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John Williams

Birthdate: (60)
Birthplace: Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts
Death: January 11, 1741 (60)
Pocketanock, New London, Connecticut
Place of Burial: Long Society Cem, Norwich, Connecticut
Immediate Family:

Son of Joseph Williams and Mary Williams
Husband of Mary Williams and Hester Williams
Father of Mary Giddings; Zipporah Greer; Joseph Williams; Benjamin Williams and Joseph Williams
Brother of Sarah Roath; Mary Williams; Hannah Williams and Preston Williams
Half brother of Capt. John Williams

Managed by: Hatte Blejer
Last Updated:

About John Williams

Ancestry of Lawrence Williams: part I, Ancestry of his father, Simeon Breed Williams, descendant of John Williams of Newbury and Haverhill, Mass., 1600-1674; part II, Ancestry of his mother, Cornelia Johnston, descendant of Thomas Johnston of Boston, Mass., 1708-1767 (Google eBook), Priv. prin. R.R. Donnelley and Sons Co., 1915.

John' Williams (Joseph,2 John1) was born in Haverhill, Mass., 17 Feb., 1679/80, and died in Poquetannock, Conn., 11 Jan., 1741/2. Of his early life we are profoundly ignorant and the earliest reference to him that we have is in a deed, made by the same Josiah Gaylord as before, on 2 Dec, 1701, to transfer 6}4 acres of land. This demonstrates that he moved to Norwich, as would be natural, not much later than his father, and agrees with the tradition attributed to a grandson of his, which gives that year as the date of his coming, when he was just at his majority. Subsequently to this, in conjunction with his father, and also by himself alone, he is purchaser of a number of tracts in the vicinity. There is ample testimony to his prominence among his fellow townsmen through the two score years of his after life. In early days, when Poquetannock was wholly within the limits of Norwich, he was one of its selectmen from 1721 to 1728, and later, an office of no trivial responsibility and honor.

In 1735 there was a petition to the General Assembly of the State that the Supreme Court in March and the Superior Court in November, for the County of New London, might be held in Norwich thereafter, and the petition was granted. Of the committee on the part of the town three men are named, of whom John Williams is the first. Two years after, in 1737, a bridge over the Shetucket was demanded to connect the "Landing" (Chelsea or Norwich City) with the East Society (Preston), whereupon a public subscription was taken up to defray the cost, and again he appears conspicuous as the highest contributor on the list, the full number of names being eighty-three. His interest in military affairs is shown in the two commissions he obtained from the State Assembly, in 1721 as Lieutenant, and in 1735 as Captain, in the 5th Company of the Eastern Society of Norwich, by which titles he is always referred to in town records and deeds thereafter. These were not as empty and complimentary as they too frequently have been in later days, and were the highest grades known to the colonists in times of peace. He was active not only in local affairs and in the school of the soldier, but socially, religiously, and as a publicspirited citizen.

He was influential as few others have been, in reaching out for new fields in the opening up of trade, and in the bringing of fresh business to the port of Norwich, which was just beginning at that early epoch to give promise of its subsequent importance. We read of vessels as early as 1715, venturing in the trade with the Barbadoes, and, although we do not know the names of the merchants connected with the enterprise, we may be assured that John' Williams was not behind in supporting it. We know that he owned two warehouses at the "Landing," besides a wharf. He developed the possibilities of the water-power at Poquetannock, where we learn of his having a sawmill, a gristmill and a fulling-mill. There was abundance of sheep in the neighborhood yielding wool in great plenty, and a fulling-mill, which, without doubt, included the entire manufacture of cloth as it was understood at that time, was a crying necessity.

The mill seat was bought in 1720, and the adjoining farm in 1723. Upon purchasing the latter he erected the dwelling house, which is still standing (1915) and has been an object of veneration for succeeding generations. It is situated at the bend of the road just before one enters the village of Poquetannock from the present city of Norwich, which is distant perhaps five miles by the river route. The house is on an eminence overlooking the spot where formerly stood the mill, and whence is had a fine view towards the west, of the waters of the cove. These waters were famous then and for years after for a very fine variety of oysters. The house is a large frame structure of the true colonial type. One of its renowned features is the fireplace in the parlor, faced with quaint Dutch tiles illustrating Scripture texts. This gave the house a reputation for miles around, and it is part of the testimony going to show it to have been the property of a man of wealth. Those tiles were imported from Holland at no little cost. Philip Doddridge, the eminent English divine, who was born in the year 1702, tells of his pious mother's teaching him his earliest lessons of Bible story from the pictures seen on just such old Dutch tiles in his infant home. Such a remembrance helps to prove that they were a prevalent mode of house ornamentation in England in that era, which the colonists in a measure imitated, and it is not at all unlikely that some children of lesser fame may have lisped their first impressions of Scripture characters from the blue tinted sketches on those tiles at Poquetannock.

John' Williams must certainly have been a man of charitable impulses. The records of 1711 and again of 1715 make mention of his contributions to the building of the meeting-house in Norwich for which there was granted a piece of land in requital; and he is [blocks in formation]

credited with having made a gift of the land at "Long Society," which includes the church site and the graveyard adjoining, where are buried the remains of its benefactor together with those of his wife and others of his family.

