Hart Research Outline on Obadiah Seeley

PART 1
Frederick C. Hart Jr. information

Address: 1311 Great Hill Road, North Guilford, CT 06437-3649,
Phone: (203) 457-9383
What: Client Research Report
Date: 12/29/98
Report Number: SGS-1
Subject: Obadiah Seeley of Stamford, Connecticut
Objective: Conduct research to advance the understanding of the career of the first Obadiah Seeley in Stamford, particularly concerning any clues to his origin. Specifically, compile a comprehensive listing of all primary records in which he is named.
Limitations: 15-20 hours, research and reporting.
Other: None stated.

General
This is an initial report covering activities since receiving the request of the Seeley Genealogical Society via electronic mail from Wesley A. Waring on 11 December, and his follow-up letter of 14 December, 1998.

Summary of Results
A comprehensive and thorough listing of all primary records made by, or referring to, Obadiah Seeley of Stamford Connecticut, or his wife Mary (Angel?) (Miller) Seeley, with complete source citations, has been completed and is attached. Some avenues for further investigation have been identified and described.

Records Searched
Town Records
(Please refer to the attached compilation of records for complete descriptions of the records cited.)

Miscellaneous
Certain other records were consulted, as cited in the footnotes of the attached compilation.

Findings and Analysis
Negative Indications
The following items all refer to conclusions or inferences that may be reached from the consideration of the records listed in the attached compilation. The negative indications are considered first:

  1. No records were found that directly connected Obadiah Seeley of Stamford with Captain Robert Seeley of New Haven. For that matter, no records were found that directly stated or implied a family relationship with any other individual(s) at all (except for those with his immediate family of wife and children.)
  2. No records were found that would confirm the date of marriage of Obadiah Seeley and the widow Mary (Angel?) Miller, or the dates of birth of any of their children, that are commonly given in the secondary sources. While we do know from the records that Mary’s first husband, John Miller, died sometime in 1642, the dates of the marriage of his widow and the births of her four children with Obadiah Seeley must be considered to be simple conjecture.
  3. No records were found that stated any earlier residence for Obadiah Seeley.
  4. An exact time of his arrival in Stamford could not be determined. There is no definite record of a town grant(s) of land, such as exists for many of his contemporaries. It is possible that he resided on the widow Miller’s property for some time before he married her, and much more likely that he simply obtained title to her lands by marriage. Possible Clues to be Investigated
  5. The most interesting record found, with potential genealogical significance, is the receipt of 5 May 1651, in which Obadiah Seeley recorded that John Lawreson had satisfied his debts “from the beginning of the world to this day.” The name of Lawreson is only found in two other instances in these early Stamford records. A John “Leareson” was forbidden from selling wine at retail on or about 3 December 1648 (STR, 1:13; TC, 18); and a “James Lareson” (probably John was meant) was named as a bounding landowner in a description of the lands of Robert Hardy on 1 March 1650 (STR, 1:33; TC, 39). Assuming that these records all refer to the same person, we may further assume that he did not remain in Stamford since there are no later records of him there. With his short time in Stamford coinciding with the first appearance of Obadiah Seeley, and with his known financial obligation to Seeley which apparently had been accumulated over a period of time, I think it is reasonable to suggest that he and Seeley may have been associated with each other before coming to Stamford. A search of the origin and later career of John Lawreson, therefore, might shed light on the origin of Obadiah Seeley as well. Although I did not want to spend much time on this during the present assignment, I did find that a John Lawrenson is found in several New Haven Records, and at least one of these records strongly suggests that he is the same person. At the Court in New Haven on 1 February 1647[/48], “John Lawrencson and his wife, being warned to the court, apeared, they were charged for selling stronge watters by small quanteties, contrarie to a courte order.” The record goes on to describe more detail of the offense, a fine was levied, and the Lawrensons were strongly warned against another occurrence. (Charles J. Hoadley, Records of The Colony and Plantation of New Haven From 1638 to 1649 [Hartford: Case, Tiffany & Co., 1857], 363-64.) This certainly sounds like the same person who was in trouble for selling wine in Stamford later that same year.
  6. It is also possible to speculate that Obadiah Seeley had known Mary (Angel?) Miller prior to her residence in Stamford, and was attracted to her there after John Miller’s death in 1642. A review of the careers of John Miller and his wife Mary (whether or not her maiden name was Mary Angel) might reveal an earlier connection with Obadiah Seeley in some town in England or in America. In further support of this line of reasoning, it should be noted that George Slason (who was one of the Stamford men most closely associated with Seeley in the records and one of the appraisers of his inventory) is also thought to have had a connection with the Angel family.

