Born in England. Arrived in Massachusetts in about 1638 and later settled in Connecticut and
Born in England. Arrived in New Haven, Connecticut in 1639.
English Origins of the Fitch Family:
There have been various histories written of the family, including: Genealogy of the Fitch Family in North America (1886), History of the Fitch Family (1930), and A Fitch Family History (1990), covering the English ancestry of the four sons of Thomas Fitch, who came to America between about 1638-50. Two other more recent books by John T. Fitch are Puritan in the Wilderness: A Biography of the Rev. James Fitch 1622-1702 (1995) and Fitch Family History: English Ancestry of the Fitches of Colonial Connecticut (1994).
The true origins of the Fitch family name are really unknown, despite some colorful and persistent claims over the years involving a place known as “Fitch Castle” The persistent family tradition that the family in England traces its roots back to the 1200s and this so-called “Fitch Castle” has been perpetuated in some published accounts of this family. The tradition does not appear to have a basis in facts supported by documentary evidence. Investigation has demonstrated that no such place exists now or in the past. From existing records, however, the family can be traced back to William Fitch of Wicken Bonhunt of Essex County who was born about 1400. The College of Arms of London has proven our ancestry to this point only.
The English history of the family which I present here mostly comes from John T. Fitch’s book and begins with William Fitch, who was born about 1400 in County Essex, England, some fifty miles due north of London. He is listed in a court records as”William Fecche” (1428), “William Ficche” (1435) and “William Fycche” (1436). He lived in Bonhunt, (later called Wicken Bonhunt, when the two manors were combined into a town). By 1440, William had acquired new lands and moved a few miles away to the town of Widdington. By 1450, he was titled as Yeoman living in Wicken. This meant he owned his lands outright and was no longer a tenant farmer on another’s land. William was married, but we have no clues as to his wife’s name. He died in early 1466 and he left the two acres he owned to his son and heir John Fitch. There may have been other children, but John was the only name mentioned.
In 1467, John Fitch was referred to as thirty years and more. This would place his birth in the early to mid-1430s, probably at Wicken, Essex. He was married in the early 1460s, and his wife was named Juliana. His son, Thomas, was born in 1465. He owned five acres of farmland. John died in the late winter of 1468. The court record on 9 Apr of that year states that his father was William, wife was Juliana, and his son was Thomas (three years old at the time). There may have been other children, but Thomas was evidently the eldest. Juliana remarried to a man named Richard Westeley a few years later, and she herself died about 1475.
Thomas Fitch was born in 1465 in Wicken in Essex. He was three years old when his father died and ten when his mother died. Upon reaching age twenty-one, he received the lands left him by his father. He took title in 1487 at the Widdington Court. A year or two later, he married Agnes Algore, the daughter of Robert Algore and his wife Margaret, probably in 1489 or 1490. Agnes was born in the nearby parish of Lindsell and came from a well to do family. Her father gave Thomas and Agnes a farm called Bynwodes in 1490. By 1497, Thomas had added another twelve acres to his estate and in 1505, he went to court and received the lands left him by his father that were by then in the hands of his step father, Richard Westeley. Thomas Fitch died on 24 Apr 1514, and he is buried in the parish house of St. Mary’s in Lindsell. There is today a brass commemorating the family. It depicts Thomas, Agnes, six sons and five daughters. We know the names of four sons and three daughters. The others must have died before reaching maturity. Agnes died sometime around 1526.
The children of Thomas Fitch and Agnes Algore are listed as follows: (1) Richard was the eldest son, born about 1492. He was married twice, first to Ellianor Storke and then to Joane Ashe. He had two children by each wife: Tristam, John, Richard and William. Richard died in 1579; (2) William was born about 1496. He also married twice. Elizabeth was his first wife, and Anne Wiseman was his second. He and Elizabeth had Elinor and Mary, and he and Anne had Thomas, William, Francis and one other child. William acquired extensive acreage in his lifetime and died 20 Dec 1578; (3) Thomas was born about 1498 and married Margaret Meade. They had three children: Thomas, Robert and Margaret; (4) Roger Fitch is our line and is discussed below; (5), (6), (7) Margaret, Katherine and Joan were three of their daughters.
