Historical records matching Rev. Blackleach Burritt
About Rev. Blackleach Burritt
Blackleach Burritt (1744 – August 27, 1794) was a preacher during the American Revolutionary War. During the American War of Independence, he was incarcerated in the Sugar House Prison.
Early life and ancestors
Blackleach Burritt was born at Ripton Parish, now Huntington, Fairfield County, Connecticut, circa 1744, although no birth records have been found for his birth. He was the son and second child of Peleg Burritt, Jr. and the grandson of Peleg Burritt, Sr. and Sarah Bennett and member of the fifth generation of the Burritt family in America. The Burritts were descended from an old and esteemed Connecticut family and his original immigrant ancestor was William Burritt and his wife Elizabeth who had emigrated to Connecticut around 1640 possibly from Glamorganshire, Wales. They were among the first settlers of Stratford, Connecticut. He was an expert blacksmith, an important trade for the new town.
His mother was Elizabeth Blackleach, the daughter of Richard Blackleach, Jr. and Mehitabel (Leete) Laborie and a great-granddaughter of William Leete who was the Governor of the Colony of New Haven from 1661 to 1665 and Governor of Connecticut from 1676 to 1683. His mother died circa 1745 and his father remarried at Ripton Parish on November 25, 1746, Deborah Beardslee, the daughter of Caleb Beardslee and Elizabeth Booth, who was born on February 1, 1726 at Stratford, Connecticut and died at Hanover Green, Pennsylvania on August 7, 1802. They were the parents of five children.
In 1751, he was made the heir of his grandfather Blackleach's large estate, since his mother had already died. He had aspired to further his education and his college tuition was paid for by the inheritance from his grandfather Blackleach's estate.
His great-uncle was the Rev. Dr. Israel Chauncy, the youngest son of President Charles Chauncy. He graduated in 1661 from Harvard College and was called as the pastor at the Congregational Church at Stratford, Connecticut in 1663. On November 11, 1701, he was chosen Rector, or President of the new founded Yale College in New Haven, Connecticut. Professor Kingsley, in his History of Yale College, remarks of him, that "he had a high reputation for scholarship." He, however, declined the appointment. Dr. Charles Chauncy of Boston says of him, " He spent his days among that people (the people of Stratford) in great reputation as a physician, as well as a divine. It was said of him that he was one of the most hospitable and benevolent old gentlemen.
Soon after graduating from Yale College in 1765, he married, as his first wife, Martha Welles (1744 - April 1786) with whom he had twelve children. She was a daughter of Gideon Welles and Eunice Walker and a great-great granddaughter of Governor Thomas Welles who along with his wife Alice and six children settled in the late summer 1636 probably in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was the only man in Connecticut's history to hold all four top offices: governor, deputy governor, treasurer, and secretary. Following the death of his first wife, he married her sister, Deborah Welles in 1788. There were two children born from this second marriage.
Education and career
He graduated from Yale College in 1765. After graduating, he studied theology with his pastor, the Rev. Jedidiah Mills, Yale College, 1722, and was licensed to preach in the Congregational Church on February 24, 1768, by the Fairfield East Association of Ministers. Shortly after this he was preaching in Ridgebury Parish, in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Sometime prior to 1774, he and his family had relocated to Dutchess County, New York. He was ordained and licensed to preach that year in the Presbyterian Church and was installed as the pastor of the Pound Ridge Presbyterian Church where he was a very active partisan on the side of the Patriots while serving at this parish.
Burritt was influenced by and championed the causes of the evangelical style of the Great Awakening. He was also greatly influenced by the works of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. He heard Whitefield preach, on several occasions, at the Yale College Chapel. He was also known for his use of extemporaneous preaching.
At the beginning of 1779, he was installed as the pastor of the Congregational Church in Greenwich, Connecticut, and while thus employed, having been prominent in his advocacy of the American cause, he was captured, on the early morning of June 18, 1779, and taken to the Sugar House Prison in New York City, where he was detained for about fourteen months, during which time his family took refuge in Pound Ridge, New York. The British press referred to Blackleach Burritt as that "most pestiferous rebel priest and preacher of sedition".
