SAMUEL SMITH was born Oct. 6, 1602 in St. Nicholas, Ipswich, Suffolk, England. ELIZABETH SMITH, daughter, of CHILEAB SMITH, was born the same year in Whatfield, Suffolk, England. They were married at St. Margaret's in Whatfield on Oct. 6, 1624.
SAMUEL SMITH came to America in 1634, leaving from Ipswich on April 30, with his wife, ELIZABETH, and four children on the ship Elizabeth. He first settled in Watertown, Middlesex, MA, where most of the passengers of the Elizabeth settled. He was admitted Freeman on Sep. 3, 1634, shortly after arriving.
The sailing list of the ship Elizabeth of 1634, includes the following:
He then removed to Wethersfield, CT, along the banks of the "Great River". It is quite possible that SAMUEL preceeded his family to Wethersfield (called Wilderness of Pyquag ath that time). There were few conveniences there, and it would have been a difficult existence that first winter. By going ahead, he would have been able to build a home for their arrival the following year.
A map of old Wethersfield with a layout of streets and lots, from the 1630's, shows the SAMUEL SMITH homestead lying on Broad Street between the households of Thomas Killbourn on the north and John Edwards on the south. The household of Rev. Henry Smith, the first pastor of the Wethersfield Church, and the households of Richard Smith and William Smith are indicated on the map, also. None of these latter three Smiths are thought to have been related to SAMUEL. Also shown are the lots of NATHANIEL FOOTE and Josiah Churchill, whose familiy members, later intermarried with descendants of the SAMUEL SMITH family.
SAMUEL SMITH is called "The Fellmonger" in the early Wethersfield records meaning very likely that he was a tanner by trade and a dealer in skins and furs of animals. The word generally refers to sheep pelts but there could not have been many sheep in that wolf infested wilderness at so early a date although there were some a little later. He must have been a man of some means because he figured in a goodly number of land purchases and sales in Wethersfield. On page 643, Vol. I of Adams and Stiles "Ancient Wethersfield" the statement is made that SAMUEL SMITH was "one of the wealthiest men in Wethersfield". This was in 1646. His son John in 1672 was admitted by town vote in Wethersfield as an inhabitant to set up "a trade of tanning in this town". He had been living in Hadley and evidently had returned to Wethersfield then or before.
SAMUEL SMITH served Wethersfield as a Deputy to the general Court almost continuously from November 1637 to May 1656. He also served as Assistant to the Connecticut Colony in March and April of 1638. (See Conn. Colonial records). The General Court sat first at Hartford, Apr. 26, 1638, by authority of a commission from Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts to "govern the people of Connecticut for the space of one year". Rev. Henry Smith was one of the governor's original appointees and was living in Watertown, MA, at the time. Later the General Court of Connecticut which included the elected deputies called itself the "General Assembly". In May of 1678 it was known as the "Governor and Council". In May of 1698 it was divided into two sections known as "The Upper House" which consisted of the Governor or his deputy and his assistants and the "Lower House" made up of the deputies of the several towns. In 1819 the Upper House became Senators, the Lower House, Representatives.
The Court in early days consisted of the Governor, at least seven chosen assistants, and four deputies from each town. It not only performed legislative and adjudicative functions but also served as the "Court of Elections" with power to choose the Governor and his assistants. In February 1651 SAMUEL SMITH served as a member of a Particular Court in Hartford, chosen to try John Carrington and his wife for witchcraft. An indictment "thou deservest to dye" was returned but the sentences were probably not carried out.
SAMUEL SMITH figured in a number of land transactions and seems to have been engaged in various commercial enterprises. In November 1649 the General Court authorized him and "the rest of the owners of the shipp at Wethersfield to fit and make so many pipestaves as will freight out said shipp the first voyage, etc.". Pipestaves were used in the West Indies to make barrels for the shipment of molasses, rum, salt beef, pork and fish. The building of this ship had been authorized by the General Court and was probably the first ship built in Connecticut. Thomas Deming, a ship carpenter, was probably the master builder. The ship was named the "Tryall" and captained first by Mr. Larribee, and the boatswain was Christopher Fox of Wethersfield. It appears that she was still in operation in 1662 plying as far as the West Indies. On Dec. 28, 1629, SAMUEL SMITH Sr., Nathaniel Dickinson and Mr. Trat (probably Richard Treat) were chosen by the town to "seat men and women in the meeting house", an important assignment in those days when social rank as practiced in old England still influenced the settlers. Seating was done on the basis of community standing and could be done peaceably only by freeman most highly regarded both for integrity and social rank.
