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John Burwell

Birthdate: (46)
Birthplace: Sutton, Suffolk (Present Hertfordshire), England, (Present UK)
Death: August 17, 1649 (46)
Milford, New Haven Colony, (Present Connecticut, (Present USA)
Place of Burial: Milford, New Haven County, Connecticut
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Burwell; Thomas Burrill; Jacomyn Prentys / Prentice and Mis Prentys (Prentiss)
Husband of Sarah Burwell; Esther Winchester and Alice Peck
Father of John Maurice Burrell; Samuel Burwell; Mary Burwell; Esther Burwell; John Maurice Burrell and 7 others

Occupation: original planter of Milford, Connecticut
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Burwell


JOHN BURWELL (Lot 44) had three sons, Zachariah, Ephraim and Nathan, and the first two later moved to Newark. In 1663, Zachariah married Elizabeth Baldwin and Savage's note on him states that "from the great host of that name, I am unable to select a father for her". But his note on Richard Baldwin (see above) states that Elizabeth was Richard's daughter, baptised 1644. That being the case, the wives of ZACHARIAH BURWELL and of SAMUEL RIGGS, the middle son of EDWARD RIGGS SGT, were sisters. Elizabeth's sister Temperance married NATHAN BURWELL, the brother of Ephraim and Zachariah.

JOHN BURWELL (16__-1649) was from Herts Co., but dying so early (Aug. 17, 1649), Milford records do not contain much information concerning him. He had five sons and a daughter Elizabeth, b. 1647. His wife Alice, d. Dec. 29, 1649. A line of ancestry to English Lords and members of the Royal family is said to be found in this family.

John Burwell came from Hertsfordshire, England first to Roxbury, MA, then to Wethersfield, CT. He settled Milford in 1639. Reference: Families of Early Milford, CT, by Susan Abbott


Birth: Oct. 5, 1602 Tring, England Death: Aug. 17, 1649 Milford New Haven County Connecticut, USA

John Burwell came with his wife, my ancestor, ALICE HEATH, to America in 1637 with the Eaton-Davenport-Prudden part and was an original planter of Wepawaug (Milford). He was the owner of "Burwell Farms" which stayed in the family for many years. ALICE HEATH, whom he married on June 24, 1635, was his third wife. After his death, she married my ancestor, JOSEPH PECK.

Known children of John & Alice (Heath) Burwell: Samuel Burwell (died in infancy), Zachariah Burwell, Samuel Burwell, Ephraim Burwell, Nathan Burwell, Elizabeth Burwell.

At right is pictured a stone on the Memorial Bridge over the Wepawaug River in Milford honoring John & Alice Burwell as original settlers.

Family links:

 Alice Heath Burwell - Peck (1612 - 1666)

 Samuel Burwell (1640 - 1715)*
 Ephraim Burwell (1644 - 1729)*
 Nathaniel Burwell (1646 - 1696)*
  • Calculated relationship

Burial: Milford Cemetery Milford New Haven County Connecticut, USA Plot: Buried in Rev. Peter Prudden's Garden

Edit Virtual Cemetery info [?]

Created by: Nareen, et al Record added: Dec 06, 2007 Find A Grave Memorial# 23270854

John Burwell, father of Mary Four people named John Burwell appear in 17th Century New England.

  1. John Burwell of Roxbury, MA, who with his wife, Sarah, baptized Sarah Burwell in July of 1634. His will of August 3, 1654 leaves the estate to be divided between his wife, Sarah, and his daughter, Sarah, who was married to or soon married Richard Davis, who administered the estate with the widow, in February of 1656.
  2. John Burwell of Milford, New Haven Colony, who with his wife, Alice, was admitted to the church in 1641 and died there in 1649.
  3. John Burwell of Milford, the son of John Burwell of the New Haven Colony.
  4. John Burwell of Greenwich, Ct., who arrived in the area about 1685 and died in 1690.
  5. John Burwell of Roxbury is not the father of Mary because his will mentions only one child and the wife is not Alice, whom we know to be the second wife of John Burwell of Milford. John Burwell of Greenwich is probably connected, but arrived in the New World far long after Mary Burwell married John Brown. Number 3, John of Milford, is the son of #2.

William Francis Joseph Boardman in The Ancestry of William Francis Joseph Boardman, Hartford, CT., 1906 states is that, “The English Ancestry of John Burwell of Milford is given as follows. His source is the Commemorative and Biographical Record of New Haven County, p 1425-6. This appears to be one of those 19th Century compendia in which each person in the book does his own write-up, so we can just assume that this is what had come down through the family. The material is on page 112 of Boardman.


