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John and Sarah (Backus) Reynolds of Saybrook, Lyme and Norwich, Conn.

Originally Edited and Compiled by Marion H. Reynolds, A.B.

With Additions and Corrections by Pat Daniels [1992]
©Reynolds Family Association, 1992

Chapter 1
The First and Second Generations

The family of John and Sarah (Backus) Reynolds was originally published by the RFA in 1928. Marion Reynolds was assisted in compiling the family data by Mrs. Anna Rippier. Many records of the family can be found in the Norwich CT town records. The RFA is fortunate to have had the assistance of Pat Daniels of Desert Hot Springs, CA in updating the information on the descendants of John and Sarah.

The First Geneation
This genealogy is an account of John and Sarah (Backus) Reynolds and their descendants. Their history is associated with the early southern Connecticut towns of Saybrook, Lyme and Norwich. We do not know anything of John prior to 1659, but it seems probable that he was born in England between 1615 and 1635.

In Hotten's lists of early immigrants we find the following:
        "John Reynolds, aged 23, sailed from, Gravesend, England, April 3, 1635, for St. Christopher's in the "Paul" of London."
        "John Reinolds. aged 20, and Thomas Reinolds, aged 18, sailed May 21, 1635, for St. Christophers in the "Matthew" of London."

We have been puzzled by the mention of an Elizabeth Reynolds of whom we know nothing else, who married Richard Jennings in New London "the beginning of June 1678." Both were immigrants from the Barbados, British West Indies, and had Samuel b. Mar. 11, 1679; Richard b. 1680; and Elinor who m. Richard Manwaring. [Hotten, Original Lists, Immigrants to America 1600-1700] There is some likelihood that John came to America by way of St. Christopher's Island in the British West Indies.

There were so many Johns among the early Reynoldses of New England that little, however, can be argued from such disconnected fragments of evidence. At this time there were a John Reynolds, wife Naomi Latimer, in Wethersfield, CT Another John, wife Anne Holbrook, lived in Stonington, CT A third John lived in Greenwich-Stamford, CT, and another in Portsmouth, N.H. Another John Reynolds, evidently an apprentice in Hartford, in 1646 was fined for helping to harbor escaped prisoners. One narrative of John of Norwich relates that he came from England in 1635 and settled at Saybrook. The date in this assertion is probably an unsupported inference from the records in Hotten's Immigrants.

John Reynolds early lived in that part of Saybrook on the east side of the Connecticut River which is now called Lyme [Vol. II of the NE Hist. Gen. Reg.]. On Dec. 3, 1658, John sold his house and land in Lyme to Wolston Brockway, and with other Saybrook settlers went up to found Norwich. Their places in Lyme were filled mostly by a later generation. From Lyme, CT Land Records I:25, Record of Deed from John Reynolds to Wolston Brockway, December 3, 1659; recorded July 10, 1674, with other deeds held by Brockway. Original volume in CT State Library, Hartford.

A deed of Saile from John Rennolls to Wolston: Brockway. "Artikles of agrements maid betwixt John Rennolls & Wolston Brockway of Seabrook as foloweth. John Rennolls doth deed unto the said Wolston Brockway his house & all his Land both upland & Medow that he hath one ye east sid of the River over aganst the towne of Saybrooke; all that was granted him by the towne of Saybrooke as also all the Commanige tharunto belonging & Also all the fencis that is alredy maid & the flowers of the hous & the tow Laders that belong to the house & the barne; all thes perticklers above specified the said John doth sell unto the said Wolston for twenty pounds ster.: Seven pounds ten shiling to be payed in cattell or kind, at or before the furst of may next and the other fivety shiling to be payed in good marchantabell corne at or before the last of June next and the other ten pounds is to be payed next (mithelmoth?) come twelvemonth: in cattell and corne as before menshoned. Wharunto we sett our hands:

the    R    mark of John Renalds     
Wolstone      Brockway.

