Clark #2008

John Clark (1637-1712)

Born in England (or possibly Scotland, Massachusetts or Connecticut).  First recorded in Connecticut in 1657, but certainly there much earlier.

Rebecca Marvin (1639-1712)

Born in Connecticut.

Clark #2008

My maternal Clark lineage must of necessity begin with John Clark, who was born about 1637 (according to many sources, although I am not aware of any documentation to prove this date).  His place of birth is not known.  It could be Massachusetts, Connecticut or even England (or Scotland).  He died 22 Nov 1712 in Farmington, Connecticut.  In about 1664, he married Rebecca Marvin, the daughter of Matthew Marvin (1600-1678) and Elizabeth (1604-1640), discussed under their own heading.  Rebecca died 23 Jan 1712.  At the outset, it must be emphasized: The parents of John Clark have not been identified, and the details of his early life are not known to us[1].  Therefore, John may be the immigrant ancestor of this line, or the immigrant ancestor is an as yet Unknown Clark and his wife, who were the first of this line to arrive in America sometime between 1620-1637.

Information regarding John Clark was obtained from a genealogy written by Julius Gay, A record of the descendants of John Clark of Farmington, Conn.: The male branches brought down to 1882:  The female branches one generation after the Clark name is lost in marriage (Hartford, Connecticut: Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co.) 1882.   In the Preface, Mr. Gay discusses the “great difficulty of the work” as follows: “The family of Clark, or Clerk as the name was often spelled, was a numerous one, as are most of those named from occupations, such as Smith, Cook, Miller, Porter, and numerous others. John was one of the most common of Christian names, so that it is not wonderful that almost every old New England town had a “John Clark” among its “early settlers.”

Gay then discusses as few of these “early settlers” without taking a definite position on whether any of these other settlers of the same name are in fact the same man as our John Clark, or if he may be an altogether different John Clark, the details of whose early life have been lost to history.

  • John Clark of Cambridge, Massachusetts: This man took the freeman’s oath at the General Court held 6 Nov, 1632.  He was one of the forty-two men to whom land was assigned at Newtown (now Cambridge) on 29 Mar 1632.  He was a member of Thomas Hook’s company who left Cambridge[2] in 1635 and went on to found Hartford, Connecticut.  He does not appear in the town records of Cambridge after 1635.  He does not appear in the town records of Hartford after 1655, and he is thought to have removed to either Farmington or Saybrook, Connecticut around that time.
  • John Clark of Hartford, Connecticut: He was a soldier in the Pequot fight and must have been in Hartford as early as 1637.  On 1 May 1637, the General Court at Hartford “ordered that there shall be an offensive war against the Pequoitt”.  After the return of the soldiers from their successful campaign, a tract of land containing from sixty to eighty acres, long known as Soldiers Fields, was divided among them.  John Clark was an owner of land in this tract, and therefore presumably one of the soldiers in the Pequot fight.  On 9 Mar 1641, the town ordered Matthew Marvin to maintain a fence… “to the corner of John Clark’s lot lying in the soldiers field.” John Clark probably removed from Hartford previously to 1655, for his name does not appear in the list of tax payers in the “mill rates” for the years 1655, 1656 and 1657, which arc preserved[3].  According to one early history[4], this is the same John Clark that later appears in Saybrook, Connecticut, but this is still debatable.
  • John Clark of Saybrook, Connecticut: According to Gay, he was “a man of note in the colony, a patentee named in the Charter of King Charles II in 1662, for many years a deputy from Saybrook to the General Court, and a man to whose executive ability were entrusted many public commissions.”  Other services rendered by him there, were the laying out of lands to the soldiers in May 1651, a trip in company with the governor to Stratford to try Goody Bassett for her life on a charge of witchcraft  in 1651 and the impressment of men and “necessaries” for service in an expedition against the Narragansett Indians in 1654.  In May 1656, he was appointed one of the magistrates for Saybrook.  He was on a committee in 1661 to collect and sell certain horses belonging to the “country” and to distribute the money resulting from this sale according to the instructions of the Court.  He later moved to Milford, Connecticut, where his brother George lived, and he was a commissioner from that place in the 1660s.