Suggestions for Additional or Future Research
(Based on the above findings)

  1. As noted above, investigate the career of John Lawreson of Stamford, 1648-1651 (and probably New Haven prior to that time.). This should at least include a survey of the New Haven records, and the IGI and other major indexes. I note that he is not in Savage’s Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, so the records may be extremely sparse.
  2. As noted above, investigate the career of John Miller and his wife Mary in Wethersfield records. Since he died in 1642, he did not leave many Stamford records, and his wife’s later career there is covered in the attached compilation. His residence prior to Wethersfield is apparently not known, but we may be able to figure it out. At the same time, study the connection with the Angel(l) family if possible.

Other Research Notes and Observations
None.

Table of Attachments
A. Compilation, “Stamford, Connecticut Records Directly Relating to Obadiah Seeley, Who Died There in 1657” (2 copies, 10 sheets each.)

REPORT NUMBER SGS-1

20 February 1648[/49] In the recording of the lands of John Holly made on 20 May 1672, a copy of a deed of 20 February 1648 was included, describing a 9 acre piece of upland in Rocky Neck purchased from Thomas Sherwood as being bounded on the North by Obadiah Seeley.1 (SLR, A:50)

undated, perhaps 1649 Obadiah Seeley was one of 16 (or 18 with two names missing) inhabitants of Stamford listed to have a “pick,” probably meaning their choice of an upcoming land distribution. (STR, 1:10; TC, 15)

31 Jan’y (11th m.) 1649[/50] In the description of the lands of Thomas Morehouse, Obadiah Seeley is mentioned as an adjoining landholder on the South of Morehouse’s meadow in the town center, and as an adjoining landholder on the West of Morehouse’s upland in (apparently) the East field. (STR, 1:23-4; TC, 29-30)

1650 In the description of the lands of George Slason, Obadiah Seeley is mentioned as an adjoining landholder on the South of Slason’s home lot. (STR, 1:32; TC, 38)

August 1650 In the description of the lands of David Mitchell, Obadiah Seeley is mentioned as an adjoining landholder on the West of Mitchell’s 3-acre meadow in the East field. (STR, 1:47; TC, 58)

September 1650 In the description of the lands of John Waterbury, Obadiah Seeley is mentioned as an adjoining landholder on the South of Waterbury’s meadow in the town center. (STR, 1:42; TC, 50)

undated, probably 16512 “The land of Obadiah Seely with the bounds and [a]buttments; one house and two home lots, containing 7 acres, more or less, bounded by the highway to the South, George Slason on the North, butting to the highway West and to the meadow East. “In Rocky Neck, one acre of upland and [a] half, more or less, bounded by the highway to the South, George Slason on the North, Butting to Thomas Hyatt [‘Hout’] on the East, and the highway West. “In the same field, three acres and [a] half of meadow more or less, bounded by Thomas Hyatt to the North and Nicholas Knapp [‘Nickles Knap’] on the South, butting to the Creek on the East, and Thomas Morehouse and Thomas Hyatt on the West. “In the same field four acres and [a] half of meadow more or less, bounded by Thomas Morehouse on the North and William Mead on the South, butting against the home lots to the West & Clement Buxton’s meadow and the upland to the East. “In the East field, 5 + ½ acres of upland, more or less, 2 + ½ acres of the said parcel lying for waste land, bounded by Jeffrey Ferris to the West, Thomas Morehouse on the East, butting to the highway South and the common land West. “In the North field, 5 acres of upland, more or less, bounded by Jeffrey Ferris on the North & on the South ‘ore els Nickles Knape, on the South,’ butting to the highway to the East & to the fence on the West. “[In the] South field, 2 acres meadow + upland, more or less, bounded by Henry Jackson on the North, and Robert Rugge on the South & butting to Robert Rugge to the East [and the] highway to the West.” (STR, 1:22; TC, 27-8)

1 March 1650[/51] In the description of the lands of Thomas Newman, Obadiah Seeley is mentioned as an adjoining landholder on the South and West of Newman’s “little island” in the East field. (STR, 1:38; TC, 46)

15 March 1650[/51] In a confusing passage having to do with the lands of Clement Buxton, it appears that Obadiah Seeley was mentioned as an adjoining landholder on the West of Buxton’s 2-acre meadow in the East field. (STR, 1:37; TC, 45)

