The first settlers of Connecticut came from Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Colonies and located at Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield. All alike being devoted disciples of Christ, Gospel ministers came also, and at once Christian worship was established and parishes formed. The same condition of things prevailed among other settlers from the East who a little later located along the Connecticut shore. A church whose learned minister was to serve both in the capacity of instructor of youth and man's spiritual guide was the essential ambition of every permanent and promising settlement.
Since agriculture, both by necessity and choice, was in those trying times the only dependence of our sturdy ancestors, the possession of the necessary land with a little to spare became a common and prevailing impulse; while the occasional cessation of Indian warfares gave the ambitious sons and later arrivals the increased courage to locate for themselves farther and farther inland. And all naturally resulting in new parish organizations and later by division of the old or the opening of new territory, into other incorporated towns. In each and every case the church serving as that nucleus around which a township was formed.
We cannot do better than record here the dates of the organization of the earlier parishes: Windsor, 1630; Hartford, 1632; Wethersfield, 1635; Stamford, 1635; New Haven, 1639; Stratford, 1639; Old Saybrook, 1639; Milford, 1639; Fairfield, 1639; Guilford, 1643; Branford, 1644; New London, 1650.
Prior to the year 1659 there were in Connecticut eleven parish organizations. (And we have reference here to Congregational churches only, since they were the earliest and most prevalent everywhere). Before 1700 the eleven had increased to thirty-three. And by 1750 to 147, which number by the year 1800 had reached 200.
It is to this large but limited number that our attention has been directed. From among these copies of baptisms and marriages have been secured, out of which the following complete records of marriages have been taken.
We cannot speak in too high praise of that faithfulness to duty which seems as a rule to have possessed the early pastors who, amidst their studious cares, gave close attention to their parish records carefully to note both the marriages and baptisms among their own. Every parish seems to have possessed at some time these inherited treasures. At the same time have we reason to regret that lack of appreciation and careless indifference on the part of some responsible church official, whose possible neglect had been the cause of the total or partial loss of the interesting and valuable manuscripts alone telling the church's story of the first families' spiritual life. over and over again has come to us the sad report that the early church records had been lost or burned or somehow destroyed, possibly carried away and never returned, no one seeminly enough interested to trace and restore them to their proper place. So that as from remote and inaccessible places there have come to us, one by one, copies of such records taken from old church books still extant through all the years, we feel a sense of gratitude not only that in all the many changes of time and circumstance some kind and watchful hand had given protection; but that by these alone were we still able to gain access to the inner life of some little flock of the Heaven-Bound that may even have embraced ancestors of our own name.
A good and sufficient reason exists therefore for this publication. Another and possibly still more appreciable reason lies in the additional aid which these records will afford an increasing number whose genealogical endeavors have been suddenly checked by an hopeless failure to secure much desired data. It is possible the very fact wanted is herein or may supply the long sought clue.
Our town records in a number of cases have been found to be imperfect, pages missing and mutilated, sometimes lost. The town clerks of Connecticut are not as a rule in sympathy with genealogical research, so that the satisfaction to be derived from them is at times extremely limited. With some very worthy exceptions, however, it is true that their interest in the preservation of ancient birth and marriage records amounts to a most ordinary willingness to allow the ancient books a place in the old and crowded safe by increased use to wear out slowly, feed a worm, or part piece by piece with a tattered leaf.
We are pleased to say, however, that somehow, whether altogether due to our colonial societies or otherwise, a gradual awakening is taking place, old towns themselves taking action till we trust that as in Massachusetts the State of Connecticut may yet make some enactment looking at last to a common reconstruction.
Now, with reference to the following marriages, permit us to say that all herein are from church books and are the complete records (so far as they exist) of those churches to 1800. It is probably that many of them may be found recorded on the town records, but it is true that herein is much the town records do not contain, which fact gives to the publication additional value.
It is to be noted, too, that the copy is exact, so far as the spelling is concerned. The arrangement is our own. Where a difficulty has been experienced with a name in copy two spellings are given, or a (?) used. The aim being to place before the rader just what the records contain.
We can but trust it may be of some little service to the many descendants of the old and patriotic Connecticut settlers scattered all over this great land.
FREDERIC W BAILEY
Bureau of American Ancestry, New Haven, Conn., April 27, 1896.