following vote was 
passed ; which explains itself, and suggests also perhaps the 
reason of the vote in 1818, declining to settle a colleague : 

"Whereas the Rev. William Robinson, b}-- age and infirmity, has be- 
come unable at all times to discharge the active duties of his clerical office 
without inconvenience to him ; 

And whereas it is thought probable, from some suggestions of his, that 
he would be willing to relinquish his salary, provided the Society could 
unite in settling a colleague with him in the ministry ; 

Therefore, Voted by this societj^, that we proceed to settle a colleague 
with the Rev. "WiUiara Robinson in the ministry in this place: — Provided 
he, the said William Robinson, will relinquish his salary from and after 
the first day of February next : — Provided however, and it is hereby un- 
derstood, that the Soeiety do continue to pay said minister the same salary 
as heretofore, for such part of the time as he shall supply the pulpit, until 
a colleague be settled as aforesaid. 

Voted, that Roger Whittlesey. Selah Barnes, Eli Pratt, and Phinehas 
Pardee, be a committee to communicate the foregoing vote of the Society 
to Mr. Robinson, and request an answer in writing, to report to the next 

The committee waited upon Mr. Eobinson ; and the re- 

132 MEMOIR. [Part H. 

suit of tlie interview appears from the following communica- 
tion from him to the society, dated December 11, 1820 : 

" To the Members of the Society of Soutliington. 

" Your committee have performed the service assigned 
them, by communicating to me your vote of Nov. 27th. It 
was their opinion, that they had no right, as a committee, to 
discuss any question with me. I have therefore only to answer 
to the vote. And I must say, that I cannot accede to the 
proposition made, without other conditions annexed to it. 

" I will say, however, that I will make no objection against 
relinquishing my salary, and giving up all claims on the 
society on reasonable terms, at any time when they may wish 
it ; either by taking a dismission, or by giving up the active 
part of service to a colleague. I think, however, I have a 
right to expect to be consulted, about what are reasonable 
terms ; and to have some concern in deciding the point. 
" I am your friend and servant, 

" William Robinson. 

" N. B. I shall not insist upon it, as one of the terras 
above mentioned, that the society shall pay me any thing 
at all." 

At a meeting in the afternoon of the same day, Dec. 11th, 
the society appointed a committee to confer with the pastor 
on the subject of their former vote. The committee was the 
same as before, with the addition of Addison Cowles, Stephen 
Walkly, and Timothy Hart. 

Of the interview between this committee and Mr. Robin- 
son there is no record. The society held another meeting, 
December 18, 1820 ; at which the following action was taken : 

Voted, that the Society proceed to take measures to call a council to 
dismiss the Rev. "William Robinson. 

What were the ' conditions ' desired by Mr. Robinson, and 
referred to in his letter of Dec. 11th ; or what were the reasons 
which led the society so speedily to recall their vote in fiivour 


of a colleague, and decide for the dismissal of their pastor ; no- 
where appears in any record. Mr. Robinson having long be- 
fore determined, in such a case, " to make no resistance," never 
spoke on the subject to his sons ; all of whom, at the time, 
were residing at a distance from him. But, during the one 
and forty years of his ministry, the fathers, who knew him 
best, had passed away ; and a new and younger generation had 
sprung up, many of whom feared rather than reverenced him. 
Many mechanics and manufacturers had also come in from 
other places, who had in respect to him no personal recollec- 
tions nor attachments. And, perhaps not least, the ' strong 
meat ' of his preaching was now less acceptable than of old. 

More than a year has already elapsed since the preceding 
lines were written. Quite recently I have received some fur- 
ther information through the kindness of Mr. Walkly, a sur- 
viving member of the last committee appointed by the society 
as related above. His letter, dated December 2^ 1858, con- 
firms, throughout, the views expressed in the preceding para- 
graph, so far as they go. 

It appears, also, that when the first committee reported tc 
the meeting held on the 11th of December, a motion was made 
by the friends of Mr. Robinson to allow him, along with the 
settlement of a colleague, two privileges, viz. : First, " The use 
for life of the pew always occupied by his family ;" which in- 
deed was granted on his dismissal ; and, Second, " Immunity 
from taxation by the society." The motion did not pass. 
This latter condition w^as obviously the rock, on which the 
whole negotiation was wrecked. The uneasy spirits who now 
had rule, not satisfied with Mr. Robinson's absolute renunci- 
ation of all salary, demanded that he should contribute largely 
(as they supposed) for the support of a colleague.* " Your 
father," is the language of the same letter, " had many staunch 
friends ; and a large majority of the male and nearly all the 
female portion of the society, were opposed to his dismission. 

* In Connecticut, a pastor is in practice exempt from taxation by the society ; 
but not in law. 

134 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

But disgusted at the conduct of the uneasy and dissatisfied 
portion, many staid away from the meetings, and let them 
have their own way." 

The interview of the last committee with Mr. Robinson 
took place Dec. 18th; and was very brief. One of the members, 
with great diffidence and embarrassment, undertook to state, 
that the society did not see fit to comply with the conditions 
proposed to the meeting ; and was about to make some sug- 
gestions ; when Mr. Robinson, seeing his eoabarrassment. re- 
lieved him by saying in substance : " Make your own conditions. 
Gentlemen ; if the society feel that it will be right, according 
to justice, and true Christian principles, let them dismiss me 
without any conditions." — The final vote of the society to that 
effect was taken the same afternoon. 

Thus far the society had obviously proceeded ex 'parte, 
without the concurrence of the pastor or the church. The 
dismission could not well take place without some like action 
of the latter. The church, as appears from the minutes of 
the council, still desired to settle a colleague. The matter lay 
along for nearly three months ; when on the 13th of March 
1821, Mr. Robinson addressed to the church the following 
letter : 

" To the Qo7isociated Churcli of Christ in Southington. 

" Brethren, — It will be remembered, that more than two 
years ago, I requested the people in this place to settle a col- 
leao-ue with me, or to allow me to be dismissed on account of 
my age and infirmities. You were unanimous in voting to 
comply with my wishes by settling a colleague. The society 
determined otherwise. A committee was then sent to me, 
requesting me to continue preaching, as Grod should give me 
health 'and strength. I have continued till this time ; but 
often with great pain, and difficulty in standing. 

" I now renew my request to you, (since circumstances 
forbid me to say any thing on the subject of a colleague,) that 



my pastoral relation to you may be dissolved, at such time and 
in such manner, as you shall judge most expedient. 

'' I thank you for all expressions of Christian friendship 
and kindness, which I have experienced from you ; and pray 
that God will give you grace to be faithful in every duty, and 
at last receive you to his kingdom. 

"William Kobinson, Pastor." 

This letter was laid before the church at a meeting held 
March 13th ; and, after discussion, the meeting was adjourned 
till March 29, 1821; when the following vote was adopted : 

Voted, to comply with the request of the Rev. i\Ir. Robinson, that his 
pastoral relation to us be dissolved. 

A committee, consisting of Deac. Eli Pratt, Deac. Phin- 
ehas Pardee, and Mr. Theodosius Clark, was appointed to 
take measures accordinglv. 

The way was now open ; and a mutual council was con- 
vened in the course of the next month. The following is the 
record of its proceedings : 

" At a meeting of an ecclesiastical council convened in 
Southington, April 24, 1821, by a special request from the 
Rev. William Eobinson and a committee of the church and 

" Present : Eev. Messrs. 

John Keyes, [Pastor of the church in Wolcott. 

Noah Porter, " " Farmington. 

Newton Skinner, " " New Britain. 

Jonathan Cone, '' " Bristol. 

Eoyal Eobbins, " " Kensington. 

" Mr. Skinner was chosen Scribe, and Mr. Porter, Moder- 

" The council was opened with prayer by the Moderator. 

" Certain documents were laid before the council ; from 
which it appeared, that after various communications between 
the Rev. William Robinson and the church and society in regard 
to the continuance of his pastoral relation to them, the society 

136 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

came to the conclusion, that it was expedient that the said 
relation be dissolved ; and though the Rev. Mr. Robinson and 
the church would have preferred the settlement of a colleague, 
they concurred with the result of the society. 

" The council would express their regret, that the relation 
between an aged and faithful minister and his people should 
ever be dissolved, except by death ; and they are of opinion, 
that if measures had been taken to preserve the relation be- 
tween the society and their aged pastor, it would have been 
happier for them and for him. But after taking into serious 
consideration what had passed between the society and their 
pmstor, and the present circumstances of this people, the 
council feel themselves under the painful necessity of adopting 
the following resolutions : 

" First. That in the judgment of the council, it is expe- 
dient that the relation between the Rev. William Robinson 
and this church and society, be dissolved. 

^'Secondly. That the said relation be dissolved ; and by 
the authority devolved on us, as ministers of Christ, it is de- 
clared to be dissolved. 

" In conclusion, the council would notice with gratitude 
the goodness of God, in favouring this church and people, for 
many years, with the able and faithful labours of their late 
pastor ; and though they regret that it should be found neces- 
sary, that the relation between him and them should now be 
dissolved, they hope that he will be enabled to be further use- 
ful to them, and still see the fruits of his labours among them. 

" They affectionately commend him to the grace of God ; 
and also entreat this church and congregation to cultivate 
towards him those affectionate regards, which his late relation 
to them and his declining years so feelingly demand. And 
finally, they unite with them in prayer, that the great Head 
of the church would soon send them a pastor after his own 
heart, abundantly pour out upon them his Holy Spirit, and 
build them up in holiness, peace, and love to his heavenly 
kingdom. Attest, Noah Porter, Moderator. 

Newton Skinner, Scribe." 


A sermon was delivered before the congregation assembled 
on the occasion, by the Kev. Mr. Cone of Bristol. It is re- 
membered as having been solemn and affecting, causing many 
tears to flow. 

Thus was terminated the ministry of Mr. Eobinson, after 
a duration of forty-one years, two months, and eleven days. 
The Eev. David L. Ogden, his successor, was ordained October 
31, 1821 ; and dismissed September 13, 1836. The j)resent 
pastor, Kev. Elisha C. Jones, was ordained June 28, 1837. 

Whatever may have been the motives by which the ma- 
jority of the society were influenced, the members of the church 
clung to their aged pastor with strong feehngs of attachment. 
He had laid the heads of many parents and households in their 
graves ; he had baptized many children, who had grown up to 
fill their parents' places ; and there now remained few members 
of the church, who had not been brought into it by his 
instrumentality, as their spiritual father. Their attachment 
and sympathy were to him a strong consolation in the few 
remaining years of his pilgrimage. 

The liistory and increase of the church during the first 
thirteen years of the present century, retained the general 
character of ordinary prosperity, like that described in the 
preceding period. In only one year, 1805, were there no 
admissions. In the other years the number varied from one to 
ten. But in 1814 and the following years, a new spirit was 
awakened ; and there were tokens of God's presence. In the 
autumn of that year seventeen new members were admitted ; 
in 1815, twenty-eight ; in 1816, fifteen ; and in 1817, fourteen. 
In the next three years. 1818-20, only thirteen in all were 
received. But in August, 1821, after the dismission of Mr. 
Robinson, and nearly three months before the settlement of 
his successor, thirty-four persons were received on profession, 
by the Rev. Mr. Cone of Bristol. In December of the same 
year, the Rev. Mr. Ogden, a month after his ordination, admit- 
ted fourteen more ; making in all forty-eight admitted during 
that year. All these were persons who had been mostly trained 

138 MEMOIR. [Pakt II. 

under the preaching of Mr. Robinson; and may in strict justice 
be regarded as fruits of his ministry. The same is true, in a 
more general sense, as to the thirty-nine admitted in 1822, 
and the twenty-five received in 1823. And there is the highest 
authority for saying, " that the subsequent growth and pros- 
perity of this church were probably based, in a good measure, 
upon the sound doctrinal knowledge, in which he had estab- 
lished the minds of the people in his day."* 

Such, in general, were the fruits of his later ministry. It 
is interesting to look over the lists of admissions, following 
powerful revivals, in 1831, 1833, 1834, and even 1838 ; and 
observe how many names they contain of persons, and not a 
few of them leading men, who had long sat under the teach- 
ing of their former pastor. 

* See the letter of the Rev. E. C. Jones, the present pastor, in Sect. YI. 

Sect. V.] LAST YEARS. 139 



His last Years, Death, and Character. 


Having been thus relieved from all the active duties of 
the ministry, Mr. Eobinson continued to reside upon his home- 
stead, during the few remaining years of his life. There was, 
at one time, some talk of his removing to New Haven, where 
his second son was then in business ; but it was probably well 
that nothing: came of it. In the autumn of the same year, 
1821, he was also relieved from the care and supervision of the 
farm by the return of his youngest son from college ; who 
thenceforth took the chief management of all the out of door 

To his successor, the Rev. Mr. Ogden, he gave a cordial 
welcome and support. The latter thus writes : " It is an old 
proverb, that dismissed ministers make bad parishioners. I 
do not believe that it is founded in truth. At any rate, Mr. 
Eobinson was no example of it. He was not a man of great 
professions, without action ; but he generally did more than 
he said ; being remarkably sincere and unostentatious. As an 
instance of this, I learned that he went around among the 
people, to induce them to help me in building the house, 
which I afterwards occupied. But he never told me a word 
respecting that fact." 

Much of his time he passed in the open air, in driving in 
his light wagon about the town ; often also extending his 
drives to the adjacent towns. When at home he continued 
to take pleasure in cultivating his garden ; and occupied him- 
self daily in the smaller domestic cares around the house and 

140 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

its premises. He also read much ; and made himself exten- 
sively acquainted with modern literature. In all his duties as 
a member of society, and in connection with the church, he 
was punctual and exemplary ; and still attended regularly the 
meetings of the Hartford South Association, to which he be- 

His infirmities continued gradually to increase. The 
dropsical symptoms, and especially the swelling of the feet 
and lower limbs, and the difiiculty of breathing, became 
more and more marked, and occasioned much distress. He 
was conscious that his strength and life were thus w^earing 
away ; and there were times, when he expected that the ' silver 
cord ' would soon be loosed. In all these trials he manifested 
a spirit of entire resignation to the divine will. ■ " Though he 
slay me, yet will I trust in him," was the language of his con- 
versation and of his letters to his sons. 

Near the close of 1824, Mr. Eobinson was called to endure 
his last great domestic affliction, in the death of his wife : who 
now for thiri.y-four and a half years had been the cherished com- 
panion and stay of his life. She had never enjoyed firm health ; 
and had suffered much for many years from intense headache 
and general derangement of the digestive organs. I was at 
this time resident in Andover, Mass. and had visited home 
during the autumn, when she was quite feeble. Her health 
appeared to mend until the middle of December, when, hav- 
ing lain down on Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 15th) for rest, she 
was found on her bed helpless, delirious, almost speechless, and 
affected with strong nervous agitations of the body and limbs. 
The physician regarded it as an attack of fever. The medi- 
cines administered had a favourable operation ; she regained 
her reason and speech, though she remained very feeble. 
There were at the time several cases of an epidemic in the 
town, known as the " southern fever ; " and her disease was 
thought by some to be of the same type. 

The symptoms continued to improve until Saturday. On 
that evening she became worse, and felt her end approach- 

Sect. V.] DEATH OF HIS WIFE. 141 

ing. Taking gently the hand of her daughter, who sat by her 
bedside, she said : " You and I must soon part/' Soon after- 
wards she requested that her husband might be called ; and 
after conversing briefly with him, and expressing her resigna- 
tion to the will of God, she desired him to pray with her. 

She continued to fail ; and between one and two o'clock in 
the morning thought herself dying. She spoke a little ; but 
was drowsy. Being asked by her husband, if he should pray 
with her, she answered, Yes ; and said it would probably be 
the last prayer in which she should ever join on earth. When 
asked if she had any message for her eldest son, she said : 
" Tell him to do all the good he can in the world." She re- 
peated the text, " The wicked have no bauds in their death." 
About four o'clock she sunk into a deathlike stupor, from 
which she could not be roused ; this lasted for four hours. 

On Sunday morning her son from New Haven arrived, and 
with him Dr. Ives of that city. But there was no longer 
any relief from medicine. The voice of her son seemed par- 
tially to rouse her ; and she knew him. From that time she 
lingered, with alternations of stupor and brief consciousness, 
often apparently in extreme pain, until half-past ten o'clock 
on Monday morning, when she expired, Dec. 20, 1824, aged 
sixty-three years and eleven months. 

Her funeral took place the next day at the meeting-house. 
A large concourse attended ; several ministers from the adja- 
cent towns were present ; and a sermon was preached by the 
Rev. Dr. Porter of Farmington, from Job vii. 1, first clause. 

These sad tidings were of course communicated to me at 
Andover, chiefly in letters from my father ; but in consequence 
of the bad roads and delay of the mails, I did not hear of her 
illness until after her funeral had taken place. The shock to 
her husband was at first stunning ; and his earliest letters, as 
is not unfrequent in like circumstances, seemed to express 
little emotion. But in a letter written three weeks later, 
after he had come more fully to reahze his loss, a gush of feel- 
ing broke forth from the very depths of his soul. After re- 

142 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

counting many of the circumstances, and how, in the intervals 
of consciousness, she was " rational and calm, waiting for her 
last change," he goes on to add : " I am alone ; and for 
earthly comfort must depend much on my children. Your 
mother was to me a kind, a tender, an affectionate, and a con- 
descending wife. She was too a very tender parent to our 
children." Indeed, she was always at home ; and it was just 
there that she was most missed. Every thing reminded the 
family of her, for every thing went through her hands. 

It is difficult, at all times, to judge calmly of a departed 
mother ; perhaps more so than ever, after the lapse of four 
and thirty years. Her education was imperfect, like that of 
so many of the females of her day. She was a farmer's daugh- 
ter, born and brought up in the outskirts of Farmington, 
where the advantages were few. But she read much during 
her whole life ; and her judgments of men and things were 
independent, well considered, and usually just. The memo- 
ries of her children dwell on her humble piety, her gentleness, 
her affection. In the general features of her character, she 
much resembled her brother, the Eev. Dr. Norton of Clinton; 
except that in him those features were more developed and 
modified by education and a wider intercourse with society. 
The characteristics of humility, meekness, kindness, self- 
denial, and a retiring disposition, so prominent in the brother, 
were not less distinct and marked in the sister.* 

The inscription on her tombstone, erected after the decease 

of her husband, is as follows : 

Mrs. Elisabeth Robinson, 

Wife of the 

Rev. William Robinson, 

and daughter of 

Col. Ichabod Norton, 

died Dec. 20, 1824, 

iEt. 64. 

Her spirit has returned in peace to God 

who gave it; while the memory of her 

mild virtues is embalmed in the hearts 

of her friends. 

* See Sprague's Annals, II. pp. 332-336, 

SacT. Y.] LAST DECLINE. 143 

After the death of his wife, the health of Mr. Kobinson 
continued to dechne. In June 1825, I was with him during 
vacation ; and accompanied him to the meeting of his Associ- 
ation, which he attended for the last time. He had lost much 
flesh, and was very feeble. His limbs were swollen and bloated 
from dropsy; and his breathing was often difficult. Some- 
times he was in great distress from this cause, and unable to 
lie down. But there was a tenderness of spirit about him, 
such as I had never seen before ; and he opened his heart more 
to his children. His mind was resigned and tranquil ; he was 
evidently waiting the days of his appointed time, till his change 
should come. Such too were the spirit and tone of his subse- 
quent letters. 

