Robert Sandford, Hartford Founder

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Compiled by Timothy Lester Jacobs, SDFH Genealogist

ROBERT1 SANDFORD, HARTFORD FOUNDER (EZEKIELA) was baptized 01 Nov 1615 in Stanstead, Mountfitchet, Essex, England, and died bef. 19 Jun 1676 in Hartford, CT (inventory). He married ANN HOWES abt. 1643 in Hartford, CT. She was born abt. 1623 in England, and died bef. 07 Sep 1682 in Hartford, CT (will proved).

When and where to Robert Sandford removed to the American Colonies is unknown, but he was certainly in Hartford by 1637 as he fought in the Pequot War of that year. It is claimed in the Sandford/Sanford genealogy that his brothers Thomas (who settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts and removed to Milford, Connecticut in 1641), and Andrew (who settled in Hartford and removed to Milford on or after 1662), came to the American colonies with his uncle, Hartford founder Andrew Warner (the brother of Rose Warner, Robert Sandford’s mother) in 1634. But Robert Charles Anderson in his Great Migration article on Jeremy Adams places Adams as arriving in 1633 (albeit the first record of him is in Cambridge, Massachusetts on 14 May 1634), and the arrival of Thomas Sandford in 1634 (GM 1634-1635) and states in this same article that “Robert Sanford and Andrew Sanford followed their older brother Thomas to New England and settled in Hartford...”, thus not arriving with Andrew Warner. An implication of this statement is that Robert and Andrew arrived at the same time, so that Andrew would also be a Founder of Hartford, but this is not proof.

Robert Sandford does not appear in the land inventory of February 1639/40, and is first noted as owning land on 22 January 1655. A clue as to his residence in 1639 is to be found in the inventory of his land holdings of 1655, viz: “More one parcel of land with a Messuag or Tenement standing there on which he bought of William Phillips’s relict… Containing by estimation five acres and a half (be ite more or less) and was his and Nathan Kellogg’s house lot” which was located on the south side of the road to the Brickyard. He may have been living in the home of his uncle, Hartford founder Andrew Warner, or in the childless, older Nathan Kellogg’s home, who died in 1657 in Farmington, and had sold his homestead to William Phillips, and whose land directly joined that of Kellogg. William Phillips died in 1655, and his widow had removed to Hadley, Massachusetts.

Although Robert Sandford owned this land, he probably later lived on a one acre plot, which was the combined original homesteads of Samuel Hale and Benjamin Munn, located on the south side of the road from Centinel Hill to the Cow Pasture, since this was noted first in his inventory with a “Messuag or Tenement standing thereon”, which he had augmented with another one acre and two roods directly to the south of this holding.

He was chosen chimney viewer in 1651, was chosen to tend the Meeting House for a year, starting 20 August 1655, was a leather sealer in 1658-1660, 1662, 1666-1668, and 1671-1672, and was elected deputy to the General Court on 20 May 1658. He was listed as freeman 13 Oct 1669. He was granted eighty acres on 16 October 1672 for his service in the Pequot War.

His son Zachary Sandford redeemed the property of Hartford founder Jeremy Adams (who was Zachary’s grandfather) property (a mortgage on which had been foreclosed in 1681) in 1685, and kept the inn that Jeremy had established in his home, which Zachary kept in the same place for twenty-five years thereafter.

This inn was where General and Particular Courts were held for many years, and was the scene from which one of Hartford’s most famous incidents occurred. On 31 October 1687, Sir Edmund Andros, the Governor of New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland, with profoundly Anglican views and who was attempting to seize control of all the current American colonies, arrived in Hartford demanding that Connecticut’s Charter be turned over to him. The Charter was brought into the room that served as the Court, but in a moment, the lights were extinguished, and it is said that Captain Joseph Wadsworth, son of founder William Wadsworth, carried off the Charter, secreting it in a great hollow oak tree on the property on Samuel Wyllys, son of founder George Wyllys.

This, then, was the famous Charter Oak, which continued to stand for many years, and scions of that tree are said to still exist in the Hartford area. Andros was thus frustrated in his attempt to seize Connecticut.

As stated, the inn was held by Zachary Sanford for twenty-five years, and was then turned over to Sandford’s son-in-law Jonathan Bunce, then in 1732 Samuel Flagg who had married Bunce’s daughter Sarah acquired the inn, naming it the “Black Horse Tavern”. In 1740 Flagg razed the original structure and erected a new one, but was denied renewal of the inn’s license in 1756.

Robert Sandford’s inventory was taken 19 June 1676, his will and inventory were exhibited to the court 7 September 1676, and his estate was distributed 6 December 1676.

Genealogies: “Robert Sandford and His Wife Ann Adams Sandford, with Some of their Descendants, 1615 – 1930”, Josephine G S. Ware, 1930 (The one major flaw of this genealogy is that it claims that Robert Sandford’s wife was Ann Adams, daughter of Harford founder Jeremy Adams, which has long since been disproved.)

“The Sandford/Sanford Families of Long Island: Ancestors and Descendants”, Grover M. Sanford, Gateway Press, 1975 (This genealogy presents the English ancestry of Robert Sandford, and the second generation, but primarily deals with the descendents of Ezekiel2.)

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