The Capt. Avery house built in1656 near the mouth of the
Connecticut River, and later added to. It burned in the 19th century.

colonyletterlead.jpgf the ten human beings we have come to know as the Lord Family, descended from Richard and Joane Lord of Towcester, Northamptonshire, in the first decade of the 17th century, none save one returned to England to live, ever again. Their tale, up to this point, c. 1640, has been an adventure, and sometimes a mystery. But it does not end here, nor do the final pages of each person's life story represent an anti-climax to what might seem to be the high point - the founding of the capital of the Colony of Connecticut in 1636.

As we trace out the "end game"of each member of this family of ten - who once sat around a table together in Towcester, England in 1630, and now a decade later again sit around a table on the banks of the Little River in Hartford, New England - we recognize how much we do not know about them and how they lived. And yet there is a great deal we do know and can discover.

In these pages I have been forced to use my imagination often. "Imagination" - the root being "image", or the creation of a mental picture, or visualization, of the past. And one of the images I have most wanted to "see" in each epoch of this family's history..... Towcester, Newtowne and Hartford.... has been of what each of them might have called, as did Richard Lord in 1610 - "the house wherein I now dwell..."

But while an early 17th century house in Old England might easily be found and with relatively few modifications, in New England they simply no longer exist; or if they can be identified as being first built in that era, they have been so heavily modified as to be unrecognizable, even by those who lived in them. In the Unites States, the investigation and recording of historic buildings really did not start until the early 20th century, and images (both engravings and descriptions) of such houses can rarely be found until after the mid-19th century. It may even be suggested that it was not until after the mid-18th century that people had any general interest in the architecture in which they lived, for then it was not yet "historic". 

And in those rare instances where a house built during the early to middle 17th century in New England survives, as in the one shown at the top of this page, it resembles little any of the houses the Lords of Towcester lived in from 1633 to the end of the 17th century, by which time they all had passed away.

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The Avery House, (at the top of this page and above),  was built not far from Hartford in 1656. Around 1684 the owner bought a disused church building in New London, reputed to have been preached in by Thomas Hooker, and reconstructed it as a wing to his existing house. By the time the photograph above, center, was taken, the house had no doubt had additional modifications. However, one can see the remnants of a 17th century structure (like that at left) on one end and the clearly late-17th, to early-18th style (above, right.) at the other. This structure burned in 1894, so more definitive architectural evidence is lacking. The Lord homes in Hartford no doubt evolved in similar fashion.,if they survived at all.

And we will never be able to put a face to any of this family, for they were not rich enough to have their portraits done, nor famous enough to be captured in some historic panorama, painted to record a moment of import. But we can know a bit of their lives after they arrived in Hartford in 1636, for as with all these "adventurers and pioneers" there has been a great deal of effort focused on them, second only perhaps to the families that came on the Mayflower in 1620. So this page will attempt to put life to the names that we have come to know well in the records of  New England.


The Lords of Hartford - 1636



A page from Gov. Winthrop's Journals - 1629

Thomas Lord, Sr.

Age 51 on arrival in Hartford

Thomas Lord remains a shadowy figure, both in Towcester and in Hartford. He is rarely mentioned in the colonial records, and then only to attribute land rights to him. One confusion that arises in genealogical summaries is that references to "Thomas Lord" are often really references to his son, Thomas Lord, Jr., who seems to have had a much more active and visiable role in Connecticut history. Although the partiarch of the family, it is clear that his oldest son, Richard, was de facto leader in matters concerning the relocation of the family to Hartford, and although Thomas, Sr. is reputed to have been a close friend of both Gov. Haynes and Rev. Hooker, there is little primary evidence for that.

In the decade preceding the arrival of Thomas in Hartford, settlements in New England attempted to maintain the strict English structure of class and status that was familiar to them. And within that structure, the son of a "yeoman", which Thomas clearly was, would be considered of little standing in the community - even by some to be nothing but a servant to the "gentlemen" settled there. But by the 1630s, much of this system had broken down in favor of a more pragmatic idea, (see below) where status depended less on one's birth and more on ones role in the new society. Those with special skills were treated with respect, while often the so-called "gentlemen" were treated with derision, due to their lack of contribution to the sucess of the community.


"On the frontier, a Gentleman is any adult white male who is not in jail at the moment being alluded to."

At age 51 on his arrival here, Thomas was, in that time, and old man. And one would assume he might have written a will at any time, even before leaving England on a perilous sea voyage. But in spite of being the head of this large and prominent family, his death is unrecorded and no will was left behind. It is clear his wife, Dorothy, inherited the estate, and as she lived to 1675 and did leave a detailed will and estate inventory, so much that is not known of Thomas can be inferred from evidence connected to Dorothy (also written as "Dorathy" in Connecticut documents. I will use both spellings depending on the context.)

