The “Honoured” John2 and Abigail Terrill and Their Children

Nancy Tyrrel Theodore, July 2009

Updated and documents added, 31 Aug. 2012

All highlighted and underlined items in this article are links to DORII articles, or to
copies of original documents (PDF files of size 2 MB or less or JPEGs of ~1 MB).

John,2 a carpenter, is the eldest son of Roger1 and Abligail (Ufford) Terrill of Milford, Connecticut. He was baptized in Milford’s First Church in August 1644.i We don’t know when he married Abigail _______, although their first recorded child, John3, was born 10 March 1675/6.*

At this time Abigail’s maiden name is unknown. What we do know is that Abigail “wife of brother John Terrill” was baptized and admitted to the First Church of Milford on 14 August 1681,ix after “brother John Terrill,” was “accepted to full communion” on [May?] 3rd of that year, having already been baptized as an infant/child in 1644. The fact that Abigail was baptized as an adult almost certainly rules out her being a child from a family of one of Milford’s fourty-four plus founding church membersii, whose children could receive the covenant of baptism,iii and somewhat narrows the field in the ongoing search for her origins.

The information presented below for the ten children of John and Abigail is based on early Milford vital recordsiv, Milford First Church recordsix, Barbour vitalsvi, with additional data from “The Terrill Family of Connecticutvii, and original documents. All of the children were born in Milford:

1. John3, b. 10 Mar 1675/6 [MV1:30]; d. s.p.

2. Samuel3, b. 2 Apr 1678 [MV1:32]; bp. 10 Jul. 1681 ix; m. Mary Smith in Milford 4 Nov 1707/8 (sic) [MV1:65]; w.w. 25 Sep 1750, w.p. 13 Oct 1750.

3. Abigail3, b. 13 June 1681 [MV 1:39]; bp. 10 Jul. 1681 ix; d. s.p.

4. Bethia3, b.c. 1683-4 vii; d. at Wallingford, CT, 28 Dec 1753; m.13 Nov 1706, Joseph Hall.

5. Sarah3, b.c. 1685-6; bp. ca. Jan. 1685/6 ix, xviii; m.1) John Hubbart 4 Nov 1707/8 (sic) [MV1:65]; m. 2) 4 Dec 1722, Lewis Wilkinson.

6. John3, bp. 27 Nov 1687 ix; d. s.p.

7. Hannah3, bp. 8 Sep 1689 ix; m. 6 Mar 1723/4, Richard Burton in Milford. Before marriage Hannah had a natural child in May 1718 by Joseph Pritchard.viii

8. Nathan3, bp. 22 Oct 1693 ix; m. Ruth Buck at New Milford, CT, 7 June 1721, [New Milford LR 2:352]x; w.w.14 May 1746, w.p. 6 Aug 1754. Will calls Nathan of North Stratford, now Trumbull, CT.

9. Josiah3, bp. 18 Aug 1695 ix; m. in Milford 1 Jan 1723/4 Mary Goodwin; w.w.7 Apr 1764, w.p. 5 Apr 1768; d. at Waterbury, CT 27 Sep 1767 [Waterbury LR 1:342].

10. Gamaliel3, bp. 14 Aug 1698 ix; m. Elizabeth Scott in New Milford, CT 17 May 1725 [New Milford LR 2:339]; w.w.13 Nov 1761, w.p.11 Apr 1769. Gamaliel settled first in New Milford where his children were born, the family then removed to Waterbury. His will calls him of Waterbury.


Abbreviations: b.
-born, bp.-baptized, c.-circa or about, d.-died, LR- Land Records, m.-married, MV–Milford Vital Records, s.p.-without issue, w.p.-will probated or proved, w.w.–will written.

Obviously, John and Abigail had hoped for namesakes, but it wasn’t to be. All of their children survived except the two Johns and Abigail, who are recorded only in birth records.

As we have already seen by the relationships spelled out in land records for John and his siblingsxi, deeds once again offer a treasure trove of family connections.

On 12 March 1704/5, John did “give and Bequeath unto my Son Samuell Terrill” land within the bounds of Milfordwhich is a part of my home lot.” But that wasn’t all. Samuel’s land had “a new house of his own upon it.” As a carpenter, John evidently made good use of his skills, and by doing so ensured that his eldest son was in a position to embark upon married life. Samuel took that step on 4 November 1707 when Capt. Eells, Justice of the Peace, married not only he and Mary Smith in Milford, but his sister Sarah and John Hubbard on the same day.

On 19 June 1717, John, “in consideration of the afection and parental love I bear to my loving and dutiful son Nathan Terrill,” gave the “share and Right and Title and proportion which I have in a tract of land known by the name of New Milford.” John had purchased this land from the heirs of Amos Northrup, the Right being Nathan’s first forty acres. Nathan purchased a second forty acres in 1722 and went on to become “an influential, successful farmer” in New Milford according to Orcutt’s history of New Milford.xii However, on a deed of sale by Nathan to his brother Josiah Terrill of Milford, dated 18 April 1722, Nathan referred to himself as a “joyner.” In Colonial New England, a “joiner” was a carpenter who joined things together, such as chests or cabinets. Today a joiner would be called a finish carpenter.