In the month of July, his physician. Dr. Barnes, succeeded 
in relieving him from the droj)3ical and asthmatic symptoms ; 
so that for a few days he felt himself well, and began to hope 
for a state of better health.* The following extract from a 
letter to me, dated July 25, 1825, and supposed to be the last 
he ever wrote, expresses strongly his feelings and hopes ; and 
at the same time his constant submission to God's will : 

" My Sox, — God has remarkably appeared for me, respect- 
ing my health. I am now, as to bodily health, as well as any 
other person. For two weeks I have been perfectly freed from 
any asthmatic symptom, and also from any dropsical. I 
breathe as easily as an infant. I have no aches nor pains 
except in my limbs. My legs have been so distended with 
water, that they seem to have been torn in pieces. 

" I tell the Doctor, that I fear the symptoms will return. 
He thinks they will not. God grant it may be as he hopes." 

That the former symptoms might return was a very natu- 
ral source of solicitude. Nor was it less obvious, that if in his 
then wasted and feeble state, the recurrence of these, or the 
access of other unfavourable symptoms, was to be avoided, it 
could only be hoped for in connection with the utmost atten- 

* See the letter of Dr. Barnes, in Sect. VI. 

144 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

tion to regularity and moderation in diet and exercise. This 
latter consideration,, in the excitement of the moment, he 
apjDears entirely to have disregarded. About the first of 
August he went to New Haven, (then a much more fatiguing 
journey than now,) and returned on the following day. The 
weather was very warm. While there, he was very much 
alarmed and agitated by the sudden illness of his only grand- 
son, who bore his name, and in whom he took strong interest. 
On the third day he went to Farmington and back ; and on 
the fourth drove as usual about the tovm. 

All this exertion and fatigue, coupled with some irregu- 
larities of diet in the too free use of improper food, was too 
much for his enfeebled frame ; and on the fifth day he found 
himself quite ill. For a week, though he had fever, and was 
only able to sit up a part of each day, the family were not 
particularly alarmed. At the end of that period, the physician 
pronounced the case to be very critical, and desired counsel. 
Dr. Todd of Hartford, who had been for many years his con- 
sulting physician, was then sent for ; but he too gave no hope. 
On Saturday, August 13th, he rose and dressed himself for 
the last time ; but with great effort. After that, he was en- 
tirely confined to his bed. 

The disease took the form of a diarrhoea and lethargy, 
under which he sunk rapidly. Throughout Sunday he was 
evidently becoming weaker. In the few intervals when the 
lethargic cloud was lifted from his mind, he signified his trust 
in Grod, and his strong confidence and consolation in the doc- 
trines which he had ever preached. On Monday morning, 
when the physician asked him how he felt, he replied : " Mis- 
erably." Soon after this he exclaimed : " God be merciful to 
me a sinner ! " These were his last words ; and he soon be- 
came unconscious. His head was burning with fever ; and 
blisters applied to his limbs produced no effect. He continued 
in this state until seven o'clock p. m. when he was released 
from his sufferings. He died August 15, 1825, on his birth- 
day, aged seventy-one years. 


The funeral was attended on Wednesday. The people 
flocked together, to pay their last tribute of respect to the 
remains of their aged minister; and many of his associates were 
gathered together from the neighbouring towns. The Rev. 
Dr. Porter of Farmington delivered a discourse from 1 Cor. 
XV. 55-57. 

His tombstone bears the following inscription : 

The just shall live 
by faith. Heb. 10, 38. 
was born at Lebanon, August 15, 1754. In 1780 
he was ordained Pastor of the Church in 
Southington ; and continued in that relation 
41 years. He died Aug. 15, 1825, on his birth- 
day, aged 71 years. 
How mild to the righteous the dawn of immortality J 
How calm the sleep of death ! 
Venerable Father, thy head, silvered by age and bedewed with 
the tears of children and friends, is laid low in the dust ; thy 
spirit has gone to that land where the wicked cease from 
troubling, and tbe weary are at rest, — there, we trust, to 
receive the benediction, " Well done, good and faithful servant." 
jNIay the remembrance of thy kind counsels and of thy 
virtues, be a strong bond to bind us with the cords of 
peace, of harmony, and love. M&j thy loved spirit still 
influence us to seek that wisdom, whose ways are ways 
of pleasantness, and whose paths are peace. 

The Peeson of Mr. Eobinson was tall, well formed, erect, 
and imposing. He had light sandy hair, grey eyes, and shaggy 
overhanging eyebrows. He related, that while in college, he 
was called " Fire-skull," and used a leaden comb to darken the 
colour of his hair ; but the reddish hue was gone long before 
he was known to any now living. He measured six feet two 
inches in height. His head was very large ; his hat was larger 
than that of any person I have known. When he was between 

146 MEMOIR. [Part H. 

forty-five and fifty, he weighed two hundred and forty pounds. 
He was nevertheless alert and active ; and usually rode about 
the town, and often further, on horseback. Later in life, as 
we have seen, he became more corpulent and less active, and 
then drove about in a light one-horse wagon. 

His habits of life were very regular. He rose very early ; 
and of all those in the house he was ever the first up. These 
earliest hours were usually spent in his study; and thus the rest 
of the day was free for out-door employments. Or if, as was 
not seldom the case, his business called him on a summer's 
morning to Hartford or elsewhere, he would be six or eight 
miles on his way before sunrise. He laid great stress on this 
habit of early rising ; and regarded it as having been at the 
foundation of all his success in life. He was accustomed to 
say, that through his whole life he had never found any ad- 
vantage from labour or study at night; but that, if he had any 
special labour to perform, or any extra effort to make, his 
experience satisfied him, that the better way was to get up 
early, and work while the mind was fresh and vigorous. He 
held, that in this way much more could be accomplished in a 
given time, and far better ; and with much less wear and tear 
of the mental powers and of the physical constitution. — His 
temperament was sanguine ; and he was by nature quick- 
tempered and even passionate. But these tendencies were 
strictly controlled by Christian principle. He inherited much 
more of character from his mother, than from his father. The 
latter had many eccentricities ; not a trace of which was ever 
manifested in the life of the son. 

His hahits of business, likewise, were regular. His motto 
was : " A place for every thing, and every thing in its place." 
Another rule of his life was : " Never put off till to-morrow, 
what may as well be done to-day." So it was in his house- 
hold, in his farmyard and barns, and in all his farming oper- 
ations. In winter he usually saw to, and often took part in, 
the daily care of his stock ; and, until his later years, he per- 
formed himself many of those minor ofiices, which farmers 

Sect. V.] CHAEACTEE. 147 

must do themselves, or be dependent for upon their neighbours. 
His business was always conducted according to a well consid- 
ered plan, with the proper allowance for delay and bad wea- 
ther. His labourers were never left to lie idle. His own 
habits of industry were remarkable. Nothing was neglected ; 
and an appearance of order and thrift was everywhere manifest 
in the house and around it. He had not an idle moment ; 
but passed from his study to his farm, and again from his farm 
to his study, in such a manner, that while he directed the 
labours of the field, the labours of the study were never neg- 
lected. His dispatch in the transaction of business was a 
striking feature in his character. 

He was a man oi fixed habits and principles. Whatever 
he had once fully examined and approved, he was not apt to 
give up easily. And as his daily cares increased, and affairs 
at home demanded continual supervision, he early became a 
man of home. In this way he left ofi" his connection with Yale 
College and his visits to New Haven ; indeed, his children do 
not recollect more than two occasions, when he attended the 
commencement. His father in Lebanon he visited regularly in 
spring and autumn, so long as he survived. His journey to 
Whitestown in 1801, and a later one up the valley of the 
Connecticut river, have already been mentioned. His busi- 
ness often led him to visit the adjacent towns, as also Hart- 
ford ; but he was rarely in New Haven. He always made use 
of his own horse or vehicle. He is not known ever to have 
entered a stage coach ; certainly not a steamboat, if he ever 
saw one. — After 1812, as we have seen, when his eldest daugh- 
ter resided at Catskill, he occasionally visited her. 

His judgment in matters of public interest was often 
sought for ; and sometimes had great influence. On the in- 
troduction of turnpike roads, he favoured them as a means of 
intercommunication ; and took part in that leading from 
Southington to New Haven. When some of the farmers, who 
often visited that city, complained of the tolls, he proposed to 
them that if they would turn off from the turnpike and follow 

148 MEMOIR. [Part U. 

every portion of the old road that yet remained, he would 
pledge himself to see, that their tolls should he remitted. 
This put an end to such complaints. V/hen the New Haven 
and Northampton canal was planned, Mr. Eobinson was waited 
upon by a committee, to engage his influence in its behalf. 
He declined to favour it ; believing that it was not required, 
and could not be sustained. The result has fully confirmed 
his judgment. 

In the 2^oUtical struggles of the day, Mr. Eobinson was a 
strong federalist, and an opposer of Mr. Jefferson and his 
school. He did not preach politics ; though not improbably 
there were sometimes allusions in his sermons to passing 
events. His influence among the people, in connection with 
that of other leading men, may be seen in the fact, that while 
in those years the number of voters in the place was about one 
hundred and fifty, not more than eight or ten votes were usu- 
ally given on the other side. When Dr. Azel Backus, the 
successor of Bellamy, was arrested by the United States mar- 
shal for his preaching, and taken to Hartford, it was ru- 
moured that Mr. Eobinson was next to receive the same 
treatment. But nothing came of it. — Perhaps, among the 
statesmen of that day, there was no one more unpopular in 
Connecticut than Mr. Gallatin, as being a foreigner by birth, 
and the supposed tool of Mr. Jefferson. I know not when 
there has been so great a change in my own views in respect 
to any person, as between my youthful impressions of Mr. 
Gallatin and those which I received when I afterwards became 
acquainted with him in his old age, and met him often. I 
found him to be a man of exceedingly clear, original, and in- 
dependent mind, and of stern integrity ; what he knew, he 
had mostly thought out for himself, and knew thoroughly. 
He spoke of Mr. Jefferson in terms of warm personal friend- 
ship, but could never have been his tool. He was a strong 
admirer of John Calvin, as a man of acute and powerful intel- 
lect ; but rather as a statesman, who had conferred great 
benefits on Geneva (Mr. Gallatin's native city), than as a the- 

Sect. V.] CHAEACTER. 149 

ologian. He once said to me, that at one time he began occa- 
sionally to read sceptical and infidel writings ; (he did not say 
through whose influence ;) hut finding that his mind was thus 
acquiring a sceptical attitude in respect to Christianity, he threw 
them aside, and had for many years read nothing of the kind. 
The liospitaUtij of Mr. Eobinson was well known. As a 
minister, and living upon a great road, he kept of course what 
used to be called a " ministers' tavern ;" that is, he welcomed 
in hospitality all his clerical friends and others, who travelled 
that way, and gave him a passing call. He followed the same 
custom on his own journeys to Lebanon and elsewhere ; and I 
remember, as a boy, some very pleasant visits which he thus 
made. With his friends Dr. Upson of Kensington and Dr. 
Chapin of Rocky Hill, there was an almost regular interchange 
of hospitality. But what he thus received from others, was 
amply made good in the entertainment of guests at his own 
house. Dr. Sprague speaks of " the whole-souled hospitality " 
proifered to his minister and himself on his way to college in 
1811.* It was not unusual for ministers of his standing and 
acquaintance, who lived further north, on their way to the 
commencement at New Haven, to pass down by that road, and 
stop to dine with him or spend the night. I thus remember 
the countenances of many venerable men, whom I never saw 
elsewhere ; such as the Rev. Enoch Hale of Easthampton, 
Mass. his college classmate ; Dr. Parsons of Amherst, Dr. Ly- 
man of Hatfield, and others. I remember, also, at different 
times, like visits from Dr. Hart of Preston, Dr. Cyprian 'Strong 
of Chatham, Dr. Nott of Franklin, Dr. Bassett of Hebron ; 
and many others. One pleasant reminiscence of the like kind 
connects itself with President Dwight. He preached the ser- 
mon at the ordination of the Rev. Noah Porter in Farming- 
ton, November 5, 1806, more than fifty years ago. My father 
and mother were j)resent, and returned home the same even- 
ing. The next day Dr. Dwight and Prof Day (his successor), 
returning in their chaise to New Haven, stopped at my father's 

* Sprague's Aimals, II. p. 136. 

150 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

house to dine. There had been no notice of their coming ; 
and my good mother was greatly troubled, as she had prepared 
only an ordinary family dinner ; but the bland courtesy of the 
President soon reassured her. The interview seemed to be a 
pleasant one to all. The President, I recollect, putting his 
hand on my head, said to my father, " I suppose, (Sir, you in- 
tend to send him to us by and by.'' The latter had no such 
intention, but gave an evasive reply. 

But if these hospitalities were mainly pleasant, they some- 
times had also an amusing side. It was not seldom that per- 
sons came, introducing themselves as ministers, of whom the 
family had never heard. If less welcome, they were neverthe- 
less not less well received. In one instance, two days before 
the annual thanksgiving, a person called, as a preacher, travel- 
ling on horseback, but utterly unknown to my father. He 
was welcomed to good quarters ; and it was naturally sup- 
posed, that he would proceed on his journey the next morning. 
But he gave no sign of departure. On the morning of thanks- 
giving day, my father felt that ministerial courtesy required 
of him to invite the stranger to preach. He consented, and 
delivered a rambling discourse. Afterwards came the thanks- 
giving dinner ; at which he begged for his favourite piece, the 
' shoulder ' of the turkey ; though this seemed to be to him 
but one choice bit among many. Dinner being ended, he 
speedily called for his horse and went his way. We never 
heard of him again ; but his ' shoulder' of turkey became pro- 
verbial'among us children. — At another time a young preacher 
called, whom I met again after some years. He came between 
ten and eleven o'clock in the forenoon, said he had had no 
breakfast, and was very faint. My father was away ; but my 
mother, at his request, cared for his wants and those of his 
horse. After a good breakfast, his faintness disappeared ; 
and, his horse being rested and fed, he went on his way re- 
joicing. He had probably made an early start, expecting to 
reach the house about breakfast time, but had been disap- 

Sect. V.] CHARACTER. 151 

As the Pastor of an extensive, though not wealthy parish, 
Mr, Robinson took great interest in tlie common schools, and 
generally in the education of the young. Like most pastors 
in Connecticut in his day, he was annually appointed one of 
the school visitors. As such, he usually conducted the exam- 
ination of the teachers ; and regularly visited each school twice 
in every season. He laid great stress upon having the West- 
minster catechism taught in the schools ; and once a year, for 
a long time, the children of all the schools were brought to- 
gether in the meeting-house, where the pastor publicly exam- 
ined them in the catechism. During his ministry several 
young men from his parish graduated at Yale College ; but it 
does not appear that they adopted this course through any in- 
fluence exerted on his part. Indeed, he counselled his own 
sons not to go to college ; expressing the opinion, that such 
a course of education was important only for those, who were 
looking forward to the ministry of the Gospel. Yet to his 
three sons, who preferred to take a college course, he never hes- 
itated to furnish the means. 

As a pastor, too, his visits among his people were fre- 
quent ; and as he rode much about the town, it sometimes 
happened, that those who lived in the outskirts saw their pas- 
tor oftener in their houses than those who dwelt nearer. He 
was very observant of his congregation ; knew them all by 
sight ; and saw whether they were present in the house of God 
on the Sabbath. If any one was absent, it used to be said, 
(as already noted,) that Mr. Robinson always called on Mon- 
day, to inquire if the person was ill. The late Judge Lowrey 
of Southington, who knew Mr. Robinson only in the five or 
six last years of his life, but whose opportunities for learning 
the estimation in which he was held by his people, were of the 
very best kind, thus writes : " I have always understood, that 
Mr. Robinson was very kind to the poor, to the sick, and to 
those in affliction ; and while he exacted what was his due 
from those who were able to pay, I believe the poor always 
considered him their friend, and had reason to bless him." 

152 MEMOIE. [Part II. 

As a pastor, Mr. Eobinson also took a deep interest in the 
missionary ivorh ; and faithfully urged its claims upon his 
people. But he took no active public part in conducting the 
work. The founders of the Connecticut Missionary Society, and 
also of the American "Board, were among his personal friends ; 
and he aided them in every way, except as an officer of a public 
body. The Connecticut Evangelical Magazine, which was 
first established in aid of the missionary cause, he circulated 
extensively among his people ; as he later likewise circulated 
the Missionary Herald. Besides his ordinary contributions 
to this cause, he made at one time a donation of one thousand 
dollars to the American Board. 

The Preaching of Mr. Eobinson was adapted, perhaps, 
rather to instruct, convince, and edify, than to awaken convic- 
tion of sin. He dwelt much upon the great doctrines of the 
Gospel, especially the absolute sovereignty and infinite holi- 
ness of God ; and felt, in so doing, that he was following 
apostolic example. He once remarked : " It was the prac- 
tice of the apostles to establish important truths ; and then 
enforce duty by inference or implication." — For two or three 
of the early years of his ministry, his sermons were written out 
in full ; but he afterwards wrote down only a skeleton of four 
or eight octavo pages, laid into the Bible which he held in his 
hand. This gave him opportunity to dwell more or less on 
particular points ; and imparted to the whole an air of extem- 
poraneous preaching. But his discourses were all fully thought 
out ; and the leaves of his Bible were folded down at all his 
references ; so that he could turn to them at once and without 

His familiar acquaintance loitli the Bible, and especially 
with the New Testament, was remarkable ; though he was not 
a biblical scholar after the present fashion. Of Hebrew he 
knew nothing ; and of Greek his knowledge was neither philo- 
logical nor exegetical. But he was accustomed from early life 
to peruse his Greek Testament ; and his rule was, never to let 
a day pass without thus reading one or more chapters. The 

Sect. V.] CHARACTER. I53 

only regular commentary which he possessed, was Poole's An- 
notations ; and of this he made little use. 

His general ajjpearance and manner in the pulpit, while 
strikingly natural and unconstrained, were yet full of dignity 
and even of majesty. To this his tall commanding figure, 
and the expression of his eyes and features, greatly contributed. 
He apparently made no use of his few notes while preaching ; 
so that, except when reading from his Bible, his eyes seemed 
to be fixed constantly upon his hearers. His manner and ap- 
pearance were such as to secure, in an uncommon degree, the 
attention of his audience.* If his sermons were doctrinal, 
there was often great tenderness and pathos in the application. 
He was himself not seldom affected even to tears, and his 
voice then faltered with emotion. 

