New Haven Colony

The New Haven Colony was a small English colony in North America from 1637 to 1664 in what is now the state of Connecticut.[1]

The history of the colony was a series of disappointments and failures. The most serious problem was that New Haven colony never had a charter giving it legal title to exist. The larger, stronger colony of Connecticut to the north did have a charter, and Connecticut was aggressive in using its military superiority to force a takeover. New Haven had other weaknesses, as well. The leaders were businessmen and traders, but they were never able to build up a large or profitable trade because their agricultural base was poor, farming the rocky soil was difficult, and the location was isolated. New Haven's political system was confined to church members only, and the refusal to widen it alienated many people.

Oliver Cromwell recommended that the New Haven colonists all migrate to Ireland or to Spanish territories that he planned to conquer, but the Puritans of New Haven were committed to their new land. One by one in 1662-64, the towns joined Connecticut Colony until only three were left, and they submitted to Connecticut in 1664.[2] It became the modern city of New Haven.

New Haven Colony

Flag of New Haven Colony
A map of the Connecticut, New Haven, and Saybrook colonies.
A map of the Connecticut, New Haven, and Saybrook colonies.
StatusEnglish colony
CapitalNew Haven
Common languagesEnglish
GovernmentConstitutional monarchy
• Established
• Merged with Connecticut Colony
CurrencyPound sterling
Succeeded by
Connecticut Colony


In 1637, a group of London merchants and their families moved to Boston with the intention of creating a new settlement. The leaders were John Davenport, a Puritan minister, and Theophilus Eaton, a wealthy merchant who brought £3000 to the venture. Both had experience in fitting out vessels for the Massachusetts Bay Company. The two ships that they chartered arrived in Boston on June 26, 1637. They learned about the area around the Quinnipiac River from militia engaged in the Pequot War, so Eaton set sail to view the area in late August.[3] The site seemed ideal for trade, with a good port lying between Boston and the Dutch city of New Amsterdam on Manhattan and good access to the furs of the Connecticut River valley settlements of Hartford and Springfield.

Eaton returned to Boston, leaving seven men to remain through the winter and make preparations for the arrival of the rest of the company. The main body of settlers landed on April 14, 1638, numbering about 250, with the addition of some from Massachusetts. A number of the early dwellings were caves or "cellers", partially underground and carved into hillsides.[3]

The settlers had no official charter. Channing says that they were squatters,[4] whereas Atwater holds that a land purchase from the local natives had been effected sometime before their arrival in April, although no written deed was signed until November 24, 1638.[3] A second deed was made December 11, 1638 for a tract north of the first purchase. The Indian deed of Wepowauge (Milford) was executed February 12, 1639, and that of Menunkatuck (Guilford) on September 29, 1639.[5]

Fundamental Agreement

In 1639, the colonists adopted a "Fundamental Agreement" for self-government, partly as a result of a similar action in Connecticut Colony. According to its terms, a court composed of 16 burgesses was established to appoint magistrates and officials, and to conduct the business of the colony. The only eligible voters were "planters" who were members of "some or other of the approved Churches of New England". This excluded indentured servants, temporary residents, and transient persons, who were considered to have no permanent interest in the community.[6]

They further determined "that the word of God shall be the only rule to be attended unto in ordering the affairs of government in this plantation."[6] Theophilus Eaton was chosen first Magistrate.

On October 23, 1643, New Haven was combined with the independent towns of Milford and Guilford and named New Haven Colony. Eaton served as governor until his death in 1658. The Bible contains no reference to trial by jury, so the colonists eliminated it, and magistrates sat in judgment.[7]

The leaders attempted numerous merchandising enterprises, but they all failed. Much of the money went into a great ship sent to London in 1646, with £5000 in cargo of grain and beaver hides. It never arrived.[8] Minister Davenport was an Oxford-educated intellectual, and he set up a grammar school and wanted to establish a college. Yale College was opened in 1701, long after his death.

