Milford lies in New Haven County on Long Island sound and is separated from the township of Stratford on the west by the Housatonic river, and about 10 miles S.W. of New Haven. The town, one of the original six plantations of New Haven Colony, was established in 1639, two years after the Pequot War, by Reverend Peter Prudden (lot 40). First named Wepowage, the Indian name for the river that flowed through the settlement, by indigenous tribes, Milford was purchased 12 Feb 1639 by William Fowler (lot 41), Edmund Tapp (lot 35), Zachariah Whitman (lot 32), Benjamin Fenn (lot 3), and Alexander Bryan (lot 23) from local tribes for "six coats, ten blankets, one kettle, twelve hatchets, twelve hoes, two dozen knives, and a dozen small looking-glasses."
The Milford men came in two bodies, those of 1639 and those of 1645. Most of them were from the English counties of Essex, Hereford and York. There were fifty-four heads of families or approximately two hundred settlers. Some came from New Haven, others from Wethersfield, following Rev. Peter Prudden who had ministered there between the formation of his own church at New Haven, August 22, 1639, and his ordination as pastor of the Milford church, April 18, 1640, after which Mr. Prudden took up his residence in Milford.
To be a freeman required that one be at least 20 years old, a church member, take an oath of allegiance to the government of Massachusetts, to be worth L200, to hold office if elected or pay a fine of 40s, and to vote at all elections or pay the same fine. In the fall of 1639 a band of settlers from New Haven went through the woods guided by Indian fighter Thomas Tibbals. Peter Prudden (the Herefordshire minister) led the group.Tradition held that the pioneers of Milford were wholly or in large part discontented settlers from Dorchester and Watertown MA who traveled through the woods to Hartford, to New Haven, to Milford. Supposedly they carried the Dorchester church records with them, and the records were lost on the journey. Most of the settlers had come from London to Boston with John Davenport, Theophilus Eaton, etc. two and one-half years earlier. A year later, they went with the Davenport company to the mouth of the Quinnipiac River. The settlement at Milford was laid out in long, narrow lots, which permitted all settlers to have the same kind of land. The salt hay that grew on the marshy meadow was much prized. Title to the region was based solely on land purchase from the Indians and not upon any grant from the English Crown. The first purchase included nearly all of the present towns of Orange and Milford, and part of the town of Woodbridge. Deeding the land to its new owners was effected with the old English "twig and turf" ceremony. After the customary signing of the deed by both parties, Ansantawae was handed a piece of turf and a twig. Taking the piece of turf in one hand, and the twig in the other, he thrust the twig into the turf, and handed it to the English. In this way he signified that the Indians relinquished all the land specified in the deed and everything growing upon it The Paugusset Indians sold the Wepawaug land in the hope that they would enlist English protection against the Mohawks, who were continually raiding their territory.
Origin of Milford Settlers
Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire may be regarded as the centre from which emigrated the original settlers of Milford, Conn. The following Milford families appear to have come from Aylesbury or its vicinity: Fowler, the Baldwins, Beard, Hatley, Bryan, Fenn, East, Cooley, Fletcher, Bolt, Tomkins, Harvey, Gunn, Whitman, Welch, Lyon, Hynd, Piatt, Botsford, Rogers, Brookes, Benton, Miles, Brown, Tyrrel. From other parts of Bucks probably came Lambert, Lawrence, Read, Wheeler, Clarke, Rooks? (Riggs), Baker, Truman, Sandford, Buckingham, Ford, Roberts, Briscoe.
Slough may have come from Bucks; a family took its name from Slough, a town in that county. There were Bimvells, Hubbards, Astwoods and Stonehills in Bucks, time of James I, though Burwell and Astwood of Milford came from the adjoining county of Herts. As the principal men of the New Haven colony were Londoners and were more or less engaged in merchandise, so the principal men of the Milford colony were from Buckinghamshire, and were engaged in agriculture; the Bryans and Easts of Milford, however, afterwards engaged in merchandise, both these families having London -- connections who were in those pursuits. Mr. William Fowler was evidently well known and trusted by his fellow settlers, and was the first patentee of Milford, as well as one of the first three magistrates of the New Haven Colony in 1643, and a pillar of the church of which Peter Prudden was pastor. The Fowlers of Bucks, had connections who were settled in the vicinity of Guilford, Surrey, and at Mynches, Kent, and hence it may have happened that John Fowler, son of William Fowler of Milford, left that colony and settled in Guilford, Ct., the principal settlers of which were from Surrey, Sussex, and Kent, England.