Of the influence and effect of Ms preacliing, in the growth 
of his church, something has been already said, I may cite 
here the language of Judge Lowrey, who became a member 
of the church several years after Mr. Eobinson's decease : 
"He began early to preach much on devotional subjects ; and 
continued that practice more, probably, than most ministers, 
throughout his life. The consequence was, that the members 
of his society were better informed in the fundamental doc- 
trines of our religion, than the members of most churches at 
the present day. And if his hearers were not all pleased, they 
were instructed in those great principles, which furnished them 
with materials for profitable reflection through life. I am 
not, perhaps, a competent judge ; but I do not believe there 
was any congregation, in this part of the country, so v/ell in- 
structed in the fundamental truths of Christianity, as were the 
members of the congregation to whom Mr. Robinson preached. 
Nor do I believe there was any other congregation in this 
vicinity, who were better judges of correct preaching." 

It is very possible, that while the great cardinal doctrines 
of the Grospel were thus fully dwelt upon, there might be 

* The preceding expressions in this paragraph are mainly quoted from a letter 
of the late Prof. Ethan A. Andrews LL. D. of New Britain. 

154 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

sometimes too little of encouragement held out to that class of 
minds, which are constitutionally humble, timid, self distrust- 
ful. The enforcement of the absolute sovereignty and infinite 
holiness of God, and of the utter helplessness and unwor- 
thiness of man, did not in itself tend to bring such minds nearer 
to God ; they needed to be urged forward by representations of 
the love and mercy of God in Christ, It was for this reason, 
perhaps, that not a few persons sat for many years under the 
preaching of Mr. Kobinson, who did not come forward to pro- 
fess their faith in Christ until the last years of his ministry, 
or even until they came under the ministry of his successor. 

One trait in his life as a pastor I have ever looked back 
upon with interest. I mean the encouragement he gave to 
the deacons and other leading men of the church and society 
to visit him, and discuss topics of theology, both theoretic 
and practical. Of these discussions I retain, of course, no 
very definite recollection ; but I have the strong impression, 
that some of them would be regarded, at the present day, as 
doing no discredit to an examination for license. I have thus 
sometimes been led to compare the amount of doctrinal knowl- 
edge often acquired by farmers and mechanics in the country, 
with that of professional and other business men in our large 
cities. My impression is, that the advantage lies on the side 
of the former ; that they have more time and taste for reflec- 
tion, and exhibit more patient and persevering thought; while 
the latter are apt to apply the decision and dispatch of daily 
business habits to their own moral and religious training. 

As a Theologian the views and reasonings of Mr. Robin- 
son were clear, systematic, and decided. His mind was re- 
remarkably logical, and also practical ; nor did he hesitate to 
carry out his principles to all their legitimate consequences. 
But his theology was eminently scriptural ; and one appro- 
priate proof-text outweighed with him a whole cart-load of 
metaphysical reasoning. His views and system rested alto- 
gether on Scripture ; and were wrought out mainly by his own 
independent processes of thought and reasoning, and not ac- 

Sect. V.] CHARACTER. 155 

quired from reading or instruction. It has already been 
remarked, that in his system he perhaps received stronger 
influences from Bellamy, than from any other source.* All the 
works of that writer were to he found in his library ; as also the 
great treatises of Edwards, at first in their separate form, and 
then as collected by Dr. Austin. He had also the works and 
treatises of his cotemporaries, Hopkins, West, Smalley, Strong, 
Dwight, and others ; but besides these and Eidgley's Body of 
Divinity, there was little of systematic theology in his library. 
Not a work nor a treatise of Calvin did it contain until 1816, 
when he became a subscriber to Allen's translation of the In- 
stitutes, published at New Haven and Philadelphia. His 
intellectual characteristics are well described by the Rev. Dr. 
Chapin, for many years his most intimate friend, while com- 
paring him with the Rev. Dr. Smalley, as related in the letter 
of the Rev. Mr. Robbins in the next Section. 

In his Personal Address, Mr. Robinson was kind, aftable, 
and dignified. In his last years his appearance was exceed- 
ingly venerable. He was a man of strong feelings and of 
great tenderness, which he could not always control. When 
he examined his children in the catechism on Sunday after- 
noon, his instructi(ms and exhortations seldom ended without 
tears. He had himself been greatly afflicted, and he knew 
how to sympathise with others in afiiiction. In all his inter- 
course with others there was the demeanour of a gentleman ; 
and he ever exhibited a courtesy and propriety of manner, 
which rarely failed to secure respect and confidence. 

Yet with all this he was singularly and almost morbidly 
retiring and unostentatious. He had a shyness among stran- 
gers, a shrinking from forming new acquaintances, and a re- 
pugnance to put himself before the public, which were con- 
stitutional, and which he never overcame. Hence his reluc- 
tance to take part in conducting societies and public bodies. 
Although living in habits of friendly intercourse, more or less, 
with the leading clergymen and laymen of his own State, and 

* See p. 75, above. 

156 ' MEMOIR. [Part II. 

many in Massachusetts, some of whom were authors of note, 
yet it is not hnoiun that a single line from his pen loas ever 
2Jrinted during his lifetime. Nor would he ever permit his 
likeness to be taken. 

It was just this shrinking nature, this reluctance to put 
forth his power openly, that weighed him down through life. 
Had he conquered this weakness ; had he in his retired parish, 
like Bellamy in his Bethlem, given all his powers to theology 
and preaching ; there was no reason why he might not, like 
Bellamy, have become one of the giants of the day in his 
seclusion ; or have been called, like Dwight, to a wider sphere 
of influence and usefulness ; and thus have conferred lasting 
benefits upon the church at large. Or, had he at first chosen 
a different profession, and given himself to business as a jurist 
or a statesman, he might well have become eminent as a bene- 
factor to the State and nation. As it was, his efibrts and his 
influence were mainly circumscribed within the narrow boun- 
daries of his own parish ; and while he never omitted to fulfil 
all his duties towards his people, yet his life in other respects 
was occupied in private and material pursuits. Herein lay 
the great mistake of his life. In this w^ay the loss fell, not 
upon his people, but heavily upon himself. 

More than three and thirty years, a third part of a century, 
have now passed away since his decease ; and the shadows of 
time are constantly deepening around his memory. His sur- 
viving children love to look back and recall bis kindness and 
indulgence to themselves ; his tender instructions ; his pleasant 
intercourse with his family and friends ; his liberality towards 
all benevolent objects, quite in advance of the times ; his kind- 
ness and attention to the poor of his flock, who looked up to 
him as a guide, helper, and friend. They love to behold him, 
in his last days, in the attitude described by himself in one of 
his latest letters : I am loaiting and ivill loait my ap- 
poi?ited time. Though he slay me, yet loill I trust in him ; 
because he is loell worthy to he trusted ! 

Popular belief, of course, regarded Mr. Eobinion as having 

Sect. V.] CHAKACTER. 157 

accumulated an immense estate. It may subserve the cause 
of truth, even at this late day, to state, that the whole property 
left by him at his decease, real and personal of every kind, 
was barely equal to a capital, which, at the usual rate of inter- 
est, would have yielded a yearly income of fifteen hundred 

His last Will was very brief ; and the estate was settled 
under it by private agreement among the heirs, without any 
action of the Court of Probate. 

158 MEMOIR. [Part II. 


Lettees on the Character of Mr. Eobinson. 

The letters contained in this Section are from persons who 
were best acquainted with Mr. Robinson ; who had the best 
opportunities of knowing him as a man and as a minister ; 
and who were thus best able to form and express a right esti- 
mate of his character. They are divided into four classes. 

I. Three letters from members of the church and congre- 
gation in Southington. The late Rev. Fosdick Harrison 
was at one time a respected mechanic in Southington ; where he 
joined the church February 23, 1806. He afterwards studied 
theology ; first, with the Rev. Israel B. Woodward of Wol- 
cott ; and after his death in 1810, with the Rev. Dr. Porter 
of Washington, Conn, afterwards Professor at Audover. He 
was for many years pastor of the church in Bethlera, Conn, 
and recently ministered to the church at Bridgewater in New 
Milford, Conn. He died suddenly, February 9, 1858, aged 
seventy-six years. — Dr. Julius S. Barnes graduated at Yale 
College in 1815, and settled in Southington ; where he became 
Mr. Robinson's ftimily physician. He united with the church 
in 1834. — The late Romeo Lowrey, Esq. graduated at Yale 
in 1818 ; settled as a lawyer in Southington ; and was for a 
time a judge of the County Court, and also a member of the 
Senate of Connecticut. He joined the church in 1834 ; and 
died January 30, 1856. 

II. Two letters from Mr. Robinson's successors in the minis- 
try; the Rev. David L. Ogden, and the Rev.Elisha C. Jones, 
The latter had no -personal acquaintance with Mr. Robinson. 

III. Two letters from members of Hartford South Asso- 
ciation, to which Mr. Robinson belonged; viz. the Rev. Royal 


EoBBiNS of Kensington, and the Rev. Joab Brace, D. D. of 
Newington, now residing in Pittsfield, Mass. 

IV. Two letters from other clergymen, viz. the Rev. Noah 
Porter D. D. of Farmington ; and the Rev. Heman Hum- 
phrey D. D. of Pittsfield, Mass. formerly President of Am- 
herst college.* 

I. Letters from Members of the Church and Congre- 
gation IN Southington. 

1. From the late Rev. Fosdick Harrison, of Bridgewater. 

Bridgewater, Dec. 20tli, 1854. 

Rev. and Dear Sir, — I am gratified to learn that you 
think of doing something to perpetuate the memory and the 
virtues of your honoured and beloved father. Gladly would 
I contribute my mite to the undertaking. 

If I fail of suggesting any thing worthy of notice, it will not 
be from want of a disposition, certainly not from want of a 
sense of obligation. If I am, or have been, any thing more 
than I appeared, or promised to be, when I first met your 
father in my youth, I attribute it more to his instrumentality, 
than to that of any other man. From my earliest acquaint- 
ance, I found him to be a kind friend, a wise counsellor, and 
an efficient helper. AVhile living near him, I was often in 
circumstances in which I was constrained to seek his advice 
and his aid. I do not recollect that I ever sought in vain ; 
and I have yet to learn that any worthy applicant was ever 
sent empty away. 

When agitating the subject in regard to a change in my 
course of life, I saw many obstacles in my way, that appeared 
almost insurmountable. After much anxious deliberation, 
and, I trust, earnest prayer for direction, I decided to seek a 
private interview with Mr. Robinson, and lay the whole sub- 

* The letters from the Rev. Mr. Jones, and from Drs. Porter and Humphrey, 
•were communicated by me to the Rev. Dr. Sprague for his Annals, and are 
there printed, Vol. II. pp. 133-136. 

160 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

ject before him. I did it with the full purpose, that so far as 
I could gain his opinion, it should settle the question in my 
own mind, and decide my future course. He concluded to 
take the subject into consideration ; and before I saw him 
again, had decided in favour of my proposed change, and had 
made some arrangements for the prosecution of my object. 

One of his deacons, (Deac. Dutton,) after hearing of my 
plan, said : " If Mr. Kobinson approves of your course, you 
may go forward with confidence." I mention this, as showing 
the opinion of one who knew him better than myself 

During my preparatory studies, I sometimes met with op- 
position and discouragement, which to me was peculiarly de- 
pressing. I often went to him with my troubles ; and always 
came away v/ith renewed courage, and a lighter heart. 

A letter which Mr. Robinson wrote to Dr. Porter of Wash- 
ington (afterwards of Andover), in my behalf, I believe was 
the means of securing the friendship, sympathy, and assistance 
of that great and good man, to an extent which I might other- 
wise not have enjoyed. Dr. Porter had a high regard for Mr. 
Eobinson, He once remarked to this effect, in reply to some- 
thing I had said about him : " I also have some acquaintance 
with Mr, Eobinson, having sat for a time under his ministry ; 
and I regard him as possessing native powers of mind superior 
to those of any other minister in Connecticut." He added 
something further, like this : " Had the energies of his power- 
ful mind been exclusively devoted to the ministry, he would 
have taken a higher stand than any other." 

You are aware that he was envied by some, and complained 
of by others, for having too much of this world's goods to oc- 
cupy his time and thought. But it has not yet been proved, 
that with all his worldly care and prosperity, he did not spend 
more time in his study, than many ministers who have little 
else to do. For two successive winters, I boarded a little 
north of his dwelling, in sight of his study window, and in a 
family famed for early rising. We were often up by four 
o'clock, and usually had our breakflist before daylight. I do 


not recollect ever rising so early as not to see a light from that 
study window. I think he was remarkably economical of 
time, systematic in all his movements, and punctual in all his 
engagements. These traits he enjoined upon others with whom 
he had intercourse, and these were among the means of his 
prosperity. The influence he thus exerted, and the example 
he exhibited, it was admitted by many, contributed largely to 
the outward and constantly increasing prosperity of his people. 
When he settled among them, as I was told by some of the 
aged men, they were proverbial for their poverty. " Poor as 
Panthorn," (the earliest name of the place,) was an expression 
used to denote abject poverty. It was even doubted whether 
they could sustain a minister. To help supply the deficiency, 
Mr. Robinson was induced to take charge of a small farm. 
The necessity of this measure, and the benefit derived from it, 
I suppose, ultimately led him where, at the time, he did not 
intend nor expect to go. 

In all Mr. Eobinson's intercourse with his fellow-men, 
there was a gentlemanly dignity and propriety of demeanour, 
which could rarely foil to secure the respect and veneration of 
all^who saw him. Although he was ever affable, pleasant, 
and instructive in his conversation, I think I never saw the 
man, for whom I was constrained to feel such profound rever- 
ence, as I ever felt for him. 

He was a son of consolation to the afflicted. Having been 
himself a " man of sorrows," he knew how to bear a part in 
the woes of others, I have witnessed and experienced the 
outgushing of his sympathy in times of deej) afliiiction. 

I was often much interested in his public performances. 
His prayers were original, theological, instructive, and devo- 
tional, abounding in thanksgiving. In preaching, there was a 
commanding dignity in his manner, a native eloquence, pecu- 
liarly his own. 

He appeared to have a more familiar acquaintance with 
the Bible, than any other preacher I have known. I think he 
studied it, in its original Greek at least, more than most men 

162 MEMOIE. [Part II. 

of his age. He once said to me : "I let no day pass without 
reading one or more chapters from the Greek Testament." 

He ordinarily delivered his sermons with his Bible in his 
hand; and in the proof and illustration of important truths, he 
read from it abundantly, turning from one passage to another, 
with a readiness and rapidity, that produced no interruptions 
in the progress of his discourse. 

In his preaching, ho dwelt much upon the distinguishing 
doctrines of the Gospel, particularly the character and govern- 
ment of God. On these points, he might be regarded by some 
as rigidly orthodox. He once remarked, that when he com- 
menced reading Dr. Beecher's Sermons on the Divine Govern- 
ment, he was much gratified in believing we had one man in 
Litchfield County, who was orthodox on that subject ; but was 
disappointed as he approached the close, to find that the Doc- 
tor " came so near giving up the government of God into the 
hands of the sinner." 

In dwelling so much upon the doctrines, he felt that he 
was following apostolic example. He once remarked : " It was 
their practice to establish important truths, and enforce duty 
by inference or implication." 

Mr. Robinson was characterized by remarkable clearness of 
mind ; a capability of readily grasping a great subject, and 
looking through it in all its parts. Blessed with a retentive 
memory, and reading much, he possessed an extensive knowl- 
edge of men and things. 

If I have not said enough to evince my high regard for 
the man, allow me to add, that the name of my only son is 
William Robinson. 

Decemler 26 i^, 1854. 

In reference to the part of my preceding letter that needs 
explanation, permit me to indulge my story-telling propensity. 

When I was first in Southington, I became partially ac- 
quainted with a certain J. C. L. I learned that, some years 
before that time, by the efibrts of a teacher in the district 
school, he had been suddenly transformed from a turbulent. 


ungovernecl wretch^ to a decent, peaceable, and respectable 
3'outh, and was promising fair to make a useful man. Who 
the successful teacher was, I was not informed. On the even- 
ing of my arrival at Mr. Porter's in Washington, learning that 
I had resided in Southington, he asked, if I knew J. C. L, 
and what kind of man he was ? He then remarked, that 
when he, with others, was pursuing the study of theology with 
Dr. Smalley, Mr. Timothy Lewis came there from Southing- 
ton, to obtain one of the students to take charge of their cen- 
tral school. With some reluctance Mr. Porter consented to 
go with him. When well on their way toward Southington, 
Mr. Lewis began to open his budget, stating that they had one 
refractory scholar in the school, by whom it had been repeatedly 
broken up ; and that one teacher had recently left. Mr. Por- 
ter replied, that he thought his communication rather unsea- 
sonable. Had he known these facts earlier, he should not 
have been there. Being so far on his way, however, he corn- 
el uded to go on. By Mr, Porter's judicious and energetic 
management, (the details of which were interesting,) the boy 
and his parents, who upheld him, were all in a short time 
subdued, and he became one of the most docile scholars in the 
school during the remainder of the term. It was while teach- 
ing this school, that Mr. Porter listened to your father's 
preaching. You can perceive that it was to him an interest- 
ing period. Keceutly from college, pursuing the study of 
theology, and then the change from Dr. Smalley to Mr. Eob- 
inson, would all conspire to render him an interested and in- 
telligent hearer.**-' 

One remark in your last letter reminds me of another fact, 
which may not be without interest, I mentioned that I often 
resorted to your father in time of discouragement. I have 
sometimes wondered that his patience was not exhausted. 
At one time a certain minister undertook to convince me 

* Mr. Porter graduated at Dartmouth College in 1792. After teaching school 
for a few months in Washington, Conn, he pursued the study of theology with Dr. 
Smalley ; and was licensed to preach in 1794. His residence in Southington was 
apparently during the winter of 1793-4. Sprague's Annalsj II. p. 351. 

164 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

that I could not hope to succeed without a college education. 
After exhausting his own resources, which were rather limited, 
he added, " he did not believe Dr. Dwight would approve of 
my course.'' This was a point on which I was peculiarly sen- 
sitive and easily depressed. 

I called on Mr. Robinson soon, and under the pressure of 
despondency, related what had been said. I remember the 
place where he sat, the expression of his countenance, and the 
earnest tones of his voice, when, in addition to the wise objec- 
tions of my opponent, which he, Mr. Eobinson, seemed not 
much to regard, I came to what was said of Dr. Dwight. 
His instant reply was, " "What business had he to say that ? 
Dr. Dwight has himself been a minister-maker. Some of the 
greatest men in our land never smelled of college. I would 
not encourage my own sons to go there for any purpose, except 
the ministry ; and should not be very solicitous about that." 
I \\'as relieved. 