These various “John Clarks” are mentioned, because in various ways attempts have been made to link John Clark of Farmington to one or more of these men.  There have been many differences of opinion as to the complete identity, various accomplishments and places of residence of the various “John Clarks” and many authorities have been quoted to support differing views. There is an inextricable confusion and ambiguity among the various John Clarks at Cambridge, Hartford, Saybrook, and Farmington.  Gay says only: “The descendants of John Clark of Farmington believe that he was identical with John of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and with John of Hartford, and this is set down as an ascertained fact by Rev. William S. Porter, a genealogist of great industry and local research.  The Clarks of Saybrook,  Connecticut claim that John of Cambridge, of Hartford and of Saybrook were identical and quote the authority of Hinman[5].  No contemporaneous record has been found to confirm or subvert either theory.”

Having reviewed all of the information available to me (consulting secondary sources only), it seems most likely to me that those of the name of “John Clarke” in the four towns of Cambridge (Newtown),  Hartford,  Saybrook and Milford were,  in reality,  one man.  Furthermore, there is no evidence I know of to support the assertion that John Clark of Farmington is the same man or even a son of this man (or one of them, if one does not accept their identity).  Without new information to shed light on this issue, his origins must remain a mystery.


John Clark of Farmington, Connecticut

The following facts are assumed of John Clark, the ancestor of the family whose genealogy is hereafter recorded.

  • His ancestry and details of his early life are unknown to us.
  • Either he or his parents immigrated to New England from England or possibly Scotland[6].
  • He was an early settler of Farmington, but the precise date of his arrival in that town in not known.  He had been a resident long enough to have acquired numerous pieces of land (by purchase, by the grant of the town and by the many divisions of the “Reserved Land” among the eighty-four proprietors) when the town registrar made a formal record of them in January 1657.

The names of John Clark and his wife were included in a list of the members of the church in Farmington made 1 Mar 1679/80 (who long they had been members is not stated).  He was made a freeman in May 1664.  On 27 Dec 1682, he was chosen a Chimney Viewer by the town. On 28 Dec 1685 and again on 8 Dec 1690, he was chosen a surveyor of highways.  What offices he may previously have held we know not, since the formal record of town meetings begins with that of 27 Dec 1682.

The Last Will and Testament of John Clark was made 8 Feb 1709/10, in which he names his son Matthew Clark to be whole and sole executor and appoints two loving friends and kinsmen, John Hart Sen. and Deac. Samuel Porter to be overseers.  To his son Matthew, he granted:

…all my estate remaining at my decease not legally conveyed by me in my lifetime, he paying the several legacies hereinafter mentioned to my daughters that survive me, to each £5…

In a Codicil dated 21 Nov 1712, he elaborated as follows:

And as an addition to this my will, I the sd. John Clark, Sen. do declare it to be my will that my youngest daughter Marcy Clark, not being disposed of in marriage and so not having had anything as her portion as the rest of my daughters have had, and also being by the providence of God under greater disadvantages than the rest of them, that she shall have after my decease all my movable estate of household goods forever. And I do further add that it is my will that my daughter Rebecca Woodruff, with whom I am, be well rewarded by my executor for all her labor, care and trouble about me in this time of my sickness, according to the judgment of my two friends Dea. Samuel Porter and John Hart Sen.

He died the next day and the town clerk made the entry,

John Clark of Farmington ye aged Departed his Natural Life twenty-second of November In ye year of or Lord 1712.

John Clark is the g-grandfather of Samuel Huntington (1731-1796).  Samuel Huntington was a jurist, statesman and Patriot in the American Revolution from Connecticut.  As a delegate to the Continental Congress, he signed the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation.  He also served as President of the Continental Congress from 1779- 1781, chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court from 1784-1785 and the 18th Governor of Connecticut from 1786 until his death.  He is my 2nd cousin 7x removed[7]

The children of John Clark and Rebecca Marvin are listed as follows: (1) Elizabeth (1663-1696) married Thomas Gridley; (2) Rebecca (1665-1737) married Samuel Woodruff; (3) Mary[8] (1669-1743) married Samuel Huntington[9]; (4) John (1670-1709) married Sarah Warner; (5) Sarah (1671-1711) married Thomas Root[10]; (6) Matthew Clark (1674-1751) married Ruth Judd (1676-1751) (see below); (7) Hannah (1680-1707) married Joseph Woodruff; (8) Abigail (1681- ) married Joseph Lawrence  Pixley; (9) Martha (1683- >1719) married Thomas Clark; (10) Rachel (1685- >1731) married (1st) Caleb Jones and (2nd) Israel Phelps; (11) Mercy; (12) Ebeneezer (1690- ).

