OUR BRONSON FAMILY
It was in Earl’s Colne, Essex, that JOHN BROWNSON was born, about 1550. He is the earliest ancestor that can be traced for this family. He may have been the son of Cornelius Brownson who lived at Earl’s Colne in the mid-1550s, and may thus have been a brother of “Priscilla, daughter of Cornelys Brownson.” The given name of Cornelius appeared regularly in the Brownson family for over 100 years in England and New England branches.
The county of Essex is on the east coast of England facing the English Channel, bounded on the south by the Thames River. The county is subdivided into unions and into smaller church parishes. The Brownsons lived in the parish of Earl’s Colne, 3-1/2 miles east-southeast of the town of Halstead, in the union of Halstead. And to be more specific, Halstead is in the Witham division of the Hundred of Lexden, North Division of Essex. Ultimately, the parish of Earl’s Colne is in the extreme north central part of Essex.
The “Earl’s” part of the village name derives from the family of De Vere, Earls of Oxford, to whom it belonged at the time of the Domesday survey in 1086. “Colne” is taken from the river Colne which flows through it and over which is a bridge on the Roman road from Colchester. The parish is about 10 miles in circumference and consists mainly of elevated ground. The soil is a kind of loam partially mixed with sand.
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Map of Halstead, Essex County, England
John Brownson was a yeoman, and married first, by 1576 JOAN, whose maiden name is unknown. She probably was the mother of his three known children.
Joan died and was buried at Earl’s Colne on 11 February 1616/1617.
John remarried at Earl’s Colne on 19 May 1617, Mathen Taylor. Five years later, Mathen died and was buried on 6 September 1622. John died a few months later and was buried on 4 February 1622/1623 at Earl’s Colne.
CHILDREN of JOHN and JOAN BROWNSON
- ROGER BROWNSON was baptized at Earl’s Colne on 15 September 1576. He married Mary Underwood.
- John Brownson was baptized on 8 October 1580, at Earl’s Colne. He married (1) on 30 Jan 1603/04, Elizabeth Layer; no children recorded. He “was admitted” to a croft* of about 2 acres in Earl’s Colne called “Birchetts” in 1630, it having been surrendered by a Mr. Cresener worth 11-06-08 per annum, and he paid for fine 11-15-00. After Elizabeth’s death in July 1633, he married (2) Margaret Coleman at Aldham, Essex, on 12 November 1633. They had children: Margaret (1634) and Mary (1637). John was buried at Earl’s Colne on 17 October 1638. Immediately, the children, “Margaret and Marie Brownson, infants, were admitted after the death of their father John Brownson to a certain croft called Chalkeney Croft, with a garden, and their mother was their Gardian and they paid for their fine because butt poer, 12-00-00”. Later, the children’s uncle, Roger, came into the use of Chalkeney Croft. No explanation for how this transfer was made is known.
* A croft was a small enclosed plot of land, adjoining a house, worked by the occupier and his family, esp. in Scotland.
- Alice Brownson was baptized on 30 August 1584 at Earl’s Colne.
ROGER BROWNSON was baptized 15 September 1576 at Earl’s Colne, Essex.
His first wife was MARY UNDERWOOD, baptized at Lamarsh on 2 February 1585/6. Mary was the daughter of John Underwood of Lamarsh, of whom nothing more is known. They were married at Lamarsh, Essex County on 12 May 1600.
- Roger was admitted to a reversion of three acres of land called Chalkeney Crofts, and paid a fine of £1 6s 8d. [No explanation has been found as to how this property came to Roger from the children of his brother John Brownson.]
In 1619, Roger and Mary were admitted to the house called “Humpherys” and garden adjoining, and “paid for fine” £2 15s.
In 1623 Roger Brownson was admitted to “the house uppon the west in Chiffin lane that he hath estate in only for life, then it is the Lds, and he paid for a fine of £3-00-00.” The wording “then it is the Lds” meant that after Roger Brownson’s death, the property would revert to the Lord of the Manor, which was Richard Harlakenden, whose children later would sail to New England with Roger’s three children in 1635.
Mary probably died from complications with the birth of her daughter, Mary. She was buried 18 March 1622/3 at Earl’s Colne.
Roger remarried, the widow Margaret Brewer, which marriage is not listed in the BOYD Marriage Index at the Library of the Society of Genealogists, London.
When he was elderly, Roger removed from Earl’s Colne to Aldham, Essex Co., England.
His will was dated 4 August 1635 at Aldham, and was proved on 22 October 1635 at Colchester. The Will contained the following provisions:
- “To Margaret, my wife, 6£, furniture, and all that was hers before marriage.
- To my daughter-in-law [stepdaughter] Mary Brewer 20s.
