Monday, January 15, 2018

Captain John Higley of Windsor and Simsbury, Connecticut.



Captain John Higley


Gravestone of Captain John Higley
Hopmeadow Cemetery, Simsbury, Connecticut

"Capt 
JOHN HIGLY
died august
25, 1714
aged 66 yers"[1]

My ancestral grandfather, Captain John Higley, "the American progenitor of all bearing the name in this country, . . ."[2] was the grandfather of Joseph Trumble, Jr. (The Lost Trumbull), and the great grandfather of Joseph Trumble Jr's two daughters, Sarah (Trumble) Johnson Watrous and Catherine (Trumble) Burnham. Captain John Higley's daughter, Hannah Higley, married Captain Joseph Trumble, Sr., the Patriarch of the Trumble/Trumbull family of Lebanon, Connecticut.



Gravestones of my ancestral grandparents, Captain Joseph Trumble, Sr., and his wife, Hannah (Higley) Trumble, daughter of Captain John Higley and Hannah Drake,
Trumbull Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut.

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NOTE: There is some confusion about the ancestry of Hannah Drake's grandfather, John Drake of Windsor, Connecticut. The question of his Royal ancestry back to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, son of Edward III, King of England, and his relationship to the family of the English admiral/privateer/explorer, Sir Francis Drake, has been questioned and challenged (John Drake of Windsor, Connecticut, thought to be a descendant of Robert Drake of Wiscombe Park, Devon, England, was a first cousin of Sir Francis Drake. Robert's father, John Drake the Elder, Esq., High Sheriff of Devon, England, was the brother/half-brother of Edmund Drake, who was the father of Sir Francis Drake?). So, at this time, and until there is more evidence, I will not address the Trumbull/Drake family connection beyond the immigrant ancestor, John Drake of Windsor, Connecticut. The connection to Royal ancestry is proven through Sarah (Bulkeley) Trumble Welles, (wife of "The Lost Trumbull," Joseph Trumble, Jr.) and her two daughters, Sarah (Trumble) Johnson Watrous and Catherine (Trumble) Burnham, through the Bulkeley, Chetwode, and Chauncy family lines.
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Captain John Higley was born in Frimley, Surrey, England, 22 July 1649;[3] baptized 12 August 1649;[4] son of Jonathan Higley and Katherine Brewster, "daughter of the Rev. John Brewster, who died in England 23 August 1657. They were of the lineage of the ancient Brewster family of Mayflower fame."[5]

"His father, Jonathan Higley, had married January 3, 1637/38, Katharine Brewster, daughter of Rev. John Brewster, pastor of the church at Frimley. Jonathan Higley died in 1664, and his son, John, according to the custom of the time, was bound out as an apprentice; but liking neither the trade nor his master, he ran away and secured passage on a vessel sailing for New England, which on its arrival sailed up the Connecticut river to Windsor, Connecticut, where he was sold to pay his passage."[6]

John Higley became an indentured servant of John Drake of Windsor, Connecticut (John Drake was the eldest son of John Drake, the immigrant ancestor, who settled in Windsor, Connecticut, "early in the year 1639."[7]), and would later marry his daughter Hannah Drake.

He married first, Hannah Drake, the daughter of John Drake and Hannah Moore. They married at Windsor, Connecticut, 09 November 1671,[8] she was born at Windsor, Connecticut, 08 August 1653;[9] she died at Simsbury, Connecticut, 04 August 1694.[10]

"Mrs. Hannah Higley, whose maiden name was Drake, departed this life in ye year of our Lord God 1694, August 4 day."[11] "Her grave, if it ever had a memorial stone, cannot be found - every vestige of it has been swept away by time, . . ."[12]

He married second, Sarah (Strong) Bissell, Widow, daughter of Return Strong.[13] 

Captain John Higley was involved in trade with the West Indies, "His warehouse appears to have been the beginning of his commercial transactions, and proved a channel through which his genius achieved success and great business prosperity. He held the appointment of Officer of Customs, Windsor then being a port of entry. One important item in a very considerable trade which the warehouse commanded was the importation and transportation of rum from Barbadoes."[14]

