“Here Ended the Pequot War” – The Fairfield Swamp Fight

The Swamp Fight Monument, dedicated in 1904 by the Connecticut Society of Colonial Wars, today sits on a small triangle of land along the Post Road. A large stone monument bears the simple inscription on its east face: “the great Swamp Fight here ended the Pequot War.”

The Swamp Fight Monument, dedicated in 1904 by the Connecticut Society of Colonial Wars, today sits on a small triangle of land along the Post Road. A large stone monument bears the simple inscription on its east face: “the great Swamp Fight here ended the Pequot War.”

During the Pequot War, my 9th g-grandfather Thomas Stanton (1616-1677) provided service initially as an interpreter at Fort Saybrook. In the performance of this service, during the “Fairfield Swamp Fight” of 13-14 Jul 1637, Thomas Stanton nearly lost his life. He had arranged a temporary cease-fire and managed to negotiate the surrender of 200 non-combatant Indians under a guarantee of safe passage. After these people passed beyond Thomas’ exposed, forward position, the 100 remaining Pequot warriors opened fire without warning and advanced toward him. He was rescued at the last moment by nearby colonial troops.

In the 1630s, the Connecticut River Valley was in turmoil. The Pequot aggressively worked to extend their area of control, at the expense of the Wampanoag to the north, the Narragansett to the east, the Connecticut River Valley Algonquians and Mohegan to the west and the Algonquian people of present-day Long Island to the south. The tribes contended for political dominance and control of the European fur trade. A series of smallpox epidemics over the course of the previous three decades had severely reduced the Indian populations, due to their lack of immunity to the disease. As a result, there was a power vacuum in the area. The Dutch and the English were also striving to extend the reach of their trade into the interior to achieve dominance in the lush, fertile region. By 1636, the Dutch had fortified their trading post, and the English had built a trading fort at Saybrook. English Puritans from Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies settled at the newly established river towns of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield. The Pequot War was an armed conflict between 1634-1638 between the Pequot tribe against an alliance of the Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth and Saybrook colonies, who were aided by their Native American allies (the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes). Hundreds were killed; hundreds more were captured and sold into slavery to the West Indies. Other survivors were dispersed. At the end of the war, about seven hundred Pequots had been killed or taken into captivity. The result was the elimination of the Pequot as a viable polity in what is present-day southern New England.

The “Fairfield Swamp Fight” of 14 Jul 1637 (sometimes known as the “Great Swamp Fight”) was the last engagement of the Pequot War, which took place on the site on modern-day Fairfield, Connecticut. Most, if not all, of the Pequot warriors were killed during the engagement. The 180 Pequot non-combatants were taken captive and dispersed among the English and their allies. Many of the slaves taken prisoner did not remain in captivity for long because of their inability to adapt to their roles in servitude. Some of those captured were shipped off to the West Indies into the slave trade. In the ensuing weeks after the battle, the Mohawk Indians of New York tracked down Sassacus and the Pequot warriors accompanying him. The Mohawk murdered Sassacus, sending his head to Hartford as evidence of his capture. (This engagement should not be confused with another battle, also known as the “Great Swamp Fight”, which occurred on 19 Dec 1675, during King Philip’s War, between colonial militia of New England and the Narragansett tribe).

On 21 Sep 1638, the Treaty of Hartford formally ended the Pequot War and eliminated the Pequot political and cultural identity. The survivors were not allowed to live on tribal lands, and any geographic locations bearing the name of the Pequot were changed. Among these were the Pequot River, renamed the Thames, and Pequot Village, which was renamed New London. Thomas Stanton was a delegate at the Treaty of Hartford ending the Pequot War in 1638 and, in 1643, was appointed Indian Interpreter for all of New England by the Commissioners of the United Colonies.

 

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Blakeman #3588

Adam Blakeman (1598-1665) Born in Gnosall, Staffordshire, England and arrived in Connecticut before 1639 and Jane Wheeler (1600-1674) 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 […]

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Spinning #1800

Humphrey Spinning (1630-1689) Born in England. Arrived in Connecticut by 1639 and later settled in New Jersey and Abigail Hubbard (1640-1689) Born in Connecticut and later settled in New Jersey. Humphrey Spinning is also my 8th g-grandfather through his son Edward[1]. Not much is known of Humphrey Spinning and his wife Abigail Hubbard.  Most of information I have found comes from […]

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375 Years Ago: The Fundamental Orders were adopted by the Connecticut Colony

The original brownstone monument erected in 1837 was replaced by this one in 1986. It stands in the Ancient Burying Ground, which is located to the rear of the First Congregational Church at the corner of Main and Gold Streets in Hartford. This cemetery is also known as Old Center Cemetery. It lists the original Founders of Hartford.

The original brownstone monument erected in 1837 was replaced by this one in 1986. It stands in the Ancient Burying Ground, which is located to the rear of the First Congregational Church at the corner of Main and Gold Streets in Hartford. This cemetery is also known as Old Center Cemetery. It lists the original Founders of Hartford.

