Capt. Mathew BECKWITH (1610 – 1680) was Alex’s 10th Great Grandfather; one of 2,048 in this generation of the Miner line.
Matthew was responsible for the building of the first vessel launched at New London, the firm of Mould & Coit Buildling to his order the bark “Endeavor,” which was sailed in the trade with Barbados, the vessel passing out of the possession of Matthew Beckwith in 1666, in exchange for 2000 pounds of sugar.
Matthew Beckwith was born on 22 Sep 1610 in Pontefract, Yorkshire, England, an old, medieval town in West Yorkshire, England, Pontefract is well known for its historical market place, and most importantly, its medieval castle which was built in the Norman Conquest era.
His parents were Thomas BECKWITH and Anne DYNLEY. He immigrated in 1637 to Massachusetts from England, some say on the “Sparrow Hawk,” which crashed upon reaching New England. After a query from a reader, I found the Sparrow Hawk actually crashed in 1626 when Matthew would have been only 16 years old. Here’s a book on the subject. He married Elizabeth (Mary) LYNDE in 1641 in Hartford, Connecticut Colony. Matthew died on 21 Oct 1680 in New London, CT at age 70 when he fell off a cliff. He was buried in Lyme, New London, As recorded in the journal of Simeon Bradford:
“Octob. 21. Matthew Brecket Sen. aged about 70, missing his way in a very dark night, fell from a Ledge of rocks about 20 or 30 foot high and beat out his brains against a stone he fell vpon. Another man yt was wth him was wthin a yard of ye place but by gods Providee came not to such an end. Let him and all nearly concerned, ye every one, make good vse of such an awfull & Solemne Providee.”
Elizabeth (Mary) Lynde was born in 1625 in London, England. Her parents were Enoch LYNDE and Elizabeth DIGBY. Enoch Lynde, was a shipping merchant in the Netherlands engaged in foreign trade and he was also connected with the postal service between England and Holland. He was fluent in Dutch and may have been of Dutch extraction. After Matthew died, Elizabeth married Samuel Buckland. Elizabeth died in 1682 in Lyme, New London, Connecticut at age 57.
Many sources state that Elizabeth was born in New London CT, but .John Winthrop, Jr. did not found the first English settlement there until 1646.
Children of Matthew and Elizabeth
|1.||Matthew Beckwith||c. 1645||Elizabeth [Hill?]
Guilford, Middlesex, CT
1689 in Lyme, CT
|4 Jun 1727
Lyme, New London, CT
|2.||Mary Beckwith||c. 1643
Lyme, New London, CT
New London, CT
10 May 1667
Watertown, Litchfield, CT
|7 Feb 1692/93
|3.||Elizabeth Beckwith||c. 1647
New London, CT
|Robert Girard (Gerrand, Gerard)
Haddam, Middlesex, CT
|15 Jan 1718/19
Haddam, Middlesex, CT
|4.||Sarah Beckwith||c. 1650
New London, CT
1666 in Watertown, Mass
|14 Aug 1676
|5.||Joseph BECKWITH||c. 1653
New London, CT
New London, CT
1678 in Lyme, CT
|25 Dec 1725
|7.||John Beckwith||4 Feb 1668
New London, CT
New London, CT
|8 Dec 1757
New London, CT
Resided: Pontefract, Yorkshire, England; Old Lyme, New London County, Connecticut, Matthew’s property is today’s Rocky Neck State Park, the port from which his three ships were based was called Beckwith’s Cove. The couple did not acquire a home lot until four years after they were married. Hartford records show that Mary and their first child, a daughter Mary born in 1643, resided with the household of B. Barnard in Hartford, indicating that Matthew traveled and lived on his vessel.
Occupation: With two partners owned three ships, the “Speedwell,” the “Hopewell.” and the Endeavor,.” These ships ranged from 50 to 82 tons, participated in trade between New England, New Amsterdam, and Barbados. The Endeavor was the first barque built and launched in New London. Matthew Beckwith was believed to have been involved with a couple of wealthy Dutchmen and one of them, a Captain Sybado, left him a small legacy in his will that was filed in England.
A barque has three or more masts having the fore- and mainmasts rigged square and only the mizzen (the aftmost mast) rigged fore-and-aft. The advantage of these rigs was that they needed smaller (therefore cheaper) crews than a comparable full-rigged ship or brig-rigged vessel as there were fewer of the labor-intensive square sails, and the rig itself is cheaper. Conversely, the ship rig tended to be retained for training vessels where the larger the crew, the more seamen were trained.
Another advantage is that a barque can outperform a schooner or barkentine, and is both easier to handle and better at going to windward than a full-rigged ship. While a full-rigged ship is the best runner available, and while fore-and-aft rigged vessels are the best at going to windward, the barque is often the best compromise,[ and combines the best elements of these two.