Witness: John Tulley, William Ward this 3th December 1659"

By trade John Reynolds of Norwich was a wheelwright, and he lived in Norwich, probably working at his trade, some forty-two years. It was this John Reynolds of Norwich who with Simon Huntington, Thomas Adgate, John Post and William Backus in October 1663, was made a Freeman at Hartford, the seat of the colonial government.

When Norwich was settled in the spring of 1660, John was assigned land next to his "kinsman," Ensign Thomas Leffingwell, in the southeastern part of Norwich. There are several varying descriptions of his land. The home lot was laid out in November 1659; the first division of town lands was in April 1661. John Reynolds' house, purportedly built in 1659, was still standing in 1928, and was still in the possession of descendants of the original owner.

Since the first child of whom we have record was born in August 1655, John Reynolds and Sarah Backus were married, probably in Lyme, around 1650. Sarah was reared in Lyme and was the daughter of William Backus and his first wife, whose name is unknown. The first three children of John and Sarah Reynolds, and possibly the fourth, were born in Lyme, then an outlying part of Saybrook. The births of eight children are recorded at Norwich, though without mention of John's wife.

John and Sarah had been about fifteen years in Norwich when their first son, John Jr., was murdered by the Indians. Major Palmer of New London wrote on January 29, 1675/76 [Trumbull, CT Rcds. II:403]:

"This morning early came post from Norwich with the sad intelligence of two men and a boy being taken and killed, who went over Shetucket River to spread flax, viz.: Josiah Rockwell and his boy, and John Renolds, Jun.; both of Norwich, and said J. Rockwell and John Renolds, Jr., were found dead and thrown down ye River bank, theire scalps cutt off, the boy is not yet found, and supposed to be caryed away alive."

The Rockwell boy, then aged between 13 and 16, was later found alive. John Reynolds was killed January 28, 1675/76. These two men were killed on the east side of the Shetucket River not far from Norwich. This John Jr. of Norwich was at his death about twenty years old, and so far as we know, unmarried. His brother Joseph Reynolds, then about fifteen, was the only son of John and Sarah to marry and carry on the family in Norwich.

John Reynolds Sr. became a Selectman of Norwich in 1669. In 1690, according to early custom, John deeded to his only living son, Joseph, half of the house and homelot, and the other half in reversion upon the death of himself and wife.

John Reynolds, the immigrant, died at Norwich July 22, 1702, after living there some forty-two years from 1660. On a record dated January 31, 1701/2, he is mentioned as one of the first settlers "now surviving." His will is dated July 15, 1702, seven days before his death. The will mentions as survivors his wife Sarah, only son Joseph, and four married daughters, Sarah Post, Mary Lathrop, Elizabeth Lyman and Lydia Miller. His house and lands, subject only to the widow's right of dower, and his farm implements and wheelwright's tools he bequeathed to his only living son, Joseph, who continued all his life in Norwich. At his death John owned about 79 acres or more in Norwich.

After naming the widow Sarah and son Joseph executors, he adds, "I do make choice of my loving kinsman Ensign Thomas Leffingwell an overseere, to be helpfull to them." Leffingwell had been among those who had removed with John from Saybrook to Norwich, and his property in Norwich was next west of John's. The first John and his wife and many descendants are probably buried in the old town cemetery in Norwich.

The eight known children of John and Sarah (Backus) Reynolds were:

          1 John Reynolds Jr. b. Lyme, CT August 1655, killed and scalped by Indians near Norwich January 28-29, 1675/76. It is not recorded that he was married, but a Mrs. Sarah Reynolds m. John Sill at Lyme Feb. 12, 1677.
        *2 Sarah Reynolds b. November 1656, d. Norwich May 11, 1703; m. 1685 John Post Jr. She was a widow in 1702 when her father died.
          3 Susanna Reynolds b. October 1658; nothing further known, perhaps died young.
        *4 Joseph Reynolds b. March 1660, d. Norwich Feb. 1, 1728/29; m. 1688 Sarah Edgerton.
        *5 Mary Reynolds b. April 1664, d. Norwich Jan. 31, 1727/28; m. 1) 1689 John Edgerton; m. 2) 1697 Samuel Lathrop.
        *6 Elizabeth Reynolds b. November 1666, d. Lebanon CT Feb. 21, 1742; m. 1) Lebanon Aug. 3, 1687 Jonathan Fowler; m. 2) before 1702 Samuel Lyman.
          7 Stephen Reynolds b. January 1669, d. Norwich Dec. 19, 1687, aged almost 19.
          8 Lydia Reynolds b. February 1671, d. Windham CT Jan. 7, 1756; m. Mar. 2, 1693/94 Benjamin Millard. He, in 1700, was allowed "to set up the trade and employment of tanning." Benjamin Millard of Bear Hill, Norwich CT, bought his land of Thomas Leffingwell, a thousand-acre allotment, at the horse-shoe, a part of which is still held by his descendants.