Thomas, Sr. is supposed to have died about 1655, which would make him age 70. And certainly he was dead prior to 1667, when his son, Thomas, Jr., died, for after that point there is no mention of a "Thomas Lord". And in her will written early in 1670, Dorothy is clearly in possession of the entire Lord estate in Hartford. We may have a glmpse of his professional life from the entry "A Smith Tho: Lord" on the ship's list in London for 1635, and the fact that his eldest son likely was a metalsmith in 1638 in Hartford (repairing used armor from the Pequot War). But it is safe to assume that by the time he got settled into Hartford, c. 1640, he was too old to be actively involved in either his trade or community life. He may have taken his satisfaction in his children, who could go on in his place to help build the new colony. Beyond this, we know little of him.

Dorathy Lord

Age 48 on arrival in Hartford

Before she even left England, Dorathy Lord could credit herself with great accomplishment in that she had 8 surviving children in an age when infant mortality was a constant threat. And by the end of her life in 1675, she could take credit for achieving - at age 87 - a life span remarkable even now, 400 years later, with advanced health care, medical technology and comfortable living conditions. Much more so then, having spent the last 40 years of her life on the American frontier. She spent the first half of her life in Towcester, being born there in May of 1588. 

"I Dorathy Lord of Hartford in the colony of connecticutt in New England, being stricken in yeares and at present labouring under some bodily weakness, though through the mercy of God I at present have the use of my understanding and memorie - yet I know not how suddainly the Lord may put an end unto my fewe dayes in this life, and therefore, according to my duty, I am willing so to setle and dispose of that litle estate the Lord hath lent me, that peace may be continued amongst my children, when I am gather'd to my Fathers; and in order thereunto I doe declare this as followeth to be my last will and Testament."

We might know as little of Dorathy as we do of her husband, who she outlived by at least a quarter century, except for her will (above), written in Feb. 1669 (new date 1670). She is mentioned only once in the Colonial records prior to her death, and that in May of 1663 (see below), the reading of which suggests her husband is already dead by then. Certainly the Court was not expecting Dorathy, at 75 years of age, to go fix the fences herself, as "rail-splitting" for the common "snake" or "worm" fences used in periods of initial settlement (below, left) was heavy labor, even for grown men (below, right). But the fact that the court is addressing this issue to Dorathy, not her husband, proves that Thomas, Sr. was deceased by this date. Some 19th century sources claim he "died early" (whatever that means). But clearly Dorathy outlived him by a number of years.

May, 1663



Tragically, by living to 1675, Dorathy also outlived her two oldest sons, Richard who died in 1662 and Thomas, Jr. who died in 1667. She also outlived her two youngest sons - John, who died c. 1668 and Robert who died c. 1673. She names her eldest living son William, and her grandson by her deceased son Richard, also named Richard, as executors of her will, confirming her husband Thomas, her eldest son Richard and her next oldest son Thomas, Jr. were all dead by late winter of 1669-1670.


"I doe ordaine and constitue my son William and my Grandson Richard my executors, and desire my loveing friend Mr. John Allyn to be overseer of this my will, and for the confirmation hereof I have hereunto set my hand this 8th of feb. 1669."

As each of her children had their own heirs, we may assume that the properties described in her will of 1669-70 were those also of her husband, Thomas Lord, Sr., and passed directly to her as his survivor, although one early source suggests Thomas died intestate and what Dorathy describes is only her "widow's share". We have no way of knowing. The properties she does describe included: 

  • "...my now dwelling house and Barn, and my Home lott..."
    • Left to the children of her late son Thomas, Jr. and presumed to be the house lot assigned to her husband in 1636. 
  • "...my lower lott in the North meadow..."
    • Also left to the children of her late son Thomas, Jr.
  • "Three acres of Meadow or swamp in my uper lott in the long meadow next to that Mrs. Olcott hath now in possession."
    • Left to her daughter Amy, now married to Corporal John Gilbert.
  • "Three acres of my upper lott adjoyneing to that which I have given my daughter Gilbert."
    • Left to her son Robert.
  • "Two acres in my Great lott in the long meadow next adjoyneing to that which I have given my son Robert."
    • Left to her son William.
At this point Dorathy has split her "upper lott" into three 3-acre parcels, and she leaves the remainder of that property (acreage unknown but probably not less than 3 acres) to her grandson, Richard. as well as an apparently large parcel of meadow between the Connecticut River and Little River (see map here). And to her grandson Richard she also leaves an area of "wood land that is allready layd out or to be layd unto me within the Bounds of Hartford." (See complete text below.)


"Itt. Whereas my Grandson Richard Lord hath disbursed severall summs of money or country pay, for the Buylding my chimneys and shingling my house and reapyres about it, I doe for the payment of him give, grant and confimre unto him and his heris forever all that my meadow lott in the long meadow which abutts upon the great river east, the litle river west, Mr Westwood's land North, and Barth. Barnard's land south. I doe also give and bequeath unto my sayd Grandson Richard Lord and his heires forever all the remaynder of my upper lott in the long meadow which I have not given to my son Robert and son William and my daughter Gilbert and her children, he payeing this legacy hereafter exprest to my sonn John Tenn pounds. And in case my son Robert shall depart this life before he hath notice of this my last will, Then that Three acres of land given to him shall be divided Between my sonn William and my Grandson Richard Lord. I doe allso confirm unto my Grandson Richard Lord and his heires all my wood land that is allready layd out or to be layd unto me within the Bounds of Hartford."