Permit me to add another incident, though I have to say 
more about myself than I should choose. After the death of 
the Eev. Mr. Woodward of Wolcott, I was for a time in sus- 
pense in regard to what course I should pursue. Your father 
consulted Mr. Hooker, and I think Dr. Chapin, in my behalf; 
but without success. I heard of Mr. Porter of Washington, 
that he had students ; and I wrote to Mr. Robinson stating 
what I had learned, and requesting his advice. He replied in 
a note, that he knew something of Mr. Porter, and thought 
well of him ; and added, " If he has students with whom you 
can rank as to proficiency, I would not object to your going 

The term " proficiency" I did not then fully comprehend ; 
or see why, if others knew more than I did, I might not have 
the privilege of learning what I could. When I met him 
again, I asked him to explain. He said, there was an old lady 
in the parish, famous for raising chickens. She would so 
manage as to have all her hens set and come ofi' with their 
broods at the same time ; sometimes a hundred chickens of 

Sect. VI.] LETTERS.— DR. J. S. BARNES. 165 

the same age. When asked why she took so much pains to 
secure such a result; " Because," she said, "she didn't want to 
have a mess of great chickens treading on the little ones."' 
It occurred to him, that Mr. Porter might have a numher of 
young men fresh from college ; who, if not disposed to say, 
"Stand by thyself, I am holier than thou," might yet feel in- 
clined to say, " Stand by thyself, I know more than thou. " 
This, he feared, might render ray position unpleasant, I had 
not been many weeks at Mr. Porter's, before I learned that 
there was more wisdom and a better knowledge of human na- 
ture indicated by this suggestion, than I at first apprehended. 
I saw your father a short time during a painful sickness, 
which occurred a few years before his death ; but which he was 
apprehensive might be his last. He manifested a calm resig- 
nation to the divine will ; and I think repeated one of his 
favourite texts, as expressive of his feelings : "Though he slay 
me, yet will I trust in him." He expressed a desire to live 
longer for the benefit of his people ; fearing some evil results 
to them if he should be then removed. 

Yours with sentiments of high regard, 

F. Harrison. 

2. From Julius S. Barnes M. D, of Southmgton. 

SouxnixGTOx, March 24, 1855. 

Dear Sir, — Yours of the lOfch inst. was duly received. 
Since that time I have seen some of the old people living here 
near the time of your father's settlement. Most of those with 
whom I have conversed, are women. All the old men, who 
then belonged to the congregational church and society in 
this town, are gone. 

The greatest blank in his life, you say, is from 1780 to 
1800. All that I can learn of him during this period, is, 
that aside from the ordinary duties of a pastor, he kept bees, 
and let them out ; that he purchased cows, and let them out ; 


that he bought land, and let it out ; all upon shares. His 
duties, both as a minister and pastor, were during this time 
performed to general satisfoction ; though nothing remarkable, 
or worthy of particular notice, has been learned by me. His 
later life, j^ou are probably much better acquainted with than 
I am. 

Your father was generally considered preeminently a great 
man ; and among men accounted great, would have found few 
his superiors. He was remarkable forhispimctuality in all his 
eno-ag-ements ; not forjrettino; the minutest, more than matters 
of importance ; thus setting an example which was a great 
benefit to his people and the town. 

His preaching, so far as I had knowledge of it, (about 
three years,) was sound and orthodox ; setting forth the sove- 
reignty of God, his decrees, election, etc. and when he took 
time to prepare, he preached excellent sermons. Had he given 
his attention to the study of theology, to writing and publish- 
ing, he would doubtless have excelled most of his cotempora- 
ries, and would have been more extensively known and appre- 
ciated. As it was, his usefulness was circumscribed. 

He was ever ready to aid the sick and suffering, not by 
sympathy only, but by substantial aid and relief. 

He took a great interest in the young, and endeavoured to 
have them trained to virtuous habits. He visited the com- 
mon schools ; and instructed both the teachers and scholars. 
His efforts here for the good of the people of his charge will 
long be felt, and held in grateful remembrance. 

Many pithy sayings of his are remembered and frequently 
repeated, though I do not recollect distinctly many of them. 
One of them was : '' If a man here wishes to eat wheat, he 
must raise rye." He had a ready fund of anecdote, to illus- 
trate and enforce upon the mind and memory truths, which he 
wished to communicate. He was reverenced, feared, and 
loved. Reverenced for the sanctity of his office ; feared for his 
manly and dignified deportment, and his acknowledged supe- 
riority ; and loved for his affability and condescension. 


His last sickness was brief; I think of about five days 
continuance. Previous to this, for a year or more, he com- 
ph\ined of difficulty of breathing in walking, and upon any 
muscular exertion. His lower extremities were much swollen; 
and he had unmistakable symptoms of JiydratJiorax, or water 
in the chest or pericardium. By the use of remedies, the ur- 
gent and distressing symptoms were relieved ; and in the 
month of July before his death, when I urged the propriety 
and necessity of his taking tonics after the evacuation of the 
water from his body, he said : " I need no medicine ; I feel 
perfectly well, and am at least fifteen years younger than 
I was." 

His final sickness was a diarrhoea and a general lethargy, 
induced, as I suppose, by too great exertion and fatigue on a 
very warm day, and eating improper food in such quantity as 
to oppress and derange the system in its weak state. 

April 2, 1855. 
Since I wrote you, I have further learned from an aged man, 
that your father's influence was great in a moral, political, 
and religious point of view, in this as well as the neighbouring 
towns. Soon after the commencement of the French revolu- 
tion, he foresaw its probable results, and publicly in the pulpit 
denounced French philosophy and Jacobinism, as being one 
and the same thing, and nothing but rank infidelity. He had 
no sympathy with Jefiersonian democracy ; and his influence 
was such, that the best men of the town were in office during 
the whole period of his ministry. 

Kespectfully yours, 

J. S. Barnes. 

3. From the late Romeo Lowrey Esq. of Soutliington. 

SouTHiNGTOx, January 9, 1855. 

Dear Sir, — Personally, I knew your father more as a 
business man and a private citizen, than as a preacher ; in 
fact, he preached but little after I came here. I have not 

168 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

been able, since I received your letter, to see any of the aged 
people ; and indeed, but few remain who could give much in- 
formation respecting the earlier part of his ministry. He was 
settled in the hard winter of 1780, on a salary of one hundred 
pounds in money or grain, and twenty-five cords of wood an- 
nually. I do not know what patrimony your father might 
have had ; but on such a salary as his, most men, with a 
family, would have remained poor ; especially as this was far 
from being paid with promptitude prior to 1795. I have 
been told, that he collected a considerable portion of his salary 
himself until 1795 ; taking his pay in such articles as he could 
get, and keeping an accurate account of all he received in this 
way, as well as from the treasury. He was scrupulously exact 
in all his accounts ; and punctual in all his duties as a pastor. 
I am not aware that he ever asked for an increase of his salary, 
or made complaint that it was not punctually paid ; although 
he might justly have made such complaint. He actually re- 
mitted in one or more years, ten pounds from his salary, on 
account of the poverty of the society. He received but little 
from the members of his society in the way of presents, or in 
any other way except for marriage fees ; and if you have ever 
examined his record of marriages, you have noticed the amount 
received at every marriage solemnized by him ; and that 
amount was small.* 

But your fether had the good sense to know and feel, that 
the society was feeble ; that there were few, if any, wealthy 
members in it ; and in fact, until the close of the revolutionary 
war, and for many years after, all were poor. In this situa- 
tion, he found it necessary to rely upon his own exertions to 
support himself and family ; and with the great good sense 
and judgment, which he possessed, he commenced early those 
habits of industry and economy, which he continued to prac- 
tise through life. And while he attended faithfully to all the 
duties of a pastor, he had, by his industry and economy and 

* The regular wedding fee was owe dollar. Where more or less than that was 
paid, it was regularly entered on his record. — E. R. 

Sect. VI.] LETTERS.— R. LOWREY, ESQ. 169 

Avise management, as early as 1795, become, I suppose, more 
wealthy than any member of his congregation ; insomuch, that 
many thought he was receiving too much pay, and was grow- 
ing too rich. 

There had never, I believe, been a full examination of the 
accounts between your father and the society, until about the 
year 1795. They then called a society-meeting, and appointed 
a committee to examine the accounts ; and ascertain whether 
he had not been overpaid. Yourftither had every cent credited, 
that he had received ; and upon the adjustment of their ac- 
counts, they found that the society were in arrear one or two 
years of his salary. They then, I think, so altered the original 
agreement, that he was to receive one hundred and ten pounds 
in money, as his salary, instead of his former salary and wood ; 
and this was all that he ever received, until the close of his 

I have always understood, that your father was very kind 
to the poor, to the sick, and those in affliction ; and while he 
exacted what was his due from those who were able to pay, 
I believe the poor always considered him their friend, and had 
reason to bless him. 

He had been much afflicted by the death of members of 
his family ; and always sympathized deeply with those who 
were in trouble. 

He became extensively engaged in agriculture ; and in the 
cultivation of his lands he was far in advance of his neigh- 
bours. From him they derived much valuable instruction on 
that subject. He was always punctual in all his engagements, 
and wanted others to be so ; and although they did not all 
profit by his example, yet many under his influence learned 
that important lesson, and practised it through their lives. 

He had a mind capable of mastering any subject upon 
which he wished to inform himself. There were branches of 
the law, on which he was as well informed as almost any lawyer 
in the State; and if he had devoted his time to the study of 

170 MEMOIR. [Pact II. 

law, or politics, he would have become eminent either as a 
lawyer or statesman. 

He took a deep interest in the education of the young ; 
and, I believe, was appointed annually, until near the close of 
his ministry, one of the visiting committee of our common 
schools, and one of the committee for examining the qualifica- 
tions of teachers. My impression is, that he visited all the 
schools in the society twice or more every year ; and gave to 
the teachers and scholars much valuable instruction. 

I have been informed, that he was in the habit of pur- 
chasing books, and distributing them among the poor children, 
whom he found in the schools destitute of books. The influ- 
ence which he exerted over our schools, was most salutary, 
and remained long after he was gone. 

As I have said, I knew personally but little about Mr, 
Robinson as a preacher. At the close of the revolutionary 
war, French infidelity prevailed through the country ; and in 
some places the prevalence of it became alarming, and even 
professors of religion imbibed doctrines which your father, who 
was a strict Calvinist, considered erroneous. Arminian views 
were cherished by many ; and about this time the Episcopa- 
lians and Baptists began to hold meetings within his society, 
and to inculcate doctrines which neither of those sects would 
approve at the joresent day. To counteract all these evil ten- 
dencies, and to establish his people upon what he considered 
the true doctrine of the Bible, he began early to preach much 
upon doctrinal subjects, and continued that practice more, 
probably, than most ministers, through his life. The conse- 
quence was, that the members of his society were better in- 
formed in the fundamental docti'ines of our religion, than the 
members of most churches, even at the present day ; and if his 
hearers were not all pleased, they were instructed in those 
great principles, which furnished them with material for 
profitable reflection through life. 

I am not, perhaps, a competent judge, but I do not believe 
there was any congregation in this part of the country, so well 

Sect. VI.] LETTERS.— REV. MR. OGDEN. l7l 

instructed in the fundamental truths of Christianityj as were 
the members of that to which your father preached ; nor do I 
beheve there was any other congregation in this vicinity, who 
were better judges of correct preaching, than liis. 

Mr. Kobinson had read much, and had read thoroughly 
and understandiugly. But I believe he spent more time in 
thinking than in reading ; and from observation, reading, and 
reflection, he had stored his mind with a fund of knowledge, 
which made his society interesting, instructive, and useful. 
He knew well the value of time, and improved it. In the last 
year or two of his life, he used to call frequently at my oflSce, 
and I always found his conversation pleasant and profitable. 

I believe the estimate generally made of him was, that he 
was one of the great men in an age of great men. 

Yours respectfully, 


II. Letters from his Successors in the Ministry. 

1. From the Kev, David L. Ogden, now of New Haven. 

New Havex, November 15, 1854. 

Dear Sir, — My reminiscences of your father are all agree- 
able. He manifested towards me, as his successor in the 
pastorate, a kind and magnanimous spirit. I know it is an 
old proverb, that ' dismissed ministers make bad parishioners.' 
I do not believe that it is founded in truth. At any rate your 
father was no example of it. I am not conscious of doing 
any thing to merit his kind treatment ; except that I always 
endeavoured to show him that respect, which was due to his 
age and personal character. 

He was not a man of great professions without action, but 
he generally did more than he said ; being remarkably sincere 
and unostentatious. As an instance of this, I learned that he 
went around among the people, to induce them to help me to 
build the house which I afterwards occupied ; but he never 

172 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

told me a word respecting that fact. His kindness appears 
to have arisen from mere principle. 

He was a man of uncommon wisdom. I found that when- 
ever I asked his advice, he gave it willingly ; but he never 
obtruded it upon me. 

As he had a commanding intellect, and had acquired 
great influence in the parish, it was supposed that he would 
control a young man, as I was. But he never attempted it. 
If in any case I differed from him in opinion, he showed a 
greatness of mind in finding no fault. I have often, since I 
have attained to greater experience, wondered at the patience 
with which he bore my imperfections. On the whole, I believe 
I lived with him as a son with a father, certainly so far as he 
was concerned. 

He was a man of order. It is no small tribute to his 
memory, that for forty-one years he kept that great society to- 
gether in such a good degree of harmony, that a promising 
field was furnished for his successor to cultivate. 

As a preacher he was universally considered as showing 
discernment and talent. I never had the pleasure of hearing 
him, as he always declined preaching in the pulpit he had 
occupied ; but I learned something from the people, and I in- 
ferred something from the effects on their minds then appa- 
rent. Among other things, it appeared in the willingness of 
the people to receive sound doctrinal instruction and pointed 
reproof. It was not difficult for a young man to follow him, 
and be faithful to the consciences of the people ; for he had 
prepared them to receive any thing that was true, however 
unpalatable it might be. He dwelt much upon the divine 
efficiency ; perhaps more than on human agency. It is pos- 
sible, that he might have given the former topic too much 
prominence, as many others did in his day. But he doubtless 
acted conscientiously ; and he made a great impression of all 
that class of doctrines on which he loved to dwell. From the 
fev/ words which he dropped to me on his dying bed, for his 
disease was such as prevented his saying much, I judge that 
he took great consolation from the doctrines he had preached. 


He had a weight of character, which always commanded 
respect. He was so pointed in his rebukes of sin, that many 
were afraid of him. He never feared to give his opinions on 
all subjects where they were asked ; and some being unable to 
meet him in argument, feared him on this account. 

Had he occupied a post where such talents were required, 
I think he would have shown well as a theological teacher. 
His mind was one of great power ; and it always excelled 
where it was called into exercise. 

Yours, truly, 

David L. Ogden. 

2. From the Eev. Elisha C. Jones, noio Pastor of tJie 
Church in Southington. 

SouTHixGTox, October 25, 1854. 

Dear Sir, — The traces of your father's influence upon the 
town are yet plainly discernible ; although upwards of thirty- 
four years have elapsed since he closed his public labours. 
During the early part of my residence here, which commenced 
about seventeen years ago, his sayings and doings were very 
often quoted with great deference by the older class of people ; 
nor is it uncommon to hear them repeated at this day, by 
those who have received them by tradition from their ftithers. 

He evidently impressed the minds of his generation with 
the conviction, that he was a man of much wisdom, both in 
regard to secular and religious interests ; and his observations 
and opinions seem to have been held in high veneration. 
From much that I have heard concerning him, I have been 
led to infer, that he was remarkably keen and discriminating 
in his judgment of human character and actions ; and that 
men were made to feel in his presence, that he knew them 
well. The idea of his being eminently sagacious and discreet, 
is one of the first and last that has held possession of my 
mind in regard to him. 

My impression of the general influence of his ministry is, 

174 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

that it was rather fitted, like that perhaps of most able 
preachers of his day, for laying " the foundation of many gen- 
erations," than for producing immediate visible results ; and 
I have long supposed and often said, that the subsequent 
growth and prosperity of this church were probably based, in 
a good measure, upon the sound doctrinal knowledge in which 
he established the minds of the people in his day. The high 
views which he inculcated of the sovereign holiness and grace 
of God, prepared their hearts to bow low before the mercy- 
seat, when the " times of refreshing came from the presence of 
the Lord ; " and prompted them to enjoin upon their children 
the same sentiments, which they had themselves imbibed, 
'' And herein is that saying true, one soweth and another 

This view of the case would probably be better appreciated 
by the older than by the j^ounger portion of the community ; 
and by his colleagues and successors in tlie ministry than by 
ordinary laymen. 

I have often heard him spoken of in clerical circles as a 
sound and able divine, and as a man of great practical discern- 
ment and wisdom. 

On the whole, estimating him in connection with the cir- 
cumstances and customs of his times, he appears to me to 
have been one of the strong pillars of the church : and to have 
moulded the opinions and character of society after a true 
pattern, both in respect to the great doctrines of revelation 
and the well ordering of public institutions and private affairs 

of life. 

With great respect, yours very truly, 

E. C. Jones. 


III. Letters from Members of Hartford South Asso- 

1. From the Key, Eoyal Eobbins, of Kensington. 

Kknsixgtox, September 25, 1854. 
Key. and Dear Sir, — I do not know that the little I 
have to say concerning your father, can be of much use to his 
biographer ; yet it gives me satisfaction to pay my humble 
tribute of respect to his memory. 

Although I lived so near him, it does not occur to my 
recollection, that I ever heard him preach more than once or 
twice. Once at a meeting of the Association I was present, 
when he preached ; and though, at this distant day, the text 
and the subject are forgotten, I have a distinct remembrance 
of a remark which he made, and which probably was charac- 
teristic of his tone of preaching. I infer that his pulpit exhi- 
bitions were pointed and discriminating ; that his manner was 
plain and unaffected ; and his elocutiou quite natural and con- 
versation-like. Had I never heard him preach, I should have 
learned his strict Calvinism from the reputation he bore, as 
well as from remarks I heard from him in private. I remem- 
ber his criticising some sentiment of Dr. Smalley's, which he 
thought savoured of Arminianism. The particular thing has 
passed from my mind ; but I believe your father deemed it of 
some importance, correct as he must have viewed the Doctor 
to be, generally, in his theology. 

In native powers of mind, I think your father stood in the 
foremost rank amons; the brethren in our Association. Such, 
I believe, was the common opinion. I remember well a com- 
parison, which D)-. Chapin drew between him and Dr. Smalley, 
in regard to the character of their intellects respectively. Dr. 
Smalley was represented as being perhaps the more acute 
reasoner, or at least capable of seeing at a greater distance in 
one given direction, and pursuing a point farther, in a process 
of deduction, than your father ; but the latter as comprehend- 

176 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

ing more in the field of his vision, and taking a wider range of 
thought. The representation impressed me with the belief, 
that your father had the more numerous resources in knowl- 
edge and intermediate ideas, with greater breadth of views ; 
and that Dr. Smalley possessed the keener metaphysical in- 
sight in a narrower compass. There is reason to think, that 
this may have been the fact with these two able men. Your 
father had, doubtless, a wide reach of thought, embracing 
many subjects, both secular and religious ; and his mind seems 
to have been of a highly practical character. 

Of his ardent piety and profound submission to God, there 
were abundant tokens in his habitual conduct. When your 
mother died, the expression of his feelings to me was striking, 
as he met me on the occasion of her funeral ; for I particularly 
remember what he said. "I do not know," he remarked 
among other things, "what the Lord intends to do with me." 

