RG 000, Samuel Wyllys Papers, 1663-1728

Samuel Wyllys Papers Depositions on cases of witchcraft, assault, theft, drunkenness & other crimes, tried in Connecticut, 1663-1728

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Overview of the Collection

Biographical Note

Scope and Content

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Administrative Information

Bibliography

List of Documents

Witchcraft cases circa 1662-1692

Cases of assault & battery, theft, adultery and other crimes 1623-1728

Miscellaneous papers 1668-1711, undated


Samuel Wyllys Papers

Depositions on cases of witchcraft, assault, theft, drunkenness & other crimes, tried in Connecticut, 1663-1728

Finding aid prepared by Connecticut State Library staff.

Copyright © 2011 by the Connecticut State Library


Overview of the Collection

Repository: Connecticut State Library
Creator: Wyllys, Samuel
Title: Samuel Wyllys papers
Dates: 1663-1728
Quantity: 88 documents (1 volume)
Abstract: The Samuel Wyllys Papers, 1668-1728, undated, are a group of 88 court documents that include 6 cases of witchcraft (42 documents), 12 cases concerning assault and battery, theft, adultery and other crimes (35 documents), and 11 other documents related to prayers of confession and petition, lists of freemen, poor relief, taxes, and titles to Indian land.
Identification: RG000_samuel_wyllys_papers
Call number: 974.6 fW97
Language: The records are in English.

Biographical Note

Family

Samuel Wyllys was born in Fenny Compton, England in 1632 to George and Mary Wyllys. The family, including Samuel's half-sisters Amy and Hester, emigrated to New England in the early 1630s. Samuel's older half-brother George remained in England. By 1634 Samuel's father, George Wyllys, Sr. had been appointed an Assistant to the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The family moved to Hartford in 1638. In Connecticut, George Wyllys, Sr. was elected to the Court of Assistants in 1639, Deputy Governor in 1641, and Governor in 1642. After his term as governor ended, George served as an Assistant to the General Court and chosen to be a Commissioner from Connecticut to the United Colonies of New England in 1643. George died in 1645.

Samuel graduated from Harvard College in 1653. He married Ruth Haynes, daughter of Connecticut's first governor, John Haynes, in 1654. The couple had one son, Hezekiah (b. 1672), who was Secretary of the Colony of Connecticut from 1712 to 1735, and three daughters, Ruth, Mary, Mehitable.

Ruth Wyllys died sometime before November 28, 1688, when Wyllys married his second wife, Mrs. Mary (Smith) Love at Berwick, Maine. Samuel Wyllys died on May 30, 1709 and was buried in Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground. There is no known portrait of Samuel Wyllys.

Government Service

Samuel was chosen magistrate of the General Court in 1654 and reelected each year. After Connecticut received its charter in 1662 he was elected as an Assistant and continued in that office until 1685. He often served as moderator when the Governor or Deputy Governor were not present. Financial distress from sugar plantations in Antigua led him to resign from the General Court in 1685. However, he returned to his position as Assistant from 1689 through 1692 and again in 1698.

Between 1658 and 1670 he sat on courts that tried witchcraft cases and as an Assistant in 1693 he was one of three judges that granted a stay to Mercy Disborough who was later acquitted. When Connecticut's charter arrived in Boston in September 1662, Wyllys was one of the men that brought it to Hartford. He served as a commissioner to the United Colonies of New England in 1661, 1662, 1664, and 1667. In 1676, during King Philip's War, he was authorized along with Major John Winthrop and Thomas Stanton to negotiate for a peace between the English and the Indians.

Charter Oak

According to tradition, when Joseph Wadsworth took action to prevent the surrender of the Charter to Sir Edmond Andros in early November 1687, he took it to Samuel Wyllys's home. At the suggestion of Wylly's wife, Wadsworth hid the Charter in a hollow of an oak tree and then put the dog kennel at the foot of the tree. The tree has come to be known as the Charter Oak.


Sources

Barbour, Lucius Barnes.Families of Early Hartford, Connecticut.Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1977 See pp. 696-700 for information on the Wyllys family.

Shaw, Ernest R.Story and Legend of the Charter Oak Tree.. Farmington, Conn.:Heritage Trails, 1996.

Sibley, John Langdon. “Samuel Willis.” In Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Volume I: 1642-1658, 323-325.Cambridge: Charles William Sever, University Bookstore, 1873. See pp. 696-700 for information on the Wyllys family.

Talcott, Mary K.The Original Proprietors.Hartford: Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford, Inc., 1986 See pp. 271-2.