Roger Fitch, the youngest son and the ancestor of the American Fitch family, was born about 1500 at Lindsell, Essex. He married a woman named Margery in the 1520s. Roger owned lands in Bocking, Panfield and Lindsell, all a few miles apart. His main home seems to have always been in Bocking, though he was buried at the church in Panfield. Among his other lands, Roger owned the Chantry of the church at Bocking. He also owned various small parcels in Braintree and other towns in this area of Essex County. Roger died in early 1559. His will was dated 7 Jan 1558/9 and proved on 22 Feb of that year. He was buried at Panfield and left his house in Bocking to his wife, Margery, who administered his estate.
Most of what is known of the children of Roger Fitch and his wife, Margary, comes from his will: (1) Richard married Anne and was buried at Bocking on 13 Jun 1603. Their children were Richard, John, William, James and Margaret; (2) John married Anne Bucks. He was a clothier and merchant; (3) Bartholomew was married (1st) to Alice Ayer at Chelmsford on 8 Feb 1579/80 and (2nd) to Mary Chamberlain. He was buried at Chelmsford on 4 Nov 1598. There were no children of the first marriage, but with Mary he had Marie, Thomas and Richard; (4) Thomas died 4 Jul 1596; (5) William married Sarah Egiott on 17 Jun 1583 and was buried 5 Dec 1588. He had one son, William, baptized in 1586 and died in 1597. William was a clothier in Chelmsford; (6) George Fitch is our line and is discussed below; (7) Robert married a widow, Elizabeth (Tymm) Parker and had a daughter, Sara. His will is dated 18 Dec 1592. He was a farmer; (8) Joan married William Kent on 2 Sep 1596; (8) Margaret may have married Thomas Preston; (9) Clement was buried at Panfield on 22 May 1573 and (10) Mary.
George Fitch, the son of Roger Fitch and his wife, Margary, was born in Bocking about 1544-45. Like three of his brothers he was a merchant and clothier. He is referred to as a “mercer” which was a dealer in fabric and clothing. Bocking was a major center of woolen manufacturing at the time. George later moved to Braintree. From the 1570s on, George Fitch continued to buy land in Braintree. He married (1st) Joan Thurgood at Little Canfield on 14 Sep 1574. Joan is a daughter of Nicholas Thurgood of Elsenham, Essex. In 1598, George bought land in Great Henny, in the eastern portion of Essex County. About 1600, George bought lands and moved to Sudbury just across the line in Suffolk County, and it appears that George opened a clothing store in Sudbury. Joan died about the time of the move to Suffolk County. About 1602, he married (2nd) Bridget, widow of first John Goss and then of John French. They were married in Edwardstone, just east of Sudbury. Bridget died 29 Aug 1603, and George married (3rd) another widow, Joane Taylor, about 1604. He died in the spring of 1605, and his will dated 12 May 1605 was probated in Court on 18 Jun of that year. He was living in the town of Edwardstone at the time.
George Fitch and Joan Thurgood had five children. (1) Thomas Fitch, the eldest son, is our line. He is discussed below; (2) George (Jr.) was born in the 1580s. He died unmarried in 1614; (3) Joseph was born about 1587 and graduated from Cambridge University. He was the first of the family to attend college. He graduated in 1606; (4) Arthur was a child when his father died. He was apprenticed to learn a trade according to the terms of his father’s will; (5) Fraunces seems to be the only daughter. She married James Stracey.
Thomas Fitch was the eldest child and inherited his father’s properties in the town of Edwardstone. He was born about 1580 in Braintree, Essex and lived at Bocking. On 8 Aug 1611 he married Anne Reeve of Gosfield in the Church of St. Mary in Bocking. Anne was a daughter of John Reeve or and Mary Brock. Thomas, like his father, was a merchant and cloth manufacturer and by 1630 had fairly large land holdings around Bocking and Braintree. He died in early 1633, and his dated 11 Dec 1632 was proved in court on 12 Feb 1632/33.
