Name of the Wife of Roger2 (Roger1) Terrill
of Woodbury, Litchfield Co., CT

Nancy Tyrrel Theodore, 30 Nov. 2013

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There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the identity of the wife of Roger2, namesake of Roger1 and Abigail (Ufford) Terrill.  We know his wife’s first name is Sarah, but her maiden name isn’t proven although it is either Scott or Risden/Risdon.  We know her first name is Sarah from several documents like the probate statement preceding Roger2’s will when in May of 1722 “Sarah Terrill ye Widow or Relict of Roger Terrill late of Woodbury deceased, came to this Court and Exhibited ye Will....”.  Further, on 10 August 1722 in an addendum to this will regarding Abigail “ye Eldest daughter of Mr. Roger Terrill,” it clearly states that as Abigail was unable to care for herself the court approved her “Mother Sarah Terrill” as a guardian.

Since no marriage record has been discovered for Roger and Sarah, speculation on Sarah’s last name rests on the reference to Sarah in the estate distribution of John Scott of 8 December 1713.  A footnote by Donald Lines Jacobus’ in his work on old Fairfield, Connecticut a:

“The estate of John Scott of Wallingford, 8 Dec 1713, was ordered distributed in equal shares, to Edmund, Samuel, George, David, Jonathan and Robert Scott, Sarah wife of Roger Terrill, and Robert Risden.  There is here something of a mystery.  The six Scotts were brothers, sons of the first Edmund Scott of Farmington (prob. by his second wife Elizabeth (Fuller) Upson).  They had a seventh brother, Joseph, who d. at Farmington in 1708, and was prob. father of the John whose estate was distributed.  They had also two sisters on the maternal side, who are not mentioned in the distribution, showing that only John’s uncles and aunts of the ‘whole blood’ participated.  It would appear likely that Mrs. Terrill and Robert Risden, who participated, were connected on the side of John Scott’s mother.  As a tentative hypothesis, Robert Risdon’s sister Sarah m. Roger Terrill of Woodbury; Mary Risden or another sister m. Joseph Scott and was mother of John.  While possible, this theory is far from proved.”

Anderson’s history of Waterbury, Connecticutb spends a chapter on “The Scott Family.”  The dangers of pioneering in Waterbury area are brought home by the suffering of this clan, especially at the hands of hostile Indians.  It says of Joseph, who was the eldest son of Edmund Scott of Waterbury: “Early in the history of the town [Bristol] a Mr. Scott who had begun to clear a piece of land on Fall Mountain, intending to remove hither from Farmington, was seized by a party of Indians and horribly tortured.  His screams were heard a long way; but the Indians were so many that no one dared to go to the rescue, and a considerable number of the settlers, fearing an attack from the infuriated Indians, hid themselves all day in the bushes near the river.”

It is fairly certain that John Scott was the only surviving son of this Joseph Scott, one of seven surviving sons of Edmund Scott.  By a deed of gift made by Edmund Scott, then of Waterbury, New Haven, Connecticutc, dated 11 June, 1690 he names his children, i.e., Joseph, Edmon, Samuel, George, Jonathan, David, Robert, Elizabeth and Hannah and the lands they are to receive.  He further gives the married names of his daughters as “my daughter Elizabeth David,” and, “my daughter Hannah Brunson.”  No Sarah.

Joseph received by this deed lands in Farmington, and three years later Farmington gave to Joseph Scott land in a place then called Poland, later Bristol.  Joseph was “killed” before 7 February 1708/9 at which time administration on his estate was granted to his brother Samuel.  His only child, John, fled to his kin in Waterbury.  Waterbury records show, “Dec 28, 1709, John Scott, son of Joseph Scott, deceased, was admitted an inhabitant in said town.” b

So... we have established that John Scott is the son of Joseph, and that his father predeceased him.  And, when John died, evidently childless, his estate was divided among his father’s brothers and, Sarah, wife of Roger Terrill, and Robert Risden.  It seems more probable that Sarah was not a Scott as she was not named in the Edmund Scott will.  It seems that the theory posited by Jacobus, that Risden could the maiden name of John’s mother, and that her sister Sarah Risden married Roger Terrill, is the more logical.  This is further borne out by including Robert Risden, a brother of Sarah Risden, both children of Robert Risden, a mariner.  There were other Risden siblings, Elisha the eldest son and another unnamed child with no further record who perhaps died young.  Elisha received land in Fairfield, CT from his wealthy father’s estate and this is perhaps why he was not named in John Scott’s estate distribution.

