Sergeant William Cornwall, Hartford Founder‹ Back to The Founders
Compiled by Timothy Lester Jacobs, SDFH Genealogist
WILLIAM1 CORNWALL, SGT., HARTFORD FOUNDER (WILLIAMA) was baptized. 25 May 1609 in Terling, Essex, England, and died 21 Feb 1677/78 in Middletown, CT. He married (1) JOAN RANKE 27 Sep 1632 in Fairsted, Essex, England. She was born in England, and died bef. 1639 in poss Hartford, CT d. s. p.. He married (2) MARY ______ 1639 in Hartford, CT. She was born in England, and died aft. 12 Jun 1674 in prob Middletown, CT (named in husband’s will).
William Cornwall (Cornwell) arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1633, first residing in Roxbury. He was in Hartford by 1637 as he served in the Pequot War of that year (thus possibly his designation as Sergeant at Arms), and was one of the inhabitants to whom land was granted “by the courtesie of the Towne”. In the Hartford land inventory of February 1639/40 he held four parcels: two acres and two roods on which his dwelling house stood with yards and gardens, located on the road to the Neck of Land; four acres on the east side of the Great River; four acres in the Little Oxpasture; and one rood in the Neck of Land.
He removed to Middletown by 1651, where he became a landowner with substantial holdings, and from where he was Deputy for Middletown to the Connecticut General Court in 1654, 1664, and 1665. The spelling of his last name shifted to Cornwell and variants (Cornewell in Roxbury and Hartford, and Cornhill in Hartford records, and occasionally Cornell in Middletown) by the time he was in Roxbury in 1633, and is seen in Middletown vital records as Cornwell, but in the Middletown church records as Cornwall, and there is variance in the spelling of the names of his descendants.
Although the births of his first seven children are listed in the Middletown records, they were born in Hartford.
He made his will in Middletown 12 June 1674, and his will was proved 8 March 1677/8.
Genealogy: “William Cornwall and his Descendants”, Edward E. Cornwall, New Haven, 1901 (Robert Charles Anderson in the “Great Migration” article on William Cornwall refers to this as “a typical, solid genealogy of its period, tracing many male lines to the ninth generation, but with little documentation. An otherwise admirable job is slightly marred by a lengthy argument in the first few pages in which the author would have us believe, on the basis of family tradition and the designation of the immigrant as ‘sergeant-at-arms’ in the early Hartford records, that he had been ‘an officer in King Charles's body-guard’ and was therefore ‘a Cavalier and not a Puritan’.”) It also has some of the relationships in the early years of Middletown confused, due to the multiplicity of Williams, Johns and Jacobs.