There were several different Baldwin families who settled early in Milford and they are often confused:
- John Baldwin (b 1619) of Aston-Clinton, Buckinghamshire, husband of Mary Camp and second of Mary Bruen;
- Sarah Baldwin (Bryan), widow of Sylvester Baldwin and her children, who hailed from "Chapel Farm", St. Leonards in Aston-Clinton, Buckinghamshire, and included Richard Baldwin (b 1622) and younger brother John Baldwin (b 16 );
- Joseph (b bet. 1609 - 1612), Nathaniel and Timothy Baldwin of Cholesbury, Buckinghamshire.
John Baldwin was born June 24, 1619 in Aston-Clinton, Buckinghamshire, England.
Sarah Baldwin (Bryan) was the widow of Sylvester Baldwin of who died aboard the Martin in July 1638. Richard Baldwin (Lot 2), was the eldest son of Sylvester Baldwin. He with his mother Sarah, brother John and sisters Sarah, Mary, Martha and Ruth, lived in Milford and died there July 29, 1665. He married in 1642, Elizabeth Alsop, sister of Joseph Alsop (1621-1698), and had five sons and six daughters.was subsequently associated with Edward Riggs Sr in establishing the Derby Plantation in CT, but he died in 1665 prior to the move to Newark. His daughter Sarah Baldwin married Samuel Riggs, the middle son of Edward Riggs Sgt (Lot 63); Samuel remained in Derby after the rest of his family moved on to Newark. Sarah's Elizabeth married Zachariah Burwell, son of John Burwell (Lot 44), and her sister Temperance married Nathan Burwell, Zachariah's younger brother. John Balwin Sr. (Lot 13) was Richard's younger brother, and thus Sarah (Baldwin) Riggs's uncle. He had settled there in 1639, a year before Richard, and subsequently moved with Edward Riggs to Newark NJ.
Savage does not identify any relationship between these two brothers and Nathaniel Baldwin (Lot 7), Timothy Baldwin (Lot 22) or Joseph Baldwin (Lot 52), nor between any of these last three, all of whom settled in 1639. He does however refer elsewhere to "the great host" in New England with the surname Baldwin. Edward Atwater says that Nathaniel, Joseph, and Timothy Baldwin were brothers, sons of Richard Baldwin of Cholesbury, Buckinghamshire, England. The father, Richard Baldwin, with his wife, Abigail Camp (d. March 22, 1647-8), daughter of Nicholas Camp, was in Milford in 1639. He died in 1650, leaving three sons and a daughter Abigail.
Joseph Baldwin was born between 1609 and 1612 in Cholesbury, Buckinghamshire. He and his wife, Hannah Whitlock (married on 10 November 1636 in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire), daughter of John Whitlock, had four sons and five daughters. Joseph Baldwin and Hannah Whitlock immigrated circa 1639. He first appeared in Milford, CT in Nov 1639. He joined the church in Milford, New Haven Colony on 23 June 1644. Four of their children were baptized on the same day, 23 June 1644. About 1663 he removed to Hadley; was a freeman there in 1666. He married for a second wife circa 1661 Mrs. Isabel Ward Northram, widow of James Northram of Hartford, and before that a widow of John Catlin; her son, John Catlin married Mary Baldwin, one of Joseph's daughters. For a third wife he married Mrs. Elizabeth Gibbons Warriner; d. April 26, 1696, widow of Luke Hitchcock and William Warriner (d. 1676) of Springfield; he died 1690 at Hadley. He left a will on 20 December 1680. Joseph Baldwin died on 2 November 1684 in Hadley, Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Timothy Baldwin (16__-1665) had a town lot in New Haven in 1640, but is not recorded there as a resident. By his wife, Mary (d. July 21, 1647), he had three daughters. He married in 1647, Mrs. Mary (_____) Mepham (d. before 1670), widow of John Mepham of Guilford. By this second wife he had three or more children. There were no descendants of this settler in the Baldwin line. His son Timothy had no sons that grew up and were married.
