Born in Gnosall, Staffordshire, England and arrived in Connecticut before 1639 and
Born in England and arrived in Connecticut before 1639.
Adam Blakeman (pronounced “Blackman”) was born about 1598 in Gnosall (pronounced roughly “NAH-sawl”), Staffordshire, England, the son of John Blakeman and his wife, Thomasine [family surname unknown]. John Blakeman was the schoolmaster of Gnosall, and he died there in 1626. His son, Adam Blakeman, matriculated at Christ Church (College), Oxford, 28 May 1617. From 1624-28, Adam served as curate (junior minister) of the Anglican church at Bowden Magna (Great Bowden), Leicestershire, where the baptisms of sons John, Joseph and James are recorded.
In England, some time prior to about 1624, Adam Blakeman married Jane, whose family surname is not known with certainty, since there is no contemporary record. However, since the first published family histories were published in the 19th century, “Wheeler” has been the most commonly accepted name due to circumstantial evidence in the documentary record. This assumption has been made because Rev. Adam Blakeman’s dying son John, referred to uncle Moses Wheeler in his Will of 1662. One explanation is that his mother, Jane, was a sister of Moses Wheeler, but there could be other explanations. Moses could be some kind of uncle through either Jane or Adam, through either parent of John’s wife Dorothy Smith Back in the 17th century, my Puritan forebears took seriously the Biblical principal that when two people married, “the two shall become one flesh,” and that kin of one party became kin of the other, in the same degree; and the wife’s identity was subsumed in her husband’s.
The name of Adam’s wife, Jane, appears several times in the Colonial and Town records, in consequence of the misconduct of her son, Deliverance, in whose behalf she was obliged to intercede more than once with the Colonial authorities, but who afterwards retrieved himself from his former life, married and settled in Stonington about 1685, where he died in April 1702. Jane’s will is in the Fairfield Probate records.
Before his arrival in New England, Adam was a preacher for some years in Leicestershire and later (possibly) in Derbyshire, although this also has not been proven. In about 1638, Rev. Adam Blakeman and his wife, Jane, immigrated to Connecticut. The assumption of a 1638 date for the voyage to America derives from the fact that Rev. Adam Blakeman is seen for the first time in Connecticut records in 1639, taking a part in adjudicating the line between the towns of Fairfield and Stratford.
Stratford is one of the many towns in New England founded as part of the “Great Migration” of the 1630s, when Puritan families fled an increasingly polarized England in the decade before the civil wars between Charles I and Parliament (led by Oliver Cromwell). The town was founded in 1639 by Puritan leader Rev. Adam Blakeman, William Beardsley and either 16 families (according to tradition) or approximately 35 families (suggested by later research), who had recently arrived in Connecticut from England seeking religious freedom.
Rev. Cotton Mather wrote about Rev. Adam Blakeman as follows:
“…He was highly esteemed in the Protestant country, where he spent the latter days of his life. He was a useful preacher of the gospel, first in Leicestershire, then in Devonshire: but coming to New-England, from the storm that began to look black upon him, he was attended with a desirable company of the faithful, who said unto him, ‘Entreat us not to leave you or to return from following after you: for whither you go, we will go; and your God shall be our God.’ New-England having received this holy man, who, notwithstanding his name, was for his holiness, ‘A Nazarite purer than snow, whiter than milk.’ It was first at Guilford, and afterwards at Stratford, that he employed his talents; and if a famous modern author be known by the name of Adamus Adamandus our Adam Blackman was by the affections of his people so likewise called.
It was his opinion, that as for our bodies, thus for our spirits also, Cibus simplex est Optimus; and accordingly he studied plain preaching, ‘which was entertained by his people with a profitable hearing. And as Luther would say, he was the ablest preacher, Qui pueriliter, Trivaliter, Polulariter, simpliccisime docet: so our Hooker, for the sake of the sacred and solid simplicity in the discourses of this worthy man, would say, ‘If I might have my choice, I would choose to live and die under Mr. Blackman’s ministry.’ “
Mather thus gives the impression that he was attended to New England by several families of his parish in England. He further describes him as a very “holy man and greatly beloved by his people.” He also appears to have been from Rev. Mather’s account a “man of learning, prudence and fervent piety.”
Like other Puritan towns founded during this time, early Stratford was a place where church leadership and town leadership were both united under the pastor of the church. When the group of families arrived at the location chosen for their new town, they found a small clearing along the Pootatuck River where in flows into the Long Island Sound. They were surrounded by wilderness, but despite the hardships, the group persevered and prospered over time.
The goal of the early Puritan communities of New England was to create outposts of religious idealism where the wilderness would separate them from the interference of kings, parliaments or any other secular authority. Stratford’s founding minister, Rev. Adam Blakeman, was the leader of Stratford until his death in 1665, but as the second generation of Stratford grew up, many of the children rejected what they perceived as the exceptional austerity of the town’s founders. This and later generations sought to change the religious dictums of their elders, and the utopian nature of Stratford and similar communities was gradually replaced with more standard colonial administration. By the late 1600s, the Connecticut government had assumed political control over Stratford.
