Person:William Odell (1)

  1. James Odell1639/40 - 1641
  2. Rebecca Odell1642 - Aft 1687
  3. William OdellAbt 1644 - 1697
  4. John OdellEst 1645 - Bef 1707
Facts and Events
Name William Odell
Gender Male
Birth? 24 Feb 1602/03 Wharley End, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, England
Marriage to Agnes Franklyn
Residence? 1644 Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
Death[1] Jun 1676 Fairfield, Connecticut, United States



William's parentage in England has led to much confusion and various on-line genealogies which are unproven. That he was likely a member of Peter Bulkeley's congregation hints that his own origins were near Bulkeley's -- the parish of Odell, Bedford, England. Therefore, the surrounding parishes have been the subject of much research. According to TAG, p. 14:228: Newport Pagnell (Buckinghamshire) is very close to Salford (Bedfordshire), and only about five miles from Cranfield (Bedfordshire), and ten miles south of Odell (Bedfordshire).

The search for William's origins is complicated by the large number of Odell families, and specifically, men named William, in this area. The one fact that seems to unambiguously belong to the immigrant William Odell is discussed in TAG, p. 15:55: In Newport Pagnall, Buckinghamshire, England on 17 Apr 1639 William Odell and Edward Hartley were in a fight in a churchyard. Odell ended up being stabbed in the arm. They both ended up being cited in the church records for the fight. The conclusion to the church record was entered on 17 Oct 1639 “Absunt Nova Anglia” meaning that both parties were absent in New England. As there was only one William Odell known to be in New England in this time period, we must conclude that the gentleman in this fight was our William Odell. This also tells us that William left England between 17 Apr 1637 and 17 Oct 1639.

Beyond that most of the various claims are speculation.

  • Some claim that he was the son of Richard ODELL and Martha NICHOLLS, such as an article in TAG, p. 14:228. However, this has been disproved, as their son William Odell was baptized in 1625 (TAG, p. 15:55) and was too young to be the immigrant.
  • Some claim he was "Wm son of Willm Wodell of Warleyend" at Cranfield (NEHGR, p. 60:91). While this is possible, it is "earlier than would be suggested by the prevailing age of men at marriage" (TAG, p. 21:78).
  • An article in TAG, p. 26:8, reports the marriage of a William Odell to Agnes Franklin on 4 May 1629 in the Bronham Parish Records. In the same records are the marriage of Agnes' sister, Ursula Franklin, 12 Nov 1627 to Richard Odell, and the baptism of their daughter Ursula in 1628, and death of Richard in 1636. Because an "Vrsilla Wodell" married in Concord 1647 Christopher Wooley, and the unusualness of the name Ursula, it is assumed that William and Richard were brothers marrying sisters, that William escorted his orphaned niece to New England, and so the immigrant William is the William Odell who was baptized in Cranfield 24 Feb 1602/03 (mentioned previously), and whose brother Richard was baptized 2 Jun 1605. However, a marriage as early as 1629 raises other questions in regards to the births of William's children (see the discussion on William's wives).
  • TAG, p. 21:75-6 suggests that William may be closely related to Mary (Odell) Turney of Fairfield, CT. Benjamin and Mary Turney were with William in both Concord and Fairfield. Benjamin Turney and Mary Odell were married 12 July 1630 in Salford, Bedfordshire. Therefore we conclude that William Odell and Mary Odell are somehow related and that William's family lived in or near Salford or Newport Pagnell (which two localities are about 6 miles apart). We know from Mary’s genealogy that she had no brother named William [see TAG, p. 14:224), but she did have 3 uncles Richard, Thomas and William any of whom could be William's father.
  • TAG, p. 15:56, analyzes the Newport Pagnall registers for evidence of a William Odell who "may have brought not only a wife but one child with him" to Concord. There are two families headed by men named William Odell, but "we are unable to disentangle the two families" and both were still there in 1640 when the immigrant was in New England.

Jacobus, who wrote several of these cited articles, ends up concluding, "But the very frequent occurrence of the name in that region makes any such identification a mere guess and utterly unproved or even buttressed by collateral or circumstantial evidence." (TAG, p. 21:78)


[The statements with missing citations appear to have been copied from an unknown source, as it is found nearly verbatim on several websites (e. g., [1], [2], [3]). It is unfortunate that the original source references were not preserved.]

He was purported to have married Rebecca BROWN on 4 May 1629 in Braham, Bedfordshire, England.Citation needed

New England Marriages Prior to 1700 has William married to Rebecca FRANKLIN in Concord, Massachusetts, 4 May 1629 (which is prior to his supposed 1639 arrival).

