John Bissell, Sr., of Windsor

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John Bissell, Sr., of Windsor

Also Known As: "The immigrant ancestor"
Birthdate: (85)
Birthplace: Somerset, England
Death: October 3, 1677 (85)
Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut Colony
Place of Burial: Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut
Immediate Family:

Son of Richard Bissell and Margaret Elizabeth Howland
Husband of 1st wife of John Bissell and 2nd wife of John Bissell
Father of Mary Drake; Lieut. & Cornet John Bissell, Jr.; Quartermaster Thomas Bissell; Joyce Pinney; Nathaniel Bissell and 1 other
Brother of Thomas Bissell

Occupation: Ferryman
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Bissell, Sr., of Windsor

John Bissell, purportedly b. or bapt. on Oct. 30, 1591 in England. His gravestone indirectly says he was b. after Oct. 3, 1591. He d. testate at Windsor, Conn. Oct. 3, 1677 (g.s., at age 86.)


He was twice married, but the name of each wife remains unknown

The children of John Bissell, Sr. and his unnamed first wife, the order uncertain, are:

  • i. Mary Bissell, b. circa 1631 in England, d. testate Sept. 11, 1689 at Windsor, Conn.; m. Apr. 12, 1649 at Windsor, Sgt. Jacob Drake, s. of John Drake & Elizabeth Rogers, b. circa 1624 in England. He d. testate at Windsor, Conn. Aug. 6, 1689. They had no known children.
  • ii. Lieut., also referred to as Cornet, John Bissell, Jr., b. circa 1633 in England, d. intestate before Oct. 15, 1688 at an undefined place in the Province of New York while in the King's service; m. June 17, 1658 at Windsor, Israel Mason of Saybrook, Conn., dau. of Maj. John Mason and his unnamed first wife, b. circa 1637-38, prob. at Windsor. She d. after Mar. 15, 1693/4. Nine children of the family.
  • iii. Quartermaster Thomas Bissell, b. circa 1635 in England, d. testate at Windsor July 31, 1689; m. Oct. 11, 1655 at Windsor, Abigail Moore, dau. of Dea. John and Abigail Moore, b. June 16, 1639 at Windsor. She d. at Windsor purportedly July 31, 1728. Twelve children of the family, three dying in infancy.
  • iv. Samuel Bissell, b. circa 1637 in England, d. testate at Windsor Dec. 3, 1700; m. 1) June 11, 1658 at Windsor, Abigail Holcomb, dau. of Thomas and Elizabeth Holcomb, bapt. Jan. 6, 1638/9 at Windsor, Conn. She d. at Windsor Aug. 17, 1688. Nine children of the family. Samuel m. 2) after Aug. 1688, Mary Buell, dau. of William Buell and Mary Post, and widow of Simon Mills, latter who d. intestate at Simsbury, Conn. July 6, 1683. There were no children by this marriage, Mary having ten children by her first husband. She d. testate at Windsor, Conn. June 24, 1718.
  • v. Joyce Bissell, b. circa 1639 in England, d. after Sept. 8, 1689 when named in her sister Mary's will on the latter date; m. Nov. 17, 1665 at Windsor, Samuel Pinney, s. of Humphrey Pinney and Mary Hull, b. Mar. 30, 1635 at Dorchester, Mass. He d. after Dec. 13, 1689 when he was appointed one of four administrators of his sister-in-law Mary (Bissell) Drake's estate. Three children of the family.
  • vi. Nathaniel Bissell, b. Sept. 24 (bapt. Sept. 27), 1640 at Windsor, Conn, d. testate at Windsor Mar. 12, 1713/4; m. 1) Mindwell Moore, dau. of Dea. John and Abigail Moore, and sister of his brother Thomas Bissell's wife Abigail, b. July 10, 1643 at Windsor. She d. at Windsor Nov. 24, 1682. Nine children of the family. Nathaniel m. 2) July 4, 1683 at Windsor, Dorothy Fitch, who d. at Windsor June 28, 1691 by whom he had two recorded children. He m. 3) on an unknown date after June 1691, Deliverance Haines, formerly the wife of 1) John Rockwell of Windsor and 2) John Warner of Middletown, Conn. She d. intestate June 12, 1718 at Middletown, Conn. There were no children by this marriage. Deliverance had seven children by her first two husbands.



