John Hall, Hartford Founder

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Compiled by Timothy Lester Jacobs, SDFH Genealogist

JOHN1 HALL, HARTFORD FOUNDER was born bef. 1605 in England, and died bef. 03 May 1676 in Wallingford, CT (inventory). He married JANE WOOLEN bef. 03 Jul 1644 in New Haven, CT. She was born in England, and died bef. 14 Nov 1690 in New Haven, CT (agreement between her heirs).

The ancestry and origin of Hartford founder John Hall is unknown, as is when and to where he emigrated to the American colonies. There were two John Halls in Hartford: one was a founder, the other was not. In “The Original Proprietors” section of the “Memorial history of Hartford County” Miss Talcott stated that the founder was born in Kent, England in 1584, and removed from Hartford to Middletown. In “John Hall of Wallingford, Connecticut”, James Sheppard presents an extensive 24 page analysis concluding that the Hartford founder John Hall was a younger man (born about 1605) than the John Hall of Middletown, who removed to New Haven about 1639 to 1641. This analysis is comprehensive, and will not be repeated here but some of the more cogent points will be reviewed.

The John Hall who was the Hartford founder served in the Pequot War of 1637, as shown in the NEHGR article “Dr. Thomas Starr, Surgeon in the Pequot War, and His Family Connections” which shows a listing of men who served in that war in which John Hall is said to have served from Wallingford or Saybrook. Since there is no record of a John Hall in Saybrook, but there was a John Hall from Wallingford, it is logical to conclude that this was the man who served in the Pequot War. That he is said to have been from Wallingford may be seen as peculiar, as Wallingford did not become a town until 1670, having been derived from New Haven. But since New Haven was not established until 1638, the reference to having served from Wallingford must refer to a John Hall from elsewhere, and since the younger John Hall of Hartford was one of the autograph signers of the Fundamental Agreement which was written on 4 June 1639, clearly that John Hall who served in the Pequot War was not that John Hall who removed to Middletown. It is also of note that no John Hall of Hartford is named in the article on Dr. Thomas Starr, and that John Hall Sr. would have been fifty-eight years of age at the time of that war, maing him an unlikely fighter of that war. Finally, and most definitively, the pre-eminent Donald Lines Jacobus in “Families of Ancient Haven” (Vol. I, pg. 238) states that the John Hall who served in the Pequot War and enlisted from Hartford, was of New Haven in 1640 and of Wallingford in 1670.

It is stated in “The River Towns of Connecticut“ by Charles M. Andrews that John Hall was among a party of exploration led by John Oldham starting in September 1633. That this was the John Hall of Hartford cannot be absolutely established. However, the John Hall who removed to Middletown is stated in his death record to have been in the colonies since 1633. It is unlikely that he would have been among Oldham’s party almost immediately after arrival.

Hartford founder John Hall is listed among “The Names of Such Inhabitants as were Granted lotts to haue onely at The Townes Courtesie”. His holdings are not listed in the land inventory of February 1639/40, as this was compiled years after he had left, but the parcel on which his dwelling house stood was (as discussed in “The Colonial History of Hartford”) was the two house lot mentioned in the land inventory for William Spencer in which Spencer bought of John Halles dated 1640: two acres on which his dwelling house stood with other outhouses, yards and gardens abutted the north side of the Little River and on the road from the Mill to the Country. He also originally held four acres on the east side of the Great River, which he also sold to William Spencer.

The two rood lot of the other John Hall, located on the road from the Mill to George Steele’s was purchased by him from William Bloomfield who had acquired it from William Gibbons, who had acquired it from John Friend, thus clearly not one of the original lots by the time John Hall Sr. acquired it. Properties of this John Hall, always referred to as John Hall Sr., are listed in a later inventory, not that of February 1639/40. (Sr. was a designation of an older man in colonial times, not the indicator of a father.)

Founder John Hall removed to the New Haven Colony where he was one of the autograph signers of the Fundamental Agreement which was written on 4 June 1639. There is considerable argument as to precisely when the “autograph signers” signed the fundamental agreement, but John Hall had married before 3 July 1644 to Jane Woolen, for the records of the court of that date show “that John Hall demanded three pounds due him from Roger Knap in the right of his wife, which he did acknowledge, whereupon it was ordered that he should pay three pounds, only abating fourteen shillings which he hath done in work for John Woolen, brother to the same said John Hall’s wife”.

On 1 July 1644 he took the Oath of Allegiance at the General Court, and in 1665 “being then in his 60th year, he was freed from training”. He was a viewer of fences in 1664 and 1665. James Sheppard proposes that John Hall was engaged in trade, perhaps with the Indians for first. It is said that he removed to Wallingford in 1670, where he was one of the original proprietors, entering into a written covenant on 30 November 1669. It is possible that he had not, in fact, removed at all, but rather that the section in which he had been living was simply renamed as Wallingford in 1670.

The inventory of his estate was taken 3 May 1676.

Recommended genealogies:

  • “John Hall of Wallingford, Conn.”, James Shepard, New Britain, CT 1904
  • “Families of Ancient New Haven”, Vol. III, Donald Lines Jacobus, Rome, NY, 1926 (Hall family)
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