The son of John Clark and Rebecca Marvin is Matthew Clark, born about 1674 and died 24 Sep 1751, both in Farmington, Connecticut.  In about 1704 he married Ruth Judd, born about 1676 and died about 1751, both in Farmington, Connecticut.

The son of Matthew Clark and Ruth Judd is John Clark, born 1 Sep 1712 in Farmington, Connecticut and died 10 Jun 1782 in New Britain, Connecticut.  On 2 Sep 1742 at Farmington, Connecticut he married Elizabeth Newell.  She was born 29 Jan 1721 in Farmington, Connecticut and died 2 Feb 1791 in New Britain, Connecticut.

“Elizabeth Newell, daughter of Captain John and Elizabeth (Hawley) Newell. They (Clarks) lived on the Stanley Quarter road leading from Farmington to New Britain, where Omri North lived many years and his Lucius J. North after him, until 1879. The old Clark house was moved back and is now used as a barn. Although living within the territorial limits of Great Swamp (Kensington) parish, Mr. Clark with the families of Daniel Hart and Thomas Stanley 2nd, attended the public worship of the old church of Farmington. After the death of her husband, on the 10th of June, 1782, Elizabeth attended the New Britain church, and being partially deaf was allowed to stand in the pulpit. Her remains are interred beside those of her husband in the Old Cemetery of Farmington.” (A Record of the Descendants of John Clark of Farmington, Connecticut, Julius Gay, 1882, p. 35).

The daughter of John Clark and Elizabeth Newell is Elizabeth Clark, born 14 May 1758 in Milford, Connecticut and died 8 Dec 1840 in Montague City, Massachusetts.  In 1779 she married Moses Andrews, born 7 Apr 1755 in New Britain, Connecticut and died 20 Jul 1848 at Montague City, Massachusetts.  He served in the War for Independence[11], entering the army at Farmington, Connecticut in 1776 as a private in the 3rd company (Captain Heart’s) 2nd regiment, Colonel Wolcott, Connecticut State Troops.  He served under General Washington in 1776.  His term of enlistment was for three months.  Their lineage is continued under the heading of William Andrews (1595-1659).

[1] Despite published lineages to the contrary, it is a virtual certainly that our John Clark is not the son of Thomas Clark (1605-1697) who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1623, sailing on the ship Anne (and his wife Susanna Ring, who died at Leyden, Netherlands at an earlier date), nor Samuel Clark (1619-1690), an early settler of Wethersfield, Connecticut and his wife Hannah Fordham.

[2] Lucius R. Paige. History of Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1630-1877. With a genealogical register (Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton and Mifflin) 1877.

[3] His name is however found in the lists of The proprietors of the undivided lands in Hartford with such of their proportions in one division as followeth according to which proportions they paid for the purchase of the said lands in the years 1665, 1666, 1671 and 1672. These divisions of the undivided lands were however made to non-residents and even to the heirs of deceased proprietors.  In the divisions of 1674 and 1682, his name ceases to appear.

[4] Benjamin Trumbull. 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 (Maltby, Goldsmith and Co. and Samuel Wadsworth) 1818.

[5] Royal Ralph Hinman. A catalogue of the names of the early Puritan settlers of the colony of Connecticut: with the time of their arrival in the country and colony, their standing in society, place of residence, condition in life, where from, business, &c., as far as is found on record (Case, Tiffany) 1852.

[6] Gay mentions the following clue: “…an old family record, taken down long since from the lips of an aged member of  the family, tells us that John Clark came from Scotland, and that his wife was an English lady”.  Nothing further is offered to substantiate this.

[7] .  The line of descent is as follows: John Clark  – Mary Clark (1669 – 1743) – Nathaniel Huntington (1691 – 1767) – Samuel Huntington

[8] There is some difference of opinion about who were the parents of the Mary Clark who married Samuel Huntington. The candidates are: 1) John Clark and Rebecca Marvin or 2) William Clark and Susannah Treat.

[9] Grandfather of Samuel Huntington (1731-1796), signer of the Declaration of Independence (1776). Refer to “Notable Kin” for details.

[10] Thomas is the brother of John Root (1669-1710), my 8th g-grandfather.

[11] Reference: Connecticut Men of the Revolution, page 383.



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