"In connection with  the advancement of trading interests, John Higley made voyages to the Island, as well as coast-wise trips. The tradition of the family is that he owned vessels plying between the American coast and Barbadoes. There is ample evidence that he was one of the leading and prosperous merchants of early Windsor."[15]

One could assume that Captain Joseph Trumble, Sr. learned, or at least heard stories of the mercantile trade with the West Indies from both his wife, Hannah, and father-in-law, Captain John Higley. Joseph Trumble, Jr., as a young boy, may have also heard stories of his grandfather's voyages to the West Indies? There was a very close relationship between the Trumbull family of Lebanon and the Higley family. The "Higleys of Simsbury and the Trumbull household appear to have enjoyed a partiality for each other's companionship. While he was yet a minor, Mrs. Trumbull's brother Samuel became a member of her family and was probably attending school. It is recorded that, at a later period, her niece Elizabeth Higley, the daughter of her brother Brewster, "spent the most of her youth and girlhood in her family"; and in a few years her sister Mindwell, and her two half sisters, Abigail and Susannah, married -- and settled at Lebanon near her."[16]


"Capt. John Higley was one of the seven who became the original proprietors of Simsbury in 1685 and was a leading spirit, taking an important part in all the public affairs of the town."[17]


Andros and the Charter of Connecticut.[18]

"Sir Edmund Andros was appointed governor-general of all New England in 1686, and on his arrival he demanded the surrender of all the colonial charters under his jurisdiction. 
Connecticut alone resisted the demand."[19]


John Higley and the hiding of the Connecticut Charter 


There is a Higley family tradition that it was John Higley who hid the Connecticut charter when Sir Edmund Andros tried to seize it on October 31, 1687.  "He it was who carried away and secreted the charter of Connecticut to prevent it from being seized and abrogated by Governor Edmund Andros. His daughter, Hannah Higley, was the mother of Governor Jonathan Trumbull, of Connecticut."[20]

The story in brief, "The assembly met, as usual, in October, and the government continued according to charter, until the last of the month. About this time, Sir Edmund, with his suit, and more than sixty regular troops, came to Hartford, when the assembly were sitting, demanded the charter, and declared the government under it to be dissolved. The assembly were extremely reluctant and slow with respect to any motion to bring it forth. The tradition is, that governor Treat strongly represented the great expense and hardships of the colonists, in planting the country; the blood and treasure which they had expended in defending it, both against the savages and foreigners; to what hardships and dangers he himself had been exposed for that purpose; and that it was like giving up his life, now to surrender the patent and privileges, so dearly bought, and so long enjoyed. The important affair was debated and kept in suspence, until the evening, when the charter was brought and laid upon the table, where the assembly were sitting. By this time, great numbers of people were assembled, and men sufficiently bold to enterprise whatever might be necessary or expedient. The lights were instantly extinguished, and one captain Wadsworth, of Hartford, in the most silent and secret manner, carried off the charter, and secreted it in a large hollow tree, fronting the house of the Hon. Samuel Wyllys, then one of the magistrates of the colony. The people appeared all peaceable and orderly. The candles were officiously re-lighted; but the patent was gone, and no discovery could be made of it, or of the person who had conveyed it away."[21]

Hiding the Original Charter in the Oak.[22]

The book, "The Higleys and their Ancestry," includes a quote from "The Story of the Charter Oak," by W.I. Fletcher, Librarian, Connecticut Historical Society, "The tradition is that Captain Joseph Wadsworth was the chief actor in this episode. The act has given his name a worthy place among those honored by Connecticut as patriots and heroes."[23] "But that Captain Wadsworth had his helpers in the "irregular proceeding," who were at hand to assist in this shrewdly managed action, is plain to be seen. Old private MS. (manuscript) in the hands of the Higley descendants state positively that the document was given to their honored ancestor, John Higley, that he mounted his horse and galloped off with it to Higley-town, where he kept it secreted six weeks, before it finally found its hiding-place in the hollow of the since famous oak tree in Hartford."[24]

[25]