Manning says he m (1) Agnes Franklin and (2) Rebecca Brown (1633).Citation needed

Mais has Agnes Franklin, daughter of William and Ursula Franklin, the mother of five children by William: William (1630), Thomas (1632), John (1634), James (1640), and Rebecca (1642).Citation needed

Per Pool[4], "The name of William Odell's wife is not known." The birth records of two children do not name a mother (NEHGR, p. 4:272) and no wife is mentioned or indicated in William's will[1].

Despite saying that his wife's name is unknown, Pool[4] goes on to say, somewhat short on specifics, that "genealogists are satisfied" that she was Rebecca Brown. Since no evidence is given, it is not known what the basis for this identification is.

Births of only two of William's children are recorded, James b. 2 Jan 1639/40 d. 1641, and Rebecca b. 17 Jul 1641 (NEHGR, p. 4:272). Besides Rebecca, the will tells us of John and William. TAG, p. 26:8 suggests the son William is the baptism in Bronham in 1630, while Pool has William b. abt. 1634, and Jacobus not until around 1644. Estimates for John's birth are equally discrepant, with Pool saying 1643, and Jacobus listing him before James, i.e., before 1640, though with no specific date. It is hard to draw conclusions about a possible marriage date based on such varying dates.

The marriage of a William Odell to Agnes Franklin on 4 May 1629 is reported in the Bronham Parish Records (TAG, p. 26:8). Given that probably only one, but at most two, children were born by 1640, ten years later, this seems too early, and may be another William Odell. Or alternately, that the first wife died, and a second marriage occurred?

Life in New England

William Odell emigrated in 1639, and initially lived in Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts.[4]

About 1644, William Odell, along with Benjamin Turney and many others are on a list of settlers who left Concord and moved to Fairfield. The list is dated 1645 and states that these people had recently moved. (TAG 7:12)

His son William became one of the principal proprietors of Rye, New York (NEHGR 29:203; 137:37).


William Odell died before 12 Jun 1676 when his inventory was taken.[1] He was buried 12 Jun 1676 in Fairfield, Fairfield, Connecticut.Citation needed His will mentions, among others, sons William and John and daughter Rebecca Morehouse.[1][4]

William Odell is purportedly memorialized as a "Concord Planter" on a plaque in the Fairfield Public Library together with Rev. John Jones, Thomas Bulkley, Thomas Jones, John Tompkins, Daniel Bulkley, Joseph Middlebrook, Ephraim Wheeler, Thomas Wheeler, Jr., James Bennett, Richard Lettiss, John Ebats, Peter Johnson, George Squire, and Benjamin Turney. (Ridge, Bateman Connection, 173)

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Jacobus, Donald Lines. History and Genealogy of the Families of Old Fairfield. (New Haven, Conn.: The Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Company, 1930-1932)

    Came from Newport, co. Buckingham, England [cites Source:NYGBR, p. 44:118]. Of Concord by 1639, to Southampton, LI, 1642, later to Fairfield. Will dated 6 Jun 1676, inventory 12 Jun 1676, son William; grandson Samuel Morehouse and his brothers Thomas and John (children of dau. Rebecca); grandchild John Odell son of John; Goody Knap; dau.-in-law Mary Odell; son John Odell; daughter Rebecca Morehouse; son-in-law Samuel Morehouse and son John executors. Children: John, James, Rebecca, William (who is listed as b. abt. 1644). No identification of marriage or marriages.

  2.   Jacobus, Donald Lines. William Odell of Concord, Mass., and Fairfield, Conn. American Genealogist (D.L. Jacobus). (1938).

    This source establishes that he was NOT the son of Richard Odell of Newport Pagnell, whose will was proved in Jan. 1636/7.

  3.   Savage, James. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England: Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer's Register. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co, 1860-1862)

    "WILLIAM, Concord 1639, Apr. brot. w. and ch. from Eng. had there James, b. 2 Jan. 1640, d. next yr.; and Rebecca, 17 July 1642, rem. to Southampton, L. I. that yr. and soon aft. to Fairfield, in 1670 was call. sen."

  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Pool, Minnie A. Lewis. Odell genealogy : United States and Canada (1635-1935), ten generations in America in direct line. (Monroe, Wis.: E.A. Odell, 1935)
    14, 18.

    William Odell, b. England, in Concord, Mass., in 1639, in Fairfield, Conn., in 1644. Will dated 6 Jun 1676, proved 12 Jun 1676, mentions sons William and John; daughter Rebecca Morehouse; daughter-in-law Mary Odell; son-in-law Samuel Morehouse; grandson John Odell; grandsons Samuel, Thomas, John and Jonathan Morehouse. Children: William (listed as born England 1634, "conjectured by Mr. Baird"), James, John, and Rebecca. Cites Source:NEHGR, p. 4:272, which says name of wife is unknown, but adds "genealogists are satisified that wife was Rebecca Brown" [no evidence given].