- To Edith my daughter, wife of John Evered, £3.
- To Susan, daughter of John Evered of Cogshall (Coggeshall, County Essex) my grandchild, 20s at her age of 21 or marriage.
- To my two sons John and Richard Brownson and Mary Brownson my daughter, 12 pence each if they ever come to demand the same.*
- Residue to Cornelius Brownson my son, he to be executor.”
* Roger’s children, John (his eldest son), Richard and Mary, were not necessarily being disinherited. It was common for the eldest son to be appointed executor, but it’s most likely these three had just left for the New World. Most of Essex County was deeply Puritan in religion in the 1630s and it is highly probable that he approved of their departure for New England and made some financial settlement on them before they left Earl’s Colne, which would have helped to pay for their passage. The token bequest of 12d each was a simple legal device to prevent any future dispute about the validity of the will.
CHILDREN of ROGER and MARY (UNDERWOOD) BROWNSON
- Roger Brownson Jr. was baptized 12 July 1601 at Lamarsh, Essex County; presumably died in infancy.
- JOHN BROWNSON was baptized at Lamarsh on 21 September 1602. He married 19 Nov 1626 Francis Hills at Halstead, Essex.
- Edith Brownson was baptized at Earl’s Colne on 13 January 1604/5. She married 1627 John Evered (Everett) of Coggeshall, Essex Co., England. They had children: Susan and Martha. She was alive in 1664/5 (husband’s will).
- Cornelius Brownson baptized 18 February 1609/10 at Earl’s Colne, Essex Co., England. He married on 26 April 1636 Martha Goulson (Gulson) at Earl’s Colne. He was the principal legatee in his father’s Will, inheriting, in 1636, a house called Humfres and the croft called Chalkeny Croft, and it was worth £3 p. annum. The Will of Cornelius Brownson, “labourer”, was dated 19 January 1656/7. To be sold within three months after “my wife Martha’s decease, my copyhold house called Humfreys and a croft of land adjoining it called Chalkney, both held by me of the manor of Colne Priory.” He died at Earl’s Colne and was buried there on 8 March 1656/7. When his widow, Martha, died, she willed linen, glass and furniture; some furniture and 40s to her maid Ann Hutton; 20s to her “sister Everitt” and 10s each to her two daughters. Her will was signed by mark, and was proved 5 June 1665. Martha was buried at Earl’s Colne on 24 May 1665. Cornelius’s descendants have clung tenaciously to the spelling of Brownson.
- Alice Brownson was baptized at Earl’s Colne on 22 August 1612. She died eight days later and was buried there on 30 Aug 1612.
- Richard Brownson was baptized at Earl’s Colne on 23 July 1615. Richard, perhaps a Puritan, sailed to New England at the age of 20 with his brother, John, and sister Mary, probably on the ship “Defence,” landing at Boston on 8 October 1635. It is most likely that he with his brother went to Hartford in May or June of 1636 with Rev. Mr. Thomas Hooker. He was in Farmington and was co-owner with his brother John of the first sawmill in Farmington. He mar. (1) Abigail Weyborn (Wibourne) of Wrotham, Kent. Their children were: John (mar. Hannah Scott); Abigail; Cornelius; Hannah; Elizabeth; Edith; Mary; and Samuel. Abigail died in 1661. Richard mar. (2) Elizabeth Orvis, widow of George, and previously widow of David Carpenter. His will was written 27 Feb 1684; proven 26 October 1687.
Richard’s son, John, married Hannah Scott of Connecticut. She was the daughter of Edmund Scott and Elizabeth (Fuller Upson) Scott. In 1695, they moved south and created a branch of the Bronson family in South Carolina. They used the spelling Brunson and were the first of that name in South Carolina. They founded the town of Dorchester, South Carolina. Their descendants settled in Orangeburgh, and Brunson (Hartwell co.) South Carolina is named in their honor.
- Elizabeth Brownson was baptized at Earl’s Colne on 23 March 1617/18; and was buried two months later at the same place, on 24 May 1618.
- Mary Brownson was born about the 6 March 1622/23 (her mother died on 18 March 1622/23). Teenaged Mary went to New England with her brothers, John and Richard.
* One can only guess why Mary was allowed to leave home at such a young age. She may have been a “handful” and her dying father thought it best that she be in the care of her married brother, John, rather than her stepmother. It is more likely that they were following the custom of the time which placed the responsibility of unmarried sisters in the hands of the eldest brother. Mary had problems in ultra-strict, fanatically pious, Puritan, Hartford. John Olmstead, Jonathan Rudd, John Pierce and Nicholas Olmstead were accused of “wanton dalliances, lacivious Caridge & fowle Mysdemenors at sundry times with Mary Brunson”. Mary and the first three boys were “corrected” but Nicholas Olmstead was fined and had “to stand Vppon the Pyllery at Hartford”. There was no sex involved between Mary and the boys or the Puritans would have delightedly added “fornication” to the charges and the punishments would have been more severe. It was probably a case of being caught petting. The events took place in the winter and spring of 1639/40, and by 2 April 1640, Mary was safely and hastily married to Nicholas Desborough, a somewhat older, more stable man.