On Mar. 28, 1653 in a town meeting SAMUEL SMITH was one of those chosen to meet with a committee from Mattabeseck (Middletown) to fix the boundary line between the two settlements. Boundary matters were troublesome in those days and required many adjustments to settle overlapping and infringement problems that arose among the settlers.
In May 1653 SAMUEL SMITH was made a member of the Committee for War in Wethersfield and sometime before 1658 was commissioned a Sergeant of the Wethersfield train band. The train band was an organization formed to defend the town and its officers were chosen by the soldiers, subject to confirmation by the Particular Court which dealt with the lesser cases, offenders having the right of appeal to the General Court. Wethersfield sent a contingent of men under the command of Lieutenant Robert Seeley to fight the Pequots in 1637 and it is said that SAMUEL SMITH was one of the group.
Wethersfield during the first twenty five years of its existence suffered two church quarrels one in 1640-41 resulting in a large number of its citizens going to the Rippowam's Country (Stamford Connecticut) and to Saybrook (New Haven, Stratford and Milford), and a second, in 1659 resuiting in an additional number removing themselves from the Jurisdiction of Connecticut into the Jurisdiction of Massachusetts and founding Hadley. The meeting at which this latter removal was decided was held at Goodman Ward's house in Hartford on April 18, 1659. Here a compact was signed by 59 men, 20 of whom, including SAMUEL SMITH Sr., Samuel Smith Jr. and Philip Smith were from Wethersfield. The signers agreed to remove themselves and families to the new settlement on the east side of the river from Northhampton, MA, and to be dwelling there by Sep. 30, 1660. The Rev. John Russell Jr. of Wethersfield was their spiritual leader and became their first minister at Hadley.
The History of Northampton by Trumbull Vol. I, page 76 refers to the agents of the Hartford Company, one of whom was SAMUEL SMITH of Wethersfield, as purchasing, in 1659, the meadow of "Capewonke", later known as Hatfleld. It was then a part of Nanotuck (Nonotuck) including Northampton, a part of the grant made to the settlers from Connecticut, largely Windsor and Hartford , who settled Northampton in 1653. The price paid was 30 pounds in wheat and peas, delivered at Hartford, and the payment is recorded as having been made promptly. (First Book of Deeds at Springfield).
On Nov. 9, 1659, at Hartford and approximately at the same time at Wethersfield and at the new plantation at Norwottuck (Hadley) which by then included Capewonke, the settlers and the settlers to be, chose seven men, among them SAMUEL SMITH, "to order all public occasions that concern the good of that plantation for the year ensueing". (First Book of Records in Hadley).
There were 48 original proprietors of the settlement in the Norwottuck Country, later called Hadley, including among them SAMUEL SMITH and his sons Chileab and Philip. It will be noted that his sons Samuel and John do not appear. John, it seems by the records, lived alternately in Hadley and Wethersfield. Samuel, Jr. is thought to have removed to New London and thence to Virginia and all track of him lost. (P. 647 Vol. II of Stiles "Ancient Wethersfield".)
SAMUEL SMITH's public life in the new Norwottuck plantation, later Hadley, began soon after his arrival, He and Peter Tilton were chosen Town Measurers on Dec. 31, 1660, to lay out the lands for the settlers, place stakes at the "front and rear" of every lot and keep a record of them. During the same month at Norwottuck, along with Nathaniel Dickinson, Andrew Bacon, Andrew Warner and William Lewis, SAMUEL SMITH was chosen as one of the first Townsmen, now called Selectmen. He attended the March 1661 session of the General Court at Springfield as a juror. At the next meeting of the court on May 22, the town was named Hadley, after Hadleigh in Suffolk County, England from whence came some of the settlers including, probably, SAMUEL SMITH and his wife, ELIZABETH.