Clearly, her grandson Richard was a favorite of hers. She lavished property on him and appointed him executor of her estate. But that was not merely because he was first born of her first born Richard, who had died six years earlier. Richard Lord, Jr. was one of the leading figures in Colonial Connecticut at that time, as the histories record. His name appears frequently in the Colonial Records in legal matters of all kinds, listed often as a supervisor of wills in the 1650s, and was clearly seen as one of the leaders of the Colony.

Richard Lord, Jr.
1636 - 1685

"He was an eminent man, and many years represented Hartford in the General Court. He was one of the wealthiest merchants of his time, made many trading voyages, and was lost at sea November 5, 1685... leaving a large estate to his widow and his only child; the inventory of his property amounted to £5,786 which was, with one exception, the greatest, up to that time, in Hartford."

But perhaps the most interesting - and mystifying - component of Dorathy Lord's will is not what it says, but the wax with which it was sealed. To date, this remains the earliest evidence of a Coat of Arms associated with this family, and appears to be the only evidence of these Arms being used by the family in the 17th century. While
Armorial Bearings granted to Robert Lord aliasthe 19th century historians firmly believed that the signet that was used to produce this wax seal belonged to Thomas Lord, Sr., or at least that these were his Arms in his lifetime, there is considerable doubt that this was the case. The seal appears to confirm a direct line from a Robert Lord (Laward) of London in 1510 (left), with the crest being changed from an exotic pheasant to a deer, or possibly a horse. After its use in 1670, the family descended from Thomas Lord, Sr. continued to display these arms, and often with the bird crest restored exactly as it was recorded in 1510. (For some examples, look here.)

There is no earlier example of these arms in use by this lineage, and Richard Lord the First of Towcester in 1610 used a simple seal of a horse to close his will. As a yeoman he would not have been entitled to arms anyway. Thomas Lord, Sr. may have had status enough to have qualified as "gentry" in England and acquired arms there, but the initials "R L" in this seal suggest the name of its owner was "Richard Lord" not Thomas. It may well have been that Richard Lord, Sr. (of Hartford) had both the status and the need for a signet, as seals were used to certify documents, and in his role as a military man and as a merchant (see his biography below) he no doubt signed many documents. But my hypothesis is that this signet was requested from England in the mid-17th century by Richard Lord, Jr., the wealthy merchant (above). In this period rising men in the Colonies took upon themselves arms as a cloak of New World status and prestige. And they requested these to be made up in England much as people today in the States have genealogical search firms "find" their family Coat of Arms on little more than a surname match. There is ample evidence that such arms granted to American men in the 17th century were done so with the slimest of evidence that the applicant had a proven direct maile line descent from the person whose arms were on record in London. And given that Richard, Jr. was the executor of Dorathy Lord's will, and her favorite, he may well have used his own "business" seal to certify her will. And the fact that Richard was lost at sea, no doubt with his important papers, and his signet, with him, explains why we never see this seal used again on any documents in America.

The conclusion, based on the most "elegant"* explanation, is that while Thomas Lord and his descendants may well have been in direct line with Robert Lord (Laward) of London, 1510 AD, and while the century between Robert Lord (1510) and Richard Lord the First (1610) may someday be filled in, at present it represents in insurmountable gulf in the genealogical terrain.    *In scientific terms, that explanation which most simply accounts for all the evidence.

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The wax seal by which Dorathy Lord's will was closed in 1670 has suffered damage and loss to the extent that initial examination suggests it can tell us next to nothing. But using a small-scale stereo photography technique I developed, and after many, many hours of painstaking work, I found that the entire heraldic seal and Lord coat of arms could be reconstructed. By great good fortune, where an element of the design had been lost in one area, it had been preserved in another,allowing me to duplicate it in the damaged area.

"..that peace may be continued amongst my chidren.."

As Dorathy Lord dictated her will in the spring of 1670, she expressed her wishes for her children, if they lived, and for her grandchildren, if they were her survivors. From these wishes we can come to understand something of both her own wealth and property and the affection with which she held her children and the children of her children. In the following brief biographies, quotes from her will are to be inserted with the graphic shown at left to help create some sense of how she viewed her family.

Richard Lord

Age 24 on arrival in Hartford

Clearly the eldest son of Thomas and Dorathy Lord was the shining star of the family, and had an abundance of spirit, courage and adventure. Apparently as soon as the family arrived in Hartford, in 1636, he married Sarah Graves, the daughter of another Hartford pioneer. They had three children, the first being another "Richard Lord", in 1636. We already discussed his possible role as a metalsmith in 1638, after the Pequot War, when he was called on to repair two corselets. Exactly twenty years later, this same man is appointed the head of the first ever mounted military unit in the Colony. (Typical 17th century English cavalry soldier, below, left.)