Your father was evidently a man of strong and tender 
feelings ; and was sympathetic and social in his nature. The 
many afflictions and painful changes through which he passed, 
had doubtless their softening, hallowing effect on him, giving 
him a childlike tenderness and teachableness. To feel that 
whatever God did was right, seems to have been fixed and 
habitual in him ; and while he commiserated the affiicted, I 
believe he was wont to enjoin on them the duty of unqualified 
acquiescence in the divine will. This duty I know he urged 
on myself, on the occasion of the death of my first-born child. 

Your father was a man of much kindness and friendliness 
in the intercourse of life ; at least I am led to judge so from 
his Christian and ministerial urbanity towards me. No doubt 
he was interested in my welfare as a young minister, settled 
in his neighbourhood, and connected with his early and inti- 
mate friend. Dr. Upson ; and for the sake of the Gospel which 
he loved, he was not indifterent to my success. His benevo- 
lent feelings were apparent towards myself, and I doubt not 
towards others. 

That he preached the Gospel faithfully to his people, and 


guided his church with a steady and efficient hand, is the im- 
pression I have had ever since he became known to me. The 
weight of his opinions and counsels in the Association to 
which he belonged, was felt and duly acknowledged by his 

What he was, however, in the meetings of that body, and 
in other ecclesiastical assemblies, and in some other respects, 
also, perhaps Dr. Brace of Newington can give more information 
than I ; for he is several years my senior in the ministry ; and 
must have met your father many more times in ecclesiastical 
and religious meetings than was the case with me. And I 
think, moreover, that Dr. Brace would have a lively appre- 
ciation of your father's character in many respects, beyond any 
other clergyman living, unless it be Dr. Porter. 

The thought of the fathers, who have passed away, is 
pleasant and mournful to the soul. Their worth of character 
is to us a precious legacy. 

Yours, ever, with Christian esteem, 


2. From the Rev. Joab Brace D. D. formQrly of Neioington. 

Newington, October 31, 1854. 
Dear Sir, — Your father was an acute, observing, pene- 
trating judge of men and business. I suppose he did more 
than twenty others, to make Southington what it is. And it 
is one of the most stable towns in the State, one of the most 
staid congregations, and one of the most liberal in missionary 
contributions. I can see how it is. That whole region was 
Farmington plain, a sandy country, covered with shrub-oaks 
and white birches, inhabited by a retired people, who had not 
found their own powers of enterprise and success. It was 
Panthorn then. Your father went in among them, a divine, 
a philosopher, an inventor, a practical, every-day, common- 
sense worker. He settled upon a small salary, and had 
nothing of an estate. He had mind. He had knowledge ; that 

178 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

is, power. He could make a little do a great deal. As he 
once told me of Koger Whittlesey, so I may say of himself : 
" He would live upon a rock." I feel an impression of Mr. 
"Whittlesey's saying to me : "It was Mr. Eobinson who taught 
the people of Southington how to live." 

Your father's money was planted corn, producing a hun- 
dred-fold. If a poor neighbour's cow were about being seized 
for debt, Mr. Eobinson would say : " Here, I will buy your 
cow, and let you keep her for rent, (four dollars a year,) and 
let you redeem her, whenever you can do it." He would pos- 
sess forty or fifty cows in this way, relieving the men, encour- 
aging their industry and frugality, and laying a foundation for 
them to become men of property. If a man were in debt for 
his house and land, and liable to a forced sale, Mr. Eobinson 
said to him : " I will lend you money to pay your debt, take a 
a mortgage of your farm, and let you redeem it just as soon as 
you can." Thus he saved many ; while he might be obliged 
to hold the property of the inactive and improvident, who had 
not energy and calculation enough to work their way out. He 
put them into a condition to help themselves, if they had the 
resolution to do it. 

He was himself a bright example of intellectual and prac- 
tical farming. His grounds were cultivated, and planted, and 
harvested, in season, and with system and success. He was a 
professor of agriculture, an agricultural society, a specimen 
known and read of all men. He could set his property at 
work in mills, manufactories, banks ; and he could be his own 
banker as well as Stephen Girard. It was easy for him to 
manage a million of business ; while another is distressed and 
perplexed, in bringing his own small affairs round the year. 

It is impossible for me to measure the influence of your 
father in raising that farming, manufacturing, enterprising 
town of Southington. The people felt his power. They 
revered his learning. They were sensible of his strong mind, 
of his literature, his divinity, and of his decisive and bold 
preaching. One man said that " Mr. Eobinson was a water- 

Sect. VI.] LETTERS.— REV. DR. BRACE.. 179 

man ; he looked one way and rowed the other." Mr. Kobin- 
son replied, that if he had two talents, he had no right to 
neglect either. 

The congregation in Southington is now one of the largest 
in the State, one of the most orthodox, and one of the most 
pmitanical in its habits. No people make a greater work of 
attending public worship than they; and none have been more 
remarkable in later years for revivals of religion. I spent 
some time there with Mr. Ogden, when the whole town seemed 
to be awake. A great part of the people lived three miles and 
four miles from the house of worship ; and yet they had great 
constancy in attending. Indeed, the people of Southington 
have been observed from generation to generation, for their 
exemplary attendance on the Sabbath and public worship. 

I suppose the high doctrines of the Gospel which your 
father maintained and preached, and the strict rules of living 
which he enjoined, prepared the way for those revivals of re- 
ligion, which have led so many into the church, and which 
have given the town so good a character. The people were 
from the beginning under the power of an orthodox ministry, 
and trained up in puritan practices ; so that the revivals which 
were ascribed to the agency of the succeeding ministers, really 
had their origin in the faithful services of those who went before. 

Your father was stern in his spirit, and awful in his eye ; 
but he was gentle and kind in his conversation. I am es- 
pecially impressed with this thought, as I recollect the feelings 
of Mrs. Brace in regard to his manner and aspect, in our many 
exchanges. She was always happy to have him come ; and 
she enjoyed his conversation and his preaching. He treated 
her as one capable of understanding and worthy of regard.- 
He studied to make himself pleasant and agreeable in the 
house. This shows one very important trait in his character. 

Mrs. Brace told me one anecdote, illustrating his well 
known humorous and playful turn. On his way over to our 
house, he met a man of his parishioners, and said to him, 
pleasantly, " Well, my friend, how do you get along with 

2gQ MEMOIE. [Part II. 

your family ? " " Oh," said the neighbour, " very well, my 
wife has her thirteenth child, and I think we shall get on 
much better with the second dozen than we did with the 
first." It was wonderful, said my wife, to see how Mr. Eob- 
inson did laugh and amuse himself with that reply.* 

There was one thing very special among your father's 
people, which showed their systematic calculation in attending 
public worship. I am thinking of those twenty or thirty Sab- 
bath-day houses, on the green, built by the remote dwellers, 
for the sole purpose of Sabbath occupancy. Here was a cabin 
with fire-place and utensils, where the whole wagon load could 
be warmed and fed, and made comfortable during the day. 
That was before the introduction of stoves and furnaces for 
warmino- the whole assembly. This was making a business of 
the Sabbath. " Blessed are they that dwell in thy house." 
Must not such a people prosper ? 

Your father was a strong man in the Association of min- 
isters. We all felt his discernment, his strictness, his bold- 
ness and decision. There was no half way with him. His 
argument was clear, and his judgment positive. His rebuke 
was felt. He had wit, and satire, and anecdote, which were 
much indulged in meetings of ministers at that day. I re- 
member one dispute which we had in the Association, on the 
question of usury. It called forth animated conversation; and 
while we generally maintained that six per cent, was as much 
as property at large would bear, and that, therefore, as it must 
be oppressing somebody to take a higher rate, a Christian 
could not do it, — he insisted strenuously, that it was as right 
to sell the use of your money, as to sell the use of your house; 
and therefore that the legislature had no authority for making 
a limit. And I see not but they are all coming into your 
father's principles in these days. 

The common feeling of the people is, that the minister 
must be poor. I remember in passing from New Haven to 
Hartford, being driven by a cold storm into Selah Lewis' tav- 

* Mrs. Brace, whom my father esteemed very highly, died November 16, 
1854 ; a fortnight after the date of the above letter. — ^E. K. 

Sect. VI.] LETTERS.— REV. DR. PORTER. 181 

em, just north of your father's house ; and hearing them give 
the history of his course. Mr. Robinson, they said, came here 
poor ; and when he was looking for a house, he chose a place 
out in the by-lane, to be out of the noise of the street, and to 
be at leisure for his studies ; as though having nothing to do 
with the world. But he soon found means of making great 
buildings and farms ; and is become the richest man in the 
town. Yours respectfully and affectionately, 

J. Brace. 

IV. Letters from other Clergymen. 
1. From the Eev. Noah Porter D. D. of Farmington. 

Fabmington, September 20, 1854. 

Dear Sir, — Having had no personal acquaintance with 
your excellent father till he was considerably advanced in life, 
and never having been connected with him in Association or 
other stated meeting of ministers, I had not the best oppor- 
tunity of marking his distinguishing traits of character ; and 
such as I did mark, from occasionally hearing him preach in 
my early youth, and from the intercourse I had with him 
after my settlement in the ministry, have in some degree faded 
from memory in the progress of the thirty years, which have 
passed away since his death. 

Some things, however, were too deeply impressed upon 
me to be effaced. Such were his person and bearing, — tall, 
full, erect, well becoming one of " nature's noblemen," which 
he truly was, in mind and moral dignity. He was a man of 
strength, in body, in intellect, in feeling. He also was a man 
of great urbanity, kind, social, free, and open-hearted. He 
had also great variety and comprehensiveness of knowledge, 
particularly on matters of common concern. I do not know 
that he excelled many others of his profession in science and 
literature ; although a mind so active and penetrating could 
not have left him behind the clergymen of his connection in 

182 MEMOIR. [Paet II. 

these respects ; but I refer more particularly to his knowledge 
of the times and passing events, in their political and econo- 
mical, as well as moral and religious bearing. And from his 
habits of reading and reflection on these subjects, his conver- 
sation with men of all classes was remarkably interesting, 
vivacious, and instructive. 

His theology was Hopkinsian ; and his preaching, more 
than that of any other minister in this vicinity, was imbued 
with the distinguishing doctrines of that system. He believed 
not only, in common with other Calvinists, in the universal 
providence of God, and his eternal and sovereign purposes in 
respect to all events, but in his direct efficiency in the produc- 
tion of whatever comes to pass. And what he believed on 
these great and awful truths, he preached abundantly and 
with no disguise or faltering. Yet he preached on these sub- 
jects, as on others, practically, and with uncommon tender- 
ness ; often with tears, and sometimes with emotion that for 
the moment prevented utterance. 

His sermons were remarkably biblical. So far as they 
were written, they seemed to have been merely outlines of the 
current of his thoughts, together with copious references to 
passages of Scripture for illustration and proof ; to which, in 
preaching, he turned with entire readiness and facility, ex- 
plaining and urging them, and reasoning from them with 
much freedom and power. 

From this sketch of his character and habits, it might 
naturally be inferred that he was of an independent mind. 
No one who was at all acquainted with him, could fail to be 
impressed with this. The following anecdote, illustrative of 
it, has been preserved, although I cannot tell on what author- 
ity. While he was preaching at Southington, as a candidate 
for settlement in the ministry, — he being at that time a Tutor 
in Yale College, — he returned one Monday morning after 
preaching there on the Sabbath ; when one of his fellow 
Tutors said to him : " So, you are about to be settled over the 
people of Southington ? " " Yes," he replied, " if I am set- 


tied there, I shall be settled over, and not under them." His 
ministry of more than forty years was correspondent to this 
remark ; and yet not in any despotic, arbitrary, or overbearing 
manner. He had his own opinions in theology, in politics, 
and in matters pertaining to his social and domestic economy ; 
and he fearlessly spoke and acted according to them. As a 
Calvinist, his preaching sometimes aroused the opposition of 
the " carnal mind ;" but " he believed and therefore spake." 
As a federalist of the Washington school, his political was to 
many not less offensive than his religious creed, and he was 
no less open and decided in propounding and advocating the 
former than the latter. 

As a man, he regarded it a primary duty to provide for 
his own ; and his engagement in secular business for this pur- 
pose, when his salary was found incompetent, drew upon him 
censure ; but believing that in this, as well as in his more ap- 
propriate work, he was serving his generation by the will of 
God, he would not be diverted. 

It would have been strange, if so inflexible a mind was 
never inflexibly, even though unconsciously, in the wrong. 
His Christian friends lamented, that a man so well fitted to 
impress himself upon his age, suffered himself to be diverted, 
by secular engagements, from the high attainments and the 
extensive usefulness, of which he was so remarkably capable. 
"Whatever necessity there may have been for this at the first, 
his perseverance in it after God gave him abundance, natural 
though it was, and in similar cases common, had not the same 
plea in its vindication. 

But however he may have erred, he enjoyed to the last, 
the confidence and esteem of the people which he so long 
served, and of the churches wherever he was known. When 
the time came for him to resign his pastoral charge, he quietly 
submitted to the decision ; and when he died, the conviction 
of the community around him was, that a great man, and a 
good, had fallen. 

I am, Sir, with much respect and esteem, yours truly, 

Noah Porter. 

184 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

2. From the Rev. Heman Humphrey D. D. formerly Presi- 
dent of Amherst College. 

PiTTSFiELD, December 7, 1854. 

Dear Sir, — Though I cannot say, that my acquaintance 
with your honoured father was very intimate, yet it was 
perhaps sufficiently so to justify me in attempting a brief 
estimate of his talents and preaching, I had frequent oppor- 
tunities of hearing him in the pulpit of my pastor, the Rev. 
Jonathan Miller, of the North Parish of Bristol, then called 
West Britain, now Burlington. My personal acquaintance 
with him commenced when I was in Yale College. As I 
passed through Southington in going to and from New Haven, 
I generally called at his house, and was hospitably entertained 
by him and his estimable family ; and I met him from time 
to time afterwards, till near the close of his life. 

Mr. Robinson's personal appearance was uncommonly im- 
posing. He was tall and muscular, and his frame every way 
indicated great strength, as well as remarkable symmetry. He 
had a noble forehead, rather a light complexion, and hair 
rather sandy than dark ; and his face, as I remember him, 
was altogether highly intellectual. When he entered the 
pulpit, there was something in his appearance, which could 
hardly fail to awaken high expectations in regard to what we 
were to hear from his lips. He was dignified in all his atti- 
tudes, solemn, and perfectly self-possessed. He spoke with 
great deliberation ; his voice was strong ; his articulation dis- 
tinct, and altogether a good one for a public speaker. He had 
but little gesture in the pulpit, and ordinarily manifested but 
little emotion ; but sometimes he was deeply moved, and, as 
those who heard him oftener, say, even to tears. His sermons 
were not generally written out ; but they were so thoroughly 
premeditated, as never to betray any confusion or hesitancy, 
either of thought or expression. He usually preached with a 
small Bible in his hand ; and in quoting from it, would some- 
times turn to his proof-texts and read them, when they did 


not occur instantly to his memory. He had a remarkably 
clear and logical mind. He could not preach without a sub- 
ject. He must have some important truth to prove or illus- 
trate ; and as he weut on step by step, like a strong man as he 
was, he convinced his audience, that whether they agreed with 
him on all points or not, it would not be safe to encounter him 
in argument. 

Mr. Robinson was eminently a doctrinal preacher. His 
creed was decidedly Calvinistic ; more of the Hopkinsian type, 
perhaps, than any other. While his preaching was highly in- 
tellectual, it was remarkably biblical, and so instructive and 
convincing, that if his stated hearers did not become rooted 
and grounded in the truth, it must have been their own fault. 
There was perhaps nothing in his preaching which impressed 
you more, than the idea of reserved strength. You could not 
listen to him attentively without feeling, that strong as he 
was in the pulpit, it cost him but little effort ; and that if he 
were to put forth his full strength, he could do much more. 

Mr. Robinson was the minister of a respectable country 
parish ; and had no ambition, I believe, to mingle much with 
the world as it was, and as it is. He came upon the stage 
about the same time with the late President Dwight ; and I 
have heard it said, that he was considered by their cotemporaries, 
who intimately knew them both, as not inferior to Dwight in 
intellectual power and promise. And had circumstances called 
his powers into equally vigorous exercise, and opened before 
him an equally wide Held, I see not why he might not have 
had an equally brilliant career. 

I am, dear Sir, truly yours, 


186 MEMOIR. [Pabt II. 


Children of Key. William Eobinson, and their De- 

Of the ten children born to Mr. Eobinson, four died in 
infancy, and 8ix grew up to adult years. Of the latter, /owr 
still survive. 

In the following enumeration, the names of the children 
are printed in large capitals ; those of the grandchildren in 
small capitals. All those to whose name a star [*] is pre- 
fixed, are deceased. 

By liis first Wife, Naomi Wolcott, 

'■''WILLIAM, born April 12, 1781 ; died four days after. 
See page 95. 

By his second Wife, Sophia Mosely. 

'■''WILLIAM, born August 31, 1784 ; graduated at Yale 
College in September, 1804 ; died November 14, 1804, aged 
twenty years. See pp. 100, 120. 

By his third Wife, Anne Mills. 

^'NAOMI SOPHIA, born May 30, 1788; married 
James Woodruff, March 24, 1811 ; resided in Catskill, Al- 
bany, Detroit, and Brooklyn, N. Y. Died at Brooklyn, No- 
vember 21, 1849, in the sixty-second year of her age. Her 
husband died April 29, 1855, aged seventy years. They had 
two daughters, viz. 

Anne Mills, born April 16, 1812 ; married Theodore 
Eobieyn, December 3, 1834. Their children are : Sophia 
Eobinson, born December 9, 1835. Susan Van V7rmJcen, 
born July 4, 1837. James Woodruff, born March 18, 1839. 
'^Helen Isabella, born March 13, 1841; died February 2, 1842. 
— The family is now resident in Detroit, Mich. 


Helen Elisabeth, born September 8, 1816 ; married 
George H. Tracy, April 20, 1836. Their children are : 
Anna Woodruff, born December 23, 1836. George Douglas, 
born November 26, 1839. William Wolcott, born September 
29, 1842. Helen Louise, born October 5, 1844. Clara Gould, 
born April 30, 1849. — The family resides in Brooklyn, N. Y. 

-'A SON, stillborn, July 7, 1789. See p. 104. 

By his fourth Wife, Elbabeth Norton. 

''JOHN, born November 29, 1791 ; died Jan. 25, 1792. 

EDWARD, born April 10, 1794; graduated at Hamil- 
ton College in 1816 j was Tutor there for one year, 1817-18 ; 
Instructor in Hebrew in Andover Theological Seminary for 
three years, 1823-26 ; was four years in Europe, 1826-30 ; 
Professor Extraordinary at Andover for three years, 1830-33 ; 
tben resided in Boston ; and has been Professor of Biblical 
Literature in Union Theological Seminary, New York, since 
January, 1837 ; travelled in Palestine in 1838, and again in 
1852. — He first married, September 3, 1818, Eliza, youngest 
daughter of the Rev. Samuel Kirkland, Missionary to the 
Oneidas ; she died, without issue, July 5, 1819. He mar- 
ried as his second wife, August 7, 1828, Therese, youngest 
daughter of Staatsrath L. H. von Jakob, Professor in the 
University of Halle ; born January 26, 1797. They have 
bad four children : 

Mary Augusta, born June 25, 1829. 

