In the early colonial days the township of New London embraced a large area both east and west of the Thames River, so that prior to 1705 the settlers east of the river are listed as inhabitants of New London; during that year a separation was made, and that territory, measuring fourteen miles north and south and an average of over six miles east and west, became the town of Groton; it's boundaries being the Preston or town of Norwich line on the north, the Mystic River and its Lantern Hill tributaries, which separated it from the town of Stonington, on the east, Fishers Island on the south, and the Thames River on the west. In 1836 the town of Groton was divided and the larger portion, including all the North Parish, was called the town of Ledyard. This tract of land is mostly fertile and quite picturesque, being comprised of hills and valleys and having several small watercourses. Part of the peaceful village of Poquetanuck now lies on its northern border, the remainder being within the limits of Preston. About two miles south of this village is located the first tract of land granted to Peter Spicer. It is not known when this grant was made to him, no trace of it being found on record in New London, but as he is mentioned as a landholder in New London in 1666 it is probably that he came into possession about that date. Feb 23, 1692, the town granted him twenty acres, which was laid out to him March 23, 1692-3, on the east side of the river near his own land. "beginning at a black or gray oak tree marked on four sides near or adjoining to the northwest corner of George Geares hundred acres; from thence running northwest nearest . . . foure rods to a white oak tree marked on four sides; from thence west southerly to a swamp and with the swamp, and so along with the s'd same swamp towards the swamp to George Geares north west corner tree of his hundred acres and from thence towards the northeast nearest joyning to the northwest side of George Geares hundred acres to the above mentioned black or gray oak tree."
This land, added to by four generations, remained in the family intact until 1788, when Cyrus Spicer sold his portion of it, on which was built the first house, to Ensign Isaac Avery. It is now owned by Albert J Clark of Norwich, Ct. The site of the old ancestral home is marked by a slight elevation partly overgrown with bushes and the well now filled with stones is close by. A short distance from these landmarks is a great rock, not a ledge, but a high rock with a flat top, upon which a dozen children could have royal good times; and we can picture for ourselves the eleven lively little Spicers who were the first to be born and live in that house, and also those who came after them, making it their headquarters in all their play hours. It is told at the present day how those who went forth from the homestead to homes of their own making, returned at least once yearly to picnic by "The Rock."
The remainder of the original grants was kept and lived on by the descendants of John Spicer until the death of Herbert Spicer in 1886, when it was sold by his heirs to Mr William Collins, who now dwells in the house which was probably built by John Spicer3 and added to by John Spicer5, not altered by the succeeding generations.
Where Peter Spicer came from to New London has not been ascertained but tradition tells us that he came from Virginia to New England and was of English parentage. It is also so recorded in the family Bible of Abel Spicer.
We can imagine him in 1666 as a young man working with the customary Spicer energy and perseverance to clear a spot for cultivation in that then wild and desolate country; afterwards planting and harvesting and making ready the home to which four years laters he brought his bride. The country thereabouts was heavily timbered, and abounding with wolves and other ferocious wild animals, and poisonous snakes were for many years a daily menace to the settlers; none but the bravest would have ventured to build a dwelling there or dared to ask a woman to share it with him when built. His white neighbors were few. George Geer ownded land adjoining upon which he afterwards built and dwelt. In 1667 the Noank Indians, a remnant of the once warlike Pequot tribe, were ordered to settle on their reservation, called Mashantuckset, a mile or so west of our pioneer ancestor's farm. He evidently lived on amicable terms with them, for there are no complaints entered on the records of the town by either party. Indeed we have reason to be proud of our ancestor, inasmuch as his farm was not enlarged by land forcibly taken from, or obtained by small valueless gifts to the Indians.
When the general uprising of the Indians, in 1675, led to King Philip's War, he was among the volunteers and received for his services one hundred and forty acres in Voluntown, lot 108, of the "Cedar Swamp Lots." This land was allotted in 1700, some years after his decease, and was sold by his son Edward in 1719, to Christopher Avery of Groton.
That Peter Spicer and his sons were men of Peaceable dispositions with no active enemies in evinced by the fact that no complaints against them, either by town or individual, is found on the early court records. In those days men seemed to have troublous times with one another; even those high in the affais of the colony were not exempt from the malice of their neighbors and they were brought to be "examined" before the court on the least provocation. Once only did Peter actively appear at a meeting of the court; then he complained that a neighbor had unlawfully taken one of his hogs. The neighbor admitted that his dog had killed a small hog, and that he had put it up in a barrel and had eaten part thereof, "and ye remains were found with him in ye said barrel." The court ordered him to pay to Peter Spicer thirty shillings and to the county treasury ten shillings.
In an old book now kept in the county clerk's office at Norwich, Ct, is recorded the distribution of Peter Spicer's estate as follows: "At a Court of Probate held Sept. 18, 1694. The inventory of the estate of Peter Spicer deceased was exhibited in Court was proved accepted and ordered to be recorded and this Court grants power of administration to the widow and makes distribution as followeth for the widow thirty six pounds with her thirds of the moveables. To the eldest son Edward double portion 15 pounds 10 shilling and to the rest of the children being ten in number 7 pounds 15 shilling apiece and if any of the children die before they come of age to receive their portion then their part to be equally divided amonst the survivors;" Capt. Brewster & Thomas Rose were appointed overseers.
The Probate Records of New London, Ct, furnish additional data. "Aug 10, 1714. Mary Spicer widow and relict of Peter Spicer late of New London deceased and administratrix of his Estate appeared at this Court and made an addition to the inventory of the said Estate of a lott of land in the plantation given the Volunteers and the other inventoried Estate having been already distributed this Court distributes the said lott as followeth viz: one third part thereof to the widow during her natural life, to the Eldest son a double portion thereof and to the other nine children & ye representatives of one that is deceased equal portions.
"Sept 13, 1715. Mary Spicer widow of Peter Spicer late of New London deceased having put the Estate into the hands of her eldest son Edward to pay his brothers and sisters as they come of age said Edward has this day presented in Court Receipts under the hands of his s'd brothers and sisters for their portion to full satisfaction the Court does thereupon order a quietus off to the s'd administrator."
The marriage of Peter Spicer and Mary, daughter of Peter and Mary (__) Busecot, is recorded in Warwick, Rhode Island, as follows: "Peter Spicer of Mohegan or now Norridge in the Collony of Conticott and Mary Busecot of the town of Warwick in ye Collony of Rhode Island were married Dec. 15, 1670." Eleven children were born to them, whose names are recorded in a Bible formerly ownded by Abel Spicer. The birth dates were not given and can only be conjectured from the dates of marriages known.
|2.||i.||Edward2, b __; d __; m Katharine Stone.|
|3.||ii.||Peter2, b __; d __; m __.|
|4.||iii.||William2, b __; d __; m. Hannah Roath.|
|5.||iv.||Ruth2, b __; d __; m Samuel Newton.|
|6.||v.||Samuel2, b __; d 1748; m Susannah Olmsby.|
|7.||vi.||Jabez2, b __; d __; m Margaret Park.|
[Unplaced Descendants of Peter Spicer: Va]
[Allied lines: Hovey]
Comments to: Nancy Spicer Trice, Lineal Descendent of Peter Spicer