Mary’s husband, Nicholas Desborough (Disbrow/Disbrough), was born in England about 1613. He was a soldier in the Pequot Indian War of 1637 and was granted 50 acres for his service. After Mary’s death some time before 1670, he remarried the widow Elizabeth Shepard Strickland. Nicholas died shortly before 31 August 1685.
JOHN BROWNSON (seen later, variously as Bronson/Brunson) was baptized 21 September 1602 at Lamarsh, Essex Co., England. He was called John Brownson Jr. in the records of births and burials of his children in England to differentiate him from his uncle, John Brownson (1580-1638) who remained in England.*
* This was a common practice in olden times when two men with the same name lived in the same general area. It didn’t necessarily mean that “Jr.” was the son of “Sr.” as it does today. In the Connecticut records, our John Brownson’s nephew (his brother Richard’s son John) was sometimes called “Jr.”
He married FRANCIS HILLS on 19 November 1626 at Halstead, Essex, England.
Frances Hills was born 23 July 1605 according to the St. Andrews Church Register of Halstead County, Essex [secondary source, Tracy]. My primary reference states that there is no record of her baptism found in the parish register at Halstead, but there are other “Hills” there recorded (Anthony or William), and it’s very likely they are relatives. Her name also does not appear in any known records in New England. She surely, however, was the mother of all the children of John Brownson, considering that John’s 9th child, Abraham, named one of his own daughters “Frances”.*
* It was the custom of the Puritans to give girls biblical names (e.g., Ruth, Dorcas, Sarah) or name them for a virtue (Patience, Charity, Prudence, etc.). Names such as “Frances” were considered “Papist” and in disfavor among the Puritans.
We don’t know when or where Frances died.
SAILING FROM ENGLAND TO AMERICA
John was a Puritan and was so strongly influenced by the many Puritan preachers in Essex, that at the age of about 33 years, he headed a party which sailed from England to the Massachusetts Colony.
It was 1635 when John brought with him his younger siblings, Richard and Mary, most likely aboard the ship “Defense,” landing in Boston, Massachusetts, on the 8th of October.*
* It is believed that the three set sail for New England on the “Defense” (Edward Bostock, Master) from London “the last of July 1635,” and arrived at Boston 8 October 1635. Few passenger lists were complete, and this one, containing only fourteen names, doesn’t list the Brownsons, but others from Earl’s Colne were aboard the ship. The rationale for their being on the “Defence” are as follows:
- In Roger Brownson’s Will (dated 4 Aug 1635), he stated “to my two sons John and Richard Brownson and to Mary Brownson my daughter, 12 pence each if ever they come to demand the same.” They had probably already left Essex. The “Defence” had sailed from London “the last of July 1635” and arrived in Massachusetts on 8 October 1635.
- The next factor is their father’s death. He was buried on 17 October 1635. It’s highly possible that Roger was gravely ill and his death was expected at any time. This could well account for John Brownson, as the oldest living son, taking his unmarried brother Richard (barely 20 years) and his teenaged sister Mary, with him to the New World.
- Another factor is the passengers who did appear on the “Defence” passenger list. The most notable being Roger Harlakenden (23) and his wife Elizabeth (18) and his sister Mabell (22). The Harlakendens were the younger brother and sister of Richard Harlakenden, Esq. (Lord of the manor at Earl’s Colne [1606-1677]). This is a direct tie to the Brownsons of Earl’s Colne. Another passenger of interest was the celebrated Thomas Shepard, who had preached at Earl’s Colne in 1630, later to become the minister at Cambridge, Massachusetts.
One source claims that they traveled with the London Company in 1628 aboard the “Hercules”. Another source, a Brownson genealogy, states that our three sailed with about 200 other passengers on board the ship “Griffin” from the Downs of Kent in May of 1633, the rationale being that the Rev. Thomas Hooker sailed on this ship “incognito”, and the Brownsons were with him in June of 1636 in Hartford. This account is not correct. John and Frances Brownson had a daughter, Dorcas, baptized 19 December 1633 in England, eight months after the “Griffin” sailed for New England.
Since there is no trace of the Brownsons (Brunsons) in Massachusetts Bay records, they must have removed to the new settlement at Hartford, Connecticut, with the first settlers of that place, led by Mr. Thomas Hooker, the minister, in May and June of 1636.