"That there was a duplicate copy of the charter is well known, and whether this may have been the prize preserved by our worthy hero cannot be stated; indeed, it is not known how authentic is the story, which comes down to us direct, of his fast horseback ride through the forests bearing the valuable parchment to Higley-town; but since it is both possible and creditable, true to the old tradition we record it here, knowing that John Higley was a man equal to any great emergency, possessing bouyancy and great tact, full of clear grit and defiant courage."[26] 

"The records of the Assembly show that a duplicate of that charter was made before Andros came, and this fact offers an explanation of the mysterious action of the Assembly. The box was undoubtedly left on the table, with the key in it, for somebody to take the charter out without the knowledge or apparent connivance of the Connecticut authorities. Somebody did so, and caused a duplicate of the charter to be made on parchment, when, probably, the original charter was concealed in the hollow tree from whence it was taken in 1689, and the duplicate was placed in the box, so that if Andros should seize the charter he would not have the original."[27] In 1715, the Connecticut General Assembly grants Captain Joseph Wadsworth the sum of twenty shillings, "Upon consideration of the faithful and good service of Capt. Joseph Wadsworth, of Hartford, especially in securing the Duplicate Charter of this Colony in a very troublesome season when our constitution was struck at, and in safely keeping and preserving the same ever since unto this day: . . ."[28] 



John Higley's Military Career

"In 1687 he was commissioned Ensign of the train-band."[29] Simsbury, Connecticut.

"[May 1690]  [214] John Higly is allowed Lieutenant, and Thomas Barber, Ensigne of Simsbury traine band, and are to be commissioned accordingly."[30] 

"[May 1698]  Lieutenant John Higlye was confirmed Captain of the train band in the town of Symsbury, . . ." [31] 




Captain John Higley's gravestone, Hopmeadow Cemetery, Simsbury, Connecticut.
The wreaths were placed earlier, part of the National Wreaths Across America Ceremonies,
held Saturday December 16, 2017.


Higley Coppers

It is said of Captain John Higley, that, "In the early days of the century [1705-7] he was prominently identified with the discovery and development of the rich copper mines at Copper Hill [now Granby];"[32] and that, "A Granby copper mine owned by John Higley was the source of the copper for the famous Higley tokens."[33] "He was active in developing the copper mines, altho' to a later Higley we owe the association with the Higley coppers."[34] It was his son, Doctor Samuel Higley (my ancestral uncle), brother of Hannah (Higley) Trumble, who would mint Higley coppers. Regarding the location of Samuel Higley's mine, "It was property held quite separate from the famous Newgate prison and copper-mines, from which it was separated a distance of one and a half mile to the south."[35]  

Doctor Samuel Higley was lost at sea in 1737, "that Dr. Higley sailed for England in a ship laden with his own copper ore, which was lost at sea, --"[36]




Photos of Old Newgate Prison and Copper Mine, East Granby, Connecticut.