And it is claimed, in various 19th century histories, that Richard, as "Capt Richard Lord", "... distinquished himself in the Indian Wars." What "Indian Wars" he served in is not clear, but there were ongoing violent conflicts between various Native communities and the English settlers throughout the Connecticut River Valley right into the 18th century. If we assume his "distinquished" service came after he was made Captain of the first "Troop of Horse" in 1658, that excludes the Pequot War of 1637. And as he died in 1662, at age 51, he missed the large scale conflict called "King Philips War" (after 1675). In fact most histories of the so-called "Indian Wars" do not even start until 1675 or later. 


First Connecticut Cavalry - 1658 colonytooperstext.jpg


It is not at all clear how Richard Lord evolved from a metalsmith to the head of the first mounted military unit in the Colony of Connecticut. But the adventurous spirit he demonstrated from 1630 to 1640, no matter what his professional identity, would have certainly made military service attractive. But to be immediately placed in charge of a cavalry unit, without prior military experience, seems unlikely. So again, we may re-open the question of whether he was an unrecorded participant in the 1637 Pequot War.
Another early merchant was Captain Richard Lord. He had a warehouse in which he stored grain soap, salt, lime, pitch, deerskins, whalebone, cotton, wool, axes, shovels, spades, and forks. A supply of kettles, brass, tin, wooden and earthen vessels, trenchers and pewter ware he kept in the great closet of his house. At the time of his death he had debts due him in the surrounding towns in New London, Norwich, Long Island, Delaware Bay, Newfoundland, Barbadoes and England. He died in 1662 at New London.

But Richard's major role in the Colony may not have been military, but commercial. As we have stated, the reason both the Dutch and the English picked this location for their trading fort and settlement is that this is as far up the Connecticut River that sea-going ships could venture. It was this potential as a landing site for vessels that was later exploted by Richard Lord in the latter half of the century, or even before. You will recall that his "shopp" and house lot in Newtowne was located on the river frontage near the ferry, and adjacent to the landing place for ships coming up the Charles River. Was this a clue as to his intent? And even as early at 1636, according to one map, recreated from colonial records (below), Richard had staked out a prime location near the old Dutch fort.

He also apparently was able to procure most of "Dutch Point" (see map, below). The colonial history states: "Captain Underbill laid claim to all this land by virtue of his seizure. On May 17 1655 he petitioned the General Court for permission to sell and convey it. His request was refused. Apparently the matter was adjusted, as he sold it July 18th to William Gibbons and Richard Lord, reserving the State's right When a division was made March 5 1659/60 the Gibbons share was twelve and one half acres of the west end of the bouwerie;  the Lord share was Dutch Point, the Island and nine and one half acres of the bouwerie east of the Gibbons lot." (see map). This acquisition was made just two years before Richard's death, so no doubt was mainly of benefit to his son, also a sea-going merchant.
colonyrichardmap.jpg On the recreated 1636 property map at left, we can see allotments extending down the Little River to the souheast of the main settlement, past the Dutch "House of Hope" trading post and along the west shore of the Great Connecticut River. Of interest is a narrow strip of 1 1/2 acres (A) reserved for the "Colony" and looking every bit like the future site of an easement to a river landing. And immediately adjacent to this is a 9 1/2 acre parcel (B) owned by none other than "Richard Lord". Clearly he had designs on the shipping enterprise that would soon develop here.
"Castle Island - 1645" by Len Tantillo
Evolving from an early agricultural economy, Hartford grew into an important trading center on the Connecticut River. Molasses, spices, coffee and rum were distributed from warehouses in the city's thriving merchant district. Ships set sail from Hartford to England, the West Indies and the Far East. By end of the 1600s landings on the river were made by filling and warehouses and wharves erected. There were in Hartford several merchants who had in their homes or outbuildings such articles as were used in trade or were sold to the settlers. Their early traffic was with the Indians for corn or beaver skins.

At an early date there were some small vessels owned in part at least by Hartford merchants. The joint building of a ship by the towns was proposed in 1642. At his death in 1662 Richard Lord owned one sixteenth of the ship Society and one eighth of the ship Desire. It is said that his son, Richard Lord, Jr. and John Blackleach bought the ship America in 1669 and it was then in the Connecticut River. In 1680 only one ship was registered at Hartford and it was of ninety tons burden and probably the Hartford Merchant, which Lord and Blackleach bought in Boston about 1676. 

In 1638 the exclusive right to trade for beaver on the river was given by Connecticut Colony to only certain individuals. William Whiting and Thomas Stanton secured it for Hartford. Of note is that Thomas Stanton was married to Ann Lord, sister of Richard (see her biography below). The marriage took place in 1637 when Ann was just 16 years old. This family connection became also a commercial connection. Traffic with the Indians on Long Island was restrained during the early years, in part due to protests from Boston and Plymouth merchants who felt the Hartford traders were infringing on their territory. But in 1642, Thomas Stanton and Richard Lord were allowed to make one voyage (see below).



"Passage From Long Island - c. 1650" by Len Tantillo (used by permission of the artist)


The Long Island Sound, lying between the southern coast of Connecticut and the northern coast of Long Island, provided a perfect inland sea for small vessels coming out of the mouth of the Connecticut River (upper right corner). Even though some Hartford ships were ocean-going, others were small coasting vessels like the one in the painting above. (See the full map here).