March 16513 In the description of the lands of John Holly, Obadiah Seeley is mentioned as an adjoining landholder on the North of Holly’s upland in Rocky Neck. (STR, 1:51; TC, 62)

5 May 1651 “Witness [by] these presents that Obadiah Seely doth acknowledge hims[elf] satisfied for a debt due to him from John Lawreson and doth a[cknowledge?] and discharge the said John Lawreson of all debts and demands [from?] the beginning of the world to this day.” (STR, 1:11; TC, 16)

10 March 1651[/52] When Robert Rugg sold his housing and home lot in Stamford to Richard Webb, O[badiah] Seeley was mentioned as an adjoining landholder on the North of Rugg’s meadow in the South field. (STR, 1:39; TC, 47)

21 November 1652 “Witness [by] these presents that Obadiah Seeley, now living in Stamford, do by these presents sell, alienate, assign and set over from me and mine unto George Slason and his forever, a certain parcel of meadow lying by Rocky Neck on the East side of the Creek, containing an acre more or less, bounded all most [a]round with the upland of Richard Law[;] and also a strip of meadow from the North point of the upland which encompasses the aforesaid cove or a parcel of meadow, downwards between the Creek and the upland unto Jonas Weed’s meadow.” (STR, 1:56; TC, 68)

3 February 1655[/56] Obadiah Seeley sold to Daniel Scofield, a piece of upland in the South field, about ½ acre more or less “at the farther end of Goodman Scofield’s own land & on one side westward of Obadiah Seely’s fresh meadow.” Witnesses were Richard Law and George Stukey [“Stockey”]. The transaction was not recorded until 24 June 1687, it then being “an old bill of sale to Daniel Scofield now deceased.”4 (SLR, A:162)

15 February 1657[/58] Peter Ferris gave land to “Garret Rurs & Aron Andrews, dutchmen” being seven acres in the North field, bounded by Obadiah Seeley on the South. (STR, 1:34; TC, 41)

25 August 1657 “Obadia Seely died 25 [day]. 6 [month]. 1657” (STR, 1:19; TC, 25)

25 August 1657 “Obadiah Seely died the 25th A[u]gust 1657” (STR, 1:20; TC, 26)5

13 August 1658 “Habakuk Seely died 13 [day]. 6 [month]. 1658” (STR, 1:20; TC, 26)

1658 In the description of land sold by Henry Disbrow to Jonathan Lockwood, “widow Seelly” is mentioned as an adjoining landholder on the South of Disbrow’s upland in the North field. This land was described as originally in possession of Jeremiah Wood, then Edward Jessup, then James Stewart, then Robert Bassett, then John Waterbury, then John Rockwell, then Garrett Ruers and Aron Anderson, and from them to Henry Disbrow. (STR, 1:44; TC, 53)

8 March 1660 In a sale of land in the South field from George Stukey to Daniel Scofield, “widow Seeley and widow Ackerly [‘Acorley’]” were mentioned as adjoining landholders on the South side. (STR, 1:44; TC, 54)

5 January 1664[/65] At a Town Meeting of this date, “Its ordered that Cornelus Jones and widow Seely, George Slasen, Samuel Holly, Joseph Garnsey and John Holly are chosen viewers to view the fences of the fields.” The order went on to require that the viewers go out “tomorrow” and identify those neglected fences for whom someone should be fined, and then to go out again on the 24th of the same month and see that all fences had been sufficiently repaired.6 (STR, 2:4; TC, 214)

27 June 1666 “Cornelius Jones [‘Corniluse Jons’] for being drunk, proved by widow Seeley [‘Seelly’] and her 2 sons that he was drunk or mad, as appeared by his unusual behavior, coming to their house late at night without britches, it being the second time he is fined for his offence 01 £. 00 s. 00 d. (STR, 2:8; TC, 218)

6 November 1666 The inventory of the estate of John Miller of Stamford, taken on 24 February (12th month) 1665/66, was filed on this date by Richard Newman and Robert Usher, listers, and George Slason and John Holly, appraisers. Distribution was made on this date to his widow, who had married Obadiah Seeley, and in 1666 was called the widow Seeley, and the (Miller) children: John (eldest), Jonathan and Joseph. “The Court also (____) that whereas that Seeley [‘Sely’] built a house upon Miller’s land the widow Seeley should enjoy the use of the house for her lifetime and then the house shall pertain to the children of Miller, they paying to the children of Sely what it shall be worth as 2 indifferent men chosen by the Court shall award.”7 The inventory specifically noted that Miller had “deceased Anno 1642.” (FPR, 2:13)