Click here to read my article about Rev. Thomas Hooker.
In the records of that town, the family name is usually spelled Brunson and so John is recorded on his 1637 enlistment papers for the Pequot War, in which war he served.*
* Mr. James Shepard in his Connecticut Soldiers in the Pequot War has been able to identify only 95 out of the 130 Connecticut men who served in that conflict in 1637. He includes John Bronson, who enlisted from Hartford and had a lot in Soldiers’ Field.
The family name is usually spelled Brownson on the Hartford records, and Brunson on the later Farmington records. He is not named among the proprietors of Hartford in the land division of 1639, but is mentioned in the same year in the list of settlers, where his name heads the list:
“The names of such inhabitants as were granted lotts to have onely at the Townes Courtesie with liberty to fetch wood & keep Swine or Cowes by proportion on the Commons.”
Though he isn't named among the original Proprietors, John Brownson's name does appear on Founder's Monument.
Founders' Monument, Hartford, Connecticut
All Brownson/Bronson descendants are eligible to be members of the Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford.
In February 1639, he had several parcels of land assigned to him by the land division which occurred. One of these was land on which he had his home.
John’s house lot was in the “Soldiers’ Field”, so called in the north part of the old village of Hartford on the “Neck Road,” supposed to have been given for service in the Pequot War. The property was bounded on the east by the Neck Road; on the north by Richard Church’s land; and on the south by William Heaton’s land. There is, at the Connecticut Archives in Hartford, an 1838 map made from the old records showing Hartford in 1640. John Brownson’s lot #34 was on the edge of town; only Richard Church’s lot #35 separated him from the Cow Pasture. And there he lived in 1640.
On 9 November 1640, John Brownson and Andrew Warner were both fined five shillings for “putting their hogs over the Great River, and five shillings for every day they left them there.”
In 1640, the people of Hartford started a settlement at Tunxis, being the first settlement made in Connecticut away from navigable waters.
Tunxis, later Farmington, Connecticut, was purchased by the Hartford settlers, and John moved there about 1641 and was an original Proprietor. His house was about a half-mile out of the village, on a road running east.
THE FARMINGTON MILL
With his brother Richard he owned a large part of the land in the triangle formed by Hatters Lane, Colton Street, and land on the south side of the mountain road now called Diamond Glen Road. At the top of this mountain road, the brothers built a mill which was in operation for sawing lumber until 1650, when it was sold to Stephen Hart Sr.
The remains of the mill can still be seen on the banks of the brook.
The last house on the right side of the road is very ancient and was probably one of the mill houses. It was converted into a dwelling house, most of the paneling being remade from the old church pews, discarded in 1836 when the interior of the First Church was rebuilt. The pews were stored for 75 years in horsesheds. The pine, dark with age, is flawless, free from knots and 30 inches wide.
John Bronson (Brownson) settled on his land in Farmington in 1644. He was given the land by his father, Roger. In 1670, John Brownson built his house on the south side of the Ould Mill road near the present junction where Hatter's Lane becomes Diamond Glen Road and meets Colton.
Below is a Google map of the address where the Brownson house was located - 44 Colton Street, Farmington, Connecticut.
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A road was attempted through the swamp known as Potter's swamp which was to be a continuation of Meadow Lane. The road thru the swamp was soon found impractical, and Hatter's Lane, also known as the ‘road to the ould mill’, was used instead. Occasionally, however, we find a reference to a highway which means none other than the first attempt to travel directly from the fork at Meadow Lane to Brownson's mill thru the swamp. Until 1700 there were two roads leading to ye ould mill: the present Colton Street (then called Little Back Lane) and Hatter's Lane.
Lovely Farmington has retained much of the flavor of the English village that the Puritans built in the Connecticut wilderness, and it is possible to reconstruct their lifestyle there. The first houses had thatched roofs and contained only one room. By adding on, in time the house had up to four rooms. Each room, including the one in which food was cooked and eaten, contained at least one bed. Separate rooms for eating, sleeping, etc., were unheard of in Old and New England. Furniture was sparse. There was a long eating table, called the board, with benches on each side, and generally one chair at the end for the head of the household. (Hence the expression “chairman of the board”). The fireplace in the main room, called the hall, was the heart of the house, and provided the only heat as well as being used for cooking. New England winters are no joke, and it took much wood to keep the fire going 24 hours a day. There was always danger of fire, as it was not until the end of the 17th century that wooden chimneys and thatched roofs were outlawed.