Stile's first version of his "History of Ancient Windsor" (1859) contains a poor outline of the structure of the Bissell family of Windsor, Conn. He gave John Bissell only one wife in this version. Savage, Hinman, Cutter and others also misrepresent the initial Bissell family structure.

Stiles' more familiar second version of his "Ancient Windsor," in two volumes (1891 and 1893), does not correct the errors made forty years earlier in 1859. He continued to give the immigrant only one wife in Vol. II (1893 Genealogies). However, in Vol. I (1891 History) he added an obscure reference apparently contained in the 1662 deed to son Nathaniel of his housing at present-day East Windsor that proves the immigrant had two wives.

John Bissell, the immigrant, had six known children, all by his first wife who d. of record at Windsor, Conn. May 21, 1641. According to the Matthew Grant Records, Grant was aware of only one child born to the immigrant at Windsor, and as only John's youngest son is recorded at Windsor prior to the death of his first wife, there were no children by his unnamed second wife.

Some writers give the first wife the name of Mary and still others claim she was Mary Drake. But, neither variation has any proof and it is quite likely Mary Drake has been confused with the married name of John Bissell's daughter Mary (Bissell) Drake. On this point, in 1969 the eminent genealogist, Donald Lines Jacobus, wrote:

May I try to set the record straight once again? [The immigrant] John1 Bissell [Sr.] did indeed die in 1677; there is no authority that I know of for calling his wife Mary Drake. A nameless wife, perhaps the mother of his children, died in 1641; he thereafter had another nameless wife, whose death, as wife of John "Sr.", was recorded in 1665...(NEHGS Register, 123:278-279.)

John Bissell's second wife d. of record at Windsor Mar. 29, 1665 ["the wife of John Biffell senor dyed"]. Per Stiles in 1891, in 1662 when John Bissell was in excess of 70 years old he gave to youngest son Nathaniel his housing at present-day East Windsor:

"in part of his portion of his marriage," a part of his land and house "at Scantuck," on the E. side of the Conn. River with provision for the remainder at his father's death...Nathaniel doubtless resided on the river bank, below the Scantic, from the time of his marriage. This home was garrisoned at the time of King Philip's War. John Bissell, Senr, evidently died here, having made provision for his second wife, stipulating that Nathaniel should give "his now present mother-in-law [i.e., stepmother], if she is willing and choose to have the use the parlor for her abode," it should be granted. (History of Ancient Windsor, 1891, Vol. I, p. 152.)

The aforementioned death of the immigrant's second wife has been consistently confused as the date of death of the wife of John Bissell, Jr. This caused Stiles to give John junior an unnamed second wife as the mother of his youngest children. John Bissell junior's wife, Israel Mason, outlived her husband. This error is more fully outlined in the Israel (Mason) Bissell memorial page.

The earliest in which the immigrant John Bissell appears at Windsor is in the record of youngest son Nathaniel's birth at Windsor, on Sept. 24, 1640. The earliest in which he appears in the Conn. Public Records is as a juryman in Sept. 1641. He was a juryman for numerous sessions of the Particular Court during the mid-1640s until he was elected a deputy to the Conn. Court from Windsor in Sept. 1648. He served as a deputy from Windsor almost continuously until 1656.

While some claim John held the title of Capt., he was relieved of the requirement for military training by the Conn. Court in April 1645, when he was about 53 years old. Unless one wishes to attach the title of Capt. to a public ferryman, there is no record of any military rank for the immigrant in the Windsor or Conn. records. Also, none of his sons reached the rank of Capt. during their lifetime.

On Jan. 5, 1641/2 Windsor was provided the right to operate a ferry across the Conn. River. However, not until Jan. 1648/9 was John Bissell, Sr. granted exclusive right to operate the Windsor ferry for the ensuing seven years (Conn. PR, Vol. I, p. 174-5). This right was extended annually beginning in May 1656 until eldest son John Bissell, Jr. was granted exclusive rights to operate the ferry in Mar. 1657/8 for the ensuing 10 years. This was followed in May 1677 by the immigrant's youngest son Nathaniel granted the right of operation for the ensuing 7 years.

