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Hart History

Who Was Stephen Hart?

This is a summary of what is known about Stephen Hart, assembled from information collected here and in other sources.

Origin: Somewhere in England, perhaps in or near Braintree, Essex Co., as stated in Andrews, or possibly in Ipswich, Suffolk Co., about 30 miles east of Braintree. Research by David Hart, available here, presenting the current theories and evidence for Stephen Hart's English origins, points to an origin in Ipswich. The book Farmington in Connecticut, suggests that Stephen Hart may have been involved in the weaver's trade as looms were listed in early Hart inventories and he may have come from Essex county in England, a center of cloth production. But, this has not been verified.
Parents: Unknown, although a number of theories have been examined and reported. Research by David Hart available here presents much of what is known of Stephen Hart's English origins. Information giving names for Stephen Hart's father, found on the net and also in a few of the family histories included here, has not been verified and should not be considered definitive.
Migration: He arrival in Massachusetts on the ship The Lyon either on November 2, 1631, or September 15, 1632. Research by David Hart available here presents details and analysis.
Residence: Stephen Hart was among the original settlers of three towns: (i) Newtowne, now called Cambridge, Massachusetts 1631 (or 1632) -1635. (ii) Settled Hartford, CT, probably in 1635, as a member of an advance party before the arrival of Thomas Hooker's party in 1636. He remained there until at least 1640. (iii) Settled in Farmington, CT some time between June 1640, when permission to settle the plantation of Tunxis was granted, and December 1945 when the plantation of Tunxis became the town of Farmington. He remained in Farmington until his death. An article by Richard Hart describes Stephen Hart's life as a settler of these three towns.
Church Membership: Admission to Cambridge church prior to May 14th, 1634 is implied by his freemanship. He would have retained his membership when the Cambridge church moved to Hartford. He was an original member of the Farmington church, as he was appointed deacon there when the church was created in 1652.
Education: He signed both his will and the copy of the Farmington land agreement with the Tunxis Indians, providing evidence that he was able to read and write. The inventory of his estate showed that he owned £5 worth of books, providing further evidences that he read.
Offices Held: Deputy to Connecticut General Court for Farmington, 1647-1655, 1660.
War committee for Farmington, May 1653.
Jury Duty, 24 May 1647 20 February 1650/1, 7 December 1654, 3 March 1658/9, 5 September 1661, and 9 October 1661.
Served in Pequot War, 1637.
All from original written records.
Birth: Although Andrews gives a date of 1605, it was probably earlier than that, based on work done by David Hart and others.
Death: in Farmington between March 16, 1682/3 (date of his will) and March 31, 1683 (>date of the inventory of the estate). Note that these two dates are only 15 days apart, as the old style new year began on March 25th. There is no known marker for his grave and the location is unknown.
Marriages: Stephen Hart had at least two wives. Some think that the gap of seven years between the second and third children suggests the possibility that his children were with two wives, making a total of three wives. Others suggest that the estimated birth dates of his children may be to early and still others claim that he may have had another son named Stephen, who died either on board the Lyon, or shortly after arrival in America. Only the name of his last wife is known. He married Margaret (            ) (Smith) Nash after 1678 (death of her second husband). She was the widow of Arthur Smith and Joseph Nash, and then Stephen Hart, as well. She died at Farmington between February 18, 1691/2 (date of will) and March 1, 1693/4 (probate of will).
Children: This information on Stephen Hart's children comes from the Andrews book and from The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633 by Robert Charles Anderson. Note that it is now generally accepted that Stephen Hart had a daughter named Rachael, as described by Anderson, and not named Mehitable, as described in Andrews' book.

With first wife or wives:
i Sarah, b. say 1624; m. Hartford 20 November 1644 Thomas Porter.
ii John, b. say 1627; m. by 1652 Sarah (on 23 December 1657 John Winthrop Jr. treated 'Sarah, daughter the abovesaid John' Hart of Farmington, aged 5 years).
iii Stephen, b. about 1634 (d. 18 September 1689 aged 55 according to his Farmington gravestone); m. by 1662 Ann Fitch, daughter of Thomas Fitch of Norwalk.
iv Mary, b. say 1638; m. (1) by 1657 John Lee (on 7 February 1657/8 John Winthrop Jr. treated "Lee [blank] his wife"); m (2) Northampton 5 January 1691/2 as his third wife Jedediah Strong.
v Thomas, b. say 1640; m. (1) by 1665 Mary Smith, daughter of Arthur and Margaret ( ) Smith (on 26 April 1665 John Winthrop Jr. treated "Hart Tho[mas] his wife of Farmington; on 5 April 1666 he treated "Hart Tho[mas] his wife of Farmington daughter of Serg. Nash his wife of Hartford"; and on I March 1666/7 he treated 'Hart, Mary, above 1/2 year, daughter of Tho[mas] of Farmington & Sgt. Nash his daughter that was Mary Smith.): m. (2) after 11 January 1675/6 and before 5 December 1678 Ruth Howkins, daughter of Anthony Howkins (on the former date John Howkins made a bequest to "my sister Ruth Howkins, and on the latter date the heirs receiving distribution of his estate included "Ruth Heart; on I November 1714 "Capt. Thomas Hart of Farmington" asked the court to appoint administrators on the estate of Anthony Howkins; Ruth Hart, wife of Capt. Thomas, d. Farmington 9 October 1724).
vi Rachel, b. about 1642; m. by 1664 John Cole. The son-in-law John Cole named in the will of Stephen Hart is stated in some sources (such as Andrews' book) to have married a daughter Mehitable Hart. but evidence taken from John Cole's will and from the Winthrop medical records shows that John Cole of Farmington instead married Rachel, daughter of Stephen Hart. In late November 1657 John Winthrop Jr. treated "Rachell Hart of Farmington" and "Steven Hart her brother," and on 1 February 1657/8 he treated "Rachel Hart 16 years". She was a frequent patient throughout 1658 and 1659, being treated for an eye problem as a result of which she intermittently lost her sight. Beginning on 12 December 1664 John Winthrop Jr. began frequent treatments of Rachel Cole, wife of John Cole of Farmington, for eye problems and head pains. In his will of 12 September 1689 "John Coale Sr." of Farmington made a bequest to "my beloved wife Rachel," and asked Thomas Hart and Thomas Porter to be overseers; Thomas Hart was sister of Rachel Hart, and Thomas Porter had married her elder sister, Sarah. John and Rachel (Hart) Cole had a son John Cole, Jr.who married Mehitable Loomis in 1691. This may be the source of the incorrect claim that Stephen Hart had a daughter Mehitable who married John Cole.