It is worthy of record here in this connection, that while Rev. Burritt was so incarcerated, being sick almost unto death, he was kindly ministered unto by William Irving, father of Washington Irving, and to whom he afterwards gave a quaint certificate vouching for his loyalty and setting forth the facts of the case, he (Irving) evidently being under the impression that his residence in the city during the war might expose him to proscription on the part of the now victorious Patriots. The document is published in Vol. I., of Washington Irving's Biography, and reference is made to the fact in the Burritt Family Record.
The exact date of his release from the Sugar House Prison is not known. However, by October 1780, he was living near Crompond, New York where he was serving as pastor of the Presbyterian Church at that location. He served as the pastor of several Presbyterian churches in Westchester County, New York from 1780 to around 1788. In 1788 or 9 he was preaching in the North Parish of New Fairfield, Connecticut, now the town of Sherman, Connecticut; and in 1790 he was similarly engaged in Greenfield, then part of Saratoga, New York. Sometime in 1790, he had relocated to Duanesburg, New York where many members of his family had settled and he founded the Presbyterian Church in Duanesburg around this same time.
In 1792 he began to preach to the Congregational Society in the village of Winhall, Vermont where he was installed pastor on January 1, 1793. He died in Winhall, Bennington County, Vermont of a prevailing fever on August 27, 1794, aged about 50 years.
Mr. Burritt is reported to have had wonderful physical strength and agility. As a preacher he was noted for fluency and a love of argument. He was regarded as somewhat visionary and unpractical, and perhaps eccentric.
BRIDGEPORT, CONN .
THE STANDARD ASSOCIATION, PRINTERS. 1892. REV. BLACKLEACH BURRITT.
It may seem presumptuous for a resident of New York to appear before the Fairfield County Historical Society with a page of local history, and yet is it not fitting that Westchester Co., especially, should bring some offering as a tribute to the debt it owes, for ever since the days of Wouter Van Twiller, and William the Testy, and Antony Van Corlear, who essayed in vain with windy proclamations and his wonderful trumpet to stop the inroads of those terrible. Yankees, the peaceful invasion has been going on. so that to erase the names of the sons of Fairfield from its annals, would make a blank on many of the most illustrious pages of its history. The son may well indeed turn back and crown his honored sire with laurels.
There be of them that have left a name behind them, that their praises
might be reported; and some there be which C£ have left no memorial ;
who are perished, as though they had never been."'
^ In a secluded spot on the eastern slope of the Green Mountains
is the unmarked grave of a son of Stratford whose name
well deserves to be illustrious in the annals of the County of Fairfield. A man of liberal culture, of more than ordinary gifts, a stalwart Patriot in the stormy days of the Revolution, a pioneer preacher of unusual power, of marked individuality and rugged character, of honorable ancestry, and with numerous and not less honorable posterity, such a man was Rev. Blackleach Burritt. The story of his life is not devoid of interest, and yet strange to relate, although here born, fitted for college, educated for the ministry, and within the borders of this county captured during the Revolution and taken to the notorious Sugar House Prison in New York, his name appears but once in your annals, in a brief note in the history of Stratford. Put first of his ancestry :
May not have had heraldic fame, but they were of the un- crowned Kings of Welsh land, whom even "William the Conqueror did not find it easy to dethrone, and who when they sailed away over the sea to the New World brought with them not only their bravo hearts and brawny arms, but their indomitable love of liberty as well.
Amon« those early of Stratford were "William Burnt t and Elizabeth his wife. They are said to have been from Glamorganshire, Wales, but the exact date of their arrival has not been ascertained ; quite possibly they had tarried for a time somewhere else in New England before coming here. The only place wherein William Burritt's name appears prior to the inventory
of his estate, date of January 15, 1650-1, is iu a memorandum of the number of rods of fence the share of each
settler to build. The paper bears no date, but was of course prior to his death. In the schedule of his estate he is spoken of as "lately deceased." The amount of the inventory was about £14.0. A very moderate heritage for the widow and her children, of whom there were three, two sons and a daughter; Stephen, John, and Mary, who is said to have married a .Smith at an early day and hence the numerous Smith family in America.