Manwaring's abstract of John Bissell's estate, citing Hartford Probate District vol. III, p. 194:

John Bissell of Windsor. Inventory of 520-16-03 taken Oct. 22, 1677 by Daniel Clarke, Benjamin Newbery and Return Strong. Will dated Sept. 25, 1673:

  • I John Bissell of Windsor doe make this my last Will & Testament:
  • I give to my daughter Mary, the wife of Jacob Drake 10;
  • to my daughter Joyce, wife of Samuel Pinney, 30.
  • I give to my son John 50.
  • The remainder of my estate after my just debts and funeral charges are paid, with 20 shillings apeice to each of my grand children naturally descending from my foure sons and two daughters, I bequeath to my four sons John, Thomas, Samuel, and Nathaniel.
  • The remaynder of my estate to be equally divided.
  • I appoint my sons John and Thomas Bissell to be executors.
  • I desire Deacon John Moore and Daniel Clark to be supervisors......JOHN X BISSELL LS.

Witness: John Moore sen., Daniel Clarke.

Court Record, Page 165--6 December, 1677: Will approved.


  • New England Marriages prior to 1700, published by Genealogical Publishing Co.
    • Bissell, John (1591-1677) &1/wf?Mary Drak(no)?Elizabeth Thompson ( - -1/21May in Eng. ca 1625/1630? Windsor, CT.
    • Bissell, John (1591-1677) & 2/wf ? aft. 1641 Windsor, Ct.
  • The History of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut Volume 2" (page 540ff)


old notes


reported in a LDS/FamilySearch Ancestral File record

  • Marriage 1 Elizabeth THOMPSON b: ABT 1596 in Somerset,, England
  • Married: 2
  • Children
  • John BISSELL b: ABT 1630 in England
  • Thomas BISSELL b: 1630 in Somerset,, England
  • Mary BISSELL b: ABT 1632 in England
  • Samuel BISSELL b: ABT 1633 in Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut
  • Joyce BISSELL
  • Nathaniel BISSELL b: 27 SEP 1640 in Of Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut

reported at ???

  • Name: John BISSELL 1
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 1591 in Somerset,, England 2 Quality: 1
  • Death: 03 OCT 1677 in Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut

reported at ???

  • Spouses/Children:
  • 1. Elizabeth Mary THOMPSON
  • Sarah BISSELL+
  • 2. Mrs Bissell John
  • Captain John BISSELL
  • Born: 30 Oct 1591, , Somersetshire, England
  • Christened: 21 Mar 1590/91, , Somersetshire, England
  • Died: 30 Oct 1677, Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut, USA
  • Buried: 1 Nov 1677, Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut, USA


Date and place of birth have also been (erroneously?) reported to be October 30, 1581 in Somerset, England.

Date and place of death have also been (erroneously?) reported to be:

  • October 3, 1677 at Simsbury, Hartford County, Connecticut
  • October 30, 1677 at Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut

Date and place of burial have also been (erroneously?) reported to be circa October 4, 1677 at Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut.

supporting data

from one unidentified source

RESEARCH: 1590 is the year commonly given as the birthday of John Bissell, If so it is only 18 years after the massacre of St. Bartholomew's day in France when his Huguenot forefathers, by name of Bysselle, escaped from France and fled to England, settling in Somersetshire. 20 Jan 1662/1663 - John Bissel here gives to his son Nathaniel a two page deed, including a part of the Whiting estate, with this proviso - 'In case John Bissell his father dyes before his now present mother-in-law, and if shee shall be willing and chuse to hvae ye yse of the parlor for her aboad that nathaniell shall Let her have the free use of it During her Life.' This is the first notice we have of a second wife. She died 29 March 1665.

Neither this record or two references to her death reveal her name. 2 Quality: 1

BIOGRAPHY: Tradition syas that he landed at Plymouth, MA with wife and three children in 1628, in company with his brother Thomas who died there or soon returned to England. This is doubtbul as is also the tradition that Thomas married an Indian girl and died without issue, possibly a mixed version of a similar tradition concerning Thomas son of John.

3 May 1640 - John Bissell Sen'r is in Rev. Matthew Grant's list of Windsor (CT) Church members as having joined the church on this day in May. His is the second one in the list of those 'that have taken full communion since we came here' (from Dorchester).