A few years ago I made, from scratch, a model of the type of "ship" that Richard Lord might have sailed out of Hartford - a c.1640 Coastal Trader built on plans from the living history museum at Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts. Look here.

Anyone in Hartford with shipping and trade interests also had to take into account the port at the mouth of the Connecticut River, at Saybrook (see map at left, upper right corner) and at New London a short distance to the east. There was a different English settlement located at each of these places, and one gets the impresson that Hartford merchants often had joint ventures with Saybrook and New London. This is certainly true for Richard Lord. The histories state "he had commercial dealings in New London" and that is where he died on May 17th, 1662. Apparently he did not leave a will, but we find an indicator of his wealth in the Colonial Probate Records (below).

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It is not clear whether he was living there in New London at the time he died or just happened to be there, but he was also buried in that town (see below) and "the grave of Richard Lord is the earliest stone in the cemetery, and the earliest stone in all of New London county. " He was 51years old, so the cause could well have been age, but also may have been related to his vigorous and dramatic life of adventure and military service. His wife, Sarah Graves, supposed also to have been born in Towcester, outlived him by another 14 years.

colonyrichlordgrave.jpg "The bright starre of our cavallrie lyes here,
Unto the State, a Counselour full Deare,
And to ye Truth a Friend of Sweet Content,
To Hartford Towns a silver Ornament.
Who can deny to Poore he was Reliefe,
And in composing Paroxymes was Chiefe.
To Marchantes as a Pattern he might stand,
Adventring Dangers new by Sea and Land."

"..that peace may be continued amongst my chidren.."

I give to Richard Lord's wife my iron Drippin pan & Great Pewter Pye Plate Unto Richard Lord Jun my Great Brass Pott....

I give to my daughter Lord widow my bed I ly on & A feather boulster & a brass Skillett...

Thomas Lord,Jr.

Age 17 on arrival in Hartford

The next son, Thomas, Jr., was given a lot of land next to his father by 1640, but being younger, did not have the same status as holder of "undivided lands" as his father or his older brother, at least at that time. While we know very little of his life in Hartford during the early years, when boys became men and acquired a profession and a family, what we do know is very specific and interesting (see below).

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At age 33, Thomas is appointed as "a physician and surgeon" to Hartford and other Connecticut towns (above). By most accounts he is the first physician in the Colony. Certainly in these early years, when skills of any sort were at a premium, having a qualified doctor available could often mean the difference between life and death. But one wonders how a teenage boy, living on the frontier and cut off from"civilization", could acquire the knowledge and skill to be seen as a "physician"?

According to one historian, "He served the public, earlier, as schoolmaster, in the pay of 'the Country', as the expression was, indiciating a superior education." Thomas married Hannah Thurston the same year he was appointed physician, perhaps because that job gave him the financial security he felt he needed to take a wife. But in less than 10 years - in 1662 - he died at Wethersfield, where he had recently moved and a short distance south on the river. He was just 43. His will, written in October the year before, gives all his property to his daughter, Dorathy Lord, including "my house and lands at Hartford" and "my lot and house at Wethersfield." He names his brother, Capt.Richard Lord, as one of the executors, but Richard also died in 1662.

Beyond this, although notable, information, we know very little of Thomas. But that little bit is intriguing. In 1648, at age 29, Thomas was accused in Court of selling lead to the Indians (see below). There was great concern in all the English colonies that modern weapons should get into the hands of Indians, who might then use them against the colonists. Of course trade with Indians was ongoing and necessary, and one of the items most valuable in that trade was firearms - presumably to be used for hunting. The Native owner of such arms needed to constantly re-supply with lead for casting shot and powder. Lead was probably supplied in bar form, and the Indians cast their own ammunition in shot molds, such as the stone one below, right.

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There is no mention of this charge in the next Colonial Court (October of 1648), and there was no meeting of the Court on November 8th, so we cannot discover any additional details that might give us insight into Thomas' character.  To live to age 43 was about average in those times, although clearly it was below the average for the Lord family.

"..that peace may be continued amongst my chidren.."

I do give and bequeath my now dwelling house and barn and my home lot and my lower lot in the north meadow unto the children of my son Thomas Lord deceased, (when they reach) the age of 18 years, and if any decease before they attain that age the survivor or survivors to possess it, and if they all die then my son William or his children to possess what is given to them.

I give to my son Thomas his Children all the utensills about the fire that are now in my house & my Table & forme & Chayres I give to Mary Lord Jun daughter of my son Thomas my bedstead

Ann Lord

Age 15 on arrival in Hartford

Ann came to Hartford at an age when young women were thinking of marriage, and her fate was to marry, in 1638, one of the most colorful men in New England, Thomas Stanton.

"Thomas Stanton sailed from England on the Merchant Bonaventure on January 2, 1635, landing first in Virginia, and probably arrived in Massachusetts before the end of 1635, making his way to Hartford. He learned the fur trading business and became conversant in the Algonquian language which led to important assignments as an interpreter. The first official record of Stanton was his participation in a conference with the Pequot Indians at Fort Saybrook in July, 1636. He quickly affiliated with the Thomas Lord family whom he may have known in England and who had recently emigrated from Towcester, England. He married Ann Lord, probably in 1636 and established a merchant business alliance with Richard Lord.