7 November 16668 The inventory of the estate of Obadiah Seeley of Stamford, taken on 24 February (12th month) 1665/66, and appraised on 3 November (9th month) 1666, was filed on this date by William Newman9 and Robert Usher, listers, and George Slason and John Holly, appraisers.10 The inventory specifically noted that Seeley had “deceased Anno 1657.” (FPR, 2:14)

9 November 1666 The inventory of the estate of Obadiah Seeley was exhibited at the Fairfield Probate Court, and the estate was distributed to the widow and the “three children left,” Obadiah (eldest), Cornelius, and Jonas (youngest), all to have their portions when they became 21 years of age. The widow was named administrator. (FPR, 2:15)

18 October 1667 In a sale of land in the South field from Daniel Simkins to Joseph Garnsey, the North and Northwest adjoining landholders are named as Daniel Scofield [‘Scolefeelde’], and “Obedia Seely or Miller.”11 (SLR, A:13)

1 August (6th month) 1672 The lands of Jonathan Miller, one of Obadiah Seeley’s stepsons, were recorded in Stamford on this date. The first item was “one house in reversion (according to the Courts settlement the widow Seely to have the use of it for her lifetime & then the said house to pertain to Jonathan Miller he paying to the children of Obadiah Seely {deceased} what it shall be worth as two indifferent men chosen by the court shall award) and home lot containing two acres more or less, bounded by the home lot of George Slason on the North & Obadiah Seeleys [Jr.] lot on the South, butting to the street on the West & the meadows on the East.”12 (SLR, A:54)

3 February 1672[/73] At a Town Meeting on this date, widow Seeley made a request to the Town for a house lot. (STR, 2:34; TC, 248)

19 February 1672[/73] The Town Meeting granted a house lot to widow Seeley [as she requested at the previous meeting], to be selected by a committee consisting of Mr. Law, Mr. Holly, Lt. Francis Bell and Richard Ambler. (STR, 2:34; TC, 249)

1 February 1677[/78] In a town meeting action that granted John Miller [Jr.] and Daniel Simkins land “in that quarter” in return for their maintaining “for ever” the two North field gates, widow Seeley is mentioned as a landholder in the North field. (STR, 2:43; TC, 266-67)

23 January 1678[/79] Jonas Seeley made an exchange of lands with Samuel Hoyt. Seeley’s offering consisted of two parcels: one of the parcels was 3 ½ acres of upland in “the Ox Pasture (formerly so called),” which was transferred “with the full consent & alowance of his mother Mary Seely.” This must have been a portion of his father’s estate. The other part of Jonas Seeley’s grant to Samuel Hoyt in this exchange was 4 acres of upland in “Norwaton Hill,” bounded by the land of Daniel Jones on the East and Joseph Jones on the West, this portion not being endorsed by his mother.13 (SLR, A:78)

  1. The deed itself appears to be the first mention of Obadiah Seeley in any Stamford Records, but it is noted that the deed was not recorded until more than 23 years after it was made.
  2. Stamford apparently tried to record the status of all holdings at this time. Although the list is not complete, the ones that have survived in the Town Records are all about 1651, with most of them bearing the date of 1 March 1650[/51].
  3. Since the day was not given, this could have been in 1650/51 or 1651/52, depending on the day of the record. The land described was clearly the same property that Holly had purchased on 20 February 1648/49 (see the first item in the listing.)
  4. Obadiah Seeley apparently made his own signature, not signing by mark as did many of his contemporaries.
  5. Many of the deaths in this time period are recorded in duplicate on two successive pages of the Stamford Town Records. The reason may have to do with an inordinate number of deaths occurring in 1657-1658, probably from an epidemic of disease, said by some historians to have been malaria. (see, for example, Edward E. Atwater, History of the Colony of New Haven To Its Absorption Into Connecticut, New Haven: the author, 1881, 366-71; Jeanne Majdalany, The Early Settlement of Stamford, Connecticut 1641 – 1700, Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, Inc., 1991, 47-9.
  6. The selection of a widow to serve in such a position is rather unique, and may indicate some special characteristic or relationship about the widow Seeley that we have not yet realized.
  7. Some observers have interpreted this provision as meaning that Obadiah Seeley had built John Miller’s house for him. If the house had been built “for Miller” during his lifetime, there would be no question about Miller being the sole owner. Also, it is fairly certain that Seeley was not among the first (1641-1642) group of Stamford settlers. I think the passage rather means that Seeley had built a new house on Miller’s property sometime after Miller’s death, either before or after he married Miller’s widow.
  8. These two estates were obviously considered together by the Fairfield Probate District Court, and were settled on adjacent days, and recorded on adjacent pages of the record volume. Unfortunately, none of the original estate papers have survived as individual documents.
  9. The listers and appraisers on both estates appear to be identical persons, except that “Richard” Newman is clearly named on Miller’s Inventory, and “Willm” Newman is named on Seeley’s. I have not taken the time to determine whether or not this may have been an error in recording one of the names.
  10. The modest inventory, valued at just over £ 106, contained his real estate, livestock, a musket, sword, powder horn and chest, some woodworking tools, and miscellaneous furnishings. Nothing of special genealogical significance is noted.
  11. The principals were apparently not clear regarding the resolution of the estates of the husbands of the widow Seeley.
  12. The widow Mary (Angel?) (Miller) Seeley was still living at this time (since she co-signed with her son Jonas Seeley in 1678/79). It is not clear how Jonathan Miller had compensated his brothers and step brothers for their portions of this house, since none of those transactions appear to have survived.
  13. This 4 acres in Noroton was a grant by the town to Jonas Seeley as one of the soldiers who “went out … of Stamford against the common enemy,” and was therefore entirely in his own name. The adjoining landowners, both named Jones but from two different Jones families, were also soldiers who had received their grants from the town on the same date, 22 February 1676 (STR, 2:39; TC, 260.)