Tomlinson, R. G.Witchcraft Trials of Connecticut. [s.l.]: R.G. Tomlinson, 1978

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Scope and Content

The Samuel Wyllys Papers, 1668-1728, undated, are a group of 88 court documents that include 6 cases of witchcraft (42 documents), 12 cases concerning assault and battery, theft, adultery and other crimes (35 documents), and 11 other documents related to prayers of confession and petition, lists of freemen, poor relief, taxes, and titles to Indian land. .

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Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

See the Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured Collections policy.

Restrictions on Use

See the Reproduction and Publications of State Library Collections policy.

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Related Material

Samuel Wyllys Papers, 1638-1757 (bulk 1663-1698), John Hay Library, Brown University.
In 1930, photostats of these documents were made for the Connecticut State Library and are now bound in a separate volume entitled Samuel Wyllys Collection Supplement, Depositions on Cases of Witchcraft Tried in Connecticut 1662-1693 [CSL Call Number Main Vault 974.6 fW97 Supp.]. In exchange, a photostat of the State Library’s volume of the Samuel Wyllys Papers was sent to Brown University.

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Index Terms

Persons:

Wyllys, Samuel

Subjects:

Drunkeness (Criminal law)
East Haven (Conn.)
Freemen (American colonies)
Indian land transfers
Middletown (Conn.)
New Haven (Conn.)
Ordination -- Congregational churches
Public welfare
Taxation
Theft
Trials (Assault and battery)
Trials -- Connecticut -- History -- 17th Century

Document Types:

Conveyances
Correspondence
Judicial documents
Lists
Prayers
Religious texts
Reports
Testimonies
Title (property rights)
Warrants

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Administrative Information

Custodial History

After Samuel Wyllys's death, succeeding generations assumed responsibility for these papers. Three Wyllyses, each Secretary of the Colony or Secretary of the State for Connecticut in his turn, represent a ninety-eight year span in which the descendants of Samuel Wyllys had continuous custody of the papers. Samuel’s only son was Hezekiah Wyllys, who was Secretary of the Colony for 23 years (1712-35). Hezekiah’s son, George Wyllys, replaced his father in 1735, and served for 61 years (1735-1796).

George’s son, Samuel Wyllys, then replaced George in 1796 and was Secretary of the State for 14 years (1796 until his death in 1810). That Samuel had two brothers, William and Hezekiah, who allowed William Stone, editor of the Connecticut Mirror, to examine the papers relating to witchcraft. Transcripts of some documents appeared in the New York Commercial Advertiser, July 14 and 15, 1820; the New York Spectator, July 18, 1820; and The Hartford Times and Weekly Advertiser, August 8, 1820.

William Wyllys died January 18, 1826 and Hezekiah Wyllys on March 29, 1827. The documents accumulated by their ancestor, Samuel Wyllys, appear to have remained in the original Wyllys house until Hezekiah’s death. The house was then sold, and the papers went to Hezekiah’s daughter Amelia (Wyllys) Adams, wife of Ashur Adams of Charlestown, Massachusetts and, on her death (ca.1859) and Ashur’s (ca. 1861), to their children. In 1868, one of the children sold most of the documents to Nicholas Brown of Providence, Rhode Island.

Nicholas Brown passed the papers on to his son, Nicholas Brown III, and later they went to the son of Nicholas III, John Carter Brown. John’s widow, Mrs. Sophia Augusta Brown, on July 10, 1907 sold part of the papers to George Godard, Connecticut State Librarian.

The documents, of varying size, were then arranged, indexed, “preserved by the silk or Emery process,” and “substantially bound.” The resulting volume of Samuel Wyllys Papers is in the State Archives.

Alternative Form Available

Although a microfilm was made in 1954 by the Genealogical Society of Utah [Family History Library film 0003645], many of the items did not film well.

Links to digital images of the documents are provided in the "List of Documents" section.

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Bibliography

Books

Barbour, Lucius Barnes. Families of Early Hartford, Connecticut.Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 1977. [CSL call number HistRef F 104.H353 A22 1977] See pp. 696-700 for information on the Wyllys family.

Hall, David D. Witch-hunting in Seventeenth Century New England. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1991. [CSL call number BF 1575 .W62 1991]

Hinman, R. R. Catalogue of the Names of the First Puritan Settlers of the Colony of Connecticut. Hartford: Printed by E. Gleason, 1846. [CSL call number SpecColl F 93 .H65] See pp. 108-9.

Report of the State Librarian to the Governor for the Two Years Ended September 30, 1908. Hartford: Published by the State, 1909. [CSL call number ConnDoc St 292 1908]

Seymour, George Dudley. Captain Nathan Hale, Major John Palsgrave Wyllys: A Digressive History. New Haven: Privately Printed for the Author, 1933. [CSL call number E 280 .H2 S512]

Talcott, Mark K. The Original Proprietors. Hartford: Descendants of the Founders of Hartford, Inc., 1986. [CSL call number HistRef F 104 .H353 A28 1986] See pp. 271-2.