^Maximilian, born September 31, 1831 ; died August 
10, 1832. 

*Arthur, born February 4, 1833 ; died November 24, 

Edward, born September 19, 1836 ; now lawyer in New 

"GEORGE, born September 10, 1796 ; died January 20, 

188 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

GEORGE, born December 3, 1798 ; was a merchant in 
New Haven and Northampton ; now clerk in the Comptroller's 
office, Hartford. He first married, Nov. 30, 1820, '•■Sarah 
GtLeason Cowles, daughter of Gen. Solomon Cowles of Far- 
mington ; she died February 20, 1833, aged 30 years ; having 
had five children. He married, as his second wife, January 
7, 1835, Harriet Whiting Bradley, daughter of Jared 
Bradley of New Haven, born March 8, 1809 ; they have had 
ten children. 

Cldldren iy the first Wife : 

••'•Eliza Kirkland, born February 4, 1822 ; died Febru- 
ary 24, 1824. 

■■•'•William, born March 29, 1824 ; was merchant's clerk 
in Hartford and New York ; died February 26, 1855, aged 
thirty-one years. 

Louise, born November 28, 1825. 

Edward, born March 2, 1828 ; merchant in Charleston, 
S. C. 

Francis, born May 24, 1830 ; merchant's clerk. 

By tJie second Wife : 

■-George, born May 23, 1836 ; died March 26, 1837. 
John Stone, born May 29, 1837 ; merchant's clerk. 
Caroline Elisabeth, born March 21, 1839. 
"••'•■James Bradley, born April 10, 1841 ; died August 19, 

Charles Augustus, born July 17, 1842. 

Theresa, born June 25, 1845. 

Mary Augusta, born July 11, 1847. 

Henry Norton, born December 31, 1849. 

••■■Alice, born October 21, 1851 ; died September 6, 1852. 

Frederick Whiting, born April 8, 1856. 

CHARLES, born February 10, 1801 ; graduated at Yale 
College in 1821 ; resided for some years in Southington ; now 
lawyer in New Haven, Conn. He married, March 13, 1826, 
Nancy Maria, daughter of Hervey Mulford of New Haven. 
They have had eight children, of whom only three survive : 


Cornelia, born December 7, 1826. 

^Elisabeth, born August 28, 1829 ; died October 24, 

•-Chakles, born June 25, 1831 ; died March 18, 1833! 

■-"Elisabeth, born November 29, 1833 ; died November 
16, 1836. 

'•'•"Charles, born July 10, 1836 ; died January 1, 1837. 

"••■'William Edward, born October 30, 1839 ; died De- 
cember 14, 1843. 

Arthur, born January 21, 1843. 

Ernest, born December 20, 1845. 

ELISABETH, born July 25, 1803 ; resides in New Ha- 
ven, Conn. 

Supplementary Note. 

Eelation of the Children of 3Ir. Robinson to early Ancestors 
in Neio England. 

From the account of the ancestors of Mr. Eobinson in 
Part I, and from the notices of the Norton, Strong, and 
Hooker families in the Appendix (H, K), are derived the fol- 
lowing results, viz. 

I. It appears, that through Mr. Eobinson himself, all his 
children are lineally descended from the following ancestors : 

1. In the male line, and in the sixth generation, from 
William Eobinson of Dorchester, the first ancestor of the 
family ; who came from England about the year 1636. See 
above, pages 3, 61. 

2. Through his grandmother, Mrs. Hannah Eobinson, wife 
of the Eev. John Eobinson of Duxbury, they are lineal de- 
scendants, in the seventh generation, from John Alden and 
Priscilla Mullins his wife, who came over in the Mayflower 
in 1620 ; the said children being great grandchildren of the 
said Mrs. Hannah Eobinson, who was herself a great grand- 
daughter of the said John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. See 

190 MEMOIR. [Part II. 

above, pages 16-23. — Through the ^ame Mrs. Hannah Robin- 
son, the said children are in like manner probably descendants, 
in the sixth generation, from Elder Thomas Wiswall, who 
came from England about 1635, and settled first in Dorchester 
and afterwards in Newton. See above, pages 14, 15. 

3. Through his mother, Mrs. Lydia Robinson, second wife 
of Ichabod Robinson of Lebanon, they are likewise lineal de- 
scendants, in the seventh generation, from William Hyde, 
who came from England about 1636, settled first at Hartford, 
and was afterwards one of the original proprietors of Norwich, 
Conn. See above, p. 51. 

II. It appears, further, that the children of Mr. Robinson 
by his fourth wife, Elisabeth Norton, are through her, lineally 
descended from the following ancestors : 

1. In the male (Norton) lino, and in the sixth generation, 
from John Norton, one of the original proprietors of Bran- 
ford and afterwards of Farmington ; who is first mentioned in 
1646. See appendix H. 

2. Through her grandfather, Asahel Strong of Farming- 
ton, they are lineal descendants, in the seventh generation, 
from Elder John Strong of Northampton, who came from 
England in 1630 ; and also from the Rev. Ephraim Huit (or 
Hewit) of Windsor, who came over in 1639 ; the said chil- 
dren being, through their mother, great grandchildren of the 
said Asahel Strong ; who was himself a great grandson of the 
said Elder John Strong, and of the Rev. Ephraim Huit. See 
Appendix K. 

3. In like manner, through Mrs. Ruth Strong (born 
Hooker), wife of the said Asahel Strong of Farmington, the 
said children are lineal descendants, in the seventh generation, 
from the Rev. Thomas Hooker, the first Minister of Hart- 
ford, who came from England in 1633 ; they being great grand- 
children of the said Mrs. Ruth Strong, who was herself a great 
granddaughter of the said Rev. Thomas Hooker. See Ap- 
pendix K. 


Letter from the Hox. James Savage, LL. D. 

Fage 10. 

BosTox, March 11, 1857. 

Mr DEAR Sir, — To your inquiries of tlie 5tli inst. I have given 
much attention. Of Samuel Robinson, the son of AVilliam of Dor- 
chester, who died September 16, 1718, I find neither will, nor any 
administration, on referring to the Indexes of our volumes of Probate 
Court for several subsequent years. Well, so much was known to 
you before. But then you inquire, Could the estate have been set- 
tled among the heirs themselves, without letters of administration, 
and without any reference or report to the Court of Probate ? and to 
this the answer is, Yes. 

Next you ask, May there not have been a separate book of pro- 
ceedings of the Court, in which some notice of such reference would 
be entered ; and is any such book in existence ? and to each member 
of that interrogatory the answer is, No. I never heard of such a 
book, and can conceive of no use for its introduction. 

Estates descend by an exact rule of law, if intestate. Real 
estate, if not divided, (in the case you put it was so easy, that I can 
hardly feel a doubt it was done,) would be partible after the death of 
one or more heirs, in the same manner as before. 

It occurred to me, that the heirs had agreed on a division, and 
therefore gave mutual deeds of release to each other, for the purpose 
of holding in severalty, not in common. But as the deeds must be 
recorded, and no such record can I find in looking over the volumes 
before November 1730, it is highly improbable that there was such 


formal division. — Well, then, thought I, the father may have divided 
his estate to the two sous by several deeds during his lifetime. And 
so I have looked backwards ; and feel sure, that for at least ten years 
before his death, he did no such thing ; or at least, between 1707 and 
1731 no record of any such thing appears.* 

It would be presumed, if part of the lands of said Samuel were 
found in possession exclusive of his son Samuel, and other part in 
similar possession of his son John, that partition had been made, 
either by the sons after death, or by the father in his lifetime, and 
delivery made in pursuance of such partition ; and that it was a mat- 
ter in paiSj not of deed ; and that stakes and stones or other monu- 
ments were set up, and neighbours called to witness thereunto. Who 
could set up any opposite title ? 

Still easier would be the settlement of estate merely personal. 
Let each brother give receipt in full to the other, and gain acquit- 
tance from every creditor ; and it is nobody's business whether the 
Probate Court had any duty upon it or not. 

I am, your obedient and obliged, 

James Savage. 

Monument of Mrs. Hannah Robinson at Provincetown. 
Its Disappearance. 

Page 27. 

In May, 1857, I wrote to the Rev. Osborne Myrick, Pastor of the 
Congregational Church in Provincetown, on Cape Cod, requesting 
him to obtain for me a copy of the inscription on the tombstone of 
Mrs. Robinson. In reply, he informed me that the stone had disap- 
peared, and related the circumstances as reported to him. 

In July following I visited the Cape ; but my correspondent was 
then absent on a journey. By the kindness of Dr. J. Stone, I was 
able to visit and examine the old cemetery ; and to see that the stone 
was no longer to be found. Rut whether it was now covered by the 
flowing sand, or had been removed, was not so certain. The short- 

* One of the sons, the Rev. John Robinson of Duxbury, who died at Lebanon 
in 1745, did thus give deeds of his real estate to his two sons in severalty, two 
years before his own death. The deeds are on record in Lebanon, Conn. — E, R. 


ness of my visit, deijendcut on the weekly trip of a steamer, from 
Saturday afternoon to Monday morning, did not allow of a satisfac- 
tory investigation at the time. 

The following brief account is drawn up, partly from my own ob- 
servation and inquiries, and partly from subsequent correspondence 
with the Rev. Mr. Myrick. 

Provincetown lies, as is well known, along the north-western 
shore of Cape Cod harbour, some miles south-east of Race Point, and 
within the hook. The region is all sand ; and a line of sand-hills, 
some of them high, stretches along back of the town, and parallel to 
the shore of the harbour. On the highest of these hills stands the 
town-house, commanding a wide view of the whole cape. The town 
consists mainly of a single long street near the shore, between it and 
the line of sand-hills. For a short distance only, there is a second 
parallel street further back. From the main street, short lanes run 
down to the water side. Many lanes also run up north-west to 
the base of the hills or between them. The houses in this part stand 
in many places huddled together, without lanes or streets. There 
is here nothing but sand ; deep, dreary sand ; and the main street 
itself is only made tolerable for persons on foot, by means of a side- 
walk of j)lank along its northern side. The population of the town 
amounted, in 1850, to somewhat more than three thousand souls. 

The early burying-ground, in which the body of Mrs. Robinson 
was interred, lies back of the south-western end of the main street. 
It occupied the interval between two sand-hills. A lane from the 
main street passes up along its south-western side. It was never 
large ; and at present its form is nearly a square, of only a few rods on 
a side. But the sand has accumulated, and flowed down from the 
hills on each side ; so that the original surface appears only in a nar- 
row strip along the middle, skirted on either baud by steep slopes of 
loose sand. What was once the lower end of the cemetery, is now 
occupied by two dwelling-houses. Over against the cemetery, on 
the south-western side of the lane above mentioned, is the house of 
Mr. Lord. So rapid has been the accumulation of sand alonty this 
lane, and flowing down from it into the cemetery, that whereas for- 
merly the house of Mr. Lord was entered from the lane by ascending 
a step or two, one has now to descend a step or two in order to reach 
it. Just north of the cemetery and higher, stands the house of 
Mr. Nickerson, one of the oldest inhabitants. 

Only three tombstones still remain visible, bearing respectively 


the dates of 1717, 1727, and 1745. Since the latter year, it is under- 
stood that no interments have here taken place ; and the enclosure 
has been given up to the overflowing sand and utter desolation ; ex- 
cept so far as to maintain a fence around it. Would that the genera- 
tion of the living had more respect for the habitation of their ances- 
tral dead ! 

The place of Mrs. Robinson's grave is pointed out, as being near 
the south-western side of the cemetery, somewhat below the middle. 
The stone was erected by her husband, and was probably similar to 
that of her daughter in Duxbury ; the verse of Scripture (Ps. 107, 30) 
being divided between the two. It was of course greatly exposed to 
be covered by the bank of sand ; and Col. Trumbull found it thus 
partially hidden. Late in 1840 he spoke to me of this monument j 
and said he had caused it to be restored. His visit there is still re- 
membered ; and also his search for the grave of his grandmother. 
In what this renewal of the stone consisted, — whether a new stone was 
procured, or the inscription only was cut anew upon the former stone, 
is not certain. Those who knew the stone, both before and after its 
renewal, affirm that the abbreviations (y^ and the like) of the former 
were in the latter inscribed at full length. 

Thus the monument remained until about 1848 or 1850. The 
following account of circumstances, which took place about that time, 
was given by Mrs. Lord, who lived opposite ; and who was the first to 
notice the disappearance of the stone. It was given from a sick-bed, 
not long before her death. She was accustomed to use the grass and 
bushes in the old grave-yard, for spreading out her clothes. While 
thus employed one day, nine or ten years ago, two young men came 
into the yard, and asked if she could direct them to that grave-stone ; 
which she did. They borrowed a shovel ; and after digging away 
the sand, which had gathered around the lettering, she heard them 
say, " This is it." They went away; and a few days afterwards, 
while taking in her clothes, she noticed that the stones (both head 
and footstone) were gone ; nor could she ascertain what had become 
of them. She and others suppose the stone must have been re- 
moved secretly by night ; since it is hardly to be supposed, that a stone 
so well known could have been openly carried oiT by day from a place 
surrounded by dwelling-houses, in the midst of a country town, and 
exposed to the view of so many persons, without its becoming at once 
a matter of public notoriety. — Another person also recollects two 
young men making inquiries after that grave-stone ; and it is con- 


fidently believed, that the sloop, in which the said two young men 
came to the cape, was from Duxbury. 

On receiving this account by letter, my own conclusion was, that 
if the stone had actually been thus removed, it could only have been 
done by some descendant of Mrs. Eobinson, or some zealous anti- 
quary in Kingston or Duxbury ; most probably in order to place it 
by the side of her daughter's monument, in the old grave-yard in 
Duxbury. But on visiting that spot (July 17, 1857), I found no 
such stone ; nor did I find any one in Kingston or Duxbury who 
was aware of its removal. 

On reaching Provincetown the next day. Dr. Stone was so kind 
as to accompany me to the old cemetery ; and we made such an exam- 
ination as was practicable, without extensively digging away the sand. 
The impression I then received was, that the stone might very well be 
still in its place, buried beneath the bank of sand ; or that, if actually 
gone, it had probably been taken away secretly for some private use. 
It was longer and thicker than the other stones in the yard ; and in 
such a region of san"fl would have a more than ordinary value. 

After the return of the Rev. Mr. Myrick, he, in company with the 
aged Mr. Xickerson and several other volunteers, made a further 
search, late in August, 1857. They dug away the sand with a 
shovel, and sounded with a steel rod six feet long ; but found no 
trace of the stone. They were all satisfied, that it is not buried un- 
der the sand. A notice of its disappearance, with a request for in- 
formation, was inserted in the public newspaper of the place; but it 
drew out no reply. 

A like search was repeated early in December, 1858, by the Rev. 
Mr. Myrick and others, by sounding, and digging away the sand ; 
but with no better success. 

Here, apparently, the matter must rest. My own impression still 
remains, that if the stone has actually been removed, it was proba- 
bly taken for some private use. 

I am under great obligation to the Rev. Mr. 31yrick, for his 
kindness and activity in the whole matter. 



Yale College. — The Valedictory. The Berkeley Scholarship. 

Pages 69, 70. 

The Valedictory. — I am indebted to E. C. Herrick, Esq. 
Treasurer and formerly Librarian of Yale College, for a letter (dated 
October 24, 1856) giving an account of his investigations on this 
subject. He writes thus: "Before the year 1798, no Valedictory 
oration [by a Senior] appears on the schemes of the exercises at 
Commencement. In 1798, James Burnet, a member of the gradu- 
ating class, delivered a Valedictory; and the custom has been con- 
tinued from that time to the present. In 1796 and 1797, the con- 
cluding oration at Commencement was given by a Tutor. Before 
1796, most of the speakers in the afternoon exercises of Commence- 
ment, were candidates for the second degree.— For many years, down 
to about 1835, probably, the Valedictory oration was not, or might 
not be, assigned to the best scholar ; but to a good scholar, of fair 
character, who, it was judged, would write and deliver the best ora- 
tion. For about twenty years past, the Valedictory has been the 
mark of the highest scholarship ; but by the public, it has for half a 
century been reckoned the highest appointment." 

The Dean's Scholarship. — See Baldwin's History of Yale Col- 
lege, pp. 45-48. I am further indebted to E. C. Herrick, Esq. 
under date of March 6 and 14, 1857, for the following extract and 
statement respecting the Berkeley Scholarship, or Dean's Bounty. 

" In the year 1733, Dean Berkeley gave to the Corporation of 
Yale College his farm of ninety-sis acres in Newport, R. I. on con- 
dition that the Corporation will, for ever after, pay the clear yearly 
income thereof ' to three students of the said College, towards their 
' maintenance and subsistence during the time between their first and 
'second degree; such students being to be called Scholars of the 
' House ; and during that space of time being hereby obliged to 
' reside at least three quarters of each year between their first and 
' second degree, in the said College : — and that the said students, or 
' Scholars of the House, be elected on the sixth day of May, if not on 
' a Sunday ; but if it shall happen on a Sunday, then the election to 
' be on the day following. . . . The candidates to be publicly ex- 
' amined by the President or Hector and Senior Missionary, two hours 


' in the morning in Greek, and in the afternoon two hours in Latin, on 
' the day of election ; all persons having free access to hoar the said 
' examination. . . . Those who appear to be the best scholars, npon 
' the said examination, [shall] be without favour or affection elected.' 

" From 1769 to 1789, the yearly rent of the Berkeley farm was 
one hundred ounces of silver. This sum, deducting expenses, was 
to be shared equally by the three scholars, if all resident; and all 
money forfeited by non-residence, was to be spent in Greek and Latin 
books for premiums. Since A. D. 1810, the yearly rent has been 
only one hundred and forty dollars. The mode of distribution is still 
the same. 

" In the year 1781, the tenant paid for five years' rent, ending 
March 25, 1781, five hundred and twenty Spanish milled dollars; 
thirty-five dollars being remitted on account of ravages committed by 
the British, and no interest being charged. This fact shows, that 
silver was then worth $1 11 per ounce." 

As to the assignment of the Berkeley scholarship, it is plain, 
that although the deed speaks of three to be elected from each class, 
yet only one from each class could reside, and be entitled to one-third 
part of the yearly income. Hence apparently the custom (now drop 
ped) of appointing a. first Scholar of the House, to whom this privilege 
should belong ; and others, who might enjoy it, in case of his non- 
residence. " Practically no trouble has ever arisen. It has been 
customary to examine every year the candidates who may offer ; and 
usually to elect one or more. Many never reside ; but are content 
with the honour only." 

The Berkeley farm in Newport is now under a lease for " nine 
hundred and ninety-nine years." The rent, at first, was variable, as 
above ; but in 1810, it was permanently fixed at one hundred and 
forty dollars. 

The Wolcott Family. 

Page 93. 