On 17 May 1649, the Court directed:
Concerning Mr. Blakeman’s maintenance, Mr. Ludelowe is directed, both for what is behind as also for the future, to take care that it be levied according to the seasons as is provided by the order of the country.
This indicates that his salary was so long in arrears as to make it important for the Court to take action with regard to it. In 1651,
By the town in public meeting it was agreed that Mr. Blakeman shall have £63 and pay part of his own rate.
His name occurs only a few times in the existing town records. In 1660, he is named as executor of William Beardsley’s will, and on 20 Apr 1665, he is named in a vote inviting Mr. Chauncey to help him in the ministry for one year.
Adam Blakeman died in September 1665, at the age of 67. His death should have been recorded in the town records of Stratford, but these records are incomplete. His burial location has not been identified, although it was almost certainly in the cemetery of the First Congregational Church of Stratford, where Rev. Adam Blakeman served faithfully for so many years. The congregation erected a memorial in his honor in 1965 (the 300th anniversary of his death).
Nothing remains of Adam Blakeman’s writings except his Will on the Fairfield probate records and his autograph in the Connecticut historical society’s Collections, at the bottom of a document in Mr. Chauncey’s handwriting, and dated in the spring of 1665. It is the answer of the Church of Stratford to questions by the General Court of the preceding year, relating to the matters transacted in the Synod at Boston in 1662, chiefly respecting the membership and rights of baptized persons. A paragraph in Adam’s Will indicates that he was a member of the Synod from 1646-48, which drew up the Cambridge Platform.
Extracts of Rev. Adam Blakeman’s Will, dated 16 Mar 1665/6:
Item. Concerning my books which I intended for my son Benjamin, seeing his thoughts are after another course of life – that his thoughts be not to attend the work of Christ in the ministry, my wish is that my son Atwater [son-in-law] make his son Joshua a scholar and fit him for that work. I give unto him all my Latin books; but if not they shall be put into my estate and disposed of as my wife any of my overseers shall think fit.
Item. Because many of God’s servants have been falsely accused concerning the judgment of the kingly power of Christ, though I have cause to bewail my great ignorance and weakness in acting, yet I do hope I shall, through the strength of Christ to my dying day, adhere to that form of Church discipline agreed upon by the honored Elders and Brethren, now in print, and to the truth of God concerning that point left on record by the famous and Revered Servant of God, of blessed Memory, Mr. Thomas Hooker, in his elaborate work called The Survey of Church Discipline, to which most in all the churches of Christ then gathered in this Colony gave their consent as appears in the Rev. Author’s Epistle – so at Milford, New Haven, Guilford, and those in the Bay who could be come in that stress of time. And being one who in the name of our church subscribed that copy, could never (through the Grace of Christ) see cause to receive any other in judgment, not fall from those principles so solemnly backed with Scripture, and arguments which none yet could overturn.
The children of Rev. Adam Blakeman and Jane Wheeler are listed as follows (all born in England, with the probable exception of the youngest son, Benjamin):
- John, born before 1635 and married Dorothy Smith, daughter of Henry Smith of Wethersfield, in about 1653. He removed to Fairfield, where he died in 1662, leaving a widow and three sons: Joseph, John and Ebenezer. From the last of these, who married a Wilcoxson, descended all the Blakeman families of Newtown and Monroe. Orcutt says of Dorothy: “The widow Dorothy (Smith) Blakeman appears to have possessed remarkable charms, either of person, intellect or heart, for besides passing through a case of litigation in Court for her hand, she was married four times, twice after she was over fifty years of age. Rev. Adam Blakeman, who survived his son John, in his will – 1665 – says: I give to my daughter [Dorothy] Blakeman, if she marry not John Thomas, and shall take her friends’ consent in the matter, or continue a widow, five pounds, and the General Court, Oct. 10, 1665, recorded: The magistrates do order that in the case John Thomas and the widow Blakeman do not issue their difference by reference now concluded on, that the said Thomas shall make good his claim to that woman at the next Court at Fairfield, otherwise the widow shall have liberty to marry. Upon this John Thomson seems to have abandoned jis claims instanter, for Thomas Hall of Stratford, who had been the attorney for the widow of Rev. Mr. Blakeman in this case before the Court, became charmed with his opponent and married her that same month, October 31, 1665, his former wife having died on July 6th previous. Twenty-two years afterwards, before the decease of Francis Hall, his son Isaac Hall entered a claim in Fairfield to recover certain amount of money which was his own mother’s estate at marriage, and guaranteed to her in writing by her husband Francis Hall, when he sold an estate in England, in 1664, the apparent object being to keep it from the possession of his brilliant step-mother. Francis Hall died, apparently, in Stratford, but this is not certain, in 1690, and his widow Dorothy still possessing charms too attractive to be confined to widowhood, married Mark Sension (St. John) of Norwalk, who died in 1693, after which she married Dea. Isaac Moore of Farmington.”