Anne never remarried. She went with three of her sons, Thomas, Samuel and Joseph, to America in about 1650. She was living in Hartford, Connecticut in 1669, but probably died soon afterwards. Her eldest son, James, had traveled to America earlier, probably in about 1638. Three other sons, Jeremy, John and Nathaniel remained in England. There were three or possibly four daughters as well.
The children of Thomas Fitch and Anne Reeve are listed as follows: (1) Thomas was born in Bocking on 14 Oct 1612. He was married at Bocking on 1 Nov 1632 to Anne Stacie. He went to America with his mother and brothers in 1650 and settled in Norwalk, Connecticut, where he remained for the rest of his life. His great grandson, Thomas Fitch, was Governor of the Connecticut Colony from 1754-66; (2) John remained in England, where he was a clothier in Braintree. He was a Captain in the English Civil War against the King, and he died in the Plague of 1666 in Braintree; (3) James Fitch is discussed below; (4) Nathaniel was born in Bocking on 26 Dec 1623. He remained in England and died unmarried in late 1648. His will was dated 15 Aug 1648 and proved 1 May 1649. He was only in his mid-twenties when he died; (5) Jeremy was born 5 Aug 1625. He moved to London, where he was a merchant. He remained in England all his life; (6) (7) (8) (9?) Mary, Anne, Sarah and possibly an Elizabeth were daughters. Nothing is known of them. They may have remained in England, or they may have sailed to America.
The Fitch Family in America:
(Rev.) James Fitch was born in Bocking, Essex, England on 24 Dec 1622. His father died when he was only ten years old, and he was left money in the will so that he could be bred up a scholar and study at Cambridge. It is not known whether or not he actually enrolled. According to some sources, he was taken under the wing of Rev. Thomas Hooker of Chelmsford. Sources vary on the timing of his arrival in America, with some stating that he and one of his brothers arrived in Boston aboard the Defense in 1635, which included a “James and Abigail Fitch” among its passengers (although our James did not marry Abigail Whitfield until 1648, many years after his arrival in the colonies). Others state he arrived with Rev. Hooker or that he arrived on an unknown ship in 1638. The latter date is corroborated by the inscription on his monument in the cemetery at Lebanon, Connecticut (see below), which is thought to have been composed by his son, Jabez. In any case, he finished his theological study in Hartford, Connecticut under Rev. Hooker and Rev. Samuel Stone, also of Bocking, England. When a new Church was built in Saybrook, Connecticut, James Fitch was ordained as its first minister in 1646.
On 1 Oct 1648, James married (1st) Abigail Whitfield of nearby Guilford, Connecticut. The ceremony was performed by her father, Rev. Henry Whitfield (1597-1657), discussed under his own heading. Abigail Whitfield was born in Aug 1622. James must have told his mother and brothers about America, and in about 1650, his mother Anne Reeve and her sons Thomas, Samuel and Joseph sailed for America to join James in the colonies.
In 1659, the congregation at Saybrook received permission to establish a new settlement at Norwich, Connecticut, and Rev. James Fitch accompanied them as their leader along with Major John Mason (1600-1672). Just before leaving, Abigail died on 9 Sep 1659. James and his six children, James (Jr.), Abigail Fitch, Elizabeth, Hannah, Samuel and Dorothy, went alone to Norwich the following month.
James Fitch married (2nd) Priscilla Mason, daughter of Major John Mason in October 1664. This marriage produced eight more children: Daniel, John, Jeremiah, Jabez, Ann, Nathaniel, Joseph and Eleazer.
James Fitch learned the language of the Indians and went among them, teaching them and winning their friendship. The Indians conveyed to him large tracts of land either in trust or as outright grants. He served as Chaplain in King Philip’s War and as a missionary to the Mohegans, preaching to them in their own tongue. When King Philip’s War began in 1675, Rev. James Fitch was instrumental in getting Uncas (sachem of the Mohegans) to side with the English against King Philip’s Narragansett tribes.