2 July 1640 - first serves on jury service at Hartford. Serves 11 more times in the next 8 years.

29 Sep 1642 - 'That the country may be better enabled to kill yearely some Beves for supply of Leather, It is ordered that no calves be killed without approbation of two men within each Towne.' John Bissell and John Porter were the Committee for Windsor.

9 Jan 1648/1649 - John Bissell sat todays Deputy for Windsor in the General Court which genearly met at Hartford. From this date he was a continuous representative for Windsor up to at least 1660. He appears again as a deputy in 1664. He was frequently appointed on the important committees of the court.

1656 - As Bissell was at work at hay one day in themeadow, a Scantic Indian came running toward him and implored his protection. Directing him to lie down, Mr. Bissell rolled a cock of Hay upon him, thus effectively concealing him. He had hardly done this when the Mohawks came runing furiously in pursuit, who wished to know of Mr. Bissell if had se the fugitive. He pointed to a particular direction which the Indians eargerly followed and thus the poor Scantic Indian was saved. (recorded by Styles Vol 1 p 117)

1662 - Moves into a new house on the east side of the Scantic River, likely the first settler in what became East Windsor with son Nathanial. The old house on the opposite side of the river deeded to son John junior. The new house was garrisoned during King Philip's War in 1675. He ran the Scantic ferry over the Connecticut River for many years beginning in 1641 before turning it over to his son John. WILL: The Last Will & Testament of John Bissell senior of Windsor 25 Sept 1673. I doe bequeath my soule into the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ my gracious redeemer for the compleating of that glory an earnest whereof I hope he hat given me in this life, & my body I commit to comely & christian buriall. As for the estate God hath committed to my stewardship for the p'vention of future trouble in my family after my decease I doe hereby order the dispose thereof as hereafter is declared. I doe give unto May my daughter now wife of Jacob Drake 10 pounds, but if she be not living at time of paymetn then I give the 10 pounds to my daughter Joyce. O doe give to my daughter Joyce, wife of Samuel Pinney 30 pounds, but if shw be dead attime of payment, then 10 pounds of the 30 pounds is to be paied to my daughter Mary Drake. I do give unto my son John the summe of 50 pounds. The remaineder of my estate, after my just debts and funeral charges are paid, with 20 shillings a piece to each of my grandchildren naturally descending from my foure sons and two daughters, I doe bequeath unto my foure sons John, Thomas, Samuel, an Nathaniel, to be equally devided among them. I do allso appoint my Two sonns John and Thomas Bissell to be executors; and my desire is that my Loveing Friends Deacon John Moore and Daniel Clark to be supervisors to whom I advise my exeutors to repayre for counsell in any difficulty that shall happen in the discharge of this Trust committed to them, & I doe give unto each of them 20 shillings as a reward for what paines they may take about my will. John X Bissell. Witnesses - Daniel Clarke, John Moore Senior

Codicel to Will, dated 5 Apr 1677 - I doe hereby declare & it is my will that wheras my soon in law Jacob Drake hath received of me severall particulars as appear in my Book of Accounts the sums of five pounds fifteen shillings and eight pence for which he is debtor to me I doe hereby order that the foresayed sume shall be ducted out of the 10 pounds disposed unto Mary the noew wife of the sayd Jacob. Inventory of the Estate of John Bissell senior dated 22 Oct 1677 -

Feather bed, boulster and pillow (5-15-00), A rugg 25s, coverlid 20s,2 blanketts (4-5-00), A musket 25s, 1 lb powder 2s, 5 pounds bullets 20 d (1-8-8), 99 pounds lead weights (1-13-00), an old Bible 2s 6d, Marro Gods Oracles 2s, 2 bookes more 1s, 2 payr Glory 7s (0-13-0), Land in wilderness from the Country John Griffers grand (7-0-0), debts by bill due to his estate (374-19-11), 13 other lines of sundry houehold things (17-18-06), cash money (0-7-8), booked debts due to his estate (106-15-06). Total 520 pounds 15 shillings, 3 pence. 2 Quality: 1


  • LDS/FamilySearch Ancestral File


view all 12

John Bissell, Sr., of Windsor's Timeline

October 30, 1591
Somerset, England
Somerset, England, United Kingdom
Age 39
Probably Somerset, England
Age 41
Age 43
Somerset, England
Age 44
Age 47
September 27, 1640
Age 48
Windsor, (Present Hartford County), Connecticut Colony, (Present USA)