"During the Pequot War, Thomas provided service initially as an interpreter at Fort Saybrook. It was during the Fairfield Swamp Battle on July 14, 1637 that Stanton nearly lost his life. Stanton was a delegate at the Treaty of Hartford ending the Pequot War in 1638 and, in 1643, was appointed Indian Interpreter for all of New England by the Commissioners of the United Colonies.

 "Thomas became a successful trading entrepreneur in Hartford involving fur and other commodities. In 1650, he was granted permission to establish a trading post on the Pawcatuck River with a 3 year trade monopoly. He moved his family from Hartford to New London in 1651 and then to Pawcatuck in 1657. From 1650-1675, Stanton continued to serve as interpreter and negotiator with the Indians."


Ann and her husband lived first in Hartford (A), then relocated to
New London (B) and finally to Pawcatuck (C), where he built a trading post.

A novel written about the life of Ann Lord and Thomas Stanton would probably sell well, for it has all the ingredients of a frontier adventure - pioneer settlement, warfare, Indians, river trade and colonial diplomacy. And for added spice, a family feud with the inlaws that nearly led to sword play. The names and the fine recorded in the Colonial Court documents are stricken through at some unknown later date, so perhaps the agrument was quickly patched up. It may be noted that this disagreement was two years after the two men sailed together to trade, under an exclusive waiver, with the Indians of Long Island, and one might conjecture as to whether Ann found her loyalties challenged durintg this exchange - trying first to calm down  her brother and then her husband?

October 1643

Thomas died in December of 1677. His wife Ann died a decade later, in 1688 at the age of 67.

"..that peace may be continued amongst my chidren.."
(A 1/7th share of the following..)
I give my moveable estate and cattle to my son William Lord, my grandson Richard Lord,
my daughter Stanton, my daughter Gilbert and the children of my daughter Ingersall to have one part,
and the rest of them, each of them one part.
 I give unto my daughter Stanton my Great Brass Pann & my great Bible 

William Lord

Age 13 on arrival in Hartford

Again, of his early years in Hartford, we know little, but by 1645, at age 24, about when a male would select a home and family, William Lord removed downriver to Saybrook, at the mouth of the Connecticut River, and also bought lands on the east shore in Lyme. Unlike his two older brothers, one who devoted himself to trade and warfare and the other who devoted himself to public service, William devoted himself to the acquisition of land - lots of it. And on the frontier in the middle 17th century the fastest and cheapest way to amass land was to buy it from the Indians who still controled most of the area. In a time when bad faith deals and outright exploitation characterised much of the White Man's reputation among the Native population, William's fair and equitable dealings with the Indians earned him the respect he needed to negotiate some substantial acquisitions in the Saybrook and Old Lyme towns at the mouth of the Connecticut River. The prime lands William attached to himself allowed him to live much in the fashion of a 17th century English Lord (no pun intended).

He was married twice, but we only know his second wife, Lydia Brown, even though he had seven children by his first. In 1669 he negotiated a deed with the Indians for a considerable frontage along the river, called "Eight-mile River", (see below) which would be useful for his purposes. The strategic location of Saybrook had been recognized from the start, which is why a fort (below, right) had been built there in 1636.


"Deed of sale from Chapeto an Indian to Wm. Lord Sen. this 6th day of April 1669... 

"Know all men by these presents that I Chapeto a Mohegin of Woncohus my grandfather and Ananpau my father, both of them Sachems of Paugwong; and the said Chapeto having had long acquaintance with William Lord, my very loveing friend; and having singular respects to him did move me to him rather than to any other man to sell my land for a certain sum and Sums of Money, already received..."


William was very influential in the area, and, with his many children, his large tracts of land, and his brother's maritime interests, he was recognized as a leading figure in the region. He died in May of 1678, the eldest male in the Thomas Lord line to outlive his mother, Dorathy.

"..that peace may be continued amongst my chidren.."
(A 1/7th share of the following..)
I give my moveable estate and cattle to my son William Lord, my grandson Richard Lord,
my daughter Stanton, my daughter Gilbert and the children of my daughter Ingersall to have one part,
and the rest of them, each of them one part.

I give unto my son William Lord and his heirs forever two acres in my great lot in the long meadow next adjoining to that which I have given my son Robert.

I give to my son William Lord my Silver Drinking Bowle & my Great Brass Kettle

John Lord

Age 11 on arrival in Hartford

John is the black sheep of this family, by all accounts. The earliest record of his behavior is found in the Colonial Court record of October, 1648, when John was about 22 years old. This brief extract reveals two things: first, he apparently practiced the trade of a "taylor" (tailor), and, second, that the Court holds his brother, Thomas, responsible for his good beahvior. Whether this was just a technicality, or whether John  had already given the Colony some concerns for his "good behavior", is not clear. But if they did not have concerns at that time, they apparently should have.