In 1695, James founded and settled in Lebanon, Connecticut. The town of Lebanon has its origins with the settlers of Norwich, who wanted to expand beyond the “nine miles square” they had bought from the Mohegan sachem Uncas. In 1663, the first grant in the area was given in to James’ father-in-law Maj. John Mason, deputy governor of the Connecticut colony. The next year, John Mason accepted 500 acres northwest of Norwich. This area, known as “Pomakuck” or “Pomocook” by the Mohegans, is now the Goshen Hill area of Lebanon.
In 1666, Connecticut granted an additional 120 acres to the Rev. James Fitch, minister of Norwich, adjacent to Maj. John Mason’s land which was now known as Cedar Swamp. The Mohegans conferred their blessing on the grants by giving an additional seven-mile strip to Maj. Mason’s son in 1675, who split the land with the Rev. Fitch, his father-in-law. This area is now known as “Fitch and Mason’s Mile,” or just “The Mile.” James Fitch moved there permanently in 1701, when he retired from the church in Norwich, and he remained at Lebanon until his death on 18 Nov 1702. He is buried at the churchyard there, and his stone remains at the old cemetery in Lebanon, where his grave was marked with an elaborate monumental stone bearing the following inscription in Latin (said to be written by his son, the Rev. Jabez Fitch), translated as follows:
In this tomb are deposited the remains of the truly Reverend Mr. James Fitch: born at Bocking, in the county of Essex, England, December 24, 1622: who, after he had been well instructed in the learned languages, came to New England at the age of 16, and passed seven years under the instruction of those eminent divines, Mr. Hooker and Mr. Stone. Afterward he discharged the pastoral office at Saybrook for 14 years, from whence, with the greater part of his church, he removed to Norwich, and there spent the succeeding years of his life, engaged in the work of the Gospel, till age and infirmity obliged him to withdraw from public labor. At length he retired to his children at Lebanon, where scarcely half a year had passed, when he fell asleep in Jesus, Nov. 18, 1702, in the 80th year of his age. He was a man, for penetration of mind, solidity of judgment, devotion to the sacred duties of his office, and entire holiness of life, as also for skill and energy in preaching, inferior to none.
The town of Lebanon has its origins with the settlers of Norwich, who wanted to expand beyond the “nine miles square” they had bought from the Mohegan sachem Uncas. In 1663, the first grant in the area was given in to James’ father-in-law Maj. John Mason, deputy governor of the Connecticut colony. The next year, John Mason accepted 500 acres northwest of Norwich. This area, known as “Pomakuck” or “Pomocook” by the Mohegans, is now the Goshen Hill area of Lebanon. In 1666, Connecticut granted an additional 120 acres to the Rev. James Fitch, minister of Norwich, adjacent to Maj. John Mason’s land which was now known as Cedar Swamp. The Mohegans conferred their blessing on the grants by giving an additional seven-mile strip to Maj. Mason’s son in 1675, who split the land with the Rev. Fitch, his father-in-law. This area is now known as “Fitch and Mason’s Mile,” or just “The Mile.”
The will of Rev. James Fitch was dated 7 Feb 1696 and proved at Norwich on 2 Dec. All of his children, with the exception of a son, Jeremiah, are also mentioned in his will, for reasons that are not known. In that all of the sons had been given land during the lifetime of James, the inventory was mainly household items, a library of books and various moveables, with a modest valuation of £247 16s.
Priscilla Fitch survived him, although no record has been found of her death. She was still living as of 20 Mar 1710/11 when, together with several other Mason heirs, she signed a quit-claim deed to rights on certain Mohegan lands. She may have died about 1714.
