Nicholas Jennings, Hartford Founder

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Compiled by Timothy Lester Jacobs, SDFH Genealogist

NICHOLAS2 JENNINGS, HARTFORD FOUNDER (JOHN1) was born abt. 1612 in England, and died bef. 16 Oct 1673 in Southampton, Long Island, NY (son John granted administration of father’s estate). He married MARGARET POORE ALIAS BEDFORD bet. 03 May - 02 Aug 1643 in New Haven, CT. She was born abt. 1620 in England, and died aft. 1666 in poss Southampton, Long Island, NY (after flight from Saybrook).

Nicholas Jennings (Jennings, Ginnings) was a founder of Hartford, but his name does not appear on the Founders Monument in Hartford, though the name of his father John Jennings does. Nicholas had emigrated from Ipswich, England as a passenger on the ship “Francis”, enrolled on the passenger list 30 April 1634. It is unknown where he was between 1634 and 1637, but he was in Hartford by at least 1637 when he served in the Pequot War. His house lot of two acres was on the east side of the road from Centinel Hill to the Cow Pasture. He also had a piece of land abutting on the Little Oxpasture; a lot in the Soldiers Field; a parcel in the Pine Field west of a lot owned by Founder Richard Seymour, whose said parcel of land was west of a parcel owned by Nicholas’ father John; a parcel abutting the Venturers Field; and a parcel on the east side of the Great River.

He had removed to New Haven before January 1639/40, and, after several notifications from Hartford to “take up (his) habitation here or else his lots to re(turn) unto the town’s hands paying him for (the) worth of the labor done upon it”, he defaulted on the land and it was taken by the town and redistributed to others on 28 October 1640: his house lot and his lot in the Pine Field to Thomas Porter; his lot in the Soldiers Field to Daniel Garrett; and his lot on the east side of the Great River to his father.

Nicholas Jennings was of a troubled family. The troubles of his brothers are described in the precis of his father. While in New Haven Nicholas was severely whipped on 03 May 1643 for committing fornication with Margaret Bedford, alias Poore, (discovered by virtue of her pregnancy), who he later married. He had committed other misdemeanors (unspecified) while in New Haven. He returned to Hartford by 1646 and purchased several other pieces of land.

But the troubles do not end there. In Hartford on to March 1647/8, Nicholas was charged for “a miscarriage, beating of a cow of Ralfe Keeler’s”. By 1651 he had disposed of all his Hartford land and moved to Saybrook, where on 7 March 1660/1 “Georg(e) Wood in behalf of his wife (was) plaintiff contra Nicholas Jennings’ wife and daughter Martha by way of complaint”, and on the same day daughter Martha was examined to determine if she was with child. Later in the same year, Nicholas Jennings and his wife were accused of witchcraft by virtue of causing the death of Mary, wife of Hartford Founder Reinold Marvin. They were indicted in a Court held at Hartford 5 September 1661, and the jury found “that the major part find him guilty of the said indictment, and the rest strongly suspected that he is guilty.” As for his wife Margaret the jury found “that some of them find her guilty, the rest strongly suspected her to be guilty of the indictment”.

Eleven days after the verdict of the jury, Nicholas Jennings sold his land in Saybrook and removed to Newtown on Long Island where he was a freeholder of land in December 1666, and where he died by 1673 when his son John was granted administration of any of his estate that might remain in Connecticut.

Nicholas’ son John was apprenticed to Jeremiah Adams for seven years on 5 December 1661 and his son Joseph was apprenticed to Richard Treat for ten years also on 5 December 1661, probably because their parents were deemed to be unfit.

It is to be noted that a son, Jonathan, is herein assigned to Nicholas, due to Jonathan’s marriage to Susanna Wade, the daughter of Hartford founder Robert Wade, who had removed to Saybrook by 1657, and Nicholas Jennings was also in Saybrook by 1651. Jonathan Jennings was granted administration of Robert Wade’s estate on 03 September 1696. Many residents of Saybrook removed to Norwich, where Jonathan Jennings resided before removing to Windham. Aside from the Wades, there were other Hartford families in Saybrook who might have taken him in, including Hartford founders William Parker, and William Pratt, as well as William Lord (born about 1618), son of Hartford founder Thomas Lord, and John Clarke (born about 1625, son of Hartford founder John Clarke). Thus the posited parentage of Jonathan Jennings, while circumstantial, may be considered probable.

Genealogy: Not recommended: “A Genealogical History of the Jennings Families in England and America, Vol. 2 - The American Families” by William Henry Jennings, 1889. Undocumented; in the section on Connecticut Jennings, the author confuses John Jennings2 with John1, proceeding to attribute to John1 the children of John2 – and so on.

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