b.abt 1606 Leicestershire, England
d.31 May 1666 Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut, United States
m. BEF 1629
Facts and Events
Although it is unknown exactly when he came to New England, he was settled in Watertown, Massachusetts Bay Colony by 1635; he was made a freeman on nearby Boston on 6 May of that year. He received ten acres in the first land assignment, and was one of those who paid for the first land survey.At its founding, Watertown contained only about sixty families. But over the next four years its population swelled with new immigrants to the point that the towns of Dorchester, Newton and Watertown began encroaching on each other. The original settlers began to complain "of straitness for want of land, especially meadow." Some of them consequently began to set their sights on the unsettled lands to the south in the Connecticut River valley. In the summer of 1634, a small group of Watertown men led by John Oldham went south and settled Wethersfield, hartford County, Connecticut. After hearing favorable reports about the new location, a larger group of about sixty families set off in October 1635 for Wethersfield; Jeffrey was among them. In the first distribution of lands, he drew lot No. 26 -- a lot of forty-five acres. It was seven and a half rods wide and ran from the river inland three miles. He received a four acre home site there on 26 April 1641where he built his house. That same year he sold one acre to William Comstock.In April 1639, he was a member of a jury that awarded £3 to Mr. Williams for corn destroyed by foraging cattle which got out of Williams' land because he had failed to maintain his fences. Less than a year later, on 6 February 1639/40, Jeffrey himself was found guilty of the same offense by the court in Hartford. He was ordered to provide the plaintiff with two bushels of corn to replace that damaged by Jeffrey's swine, to reimburse the plaintiff for his ten shillings of court costs, and was fined £1 for questioning the impartiality of the men appointed to the jury that heard his case.He eventually sold his land holdings of forty-five acres to John Deming and removed to Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut, in 1641, where he had a homelot on the north side of North Street. On 1 July 1640, the New Haven colony had purchased the land that became Stamford from the Indians for £33. On 4 November of that year, that colony gave the right to occupy that land to a group of Wethersfield residents as long as they reimbursed New Haven for the £33. The Wethersfield group paid the sum in corn – 100 bushels – with each member of the group contributing to the total sum; Jeffrey paid three bushels and one peck. In the fall of 1641, Jeffrey was allotted ten acres out of the 276 allotted in the first division.Before Stamford was actually settled, but after the land was purchased, Daniel Patrick and Robert Feake – on behalf of New Haven – purchased an area just to the west of the Stamford purchase which later became Greenwich. The deed for that purchase exempts from the sale land on Elizabeth's Neck which the Indian Keofferam had sold to Jeffrey:" Wee, Amogeroe, Sachem of Asamock, Ramahtthoe, Nawhorone, Sachem of Tatannick, Amssetthettowe, whith his Brother Owenoke, Sachems of asamuck, have Sould Unto Robert Feacks & Daniell Patrick all theire Rights & Interest in all ye severall Lands betwene assmuck River and Tatomuck, which Tatomuck is a littill River which Divideth ye Bounds betwene Capt. Turners Purchase & this, except ye neck of Land by ye Indians Cauled Monakawoge, by us Elizabeth Neck, which Neck is ye Perticuler purchas of Elizabeth Feaks, ye s'd Robert Feacks, his Wiffe, to bee hers & her heaires or assignes for ever, or else to bee at ye disposing of ye Afore mentioned purchasers for ever, to them & theire heaires, exequetors or asignes, & theye to In joye all rivers, Iselands & ye severall naturall adjuncks of all ye fore mentioned places; neyther shall ye Indians fish within a mille of aney English Ware [weir], nor Invite or permitt aney other Indians to sett downe in ye fore mrntioned Bounds.In consideration of which Land ye fore mentioned Purchasers are to give unto ye above Named sachems twentie five Coates, whereof Thaye have Reseved Eleven in part payment: to wittness all Which thaye have hereunto sett theire hands this 18 July 1640.