There are a few elusive links in this chain, one is the record of the marriage of John‘s father Joseph Scott to Mary Risden.  For now, we’ll work with this assumption that Mary Risden was John Scott’s mother and Joseph Scott’s wife to see if it makes genealogical sense.

Here are things that we know about Robert Risden and his family.  He was of Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.  There is a record of an indenture made to Daniel Travis, a carpenter, by Robert Risden, a mariner, dated 20 October 1659.f  By 1660 there is a Suffolk County deed conveying to Robert Risden a dwelling house from Daniel Travis for 49 pounds sterling.d

However, Robert was of Boston before 1659 as his first child was born there in 1654.  The record of children born in Massachusetts to Robert Risden and his wife, “Betteris” (Beatrice) are; i. Elisha born 25 January 1654, ii. Mary born 15 June 1659 and iii. Sarah born 29 May 1662.e  A son, iv. Robert, b. c. 1664, who joined the Stratford Church 26 July 1689 and died there 12 December 1727.  And a fifth child (his probate records state Robert left behind five children).a

By about 1663, Robert Risden had removed to Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut.g  But he wasn’t destined to enjoy Fairfield for long.  Robert’s will was probated in Fairfield, Fairfield, Connecticut Colony on 21 January 1666/67, where he was described as a mariner with considerable estate both in these parts and in the Island of Nevis, West Indies.

In a letter to a Colonel Russell, Governor of Nevis, it is recounted that on about August 1666, Robert Risden, Commander of the Providence, alias Virginia Merchant, came with his ship and considerable cargo to Nevis and was there “murthered.”  Upon which event, Governor Russell seized the ship and cargo upon “pretence” to secure the same for the proprietors.h

Letters of administration were issued on Robert Risden’s estate on 20 June 1667, at which time his wife was also deceased and there were five living children, all minors,i with instruction to the administrators that the sons were to be “put forth” until they were 21 and the girls until they were 18 or married.  The administrators were to pay the debts, gather estate from Nevis and elsewhere and told not to sell the principle of the estate but to “propound it for the children.”  Robert’s estate sold his property on the island of Nevis to Richard Lord.j

As Mary would have been 8 years of age, and Sarah 5 years of age in June of 1667, we lose track of them although it may be assumed they stayed in the Fairfield County, CT area where the administrators could keep an eye on them and their inheritance.  If Sarah married Roger Terrill when she was 18 years of age, that would have been about the year 1680.  Roger and Sarah Terrill’s first child, Abigail, was baptized 1 January 1681/2… so the dates certainly add up.

All of this is not proof positive that Roger married Sarah Risden, the sister of the wife of Joseph Scott, but the circumstantial evidence points strongly in that direction.


a  Families of Old Fairfield, Connecticut, by Donald Lines Jacobus, Vol. I, p. 503.  (Ancestry)

b  The town and city of Waterbury, Connecticut: from the aboriginal period to the year eighteen hundred and ninety five, Joseph Anderson (ed.), Vol. I, New Haven, Price & Lee, 1896, pp. 257-263.

c  “A Digest of the Early Connecticut Probate Records 1687 to 1695,” Page 116: “Edmund Scott, Sen., Waterbury. Invt £10-12-16.  Taken 16 April, 1691..... (as transcribed in the archives of Roots Web.)

d  Powers-Banks Ancestry, ... Charles Powers and Lydia Ann Banks, by William H. Powers, Ames Iowa 1921. Page 297.

e  Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, from Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts, Holbrook Research Institute. (Ancestry, enter Robert Risden)

f  Suffolk, Massachusetts Deeds, Lib. III (Boston: 1885), p. 385.

g  Fairfield, Conn, tercentenary, 1639-1939, Fairfield, CT, The Committee, 1940. Appendix B, “Known Settlers Before 1700”, page 76.

h  Acts of the Privy Council of England: Colonial Series, Vol. 1, 1613-1680 (Hereford, England: 1908). Page 460.

i  Abstract of Probate Records at Fairfield, County of Fairfield, and State of Connecticut, Vol. 2, 1665-1675.  Page 22.  By Spencer L. Meade, transcribed by Geri K. Ryerson.

j  Information on will and letters of administration on Ancestry.