On this day in 1639 (14 Jan 1638/9, old style), in Hartford, Connecticut, the “Fundamental Orders” were adopted by representatives from the towns of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor.  This document has been described as the first written constitution in the Colonies and an important first step in the American experiment with Liberty.  This is why Connecticut has the nickname “the Constitution State”.  During the 1630s, significant numbers of English settlers from the new Massachusetts colony (some of whom, ironically, were escaping religious persecution from the same Massachusetts Puritans who had migrated to the New World to escape persecution themselves) began streaming into the area in and around the Connecticut River, which had been discovered years earlier in 1614 by the Dutch.  These settlers formed towns and communities, but soon they realized that they needed a unified government.  Representatives from three major towns came together and began to write what would become known as the “Fundamental Orders.”  This document presented a binding frame of government which put the well-being of its people above everything else.  It was the first constitution in the world to feature the revolutionary and modern idea that “the foundation of authority is in the free consent of the people”.  There is no record of the debates or proceedings of the drafting or enactment of the Orders, and it was not personally signed by the people’s representatives.  Some historians have postulated that the framers wished to remain anonymous to avoid retaliation by the English authorities.  Today, the individual rights in the Orders, with others added over the years, are still included as a “Declaration of Rights” in the first article of the current Connecticut Constitution, adopted in 1965.

“The Safe Arrival”, sculpture by Frances Laughlin Wadsworth, outside the Travelers headquarters, Hartford, Connecticut (dedicated 27 Apr 1964). The inscription, “He who brought us here sustains us still” (Qui Transtulit Sustinet), is the State motto of Connecticut.

“The Safe Arrival”, sculpture by Frances Laughlin Wadsworth, outside the Travelers headquarters, Hartford, Connecticut (dedicated 27 Apr 1964). The inscription, “He who brought us here sustains us still” (Qui Transtulit Sustinet), is the State motto of Connecticut.

There are the 163 men and women listed in the Book of Distribution of Land as being those who settled in Hartford, Connecticut before February 1640.  Their names are inscribed on a monument in Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground, and I am directly descended from many of them (on both sides of the family! but mostly my mother’s): William Andrews, George Graves, Stephen Hart, Thomas Judd, Ralph Keeler, William Kelsey, Thomas Lord (from whom I am descended on both my mother’s and my father’s side), Matthew Marvin, Thomas Root, Timothy Stanley, Thomas Stanton, George Stocking, Thomas Thompson, (Gov.) John Webster, (Gov.) Thomas Welles and possibly others.  There was also a “George Hubbard” among the founders of Hartford, but he is not “my” George Hubbard (1600-1683).  He was a different man, who settled around the same time in Wethersfield, Connecticut.  Many of the Hartford pioneers were followers of the Rev. Thomas Hooker and were among the first settlers of “New Towne” (now Cambridge), Massachusetts in 1632.  The “Hooker Company” migrated as a group to the Connecticut Valley and formed the core of the founding settlers of Hartford and other towns of the Connecticut River valley.  Follow the links above for more information on each.  The Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford has an informative website.

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Manchester #5624

Thomas Manchester (1620-1691) Born in England.  Arrived in New England prior to 1639, when he was recorded as being of Quinnipiac, now New Haven, Connecticut.  He later settled in Rhode Island. Margaret Wood (1634-1693) Probably born in England.  Her father was a ship owner, mate and possibly captain who participated in shipping supplies for the Winthrop Colony from about the 1636-50. […]

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Original Hart Records

Original Hart Records This information is from One Bassett Family in America with All connections in America and many in Great Britain and France by Buell Burdett Bassette (1926).  The book is subtitled “Principally an Outline of What the Ancestors did to help make America, mainly from original records heretofore unpublished.”  It contains quotes from many original records that mention Deacon Stephen Hart, […]

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In Search of First Settlers

Of the four founders of the town of Stonington, Connecticut, I am descended from three of them:  Thomas Minor, Walter Palmer and Thomas Stanton.  The fourth founder was William Chesebrough.  The following article appeared in Historical Footnotes, a publication of the Stonington Historical Society that has been issued quarterly since November 1963.  Historical Footnotes is devoted to publishing research and documents on […]

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Waite #5604

Thomas Waite (1601-1665) Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts in the mid-1630s and settled in Rhode Island in 1638 and Eleanor Paine (1605-1676) Born in England.  Arrived in Rhode Island before 1640. There is much confusion around the English (or Welsh) origins of Thomas Waite, whose surname has been spelled variously as Waite, Wayte or Wait.  I present here a […]

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Mason #2588

John Mason (1600-1672) Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts in 1630 and later settled in Connecticut and Anne  Peck (1619-1672) Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts with her parents and siblings aboard the Diligent in 1638.   English Origins John Mason was born about 1600 in England, and the circumstances of his early life in England are obscure.  Accounts of […]

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Wilcoxson #8060

William Wilcoxson (1601-1652) Born in England.  Arrived at Boston, Massachusetts in May 1635, later settling in Connecticut and Margaret (Birdseye?) (1611-1675) Born in England.  Arrived at Boston, Massachusetts in May 1635, later settling in Connecticut. Many descendants in this line have dropped the last syllable of Wilcoxson, shortening it to Wilcox, from about the middle of the eighteenth century. According […]

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Welles #16118

Thomas Welles (1590-1660) Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts in 1635-36, later settling in Connecticut and Alice Tomes (1593-1646) Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts in 1635-36, later settling in Connecticut. Thomas Welles was born about 1590 in Stourton, Whichford, Warwickshire, England, the son of Robert Welles and Alice Hunt.  Stourton is located on the edge of what today in […]

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Ingersoll #4006

John Ingersoll (of Westfield) (1626-1684) Born in England.  Arrived in Connecticut between 1644-1651 and Dorothy Lord (1629-1657) Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts in 1635 and later settled in Connecticut. John Ingersoll was born 1626 in Derby, Derbyshire, England (his birth was recorded in St. Werburghs parish) 
and died on 3 Sep 1684 in Westfield, Massachusetts.  He was the son […]

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