[signatures]Keofrum hath sould all his Right in ye above s'd Necke unto Jeffre Ferris."He settled within the bounds of that Greenwich purchase, and drew lot No. 8 of the nineteen distributed.Over its first few years of existence, the new town figured prominently in inter- and intra-colonial jurisdictional disputes. Although the Dutch had made no settlement in Connecticut prior to 8 June 1633, when Hartford was founded, they had explored the area west of the Connecticut River as early as 1620 and laid claim to it. The area included Stamford and Greenwich, which the Dutch and English would argue over for the next forty years.In addition, in the autumn of 1641 a dispute arose between Greenwich and Stamford as to their common boundary. The issue was settled fairly amicably. Soon thereafter, though, another jurisdictional issue arose. Gov. Kieft of the Dutch Colony of New Netherlands (present New York state) decided to assert the Dutch claim to the land west of the Connecticut. Even though the land on which it was located was purchased on behalf of the New Haven Colony, the Greenwich settlement, located on the Dutch border and wary of the authorities in Connecticut, pledged allegiance to the Dutch and on 9 April 1642 at Ft. Amsterdam placed itself "under the protection of the Noble Lords States General, [and] His Highness the Prince of Orange." This division of allegiance between Greenwich and Stamford reignited the animosity between them. On 18 September 1649, Greenwich wrote to the Dutch Governor Stuyvesant that "[o]ur neyghbors of Stamford hath allways desired and endeavored to depoppolate this plase of Greenwich and to leave it without inhabitants that so the prophit may reboune to themselves."In the following year, as part of an unrelated land settlement, the Dutch yielded to the New Haven Colony all their lands in Connecticut and Greenwich thus passed into the latter's jurisdiction which considered it a part of Stamford. Greenwich, however, continued to govern itself as an entity apart. On the furthest western edge of the colony, it avoided the direct scrutiny of the authorities in the capital. In 1656, however, representations were made -- no doubt from antagonistic Stamfordites -- to the legislature at New Haven that the Greenwich inhabitants lived in a disorderly and riotous manner, sold intoxicating liquors to the Indians, received and harbored servants who had fled from their masters, and joined persons unlawfully in marriage. As a result, the legislature sought to bring the town more firmly under its control and sent letters to the settlers there requiring that they submit to their authority.They answered, refusing, on the grounds that Greenwich was an independent colony under letters patent from the King, and that unless compelled by Parliament in London they would never submit to New Haven authority. The General Court called on them to produce those patents. On their failure to do so, or to submit, warrants for the arrest of their leaders would be issued. Unable to produce the patents, and not yet ready for martyrdom, the Greenwich residents promptly yielded and on 6 October 1656 executed the following agreement:" At Greenwich ye 16th October 1656. Wee, the inhabitants of Greenwich, whose names are underwritten, doe from this day forward freely yeild ourselves, place and estate, to the government of Newhaven, subjecting ourselves to the order and dispose of that General Court, both in respect of relation and government, promising to yeild due subjection unto the lawful authoritie and wholesome lawes of the jurisdiction aforesaid."Jeffrey was one of the twelve signatories.At about the same time all of this was going on, Jeffrey had, with a number of other Stamford men, started a settlement they called East Town (known to the Dutch as Oostdorp) in what is today Eastchester, Westchester County, New York. The Dutch, concerned over an English settlement in what was their jurisdiction arrested the first group, took them to Manhattan, deprived them of their weapons and allowed them to return to East Town.On Saturday, 30 December 1656, the Governor of the Dutch Colony sent a deptutation to East Town with instructions to have the Englishmen take the oath of allegieance to Nieuw Nederland. They arrived during the ebbing tide, "on this side of Hell-gate where William Hallet's house & plantation formerly stood, which were laid waste by the Indians about September of the year 1655," but too late in the day to meet with the English. The English also refused to meet with them the next day since it was the Sabbath, so the Dutch attended religious services with them and then had dinner at the house of Robert Bassett. Early on Monday morning the English assembled, and the Dutch announced the purpose of their visit. Bassett objected to the wording of the oath, and offered a substitute which was aceptable to the Dutch. It was signed by fourteen men, including Jeffrey who made his mark:"This first January Ao 1657: in east towne in the N. NetherlandsWee, hose hands are under writen, do promes to oune the governor of the manatas [Manhattan] as our governor and obay all his magastrates and lawes that ar mad acordin to god, so long as we live in his Jurisdiction."After they signed the oath, Jeffrey invited the delegation to breakfast, and they left with the tide.It is unclear exactly how