- James, born before 1635 and died before 7 Nov 1689.
- Samuel Blakeman, see below.
- Deliverance, born before 1635 and died Apr 1702 in Stonington, Connecticut.
- Mary, born before 1635 and died 9 Mar 1709 at Salem, Massachusetts. She married (1st) Joshua Atwater of New Haven and (2nd) Rev. Thomas Higginson of Salem, Massachusetts, who had formerly been the assistant minister to Rev. Henry Whitfield of England and Guilford, Connecticut.
- Benjamin, born about 1645 at Stratford and died 20 Dec 1689 at Boston, Massachusetts.
Samuel Blakeman (son of Adam Blakeman and Jane) was probably born before 1635 and died 27 Mar 1668. In 1660, he married Elizabeth Wheeler, the daughter of Moses Wheeler and Miriam Hawley. If it is true that Adam Blakeman’s wife, Jane, was a sister of Moses Wheeler, then Elizabeth Wheeler and Samuel Blakeman are 1st cousins. Elizabeth was born 1 Aug 1642 in Stratford, Connecticut. Samuel Blakeman was only 48 years of age at the time of his death. After he died, Elizabeth married Jacob Walker, a lawyer, in 1670. Jacob (born 1644 at Boston, Massachusetts) was the son of Robert Walker of Boston and brother of the Rev. Zachariah Walker, pastor of the Second Congregational Church in Stratford, and which removed to Woodbury.
The children of Samuel Blakeman and Elizabeth Wheeler are listed as follows:
- Son, born 1661
- Abigail, born 11 Dec 1663 and died 30 Mar 1719
- Adam, born 14 Sep 1665 and died young.
- Johanna Blakeman, born 1667 at Stratford, Connecticut and died in Newark, New Jersey in 1729.
The children of Elizabeth Wheeler and her second husband, Jacob Walker, are listed as follows:
- Samuel Walker, born 7 Nov 1671.
- Moses Walker, born about 1673.
- John Walker, born 29 Oct 1674 and died 1726.
- Elizabeth Walker, born about 1676.
- Mary Walker, born 1 Jan 1678. Through her daughter, Mary, Elizabeth Wheeler is the grandmother of Gen. David Wooster (1711-1777), hero of the American Revolution at the battle of Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Johanna Blakeman married Joseph Watkins, the son of Thomas Watkins (1629-1689) and Elizabeth Baker (1652-1689). Joseph was born 15 Jan 1668 in Boston, Massachusetts and died 23 Dec 1711 in Stratford, Connecticut. Joseph and Johanna were married on 4 Dec 1688 in Stratford, Connecticut. Johanna Blackman was born 4 Dec 1667 in Stratford, Connecticut and died in 1729 in Newark, New Jersey. She evidently removed to New Jersey from Connecticut, possibly with her son, Benjamin, after the death of her second husband. After Joseph Watkins died, Johanna married (2nd) Jesse Lambert (about 1724) and married (3rd) Samuel Camp. The lineage then continues through their son Benjamin Watkins and is discussed under the heading of Thomas Watkins (1629-1689) and Elizabeth Baker (1652-1689).
 Some sources report a date of birth of 1598 for Adam Blakeman, and this is doubtless because the record’s of the University of Oxford indicate record that he was in his 19th year when he matriculated.
 Other researchers have suggested that Adam’s wife was “Jane Hawley”, because Rev. Adam in his 1665 will referred to Brother [Joseph] Hawley, Brother [Richard] Booth, Brother [Philip] Groves, whom he would have considered his brothers in Christ, as they were members of his church. Some late nineteenth-century writers opined that Moses Wheeler and Adam Blakeman married two Hawley sisters, but Moses Wheeler’s wife, even her first name, is completely unknown to us.
 My 9th g-grandfather, from whom I may be descended through his wife, Miriam Hawley. They are discussed under their own heading.
 Cotton Mather, in his Magnalia Christi Americana, says simply that Rev. Adam Blakeman was a useful preacher of the gospel first in Leicestershire, then in Derbyshire.
 Mather, Cotton. Magnalia Christi Americana: or The Ecclesiastical History of New-England, from its First Planting, in the Year 1620, unto the Year of Our Lord 1698 (London: printed for Thomas Parkhurst, at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside) 1702.
 Adam, worthy to be loved
 Simple food is best.
 Who in a child-like, unconstrained, popular and simple manner imparts instruction.
 Orcutt, Samuel. A history of the old town of Stratford and the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut (1886). Part I, p. 97.
 My 10th g-grandfather, from whom I may be descended through his wife, Mary Harvey, discussed under their own heading.
 The family of William Wilcoxson (1601-52) and Mary (Birdseye?) (1611-75), my 10th g-grandparents, discussed under their own heading.
 Orcutt, p. 100.
 My 9th g-grandfather, from whom I am descended through his first wife, Elizabeth Stanley. They are discussed under their own heading.
 My 10th g-grandfather, discussed under his own heading.