By some accounts, John left Hartford immediately after this judgement by the Court, and established himself in Appomattox, Virginia. Virginia, of course, was the other major realm of early English colonization on the east coast of North America, begun just 30 years before Hartford. How he was inspired to remove so far from his home is not known, but once there he made an abortive attempt to become a tobacco planter, which for anyone with a normal amount of energy and responsibility was in that early period a fast track to wealth. The lust for this American import back in England was profound, and tobacco itself often substituted in colonial accounts for cash money.

A 17th century tobacco plantation iin Virginia painted at the time.

In part his motivation to put a great deal of distance between himself and Hartford was the fact that prior to his departure he had, according to 19th century historians, married twice and "deserted his wife, and failed to support her." One source suggests he married first in Connecticut, and the second time in Virginia; and we are left to speculate which wife he abandoned. If it was, as the records suggest, his Connecticut wife, that means she was living when he remarried in Virginia, and may have still been, legally, his wife. And the only evidence we have to his failure in the business of tobacco merchant is a letter to his nephew, Richard Lord (the son of his brother, Richard Lord). It was Richard, Jr. who had become well established as a merchant with interests in ships and sea-going trade, and apparently John was trying to interest him in investing in his, perhaps failing, tobacco enterprise.

colonyjohntobaccoletter.jpg From "Apamatixe, the 20th of Feb. 1663" John writes:

"If you were acquaint with Virginia as well as I, you would not thinke that getting in of debts in such remote partes of the countrey is soe easy a matter; but to avoyde all future trouble betwixt soe neer relations as we are, I shall be content to paye you 9000 lb of tobaccoe the next yeare, if tobaccoe be made, or as sone as possible may be. I should have complyed with my formore engagement, the last yeare, but that tobaccoe was not made.  Of all the time that I have knowne Virginia, I never sawe the like. ....And cousin,* if you are not too much discouraged in Virginia trade, pray bring or send me ten or twelves bushels of your best winter wheat for seed, for I am going to be a good husband, and get good bread and beare, or sower.. or five bushels of the best barley, and I shall endeavoure to make you good and honest satisfaction."

*In this era the term "cousin" was used also to refer to any nephew or niece.

One gets the impression of a man in financial trouble trying to come up with a quick fix that depends on his nephew becoming deeply invested in the trade in Virginia. We know nothing (so far) of his later life, except that he was apparently still living in 1669 (70) when his mother bequethed to him ten Pounds in her will. Beyond this, he is a vanished branch of the family, although one Virginia source has him listed as dying there in 1691-92 .

"..that peace may be continued amongst my chidren.."

I give unto my son John Lord ten pounds in current pay of this country.

This brief entry says volumes about  what Dorathy felt about her ne'er-do-well son, John.

Robert Lord

Age 10 on arrival in Hartford


A mere child when he arrived in Hartford, Robert became, by means for which we have no clear knowledge, by the 1660s a "master-mariner" who plied the ocean between Boston and London. He had moved to Boston by at least 1670, having married Rebecca Stanley, daughter of Captain Christopher Stanley of Boston, "a man  of good estate" by contemporary accounts. The Stanley's had come from England in the same ship as the Lord family in 1635, and it is likely a continuing friendship had been maintained between the two families, even though they went on different paths after arrival. Of course it must be remembered that before coming to Hartford, the Lords had been residents of Newtowne (Cambridge), which was very near to Boston. So roots there may have been more strongly attached than we assume.

Little can be confirmed about his adult life, partly because there is a confusion in the record with another "Captain Robert Lord of Boston", who may or may not be this same man. But the record does suggest that Robert "evidently died abroad, probably in England." No doubt much is recorded of his life soomewhere, but to date it remains hidden. One reason may be we are looking in all the wrong places for it. One genealogical source suggests Robert was actually living in England as his mother was dictating her will in 1669(70), with his wife Rebecca Stanley. This source says that he "is reported to have been sued in London by his nephew, Richard, in 1675." So the details of Robert's life may reside not in New England but in Old England. The search must continue.

If in fact Robert had returned to London, he would have completed a grand circuit that had begun in 1635 when he set sail from there at age 9. It also may have completed another circle, when this "Robert Lord of London - 1670" walked the same streets as "Robert Lord of London - 1510", whose Coat of Arms the family in America later adopted. While it may be suggested that the seal on Dorathy Lord's will was made by a signet belonging to her son Robert, it is clear the "R L" in the seal belongs to her Grandson Richard, who was her executor, and her notice of Robert in her bequests is minimal (see below).

"..that peace may be continued amongst my chidren.."

I give unto my son Robert Lord (if he live after my decease so long as to have notice of this my will) three acres of my upper lot adjoining to that which I have given to my daughter Gilbert.

