William Butler, Hartford Founder

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Compiled by Timothy Lester Jacobs, SDFH Genealogist

WILLIAM1 BUTLER, HARTFORD FOUNDER was born abt. 1614 in England, and died aft. 11 May 1648 in Hartford, CT (will) unm.

William Butler emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony about 1634. It is unknown whether he came with his brother Richard, also a Founder of Hartford, and while it is alleged that both brothers came on board the ship “Hector” in 1632 in “Wisconsin Families: Quarterly Magazine of Wisconsin Genealogical Society”, Vol. 1, 1940, article “Descendants of Richard Butler of Hartford, Connecticut”, Walter P. Butler, edited by Kathryn M. Wilkinson, a source cited in the Ackley – Bosworth Genealogy (which notes that this article has several errors), there is no evidence to support this claim. Another allegation in the Wisconsin Families article repeats an error to be found in Savage 1:322, Pillsbury Ancestry 2:604, The Original Proprietors: 233, and NEHGR 24:150, is that William Butler was married to Eunice Coffin, sister of Tristan Coffon of Nantucket (it must be noted that in the NEHGR article it merely states that Eunice was married to William Butler of New England, not specifically Hartford). In fact, there is no evidence that William Butler was ever married.

He was made freeman in Cambridge, Massachusetts 6 May 1635, in which town he held four parcels. He was among the so-called “Adventurers Party” of twenty-five men who set out to explore the area that would become Hartford, led by John Steele in October 1635, prior to the departure from Cambridge of the Rev. Hooker’s party in May 1636, and was one of sixteen founders living in Hartford in 1635 prior to the arrival of Hooker’s party.

He was an original proprietor, and in the Hartford land inventory of February 1639/40 he held eight parcels: two acres that was his house lot located on the road from the Little River to the North Meadow bounded on the west by John Talcott’s land; two acres, three roots and twenty-seven perches in the Little Meadow; two acres, two roods, and ten perches of Meadow and two roods and thirty-five perches of swamp in the North Meadow; fourteen acres and twenty-two perches of meadow and two acres, three roods, and twenty-six perches of swamp in the North Meadow; three acres and twenty-four perches on the east side of the Great River; seven acres in the Cow Pasture; fourteen acres in the Little Oxpasture; and one rood in the Little Meadow.

In his will, dated 11 May 1648 and proved on an unknown date, he names his brother Richard as executor, leaving parts of his estate to his brother Richard, his “sister West’s children”, and his “sister Winters children”, that are “now living in Old England”, “my loving friends of Hartford, Mr. Stone and Mr. Goodwin and Mrs. Hooker and Mr. John Steele”, and to the church of Hartford. Real estate included in his estate were in Hartford and in Wethersfield. No wife/widow and no children are known.

Genealogy: Not applicable, as he had no descendants.

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