William Edwards, Hartford Founder

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Compiled by Timothy Lester Jacobs, SDFH Genealogist

WILLIAM1 EDWARDS, HARTFORD FOUNDER (RICHARDA) was baptized 01 Nov 1618 in St. Butolph’s, London, England, and died bef. 06 Mar 1672/73 in Hartford, CT (probate). He married AGNES HARRIS 11 Dec 1645 in Hartford, CT, daughter of BARTHOLOMEW HARRIS and ELIZABETH COLLAMORE. She was baptized 06 Apr 1604 in Barnstaple, Devon, England, and died aft. 1680 in Hartford, CT.

William Edwards was one of the original settlers of Hartford but was not a proprietor, as he did not own land and was living with his mother and stepfather, Hartford Founder James Cole. He did not have lands entered until 1646 shortly after his marriage to the widow of Hartford Founder William Spencer. At that time his dwelling house stood with yards or gardens containing about two roods abutting on the Meeting house lot on the south and on the prison house yard on the east, on Thomas Burnham’s land on the west and on Richard Goodman’s land on the North, one part of which land he bought of John Morrice. He had learned the trade of Cooper (barrel maker) from his stepfather. He was one of the Hartford men to be troopers under Major John Mason 11 March 1657/8, and was made freeman 20 May 1658. On 14 May 1663 he charged Mr. Daniel Clark, Secretary of the Colony with “breach of his oath, unfaithfulness in ye great trust committed to him by the freeman of this Corporation, to the dishonour of God, infringement of ye royall prerogative of our Sovereign Lord the King, contempt of ye authority established in this Corporation, & abuse of the members of ye same”. This was a serious charge being made by a man who had never held public office, but it resulted in Daniel Clark losing his position as Secretary, to be replaced by John Allyn at the next court.

During King Phillip’s War, the Council in March 1675/6 granted Thomas Terry and William Edwards liberty to transport 300 bushels of grain to supply the people of Rhode Island and Plymouth. On the other hand he and Founder William Williams, another Cooper, were presented for prosecution for sale of “Caske unmarked Contrary to Law”. He was one of four men charged 5 March 1656/7 “for smoking in the street, contra to law”, and on 14 June 1661 he was fined for drunkenness at “Mr. Wells his funerall”.

As Donald Lines Jacobus put it, “we thus get a picture of William Edwards as a man of affairs, diligent in business, not afraid to speak his mind, and not averse to tobacco and wine, and there is no doubt that as a rule he was a man of moderation.” From William Edwards, through his son Richard, and Richard’s son Rev. Timothy, was descended the great theologian Rev. Jonathan Edwards.

Genealogy: “Timothy and Rhoda Edwards, of Stockbridge, Mass. and their Descendants”, William H. Edwards, Cincinnati, 1903 (As implied by the title, this genealogy, while presenting prior generations, concentrates on the lineal descendants of just one branch of the Edwards family.)

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