1. Gravestone inscription, Captain John Higley, Hopmeadow Cemetery, Simsbury, Connecticut.
2. The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut; including East Windsor, South Windsor, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Ellington. 1635-1891., Henry R. Stiles, A.M., M.D., Vol. II Genealogies and Biographies, Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1892, page 387.
3. Ibid. page 387.
4. Ibid. page 387.
5. Ibid. page 387.
6. Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania, Genealogical and Personal Memoirs, Volume III, John W. Jordan, LL.D., Editor, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1911, page 1683.
7. The Descendants of John Drake of Windsor, Connecticut, compiled by Frank B. Gay, The Tuttle Company, Rutland, VT., 1933, page 1.
8. Ibid. page 16.
9. Ibid. page 16.
10. Ibid. page 17.
11. Simsbury Records, Book I, Leaf 3; The Higleys and their Ancestry, An Old Colonial Family, Mary Coffin Johnson, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1892, page 62.
12. Ibid. page 62.
13. The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut; including East Windsor, South Windsor, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Ellington. 1635-1891., Henry R. Stiles, A.M., M.D., Vol. II Genealogies and Biographies, Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1892, page 387.
14. Ibid. page 387.
15. Ibid. page 388.
16. The Higleys and their Ancestry, An Old Colonial Family, Mary Coffin Johnson, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1892, page 108.
17. The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut; including East Windsor, South Windsor, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Ellington. 1635-1891., Henry R. Stiles, A.M., M.D., Vol. II Genealogies and Biographies, Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1892, page 388.
18. A Primary History of the United States. For Schools and Families, Benson J. Lossing, Published by Mason Brothers, New York, 1864, page 81.
19. Harpers' Popular Cyclopedia of United States History from the Aboriginal Period Containing Brief Sketches of Important Events and Conspicuous Actors, in Two Volumes, Vol. I, Benson J. Lossing, LL.D., Harper & Brothers, Publishers, New York, 1890, page 229.
20. Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania, Genealogical and Personal Memoirs, Volume III, John W. Jordan, LL.D., Editor, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1911, page 1683.
21. A Complete History of Connecticut, Civil and Ecclesiastical, from the Emigration of its First Planters, from England, in the Year 1630, to the Year 1764; and to the Close of the Indian Wars. In Two Volumes., Benjamin Trumbull, D.D., Volume I, New Haven, 1818, pages 371-372.
22. Lossing's History of the United States from the Aboriginal Times to the Present Day, Benjamin J. Lossing, LL. D., Volume I-II, Lossing History Company, New York, 1909, page 450.
23. The Higleys and their Ancestry, An Old Colonial Family, Mary Coffin Johnson, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1892, page 56.
24. Ibid. pages 56-57.
25. The American Revolution, A Picture Sourcebook, John Grafton, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1975, page 20.
26. The Higleys and their Ancestry, An Old Colonial Family, Mary Coffin Johnson, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1892, page 57.
27. Harpers' Popular Cyclopedia of United States History from the Aboriginal Period Containing Brief Sketches of Important Events and Conspicuous Actors, in Two Volumes, Vol. I, Benson J. Lossing, LL.D., Harper & Brothers, Publishers, New York, 1890, page 229.
28. The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, from October, 1706, to October, 1716, Charles J. Hoadly, Press of Case, Lockwood and Brainard, Hartford, 1870, page 507.
29. The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut; including East Windsor, South Windsor, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Ellington. 1635-1891., Henry R. Stiles, A.M., M.D., Vol. II Genealogies and Biographies, Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1892, page 388.
30. The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, from August, 1689, to May, 1706, Charles J. Hoadly, Press of Case, Lockwood and Brainard, Hartford, 1868, page 25.
31.  Ibid. page 252.
32. The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut; including East Windsor, South Windsor, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Ellington. 1635-1891., Henry R. Stiles, A.M., M.D., Vol. II Genealogies and Biographies, Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1892, page 388.
33. Connecticut's Colonial and Continental Money, Wyman W. Parker, The American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Connecticut, Hartford, Connecticut, 1976, page 24.
34. The Descendants of John Drake of Windsor, Connecticut, compiled by Frank B. Gay, The Tuttle Company, Rutland, VT., 1933, page 17.
35. The Higleys and their Ancestry, An Old Colonial Family, Mary Coffin Johnson, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1892, page 125.
36. Ibid. page 131.





7 comments:

  1. My family settled in the Windsor/Simsbury area about 1640. Arrived in Salem Mass (1635). Over to Longmeadow Mass, then down to Windsor (George Colton). They must have know each other. Too small of an area not to know everyone. Here we are almost 400 years later and we know each other. Mike Juhase

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  2. Fascinating read thank you, we are Higleys from East London, UK. We travelled to Simsbury and visited Captain John's grave on the 3rd January 2018. Since returning to the UK I have discovered much more about the Simsbury Higleys so I guess another trip is in order!

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  4. John Higley is my Grandfather 9 times removed. This is so cool! My Mother always stated that I was descended from prominent Historical figures however, I always thought she was misinformed. I may be reached at joshtashjianbeebe@gmail.com

    Thank you so much! Josh Higley named for Joshua Higley of Simsbury.

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  5. May I have permission to use the Photo, "Gravestone of Captain John Higley
    Hopmeadow Cemetery, Simsbury, Connecticut," for on my family tree on Wikitree? My grandmother was a Higley from this linage. Thanks

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