Chronological Listing of Obadiah Seeley’s Stamford (CT) Records

Date of Event or Record Description and Source Citations

9

STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT RECORDS
DIRECTLY RELATING TO OBADIAH SEELEY,
WHO DIED THERE IN 1657

Compiled for:

THE SEELEY GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY

By:
Frederick C. Hart Jr., CG
1311 Great Hill Road
North Guilford, CT 06437-3649

January, 1999

The Seeley Genealogical Society has requested that a survey be made of the available records of Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut that contain any mention of the first Obadiah Seeley, in order to determine the extent of the information in those records, and hopefully to shed light on Obadiah’s origin which is still in question.

This resulting compilation is a complete chronological listing of all Stamford records that mention Obadiah Seeley, directly or indirectly, in any capacity. Mention of “widow Seeley” has also been included where it is clear that Obadiah’s widow Mary was meant. The name is being spelled “Seeley” herein to correspond with the general usage of the Society, but original Stamford documents generally use the spelling “Seely.”

In quotations, I have used the modern spelling of words and names where there is no ambiguity, especially “the” for “ye” and “that” for “yt.” In some cases, where the original exact spelling is felt necessary, it is enclosed in quotation marks (or apostrophes inside quotations.) Words that I have inserted for any reason, usually to clarify another word or meaning, are enclosed in brackets.

To eliminate confusion regarding the year for dates in January, February and March, I have converted them all to the double-dating style. The Stamford recorders were not inclined to use this nomenclature until much later in the 17th Century.

Each item in the following chronological listing is followed by an abbreviated citation to the source(s) that contain the original record, or its transcription. The sources and their abbreviations are as follows:

STR Stamford Town Records, volumes 1 & 2, original volumes at the office of the Town and City Clerk, Stamford Government Center, hereafter Town Clerk.

TC H. Stanley Finch and Galen A. Carter Jr., Transcription Copy of the Stamford Town Records, volumes 1 & 2, created pursuant to the direction of a Town Meeting held on the First Monday of October, 1882, and under the oversight of the Town Clerk. This Transcription Copy contains a complete every-name index (although some names were already illegible at the time of transcription.) It is also available at the Town Clerk’s Office, and on Connecticut Ancestry Microfilm #1, which was used for the purposes of this compilation.

SLR Stamford Land Records, volume A, original at the Town Clerk’s Office, typewritten transcription copy having identical pagination with the original, also at the Town Clerk’s, was used. Access to these land records was facilitated by using the every-name index created by Edith M. Wickes, presently in the collection of the Stamford Historical Society.

FPR Fairfield Probate District Records, original bound volumes and microfilm at the Connecticut State Library (CSL), photostat copies at the Fairfield Town Hall were used for this compilation. Stamford was included in the Fairfield Probate District until 1728. Access to these probate records was facilitated by using the every-name index created by Spencer Percival Mead for his “Abstract of Probate Records at Fairfield, County of Fairfield and State of Connecticut,” 2 volumes, typescript, 1929-1934, available at various repositories and on Connecticut Ancestry Microfilm #5, which was used for the purposes of this compilation.