Frances Brownson learned to feed her family as the Indian women fed theirs, whatever was available. Their diet consisted of boiled meat or fish, cornmeal, available roots or vegetables, baked or stewed beans, eggs and cheese. Milk and beer were the beverages. The heavy kettles and pots (often weighing 40 lbs.) that she lifted each day were expensive and lasted for several generations, as can be seen by colonial inventories. Two Brownsons ate from each wooden trencher, and all shared the same tankard for drinking. Later, pewter replaced the wooden trencher, but seldom did anyone have a plate to himself. Mainly, they ate with their fingers. Early spoons were carved from wood; later spoons were of pewter or tin. They used any knife that was available. At most, they ate two meals a day. If the Brownsons had a change of clothes, they were the exception and like everyone else, they seldom bathed.
Most of their day of rest was spent at church. Although Puritans professed themselves as Christians, the emphasis was more on the Old than the New Testament. This was true to such a degree that in time some of the Congregational Churches became Unitarian.) As in a synagogue, the women sat on one side of the church and the men on the other. Although filled with “fire and brimstone”, the sermons, which lasted for hours, fed their faith and gave them the strength for their days. They practiced infant Baptism, but marriage was considered a civil affair, not a rite of the church. “Joining the church” was no simple matter. It was sometimes years before a candidate was accepted for membership.
From existing records, it appears that the Farmington people had no established church for quite a few years after the settling of the town. At the founding of First Church of Farmington and in the Congregationalist (Puritan) way, seven males were chosen by the town as the Seven Pillars of the Church. The choice was made on the basis of wisdom, humility and an honorable life. These seven men made the Covenant together, and were the nucleus from which the new church expanded. John Brownson was chosen as one of the Seven Pillars, an honor which would not have been bestowed unless he more than deserved it, and one for which his descendants should be proud.
POLITICS and CIVIL SERVICE
In Farmington, John became active in politics. His first recorded activity was 7 March 1649 when he served on the Grand Jury. In following years, his service to the community included the following:
- Served on the Grand Jury again, 15 May 1650.
- Farmington Deputy to the Connecticut General Court: May 1651; October 1655; May 1656; and October 1656.
- Sworn Constable for a year beginning 4 March 1651. In this capacity he was evidently something like a tax collector because it was his duty to collect “ye rate for ye Fort at Seabrooke”.
- Served on the Petit Jury – 7 March 1660.
PILLAR OF THE CHURCH
John Bronson was one of the “seven pillars” who founded the church at Farmington on 13 October 1652. The beautiful old church, First Congregational of Farmington, contains a tablet inscribed with the names of the founding fathers of whom John Bronson was one.
“Upon the thirteenth day of October, Mr. Roger Newton, Stephen Hart, Thomas Judd, John Bronson, John Cowles, Thomas Thomson and Robert Porter joined in Church Covenant in Farmington.” Roger Newton, the first pastor, son-in-law of Thomas Hooker, was succeeded by Hooker’s son, Samuel, “an animated and pious divine, his address pathetic, warm and engaging.”
The first Meeting House was a rude log structure, as much a fort as a church.
Gathering for Worship in 1652
Throughout the early days of Farmington, the only gathering place for everyone was at the church services on Sunday. To most people, going to church was not only a matter of faith and conviction, but of desire. It not only answered their need for worship, but it furnished their best opportunity for getting together socially. After morning worship, the townspeople would meet in the Sabbathday house behind the Meetinghouse, where they would eat the food they had brought with them and catch up on town news. Since the Meetinghouse itself had no heat until 1835, it’s probable that there was no way of heating food; but baked potatoes, wrapped in cloth at home, would at least keep somewhat warm. It’s not hard to imagine the steady chatter that went on until it was time to return for the afternoon service. In good weather, children could run off their energy and maybe be tired enough for a later nap, if the tithingman didn’t catch them at it!
It was through the seating in church, decided by a committee made up of leading citizens, that one’s status in the community was determined. It should have “respect to age, office and estate, so far as it tendeth to make a man respectable and to everything else which hath the same tendency.” This arbitrary and undemocratic method of telling people where they must sit must have created jealousy and bitter feelings, but everyone went to church. If one failed to do so, he was made to feel the disapproval of the community. Such was the case with Seth North, who regularly absented himself from church and was always referred to as “Sinner North.” The church’s builder, Judah Woodruff, also refused to attend services, with what he considered good and sufficient reason, and for this he was excommunicated.
First Church of Christ, Congregational, 1652, Farmington, CT 06032
John was on the list of Freemen of Farmington in 1659.
Probably due to age – 60 years was old for that day – John was “freed from traineing, watch and ward” on 4 December 1662.
And the last mention of him found was on 10 May 1670, when Indians, “Cherry and Will with three of the Milford Indians” stole “sider” from him. The court soon afterwards ordered the indians to pay him 20 shillings.