Great inconvenience had been experienced by the people dwelling in the East Society, particularly those in the extreme southeastern outskirts of the ecclesiastical district where Poquetannock was situated, in attending divine worship some seven or eight miles distant; for every individual was not only compelled to pay church rates, but was also expected to attend service regularly. After petitioning ineffectually in the matter for a period extending through upwards of a score of years, the privilege was grudgingly given to those devout citizens to erect a new and distinct parish, on which they bestowed the name of "Long Society" because of the narrow width of its territorial limitations. The place for this house of worship was some three and a half miles due north of Poquetannock village, on the road hence to the Shetucket Ferry, by which the Sabbath journeyings must have been shorn of fully half their former length. The services were begun in 1726 under the pastorate of the Rev. Jabez Wight, who continued there until he died, in 1782, and since then no other preacher has been settled in his place, even the building having been suffered to go to decay. Of late years a new frame structure has been built in its stead as a Mission Sunday School under the auspices of the Congregationalist Society. At present it is used as a town hall.

That John* Williams was a man of mark and one of the most prosperous in the colonies for his day and generation, is a matter of record. In the diary of Joshua Hempstead, of New London, a most faithful record of current affairs, excelling the daily newspapers of the 18th century, is found this entry: "Jan. 12. 1741/2, Capt. John Williams died at Poquetannock, of pleurisy after seven days illness. He was a good Commonwealth's man, traded much by sea and land with good success- for many years, and acquired wholly by his own industry a great estate. He was a very just dealer aged about 60 years."

His total estate was estimated at £21,727. Among the personal effects were five negroes valued at £600. Very few fortunes in the early days of the eighteenth century, particularly in the United Colonies, approached anything like this figure. The will provides for his son Joseph not yet of age, the only child surviving (and the only one to carry down the Williams name) his two sons-in-law, and his widow Mary, who was made executrix.

The old burial ground at "Long Society" has had no interment for many years. Names familiar in local history are found there on the old stones of which there are a hundred or more. The ground is uneven and somewhat rocky, and in the northwest quarter, back of the meeting-house, far away from the noise and dust of the country road, are a number of head stones especially interesting to the descendants of John' Williams. This cluster of graves of himself, his wife, and his children, lies on the declivity of a little hill, at whose foot babbles a narrow brook, and no others are beyond or below them.

--------------------------------------- This material is NOT related to this John Williams [Hatte Blejer April 27, 2011]

ID: I592989140 Name: John WILLIAMS Given Name: John Surname: Williams Sex: M Birth: Abt 1684 in Bertie Co. North Carolina Birth: 1679 in Redruth, Cornwall, England 1 2 Change Date: 15 Sep 2003 Note: [Edward Thomas Ray Descendants.FTW] [Descendants of Benjamin Williams b 1545.FTW] Please contact me at for more information and/or cor rections. While direct family lines have been documented and verified, ma ny of the relationships found in this file are the result of information g athered on the internet and should

Father: Robert WILLIAMS b: 22 Mar 1655 in Redruth, Cornwall, England Mother: Katherine EDDY b: 1654 in Phillack, Cornwall, England

Marriage 1 Ann UNKNOWN Children

Ann WILLIAMS b: 1710 in Bertie Co. North Carolina

Marriage 2 Cordelia ROBERTS b: 1675 in Saint Gluvias, Cornwall, England Married: 26 Dec 1715 in Redruth, Cornwall, England 3 1 2 Children

Stephen WILLIAMS b: 1715 in Redruth, Cornwall, England
Michael WILLIAMS b: 1726 in Redruth, Cornwall, England

Sources: Title: Descendants of Benjamin Williams b 1545.FTW Repository: Title: Edward Thomas Ray Descendants.FTW Repository: Title: Family History Online Note: ABBR Family History Online

John Williams, "The Wealthy Welshman" John Williams. (A few sources may use "Jonathon", but I will use "John", as that is the name that John Drayton Williams recorded in 1845 and I will continue with this tradition.**). John Williams was born 26 January 1679 in Llangollen, Wales. [** John Drayton Williams, the grandson of Brig Gen. James Henderson Williams (killed at the Battle of Kings Mountain), recorded in 1845, names and birthdates of early family members. These he kept with the family Bible. In 1910 Barbara A. McClung, copied these records, loaned to her by Wm. D. Williams, Jr. of Greenville, Tenn. Where ever possible I use the dates, like John's birth, used in this document. ]

John's wife was named Mary_____, b. 26 Sept 1684. (Mary's full name is generally accepted as Mary Keeling, the d/o of Capt. George Keeling and Ursula Fleming. If so she was born in America.) John is believed to have immigrated to America in the 1690's. He appears to have first settled on Queens' Creek in York County, Virginia but they later moved to Hanover County, Virginia and built their home "Studley" sometime before 1712.

Why was John wealthy? Some surmise he earned his wealth like other immigrants to Virginia often did, by growing tobacco. That is possible. He probably was a good wheeler-dealer, made money off that, possibly land as well. But most definitely, the early generations of the family were involved in the distilling of Whiskey. This I am sure is a trade that was brought over from Wales, as it seems to be a popular beverage from all the countries that border the Irish Sea. In fact as late as 1904, the family was advertising the sale of Old Williams Whiskey from their distillery in Williams, Surry County, North Carolina. It states that "The Old Williams Company" of Williams, N.C. was founded in 1768. This business was run by the descendants of John's son Nathaniel (b. 1712). It is probably a family trade handed down over the generations dating much earlier. Just my guess.

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John Williams's Timeline

February 17, 1680
Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts
February 17, 1713
Age 33
Norwich, New London, Connecticut, United States
July 1715
Age 35
January 22, 1719
Age 38
July 28, 1720
Age 40
Norwich, New London, Connecticut, United States
April 23, 1723
Age 43
Poquetanuck, CT, United States
January 11, 1741
Age 60
Pocketanock, New London, Connecticut
December 8, 1885
Age 60