James Wakeley, Hartford Founder

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Compiled by Timothy Lester Jacobs, SDFH Genealogist

JAMES1 WAKELEY, HARTFORD FOUNDER was born abt. 1600 in England, and died aft. 27 May 1690 in Providence, RI (alive at date above in Hartford court action). He married (1) _____ ________ in England. He married (2) ALICE _____, widow of James Boosey on 05 Oct 1652 in Hartford, CT. She was born abt. 1607 in England, and died bef. 06 Sep 1683 in Wethersfield, CT (inventory).

The ancestry, origin, and when and to where James Wakeley emigrated to the American colonies is unknown, but he was in Hartford by 1639/40, as in the Hartford land inventory of February 1639/40 he held: two roods where his homelot was located, which had been bought by the town from Founder Arthur Smith, on the north side of the road from George Seele’s to the South Meadow; two acres on the east side of the Great River; and five acres in the South Meadow. On 25 March 1460 in Hartford Town Meeting, it was granted to James Wakeley “to have lots[s] If the Townsmen se noe Just Cause to the Contrary”. It is, however, unlikely that he was there much earlier, as his property was not located close to that of his son, Hartford Founder Henry Wakeley, known to have been in Hartford by 1637, as Henry served in the Pequot War of that year..

There has been a tremendous confusion about James Wakeley/Wakelee the Founder since 1832 (in “The History of Fairfield”), continuing through Hinman (1842), Savage (1860), “The Original Proprietors” (1886). It was even proposed by Hinman that Richard Wakeley/Wakelee was the father of Henry, James, and Alice. Given that Richard died in 1681, and was made freeman in 1657 (which usually occured about age 21, this claim is absurd. Further, the Alice who Hinman mentioned was Alice ___, widow of James Boosey, and wife of James Wakeley the Founder.

He served on the jury of the Particular Court in 1653, 1655, and from 1658 to 1662. He acted as an attorney in multiple cases in Particular Court as well.

But James Wakeley was apparently also a contentious individual, having entered multiple lawsuits and was defendant in multiple others from 1644-1649.

He had removed to Wethersfield before 1657 as he was made constable there in March 1656/7.

His marriage to Alice ____, the widow of James Boosey was contentious at best, as she had given a bond of 100 pounds to her son Joseph Boosey if she were ever to marry James Wakeley, as James Wakely established in court in March 1652/3. This was in response to the finding of the General Court that the Deputies action in marrying them was to be legal on 23 February 1652/3.

He was accused of witchcraft by Rebecca Greensmith in 1662 during her own trial for the same (she was executed on 25 January 1662/3), and was charged again in 1665, causing him to flee to Rhode Island in 1663, but was later accused by Catherine Harrison in October 1668 in her own trial for witchcraft. On 6 January 1662/3, the Particular Court noted that he had fled, and ordered an inventory of his estate be taken, which was done on 28 January. In this inventory it was stated: “The movables in ye howse wee doe not absolutely give in as ye estate of James Wakele because it is doutfull to us under som considerations (whether) it bee estate of ye above syd James Wekely or not the reasons we shall assent to ye worthingfull court & leave to [their] worships to ye determination hereof.”

Further, as shown in the “Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut”, the Court on 14 May 1663 found: “Whereas this Court, upon the request of Henry Walkley, Attourney fo James Wakely, to release the sayd Henry from attending the order respecting the sayd estate, these are to declare that this Court doth release the sayd Henry form attending the sayd order, and haue returned to him the letter of attourney granted unto him from James Walkely, and the estate remains to be ordered as the Perticular Court haue provided.”

A recognizance of 150 pounds for his appearance in court made in 1666 being forfeited by his flight to Rhode Island (50 pounds of which were remitted to his wife Alice), his house and lands in Wethersfield were taken by the court 9 May 1667. By way of attorney, he petitioned in 1673 and 1681 for abatement of the forfeiture, but was denied.

In 1677 he petitioned the court to have his wife sent to him in Rhode Island or else grant him a divorce, but she responded that they had a prenuptial agreement that he would not remove her from Wethersfield. The court found no grounds to remove her, but also refused the divorce. He petitioned to the court for divorce again in 1678, which motion was seconded by Alice, but the court responded that he could return to Wethersfield, and appear before the court for the previous witchcraft charges, and denied the divorce.

He did not return, but did, in 1690, petition the court via attorney for the goods and money left in his deceased wife’s estate which were being held by Nathaniel Stanley, which petition he ultimately won.

Donald Lines Jacobus expressed his opinion that Henry, also a founder of Hartford, was the son of James.

As to Richard2, there is controversy over he being related to the Wakeley/Wakelees of Hartford, but primarily over the difference in spelling (Walkley), as he and his children were spelled Walkley in Haddam records. However this spelling is also used in court records for Henry2, and he is named Richard Wakeley in Haddam probate records. Richard was made freeman in Hartford on 21 May 1657, held land in Hartford by 13 February 1659, but removed to Haddam about 1668.

As to Rebecca2, she is included as Donald Lines Jacobus felt she was a possible daughter of James or Henry, and her age as calculated from her marriage precludes her from being a daughter of Henry.

Genealogy: none known

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