The founder of the fjamily in Connecticut, and in this country, 
was Henry Wolcott, Esq. whose name stands first on the list of the 
settlers of Windsor, as found on the records of the town in 16-40. 


He died May 30, 1655, in the seventy-seventh year of his age. His 
monument is still seen in the old burying-ground of Windsor.* 

Simon Wolcott was the youngest son of Henry "Wolcott. He 
lived at East Windsor; which, until 1768, was only a parish in the 
town of AVindsor. He married Martha Pitkin, a sister of the Hon. 
William Pitkin of East Hartford, a lady of high culture, who had 
received an accomplished education in London. They had nine 

Henry Wolcott was the second son and fifth child of Simon and 
Martha Wolcott. He resided in East (now South) Windsor, and 
married Rachel Talcott. — His brother, Roger Wolcott, the youngest 
child of his parents, lived also in East (now South) Windsor, and was 
Major-general in the expedition against Louisburgh in 1745. He 
became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and was Governor of 
the State from 1751 to 1754. He died May 17, 1767, in his eighty- 
ninth year. His monument is in the old buryiog-ground of Windsor.f 
His son Oliver Wolcott was born December 1, 1726 ; and gradu- 
ated at Yale College in 1747. He resided in Litchfield ; was one of 
the signers of the Declaration of Independence ; and became Gov- 
ernor of the State in 1796 ; in which oSice he died, December 1, 1797, 
aged seventy-one years. | His son, the second Oliver Wolcott, 
born in 1760, succeeded Hamilton, in 1795, as Secretary of the 
Treasury under Washington ; and was Governor of Connecticut from 
1817 to 1827. He died June 2, 1833. 

Gideon Wolcott was the son of the preceding Henry and Rachel 
Wolcott. He was born in 1712 ; being nine years younger than 
Jonathan Edwards, who was born on the same street. He married, 
as his second wife, Naomi Olmsted, daughter of Deac. Joseph Olmsted 
of East Hartford. Capt. Gideon Wolcott commanded one of the 
companies raised by the colonists in 1760, against the French and 
Indians. We have only this record of him, that " his cotemporaries, 
and those who knew him best, regarded him as one of nature's noble- 
men." He died January 5, 1761. His estate was inventoried at 

Naomi Wolcott, his daughter, born September 28, 1754, was 
baptized by the Rev. Timothy Edwards, the father of Pres. Edwards, 

* See Trnmbnll's Hist, of Conn. p. 235, or Vol. I. p. 227. Barber's Connecti- 
cut Hist. Collections, pp. 127, 132. 

f Barber's Connecticut Hist. Coll. pp. 79, 128, 132. 
X Barber, ibid. pp. 457, 458. 


who was pastor of tlie church in East Windsor from 1G94 to 1758.* 
She married the Rev. William Robinson, February 8, 1780 ; and 
died April 16, 1782. 

Samuel Wolcott, her elder brother, eldest son of Gideon Wolcott, 
lived on the homestead in East (now South) Windsor. He was 
born April 4, 1751 ; and married Jerusha, daughter of Judge Eras- 
tus Wolcott, December 29, 1774. He was a commissary in the army 
of the Revolution. He died suddenly, June 7, 1813, at his residence 
in South Windsor, aged sixty-two years. He acquired a handsome 
property for those diiys; the inventory of his estate amounting to 
$30,669. He had eight children, as follows, viz. 

Jerusha, born October 8, 1775 ; married Epaphras Bissell, 
Nov. 30, 1794 ; resided at East Windsor Hill and Lockport, N. Y. 

Naomi, born October 10, 1777 ; married James Wadsworth of 
Geneseo, N. Y. October 1, 1804. Deceased. 

Samuel, born December 12, 1781; died February 17, 1795. 

Elihu, born February 12, 1784; married, November 27, 1806, 
Rachel, youngest daughter of the Rev. David McClure D. D. of 
East Windsor ; she died April 2, 1822. In 1830 he removed to 
Jacksonville, 111. where he died, in the peace and hope of the Gros- 
pel, December 2, 1858, aged seventy -four years. — His eldest son is 
the Rev. Samuel Wolcott, now of Providence, R. I. born July 2, 

Sophia, born March 29, 1786; married, October 19, 1807, the 
late Martin Ellsworth of Windsor, son of Chief Justice Ellsworth. 
Resides upon the old Ellsworth place. 

Ursula, born November 17, 1788 ; married. May 10, 1815, Rev. 
Newton Skinner of New Britain, Conn, who died March 31, 1825. f 
She now lives with her son, Doct. Samuel Skinner, at Windsor Locks. 

Elisabeth, born September 23, 1791 ; married, November 23, 
1820, Erastus Ellsworth of New York. Resides now at East Wind- 
sor Hill. 

Horace, born March 25, 1794; died in Illinois, unmarried, in 

For the preceding family notices, I am indebted to the kindness 
of the Rev. Samuel Wolcott of Providence, R. I. 

* See Sprague's Annals, I. p. 230.. f Ibid. I. p. 563. 


The Mosely Family in Westfield, Mass. 

Page 100. 

John Mosely, the first of the name in Westfield, removed thither 
from Windsor, Conn, in 1677. But the name of Mosely is not 
found in the list of the first settlers of Windsor. He married Mary 
Newbury in 1664. 

John Mosely, son of the preceding, resided in Westfield ; and is 
always called Quarter-master Mosely in the town records. 

Col. John Mosely, son of the preceding, was one of the aris- 
tocracy of the place. He was apparently a man of rather fiery tem- 
perament, and bore among the baser sort the nickname of " Old 
Ginger." He married his second cousin, Hannah Mosely, in 1753, 
by whom he had a large family of children. He died September 1, 
1780, aged fifty-five years. His wife died September 7, 1800, aged 
sixty-seven years. 

Their children were as follows : 

Hannah^ born August 11, 1755; married Aaron King in 1775 ; 
after his decease, she married Caleb Bosworth in 1785. She died in 
1819, aged sixty-four years. Her descendants reside in Westfield. 

Eleanor, baptized April 30, 1759; died May 6, 1759. 

Sophia, born October 7, 1760; married the Rev. William Robin- 
son, September 16, 1783 ; died December 31, 1784. 

Margaret, born March 15, 1763 ; married William Shepard Jr. 
son of Gren. William Shepard, an oflicer in the revolutionary army, 
and the man who struck the first blow at Springfield, which quelled 
the Shays rebellion. Her descendants are in Ohio. 

Olive, born May 2, 1765, married Azariah Ashley, and removed 
to Hartwood, now Washington, Mass. She afterwards married Aza- 
riah Mosely, her cousin ; and died in 1813, aged forty-eight years. 
Her descendants are still in Westfield. 

Clarissa, married the j)oet Honey wood about 1788, and resided 
in Salem, Washington Co. N. Y. He died without childi-en in 1798 ; 
and she afterwai-ds married a Mr. Moore, who succeeded Honeywood 
in the practice of law, and also became the editor of his poems.* She 

* See Honeywood's Poems, New York, 1801, Preface. 


took great interest in her nephew, William Robinson Jr. I recollect 
her last visit at Southiugton in 1802 or 1803, while he was in col- 
lege ; when she gave him a copy of her former hnsband's poems, and 
also a sketch from his pencil, representing soldiers resting, and drink- 
ing from a wooden bottle. — Being again left a widow, she married as 
her third hnsband a Mr. Campbell, who resided at Augusta in Can- 
ada West. After his decease, she visited her friends in Salem ; and 
was for some time the guest of the family, who then occupied the 
house in which she had formerly lived with Mr. Houeywood. She 
afterwards returned to Brockville, in Canada West ; and died there 
about twenty years ago.* — It is singular, that no record has yet been 
found of her birth, baptism, or first marriage; though she is still re- 
membered in Westfield. She was several years younger than her 
sister. Mrs. Robinson ; but could not well have been the youngest 
of the family ; as, in that case, she must have been married before 
the age of fourteen. But the only place where her name can be in- 
serted, is just here, in the interval of three years, between the births 
of her sisters Olive and Sarah. And this is confirmed by the testi- 
mony of aged persons in Salem, who remember her as a neighbour, 
and knew her age as compared with their own. She was doubtless 
born in the latter part of ITGG.f 

Sarah, born March 30, 17G8. 

John, baptized January 7, 1770 ; married Louisa Dewey in 1794 ; 
and died in 1799, in consequence of a wound in his hand from a sickle. 

Harrison, baptized May 3, 1772 ; married Esther Waller in 1796. 

Lucy, baptized October 10, 1773 ; married a Mr. Smith. 

I am indebted, for most of the preceding information, to the 
kindness of the Rev. Emerson Davis D. D. of Westfield. 

The Mills Family. 

Page 102. 

The founder of one of the fiimilies of Mills in this country was 
Peter Mills ; who, according to tradition, came over from Holland 
under the name of Van 3foIen, which was translated or changed into 

* MS. Letters of D. Russell, Esq. and Rev. A. B. Lambert D. D. dated August 
17, 1858, and January 1, 1859. f Ibid. 


Mills. He was a tailor by trade ; and resided in the eastern part of 
what is now Bloomfield, then belonging to Windsor, Conn. He was 
born in 1666, and died in 1754, aged eighty-eight years. He had a 
fjimily of seven sons ; of whom the Rev. Gideon Mills of Simsbury, 
more fully mentioned below, is said to have been the seventh. The 
following is all that is known of the other children. The order of 
their birth is not certain. 

Return is said to have died in 1689. 

Pelatiah, born 1693, was an able lawyer, the ancestor of the 
Mills family now remaining in Bloomfield and Windsor. 

Rev. Jedidiaii Mills, gi-aduated at Yale College in 1722 ; was 
ordained in 1724: as pastor of the church in Ripton, now Hunting- 
ton, Conn, where he died in 1776. The Mills family in the counties 
of Fairfield and New Haven are descended from him. 

John, son of Peter Mills, was a farmer in Kent. He married 
Jane Lewis of Stratford or Huntington. He was drowned at Bull's 
Falls in the Housatonic, at the age of forty-four years. His widow 
married the Rev. Philemon Robbins of Branford, who died August 
13, 1781 ;* she then returned to her old homestead in Kent, where she 
died at the age of eighty-five years. John Mills left eight children, 
five sons and three daughters, viz. John^ who died leaving no family, 
Peter and Lewis, farmers in Kent, with families. Hev. Samuel John 
Hills of Torringford,t and Bev. Edmund Hills of Sutton, Mass. 
Daughters : Sarah, was the first wife of Rev. Jeremiah Day of New 
Preston, Conn, father of Pres. Day of Yale College; she died sud- 
denly in August, 1767. Lydia married Jonathan Fuller, a large 
farmer in Kent. Jane, married Rev. Joel Bordwell of Kent,| in 
1759; he had been ordained the preceding year, Oct 28, 1758. He 
died December 6, 1811, in the eightieth year of his age and fifty- 
fourth of his ministry. She died May 20, 1829, aged eighty-four 
years. She is remembered as a woman of great strength of mind 
and character.^ 

Peter, son of Peter Mills, is not further known. His descend- 
ants are in various parts of the country ; some in Canton, Conn. 

Rev. Ebenezer Mills, son of Peter, graduated at Yale College 
in 1738 ; and was pastor for many years of the church in Turkey 
Hills, Granby, Conn. He died in 1799. 

* See Sprague's Annals, I. pp. 367-3G9. 
f Ibid. I. pp. 672 sq. % Ibid. p. 672. n. 

§ For most of the information in this paragraph, I am indebted to the kindness 
of Mills Bordwell, Esq. of Kent. 


REA^ Gideon Mills, said to have been the seventh son of Peter 
Mills, was born at Windsor, Aug. 15, 1715. He fitted for Yale 
College with his elder brother, the Rev. Jedidiah Mills of Ripton, 
and graduated in 1737. He settled as pastor of the church in 
Simsbury, September 5, 1744 ; and resigned his charge, for want of 
adequate support, August, 1754. He then removed to West Sims- 
bury (now Canton) ; and after preaching there a few years, was in- 
stalled as pastor, February 18, 1761.* He there lived and died on 
his own farm, situated two and a half miles from the meeting- 
house, to which he was obliged to travel over a very rough road. 
He seems to have been a man of considerable energy of character ; 
and was a great lover of church music ; a taste which he cultivated, 
and for which he is particularly remembered. Mr. Hallock once 
said, " he died singing the thirty-eighth Psalm." f The truth is, he 
called for the singing of it, and attempted to join with those who 
complied with the request ; but his voice failed, and when the first 
part of the Psalm had been sung, he expired. He died of a cancer in 
his face, August 4, 1772, a few days before completing his fifty- 
seventh year. He is remembered as a man of " simplicity and godly 
sincerity." His wife was Elisabeth Higley, daughter of Brewster 
Higley of Simsbury. She spent most of her early da3^s in the 
family of her cousin, the first Gov. Trumbull of Lebanon. She was 
born in 1723, and died in 1774. They had six children, viz. 

Gideon, born in 1749 ; married Ruth, third daughter of Oliver 
Humphrey, Esq. He resided on the farm left by his father until 
1800 ; and then removed to Barkhamstead, where he spent the rest 
of his days. He died in 1813. 

Rev. Samuel Mills, born in 1751, graduated at Yale College in 
1776. His purpose was to enter the ministry without delay ; but he 
joined the American army soon after graduating, as a lieutenant of 
cavalry ; was wounded and taken prisoner in the autumn of 1777 ; 
and was afterwards conveyed to Philadelphia. He there fell under 
the care of Miss Sarah Gilpin, one of the volunteer nurses of the 
wounded, a lady of refinement and accomplishments. He sub- 
sequently married her ; and, entering the ministry, was settled over 

* For most of these dates I am indebted to Dr. Spragiie's Annals, II. p. 229, 
note. He doubtless obtained them from the Discourse on the death of Mr. ]Mills, 
preached by the Rev. Joseph Strong, then of Salmon Brook, Granby ; which was 

\ "Amidst thy -nTath remember love," etc. — Watts, 


the church and society of Chester, Conn, then a parish in Saybrook. 
They had eight children. She died in 1796. He married, as his 
second wife, in 179S, Rebecca Belden, daughter of CoL Jonathan 
Belden of Wethersfield. By her lie had one child, a son, born in 
1800. She died in 1801. He married a third wife ; who survived 
him only a few days. He died in 1814, of typhus fever; as did also 
his wife. A son of his, the Rev Samuel Thomas Mills, graduated 
at Yale College in 1807; was employed as a tutor in the family of 
Isaac Bronson, Esq. and was afterwards a minister in several places 
in the West. He died in New York in 1853. 

Elisaheth, born in 1753 ; married first Gideon Curtis ; and 
afterwards the Rev. Rufus Hawley of Northington, now Avon, Conn, 
as his second wife. She died in ] 825. 

JedidiaJi, born February 9, 1756 ; married Sarah Andrews. 
They had twelve children, six sons and six daughters. He resided 
in West Hartford ; and was a respected and intelligent farmer, and 
a deacon of the church. He died March 24, 1832, aged seventy-six 
years. Living on the great road between Farmiugton and Hartford, 
my father, in his frequent visits to Hartford, was accustomed often 
to call on his brother-in-law ; and the intercourse of the families was 
kept up during his life. 

Anne, born June 11, 1761 ; married the Rev. William Robinson, 
August 13, 1787 ; died July 10, 1789. 

Faith, born in 1765, was first the wife of Roswell Spencer ; and 
afterwards of Eber Alford, a farmer of Canton. She died in 1850. 

Most of the preceding information has been kindly procured for 
me by the Rev. Samuel T. Richards of Simsbury. It is drawn 
mainly from a compilation of " Genealogical Sketches of the early 
settlers of West Siinsbury, now Canton," made a few years since by 
Abiel Brown, Esq. of that place, since deceased. For a copy of this 
pamphlet, which was printed in 1856 for private distribution, I am 
indebted to the kindness of John 0. Pettibone, Esq. of Simsbury. 

Note. Another and more numerous family of Mills, among the 
early settlers of West Simsbury, was of English descent. Their 
common ancestor was Simon Mills, Avho resided in Windsor before 




Wealthy Ministers in Coxxecticut. 
Page 106. 

The followiug list of " Wealthy Ministers in Connecticut" in 
1790, is given by the Rev. Pres. Stiles in his manuscript Itinerary^ 
Vol. V. p. 190. A. D. 1790. 

=• Rev. 

]\Ir. Avery, 




Xew ^Nlilford, 











Bordvrell, W. 




Litchfield So. 





r Genesee Lands, 



New Haven, 

< 30 M. acres, cost 
( £90 or £100. 






150 head cattle. 



New Britain, 

150 do. 



TT. Farming ton, 






'. Cohabit. 



Channing, TT. New London. 
Strong, Coventry. 

* Lockwood, Andover, 
Colton, Bolton. 

* Hart, Preston, 
Strong, TT/A'.Hartford. 
Marsh, do. Wethersfield. 
Perry, do. Judea. 


" No really indigent Minister in the State. They each half support 
themselves. Not one supported by his salary or people. 0\\\j four really 
poor and suffering, out of say one hundred and sevent}' 3Iinisters." 

Note. The letter TT''. following some of the names, seems to indi- 
cate that the wealth belonged to the Wife. — Of course, the amount 
of property specified in each ease rests only on conjecture, or on the 
current rumour of the day. — E. R. 



The Norton Family in Farmington, Conn. 

Page lOG. 

John Norton was the founder of tlie family in Farmington. His 
name first appears on the records of the town of Branford, among the 
earliest recorded acts of the proprietors, July 7, 1646. There is 
reason to suppose, that he was among that portion of the settlers of 
Branford, who removed from Wethersfield in 1644. His earlier 
history and origin is unknown. In 1659 he is said to have removed to 
Hartford. He came to Farmington ; and united with the church there 
in 1661.* His name appears in the list of freemen in 1669 ; and also 
among the " eighty-four proprietors" of Farmington in 1672.t His 
house-lot was between the houses of the late Seth Lewis and John 
North-I He died in 1711. His wife was a sister of John Clark. 
They had five children: Hanyiah, born 1649; married Samuel 
North in 1666. Doroiliy^ born 1651. John, born 1653 ; see below. 
Samuel, born 1659 ; died the same year. Thomas, born 1660; mar- 
ried Hannah Rose. 

The following entries in the early records of the church in Farm- 
ington, as kept by the Rev. Samuel Hooker, second pastor of the 
church, confirm most of the above dates. They occur under the 
head of " Births and Baptisms." ^ 

" John Norton joined to our church in October, 1661. 

'• Hannah Norton, daughter of John Norton, aged about twelve, 
baptized here immediately after her father joining, above mentioned. 

" Dorothy Norton, daughter of John Norton, aged about ten, was 
baptized at the same time. 

" John Norton, aged about eight years, was baptized at the same 

" Thomas Norton, son of John Norton, aged about thirteen 
months, was baptized at the same time." 

John Norton, the second, a son of the above, was born in 1653 ; 
died in 1725. He married Ruth, daughter of Deac. Isaac Moore, a 
wealthy farmer. They had ten children : Ruth, married Thomas 

* Church Records. 