The widow, Elizabeth Burritt. appears to have been a thrifty and sagacious woman, controlling her own affairs and ordering her household well. Though apparently not able to write her own name, she made her mark all over the early town records in more senses than one. She was buying more than selling and evidently adding to her possessions. She apportioned considerable real estate to her sons by conveyances dated April 5, 1G75, as follows: -To my loving and dutiful son. John Burritt, of ye said place, an equal half of my whole accommodations in Stratford aforesaid, being ye allotment and interest of my deceased husband, "Wm. Burritt, or by procurement of myself and my children, excepting only ye home lot and parcel of land at ye Fresh Pond, in ye old field, ye which has already been contracted to Stephen Burritt," one of which contractions being that "ve aforesid John Burritt should have the parcel of land lying on "Quimby's Neclc," &c. Stephen Burritt drew lot No. 40 in division of lands in 1671, and John Burritt Xo. Si.
Widow Burritt evidently made her home with her eldest son, Stephen. Her will is dated Sept. 2, 1GS1, and she probably died soon after. Stephen Burritt, the eldest son, was in the list of Freemen at Stratford "8th month. 7th day 1669, a lot owner 1671, and confirmed by the General Court as Ensign of the Train Band at Stratford in 1672. appointed Lieutenant Jan. 17, 1675, and the Council at Hartford, date of Sept. 18, ll>75, ordered that "The Dragoons from Fairfield County being come up, and Major Robert Treat sending to us to hasten them to their headquarters near Suekquaekheeg, it has ordered that accordingly the Dragoons of Fairfield should forthwith march away up to Norwottag, and so to our army, under the conduct of Ensign Stephen Burritt, and join them in defense of the plantations up the river, and to kill and destroy all such Indian enemies as should assault them on the afore- said plantations." Again, at a meeting of the Council of the Colony held Nov. 23, 1675, Stephen Burritt was appointed Commissary of the Army, so rapidly was he promoted. No wonder Hinman says, "he was a noted Indian fighter." Evidently a man of force, courage and resource, Ensign Stephen Burritt stands out a heroic figure on the pages of the history of Stratford. He was not only a brave soldier, but the old town records give evidence that he was a man of affairs. At the Town Meeting held Jan. 1, 1673, he was chosen Recorder, and his beautiful and character-like autograph which thereafter frequently appears on the Town Books, may well be the envy of any of his descendants. In 1689 he was appointed on a committee to assess damages for the changing of Black Creek into Mill river, by which one Robert Lane claimed to have been "damnified!"
The same year he was chosen one of the Townsmen.
In 1600 was an auditor of the accounts of the Town Treasurer, and also chairman of the committee on killing wolves. What a wolf killer that brave old Indian fighter must have been! He held other offices of trust, and was in his day one of the very foremost citizens of Stratford. The inventory of his estate, dated March 4. 1G97, shows a footing of £1.177 2v which includes £ j Gs, as the value of his "arms and ammunil ion.' - He had died January 24, 1697-8, according to the old tomb- stone, fortunately still preserved. It appears that this ancient memorial was recently discovered by Mr. Robert H. Russell in the footpath leading from his house to his garden. It was several inches underground, and about 200 feet from the southeast corner of the old Congregational burying ground. where it was doubtless originally placed. It is believed that many years since it was taken from thence by some vandal hands, and used for a time as a step-stone. Mr. T. B. Fairchild,
of Stratford, though not a descendant or of kindred, to
his credit be it said, caused this memorial stone to be returned and reset.
He had married, Nov. 8, 1G73, Sarah Nichols, the daughter of Isaac Nichols, a prominent Stratford family, one of her sisters having married Rev. Joseph Webb, and another Rev. Israel Chauncey, pastor of the Stratford church front 1GG5 to 1703, who was one of the founders of Yale College and was chosen its first president, but declined the honor. By this marriage Stephen Burritt had seven children, as follows :
Elizabeth, born July 1,1075; William, born March 29, 1G77 ; (died young,) Peleg, (1st) born Oct. 5, 1679; Josiali, born 1G81 ; Israel, born 1087; Charles, (1st) born 1090; Ephraim, (1st) born 1093.
