JONATHAN GILBERT, born in England, June 8, 1617, was a land owner at Hartford, Hartford, CT, in 1645. He died there Dec. 19, 1682, aged 64. It is probable that he had been in the colony a number of years, as in 1646 he was engaged in difficult negotiations with Uncas and other Indian chiefs, and as an interpreter with the Indians in April, 1647.
He married first in Hartford, on Jan. 29, 1645/46, Mary White, daughter of Elder John White and Mary Leavitt. She was baptised in the parish of Messing, Essex, England, on Jul. 16, 1626. She died Dec. 16, 1649.
He married second, MARY WELLS, daughter of THOMAS and FRANCES WELLES. After their marriage, JONATHAN and MARY lived upon a lot near the corner of the present Sheldon and Governor Streets in Hartford, a portion of the lot of William Hills which he bought in 1648/49, Hills having moved across the Connecticut River to the locality still called Hockanum. The original lot was one acre. The northern part with Hill's original house had passed to the town of Hartford and this house was the first school house in Hartford., and was used as such for a number of years, housing the schoolmaster and his sixteen students of Latin Grammar. JONATHAN lived upon the southern part of the original Hill's lot in a small house. It was near the house of his father-in-law, Elder John White, who was, however, not an elder at this early date, the Second Church of Hartford not having been founded until 1669-70.
On Jan. 9, 1640, a mill and toll bridge was built on the north bank of the Park River, just below the falls near the present Welles Street. In 1655 a new and larger mill was built on the same site. At a town meeting held June 6, 1646, an arrangement was approved whereby JONATHAN would give his property to the city in exchange for the mill house along with a valuable site near the town's center near the public square. No record has been found to show that JONATHAN actually operated the mill, but such was probably the fact. It is possible that this exchange was not effected, for JONATHAN was still owning the south part of the Hill's house lot in 1659, when the town sold the north part with the school house to Joseph Smith.
In 1651, JONATHAN with three other men acquired eighteen acres of woodland in the southern part of town, west of "Rocky Hill" (this is the ridge upon which the buildings of Trinity College now stand), and in 1653 the town voted that JONATHAN would be allowed to build a warehouse at the common landing place in the little meadow next to Mr. Hooker's lot. He erected that building at once, a two story building, with a cellar beneath it and a staircase leading to the second floor. Very likely he stored here the corn he collected in 1654 for the militia. He had charge of the military stores for some years. This achievement gave JONATHAN a foothold at the center of the expanding trade and commerce of the town and colony upon the Great River. He profited thereby, although his was not the only warehouse near the river. This building stood for at least fifty years after its erection. In 1660 Jonathan further strengthened himself in the locality by purchasing two islands, called Bird's Island and the Dutch Island. These islands lay near the east bank of the river, opposite the public landing, and even there the channel to the east of them was beginning to fill up. It later entirely disappeared, the main channel of the river working its way westward and cutting away the western bank.
On Sep. 5, 1663, he bought from Anthony Wright two acres of land with buildings. It was situated between the market place on the north and Jeremy Adam's land on the south. This land was even then in an advantageous location, and is now in the heart of Hartford, between Central Row and the Travelers Insurance Company's building. Here JONATHAN had his residence and kept the inn until his death, and was succeeded after his decease by his widow, MARY, and son, Samuel, as innkeepers. Jeremy Adams also kept an inn which was the official meeting place of the General Court and in which he entertained the lower courts and other public officials. No doubt JONATHAN also had his share of this public patronage and he was most favorably situated to obtain the latest political and commercial news, an advantage he did not hesitate to avail himself of.
JONATHAN had meanwhile acquired various parcels of land, woodland, and meadow in different parts of town. In less than twenty years he had secured a firm position in the town and colony, at the very center of its commercial, social, and political life. His second marriage to MARY WELLS had without a doubt helped him. From all that can be learned of her, it would appear that she was a keen and practical woman with an eye to business. In this she was like her husband. The two were well mated and worked together for common ends and had common ambitions. From this period also begins JONATHANS participation in public affairs. Prior to this time he had been known as Goodman Gilbert, but now is called Jonathan Gilbert, Mr. Jonathan Gilbert and Mr. Gilbert in the records, a sure indication of advancing official and social status.