Widow Martha Beard
Henry Botsford was the first known Botsford to emigrate to America. He settled in Connecticut as one of the 44 heads of households that were the original planters of Milford, CT, 365 years ago in 1639. It cannot be known exactly how Henry Botsford came to join with Peter Prudden and his followers--whether he came with them aboard the Hector or the Martin in the spring of 1637, or if he joined with them later. We do know that many of the minister's followers had lived in close proximity to not only the minister but to Henry Botsford (Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire are neighboring counties in England). We do know that on the list of those who had not yet paid their contributions towards "Ship Money" in Bedfordshire, England, in 1637 and again on 14 July 1638, the name of Henry Botsford is found in Eggington, Beds. ("Ship Money" was a tax levied in 1636 by King Charles I to support the building of naval warships and it led to widespread discontent.) And, we know that following this date, the next known record of Henry Botsford is his name on the list of free planters of Milford, CT. We do know that on the list of free planters of Milford, Henry Botsford was named as having come from Wethersfield. Henry Botsford obviously had left England very close to the time of the sailing of the Hector and the Martin in 1637, had lived before that date in close proximity to Mr. Prudden and many others who sailed with him and had joined with them again in the settlement of Milford even if he had possibly followed an alternate path from the rest to get there.
Nathaniel Briscoe was a founder of Milford. His name appears on the list of free planters of Milford on Nov. 20, 1639. In 1646 he had a homelot #62 on the west side of Mill River consisting of three acres. Nathaniel was admitted to the First Church in Milford April 20, 1644, and he married Mehitable ?? about 1646.
Milford records state that he died in 1683, but according to Savage he was not there for the second division of land in 1677 and there were no baptisms of children after 1651. Mehitable married Nicholas Camp Jr. after the death of Nathaniel.
Alexander Bryan (or Bryant) (1602-1679), son of Thomas Bryan of Alesbury, Eng., was baptized there Sept. 29, 1602. He had a wife Anna Baldwin; d. Feb. 20, 1661, daughter of Robert and Joanna Baldwin of ____, England. From 1668 to 1678 he was Assistant Governor of Connecticut Colony. He was a prominent merchant, owned land in Norwalk, but probably never resided there. He married after 1661 Mrs. ___ (_____) Fitch, widow of Samuel Fitch of Milford and Hartford.
Thomas Buckingham was one of the original settlers of Milford, in 1639, having lot #36 which was located at the present corner of North Street and Governors Avenue consisting of 2 acres and 3 rods. He was one of the 7 pillars of the church headed by Rev. Peter Prudden who had headed the Weathersfield group to Milford. Thomas died in Boston, Mass. 16 June 1657 where he had gone to procure a new minister for the church in Milford, Rev. Prudden having died. His wife Hannah died 28 June 1646 and he perhaps had a second wife.
Nicholas Camp came on the Ship Lion with the Rev. John Eliot. He was one of the founders and freeholders of that plantation and a member of the First Church of Milford. His wife, Sarah Camp, was the first adult to die in Milford. The church record says: *' She had twins on the 2nd of September, 1645 and was doing well till the night of the 4th, when she was taken very ill with cold and died on the 6th. She was buried in the garden of Mr. Peter Prudden, pastor. On the 250th Anniversary of Milford's History, a memorial bridge was built in memory of its founders, and on the memorial stone blocks are the names of Nicholas Camp and Sarah Camp, his wife. Their children were Abigail, married Nathaniel Baldwin, one of the founders of Milford. Nicholas Camp 2nd, married, first—Martha Beard, a sister of John Beard, his second wife was Mrs. Mehitable Briscoe. Nicholas Camp was a freeman, and Deputy of the General Court at Hartford, 1670-1-2. William, married Mary Smith of New Haven, 1661, and removed to Newark, New Jersey, and was the ancestor of the Xew Jersey Camps. Sarah, baptized, 1643. Samuel, (one of the twins), married first, Hannah Betts; second, Mercy Scovell. Samuel Camp, son of Nicholas Camp 2nd and his wife, Martha Beard, was born 1655, married his cousin, Mary Camp, a daughter of William Camp. Samuel Camp was a lieutenant of a Company of Milford's Train Band 1698. His son, Enos Camp, born 1687, died 1768, married Martha Baldwin, a daughter of Theophilus and Elizabeth (Canfield) Baldwin.