Peleg Burritt (1st) married Sarah Benit, (sic) Dec. 5, 170.1. and had issue : William, baptized Oct. 13, 1700 ; Daniel, (Bridgeport church records) 1708; Sarah, (Stratford town records) born July 20, 1712; Peleg, (Jr.,) born Jan. 8. 1720-1. Peleg Burritt, Sr , of Stratford, deeded lands to Lis son Peleg Jr., at Ripton Parish, including forty acres on Walnut Hill, "excepting only my own new dwelling house," date of April 25, 1740. He had sold land on Snake Brook, to Richard Nichols, April 27, 1713. Date of his death not ascertained.
Sarah, wife of Peleg, united with the church at Stratfield
in December, 170':). Of the other sons of Ensign Stephen Burritt,
Josiah was one of the proprietors of Newtown. 1710, and had numerous
descendants there. He married Mary Peat, March 10. 1703. and had Elizabeth, baptized (Bridgeport church) July 23,1701; Stephen, baptized (Bridgeport church) Feb. 10, 1706 ; Benjamin and Phoebe, (twins) born (Stratford town records), Jan. 29, 1708; William, born January, 1709, all of whom were of Newtown. Israel, 4th son of Ensign Stephen, married Sarah Coe, March 4, 1719. and is said to have settled in Durham. Charles, 5th son of Ensign Stephen, had Daniel, Israel, Charles and Elilra (1 i, who married and had among other children, Elihu (2), who had Elijah, Elizabeth, Emily. George and Elihu (3), distinguished as the " Learned Black- smith," who was born at New Britain, Conn.. Dec. 8, 1811, and whose fame is worldwide. Charles Burritt took Free- man's oath at Stratford September, 1730. He and Mary his wife, were members of the Stratfield church, 171S. Daniel Burritt, son of Charles and Mary, his wife, died prior to his father, who by will dated Jan. 23, 1701, gave to the. children of his son Daniel. The distribution of the estate of Daniel mentions the widow Comfort, daughters, Boxanna married Richard Hubbell 4th, Penninah. married Samuel Brinsmade, and Amelia, and sons Stephen, Bollins and Elijah Burritt. Elijah, though mentioned last, was probably the eldest, and probably not a son of the widow Comfort, but of a former wife, as there is good authority for saying — Stephen was his half-brother. Elijah was born in 1713, it is the family tradition, on the site of his lifelong residence, which still stands, and appears good for another one hundred years. He was a man of fine form and presence, six feet in height, of uniformly good health, never sick until the last year of his life. He died Sep. 23, 1841, at the advanced age of ninety- eight years and six months. His life was one of great activity,
his business embracing blacksmithing, buckskin leather
dressing, and cooperage, as well as farming. He was over- seer and agent for the Golden Hill Indians from A. D., 1812 to 1831, at a period when their numbers comprised quite a band. This rendered the distribution of the income of their small fund both delicate and difficult. By them he was looked up to as a father, He was a man of high character and intelligence, of the strictest integrity and religiously a strong- Churchman. He retained his faculties unimpaired in a remarkable degree until the last, and from his intelligence and long life, he occupies in local history a peculiar position. In his younger years ho was acquainted with the men and events of the earliest period. In his latest years, he reached down, and communicated his knowledge to men now living.
Isaac Sherman, Esq., says : " It was from him, (Mr. Burritt)
that I derived much of the information I possess relative
to the early settlers of Strat field," (now Bridgeport), and which he has so well transmitted in his published recollections.