John Brownson, Puritan Father and Pillar of the Church, died in 1680. If there was ever a tombstone, it no longer exists. He left no will. The inventory of his estate was dated 28 November 1680. He is styled in the probate records as “John Brunson, Farmington”, but wording in the estate records suggests that he may not have been living at that time in Farmington.
The inventory is evidence of no “frills” in John’s Puritan home. Things used in the house were only those which were necessary for day-to-day living. The “beds” called mattresses today were the housewife’s pride. It took a long time to accumulate enough duck and geese feathers and down to stuff one. There are quite a few mentioned considering that all three daughters were married, and a “bed” was generally part of a girl’s dowry at marriage. The blankets, sheets, pillow cases, towels, etc., were all woven at home. Indeed, it is strange that no spinning wheel or loom was in the inventory. Everything, even those things made by his wife, were considered John’s property to be divided among his children. As he left no will, John’s widow’s fate was decided by the Court and the charity of the children. Obviously, there was no dower law in Connecticut at that time. As will be seen, there was still unfinished estate business 47 years after John’s death.
CHILDREN of JOHN and FRANCIS (HILLS) BROWNSON:
- Mary was baptized at Earl’s Colne, Essex, England, on 12 Dec 1627. When she was about seven, she accompanied her parents to New England. She grew up in Hartford, Connecticut, and married four times: (1) John Wyatt; they moved from Windsor to Haddam where he died in 1668; they had eight children. (2) John Graves on 20 July 1671 as his 2nd wife; he was killed by the indians in King Phillip’s War at Hatfield, Mass. on 19 Sept 1677; they had one son. (3) at Hatfield on 25 June 1678, William Allis, as his 2nd wife; he died at Hartford on 6 Sept 1678, leaving Mary and only children by his first marriage. (4) Samuel Gaylord, as his 2nd wife. She died after 1694 leaving nine children.
- John was baptized at Earl’s Colne on 17 Feb 1628/29; died 1631.
- John was baptized at Earl’s Colne on 28 Dec 1631; buried there on 23 Mar 1631/32.
- DORCAS BRONSON was baptized at Earl’s Colne, Essex, on 19 Dec 1633. She married Stephen Hopkins (the son of John Hopkins), of Hartford.
- Sarah was born in 1639 at Hartford, Connecticut. Dr. John Winthrop’s medical records state that she was 18 years old in 1657. She married after 1 October 1659 in Wethersfield, Connecticut, John Kilbourne, as his 2nd wife.
- Jacob was born in January 1640/41 at Hartford. He married Mary (Andrews) Barnes. He died in March 1707/8 at Farmington. They had children: Samuel (m. Lydia Warner) and removed to New Milford; Jacob Jr. remained at Farmington; Roger; Isaac (b. 1686) went to Lyme CT and thence to North Carolina; Elizabeth (m. Norris or Harris); and Rebecca (m. Dickerson).
- John Bronson Jr. was born in January 1643/4 at Farmington. One of the first settlers of Waterbury, Connectiut. He married Sarah Ventris (bapt. 1653). They had children: John, Sarah, Dorothy, Ebenezer, William, Moses, and Grace. He died in 1696; she died 6 January 1711/12 at Waterbury.
- SGT. ISAAC BRONSON was born in November 1645 at Farmington. He married, about 1669, Mary Root, the daughter of John Root of Farmington. They settled at Waterbury with the first company of settlers and was one of the seven male members at the organization of the church there. He was 1st Sergeant of the train-band, and three sessions was a member of the Legislature. They had nine children. He died on 19 February 1719/20.
- Abraham Bronson was baptized 28 November 1647 at Farmington. He married Ann (or Hannah) Griswold; they had nine children. He died on 27 June 1719 at Lyme, Connecticut.
DORCAS BRONSON was baptized at Earl’s Colne, Essex County, on 19 December 1633. She was less than two years old when she journeyed to New England with her parents and sister Mary. She married STEPHEN HOPKINS of Hartford, Connecticut, before 4 March 1657. As a young wife, she was treated by Dr. John Winthrop. Stephen was the son of John and Jane Hopkins. They had five children. Stephen dated his Will 28 September 1689, and it was proven on 6 November 1689, the estate totalling £591 9s 6d. Dorcas died at Hartford on 13 May 1697.
Coddington, John Insley. “The Brownson, Bronson, or Brunson Family of Earl’s Colne, Essex, England, Connecticut, and South Carolina.” The American Genealogist 152/38, pgs. 192-211.
This study was reproduced in Brownson Branches Vol. I (March 1994) pp. 5-11, a newsletter published by Marylou Cory-Nyblod, , 8452 59th Ave. N.E., Marysville, WA 98279-3204. Email: myblod @ gte. net. At LDS Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah: Call # SLC 929.273 B825c.
