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John Reynolds of Weymouth, Mass. and Stonington, Conn.

by Mrs. Mary Reynolds Fosdick, founder of the RFA
©Reynolds Family Association, 1992

Chapter 1
Generation 1

(This article was originally published in the 1922 RFA Annual. Further additions and corrections were published in later annuals, and these have been incorporated into this article.)

This article superseded the sketch of John of Weymouth in the 1907 RFA Report. Mrs. Fosdick died Feb. 22, 1904, a month after the following preface to this genealogy was written. At her death it was not quite completed. From 1904 until 1921 it lay almost untouched until her brother, Giles L. Reynolds, once President of the Association, decided to go over it carefully and to bring the whole line down to 1922. A part of it, at least, is complete to that date, but many other branches of it have not been followed down over the centuries. A few statements and dates, shown by later researches to have been inexact or wrong, were taken out by Marion H. Reynolds. The John of Weymouth line should be read carefully and then compared with the James of N. Kingstown genealogy. The great development of these two families is not dissimilar.

by Mrs. Mary Reynolds Fosdick

For years it has been my desire to see published a history and genealogy of the Descendants of John Reynolds of Weymouth. Realizing that each passing year made it more difficult to secure old family records and to trace the posterity of those born during the eighteenth century, I was led to undertake this work in 1890. Since then I have devoted to it all the time that could possibly be spared from a busy life. For those of the tribe of John of Weymouth, who have aided me in this work, cheerfully furnished the required facts, and in every way tried to make the work a success, I am under great obligations and extend the heartiest words of thanks.

I trust that this book will be an incentive to the future preservation of family records, that it will foster a spirit of honest Americanism, pride in an ancestry for two hundred and seventy years faithful to the spirit and institutions of America, and that no future cause in the interest of religion, patriotism and good government will ever lack supporters and defenders among us and our descendants.

At the commencement of these researches into the genealogy of the Reynolds family some twelve years since, it was not my intention to go further than tracing my own lineage to my earliest ancestor in this country. It was my recreation from other duties, but as I went on my interest increased, and curiosity was awakened to know the descent of others as well as myself who inherited our surname. Ours is one of the small family groups not as yet certainly connected with other families of our name, several of whom lived at an early date in Connecticut and elsewhere in New England. The same names occurring in succeeding generations in the Wethersfield and Stonington, Conn. families may, however, be an indication of some kinship between them. After tracing my family back to John Reynolds of Weymouth, Mass. and Stonington, Conn., and trying to connect him, first with the Rhode Island family, then with the Wethersfield family, I still had no thought of publishing the results of the search, expecting only to leave them in safe keeping until they might perhaps some day be added to similar accounts furnished by descendants of other families of the Reynolds name, thus making a work of more general interest and one more worthy of being called a family genealogy. But the interest of my immediate relatives in their family history had become in the meantime much quickened through hearing from time to time of the results of my investigations, and they are now desirous to see them preserved in some more enduring form. Yielding, therefore, to their wishes in the matter, especially to those of my brothers, Wilson C. Reynolds of East Haddam, Conn., Ephraim O. Reynolds of Lyme, Conn., and Giles L. Reynolds of Philadelphia, Penn., who have undertaken the expense of publication, these records have been prepared for that purpose and are now offered to our family. No effort nor toil, nor expense, in my power has been spared. I have made careful and thorough examination of all public and private records that promised to throw light upon this matter and have held correspondence with a great number of individuals in different and distant parts of the country. It is hoped that what is here contained may prove also of some assistance to inquiring descendants of other branches of the Reynolds family, should it be only by relieving them from the need of search in one already explored direction. There is still a large work in Connecticut and Rhode Island waiting for some future genealogist.

In searching for additional material regarding our first Stonington ancestor, I have had assistance from Miss Charlotte Goldthwait of Hartford, compiler of the Boardman Genealogy, who established his earlier residence at Weymouth, and has prepared the account of him here given.