United Colonies of New England Confederation

The colony's success soon attracted other believers, as well as those who were not Puritans. They expanded into additional towns (called plantations), establishing Milford and Guilford on the mainland in 1639, and Stamford and Southold on the North Fork of Long Island in 1640, forming the original component of the confederation which called itself the United Colonies of New England.[3] Branford joined in 1643 and was the last official plantation in the New Haven Confederation. They based their government on that of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

New Jersey, Philadelphia, and the Pacific Ocean

In 1641, the colony claimed the area that is now South Jersey and Philadelphia after buying land south of Trenton along the Delaware River from the Lenape tribe. Cape May, New Jersey and Salem, New Jersey were among the communities that were founded.[9]

The treaty with the Lenape placed no westward limit on the land west of the Delaware, which became the legal basis for a Connecticut "sea to sea" claim of owning all the land on both sides of the Delaware from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. This set the stage for the Pennamite-Yankee War of 150 years later.

In 1642, 50 families on a ship captained by George Lamberton settled at the mouth of Schuylkill River to establish the trading post at what is today Philadelphia. The Dutch and Swedes who were already in the area burned their buildings, and a court in New Sweden convicted Lamberton of "trespassing, conspiring with the Indians."[10] The New Haven Colony did not get any support from its New England patrons, and Puritan Governor John Winthrop testified that the "Delaware Colony" "dissolved" owing to "sickness and mortality."[11]

The Phantom Ship

Initially, the colony had only ships capable of coastal travel, and trade with England was done with the Massachusetts Bay Colony as the middleman. In 1645, the colony built an 80-ton ocean-going ship to be captained by George Lamberton of New Haven, a merchant gentleman and a sea captain from London. He and others had tried to establish a settlement in Delaware, but they were resisted by the Swedes who had settled there. He was one of the original founders of the Colony of New Haven. He was allotted land in block 7 and owned over 266 acres. Captain Lamberton and others from New Haven built one of the first ships out of New England for a commercial venture to the West Indies.

The ship disappeared in 1646, and its fate is the theme of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "The Phantom Ship". Legend has it that an apparition of the ship appeared on the horizon following a June thunder shower near sunset six months after it disappeared. Those on shore were said to have recognized their friends on deck. The ship's masts then appeared to snap, the ship pitched, the passengers were thrown into the sea, and the ship capsized. Town fathers said that the event gave them closure.

A ship sailed from New Haven,
And the keen and frosty airs,
That filled her sails at parting,
Were heavy with good men's prayers.
"O Lord! if it be thy pleasure"—
Thus prayed the old divine—
"To bury our friends in the ocean,
Take them, for they are thine!"
But Master Lamberton muttered,
And under his breath said he,
"This ship is so crank and walty
I fear our grave she will be!"[12]

The disaster in Philadelphia and sinking of its ship weakened the colony's future negotiating position.

Pursuit of the regicide judges

Eaton stayed as governor until his death in 1658, when leadership of the Colony was given to Francis Newman, followed by William Leete in 1660.

In 1661, the judges who had signed the death warrant of Charles I of England in 1649 were pursued by Charles II. Judges Colonel Edward Whalley and Colonel William Goffe both fled to New Haven to seek refuge from the king's forces, and John Davenport arranged for them to hide in the hills northwest of the town. They purportedly took refuge in Three Judges' Cave, a rock formation in West Rock park that today bears a historical marker in their name. Judge John Dixwell joined them at a later time.

Merger with Connecticut Colony

New Haven urgently needed a Royal charter, but the colony had made enemies in London by hiding and protecting the regicide judges.[13] An uneasy competition ruled New Haven's relations with the larger and more powerful Connecticut River settlements centered on Hartford. New Haven published a complete legal code in 1656, but the law remained very much church-centered. A major difference between the New Haven and Connecticut colonies was that the Connecticut permitted other churches to operate on the basis of "sober dissent," while the New Haven Colony only permitted the Puritan church to exist. A royal charter was issued to Connecticut in 1662, ending New Haven's period as a separate colony, and its towns were merged into the government of Connecticut Colony in 1664.[14]

Many factors contributed to the loss of independence for New Haven, including the loss of her strongest governor in Eaton, the economic disasters of losing her only ocean-going ship, the Philadelphia disaster, and the regicide case.


