Nicholas Disborough

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Nicholas Disborough

Also Known As: "Disbro", "Desbrough", "Disbrow", "Desbrow"
Birthdate: (71)
Birthplace: Saffron Walden, Essex, England
Death: Died in Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut Colony
Place of Burial: Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Nicholas Disbrough and Mary Disbrough
Husband of Mary Disbrowe and Elizabeth Disborough
Father of Henry Disbrow, I; Sarah Eggleston; Mary Spencer; Hannah Kelsey; Phoebe Disborough and 1 other
Brother of Henry Desborough; Mary Desborough; William Desborough; Walter Desborough and John Desborough

Occupation: Carpenter/Cabinet Maker, Carpenter
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Nicholas Disborough

Nicholas Disborough

  • Birth: June 16 1612 / Abt 1613 - Saffron Waldon, Essex, England
  • Death: Aug 31 1683 - Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut
  • Parents: Nicholas Disbrowe, Mary Gylbye
  • Married: Mary Brunson; Elizabeth Shepard, widow of Thwaite Strickland
  • AKA: Nicholas Desborough, Nicholas Disbrow, Nicholas Disbroe

Biographical Summary:

Nicholas Desborough (Disbro, Desbrough, Disbrow, Desbrow), Hartford, 1639, a proprietor "by courtesie of the town"; his home-lot was on the east side of road to the Cow Pasture (North Main St.), not far from the present tunnel. He served in the Pequot War; received a grant of fifty acres for his services, May 11, 1671. He married 1640, Mary Brunson, probably sister of John. Chosen chimney-viewer, 1647, 1655, 1663, 1669; surveyor of highways, 1665; freed from training, etc, March 6, 1672-3, when sixty years old. He married (2), after 1669, Elizabeth, widow of Thwaite Strickland.1 Cotton Mather (Magnalia, vi. 69) tolls a marvelous story of molestations in Desborough's house by invisible hands, in 1683. He died in 1683; inventory August 31, £81. 15.


i. Mary, married Obadiah Spencer, of Hartford,

ii. Sarah, married Samuel Eggleston, of Middletown; died 1683, aged 71.

iii. Phebe, baptized December 20, 1646; married John Kelsey, of Hartford, who removed to Killingworth.

iv. Abigail, born Fob. 1, 1648-9; married (1) Robert Flood, of Wethersfield; (2) Matthew Barry.

SOURCE: James Hammond Trumbull, editor, The memorial history of Hartford County, Connecticut, 1633-1884, Volume 1 (Boston, Massachusetts: Edward L. Osgood, 1886), page 237. Retrieved: 3 May 2011 from Google Books

Note: Grandpa a witch?


  1. New England Marriages Prior to 1700, by Clarence Almon Torrey (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011) Vol. I, p. 456. DISBOROUGH, Nicholas (1612-1683) & Elizabeth (?SHEPARD) STRICKLAND, w. Thwaite; 30 Jun 1674 or ?bef; Hartford
  2. New England Marriages Prior to 1700, by Clarence Almon Torrey (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011) Vol. I, p. 456. DISBROW, Nicholas (1612-1683) & 2/wf? Mary [BRONSON]; by 1640, by 1648?; Hartford/Killingworth,CT

"He married his first wife Mary Brownson March 01, 1639/40 in Hartford Connecticut. Their known children are Mary, Sarah, Hannah, Phebe, and Abigail Disborough. He was later married to Elizabeth Shepard." (from Find A Grave Memorial# 20836116)

Nicholas served in the Pequot Indian War and for this service he received a grant of fifty acres on 11 May 1671. He was Hartford's chimney viewer and surveyor of highways. He was oneof the few inhabitants of Hartford who was allowed to bring woodand keep sheep in the village comman. He was a furniture maker and some of his work is displayed at the Hartford Anthenaeum, aswell as the Metropolitan Museum of NYC. This information is recorded in "The Original Propietors of Hartford Connecticut,Vol. I, page 237.

Served in the Pequot Indian War, surveyor of highways, chimney viewer, furniture maker in Hartford, CT

Nicholas was also charged with witchcraft in 1683, as Cotton Mather told a story of molestations in Desborough's house by invisible hands. This included things being thrown at Nicholas while he was in his house (stones, indian corn). The case was dropped prior to Nicholas' death.

From [ The Disbrows - Chapter 3.  NICHOLAS DISBROW (1612 - 1683)]

In 1660 he obtained permission to build a 16-foot- square shop on the highway - probably the first recorded road-side stand.  He held the office of "Chimney Viewer" (Tax Assessor) in 1647, 55, 63, and 69.  In 1665 he was Surveyor of Highways, thus preceding your Uncle Don inthat office by exactly 270 years.       In 1669, Mary Brunson having presumably died meanwhile, Nicholas now 57 married again, this time Elizabeth, the young widow of one Thwaite Strickland, and the mother of four children.  This union of June and December seems to have been the cause of no end of excitement for our Henry Disbrow in the neighborhood of Oyster Bay that same summer as we shall later see; but the marriage itself must have worked out smoothly enough for we find no entries to the contrary.

For his services in the Pequot War, Nicholas was on May 11th, 1671 granted fifty acres of land.  On March 16 1673, at the age of 60, he was freed from further liability for military service.  A little later he was charged with practicing witch-craft, the charge apparently being dragged into the proceedings surrounding a disputed bill for a chest he had made and delivered to Colonel Allyn. It was here too that Mary Brunson's unfortunate girlhood experience was entered as evidence of something or other.

Through all these years Nicholas continued his trade of furniture maker and when he died in 1683 he left a total property of £210, a sizeable estate for Hartford in those days.  He is today rated highly as the earliest American cabinet maker.  


Married: 1 MAR 1639/40 in Hartford, Hartford, CT to Mary Brunson. Torrey indicated birth of first child in 1640. He indicated Mary [Brunson] might have been a second wife. Louise Barker got the marriage specifics from a Richard, name not further specified. (3 5 6 2)


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Nicholas Disborough's Timeline

June 16, 1612
Saffron Walden, Essex, England
January 16, 1614
Age 1
Saffron Walden, Essex, England
Age 24
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Age 25
Hartford, (Present Hartford County), Connecticut Colony, (Present USA)
July 1, 1641
Age 29
Hartford, Hartford , Connecticut
June 19, 1645
Age 33
Hartford, Hartford County, CT, USA
December 20, 1646
Age 34
February 5, 1648
Age 35