Mary Reynolds Fosdick        
Philadelphia, Penn.                
January 1904                        


JOHN REYNOLDS of Stonington, Conn., the first ancestor of this family so far found in New England, was born, probably in England, about 1625-30. His earliest appearance here is at Weymouth, Mass., where he had a grant of five acres of land in the first division of Dec. 14, 1663, numbered the 77th lot from the "Brauntry lyne" and a lot of 15 acres, numbered the 14th, in the second division of the same date. He does not appear in previous divisions of 1636 and 1651-2, though he perhaps lived in the town soon after the latter date, about which time his oldest son, Thomas, was born. But one child, Mary, b. March 15, 1660, is recorded to him and his wife, Anne Holbrook, in Weymouth, though two or three older children may have been born there.

The parentage of Anne, wife of John Reynolds, appears from the will of Thomas Holbrook of Weymouth made Dec. 31, 1668, proved April 24, 1677 (Vol. VI, p. 201, Suffolk Prob. Recs. Boston), who mentions his wife Jane; sons John, Thomas, William and daus. Anne Reynold, Elizabeth Hatch, Jane Drake; naming also grandsons John, Peter, William to whom he leaves respectively his sword, gun and musket. In original lists of passengers to New England we find the following entry: "Weymouth ye 20th of March 1635-6." Then follows a list of 106 passengers of whom are: 66. Thomas Holbrook of Broudway, 34 years; 67. Jane Holbrook, his wife, 34 years; 68. John Holbrook, his sonne, 11 years; 69. Thomas Holbrook, his sonne, 10 years; 70. Anne Holbrook, his daughter, 5 years. [for further discussion of the Holbrook family see 1922 RFA Report]

September 8, 1664, John Renolds, carpenter, and Anne, his wife, "of Weymouth," sold to Edward Grant of Boston, shipwright, and Sarah, his wife, their property in Weymouth, consisting of a dwelling house, barn and cow-house, with about 20 acres of orchard, and planting land and pasture thereto belonging, together with an acre of meadow and one common lot, "formerly John Osborne's," the deed to take effect the succeeding March 31, 1665 (Suffolk Deeds, IV:276).

About the latter date of shortly before, John Reynolds appeared in Westerly, RI, making preparations to settle. This was the same year in which James Reynolds of Kingstown appears in Kingstown, RI, some few score miles away. Westerly was in territory the right to which was being contested between Connecticut and Rhode Island, but especially at the time of John Reynolds' arrival, when commissioners had just been sent over by the King to settle disputes of this kind between the colonies. John Reynolds had therefore arrived at an unfortunate time and the succeeding period, about two years of his stay in Westerly, was not a peaceable one, his experiences at that time resulting in an appeal to the courts in 1670. It is to the evidence given in the trial which ensued that we are indebted for several important particulars throwing light on him and his family. His case is thus summed up by Dr. J.W. Trumbull, in a note, Colon. Recs. of Conn.: Vol. II:166.

"John Reynolds, some time previous to 1667 came to Misquamicut (Westerly) where he bought a house and lot of James Babcock. In 1667 he was dispossessed by the Constable of Stonington as an intruder on lands belonging to that town and within the charter limits claimed by Connecticut. Reynolds subsequently submitted to Connecticut authority, became an inhabitant of Stonington, and, as he alleged, hired of Mr. Roger Plaisted the same land he had formerly purchased from James Babcock. In September 1670, he complained to the County Court at New London against Jonathan Armstrong, a Rhode Island man, "for unjust molestation and contemtuous improving of the said Renolds land, etc." The jury gave a verdict for the plaintiff of £14 and costs, with liberty to the defendant to review at next Court. The Court, June 1671, confirmed the former verdict. Armstrong appealed to the Court of Assistants in October following. The Court of Assistants reduced the damages allowed to Reynolds to £10-15-6, from which Armstrong appealed to the next General Assembly."

The Assembly refused to interfere further in the matter at its next session, expressing its opinion as follows:

"They find it too apparent that the sayd Armstrong as well as others of those people of Squamacuk, have been troublesome, injurious and provoking to this Colony, and their settlement and manageing there is no other but an intrusion and so very offensive which might call for severity, etc."