Elijah Burritt was thrice married. His first wife was Sarah Hall, daughter of John Hall, Stratfield, by whom he had one son and five daughters,
1. Daniel, merchant. Bridgeport, known as Colonel Burritt, unmarried.
2. Comfort, died young.
3. Ann, married Ephraim "Wheeler Sherman, and had issue, three sons and three daughters.
4. Hannah, married Silas Shelton, of Huntington, and had issue, two sons five daughters.*
5. Mercy, married Captain James Fayerweather, of Bridge- port.
G. Phoebe, married Captain Samuel Hawley, Xo. 2,335 in the Hawley family record.
- — Of these daughters, Elizabeth was a member of the family of her grandfather
Burritt until h<-r marriage tu Captain George Lath-Id. Their children are Harriet, mar- ried Or. Joseph S. French, Charles Howard, married Susan Lobdell, Mary Bunitt, married Edwin J. Xettleton. Another daughter Harriet, married Henry Bassett, and had one son, Frank IE, who with his mother now own and occupy tin- old homestead of her Grandfather Burritt, Mrs. Lafield, aged Seventy-eight years, and Mrs. Bassett, aged seventy-five years, were able to attend the meeting of the Historical Society, Feb. 19, 18'J'2, and listened with much interest to the reading of this pap> r. The oldest daughter, Mary Shelton, who married Mr. E. Huge, was also represented by her daughter, Mary Burritt, who by contributions of her pen and pencil illustrates and perpetuates the history of the Ancestral Home which was erected in 17.^;i, on the site occupied by Mr. Daniel Burritt, father of Elijah. A crayon picture of this house made by Mary Burritt Huize is hung upon the walls of the Historical Society, as a companion piece to the portrait of Mr. Burritt, painted by Edwin White, for Mr. and Mrs. B. T. Nichols. Mr. Nichols who was the survivor, at his death directed it given to the His- torical Society. K. B. L., Feb. 1892. Mr. Burritt married second, Sarah Fairchild, of Redding, Conn, Her only child was 7. Maiy, married Barak T. Nichols.
His third marriage was to Sarah (Chappell) McLean. She had by her first marriage, Dr. John McLean, physician, Nor- walk, Conn , and Sarah, who married George Wade, Bridge- port.
Stephen Burritt, son of Daniel, and half-brother to Elijah Burritt, had his residence on Old Mill Green near the Mill Bond. He married Hannah Piatt Avery, daughter of Lev. Elisha Avery. of Norwalk, Conn., and cousin of John S. Avery* and had Charlotte C, born 1797, died Aug. 8,1837; Mary Ann, born 1799, died Dec. 21, 18-20; and Stephen Elisha Avery, born Nov. S, 1801, died April 1825. Stephen Burritt died 181-5, aged sixty-two years; Hannah, his wife, died Oct. 25, 1813, aged eighty years. The children were all un- married, and the grave marks of the entire family stand together in Pembroke cemetery.
Stephen Elisha Avery Burritt appears to have been a very bright and promising young man. He was graduated at Yale College in the class of 1824. when but nineteen years old. A class album of his, of remarkable interest, is in the possession of the Fairfield County Historical Society, donated by J. N. Ireland, Esq. The original contributions and selections show a high appreciation of young Burritt, and bear the sig- natures of such, men as Judge Origen Storrs Seymour, Hon. Eliphalet T. Bulkeley, father of Governor Morgan G. Bulkeley,
Linus Child. Ebenezer Jessup, Dr. Jeremiah T. Dennison,
Benjamin D. Stillman, Esq., New York; Hamilton Murray, New York ; Dr. Frederick J. Judson and Henry D. Sterling, (brother of Hon. D. H. Sterling,") of Bridgeport, and others of equal standing.
Ephraim's children were Eunice, Mvrtho, Mary, Ephraim, Jr., Stephen, "William, Abel and Lewis.