A group of New Haven colonists led by Robert Treat moved to establish a new community in New Jersey in 1666 with more religious freedom. Treat wanted to name the new community after Milford, Connecticut. However Abraham Pierson was to urge that the new community be named "New Ark" or "New Work" which was to evolve into the name Newark, New Jersey.[15][16]

See also


  1. ^ Charles M. Andrews, The Colonial Period of American History: The Settlements II (1936) pp 144-94
  2. ^ Charles M Andrews, The Colonial Period of American History: The Settlements II (1936) pp 187-94
  3. ^ a b c d Atwater, Edward Elias. "History of the Colony of New Haven to Its Absorption Into Connecticut", New Haven, 1881
  4. ^ Edward Channing, History of the United States (1905) 1:408-11
  5. ^ White, Henry. "The New Haven Colony", Papers of the New Haven Historical Society, Vol.1, 1865
  6. ^ a b Bacon, Leonard, "Civil Government of the New Haven Colony", Papers of the New Haven Historical Society, Vol.1, 1865
  7. ^ Edgar J. McManus, Law and Liberty in Early New England: Criminal Justice and Due Process, 1620-1692 (1993) p 103
  8. ^ Isabel M. Calder, The New Haven Colony (1934)
  9. ^ 1638 - New Haven - The Independent Colony - - Retrieved November 12, 2007
  10. ^ Lamberton L Archives - - Retrieved November 11, 2007
  11. ^ - New Sweden - - Retrieved November 12, 2007
  12. ^ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "The Phantom Ship", Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [online resource], Maine Historical Society, retrieved July 22, 2016
  13. ^ R. W. Roetger, "New Haven's Charter Quest and Annexation by Connecticut," Connecticut History (1988) vol 29 pp 16-26.
  14. ^ Charles M. Andrews, The Colonial Period of American History: The Settlements II" (1936) pp 187-94
  15. ^ New Jersey Opinion: Where Did This Name Come From? by Abraham Resnick - New York Times - February 25, 1990]
  16. ^ Edward Paul Rindler, "The Migration from the New Haven Colony to Newark, East New Jersey: A Study of Puritan Values and Behavior, 1630-1720" PhD dissertation U of Pennsylvania; Dissertation Abstracts International (1978), 38#11 pp 6792-6792 online

Further reading

Connecticut Colony

The Connecticut Colony or Colony of Connecticut, originally known as the Connecticut River Colony or simply the River Colony, was an English colony in North America that became the state of Connecticut. It was organized on March 3, 1636 as a settlement for a Puritan congregation, and the English permanently gained control of the region in 1637 after struggles with the Dutch. The colony was later the scene of a bloody war between the colonists and Pequot Indians known as the Pequot War. Connecticut Colony played a significant role in the establishment of self-government in the New World with its refusal to surrender local authority to the Dominion of New England, an event known as the Charter Oak incident which occurred at Jeremy Adams' inn and tavern.

Two other English settlements in the State of Connecticut were merged into the Colony of Connecticut: Saybrook Colony in 1644 and New Haven Colony in 1662.

Fairchild family

The Fairchild family has long roots in New England, United States. They descend from Thomas Fairchild who came from England in 1639 and settled in Stratford, Connecticut, a part of the fledgling New Haven Colony.

Francis Newman

Francis Newman (circa 1605 – November 18, 1660) was an English colonist in America. He served as Governor of the New Haven Colony from 1658 to 1659.

John Benedict

John Benedict (February 6, 1649 – November 11, 1729) was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives from Norwalk, Connecticut Colony in the sessions of May 1722 and May 1725.

He was born in 1649, in Southold, Long Island which was part of the New Haven Colony at the time. He was the son of Thomas Benedict and Mary Brigham Benedict. He moved with his family to Norwalk.He succeeded his father as deacon, and served in that position until old age. He was named a freeman 1680. He served as a selectman in 1689, from 1692 to 94 and in 1699. He was appointed part of committees to recruit a minister and a schoolmaster.

In 1686, he drew home-lot #27 in Norwalk, and in 1678, he bought a 4 acre home lot on Dry Hill.

The church honored him by voting to allow him to sit "in ye seat before ye pulpit" in 1705.

John Betts (Connecticut politician)

John Betts (June 20, 1650—c.June 1730) was a member of the House of Representatives of the Colony of Connecticut from Norwalk in the sessions of October 1708, May 1709, October 1710, May 1715, and May 1716.

He was born June 20, 1650 in Guilford, which at the time was a part of the New Haven Colony. He was the son of Thomas Betts and Sarah Marvin.

John Brockett (American colonist)

John Brockett (died March 12, 1690) was born in England. He was Gen Assembly Representative, Indian and government dispute settler.