Going back to the time of John Reynolds' arrival in Westerly, we may learn some of the circumstances attending his first settlement there from the testimony of John Osborne, already mentioned:

"This deponent testifieth that when John Renolds came first to Squamecute to settle, being destitute of habitation there, he went to James Badcock, Senior, to see if he could procure a place to be in for the present; and this deponent being present he heard the sayd Badcock offer to sell the above said Renolds his sellar he lived in: and he lett him the land he had then broake up for that yeare: for both which, to witt the purchase of the sellar and hyre of the land he demanded forty-five shillings which sayd should satisfye him full for his paynes the which the Aforesd John Renolds Agreed to give him and this Deponent sawe John Renolds paye partt of the forty-five shillings in cloth unto James Badcock the rest he Ingadged to paye when his wife came up to Squamacut. And this deponent sayth further that the Seller aforementioned is the seller that Jonathan Armstrong afterwards lived in."

It thus appears that John Reynolds went from Weymouth to Westerly in the early spring of 1665, leaving his wife and children, the oldest then thirteen, to follow as soon as he should have made provision for their reception. As both Weymouth and Westerly were near the sea, their journey is quite likely to have been taken by water, which would furnish the easiest means of transporting them and their goods. With wise caution, to which he was no doubt partly influenced by a knowledge of the unsettled claims to that part of the country, he began by hiring land and procuring a temporary home. The settlers on that side of the Pawcatuck River were divided in their allegiance, some having come from Rhode Island, acknowledging the jurisdiction of that colony, while others, considering themselves as in a part of Stonington, held to Connecticut. John Reynolds, having emigrated from Massachusetts with no bias in favor of Rhode Island, early submitted to the authority of Connecticut and steadily adhered to that colony.

The King's Commissioners on their arrival in 1665, inclined to the Pawcatuck boundary and John Reynolds could have hardly more than have taken of the land he had leased, before, by their orders, he and others on that side of the river, were dispossessed, but by subsequent arrangement with Mr. Roger Plaisted, the Massachusetts grantee of the land he occupied, he was allowed to remain as his tenant. After about two years, Rhode Island still continuing to assert her authority, John Reynolds was arrested as a Connecticut man and finally compelled to remove his residence to the west side. This, according to the testimony given, was in April 1667. His departure seems to have been a hurried one, for he left behind some of his goods and part of his livestock. It was Jonathan Armstrong's conduct at that time, throwing down and cutting up the timbers of his "seller," throwing the goods "oute of Dores," shutting up the swine, etc. which led to the appeal to the General Court for redress. Thomas Renolds and Hannah Renolds, the two oldest children, the former aged 18, and the latter "17 yeares or thereabouts" testify Sep. 21, 1670:

"Jonathan Armstrong forced our father's family from five acres of land which he intended to plant,so that we were forced to depart and leave it to him and were exposed to great extremities for want of corne that year and several goods left with him."

John Badcock, aged 26 years, testifies, Sep. 19, 1670:

"That hee Did heare Ann Renolds wife to John Renolds demand of Jonathan Armstronge one parcell of Swine that the sayde Armestronge had locked up in a cellar as she sayde, but the aforesd Jonathan Armestronge Denied and syde shee should not have them untell such time as shee had payded for some Damadges they had done unto him ... further this deponent testifieth that John Renolds was putt to very much trouble by Jonathan Armestrong and greate Damadge, and this Deponent did see the cellar that John Renolds lived in very much demolished and part of the timbers in Jonathan Armestronge's fence."

As appears from further testimony, the father went first to the west side, the wife and children remaining "at Osbornes' till they followed him" to Mr. Thomas Stanton's house, which seems to have been their first stopping place.