Gillett (Gylett, Gillette)
Northrup (possibly Yorkshire)
Joseph Northrup, immigrant from England, perhaps Yorkshire. He was one of Eaton & Davenport's Company "of good character and fortune", who came from England 1637 in the ship "Hector & Martha". They landed in Boston, July 26, 1637 and settled in New Haven in April 1638. They were mostly from Yorkshire, Hertfordshire, and Kent. Members of this Company, and of Sir Richard Saltonstall's Company, removed to and settled Milford, Conn., and the "free planters of the town" where enrolled Nov. 30, 1639; but Joseph, not then being in church following, his name (with others) appears in the list immediately after the free planters. The surname Northrup was spelled as here given in the earliest records and inscriptions on tombstones----RUP, sometimes RUPP, and occasionally ROOP and more often ROP, although this last termination was not common at an early period. Joseph 1, his son Joseph 2 and his sons, James, Joseph, Moses, and most of their descendants, spelled the name Northrup. Northrop, however, was the common form in England. January 9, 1642, Joseph united with The First Church in Milford. He married Mary, daughter of Francis Norton who came to Milford from Wethersfield with the Rev. Peter Prudden and his party. Joseph died Sept. 11, 1669. His will was dated Sept. 1, 1669. It mentions of his children only Joseph, Samuel, Jeremiah, and John. Codicil to his will says, "My mother shell have a living in my house as long as she lives"---perhaps meaning his wife's mother, Mrs. Norton. His wife survived him, and made her will Jan. 24, 1683; mention Joseph, Samuel, Jeremiah (omits John, who probably was dead), Zophar, Daniel, William, and Mary--- the latter two being in their minority---also her mother Norton, Inventory of her estate dated Feb. 28, 1683.
Thomas Sandford was born at Broad Oaks, Essex and came to New England, on the Arabella, according to Banks; to Boston in 1631, according to Holmes, with several of his brothers, following their uncle Andrew Warner. Thomas may have been at Dorchester as early as 1632.Thomas Sandford lived in Dorchester from 1634 to 1640 then moved to Milford, Connecticut, where he was admitted to the church on January 9, 1641/2. His wife, Sarah, was admitted to the Milford church on December 15, 1642. His will was dated September 23, 1691; his estate was inventoried on October 21, 1681. It mentions: eldest son Ezekiel, sons Thomas, Ephraim, and Samuel; daughters Sarah wife of Richard Shute of Eastchester, and Elizabeth wife of Obadiah Allyn of Middletown; grandchildren Sarah Shute and Thomas Allyn; and Sarah Whitlock, his maid.
Thomas Tibbals was born in England in 1615, came to America in the company of Zacharia Whitman (who was later ruling Elder of Milford) on the sailing ship "The Truelove", in 1635. Thomas Tibbals is listed as a "person of quality", probably meaning he is distinguished from an "indentured servant" or in other words he was able to pay his way. Our first authentic records finds him in Connecticut, being a member of the troop who fought the Pequots (Indians). While thus serving his adopted country he had seen a beautiful spot with plentiful water; "potable water" as it was called. Later when a group who wanted to found a settlement composed of all church members met, he told the leaders of this spot. From Nathan Stowe; copied from papers in possession of Kay Tibbals Davenport of 208 Roland Avenue, Jackson, Tennessee.