Daniel Burritt, son of Stephen, who was a son of Josiah, son of Ensign Stephen, probably married Sarah Collins, at New Milford, Feb. 8, 175'), and lived at Arlington. Yt., for
'Note. — John S. Avery occupied the Stephen iiurritt place about 1810. some years prior to (he Revolution, when, being a Loyalist, he went to Canada and settled at Augusta, near Preseott, where he died aged ninety-three. Of his sons, Adoniram lived to be ninety-eight, Stephen, eighty-four, Daniel, Jr , eighty-seven, and Major upwards of ninety; a daughter, Lois lived to be ninety-three. Whether Toryism had anything to do with this extraordinary longevity is not recorded. Per- haps it was to give time for repentance. But there were many patriots among the Burritts, some of whom lived to be aged. Among those whose names appear on the list of Revolutionary soldiers in Connecticut are John, Philip. Abijah, Anthony, Charles, Elihu, Israel, Nathan, Abel, Eben, Stephen, William Burritt and others. Israel Burritt was from New Milford, and was commissioned as Lieutenant, Andrew Burritt, born 1741, who married Eunice Welles, Jan. 27, 17G3, and was the great-grandfather of Oscar C. Burritt, of Hydeville, Vt., is also said to have been engaged in the Revolution. Some of the descendants of the daughters of the above Daniel Burritt, still reside at Arlington, Vt.
John Burritt, son of William and Elizabeth, and the young- er brother of Ensign Stephen, as appears in the Stratford records was a lot owner as early as 1G71. He married Deborah Barley,
or Barlow, May 1, 1084, and had a son Joseph,
born March 12, 1085, as the records show. Although Savage says in his Genealogical notes that John was unmarried, he appears to have been twice married, his second marriage having been with Hannah Fairchild, date of May 5. 1708. It is claimed that he had a son John, but that is doubtful, for Joseph is named as Administrator, and as sole heir of his father's estate, date of Oct. 3, 1727, the will having been filed Eeb. 17, 172G-7. The inventory of the estate amounted to Jt:i751.9sld. Joseph Burritt made his will March 10. 1750 ; left widow Mary, sons William, John, Nathan, Samuel, daughters Deborah, wife of Jonas Thompson, Hannah, wife of Isaac Beach ; also had Mary, born Sep. 22, 1721, and Ebenezer, born Dec. 18, 1728. Tins Joseph Burritt, son of John, was probably the ancestor of Joseph Burritt, born in Stratford in 1758, who married Sarah Ufford, and was the father of Joseph Burritt, Jr., who died at Ithaca, N. Y., in 1838, aged ninety- four. He had married Asenath Curtiss, of Stratford, June 17, 1816, and left many descendants.
Peleg Burritt, Jr., born Jan. 7, 1719-20, married first (his second marriage is elsewhere noted) Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Blackleach, Jr., of Ripton Parish, date unknown, but evidently prior to Dec. 15, 174*2, for on that date Richard Blackleach, Jr., conveyed land " to my son, Peleg Burritt, Jr., of said Stratford." He doubtless lived at Ripton Parish. There was a daughter born of this marriage named Mehitabel, after her grandmother, Mehitabel Laboree Burritt, and a son Blackleach Burritt, but the church records of Ripton Parish, prior to 1773, having been destroyed, and the family record of Peleg Burritt, Jr., having been lost at the time of the Wyoming Massacre, it has been found impossible to definitely ascertain the date of the marriage or the birth of either of these children. The birth of Blackleach Burritt has been placed by some as early as 1740, but as his father was then scarcely twenty years of age, it cannot be taken as even appropriately
correct, especially in view of the fact that his sister's name precedes his in order of mention in the will of
their grandfather Blackleach. Probably she was born about 17P2, and he about 1741. As will be noticed he was cotemporary with the late Elijah Burritt, of Stratford, and not distantly related to him.
The Blackleach family was early of Connecticut, John Blackleach, Jr., of Hartford, 1659, being perhaps the grand- father of Richard, Jr. Richard Si' , was of Stratford as soon as 1G7G ; was a merchant, and is called Richard Blackleach, gentleman. In 1698, in the prosecution of his business, he was plaintiff in a suit against Mr. William Hoadley, merchant. of Branford, concerning some Negro Slaves delivered by him to the said Hoadley, to be paid for in corn, which was in the courts for several years, but in which he was finally successful. He was a high Churchman, but instead of carrying the Gospel to the Heathen on "Afrie's golden sands," he evidently brought the Heathen to the Gospel! This experiment of his in the wav of Evangelization, is in striking contrast with an earlier fact recorded of John Blackleach, (probably his father) who kept the ferry over the Housatonic river between Stratford and Milford, who in 1G69, petitioned to be allowed to make known to the Indians, as he should have opportunity, "some- thing of the knowledge of God." Richard Blackleach, Sr , died in 1731, aged seventy-six years.