Problem: Mr. Coddington states there are more children of John (Emigrant) Brownson, but details only the first child, Mary (bapt. 1627); see pp. 10-11. Coddington is also scathingly critical of many works profiling this family as they include a “fictitious” ancestor, “Old Richard Bronson”.
Hickok, Charles N. The Hickok Genealogy: Descendants of William Hickocks of Farmington, Connecticut (Rutland, VT: Tuttle Publishing, 1938) p. 10.
Hinman, R. Catalogue of the Names of the Early Puritan Settlers of the Colony of Connecticut (1852) pp. 341ff. [scanned copy, hence could have errors].
Hinman states John Bronson’s death was in 1751, not 1746 as stated above.
The American Genealogist, 152 Vol. 38 #4 (Oct 1962), Parish Register, St. Andrew’s (Anglican) Church, and St. Margaret’ (Anglican) Church in Aldham, Essex Earl’ Colne, Essex. Also in same volume, see Register of Admissions Fines from 1610, Colne Priory Manor, Notes of Fines kept by Richard Harlakenden, D/DPr. 100, Essex County Records Office, Chelmsford.
Bronson, Henry. History of Waterbury, Connecticut (1858), pp. 137-38.
Connecticut Colonial Records, Vol. 1, pp. 218, 278, 281, 283.
Cutter, William. Genealogical & Family History of the State of Connecticut (1911) p. 1740.
de Forest, Louis Effingham. Our Colonial and Continental Ancestors: The Ancestry of Mr. And Mrs. Louis William Dommerich (New York: 1930) pg. 57.
This account of the Bronson family is good, but marred by one error. The de Forests stated that, “At a meetying at Hartford, Dec. 5, 1676, the council granted to John Brunson of Farmington the sume of five pounds, as reparation for his wounds and damage recev’d thereby, and quartering and halfe pay to the first of the present moneth.” The authors supposed that this reward for military service in King Philip’s War (1675-76) belonged to John1 Brownson. Obviously he was too old to have served in King Philip’s War, and the military service in question belonged either to his son John2, or to his nephew John2. Per Coddington, above.
Hinman, Royal R. Catalogue of Names of the Early Puritan Settlers ... Connecticut. Hartford (1852) pp. 341-47.
Hurlburt, Mabel S. Farmington Town Clerks and Their Times.
Manor of Colne Priory, Register of Admission Fines from 1610, Notes of Fines made by Richard Harlakenden, D/DPr. 100, Essex County Register Office, Chelmsford.
Manwaring, Charles William. Digest of Early Connecticut Probates, Hartford District, Vol. I: 86, 278-79.
“Original Distribution of the Lands in Hartford.” Coll. Conn. Hist. Soc. Vol. 14: 68, 91, 139, 146, 152-54, 160, 162, 173-74, 182, 188, 322, 287, 405, 429, 464, 506-08.
Photograph: Connecticut Historical Society Ref. # 1953.5.96 N1828 (470x329H). Northwest View of Farmington from Round Hill, by John Warner Barber (1798-1885). Sketch for Barber’s Historical Collections of Connecticut (1836). “Seen from across the Farmington River, includes the figure of the artist sketching,” according to the Web site of the Connecticut Historical Society.
Parke, Nathan Grier, and Donald Lines Jacobus. The Ancestry of Lorenzo Ackley and his wife Emma Arabella Bosworth (Woodstock, VT, 1960) pp. 216-19. This is the best account of John Brownson (Emigrant) and his immediate family. Per Coddington, above.
See the Records of the Particular Court of Connecticut, 1639-1663. Collection of the Connecticut Historical Society, 14:576, 578; 22: 10, 12, 72, 77, 82, 109, 222, 227, 256.
Savage, James. A genealogical dictionary of the first settlers of New England: showing three generations of those who came before May, 1692, on the basis of Farmer’s Register. 4 vols. Baltimore MD: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1981. At Family History Library, Salt lake City, Utah: Call # 974 D2s 1981.
Shepard, James. Connecticut Soldiers in the Pequot War (1913) pg. 12.
Tracy, Elsie H. Bronson, Brownson, Brunson: some descendants of John Bronson of Hartford (1636).... La Jolla, CA: 1973.
This 29-page typewritten manuscript concerns mainly the family of Jacob Bronson (b. 1640). At LDS Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah: Call # 929.273 A1 no. 929.
Bassette, Buell Burdette. One Bassett Family in America (New Britain, CT: 1926) pp. 133-39. This otherwise excellent article on the Bronson family is marred by belief in the fictitious “old Richard” Bronson as founder of the family in New England. So states Mr. Coddington, see above.