John H. Peck

John Hudson Peck was the eighth president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He was born on February 7, 1838 in Hudson, New York. He was a descendant of William Peck, one of the original founders of the New Haven Colony. In 1859, he received a B.A. degree from Hamilton College. He later received M.A. and L.L.D degrees from Hamilton. He was admitted to the bar in New York State in 1861 and began to practice law in Troy, New York. In 1883, he married Mercy P. Mann. In the same year, he became a trustee of the Troy Female Seminary, which became the Emma Willard School. He was also a trustee of the Episcopal diocese of Albany. In 1888, he was appointed president of Rensselaer, and remained president for twelve years. He died on May 4, 1919.

Jonathan Marsh

Jonathan Marsh (1621–1672) was a founding settler of the New Haven Colony, and of Norwalk, Connecticut. He came to Norwalk from New Haven sometime prior to March 1656. He was the settlement's miller.

He was born about 1621, in Braintree, Essex, England, the son of John Marsh and Grace Baldwin. Jonathan and his brother Samuel came to America from England, and are recorded in Boston in 1641.

On May 7, 1650, he is recorded as having sold his land in New Haven to Lancelot Fuller who was married to Jonathan's sister Hannah Marsh.To this day his last surviving relative is still living in Heybridge Essex, Also called Jonathan Marsh he is a well known face and was featured in battling the Bailiffs with Chrisy Morris and can be found walking the streets of maldon helping the needy.

At a town meeting in Norwalk on January 6, 1654, a vote was taken which determined that the settlement's milling apparatus was insufficient, and already commenced improvements would be inadequate. The three settlers who were responsible for the mill at the time, Thomas Fitch, Nathaniel Richards, and Richard Olmsted, were to consult with Lieutenant Samuel Swayn, who built the mill in Stamford. They constructed a dam at the mouth of Mill Brook, and Jonathan Marsh built, "a corn mill sufficient for all purposes." Marsh ran the mill for about six years, and then sold the operation to Richards.Marsh sold his lot to Ephraim Lockwood in 1664.He is listed on the Founders Stone bearing the names of the founding settlers of Norwalk in the East Norwalk Historical Cemetery.

List of colonial governors of Connecticut

The territory of the United States state of Connecticut was first settled by Europeans in the 1620s, when Dutch traders established trading posts on the Connecticut River. English settlers, mainly Puritans fleeing repression in England, began to arrive in the 1630s, and a number of separate colonies were established. The first was the Saybrook Colony in 1635, based at the mouth of the Connecticut; it was followed by the Connecticut Colony (first settlement 1633, government from 1639) and the New Haven Colony (settled 1638, government from 1639). The Saybrook Colony merged with the Connecticut Colony in 1644, and the New Haven Colony was merged into Connecticut between 1662 and 1665 after Connecticut received a royal charter.

The Connecticut Colony was one of two colonies (the other was the neighboring Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations) that retained its governor during the American Revolution. The last colonial governor, Jonathan Trumbull, became the state of Connecticut's first governor in 1776.

List of counties in Connecticut

There are eight counties in the U.S. state of Connecticut.

Four of the counties – Fairfield, Hartford, New Haven and New London – were created in 1666, shortly after the Connecticut Colony and the New Haven Colony combined. Windham and Litchfield Counties were created later in the colonial era, while Middlesex and Tolland Counties were created after American independence (both in 1785). Six of the counties are named for locations in England, where many early Connecticut settlers originated.Although Connecticut is divided into counties, there is no county government in Connecticut, and local government consists solely on the municipality level. Almost all functions of county government were abolished in Connecticut in 1960, except for elected County Sheriffs and their departments under them. Those offices and their departments were abolished by an act of the state legislature effective in December of 2000. The functions the County Sheriffs' Departments played were assumed by the newly organized State Marshal Commission and the state Department of Corrections.

Connecticut's legacy county names remain for geographical purposes. Geographic boundaries of the former counties are still used by the state to organize its judicial and state marshal system. Connecticut's court jurisdictions still adhere to the county boundaries, and Fairfield, Hartford and New Haven Counties have been further subdivided into several smaller jurisdictions.

The FIPS county code is the five-digit Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) code which uniquely identifies counties and county equivalents in the United States. The three-digit number is unique to each individual county within a state, but to be unique within the entire United States, it must be prefixed by the state code. This means that, for example, while Fairfield County, Connecticut is 001, Belknap County, New Hampshire and Alachua County, Florida are also 001. To uniquely identify Fairfield County, Connecticut, one must use the state code of 09 plus the county code of 001; therefore, the unique nationwide identifier for Fairfield County, Connecticut is 09001. The links in the column FIPS county code are to the Census Bureau Info page for that county.