The Second Generation

2 Sarah Reynolds: (John) born Lyme (Saybrook), CT Nov. 1656, died Norwich May 11, 1703. She married Norwich Dec. 24, 1685 John Post Jr. He was born at Saybrook Apr. 12, 1657, d. Norwich July 15, 1690, son of John and Hester (Hyde) Post. [Norwich VR]
        Children, Post:
        21 Sarah Post b. Norwich Dec. 1, 1686, d. Canterbury CT Feb 24, 1760; m. Canterbury Jan. 26, 1708/9 Deacon Timothy Backus, b. Oct. 7, 1682, d. Canterbury, CT Feb. 28, 1762, son of Stephen and Sarah (Spencer) Backus of Norwich. Children, Backus, b. Canterbury CT:
                211 Stephen Backus b. Nov. 10, 1709, d. Canterbury Sep. 28, 1751; m. Coventry CT Oct. 11, 1750 Abigail Brown
                212 Sarah Backus b. Apr. 5, 1711; m. 1st Canterbury Feb. 9, 1729 John Pike
                213 Thomas Backus
                214 Mary Backus b. Jan. 31, 1713, d. Preston CT 1772; m. Franklin CT Dec. 22, 1730 Nathaniel Rudd
                215 John Backus
                216 Timothy Backus Jr. b. Nov. 18, 1717, d. Canterbury CT Mar. 5, 1790; m. Canterbury Nov. 14, 1739 Mary Bacon
                217 John Backus b. May 5, 1720; m. Canterbury June 26, 1746 Johannah C. Downing
                218 Eunice Backus b. Dec. 9, 1722, d. Canterbury Oct. 5, 1749; m. Canterbury June 25, 1744 David Cleveland
        22 John Post b. Norwich July 14, 1689, d. Norwich July 15, 1690

4 Joseph Reynolds: (John) born Norwich March 1660, or shortly before his father's removal to Norwich, died there Feb. 1, 1728/9. He married Jan. 10, 1688 Miss Sarah Edgerton, born Norwich Apr. 1667, d. there Aug. 14, 1714, daughter of Richard and Mary (Sylvester) Edgerton. Sarah's brother John married Mary Reynolds, Joseph's sister. [Norwich VR]

Joseph and Sarah were of the Congregation of Rev. James Fitch [Caulkins p. 173]. In 1714, Joseph Reynolds was licensed by the Selectman to keep a tavern in Norwich. In 1717/18, his wife having died in 1714, he deeds to his son, John, his house and home-lot, "excepting reserving" to himself "ye West Room, ye lodging Room, with ye porch Chamber," etc. "during my natural life," and then makes the provision "if I do marry again and it shall please God to remove me by death, and leave my wife surviving that she shall have ye free use and benifet and ye west rooms and ye Lodging Room, etc., during ye time of her living in sd house a widow."

In 1711/12 he was allowed liberty "to sett the shop, he hath already sett up the frame of, to sett the one halfe of sd shop in the street, and so to continue during the towne's pleasure." This may have been the old house which formerly stood facing the south, close to the street.