Tomlinson, R. G. Witchcraft Trials of Connecticut. [s.l]: R. G. Tomlinson, 1978. [CSL call number BF 1576 .T65 1978] See pp. 67-8 for a brief overview of the Samuel Wyllys Papers.

“Trials for Witchcraft.” Hartford Times and Weekly Advertiser, August 8, 1820: 2.

The Wyllys Papers: Correspondence and Documents Chiefly of Descendants of Gov. George Wyllys of Connecticut, 1590-1796. Hartford: Connecticut Historical Society, 1924. [CSL call number F 91 .C7 v. 21]

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List of Documents

Witchcraft cases, circa 1662-1692
Case of Goodwife Seagar (Elizabeth Seager), circa 1662-1665, 2 manuscript documents
Testimony of Robert Sterne, circa 1662-1665 Link
Testimony of Stephen Hart, Daniel Pratt and Josiah Wilard, circa 1662-1665 Link
Case of Goody Ayers, circa 1662, 3 manuscript documents
Testimony of Goody Burr and Sammuel Burr, circa 1662 Link
Testimony of Joseph Marsh, 1661 March 31 Link
Testimony of the Inquest Committee, circa 1662 Link
Case of Katherin Harrison (Katherine Harrison), 1668 June 29 - 1669 May 26, 12 manuscript documents
Testimony of John Welles, 1668 June 29 Link
Testimony of Thomas Waples (Thomas Whaples), 1668 August 7 Link
Testimony of Mary Olcott, 1668 August 8 Link
Testimony of Richard Mountague (Richard Montague), 1668 August 13 Link
Testimony of Rebecka Smith (Rebecca Smith), 1668 October 12 Link
Testimony of William Warren about Katherine Harrison being a fortune teller, 1668 October 27 Link
Testimony of William Warren about having his fortune told, 1668 October 30 Link
Testimony of Samuel Martin, Sr., 1669 May 25 Link
Testimony of Samuel Hurllbut (Samuel Hurlbut) and Alexander Keny (Alexander Keeny), 1669 May 26 Link
Testimony of Samuel Hurlbut and Alaxander Keeny (Alexander Keeny), circa 1668-1669 Link
Testimony of Eliazer Kimmerly (Eleazer Kimberly), circa 1668-1669 Link
Testimony of Alis Wakely (Alice Wakely), circa 1668-1669 Link
Case of Elizabeth Clawson (Elizabeth Clauson), 1692 June 6 - October 27, 7 manuscript documents
Bill of accusation, 1692 September 14 Link
Testimony of Eliezer Slawson, 1692 June 6 Link
Testimony of Mary Newman, 1692 June 30 Link
Testimony of Thomas Penoir (Thomas Pennoyer), 1692 September 12 Link
Testimony of Abram Adams and Jonath(an) Squire, 1692 September 15 Link
Testimony of Sary Gold, An Wakman (Ann Wakeman), An Hardy (Ann Hardy) and Martha Henry, 1692 September 14-15 Link
Testimony of Richard Holmes, 1692 October 27 Link
Charges of Catherine Branch against Elizabeth Clawson, Mercy Disbrough and others, 1692 August 24 - September 19, 12 manuscript documents
Testimony of Cathoran Branch (Catherine Branch), 1692 September 19 Link
Testimony of John Pettit, 1692 August 24 Link
Testimony of Jonathan Bell about what Daniel Wescot told him, 1692 August 24 Link
Testimony of Jonathan Bell on examinaton of Catherine Branch, 1692 August 25 Link
Testimony of Jonathan Bell on Catherine Branch's claims against Goody Miller, circa 1692 Link
Testimony of Joseph Garnsy (Joseph Garnsey), circa 1692 Link
Testimony of Lidia Penoir (Lydia Pennoyer) about Catherine Branch's denials, 1692 August 24 Link
Testimony of Lidia Penoir (Lydia Pennoyer) about what Abigail Wescot told her, 1692 August 24 Link
Testimony of Joseph Bishop , 1692 August 24 Link
Testimony of Samuell Blattchly (Samuel Blatchley), 1692 August 24 Link
Testimony of Abigal Cross (Abigail Cross) about what Abigail Wescot told her, circa 1692 Link
Testimony of Abigal Cross (Abigail Cross) and Nathaneel Cross (Nathaniel Cross), circa 1692 Link
Case of Mercy Disbrough (Mercy Disbrow), 1691 - 1692 September 19, 6 manuscript documents
Bill of accusation, 1692 September 14 Link
Indictment accusing Marcy Disborough (Mercy Disbrow), 1692 September 15 Link