The May 22, 1661 session of the court authorized the town of Hadley to choose commissioners with power, and without jury to determine civil actions not exceeding 5 pounds and to deal with criminal actions where the penalty did not exceed ten stripes for one offense, "provided said offenders may appeal their cases to the Springfield or Northampton courts". The townspeople met, as authorized and chose three commissioners or Deputies to the General Courts, one being SAMUEL SMITH, the other two Andrew Bacon and Mr. Wllliam Westwood. He was chosen again in 1663,1664, 1665, 1667, 1668, 1671 and 1673 and very probably, if the record was complete, in some other years as well. He was also made associate of the County Court for Hampshire County in 1678 and 1679.
SAMUEL SMITH was chosen to be a Townsman or Selectman time after time, his last election being in 1680 the year of his death. From the records it would appear, also, that in the years when he did not serve as Townsman his talented son Philip served instead. In one year, 1675, when he did not serve, two of his sons, Philip and Chileab were chosen.
At its session of May 1663, the Court approved SAMUEL SMITH as Lieutenant of the Hadley Trainband to serve under Capt. John Pynchon of Springfield, a position he held until 1678 when he resigned because or his advanced age. He served inactively in King Philip's War where, in 1676, his son, John, was killed by Indians at Hatfield and where, a year later, his son-in-law, John Graves met the same fate. These tragic deaths were a portent of what was to come twenty years later when on September 16, 1696, Elizabeth Foote Belden a granddaughter of Lt. SAMUEL SMITH was killed by Indians at Deerfield, Mass. and 6 of her 14 children were either killed, wounded or captured by them. In 1704, also, a great grandchild, Samuel Foote was ambushed and killed by Indians.
Returning to the earlier period, SAMUEL's home in Hadley was said to have served as a hiding place for the regicides, Whalley and Goffe, for a part of the time they were in Hadley. The authority for this is a letter dated Mar. 26, 1793, written by Samuel Hopkins to Yale's president, Ezra Stiles. It's a reasonable conjecture because of SAMUEL SMITH's prominence in Hadley at the time.
On Dec. 16, 1661, and for a number of years thereafter SAMUEL SMITH "was chosen" rate makers that is to say, assessor. A plat of the village of Hadley for 1663 shows Lt. SAMUEL SMITH and his sons Philip and Chileab owning lots of 8 acres each. (Judds Hadley, Part I, pp. 2h, 26.) SAMUEL's lot was valued at the the top value of 200 pounds, Philip's at 150 pounds and Chileab's at 100 pounds. In 1681, after Lt. SAMUEL's death, his son Philip was the second largest and his son Chileab the fifth largest tax payer in the town. In 1686 after the son Philip's death (by hideous witchcraft) the son Chileab Smith is shown to have been the largest taxpayer.
In April 1664 SAMUEL SMITH was empowered to purchase land "to secure the north line of Hadley", (Judd's "Hadley, Part I", p. 21), at a price not exceeding 200 pounds. He did not succeed and petitioned the General Court at the, 1664 session for a gift of 1000 acres of land which could be added to the 200 pounds to satisfy the hard trading owner. The petition was granted and transaction completed on this new basis. The land is now a part of the town of Whately, Massachusetts.
On Jan. 14, 1667, Lieutenant SAMUEL SMITH, together with Rev. John Russell and Aaron Cooke, was chosen at Town meeting to serve as a trustee of a fund offered by Mr. John Davenport of New Haven and Mr. William Goodwin of Hadley, acting as trustees under the will of the late Mr. Edward Hopkins, for the establishment of a grammar school in Hadley. (The Hopkins fund was divided between Hadley, MA, Hartford and New Haven, CT and Harvard University.) SAMUEL SMITH was also chosen with others, to serve on a committee to select the land that would be used by the school. His son Chileab was made a trustee of the grammar school in 1686 following the death of Philip who succeeded his father as a trustee in 1681.
Lieutenant SAMUEL SMITH was an original member from 1669 to his death, of the "Hadley School Committee for 50 years" which in effect was a life tenure assignment and, therefore given only to those who were the most trusted and highly respected in the town. He served continuously on this board until his death in 1680 when his place was taken by his son Philip. Philip's brother Chileab was added to the Committee in 1687 and in 1720 the Committee consisted of four citizens, one of whom was Sergeant Joseph Smith and another, deacon John Smith, sons of John and Philip respectively.