Having thus become an inhabitant in undisputed territory, John Reynolds took immediate steps to secure land and a permanent home, and bought first one hundred acres which had been originally laid out to John Gallup Senior, the deed dated Jan. 28, 1667. This grant lay along the east side of the Mistuckset, a river or brook running into the Sound about two miles east of the Mystic, and was bounded on the north by land of Gov. John Winthrop. This land he retained through life, leaving it to his youngest son, John, together with about two acres, presumably not far distant, which is described as on the west side of Calkins Brook, having on it "a mantion house," barn and mill, the latter, it may be supposed, a saw-mill used in connection with his business. This house lot is spoken of as bought of Robert Holmes, but the deed is not on record and the time of its purchase does not appear. A census of those in Stonington who were heads of families was taken in 1668. There were forty-three, among them John Ranols. "The mark of John Ranols his chattels and swine is a crop on the near ear right off," dated June 11, 1668 [Stonington Deeds I:15].

About twelve years after his first recorded purchase in Stonington "John Renalls, senior" received May 25, 1679 a grant of fifty acres, and a year later March 8, 1680, another of 100 acres adjoining it on the east. These lay in a different quarter of the town from his earliest grant, being situated on the north side of the Ashaway River, which formed the southwestern boundary of the fifty-acre lot. This river is in North Stonington, runs south, then southeast, and south again, emptying into the Pawcatuck at the state line. These lots may therefore have been in North Stonington or possibly in what is now Rhode Island. No deed of conveyance of them from John Reynolds Sr. appears and the 150 acres they contain may be supposed to be the double portion given to the oldest son, Thomas, to which the father alludes in his final disposition of his property in 1689-90.

One more grant that had been given to John Reynolds Sr. appears in his last recorded deed of sale, dated Nov. 14, 1690, not long, probably before his death. It is described as "one twelve acre lott which was my grant from the Town of Stonington scituate & lying near to the Meeting house." It was sold to "Owen McCharta, Taner." His son, John Reynolds acknowledged this as "his father's act and deed" Oct.29, 1692 before Samuel Mason, Assistant. Feb. 15, 1689-90 he had made the final disposal of his estate, before alluded to, by the deed of gift, equivalent to a will, and in it had spoken of his "age and crasie estate." His wife was evidently at that time dead.

All the three children of John Reynolds removed early from Stonington. Thomas, the eldest married the daughter of Joseph Clarke of Newport, one of the patentees of the Rhode Island Charter of 1663, and settled on the Rhode Island side of the Pawcatuck in Westerly. The daughter, Hannah, settled also in Westerly, while John the youngest, not many years after his father's death removed to Preston, the town next north of Stonington. The name appears once more in Stonington records when Ebenezer, grandson of John Jr., became owner of a farm lying partly in Preston and partly in North Stonington. John Reynolds' descendants intermarried with those of some of the best-known settlers in that part of Connecticut - those of the present day numbering among their ancestors Capt. George Denison, William Cheesebro, Thomas Stanton, Capt. James Avery, Lieut. Thomas Tracy, William Billings, Walter Palmer, Roger Sterry, and others.

John Reynolds' name does not appear on the records of Stonington Church, and it is undoubtedly due to Baptist sentiments that the trouble arose and grew whereby the said Jno. Reynolds Sr., the wife of said Reynolds, and Thomas Reynolds were presented to the Court by the Commissioners of Stonington for using profane and irreligious expressions and aspersions cast by him on Mr. James Noyes and some others, for which they are fined. Thomas Reynolds' alliance with the Clarke family, the founders of the Baptist Church in Newport, helps us to understand the intolerance of the times.

From the records of New London County Court, at Norwich, it appears that the last will and testament of John Rennalds of Stonington, deceased, with his inventory, were exhibited in court, January 14, 1691, when execution was granted to his son, John Reynolds. This will and inventory are not now to be found, and must have been destroyed with the other New London Probate Records when New London was burned by Arnold. John Reynolds Sr. gives deed, Nov. 14, 1690, which fixes the date of his death the last of 1690 or before January 14, 1691. Copy of his will follows:

John Renalls Deed of Gift

Know all men by these presents that I, John Renalls, senior, of the Town of Stonington in the Collony of Connecticut for Divers good causes Reosons me moveing thereunto: in the serious consideration of my own Age & Crasiness and in Consideration yt my younger son and his wife hath & doth & is still free and willing to keep with me & take care of me in this my Age & Crasie Estate. And having formerly Disposed of the Rest of my Children and given them their portions, but especially until my son Thomas Renalls for whome I have Done According to my Abilitie in lands & other wayes for his settlement, Equivalent unto a Doble portion with the Rest & have given him Deeds Accordingly, and having formerly Designed my Now Mantion place for my son John Renalls and did some years since give him a deed thereof which deed hath by some means or other mislaid as that the seal & my Name is torn out & soe that deed made invalled in law; soe that now as the Case is, circumstances, that son who hath showed soe much love & Duty to me in my weak estate & --- whome my hope and expectations Are & have been placed for my future comfort is or may bee in A likely waye to Cose both his portion and reward for his love & care for the preventing such & all manner of inconveniencies upon that Account and for the settlement of my past or in future peace when I shall be layed in the Dust. I count it my Duty as I have settled somewhat upon my Son Thomas for now while I have my reason & understanding to do the something upon my son John Renalls for his future Comfort in order whereunto & for the Reasons forementioned, --

These may signifie unto All & All manor of persons Anyways concerned, that I the aforesayd John Renalls, Senior, have & by These Presents Doe give grant enfeofe & Confirm unto my son John Renalls the whole of that hundred Acres of land which I purchased of John Gallop, senior, as it was bounded layd out & recorded to me in Stonington book of records. As Alsoe a small parcell of land Contayning two Acres more or less, lying on the West side of the Brooke called Calkins his brook, as it is bounded unto me in Robert Holmes his deed of sale, together with my now mantion house, barn, mill with All other buildings, sellers, fences, being or standing upon the said Lands with all orchards, woods, timber, swamps, Runs of water, and all privileges and appurtenances thereunto appertaining: excepting only the lower orchard which is to be, Remayn unto my son Thomas to witt: the fruit thereof untill the year 1691 but after that unto the use and benefitt of my son John Renalls.

Alsoe I doe give unto my son John Renalls the fether bed which I now lodge upon being a bought tiking & not home made with the boulster & all the beding belonging unto it together with the bedstead. Moreover I doe give unto my son John one large iron pott and by bigest brass chettell which hath A seam around itt: as Alsoe one great bible which I doe order my son to leave to his son and my grandchild John Renalls.

I may All and singular the parts and parcel as before expressed my whole right therein and title unto, I doe hereby give, grant make over & Confirm unto my son John Renalls, his heirs, executors administrators & assigns to be to him or them to his or their proper use & behoof for ever, only reserving unto myselfe the use and improvement of the same as I shall have occasion for my own and their comfort during my natural Life; but at what time it shall please God to take me out of this world by death; then this present deed of gift to stand in full force and virtue unto all interests and purposes not only for the Right and title to but to the uses & improvement thereof to be to him the sayd John Renalls his heirs Executors & assigns freely & absolutely to have Hold possess & enjoy to the World's end without any lett hindrance or molestation by any of my Heirs under any pretentions whatsoever or by any other person or persons whatsoever by from or under me or by any means:

And therefore, for further considerations of this my present Deed of gift unto my son John as above written I have hereunto sett to my hand and seale: in the first yeare of the Reign of their Magesties William and Mary of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, King and Queen, Defenders of the Fayth, and in the yeare of our Lord, one thousand six hundred and eighty-nine or ninety: the 15th day of februarie.

        Signed sealed and delivered in
                the presence of
                William Denison
                Thomas Bell

John    X    Renalls
his mark      

The children of John and Anne (Holbrook) Reynolds were:
        *2. Thomas Reynolds b. 1652, d. Oct. 21, 1723; m. Sarah Clark, Newport, Oct. 29, 1683.
        *3. Hannah Reynolds b. 1653, d. after 1711; m. Dec. 28, 1681 Joseph Wells
         4. Mary Reynolds b. Weymouth Mar. 15, 1660; m. tradition says to Benj. Burdick.
        *5. John Reynolds b. about 1662, d. Apr. 13, 1734; m. Abigail ---.

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