long he stayed in East Town, or whether he moved back and forth between the two for a while.His first wife died in Greenwich on 31 July 1658. Around 1659, he married at Stamford as his second wife Susannah (Norman?) Lockwood, the widow of Robert Lockwood, by whom she had ten children; she may have been the daughter of Richard Norman of Salem. Jeffrey took him his step-children and cared for them until his death.He was almost certainly back in Greenwich on a permanent basis by 5 February 1664, when the town adopted its "constitution:"" The propriators having taken in to Consideration what wee thought might make best for ye Comfortable Settlement of our towne, in Refference to which wee do conclude to Laye downe our Rites in Common lands lying without fence, mens perticuler Alotment exemted. Wee do agree & Conclude that our Rites as above Spesified is now to bee Setled upon all Inhabitants that now are or Shall hereafer bee added unto us, yt thay Shall bee entitled unto all our out Lands as afore s'd with ourselves and as ourselvesm by a Rule of proportion according to what each mans estate Shall bee visable: upon these Considerations, that they with us Shall Constantly endevor to mainetaine & too upholde thee ministrie amoungst us. Secondly, yt thay with us Shall mainetaine & too upholde, Strengthen & Confirme ye Privileges of ye towne. The Proprietors are as followeth: Jefre Ferris Sen'r, Joshua Knap Sen'r, Joseph Ferris, Jonathan Renalds, Angell Heusted, John Mead Senior, John Hobbe."His name appears infrequently in Greenwich court records. On 13 February 1648, he brought an action against John Finch for trespass:"John Fensh cam upon my ground and feld my tember and cared it away w't out my leave. Sentenc of ye Court: the tree in question . . . appeers to be in Jeffery Feris ground and is his tree, and therefore John Fensh shall giv Jeffery Feris on[e] hundered of clabbord yt shall be answerabl to ye losse yt yt tree did make, and paye ye charge of ye Court, and for ye war'nts."On 3 May 1649, he and Robert Hustis brought an action against James Steward on behalf of local Indians:" Declearation, ye sayd Jams Steward was by agreement w't ye townsmen to keep ye town oxen, and to have 12s. Ye week and on[e] man to helpe hem for on[e] week, and then to Keepe himselfe and to have 14s. Ye week, and he was to du his best indevors to Keep them from coming hom and out of ye Indian corn, but he hath neckleckted his duty and went about of other work w't other men and for hemself, and by yt means ye cattell did du damedge to ye Indiens in their Corne, it being duly proved ye damed[ge] was 12 boushell and half of Indian corn as 2 boushells and halfe of pease . . . . Sentenc of Court, yt ye sayd Jams Steward shall pay ye Indians 12 boushell and half Indion corn and 2 boushell and half of pease, and bear ye charg of ye Court."Court records also appear to indicate that he ran the town grist mill.Susannah died in Greenwich on 23 December 1660. Probate records contain an acknowledgment that" Jeffrey ffereies, by mariage with his wife Susanna, now Decceased, Stand ingaged to pay certain Legacies Due to the Children of Robert Lockwood [Susanna's first husband], deceased, acording to the Administration enterd in Courte 20 October 1658.Jeffrey then married, as his third wife, Judith (Feake) Palmer, the widow of William Palmer of Newtown, Long Island, and possibly the daughter of James Feake and Audrey Compton of London, England."Jeffrey died in Greenwich on 31 May 1666. His will, dated 6 January 1664/5, provided:" I Jeffrey fferris being now at this time through the mercy of God in Indifferent good health and goode memory thanks be to the Lord that giveth it to mee doe make this as my Last Will and Testemony in [?] considering age I knowing not whether the Lord may take me away with sudden death --Item I Give unto my wife that now is all the estate which shee can make apeare that shee brought with her. And alsoe Ten pounds of my estate I give her alsoe.Item I give also to her four Children that is to say this four boyes: which I brought up and kept forty pounds that is to say Ten pounds a peace: that yf they stay and live with any of my Children untill they be of the age of eighteen years then it shall be put out for them and for ther use untill theyer Twenty years of age. And then to receive it into ther possession:Further in case my wife that now is should see cause to remain a widdow after my decease: for soe Long as shee soe remayneth I give for her use five Acers of Land that now is at Tomuck. Alsoe I give her free for her and hers one of my alotments that is on Mihanoes necke that is now fenst in: Allsoe yf shee sees cause I will that shee shall live in one part of my now dwelling house soe Long as shee shall remain a widdowe. Alsoe I give her two of my Pewter Platters one great the other small.Item I give