Richard Blackleach, Jr., married Mehitabel Laboree, probably
the widow of Dr. Laboree, Feb. 2, 1715-16, and had two
children, Elizabeth, who married Peleg Burritt, Jr., and Sarah, who married Mr. Edward Jessup Mehitabel Laboree Black- leach died Feb. 21, 1735. His will made Feb. 27, 1747, was recorded Oct. 2, 1750, and inventory tiled April 28, 1751. The following is a transcript of the substance of it:
"I give unto Mehitabel Burritt, daughter of Peleg Burritt, Jr., of Stratford, one Silver Cup, two Silver Spoons, together with all my Movable Estate, provided she lives to ye age of eighteen years or marriage ; but if she die before, I give said Movables unto Blackleach Burritt, ye son of Peleg Burritt, Jr." He also gave £5 to his daughter Sarah Jessup, wife of Edward Jessup of Fairfield, and £5 to each of her six children. He further gave '• unto Blackleach Burritt, son of Peleg, Jr., and unto his heirs and assigns forever, all m viand, meadow and buildings in said Stratford, being butted and bounded as appears of record." Ephraim Judson and Daniel Thompson were named as executors, and were given authority to sell land on Fawn Hill if necessary to pay the debts and be- quests, and they did so sell lands to Peleg Burritt, Jr., date of March 5, 1753. The total inventory shows £1,051. 3s7d, of which £850 was real estate. In the personal property was " one Silver Cup, holding near one pint, two Silver Spoons, and two dozen Silver Vest Buttons," valued altogether at £2 Osod. And these were for Mehitabel, and something of personal property besides ; quite a dower. Little is handed down in regard to this young lady, and it is not known whether or not she married. She is said to have been very handsome, and of a somewhat mercurial disposition.
The probate records of Fairfield show the final settlement of the estate of Richard Blackleach to have taken place in 1758. The (kbit:? include a charge for going to Green's Farms to pay the bequests to Mrs. Edward Jessup and her children, and i^iO paid out by the executors for the expenses involved in a law suit, the records of which considerable re- search failed to disclose.
And so the lad Blackleach Burritt was made the heir to quite an estate, the disposition of which, however, does not fully appear. Nothing notable is known of his boyhood and youth except the stories of his acrobatic performances on tin; roofs of buildings which he seemed to delight in, to the terror of his step-mother, to whom he is said to have been much attached. He does not appear to have been the traditional goody, goody boy. who is expected to die young, but he had the timber in him that men are made of. Aspiring after an education,
he entered Yale College, where he graduated, as his
still well preserved diploma, an ancient parchment testifies, in the class of 17G5. An exciting incident of his college life was the celebrated case of the poisoning of a large number of the students. In answer to recent inquiry, Professor Dexter, of Yale, gives the following version o( the affair :
"The mysterious sickness at College occurred on April 14, 17G4. A common rumor at the time, and later, imputed it to poison administered by a French woman employed in the College commons; but the more reasonable view held by President Ciapp was, that some students that were rebellious against the food furnished in the commons, bribed the French woman to put some strong physic into the food, in the hope of breaking up the system."'
In a sketch of Pew Isaac Lewis, D. D., who was a native of Stratford and a classmate of Blaekleach Burritt, which appears
in Sprague's Annals of the American Pulpit, the following account of that affair is given: "At that time the
whole College was poisoned through the villainy of certain French neutrals. These fellows had taken mortal offense at the conduct of a few wild students,"' and they meditated " the most deadly revenge. To accomplish their purpose, they contrived to visit the kitchen where the food of the students was prepared and infused a large quantity of arsenic into one of the dishes that was to be placed before them. A deadly sickness came over all -who partook of the food, and a few ■were so affected that they died shortly after.