The children of James Fitch and Abigail Whitfield, all born at Saybrook, Connecticut, are listed as follows:
- James (Jr.), born 1647 (according to his grave marker). He was a prominent man in public life and his business affairs (primarily land speculation). He married (1st) Elizabeth Mason in Jan 1676. She was the youngest daughter of Major John Mason and his second wife, Anne Peck of Hingham, Massachusetts. Strangely, Elizabeth was a sister to her stepmother Priscilla Mason. Elizabeth was born in August of 1654 in Norwich. James (Jr.) and Elizabeth had four children: James and James (both of whom died young), Jedediah and Samuel. Elizabeth died 8 Oct 1684. On 8 May 1687, James (Jr.) married (2nd) a widow, Alice Bradford Adams. Alice was one of eleven daughters of Governor William Bradford of Plymouth. She was the widow of William Adams of Dedham, Massachusetts. James and Alice had nine more children: Abigail, Ebenezer, Daniel, John, Bridget, Jerusha, Theophilus, Lucy and Jabez. Alice previously had three daughters by her first marriage. On 10 Nov 1727, James (Jr.) died at Canterbury, Connecticut.
- Abigail Fitch (see below)
- Elizabeth, born in Jan 1651/52. On 5 Sep 1674, she married Rev. Edward Taylor. He was a theology student of her father. They moved to Westfield, Massachusetts. The couple had eight children, most of whom died young. Elizabeth died in 1689, and Edward later married (2nd) Ruth Wyllis of Hartford, Connecticut.
- Hannah, born in Sep 1653. She married Thomas Meeks of New Haven, Connecticut on 30 Jun 1679. They lived in Norwich, Connecticut and had nine children.
- Samuel, born 16 April 1655. He married Mary Brewster on 28 Nov. 1678. Mary was a descendant of the Mayflower Pilgrim William Brewster. They lived in Norwich and Preston, Connecticut. Their children were: Mary, Samuel, Hezekiah, Elizabeth, Abigail, Benjamin, John, Jabez and Pelatiah.
- Dorothy, born in Apr 1658. She was the second wife of Nathaniel Bissell of Windsor, Connecticut. They had two children, and Dorothy died 28 Jun 1691.
The children of Rev. James Fitch and his second wife, Priscilla Mason, all born in Norwich, Connecticut, are listed as follows:
- Daniel, born 16 Aug 1665. He married Mary Sherwood of Fairfield, Connecticut. He was active in the Indian Wars and settled near New London, Connecticut at a town called Montville. Their children were: Adonijah, James, Lemuel, Mary and Daniel.
- John, born in Jan 1667. He lived in Windham, Connecticut and was active in local government. He married Elizabeth Waterman of Norwich on 10 Jul 1695. John died 24 May 1743, and Elizabeth died 25 June 1751. Their children were: Elizabeth, Miriam, Priscilla and John (Jr.).
- Jeremiah, born about 1670. He moved from Lebanon to Coventry, Connecticut about 1703. He was a soldier, surveyor and town official. He married Ruth Gifford of Norwich and died at Coventry on 22 May 1736. Ruth died after 1756. Their children were: Jeremiah, Lucy, Ruth, Hannah, Abner, Gideon, Elisha, James, Joseph and Stephen
- Jabez, born in Apr 1672. He graduated from Harvard in 1694. He became a Fellow at Harvard and then was ordained a minister at Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1703. He took over a church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire (then part of Massachusetts) in 1725 and remained there until his death on 22 Nov 1746. He married Elizabeth Appleton of Ipswich on 26 Jul 1704. Their children were: Elizabeth, John, James, Margaret, Anne and Mary Anne, born in Apr 1675. She married Lt. Joseph Bradford of Plymouth, and they settled in Norwich and then Lebanon where she died 17 Oct 1715.
- Nathaniel, born in Oct 1679. He operated a gristmill and a fulling mill in Lebanon. He married (1st) Ann Abel of Norwich on 10 Dec 1701. After her death in 1726, he married 2nd) Mindwell Tisdale of Lebanon on 17 Sep 1729. He died on 4 May 1759. His children by Ann were: Anne, Joshua, Nathan, Nehemiah, James, John, Nathaniel, Mehitable, Elizabeth, Rachel, Abel and Caleb. With Mindwell, he had: Jabez, Ezekiel and Isaac.