unto my sonn James fferris Twenty pounds That is to say be sides his Cattell that now is: And alsoe besides the quarter part of thos Jades [i.e., worn-out old horses] which I gave between my sonn Jonothan Lockwood and James that is to say thos Jades running remote in the woods: Also I give unto my son James my great Copper kettell and alsoe my bed that now standeth in the Low Room of my house that is to say that bed with all the furneture which my wife and my self commonly Lodg in: Alsoe I give unto my son James that bed with the furneture that Commonly that commonly James Lay on in the other fore Room of my now dwelling house.Item I give allso unto my sonn James fferris half my farm half my farm that is to say that Land that I now gave him be the one part of the half: Alsoe I give unto my sonn James fferris: all my Carts and plowes and all materials thereunto belonging: Alsoe I give unto James my Iron pot and three Pewter Platters:Item alsoe I give unto my daughter Marey Lockwood that now is twenty pounds besides the quarter part of my before mentioned Jades I gave to her husband Jonathan Lockwood:Alsoe I give unto my sonn Peter fferris his three Children one mare Colte that shall run in stocke to be equall Proportion between the three Children.Alsoe I give unto my sonn Josefs two Children one mare Colt to run for stocke for them and for ther use and portion.Farther my will is that what more of my estate shall be found after these above mentioned Legasies payd shall be equally devided amongst all my Children: further it is my will that in case God should please to give my wife a Child born of her body whilst shee remayne my wife that is to say whilst I Live or yf I leve her with Child when I dye that then I give unto that Child male or femal the other half of my farm that now I possess with the rights and privelidges therunto belonging. Further it is my will that yf this Child shall have a yong mare alsoe which I give it by by this my will but in case this Child should dye before it hath any Issue then this my gift to return to the rest of the estate as before mentioned.Further it is my will and I doe depute my Loving friend John Holly now in Stamford and my sonn Peter fferris as my overseers to see this my will performed acording to the Just expression and extent of this my wrighting.That this is my free will and act I set to my hand."His estate was inventoried on 24 and 26 November 1666. Unfortunately, the only extant microfilm copy of the inventory is quite faint and difficult to read; the items that can be read show that the estate included:" Impr one old frying pan, one pare stilliards, a brass morter and pestell, a peece of brase, 5 Pewter Platters waying 18 lbs, 5 Pewter dishes more 18 lbs, 19lbs of Pewter, a brass kettell, 2 Chests a Cupboard, a Table 2 joyn Stools a form, 2 New Chayrs, 3 old Chayrs, one bible 2 Psalme books, one brass skelett, a looking glass, 1 shovell, a hammer a gauge a shave. . . 1 sickle 1 hooks and sum Trumpery, 6 old siths 1 ring [?] wedg 2 nibs, 1 old saddle and bridle, 1 old warming pan, a Tan [?] 2 Panes of glass, a woodden botle, a Pillion a Cow bell, a Tin lamp, 1 Indian line . . . 1 lb Powder, 1 bb with Beefe, 1 bb with venison, earthen pot with hony, 1 firkin with Sope . . . 1 earthen pot . . . old Tubs . . . a pair Boots . . . a pair Pinsers old Spit . . . old belt 2 peces old Iron . . . 1 Iron pot & hookes, a small dryed hide, 1 musket, 2 dere skins in the hair, a gun Lock, a Cloth Sute and Coat, Cloth Tropers Coat & Pennistone [?], 1 old Jacket . . . a Stuff dublet, a old bever hat, a pair of New stockings, a pair of stuff of silk, a pair of stockings, 1 shirt . . . ½lb Powder & the box . . . 2 old hogsheads . . . a brass kettell skellit & Candlestick . . . 1 old saddle 1 sickell 3 Axs, a sword blade . . . 1 pair gloves a gun barrill . . . a Table Cloath a box Iron . . . one fether bed & boulsters 2 Pillows with pillow beers 2 blankets old boulster 1 pair sheets 2 Curtains 1 Curtain Rod a [?] vallins a coverled . . . 8 bush Peas, 2 bush ½ barly, a Rug 1 bush ½ barly, a parcel of malt . . . 2 Trayes a Test & a box, a small Chest, a Copper kettell . . . 60 bush Indian Corn, an old Croscut saw, Racoon skins . . . 50 bush Peass, 40 bush Wheat, 8 bush Rye, 10 bush oats, 8 bush barly, Hay in the barn & yard . . . 2 horses . . . 2 Colts . . . 2 Swine on the stye, Swine in the woods, 6 hogs, 3 small swine, 1 sow, a Canoo, 5 yds Pennestone, 2 silver buttons, a Copper kettell at home, a old brass kettell, house and lands £170."The total value was £493.00.06.Shortly after Jeffrey's death, Judith married John Bowers, and on 9 March 1667, as "Judith Bowers Lately widdow fferris sometimes wife to Jeffrey fferris," acknowledged her receipt of her portion of the estate. She apparently died sometime later that year. John Bowers died in Greenwich died 17 March 1693/4.