Reverend John Higginson, Hartford Founder

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Compiled by Timothy Lester Jacobs, SDFH Genealogist

JOHN1 HIGGINSON, REV., HARTFORD FOUNDER (FRANCISA) was born 06 Aug 1616 in Claybrooke, Leicestershire, England, and died 09 Dec 1708 in Salem, MA. He married (1) SARAH WHITFIELD bef. 1646, daughter of HENRY WHITFIELD and DOROTHY SHEAFE. She was baptized 01 Nov 1620 in Okley, Surrey, England, and died 08 Jul 1675 in Salem, MA. He married (2) MARY BLAKEMAN, WIDOW OF JOSHUA ATWATER aft. 1676, daughter of ADAM BLAKEMAN and JANE _______. She was born abt. 1637, and died 09 Mar 1708/09 in Salem, MA.

John Higginson emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay colony aboard the ship “Talbot” from Claybrooke, Leicestershire, England in 1629 with his father Francis who participated in the organization of the church in Salem and was made teacher there. John Higginson was the stenographer of the synod which was held at Cambridge in 1637, being employed by magistrates and ministers of the Colony and make a report of the meetings and write out the material parts for printing, which report was accepted by the General Court at Boston in May 1639.

He is considered a founder of Hartford although it is uncertain precisely when he arrived there, and he appears to never have had a home lot in Hartford. He studied under Rev. Thomas Hooker, and taught grammar school in Hartford. He was also was minister at the fort at Saybrook by 1641, so it is possible that he journeyed from Saybrook to Hartford and back, staying at Hooker’s residence when he was in Hartford.

Although there is no direct listing of his holdings in Hartford in the land inventory of February 1639/40, the lands he owned are discernable by virtue of those lands which abutted his, which were: a parcel in the North Meadow; a parcel in the Neck of Land; twenty-six acres east of the Great River; and another parcel east of the Great River.

He removed to Guilford about 1641, where he became the assistant of Rev. Henry Whitfield, whose daughter he married, and he became minister of Guilford when Whitfield went back to England in 1651. In 1659 he boarded ship himself to return to England, but because of the severity of the weather the ship was forced to put into the harbor at Boston. He was there soon after the death of Rev. Norris of Salem, and was asked to become the minister at Salem, which he did in the spring of 1660, remaining in that position until his death 9 December 1708.

Genealogy: “Descendants of the Reverend Francis Higginson: First ‘Teacher’ in the Massachusetts Bay Colony of Salem, Massachusetts and author of ‘New-England’s Plantation’ 1630”, Thomas W. Higginson, 1910

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