■f- See Prof. Porter's Historical Discourse on Farmington, pp. 63, 64. 

X Chart of Mr. Porter. 

§ Communicated by the Rev. Noah Porter D. D. the present pastor. 


Seymour of Hartford in 1700. Isaac, born 1680, married Elisa- 
beth Galpin of Stratford in 1707 ; died 1763. He was a merchant 
in Worthiugton. Elisabeth, married Thomas Catlin of Hartford in 
1703. John, born 1684 ; married Anna, daughter of Thomas 
Thompson ; died 1750. Mary^ born 1686, married Joseph Bird, 
one of the first settlers of Litchfield. Sarah, born 1689 ; married 
Samuel Newell, father of Rev. Isaac Newell and of Rev. Samuel 
Newell of Bristol. Hannah, born 1692, married John Pratt of 
Hartford in 1713. Dorcas, married Solomon Rothwood of Hadley. 
Thomas, born 1697, died 1760 ; see the next paragraph. Ehenezer, 
married Sarah Savage of Middletown ; removed to Kensington. He 
was living in Soutbington in 1787, and in Bristol in 1744. 

Thomas Norton, third sou and ninth child of the preceding, born 
in 1697, lived on his father's place, and was twice married. He died 
in 1760. He had eight children, viz. 

Ruth, born 1726, married Noah Stanley of New Britain in 1750. 
Sarah, born 1727, married Phineas Lewis in 1746, the father of 
Elijah, Phineas, and Seth Lewis. She died in 1808. 

Elisabeth, born 1730, married Deacon Samuel Woodruff, and 
died in 1798. 

Bev. Seth Norton, born 1731 ; graduated at Yale College in 
1751 ; received the degree of A. M. from both Yale and Harvard; 
was settled as pastor in Ellington in 1760 ; and died in 1762. — He 
had two children : Seth, died at or near New York in the army, 
during the Revolution. Reuben, born 1760 ; married Livia Mather, 
by whom he had five children. He was a merchant in Farmington, 
and died in 1808. 

Ichabod, born 1736 ; see below. 

Lot, born 1738, removed to Salisbury. He had two children : 
Lot, who lived on his father's place at Salisbury, and was a member 
of the leo-islature. Sarah, who married the Rev. John Elliott of 
East Guilford, now Madison, Conn. She died without issue. — Lot 
Norton the second had three children : Cornelia, who married 
Judge James Dean of Utica ; Henry, who resides in New Haven ; 
and Lot, who graduated at Yale College in 1822, and lives on the 
homestead in Salisbury. 

Thomas, born 1740 ; married Sarah Marsh in 1760. They had 
two children, which died in infancy. 

Jemima, born 1744 ; married Sylvanua Curtiss in 1762 ; died in 


Note. The preceding information has mostly been collected by 
Lewis M. Norton, Esq. of Goshen, Conn. From him it has come to 
me through a copy by another hand. In respect to what follows, 
the sources are nearer ; and several things are given from my own 
personal recollections. 

COL. ICHABOD NORTON was the second son of Thomas 
Norton, as above. He was born in 1736. He married Ruth Strong, 
Feb. 21, 1760, daughter of Asahel Strong, Esq. who came from 
Northampton to Farmiugton. She was born in 1740 ; and was a 
sister of the Rev. Cyprian Strong D. D. of Chatham. She died at 
West Hartford, July 16, 1823, aged about eighty-four years. A 
younger sister married Deacon Martin Bull of Farmington. 

Ichabod Norton succeeded to his father's property at "Third 
Meadow," so called, within the limits of Northington, and lying on 
both sides of Farmington river, about three miles north of the meet- 
ing-house of Farmington. Hither he removed in 1759, and here he 
spent most of his life ; but always regarded himself as belonging to 
the Society of Farmington. In the earlier years of the Revolution, 
he commanded a company of militia in service. In 1776, for four 
months, from August to November, he was stationed at Skenesbor- 
ough (now Whitehall) and Ticonderoga ; and his orderly book for 
that period is still extant. In 1777 he was also in service at Peeks- 
kill, as Captain, in the regiment of militia commanded by Col. Noa- 
diah Hooker, his wife's cousin, attached to the brigade of Gen. Wol- 
cott. In 1779, his name appears also as Major, in service from April 
to November.* By his activity and personal example, he exerted 
great influence upon his fellow townsmen in behalf of the American 
cause. In 1779 he represented the town of Farmington in the legis- 
lature of the State during the May session ; and was also a represent- 
ative in every year but one from 1785 to 1791. For many years 
afterwards he acted as a justice of the peace ; and was ever an in- 
telligent and upright magistrate. He w^as a man of great activity 
and cheerfulness ; and looked at every thing upon the bright side. In 
the later years of his life, he lost his property ; and resided for a 
time at West Hartford, where his wife died ; afterwards at Granby 
(Salmon Brook), where he died, October 1, 1825, aged about eighty- 
eight years. — Col. Norton had nine children ; all of whom grew up 

* See entries in the manuscript volume entitled "Haskell's Receipts," in the 
Comptroller's office at Hartford ; pp. 3, 9, 77. 


to adult years, and all except one were married. The following is 
the order of tlicir birth : 

Elisabkih, born January 1-3, 1761 ; married the Eev. William 
Robinson, August 10, 1790 ; died December 20, 1824, aged sixty- 
three years eleven mouths. She had six children; see above in Sect. 

Nancy, born May 26, 17G3; married in 1790 Col. Charles 
McKinstry of Hillsdale, N. Y. as his second wife ; and died May 24, 
1798, aged thirty-live years. She had two sons and three daughters ; 
of whom the sons and youngest daughter died in infancy. The sur- 
viving daughters were : Melinda, born June 12, 1794 ; married 
Henry Loop, Esq. of Great Barriugton, now residing at Hempstead 
on Long Island. Nancy, born July 28, 1796; married Judge 
Bowen Whiting of Geneva, N. Y. and died July 24, 1847, aged fifty- 
one years. 

Rev. Asahel Strong Norton,* born September 20, 1765 ; grad- 
uated at Yale College in 1790 ; ordained as pastor at Clinton, Oneida 
Co. N. Y. in September 1793 ; married Mary Clap Pitkin, daughter of 
the Rev. Timothy Pitkin, January 19, 1795 ; received the degree of 
J). D. from Union College in 1815 ; was dismissed at his own request. 
November 1883 ; and died May 10, 1853, aged eighty-seven years. 
His wife died September 11, 1839, aged sixty-nine years. They had 
eight children as follows : Elhert, born December 4, 1795 ; married 
Sarah Marvin, May 27, 1828 ; resided at Syracuse. N. Y. and died 
childless, May 30, 1835. Emily, born January 20, 1798 ; mar- 
ried Lothrop Brockway of Cliuton, February 7, 1832 ; and has one 
son. 3Iary, born May 9, 1800; died October 9, 1803. Robert, 
born February 8, 1802 ; not married ; resides in New York. Sarah. 
born June 29, 1804; married Enos Pomeroy of Rochester, January 
28,1823; has had four sons and two daughters. Henry Pitkin, 
born June 3, 1807 ; married in June, 1833 ; is a lawyer at Brockport. 
N. Y. Mary Ann, born September 27, 1809; died May 7, 1831. 
John, born March 15, 1811 ; married Elisabeth J. Root, September 
27, 1836 ; has four children ; resides on his father's homestead in 

RoJiANTA, born -April 3, 1768 ; died in 1840. He first married, 
in the spring of 1791, Belinda, daughter of Deac. Noah Porter of 
Farmiugton, and sister of the Rev. Noah Porter D. D. She Avas 

* See a Memoir of Rev. Dr. Norton in Sprague's .\nuals, II. p. 332. 



bom September 7, 1770; and died February 22, 1792, in childbirth. 
Her son, Ichahod Porter Noiion, born February 22, 1792, was 
brought up in the family of his grandfather Norton ; was clerk in the 
store of Nathaniel Patten of Hartford; and had just commenced 
business as a merchant in Farmington, when he was cut off by death, 
March 13, 1813, aged twenty-one years. — The second wife of E,o- 
manta Norton was Dorothy, daughter of Gov. John Treadwell, who 
still survives. By her he had one son, Johii Treadwell Norton, born 
April 28, 1795 ; who now resides in Farmington on the homestead of 
Gov. Treadwell. His first wife was Mary Hubbard Pitkin, daughter 
of the Hon. Timothy Pitkin of Farmington; born March 1, 1802; 
married August 29, 1821 ; died September 21, 1829. She had five 
children : three daughters died young ; one son, John Pitkin Norton, 
Professor in Yale College, died September 5, 1852, aged thirty years ; 
and another, Edward Norton, is still living. The second wife of 
J. T. Norton was Elisabeth Cogswell, daughter of Doet. Mason F. 
Cogswell of Hartford; born May 14, 1803; married February 1, 
1832; and has one son, Charles Ledyard Norton. 

Pk,UTH Strong, born August 13, 1770 ; married Dr. Mark Hop- 
kins of Clinton, Oneida Co. N. Y. January 8, 1797 ; and died Sep- 
tember 30, 1800, aged thirty years. She left one daughter, Cornelia, 
born September 20, 1797 ; who married Dr. Moses Bristoll of Buffalo ; 
and died August 4, 1823, aged twenty-six years. She left one 
daughter, since deceased. 

Thomas, born December 31, 1773, was in early life a goldsmith 
in Farmington. He married, April 6, 1806, Mrs. Mary Bigelow, 
widow of Dr. Aaron Bigelow of Granville, Mass. They lived for 
many years in Clinton, Oneida Co. N. Y. and in 1823 removed to 
Morrisville, Madison Co. In 1827 they again removed to Albion, 
Orleans Co. where he died of consumption, December 14, 1834, aged 
nearly sixty-one years. His wife died at Morrisville in February, 
1841, at the age of sixty-three years. They had three children, all 
now residing in Morrisville. viz. Margaret, born Febraary 11, 1807. 
James, born December 5, 1811 ; by trade a printer; married in 1855. 
Edward, born November 2, 1817; by trade a printer; married in 
1843 ; became a widower in 1852 ; married again in 1855 ; has four 

Amna, or, as she was usually called, Makiamne, born November 
24, 1776, remained at home, and followed the fortunes of her younger 
brother George during his life. She afterwards lived with his son. 


Setli Norton, at Collinsville ; where she died August 12, 185o, awed 
seventy-six years. She was a woman of quick intelligence and exten- 
sive reading. 

Seth, born February 12, 1780; graduated at Yale College in 
1804; became Tutor there in 1807, for one year. He had already 
been Principal of Oneida Academy at Clinton ; and now returned to 
that situation ; which he held till 1812, when the institution received 
a charter as Hamilton College. He was elected, in 1812, as the first 
Professor of Languages ; and during the first winter, was the sole 
instructor of the then three classes, hearing regularly nine recitations 
daily. He was distinguished as an accurate classical scholar, and 
was a very successful teacher. He married later Amanda Kellogg 
of New Hartford, N. Y. by whom he had one daughter, Charlotte. 
He died December 7, 1818, in the thirty-ninth year of his age. His 
widow died in June, 1844. Their daughter married a Mr. Kilbourn 
of Paris, N. Y. and is since deceased. 

GrEOKGE, born Xovemjjer 15, 1782, lived with his father, at first 
labouring as a farmer in summer, and teaching school in winter. Not 
long after 1800, his father's farm came under mortgage ; and was 
ultimately sold. He then removed with his parents and sister to 
AYest Hartford for a time ; then to Grranby ; and again to Avon, 
where he died May 11, 1883, aged fifty years. He married Eliza 
Frisbie in 1820 ; by whom he had two children : Seth, residing in 
Collinsville ; has been twice married. Mary, wife of Ebeuezer 
Gr. Curtiss of Simsbury. — George Norton was a man of fine powers 
of mind, and of a kind and genial disposition. He represented the 
town of Farmiugton for several years in the legislature ; and was also 
a magistrate. 


The Strong and Hooker Families. 

Page 106. 

These families became connected by intermarriage, first with 
each other, and then with the Norton family. 

I. The Strong Family. 
The founder of the family in this country was Elder Jonx 
Strong, a son of Richard Strong, born in England near Taunton, in 


1607. He sailed from Plymouth, England, March 30, 1630, in the 
company of the Rev. Messrs. Maverick and Warham; arrived May 
30th, and settled down at Dorchester. His wife and infant son soon 
died. He married Abigail Ford at Dorchester, in 1630 ; and by her 
had sixteen children. He lived at Hingham in 1635 ; at Taunton 
in 1638 ; afterwards at Windsor, Conn, and removed to Northampton 
in 1659. Here he died, April 14, 1699, aged ninety-two years. The 
names of his eight sons were : John, Return, Thomas, Jedidiah, 
Ehenezer, Samuel, Josiah, Jerijah. 

Thomas Strong, of Northampton, third son of Elder John Strong, 
died October 3, 1689. He married, first, Mary Huit, daughter of 
the Rev. Ephraim Huit of Windsor, December 5, 1660.* By her 
he had five children ; of whom the youngest was Asahel. She died 
February 20, 1671. His second wife was Rachel Holton, whom he 
married in 1671 ; by whom he had ten or eleven children. Of his 
fifteen or sixteen children, all but one were living at his decease in 

Asahel Strong of Northampton, sou of Thomas, and the young- 
est of Mary Huit's five children, was born Nov. 14, 1668. He mar- 
ried Mary Hart of Farmington, Conn, in 1689. They had six chil- 
dren : Margaret ; Mary, married Daniel Lewis ; Elisabeth ; Lois ; 
Asahel ; Col. John, born 1705, died 1777 or 1779, a prominent man. 

Asahel Strong, Esq. eldest son of the preceding, was born in 
1702 ; removed to Farmington, where he married Ruth Hooker, 
daughter of the Hon. John Hooker, and died in 1751, aged forty- 
nine years. That his mother, Mary Hart, was a native of Farming- 
ton, may have led to his residence there ; but the date of his removal 
does not appear. The title Esquire would imply that he was a man 
of honourable standing, and a magistrate. At the time of his death 
in 1751, the ages of his five children are reported as follows : Lais, 
fourteen years ; Ruth, eleven years ; Elnathan, nine years ; Cyp- 
rian, seven years ; Elisabeth, four years. More fully as follows : 

* The Rev. Ephraim Huit (or Hewit) came from England in 1639 ; and was 
settled as colleague teacher with the Rev. Mr. Warham at Windsor. He died 
Sept. 4, 1644. He is said to have been " a man of superior talents and eminent 
usefulness." The following is his quaint epitaph, in the old burying-ground of 

" Heere Ij'eth Epiikaim Huit, sometimes Teacher to y« Church of Windsor, who dyed Sep- 
tember 4th, 1644. 

" Who when hee lived, we drew our vital breath ; 
Who when hee dyed, his dying was our death ; 
Who wa* y^ stay of state, y<^ churches staff; 
Alas the times forbid an epitaph." 
See Sprague's Annals, I. p. 11. Barber's Conn. Histor. Collect, pp. 127, 132. 


Lois, born about 1737 ; married Odiah Pomeroy of Middletown. 

Euih, born in 1740 ; married Colonel Ichabod Norton, as above, 
p. 208. 

Elnathan, born in 1742 ; removed to New "Windsor, N. Y. Late 
in life lie returned to Connecticut; and used to visit at Col. Norton's, 
where I remember to have met him several times in my childhood. 
He died at Milford, Conn, without children. 

Rev. Cyprian Strong D. D. born May 26, 1744 ; graduated at 
Yale College in 1763 ; studied theology, and was settled at Chatham, 
now Portland, Conn. August 19, 1767. He received the degree of 
D. D. from Dartmouth College in 1803; and died in 1811. He was 
three times married ; first to Sarah Bull of Farmington. See 
Sprague's Annals, I. p. 651 sc[. 

Elisabeth, born in 1747, married Deae. Martin Bull of Farming- 
ton, and died April 9, 1820, aged seventy-three years. She had one 
daughter, Sophia, who married the Rev. Amos Bassett D. D. of He- 
bron, as his second wife. May 17, 1801. Her only child, Martin 
Bull Bassett, graduated at Yale College in 1823. 

Note. Another line of descent from Elder John Strong, viz. 
through Ehenezer, his fifth son, includes the family of the former 
Grov. Caleb Strong of Northampton, the great-grandson of Ebenezer. 

The preceding information has been kindly furnished to me by 
the Rev. William Allen D. D. of Northampton. The portion re- 
lating to Thomas Strong and his descendants he obtained from 
Sylvester Judd, Esq. of the same place, well known for his extensive 
researches into the historical and genealogical records of the olden 

II. The Hooker Family. 

The Rev. Thomas Hooker, first minister of Hartford, Conn, who 
came over from England in 1633, appears to be the ancestor of most 
of those now bearing the name of Hooker in this country. See a 
memoir of him in Sprague's Annals, I. p. 30-39. — The following very 
brief notices relate only to the Hookers of Farmington ; and have 
been kindly furnished to me by Mr. William C. Porter, a native of 
that place, now resident in New Haven. 

Rev. Thomas Hooker, of Hartford. 

Rev. Samuel Hooker, second son and sixth child of the pre- 
ceding, graduated at Harvard College in 1653 ; was ordained as the 


second pastor of the church in Farmington in July 1761 ; and died 
November 6, 1697. See Sprague's Annals, I. p. 37. 

John Hooker of Farmington, a son of Rev. Samuel, was Judge 
of the Superior Court, and Assistant. He resided on the main 
street, in the house afterwards occupied by his grandson, Maj. Roger 
Hooker. — Of his eight children, the following may be named here : 

HezeMah, lived at Bethlem, and was the ancestor of the Rev. 
Asahel Hooker and the Hookers of Vermont. 

John, lived as a farmer in Berlin ; and was the father of the Rev. 
John Hooker of Northampton, Mass. See Sprague's Annals, I. p. 
504. Other descendants still remain in Berlin. 

Mary, married Samuel Hart of Berlin, the ancestor of Mrs. 
Emma Willard. 

Joseph, was the father of Col. Noadiah Hooker of Farmington, 
The latter was active in the Revolution : and was a leading man in 
the town. 

jRuth, married Asahel Strong, Esq. For their children, see 
above, pp. 212, 213. Their daughter, Buth, married Col. Ichabod 

Roger, lived on his father's homestead ; and had seven children, 
of whom we may notice the following : Roger, known always as Major 
Hooker, succeeded to the homestead ; and was in the army of the 
Revolution. He married Mary Treadwell, sister of Gov. Treadwell; 
but died childless. Lucina, married Col. Isaac Cowles of Farming- 
ton. Cynthia, married the Rev. Allyn Olcott, Pastor in Farming- 
ton and afterwards in East Hartford. After his death she married 
a Mr. Alvord of Coventry. 

It thus appears, that the wife of Col. Ichabod Norton was the 
first cousin of Col. Noadiah Hooker, and also of Major Roger Hooker 
and his sisters Mrs. Cowles and Mrs. Olcott. Between all these 
families there was a strong friendship ; and a familiar intercourse was 
long kept up. 


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