Nathaniel Ruscoe, Hartford Founder

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Compiled by Timothy Lester Jacobs, SDFH Genealogist

NATHANIEL2 RUSCOE, HARTFORD FOUNDER (WILLIAM1) was born abt. 1620 in England, and died bef. 18 Aug 1673 in Haddam, CT (inventory). He married JOANNA CORLET 11 Nov 1645 in Hartford, CT. She was born abt. 1624 in England, and died aft. 04 Sep 1673 in poss Haddam, CT (granted administration of husband’s estate).

Nathaniel Ruscoe removed from Billericay, Great Burstead, Essex, England at some uncertain time, but he was not aboard the ship “Increase” in 1635 with his father Founder William Ruscoe, mother, and siblings, as he was not on the passenger list. He has been cited as an original proprietor of Hartford in 1639/40, but he is not on the Hartford land inventory of that year, possibly because he was living in his father’s house. It is said that his home lot was apparently a lot he bought of Joshua Jennings, but his name does not appear on a map of Hartford homesteads of 1640. This lot of three roods was apparently part of Thomas Alcott’s land on the corner of the road from the Meeting-house to the mill and the road from Founder Seth Grant’s to Centinel Hill, diagonally across the street from his father’s homestead.

He owned eight parcels of land in Hartford acquired up to the year 1651. On 1 May 1667 Nathaniel’s father passed all his land to Nathaniel.

He was chosen chimney viewer in 1652, surveyor of highways 1661, and selectman 1665 and 1669. He was on a committee to lay out the sections of the West section of Hartford in 1672, when Hartford had increased its population to the point that it was necessary to expand outward. The sections laid out became the town of West Hartford officially in 1854. He also served on the Connecticut jury six times.

Nathaniel Ruscoe became involved in the witchcraft hysteria of Hartford by virtue of offering to foster the son born in jail to the accused witch Mary Johnson of Wethersfield, accused and executed for witchcraft on 7 December 1648. She had conceived the child by Thomas Newton of Fairfield, who had also been accused of a capital crime, which may have been witchcraft, but this could have been adultery, also a capital crime at the time. Newton broke jail and escaped, taking refuge on Long Island. The son born in jail, Benoni (aka Benjamin) Newton was raised by, educated, and ultimately apprenticed to Nathaniel Ruscoe, and was given a horse and a pig in Nathaniel’s will.

Nathaniel Ruscoe made his will 23 July 1673 in Haddam, while on a visit, and died there within the month. His inventory was taken 18 August 1673 and the estate was settled 4 September 1673.

Genealogy: no real published genealogy of the Ruscoe family known (There is a book: “William Ruscoe, an Immigrants Story”, Luis Roscoe, Tucson, AZ, 2005, but this is a fictionalized account of William Ruscoe’s life, with an entirely inadequate genealogy included.)

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