The English Ancestry of John Burwell, of Milford, is given as follows:

I. Edmund Burwell, born in 1485 in Sutton, Suffolk County, England.

II. Edmund Burwell, married Margaretta Alford.

III. William Burwell, born in Sutton, where he died. He married Lora Wilson of Essex.

IV. Thomas Burwell, born April 29, 1566, in Sutton. He married February 29, 1589, a lady named Poentys (perhaps Prentys).

V. John Burwell of Milford, Connecticut.

The Ancestry of Francis Joseph Boardman more intensively reports that “it is said that the elder John was born at Sutton, Suffolk Co., October 5, 1602, being the son of Thomas Burwell at Sutton” and ‘Poentys’ his wife.” Sutton is not in Hertfordshire, and Boardman speculates that he had moved prior to emigration. Such a move is entirely plausible, being no more than 75 miles and separated only by one county. I have made no independent confirmation of these English ancestors.

JOHN BURWELL IN NEW ENGLAND The evidence on John Burwell in New England is a little tricky. Here are the known facts:

• John Burwell married Esther Winchester in 1622 in Hitchin, Herts., England. • John Burwell married Alice Heath in Hitchin, Herts, in June of 1635. • John Burwell of Roxbury, MA, was with a party of Massachusetts residents who founded New Haven in 1637.

The party from Roxbury included Thomas Baker, John Burwell, Jasper Gunn, John Hall , John Peacock, William Potter, Edward Riggs, Thomas Uffot and Joanna and Jacob Sheaffe. It would be easy to assume, as have a number of genealogists, that this John Burwell was the John of Roxbury. As noted, John of Roxbury remained there until his death. Equally important, John of Roxbury is noted in the records as early as 1631, while John and Alice Heath were married in England in 1635 and baptized a child in England in 1637. I do not have the exact dates on the baptism or party that went to New Haven, but it gives a window for John to have come to Roxbury, then gone on to New Haven.

My intuition is that the John Burwell who went from Roxbury with John Hall and Edward Riggs was indeed our ancestor, but said John was a cousin of the John Burwell already established in Roxbury. It would be reasonable for a person with a family and new wife to lodge with a relative, if available, before opening new land. Lending some support to this conjecture is that the Burwells did not arrive with the “Prudden Party”, the main group that settled Milford

• John Burwell and his wife Alice Heath, joined the Milford church, New Haven Colony, in 1641. In support of the idea that John Burwell who came to New Haven in 1637 was indeed “our” John, and some sort of cousin to Roxbury John, note that the connection with the Riggs family continued. John Brown and Mary Burwell joined with the Riggs at Milford, then Derby, then Newark, and that their daughter, Hannah, married Joseph son of Edward Riggs. [WBB 2015.A group including John Brown left Milford about 1662 to open new land just to the west in a town that became Derby, but many of them sold their lands shortly after getting there to go on to Newark, NJ in 1666.] John Burwell must have come from a substantial yeoman family. Birth records before 1600 are thin, and to be able to trace a pedigree back to the 15th Century is rare among the common folk. More on John Burwell’s two marriages. Sutton, Suffolk is today just a scattering of buildings and part of the town of Woodridge, just to the north., Just to the north of Woodridge is Sutton Hoo, an Anglo-Saxon site with a ship-burial that I visited in 2000. Had I known, I would have asked our hosts to go a little farther south. It would have been decent farming country, and I suspect the Burwell's were the principal land owners, and our John was note one of the first sons, so had to move on. In the records he is often called "Mr. John Burwell" and "Mr" in those days was a sign of respect for a man with wealth or learning.

John Burwell was married at least twice, first to Esther Winchester, and second to Alice Heath, both marriages being in England. Early Connecticut genealogies found reference to a second marriage of John Burwell, but missed the earlier marriage and the two or three children of that marriage. The Milford records just have “John Burwell of Hartford [Hertfordshire], husd to Alice,” joining the church there July 4, 1641, and dying in August 17, 1649. Extracts from the International Genealogical Index show the two marriages. There are many references to the marriage, most saying:

Hester WINCHESTER - International Genealogical Index. Note that Minsden is the same as Missenden, a part of HItchin

Gender: F Marriage: 25 Nov 1622 Hitchin, Hertford, England

One says Dec. 26. Most say either Minsden, Hertford, or Hitchin, Hertford.(Minsden is Missenden in the records, and on maps today, pronounced Minsden).