Of Blackleach Burritt it is said that he was at that, time engaged in nursing his sick chum, Samuel Mills. Another account says that he took a frugal meal of bread and milk on that occasion and so escaped being poisoned. Samuel Mills' father, Kev. Jedediah Mills, who was then and for many years the pastor of the church at Ripton Parish, in Stratford, was preaching in the pulpit when a messenger arrived from New Haven, and wont first up into the pulpit, and then to Captain Burritt. Service was then dismissed, and both immediately went to New Haven. All of which is of interest as leading up to the fact that not long after this, "Whitfield visited New Haven, and delivered a memorable discourse in the College chapel, that is said to have led to a great change in the current of Mr. Burritt's life, and which resulted in his uniting with the church in Yale College, date of Feb. 3, 17?? and led to the consecration of himself to the noble work of the Christian Ministry.
On graduating he pursued his theological studies with his venerable and able pastor, Kev. Jedediah Mills, of Kipton Parish, evidently in company with his classmates and companions of his boyhood, Samuel Mills and Isaac Lewis, for at a meeting of the Fairfield Fast Association, as appears in the old records now in the possession of Rev. Joel S. Ives, of Stratford, the Stated Clerk of that Association, held at Daubury on the last Tuesday of Feb'y, 17G8, "Isaac Lewis, A. B., and Blackleach Burritt, A. B., presented themselves as Candidates for Examination to preach the Gospel. Their credentials being required, they offered the following, viz.: 'To the Revd. Asso'n convened at Danbury. Gent'm: Being detained by bodily Indisposition, I do hereby signify that Mr. Lewis and Mr. Burritt, the bearers, were sometime since recommended to us by Mr. Dagget, Pastor of a Church in New-Haven, and are in Good Standing with us in all things as becometh the Gospel. Mr. Jedediah Mills, Pastor, Ripton, Feb y 22, 1768.' Adjourned till to-morrow morning eleven o'clock. Met according to adjournment and proceeded to the examination of the Candidates as to their Qualifications for the Work of the Ministry and then adjourned
until to-morrow morning eight o'clock. Met Feb.
24, 1768, according to adjournment, and proceeded to complete the examination of the aforementioned Candidates, as to their Abilities natural & acquired, their Knowledge, Doctrinal and experimental, and finding them hopefully qualified for the work of the ministry: do accordingly License them to preach the Gospel, and recommend them to the Service of the. Churches wheresoever God in his providence shall call them."' Rev. Jedediah Mills, born 1697, was a son of Peter Mills, of Windsor, Conn., born 166S ; he graduated at Yale, 1722, was pastor of Ripton Parish from 1723-P,; a friend of Whitfield, who commemorates him in his journal as " a dear man of God." He died in 1776, greatly lamented, having retired from active service three years previously. His son Samuel, who was a classmate of Blackleach Burritt, was for some time pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Bedford. Westchester County. N. Y. Rev. Isaac Lewis, D. D., the other classmate referred to. who was a native of Ripton Parish, Stratford, was located many years at Wilton, was a Chaplain in the Continental Army. 1776 ; and after the Revolution, was settled over the Church at Old Greenwich, where Rev. Mr. Burritt. as will be seen, was fur a time located. He died Aug. 27, 1S10, in his ninety-fifth year.
And so Rev. Blackleach Burritt was regularly licensed to preach. He had previously married Martha Wells, daughter of Gideon and Eunice Wells, of Ripton Parish, at a date not known, but probably soon after graduating from College, as his second daughter was born Feb. 26, 176S. And as he not only so married a descendant of the distinguished Colonial Governor of Connecticut, Thomas Welles, but two of his daughters were afterwards also united with kindred of that name, it seems fitting to here give a brief lineage of that noted family. ,
Rev. Blackleach Burritt's Timeline
Shelton, Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States
August 27, 1794
Winhall, Bennington County, Vermont, United States
Manchester, Bennington County, Vermont, United States