Matthew Canfield

Matthew Canfield (also seen as Matthew Campfield) (1604 – 1673) was a founding settler of Norwalk, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey. He served as a deputy of the General Court of the Connecticut Colony representing Norwalk in the sessions of May 1654, May 1655, May 1656, May 1657, May 1658, May 1659, May 1660, May 1661, May and October 1662, October 1663, May and October 1664, May and October 1665, and May and October 1666.

He was born in Harleston, Northamptonshire, England and baptized in Saint Andrews Church on February 27, 1604. He was the son of Gregory and Joan Camfield.

He came to the New Haven Colony from England prior to 1637.

He was a collector for Yale College in 1645.

He served as an officer in the Cavalry Troop of Connecticut from 1650-66.In February 1652, Camfield sold his home lot in New Haven. That year, he moved to Norwalk, becoming one of the area's original settlers. He lived in Norwalk for fourteen years, becoming one of the settlement's and the colony's prominent citizens.He was a deputy of the Connecticut General Court from Norwalk in 1654.In 1662, he was a magistrate and judge for the court in Fairfield.He was one of the 19 signers of the Petition to King Charles II for the Charter of the Colony.In 1666, Matthew removed to Newark, Province of New Jersey along with his brother-in-law Robert Treat, where he was one of the founders of that town. His home lot was located at about the present north-west corner of Washington and Market Streets. Apparent his departure from Norwalk is based upon some dissatisfaction with the union of the New Haven and Hartford colonies.

Canfield Island in East Norwalk is named for him.He is listed on the Founders Stone bearing the names of the founding settlers of Norwalk in the East Norwalk Historical Cemetery.

Pelatiah Leete House

The Pelatiah Leete House is a historic house at 575 Leete's Island Road in Guilford, Connecticut, United States. Built in 1710 by Pelatiah Leete, it is the oldest surviving house associated with the locally prominent Leete family, who were among the founders of the New Haven Colony. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Robert Treat

Robert Treat (February 23, 1624 – July 12, 1710) was an American colonial leader, militia officer and governor of the Connecticut Colony between 1683 and 1698 and the founder of Newark, New Jersey.

Southold, New York

The Town of Southold is one of ten towns in Suffolk County, New York, United States. It is located in the northeastern tip of the county, on the North Fork of Long Island. The population was 21,968 at the 2010 census. The town also contains a hamlet named Southold, which was settled in 1640.

Theophilus Eaton

Theophilus Eaton (c. 1590—January 7, 1658) was a merchant, farmer, and Puritan colonial leader who was the co-founder and first governor of New Haven Colony, Connecticut.

Thomas Lupton

Thomas Lupton (1628–1684) was a founding settler of Norwalk, Connecticut. His name appears in the early records of the settlement, but little is known, and his name also disappears soon thereafter. He apparently came to Norwalk in 1655 from the New Haven Colony. He was named a freeman in 1664.

He settled on home-lot number 27, which was toward the rear of the main line of lots in the settlement. His daughter Hannah married Ebenezer Blakeley. Hannah and Ebenezer had a daughter also named Hannah who married John Nash, and together are the ancestors of prominent Nash family of Norwalk.

In July 1668, he was chosen by the settlement congregation to look after the children during church services, so as to keep "them from playing and unssivil [sic] behavior in time of public worship".He is listed on the Founders Stone bearing the names of the founding settlers of Norwalk in the East Norwalk Historical Cemetery.

Trial of Thomas Hogg

The trial of Thomas Hogg took place in New Haven Colony in 1647. Hogg was accused of bestiality when a neighbourhood sow gave birth to piglets that allegedly resembled him. Unlike several men and boys convicted of the crime and consequently hanged in the 1640s and ensuing decades, Hogg refused to confess, thus avoiding the death penalty. Called "the most interesting buggery case" ever, it left an enduring mark in the history of capital punishment.

William Leete

William Leete (1612 or 1613 – 16 April 1683) was Governor of the Colony of New Haven from 1661 to 1665 and Governor of the Colony of Connecticut from 1676 to 1683.

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