Children of Joseph and Sarah, all of whom were born and reared in Norwich [Norwich VR]:
        *41 John Reynolds b. Feb. 21, 1691, d. Norwich Nov. 16, 1742; m. Dec. 6, 1720 Miss Lydia Lord
          42 Mary Reynolds b. Mar. 10, 1693/94, d. Norwich Oct. 18, 1781; m. before 1717 Robert Warren, b. 1694, d. 1786
        *43 Joseph Reynolds b. Jan. 26, 1695/96, d. Norwich Sep. 1, 1756; m. Nov. 10, 1717 Hannah Bingham
        *44 Stephen Reynolds b. Sep. 27, 1698, d. Norwich Nov. 29, 1731; m. Mar. 1, 1724/25 Mary Sanford
          45 Daniel Reynolds b. July 6, 1701, d. Norwich Nov. 23, 1701
          46 Lydia Reynolds b. Feb. 14, 1702/03; nothing further known
          47 Daniel Reynolds b. Dec. 4, 1705, d. Norwich Apr. 1, 1706/07
        *48 Sarah Reynolds b. June 7, 1707; m. May 11, 1725 Jonathan Caulkins

5 Mary Reynolds: (John) born Norwich Apr. 1664, died Norwich Jan. 31, 1727/28. She married 1st Norwich Mar. 20, 1689/90 John Edgerton of Norwich, born Norwich June 12, 1662, d. Norwich May 1692, son of Richard and Mary (Sylvester) Edgerton. She married 2nd Norwich Dec. 30, 1697 Samuel Lathrop, as his second wife. Child:
        51 John b. Norwich Feb. 26, 1690/91, d. Norwich Feb. 15, 1768; m. 1st Norwich Dec. 27, 1714 Ruth Adgate, dau. of Deacon Thomas and Ruth (Brewster) Adgate, b. Norwich Mar. 27, 1692/93, d. there Feb. 23, 1728/29. He married 2nd Mrs. Phebe (Harris) [Crank] Prentis, b. Norwich Jan. 24, 1700, d. Norwich July 29, 1763, dau. of Joseph and Mary Harris. Her first husband was John Crank, and her second was Stephen Prentis.

6 Elizabeth Reynolds: (John) born Norwich, CT November 1666, died Lebanon CT Feb. 21, 1742/3. She married 1st Norwich Aug. 3, 1687 Jonathan Fowler. He was born 1650, d. June 10, 1696, son of Capt. William and Mary (Tapp) Fowler of Milford, CT. Jonathan had been married previously and had sons John and Thomas from this first marriage. Jonathan had lands from his father at New Haven and was of Norwich 1683 to 1693 when he moved to Windham with his family. Elizabeth married 2nd Samuel Lyman, born Northampton MA Apr. 16, 1676, died Lebanon CT May 9, 1699, son of Richard and Elizabeth (Cowles) Lyman.

The Fowler children are named in the account of their father's estate by Mrs. Elizabeth Fowler on Sep. 2, 1697. The widow Fowler is mentioned incidentally in 1698 in Norwich. [Norwich VR; History of Norwich p. 230]

        61 Elizabeth b. Norwich Mar. 10, 1688/89, d. Lebanon CT July 18, 1742; m. Jan. 8, 1713 Thomas Loomis
        62 Joseph b. Norwich Sep. 28, 1691, d. Lebanon June 23, 1768; m. Lebanon Jan. 8, 1712/13 Elizabeth Powell
        63 Sarah b. Norwich Dec. 20, 1693, d. Coventry CT Aug. 25, 1751; m. Lebanon Nov. 14, 1714 John Bissell
        64 Jonathan b. Norwich May 20, 1696, d. Coventry CT Oct. 22, 1756; m. Suffield CT Jan. 7, 1720 Hannah Smith
        65 Samuel b. Lebanon CT May 22, 1700, d. Lebanon Feb. 4, 1754; m. Suffield CT Jan. 13, 1721/2/3 Elizabeth Smith
        66 Jabez b. Lebanon Oct. 10, 1702; m. Lebanon Jan. 29, 1730 Martha Bliss
        67 Daniel b. Lebanon Feb. 18, 1704/5; m. Lebanon Mar. 3, 1730/1 Mehitable Porter
        68 Hannah b. Lebanon b. June 27, 1707, d. young
        69 Unnamed child, died in infancy