Amy Lord

Age 7 on arrival in Hartford


At an age when modern children are leaving home for school, Amy (also recorded as "Ayme") left England to cross an ocean and begin her childhood over again in the forests of Connecticut. In the 17th century, marriage was the path to security and in 1647, at age 18, she married Corporal John Gilbert, of Hartford. He is reputed to have been born in England around 1626, making him just 21 when he married the 18 year old Amy Lord. Gilbert appears several times in the colonial record, and often associated with acquisiton of land. No doubt the details of his military status are to be found somewhere in the archives and he may have had more than a passing association with Amy's brother, Richard, as one of his land acquisitions is adjacent to Richard on the riverfront near Dutch Point. 

hopbrookmap.jpg In spite of the ample flow of the mighty Connecticut River, water mills had to be established on smaller streams that flowed into it, taking advantage of the "fall of water" that occurred as these streams found their way down from the elevated lands on either side of the river. The Gilbert mill would have been a few miles east of Hartford, as seen on this 18th century map of the area.

Much may be yet found about Corporal Gilbert. But this is a history of the Lords, and so Amy is our focus. However, one isolated fragment appears in the Hartford histories: "Corporal John Gilbert built a sawmill in South Manchester, on Hop Brook, in 1673." Hop Brook in South Manchester is just about 7 miles east from Hartford, and by the 1670s, the zone of commercial expansion had stretched far from the tiny 1636 compound on the west bank.

"The area now known as Manchester began its recorded history as the camping grounds of a small band of peaceful Indians – the Podunk tribe. English settlement began about 1673, some 40 years after Thomas Hooker led a group of Puritans from Massachusetts Bay Colony to found Hartford.  This area was part of Hartford and was called “Five Mile Tract.”  Later the area came to be called Orford Parish, and was part of East Hartford, which had separated from Hartford in 1783."

Whether he built the mill, as a "millwright", or ran the mill as a "miller", is unclear, but probably the latter. This sawmill is cited in 19th century histories as being at the site of what would later become a substantial industrial complex. Being the first there, Gilbert would naturally have selected the best site for a watermill. Perhaps he brought Amy to Manchester to live, or perhaps they remained in Hartford and managed the mill from there. But in either case, Amy must have been well situated as she lived to the ripe old age of 62, and died in 1691, one year after her husband, and left "several daughters" to contribute to the next generation in Hartford.

"..that peace may be continued amongst my chidren.."
(A 1/7th share of the following..)
I give my moveable estate and cattle to my son William Lord, my grandson Richard Lord,
my daughter Stanton, my daughter Gilbert and the children of my daughter Ingersall to have one part,
and the rest of them, each of them one part.

Item I give unto my daughter Amy Gilbert and her children three acres of meadow or swamp
in my upper lot in the long meadow next to that Mrs. Olcott hath now in possession.

 I give to my daughter Gilbert my lesser Brass Pann & a Brass Scummer & a Brass Chaffing Dish
.. a great  pewter platter
to Elizabeth Gilbert & Two Joynt stooles

Dorothy Lord

Age 5 on arrival in Hartford


Dorothy, born just 4 years before the family left Towcester, married John Ingersoll of Hartford in 1651, at about 21 years of age, and then relocated to Northampton, Massachusetts, (above) almost directly north of Hartford and a short distance west of the same river her family had settled on in 1636. Tragically, and from causes unknown, she died only 6 years later in 1657.

"..that peace may be continued amongst my chidren.."
(A 3/7th share of the following..)
I give my moveable estate and cattle to my son William Lord, my grandson Richard Lord,
my daughter Stanton, my daughter Gilbert and the children of my daughter Ingersall to have one part,
and the rest of them, each of them one part.

I give unto my grandchild Hannah Ingersall my youngest cow, and my other cow I give unto my grandchildren Dorothy and Margery Ingersall.

I give to Marjory Ingersoll & her Sister Dorothy to Each twenty shillings

The Lords of New England

circa 1700 AD


As the 18th century dawned across the North American continent, none of the Lords of Towcester were living to see it, although they had already produced numerous members of the next generation. When the Towcester Lords came to Connecticut it was the edge of a wilderness still in the domain of Native Americans. But by the close of the 17th century, this region of "New England" was the hive for westward exansion and commercial development which would become, in the following decades, the Thirteen American Colonies of Great Britain, and, by the end of the century, the United States of America.

In 1640 Hartford was one of the few major centers for British habitation, but by 1740 it had become just one of many such urban centers scattered along the Atlantic seaboard. What was an entire universe of life and experience to the family of Thomas and Dorathy Lord in the 17th century had become, in the 18th century, but a speck in a huge and expanding empire of British colonial enterprise.

tantillocredit.jpg      One of the purposes of these webpages is to put flesh on the dry bones of historical record and to  allow the reader to better visualize what life may have been like 400 years ago in the several places and at the different times this family experienced.  And the ample use of images and graphics greatly faciliates that leap from the pages of history to the perception of history.
     Perhaps no-one has better used images to bring back to life the past than artist Len Tantillo, and he has given his kind permission to use several of those images to illustrate these pages, where the time period and subject matter coincide, even though the locations may be a hundred miles apart or more. This project has been greatly enhanced by his willingness to share those images, and I would hope that everyone reading these words will take a moment to visit his website and see  his work.

     Click this link to Len Tantillo's website.                    The painting at left, "Schenectady Town c 1690"

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