Testimony of John Wakeman, 1692 September 15 Link
Testimony of John Barlow, 1692 September 19 Link
Testimony of Hester Gromens (Esther Grumman) , 1691, 1692 September 15 Link
Bill of accusation against Widow Mary Staples, Mary and Hannah Harvey, 1692 September 15 Link
Cases of assault & battery, theft, adultery and other crimes, 1623-1728
Appeal of John Roberts, circa 1663-1728 Link
Testimony of John Coultman in case of Goody Francis, circa 1663-1728 Link
Inquest on John Biggs, 1674 January 28
Grand jury findings, 1674 January 28 Link
Request for an inquest, 1674 January 28 Link
Inquest on Indian named Poipee, 1705 August 20 Link
Case of Capt. George Denison, 1663-1666, 3 manuscript documents
Testimony of John Divall, 1663 October 5, 1666 June 6 Link
Testimony of Georg Tong (George Tong) & Peter Bletchford (Peter Blatchford), 1663 October 5, 1666 June 6 Link
Testimony of Thwaite Strickland (Thwaite Strickland) & Aron Starke (Aaron Starke), 1663 October 5, 1666 June 6 Link
Case of William Newman injuring Indian, 1665/6 March 24, 4 manuscript documents
Report to Gov. John Winthrop, 1665/6 March 24 Link
Order by Gov. John Winthrop, 1665/6 March 24 Link
Report of Committee, 1666 March 26 Link
Testimony of Elizabeth Wettmor, 1666 March 26 Link
Case of Robert Old & John Williams, 1672 September 5
Testimony of John French, 1672 September 5 Link
Case of Indian (named Mesquamp), 1685 February 23
Testimony of Mary Wright, 1685 February 23 Link
Case of William Cady, 1698 July 22, October 12, October 27
Search warrant for "callecos" in his possession, 1698 July 22 Link
Testimony of William Pitkin & Zech Sandford, 1698 October 27 Link
Testimony of John Hamlin, 1698 October 12 Link
Case of Benjamin Denslow, 1728 May 13, 18
Accusation and bond, 1728 May 13, 18 Link
Case of Israel Dibble & Deborah Bartlett, 1668/9 March 1 - 1669 May 26, 10 documents
Accusation, 1668/9 March 1 Link
Warrant, 1668 March 1 Link
Testimony of Samll Dible (Samuel Dibble) & Hephsiba Dible (Hephsibah Dibble), 1669 May 26 Link
Testimony of Saumuell Dibell (Samuel Dibble) & Hephzibah Dibell (Hephsibah Dibble), who change their testimony, 1668/9 March 2 Link
Testimony of Thomas Dible, circa 1668-1669 Link
Testimony of Thomas Dible & Thomas Dible, Jr., 1669 May 26 Link
Testimony of Jon(e) Dible, circa 1668-1669 Link
Testimony of Mirriam Dibbell on her brother's wet stockings, 1669 May 26 Link
Testimony of Meriam Deble on being in the orchard, 1669 May 26 Link
Testimony of Thomas Deble, Jr., 1668/9 March 17 Link
Case of William Moore, 1675 May 21, 2 documents
Testimony of Amos Richardson, 1675 May 21 Link
Testimony of Mary Richardson, 1675 May 8 Link
Case of John Rogers, 1675 May 26, 2 documents
Appeal of John Rogers, 1675 May 26 Link
Testimony of Matthew Griswold, 1675 May Link
Case of John Fish, 1680 October 5, 7, 2 documents
Appeal by Samuel Willis, 1680 October 5 Link
Testimony of Amos Richardson, 1680 October 7 Link
Case of Abigail Bets (Abigail Betts) & John Slead (John Slade), 1672 July 26, 2 documents
Testimony of Nathaniel Boman, 1672 July 26 Link
Testimony of Joseph Edward, 1672 July 26 Link
Miscellaneous papers, 1668-1711, undated
Prayers of confession and petition, undated Link
Dissenting congregation at Windsor, John Wareham's protest, 1668 October 9 Link
General Court against ordination of Mr. Woodbridge, 1669 Link
Names of freeman, Lyme, 1678 May 6 Link
Names of freeman, undated Link
Provisions for poor frontier towns, 1697 June 30 Link
Provisions for poor frontier towns, 1697 July 14 Link
Taxes, East Haven, 1701 October 9 Link
Taxes, New Haven, 1711 Link
Title to Moheagan Land held by John Mason, undated Link
Conveyance of Indian land at Middletown, undated Link