- Joseph, born in Nov 1681. He married (1st) Sarah Mason at Saybrook, and they lived at Stonington, Connecticut. After Sarah’s death, he married (2nd) Ann Whiting of Windham in 1729, and they moved to Lebanon, Connecticut. Joseph died in Windham on 9 May 1741, and Ann died there 18 Sep 1778. His children by Sarah were: Judith, Sarah, Mason and Joseph. By Ann, he had: Samuel, Eleazer, Azel, Ichabod, Ann and Thomas.
Abigail Fitch was born in Aug 1650 at Saybrook, Connecticut. She died 5 Jun 1687 in Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut. Abigail married Capt. John Mason (Jr.) in about 1668 at Norwich, New London, Connecticut.
The children of John Mason (Jr.) and Abigail Fitch are listed as follows:
- Ann Mason, born about 1669 and died 17 Jun 1753, both at Saybrook, Connecticut. On 3 Mar 1701 she married Samuel Cogswell. She had previously been the wife of John Denison (1669-1700).
- John Mason, born 1673 Norwich, Connecticut and died at London, England on 23 Dec 1736. He was the third in lineal succession who bore the name “John” and title of “Captain”.
 Fitch, John G. (collected and arranged by) Genealogy of the Fitch Family in North America (Olmsted, Ohio: printed for private distribution, 200 copies) 1886.
 Fitch, Roscoe Conkling. History of the Fitch family A.D. 1400-1930: a record of the Fitches in England and America, including “pedigree of Fitch” certified by the College of Arms, London, England (Haverhill, Massachusetts: Record Pub. Co.) 1930.
 John T. Fitch. Fitch Family History: English Ancestry of the Fitches of Colonial Connecticut, 1994 (2nd ed.).
 Thomas Hooker (1586-1647) was a prominent Puritan colonial leader, who founded the Colony of Connecticut after dissenting with Puritan leaders in Massachusetts. He was known as an outstanding speaker and a leader of universal Christian suffrage. Called today “the Father of Connecticut,” Thomas Hooker was a towering figure in the early development of colonial New England.
 Rev. Thomas Hooker is thought to have arrived at Boston on the Griffin voyage of 1633, and at that date James Fitch was only 10-11 years old.
 The “Henry Whitfield House” is a historic house located at 248 Old Whitfield Street in Guilford, Connecticut. It dates from 1639, having been built just before the town of Guilford was settled. Henry Whitfield was a Puritan minister who had come from England to flee religious persecution. It is the oldest house in Connecticut and the oldest stone house in New England. Today it is a museum and it is open to the public.
 My 9th g-grandfather and a very important figure in early Connecticut history. He is discussed under his own heading.
 19 Nov is the date reported in the Lebanon Vital Records (Book 1, pg. 107). His monument inscription in the cemetery of Lebanon, Connecticut provides an alternate date of November 18, 1702.
 It is called Trumbull’s Cemetery, in honor of a Revolutionary War hero.
 In Hoc Sepulcro Depositae Sunt Reliquiae Viri Vere Reverendi D: Jacobi Fitch: Natus Fuit Apud Bocking in Comitatu Essexlae in Anglia, Anno Domino 1622 Decembr 24 Qui Post-Quam Linguis Literatis Optime Instructus Fuisset In Novangliam Venit Aetat. 16 Et Deinde Vitam Degit Harteordlae Per Sepennium Sub Institutione Virorum Ceeeberimorum D: Hooker Et D: Stone Postea Mtnere Passorali Functus Est Apud Saybrook Per Annos 14 Illinc Cum Ecckesiae Maiori Parte Norvicum Migravit Et Ibi Ceteros Vitae Annos Transegit In Opere Evangelico In Senectute Vero Prae Corporis Infirmitate Necessario Cessabat Ab Opere Publico: Tandemque Recessit Liberis Apud Lebanon Ubi Semianno Fere Exacto Obdormivit In Iesu Anno 1702 Novebr 18 Etat 80 Vir, Ingenii Acumine, Pondere Judicii, Prudentia Charitate, Sanctis Laboribus, Et Omnimoda Vitae Sanctitate Peritiaquoque Et Vi Concionandi Nulli Secundus.
 Pricilla was the second wife of Elizabeth’s father, James Fitch.