About 30 heads of households settled in Farmington before 1655. Most of Farmington’s first settlers were men of modest though respectable rank in England – husbandmen, artisans, and yeomen, but among the first proprietors of the town (men who owned land but didn’t actually become settled inhabitants) men of gentry status in England and of the highest rank in the new colony, such as were Edward Hopkins, George Wyllys, and John Haynes, all of Hartford.
The leadership of the first planters of New England was shared by men of the gentry class like John Haynes and by Puritan ministers like Thomas Hooker. They both arrived in Boston in 1633, and Hooker proceeded immediately to Newtown to become the pastor of a community of some 42 families. Within three years of his ordination in Newtown, he was leading half of his congregation to a new settlement on the Connecticut River.
Within months of Hooker’s arrival in Massachusetts Bay, there were stirrings of restlessness. Reports reached the Boston area of fertile land along the Connecticut River in an area where Indians were depleted by smallpox. Newtown was a town inconveniently shaped like an hourglass, eight times longer than it was wide. Its soil was found to be too sandy and dry for cultivation. On 15 May 1634, its inhabitants complained to the Massachusetts General Court “of straitness for want of land, especially meadow, and desired leave of the court to look either for enlargement or removal.” Watertown and Dorchester experienced the same “want of accommodation.”
By September the Newtown men had opted for removal to Connecticut; advancing to the General Court three reasons:
- Their want of accommodation for their cattle, so as they were not able to maintain their ministers, nor could receive any more of their friends to help them; and here it was alleged by Mr. Hooker, as a fundamental error, that towns were set so near each to other.
- The fruitfulness and commodiousness of Connecticut, and the danger of having it possessed by others, Dutch or English.
- The strong bent of their spirits to remove thither.
In December 1645, five years after permission to settle was granted, the plantation of Tunxis became the town of Farmington.
Websites of Interest
The Farmington Historical Society has maps of the various land divisions but they are too large and too faint to be copied. Even for those familiar with local history, it is difficult to relate the map to present areas. Farmington Historical Society has burial records for the old burial ground in Farmington, but no record for John Bronson. They have only three pre-1700 stones that have survived. Probate records ought to be in Hartford, since the Farmington probate district was not established until the early 1700s. If they aren’t in Hartford, one could try to State Library (probate and church records). Farmington Town Clerk has all vital records (everything that was registered).
- Bickford, Christopher. Farmington in Connecticut. Canaan NH: Phoenix Publishing, 1982. At Salt Lake City, Utah: FHL 974.62/F1 H2b. Have pp.