Bronson, Harriet Sibley. Bronson Lineage 1636-1817: Ancestors & Descendants of Capt. William Bronson of the Revolutionary War and Other Ancestral Lines (Dallas, OR: 1917). At SLC Family History Library, Call # 929.273 B789s.
This resource has a lot of information in it, but is highly criticized by John Insley Coddington. In his genealogy, Coddington makes scathing remarks about Sibley’s genealogy, calling her a ‘dizzy’ family historian. He claims that she invented a wholly imaginary ‘Old Richard Bronson’ who was supposed to have come to Connecticut ‘early’ (whatever that may mean) and to have been the father of John, Richard, and Mary. No such person as ‘Old Richard’ appeared in any Connecticut record whatsoever, and he is entirely fictitious. ‘Old Richard Bronson’ had, nevertheless, been given unwarranted prominence as the first ancestor of this family in America in a good many printed genealogies, compendia, and articles in genealogical columns of the late Boston Evening Transcript and extant Hartford Times, and because of this repetition many descendants believe in his existence. He warns people away from this thinking.
Furthermore, Coddington warns against other of her statements:
- that the name was originally ‘de Braundeston’ in the vicinity of Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire. There is, to be sure, a village named Braunstone, in Leicester, about 20 miles southeast of Burton-on-Trent, but this has nothing whatever to do with the family under discussion, whose original was clearly a patronymic name and not derived from a place name (pg. 1).
- the illustration of a ‘Bronson coat of arms,’ which is also imaginary, since the Brownson’s were a yeoman family and not at all armigerous (opposite pg. 3)
- the statement that ‘the first Bronson of whom we have any knowledge came to England from Scotland in May 1568 as follower of Mary Queen of Scots’ (pg. 5).
Such statements should never have been made in the first place, but, having been made, they should be promptly forgotten by all descendants of the Connecticut settlers John, Richard, and Mary Brownson.
Brownson, Dr. Ernest R. Genealogy of One Branch of the Richard Brownson Family 1631-1951. Mayville, ND: 1951. Typescript. At LDS Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah: Call # 929.273 B825b.
Problem: This genealogy subscribes to the theory of there being an “old Richard” who was the father of the Emigrant siblings. Additionally, Brownson lists only five children born to John & Frances Brownson, excluding a “John” who lives to adulthood; but later in the manuscript, details the son John who in 1695 removes his family to South Carolina. Manuscript also excludes Sgt. Isaac, who is a well-documented son (and one of my ancestors), and Abraham, and a Sarah.
Enderton, Herbert B. Bronson (Brownson, Brunson) families, some descendants of John, Richard and Mary Brownson of Hartford, Connecticut : including the Kilbourn, Welton, Hopkins, Enderton, Warner and other allied families (San Jose, CA: H. B. Enderton, 1969). At Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT, Call No. 929.273 B789e. Microfilm No. FHL US/CAN Film 893749 Item 1.
Farmington Library, Farmington, Connecticut. Local History Collection, 44 Colton Street, printed 1974. The writeup states John was given the land by his father Richard, but (as discussed above), most respected biographies state John’s father was Richard, but in fact, it was Roger [see Coddington, under Primary References].
WEBSITES OF INTEREST
Historic Sites at Hartford, Connecticut, on the website of The Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford, Connecticut. Click here for their Home Page.
Farmington Historical Society.
P.O. Box 1645, Farmington, CT 06034.
Waterbury, Connecticut, Home Page.
“America the Great Melting Pot – Brooke-White Family”, online genealogies at Rootsweb .com. Click here for Hannah Upson Richards Bronson. Here it is stated that Hannah remarried for her 3rd husband, Ebenezer Richardson, but do not provide any documentation for same. The page on Lt. John Bronson may fill in some of the blanks.
11 February 2009: Received an email note from Paul Bronson. He liked the site and added a few links:
Earls Colne, Essex: Records of an English Village.
The Earls Colne database was constructed by a team at the University of Cambridge between 1972-2002. It contains a large part of the surviving records of an English parish over the period 1380-1854. All of the original records that Coddington used in his paper for TAG can be found here.
Earls Colne, Colne Valley
An online guide to Earls Colne and the surrounding area within the Colne Valley. Has nice walking pages with pictures of Chalkney Wood.
Richard "Dick" Bronson of Spokane, Washington.
He is the principal resource for the Bronson/Brunson/Brownson family, having the most complete database of descendants of the three Brownson siblings who emigrated to America. Dick has researched this family for over 17 years and donated his files to the Connecticut Historical Society. He welcomes folks to contact him at RVBronson@aol.com.
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