In about 1646, Thomas Stanton, the first marshal of the colony, left Hartford and a successor to his office was needed. Apr. 9, 1646, the General Court passed an order whereby JONATHAN GILBERT would assume the office. There is no mention of his re-election annually, but there is a record of his appointment as Marshal in 1662, 1663 and 1664. His successor, George Grave, was elected May 11, 1675. Thus we may assume that JONATHAN served in this office 29 years altogether.
JONATHAN is frequently referred to in the Colonial Records of Connecticut, which acknowledge his public life. In March, 1653, a special warrant was granted to him as marshal, with the power to enrol as many forces as he sees fit, to arrest or repel rebellious indians. April 9, 1657, JONATHAN, his brother John, and "an able man" provided by the "Deputies of Windzor", were instructed by the court to go to Nortwootuck and Pacumtuck and discuss with the Sachem and chief, the recent acts of murder committed by indians at Farmington, CT, and that in the future any indians committing such acts would be considered enemies, and would be prosecuted.
In November, 1659, JONATHAN was appointed to compel payment from the Farmington Indians for monies payable in compensation for damages from a fire caused by the indians two years previously. In April, 1660, Mr. John Allyn and JONATHAN GILBERT were commissioned to meet with Tantoninus, the Sachem of the Potuncks, and determine the boundary lines of the lands in ownership dispute between the English and the Indians.
Evidence indicates that the marshal had, either in person or by deputy, the powers and duties of the hangman. No other mode of execution is recognized by the law of the Colony. This power brought JONATHAN into a tragic situation in the witchcraft cases, which involved his own sister-in-law. However, it is not certain that he held the office of marshal in 1654-55.
JONATHAN died Dec. 10, 1682, aged 64. MARY died almost eighteen years later, aged 74. They lie side by side in the ancient burial place at Hartford.
JONATHAN GILBERT and MARY WELLS, by their daughter Mary, are the grandparents of Jonathan Belcher, Governor of Massachusetts for eleven years, and Governor of New Jersey from 1747 to 1767.
JONATHAN had a falling out with his son, Jonathan. It was about this time that the senior JONATHAN made his will, which was dated Sep. 10, 1674. The son had moved out of the family house and JONATHAN left this son only some wild land in East Haddam worth about £20, out of an estate valued at £2,500. The farm at Meriden was left to Nathaniel, while Ebenezer received 300 acres.
In his will, JONATHAN gave ......
|~ to my wife, Mary||...||use of the house at Cold Spring|
|...||upper part of Dutch Island|
|...||land I bought from Mr. Callsey|
|...||land I exchanged with Mr. James Richards|
|...||pasture I bought from Mr. Andrew Warner|
|...||lot on the west side of Rocky Hill|
|~ to my son, Samuel||...||all of the above property after Mary dies|
|~ to my son, Ebenezer||...||30 pounds from Samuel for the above|
|~ to my son, Jonathan||...
|| half of the lands in Haddam I bought from Mr. James Bates,|
and Thomas Shaylor
|~ to my son, Thomas||...
|| my house and home lot on the south side of the riverlet|
in Hartford, and my meadow land
|...||ten acres I bought from Lt. Robert Webster|
|...||lower part of Dutch Island|
|~ to my son Nathaniel||...||my farm at Meriden|
|~ to my daughter, Lydia Richardson||...||twenty schillings|
|~ to my daughter, Sarah Belcher||...||twenty schillings|
|~ to my daughter, Mary Holton||...||twenty schillings|
|~ to my daughter, Hester||...||one hundred pounds, after marriage|
|~ to my daughter, Rachel||...||one hundred pounds, after marriage|
|~ to my son, Ebenezer||...||300 acres I bought from Capt. Daniel Clark|
|...||land known as Pagan Chaumischaug, I bought from Messecap|
|...||fifty pounds at age 21|
|~ to Hannah Kelly||...||twenty schillings for her obedience|
|~ to my grandson, John Rosseter||...||ten pounds at age 24|
|~ to my grandson, Andrew Belcher||...||five pounds|
|~ to my grandson, Jonathan Richardson||...||five pounds|
|children of JONATHAN GILBERT and Mary White|
wife Dorothy Hope
husband John Rossiter
husband Samuel Holton
|children of JONATHAN GILBERT and MARY WELLS|
husband Capt Andrew Belcher
husband STEPHEN RICHARDSON
husband John Chapman
wife Lydia Ballard
wife Mary (Lilly) Trowbridge
|Hester or Esther
husband Charles Dickinson
wife Mary Rogers
husband Josiah Marshfield
wife Esther Allyn