Another evidence of the respect and trust in which Lieutenant SAMUEL SMITH was held by his fellow townsmen was the license they gave him in 1671 to sell wines and strong liquors, a right that was sparingly given by the Selectmen and approved just as sparingly by the Court in those days. In 1677 he was empowered to solemnize marriages, a right he had had since 1661 but only to be exercised in the absence of Wllliam Westwood who was first given that authority.
In May 1667 SAMUEL SMITH, Rev. John Russell and Peter Tilton, acting in behalf of Hadley, appeared before the General Court in opposition to the petition of the citizens of Hatfield to separate from Hadley. They succeeded for about two years to hold up the withdrawal but on Dec. 22, 1669, Lieut. SAMUEL was one of the signers of the agreement that authorized the separation and brought an end to the controversy. About the same time, Feb. 19, 1669, he signed a citizen's petition to the Governor and General Court of Massachusetts, opposing the decree that levied imports and customs on merchandise, cattle, horses and grain entering Hadley. The next year, May 3, 1670, with Rev. John Russell and Henry Clark he signed a petition "on behalf of the freemen of Hadley ", praying the General Court to make inquiry as to the reason for "God's displeasure" upon them. One evidence of this displeasure, it seems, was the breaking away of dissenting members of the First Church of Boston to form Old South Church, an event that stirred remote sections of the Massachusetts Colony. The memorial referred to "the Lord's displeasure" and requested that "there be some public and solemn inquiry what it is that has provoked the Lord against us". (See History of Northampton by Trumbull pp 215-216, Vol. I). The same source, page 572, lists SAMUEL SMITH as one of those who contributed to Harvard College, 3 lbs. of flax values at 0-3-0 "from that line above and now all set down under our 3 lb. and half more is pck into the great barrell". This untranslatable gift seems small but it was about the average given by the 89 givers whose total gifts were valued at 29-17-0.
Lieutenant SAMUEL SMITH and his sons Philip and Chileab were well-to-do for their time. They were engaged in pursuits outside their regular professions indicating that they had capital. In 1678 Lieut. SAMUEL and Philip had loans to John Pynchon, the most prominent man in Springfield, 50 and 25 pounds respectively, at interest. These amounts appear small today but in that early period they were considerable sums
A review of the Records or the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, Vol. IV, Part II and Vol. V, shows a number of instances where the General Court placed responsibilities upon Lieut. SMITH and reposed confidence in him. He was at times assigned duties of dealing with the Indians, hearing their complaints and investigating their requests. The October Court of 1667 chose him as one of a committee of three to treat with the Indians about, "setting of a chief or head over them and by advising with them thereabouts to learn whom they account or desire to be their chief that the English may have their recourse to for satisfaction for injuries from them ... and in the case of the Indians not agreeing ... that the next General Court may appoint or declare some meet man to be their chief or sachem".
Another court record, 1663, tells of a committee of six members, including SAMUEL SMITH, being appointed to lay our a fares of 250 acres at Paucomptucke. This was the beginning of Deerfield, MA.
In 1678 Lieutenant SMITH requested, since he was "nearing 80 years of age" to be "relieved from
military trust". His request was granted and his son Philip made Ensign immediately, and later in the
same year raised to Lieutenant. SAMUEL's death, two years later, (the inventory of his estate was taken
Jan. 17, 1781), indicates, perhaps, that he was justified in seeking some repose after so extended and
active a career in the wilderness of a new world. The regret is that so little is known about his wife
ELIZABETH who remained at his side through all of these hard years, bearing and rearing his children and
enduring the hardships of those pioneer times with him. Not one word is written about her trials and
activities. She died Mar. 16, 1686, at the age of 84 leaving a family, the descendents of whom in the
next three hundred years, were to swarm over the land producing worthy citizens and many distinguished
ones, all Christian and God fearing.
wife Rebecca Smith
husband Nathaniel Foote
husband William Gull
husband JOHN GRAVES
wife Rebecca Foote
wife Hannah Hitchcock
wife Mary Partridge