"Thomas Tibbals is said to have been the first English settler to have seen the Valley of Wapowang (Wepowaug is another spelling), where later the land was purchased from the Indians for a settlement. It was when the Indians, dislodged from their stronghold at Pequot, were in retreat toward the westward, that Thomas Tibbals, one of a party in pursuit, was detached from the main body to insure against any lurking body of the enemy being left to harass the rear of the English forces, and secreted in the neck of land between the Housatonic and Long Island Sound."
"Thomas Tibbals at that time noted the natural features of the locality for a desirable place for settlement having a river of considerable size on the West, and, after the settlement at Quinnipiac, a friendly settlement at the East, and a tribe of friendly natives desiring the protection of the English, who being well-armed, could insure them against attack by the more formidable and hostile tribes that had for so long been exacting tribute from them, and as a mutual protection to both the English and the natives, the hunting instincts of the natives was a guard against a surprise (attack) from the interior."
"Besides this immunity from hostile sources there was the further attraction of a goodly supply of potable water, and a well-sheltered harbour for shipping with plentiful game in the forest, and sea-food in the waters; wood was sufficiently plentiful for fuel and land for cultivation".
"It was probably at the suggestion of Thomas Tibbals that a committee of Hartford men was delegated to view this site, and, if his description etc., were true, and a favorable report made, the committee was empowered to negotiate a purchase."
Nathan Stowe believes this is why "Tomas" Tibbals was given the first of several tracts of land, rather than the mere physical fact of his having led the band of settlers. His first land was lot 53 on the original plot of Milford. It seems a "party of Hereford" were desirous of making "a settlement apart from Mr. Davenport's company" and the purchase resulted. (Mr. Davenport seems to have been a combination of spiritual and civic boss in Hartford and possibly in Wethersfield as well.)
An Interesting Controversy Involving the Genealogy of Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman is the descendant of a Whitman family from Huntington, Long Island. His ancestor was Joseph Whitman. Joseph is NOT the son of Reverend Zachariah Whitman who had one son, Zachariah, who died young. Rev. Whitman left his property to his nephew, John, and died without issue.
Walt Whitman, in his own words, says that he is the fourth great grandson of one of the founders of Milford, Reverend Zachariah Whitman:
The later years of the last century found the Van Velsor family, my mother’s side, living on their own farm at Cold Spring, Long Island, New York State, near the eastern edge of Queen’s County about a mile from the harbor. My father’s side, probably the fifth generation from the first English arrivals in New England, were at the same time farmers on the own land, two or three miles off, at West Hills, Suffolk County. The Whitman in the Eastern States, and so branching west and south, starts undoubtedly from one John Whitman, born in 1602 in old England, where he grew up, married, and his eldest son was born in 1629. He came over in the “True Love” in 1640 to America to live in Weymouth, Mass., which place became the mother - hive of the New Englanders of the name; he died in 1692. His brother, Rev. Zachariah Whitman, also came over in the “True Love”, either at the same time or soon after and lived at Milford Conn. A son of this Zachariah, named Joseph, migrated to Huntington, Long Island, and permanently settled there. Savage’s Genealogical Dictionary, Vol IV, page 524, gets the Whitmans firmly established at Huntington per this Joseph before 1664. It is quite certain that from that beginning, and from Joseph, the West Hill Whitmans, and all others in Suffolk County, have since radiated, myself among the number. John and Zachariah both went to England diverse times; they had large families and several of their children were born in the old country. We hear of the father of John and Zachariah, Abijah Whitman, who goes over into the 1500s, but we know little about him, except that he also was for some time in America.
This old pedigree reminiscence come up to me vividly from a visit I made not long since (in my sixty third year) to West Hills, and to the burial grounds of my ancestry, both sides... After more than forty years absence...went down Long Island on a week’s jaunt to the place where I was born, thirty miles from New York City. Rode around the old familiar spots, viewing and pondering and dwelling long upon them, everything coming back to me. Went to the old Whitman homestead and the upland and took a view eastward, inclining south, over the broad and beautiful farm lands of my grandfather (1780) and my father. There was the new house (1810) the big oak a hundred and fifty or two hundred years old; there the well, the sloping kitchen garden, and a little way off even the well kept remains of the dwelling of my great grandfather (1750-60) still standing with its mighty timbers and low ceiling. Near by a stately grove of tall vigorous black walnuts, beautiful, Apollo-like, the sons or grandsons, no doubt of black walnuts during or before 1776. On the other side of the road spread the famous apple orchard, over twenty acres, the trees planted by hands long mouldering in the grave (my uncle Jesse’s) but quite many of them evidently capable of throwing out their annual blossoms and fruit yet.