The dual vocations for Nathan wouldn’t have been that unusual, although his carpentry skills were probably a cut above most. In early Milford, most of the men were farmers, and every farmer had to be a “Jack-of-all-trades’… cut his own timber and mill it, build his own house, barn and fences, and make many of his own tools and equipment. There were few skilled artisans in early Milford, the only so-designated carpenter being, George Clark, Sr.”xiii One wonders if John was apprenticed to George Clark and then passed his carpentry skills on to Nathan.

On 25 January 1719/20, John deeded to Samuel, in “consideration of ye Natural Love I bear to and affection I have to my dutyful son,” several acres of land consisting of another two acres of the homelott, and about 30 acres of meadow. It will be noted that Samuel was receiving the lions-share of John’s estate. It was the custom of the time that the children would share in equal parts in the estate, except, as spelled out in the 1653 New Haven Code, “with due respect to the eldest Son, who is to have a double child’s portion.”xiv Samuel was the eldest son.

On 29 January 1719/20, John Terrill, “carpenter” in “consideration of his Love & Affection to his two Youngest sons Josiah Terrill & Gamaliel Terrill for ye settlement in ye world,” gave them the remainder of his home lot not set off for Samuel, along with the house, barn, and orchard; plus, about 18 ½ more acres lying in three meadows.

It may seem curious that John gave this land to his sons jointly, but there was a reason for this. John was in a rush. He was growing old and his health was failing, and his two youngest sons were not as yet married and on their own. We know this because of several deeds.

On 30 March 1720, Samuel and Josiah struck a bargain. “Samuel Terrill of Milford…. for and in Consideration of tht whereas my Honoured Father & Mother John & Abigail Terrill of Milford aforesd are by ye goodness of God allowed to live to old age: for which favour I pray God make me thankfull: and my Father by Reason of age and other Infirmities not being able to provide for his own support or ye support of my Mother, and I accounting my[self] as in Duty bound according to my abbility fo Relieve them in there old age.” Samuel deeded Josiah land as his part in the care of John and Abigail…. two parcels upon the promise that “Josiah Terrill will from time to time take ye whole & sole Care of our Father and Mother.”

By deed of 31 March 1720, Josiah officially promised to “take ye whole & sole Care of our Honoured Father & Mother.” Josiah then sold back to Samuel the same land that Samuel had just laid out to him as a guarantee of his performance. This “obligation or Deed of Mortgage to be void and of none effect” when Josiah fullfilled his duty in caring for John and Abigail.

On 22 March 1720/21, youngest son Gamaliel also deeded land to Josiah for the care of “my Honoured Father & Mother John & Abigail Terrill.” With this deed, Gamaliel also contributed to the care of his parents.

These deeds are proof against the theory of some that John’s children had two mothers (with Abigail being his first wife). The eldest son, Samuel, and the youngest son, Gamaliel, both name John and Abigail as their father and mother. (For more on these deeds, see DOR Newsletter Vol. IV, Number 2, pages 14 and 15, “John2 – Josiah3 & Samuel3 Proof.”)

As admirable as these documents are, as in every man’s life, not everything runs smoothly.

There is a mysterious land record of 22 November 1706 regarding a judgment against John. Mysterious because it doesn’t give details on what was behind the action. The record reads like this…. Samuel Newton, Samuel Northrop and Louis Liron, all of Milford, were appointed to “apprize an Estate tendered to Josuah Hotchkiss County sheriff” for New Haven, offered by “John Tyrrell for satisfaction of a Judgement recovered against the sd Tyrrell by Benjamin Coney of Stratford according to two Executions on sd Judgement for Debt and Charges.”

The “Estate,” in the form of land for the three men to “apprize” for sufficiency, seems rather substantial, being two parcels of “arable” land. One being three and a half acres lying in a field called “West bareneck,” valued at “twenty one pounds money” with another parcell on the westward side called Spring Lot, measuring half an acre and twenty roods, valued at “three pounds, four shillings and four pence money,” which “Sums of Money amount to ye total Sum to be levyed on the Estate.” This total sum was a little over 24 pounds.