The same parish (Minsden) has the second marriage:

2. Alice HEATH - International Genealogical Index \ BI

Gender: F Marriage: 24 Jun 1635 Hitchin, Hertford, England

Some records also suggest John Burwell had a marriage previous to marrying Esther Winchester, and that there is an entry in Hemel Hempsted, Herts to that effect. The problem is that there seem to be a lot of John Burwells and it could be one of the others, including the Roxbury John. Some have speculated that John Burwell of Greenwich was a son of or grandson of John of Milford by this early marriage. It would be odd, given that John Burwell and Esther Winchester had a son they named John who inherited his father’s estate in Milford. Esther Winchester and John Burwell

The IGI has two girls named Esther/Hester Winchester were born in Hertfordshire around 1600, one in 1595 at Hemel Hempstead, some 25 miles southwest of Hitchin, and the other in Hitchin in 1602. The IGI reference to the Hitchin Esther, however, is clearly a surmise, probably from the date of her marriage. The one extracted directly from the records gives the christening at Nov. 14, 1595 at Hemel, Hertford. There is no known date for John Burwell’s birth, although his parents are known. I have seen dates around 1600 suggested, but he could easily have been born in the 1590s. Marriages in England at the time were often when the couple (or groom, at least) were in their late 20s. and a marriage at 27 is more likely than one at 20. Moreover, the Burwells had ties to Hemel Hempstead,(to give its full name). The later John Burwell who came to Greenwich, and is described as kin to the Burwell family held an estate was at Bovingdon, which is close to Hemel Hempstead.

If this analysis is correct, therefore, Esther Winchester, the daughter of Giles Winchester and Anne Howe, was born in Hemel, and the family moved perhaps 20 miles to the northeast to settle in Hitchin. Esther died while still a young woman in England before John remarried Alice Heath

Why John left England'

John Burwell was a follower of the Rev. Peter Prudden, a Cambridge graduate, and an Anglican priest. Prudden disliked the extensive rituals, elaborate vestments, strict adherence to the Book of Common Prayer, and limited freedom of opinion within the church.. Prudden was, in a word, a puritan, wanting a simpler, purer church, and a closer relation of his parishioners with God. He was not at the time a Separatist -- one who rejected the teachings of the Anglican Church, taking a more Calvinistic view of man and an even simpler church service. While Elizabeth I and James I had been reasonably tolerant of the Puritan wing of the church (though not so much of the Separatists), Charles I, who came to the throne in 1625, put much more value on the "high church" , and appointed William Laud, who favored very elaborate ceremonies and strict following of the prayer book, as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1629. Laud began to pressure the low-church priests to conform to High-Church teachings, replacing them with priests comfortable with his views. In that period, non-conforming ministers, particularly those that had a certain charisma, would take many of their congregations to New England to build their own communities, free from the persecutions and worldly temptations of England.

Prudden had a following and had been asked to lead congregations abroad. About 1637, he was asked by a Separatist, John Davenport, and a Puritan, Theophilus Eaton, to gather his followers together and travel to Boston, in search of a place to settle. Prudden agreed, but made ait clear that his followers would ultimately settle in a different town from the Davenport Group.

Shortly after arriving in Boston (Roxbury, then a separate town), the group heard of a war between the English settlers and Indian allies to drive the Pequot tribe out of what is now the New Haven area of Connecticut. The English and allies defeated the Pequots, virtually annihilating them, and the Davenport and Prudden groups moved in to the sparsely inhabited lands. They settled first at New Haven, and shortly thereafter, the Prudden group broke ground at Millford.

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John Burwell's Timeline

October 5, 1602
Sutton, Suffolk (Present Hertfordshire), England, (Present UK)
October 5, 1602
Suffolk, Eng.
October 5, 1602
Suffolk, England
October 5, 1602
Minsden Chapel, Hertfordshire, England
Age 17
Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England, (Present UK)
Age 19
Milford, New Haven Co., CT[1639/40] Hitchin, Hertfordshire, Eng.
September 25, 1623
Age 20
Hitchen, Hertfordshire, England
August 7, 1625
Age 22
Hitchin, Hartfordshire, Eng.
May 23, 1626
Age 23
Hitchens, Hertfordsshire, , England