I now write these lines seated on an old grave (doubtless of a century since at least) on the burial hill of the Whitmans of many generations. Fifty and more graves are quite plainly traceable and as many more decay’d out of all form - depress’d mounds, crumbled and broken stones, cover’d with moss - the gray and sterile hill, the clumps of chestnuts outside, the silence, just varied by the soughing wind. There is always the deepest eloquence of sermon or poem in any of these ancient graveyards of which Long Island has so many; so what must this one have been to me? My whole family history with its successions of links, from the first settlements down to date, told here - three centuries concentrated on this sterile acre.” (Specimen Days, pages 4 - 7)
Early Settlers: List of those who owned lots in Milford in 1646
- Astwood, James
- Bailey, T.
- Baker, Thomas
- Baldwin, John
- Baldwin, Joseph, removed to Hadley, MA
- Baldwin, Nathaniel, removed to Fairfield, CT
- Baldwin, Richard, removed to Derby, CT
- Baldwin, Timothy, Sr.
- Beard, Martha
- Benton, A.
- Birdseye, John, removed to Stratfield
- Bolt, Frances
- Botsford, H.
- Briscoe, Nathaniel
- Broukes, W.
- Brown, J.
- Bryan, Alexander
- Buckingham, Thomas
- Burwell, John
- Camp, Nicholas
- Campfield [Canfield], T.
- Clark, Jr, George
- Clark, Sr., George
- Coley, Samuel
- Denison, R.
- East, William
- Fenn, Benjamin
- Fletcher, John
- Ford, T.
- Fowler, J.
- Fowler, William
- Freeman, John
- Dr. Gunn, Jasper
- Harvey, Edmund or Edward, removed to Fairfield
- Hatley, Ph.
- Hine, Thomas
- Hubbard, G.
- Land, John
- Lawrence, T.
- Lawrence, Thomas
- Lyon, Henry
- Peacocke, John
- Platt, R.
- Plum, R. (Robert Plumb, Sr.)
- Prime, J.
- Prudden, James
- Prudden, Peter (Rev.)
- Reed, T.
- Riggs, Edward
- Roberts, W.
- Rogers, J.
- Sandford, Thomas
- Sherman, John
- Slough, W.
- Smith, J.
- Smith, J.
- Stonhill, Henry
- Stream, John
- Tapp, Edmund
- Tapping, Thomas
- Tibbats, Thomas (sic Tibbals, Thomas)
- Tompkins, M.
- Tyrrell, A. [Terril]
- Welch, T.
- Wheeler, Thomas, Captain
- Whitman, Zachariah (Rev.)
Historic Places and Buildings
- Families of early Milford, Connecticut compiled by Susan Woodruff Abbott ; edited and prepared for publication by Jacquelyn L. Ricker. Baltimore [Maryland] : Genealogical Pub. Co., c1979, 875 p.
- Rootsweb page on Milford
- Early Milford, from From The Connecticut Magazine, Vol. V. No. 3 March, 1899
- Historic Buildings, Milford, CT
- The Botsford Family Historical Association
- Northrop Geneaology Northrop Family in Connecticut Timeline
- The Northrup-Northrop genealogy: a record of the known descendants of Joseph Northrup, who came from England in 1637, and was one of the original settlers of Milford, Conn., in 1639 ; with lists of Northrups and Northrops in the Revolution, Ansel Judd Northrup. Higginson Book Co., 1908 - 461 pages (Google eBook)
- Photographs of ancient graves from the Milford Cemetery
- Sixty years Recollections of Milford and its Chronology from 1637 up to and including 1916 by Nathan Stowe. Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010 with funding from Boston Library Consortium Member Libraries.