On the reverse of this document are the specifics of the transfer of this land on 27 November 1706. Peter Burr, Clerk of the County Court of Fairfield, and Eleazer Kimberly Secretary of the Colony of Stratford, “seized” the parcells of land “delivered to me by John Terrill of Milford” and “delivered the same to Benjamin Cony of Stratford…”

The “why” for this judgment can only be speculation at this point. But, here is a guess. In Orcutt’s history of Stratford, we find that Benjamin Coney of Stratford is the son of John of Boston. John Coney of Boston may be the key to this puzzle. It’s unclear (at least to me) if John Coney is Benjamin’s father or brother, but one thing is clear, Benjamin was apprenticed to John Coney, silversmith of Boston, in 1686.xv

Just who was John Coney? He was a renowned silversmith and engraver, and held in very high esteem. He made the plates for the first paper money of America, that of Massachusetts Bay, in 1690. Apprenticed to him, besides Benjamin, was a Huguenot Frenchman by the name of Appollos De Rivoirs or Rivoire who Anglicized his name to Revere. Revere’s eldest son was Paul Revere who learned his trade from his father.xvi

So, it’s not too far afield to surmise that because of his apprenticeship, Benjamin was himself a silversmith. And, that he received a commission from John that John either couldn’t, or wouldn’t, pay. What could Benjamin have made for John? Early silversmiths made a “large number of spoons, as well as a few other things for domestic use, notably porringers, casters, and cream jugs.”xvii Such items in Colonial Connecticut would be very prized. Whatever the case, John paid up and evidently the matter ended there.

As can be seen from the record, this incident was a departure from the way John usually conducted himself. It is heartwarming to see how he distributed his estate to his sons while he was living so that they could start to make their “settlement in ye world.” And, that in return, they saw to “ye whole & sole Care of our Honoured Father & Mother” in their old age. There is no record of a will or inventory of estate for John, but from land records we know both he and Abigail died at advanced ages sometime after 22 March 1720/21.

~ ~ ~ ~

*The American Colonies did not make the switch to the Gregorian style calendar in current use until 1752, when the whole British Empire changed. Primarily it was the Roman Catholic counties that had already made the change, some as early as 1582. Until 1752, the colonists used the Old Style (OS) Julian calendar, which meant their year ended on 24 March, not December 31. So, in order to remedy this disparity between the old and new style calendars, dates from January 1 to March 24 of a year were shown with double-dating. For example, an event that occurred on 24 March would be written as “24 March 1710/11,” and the year would be recognized now as 1711. However, the very next day, the first day of the Colonial New Year, the date would be written “25 March 1711.” So, it isn’t that the exact year of a Colonial event between January 1 and March 24 (until 1752) wasn’t known, it’s just that it was shown with both the old and new style year.

There isn’t a birth record for John2. He and his sister, Abigail2, were baptized at the same time so it isn’t known which one was the eldest of the two. One was probably an infant, and one a young child, but the records are silent on which was which.

i. DORII, “Milford First Congregational Church Records - Vol. 1, 1639-1837.” LDS Film #1012263

ii. DORII, “The 1639, 1643 and 1646 Lists of Milford Free Planters.”

iii. Possible Pasts: Becoming Colonial in Early America, edited by Robert Blair St. George, Cornell University Press, 2000, “Puritanism’s Progress From ‘Religion and Society’ to Practices: The New Religious History,” by David D. Hall, pages 148-159.

iv. The American Genealogist, Volume 9, “Milford (Conn.) Vital Records,” pages 100-120 and 158-173.

v. Families of Early Milford, Connecticut, compiled by Susan Woodruff Abbott, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1979, pages 738-740.

vi. Connecticut Vital Records, Barbour Collection for New Milford and Waterbury.

vii. The American Genealogist, Volume 25, page 38, “The Terrill Family of Connecticut,” by Donald Lines Jacobus.

viii. The American Genealogist, Volume 34, “New Haven County Court Records, Marriage and Birth Evidences,” page 58: “November 1718….Hannah Terrill of Milford; Joseph Prichard of Milford father of her child born last May.”

ix. Milford First Church Records, LDS Film #1012263.

x. New Milford Land Records, Vols 1-2, LDS Fillm # 5189.

xi. DORII, “Roger1 Terrill’s Sons – by Deed We Shall Know You.”

xii. History of the Towns of New Milford and Bridgewater, Connecticut, 1703-1882, by Samuel Orcutt, Case, Lockwood and Brainard, 1882, pages 70-71.

xiii. History of Milford, Connecticut 1639-1939, Federal Writers Project, page 11.

xiv. Records of the Colony or Jurisdiction of New Haven from May, 1653, to the Union, by Charles J. Hoadley; Case, Lockwood and Company, 1858, “New Haven Code of 1656” pages 612-14.

xv. Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths and Jewelers, Yale University Art Gallery, 1998, distributed by University Press of New England.

xvi. Paul Revere and the World He Lived In, Esther Forbes, Mariner Books,1999, pages vii & 7-11.

xvii. Early Connecticut Silver 1700-1840, Peter Bohan and Phillip Hammerslough, Wesleyan University Press, distributed by University Press of New England, pages 13-14.

xviii. Nineteen children, including Sarah Tyrrell, are listed as having been baptized on 29 Nov. 1685. This is an unusually large number for a single day. Jacobus vii gave Sarah's date of baptism as "ca. Jan. 1685/6", presumably believing that the baptisms between 29 Nov. and the following 17 Jan. (the next date listed) were "catch-up" entries, and estimating an actual date for Sarah.