Property: Matthew and Mary owned large tracts of land along the Niantic River, in Lyme, granted to him by Gov. Wentworth. Owned 30 acres and with two others owned three ships, one of the ships (the “Endeavor,”) was sold in Barbados for 2,000 pounds of sugar, at death the estate was inventoried at 274 pounds.
Legal involvement: 1662 fined for the assault and battery of John Richards; convicted of slandering Matthew Marvin, was forced to make a public confession; fined 10 shillings for intemperance.
According to “The Founders of Saybrook Colony and Their Descendants, 1635-1985”, Matthew Beckwith came to New England (possibly from Ponteferact, Yorkshire, England) in 1635, residing first at Saybrook Point, CT. He was in Branford, CT, in 1638 and was among the first settlers of Hartford in 1642. By 1651, he was in East Lyme, having purchased large tracts of land along the Niantic River.
“The Beckwiths”, by Paul Beckwith, 1891, mentions a number of items from the Connecticut Records. He is said to have resided in Hartford in 1645, on lot number ten on Main Street. This book points out the possible parents of Matthew as Marmaduke Beckwith of Dacre and Clint, North Yorkshire, England, and his wife Anne Dynley. The book traces the ancestry of Marmaduke back to Sir Hugh de Malebisse, who held lands at the time of William the Conqueror. Matthew’s wife’s name is given as Elizabeth (which has since been refuted).The “Beckwith Notes” discount the parentage of Marmaduke Beckwith, and give the name of Matthew’s wife as MARY. The notes suggest that Matthew was probably born in Essex, England, far from North Yorkshire, Marmaduke’s home.
Matthew Beckwith had issues with the law. Documented events in his life were:
1. Emigrant Ancestor; 1636; Saybrook, Middlesex Co., CT.
1 Aug 1639 – Fine – Hartford, Hartford Co., CT. Matthew Beckwith, centured & fined 10 s. for unreasonable & imoderatt drinking att the pinnace (small schooner). Drinking at Hartford was prohibited, but not on the water. Matthew Beckwith and friends were caught on the shore. Matthew may have been a trader, as these vessels were commonly used to bring supplies to the Colony and return with beaver skins. He owned a boat, which he kept at Beckwith Cove in Lyme, CT.
2 Mar 1643/44 – Lawsuit – Hartford, In the ac of Math: Beckwytt pl agt Math: Allen deft the July find for the pl damages viijs & Chardges of Court. Execution graunted.
1 Sep 1644 – Lawsuit – Hartford, Math: Beckwith & Tho: Hungerford pl agt Will Edwards deft in an act of Slaunder. In the ac of Math: Beckwith & Tho: Hungerford pl agt Will Edwads deft the Jury find for the pl damages 20s & Cost of Court.
1645 – Matthew bought land in Hartford, from William Platt, an original proprietor. In 1650, he bought land in Hartford, from Thomas Porter. In the spring of 1651, he was given a house lot in East Lyme, New London, CT. His wife was at the Hartford Court on May 22, 1665, where she gave her age as 40.
24 Apr 1649 – Lawsuit – Hartford, Mathew Marven plt Contra Mathew Beckwith defendt in an action of defamation damages £50 In the action … the defendt making his public penitent confession of his evill in Slaundering the said plt was remitted by the Court and Plt.
1 Jun 1651 – Lawsuit – Hartford, Mathew Beckwith plt Contra William Williams defendt in an Action of the Case to the damage of 50s. .. the Jury finds for the defendt damages 2s.
1651 – Mathew Beckwith plt Contra Thomas Hubberd defendt in an Action of Debt with the damages to the value of 15s; the Courte Adiudges the defendt to pay vnto the plt 12s & Costs of Curte wch is 16s.
4 Sep 1651 – Debt – Hartford, . The Creditors of Mathew Beckwith had publique notice to bring in their Debts to the next Quarter Courte or to the Secretary before the Courte and then appeare there and theire Causes shall bee heard.
13 Jun 1655 – Lawsuit – Pequott, CT. Matthew Beckwith plt Contra Tho Rowell defendt in an Actio of the Case uppon Accote to the dammage of £16; In the Action of accte betweene Mathew Beckwith plt and Thomas Rowell defent the Jury findes for the plt damages fourteene pounds and 9s and Costs of Courte whith the Courte allows to bee ten Shillings.
1657 – the Winthrop Medical Journal, p. 379, Pequot, New London, CT, gave the ages of the children as follows: Mary 14, Matthew 12, Elizabeth 10, Sarah 7-1/2, Joseph 4. Mary was reported as living at the B. Bernards. She was apparently living with the family of Bartholomew Bernard of Hartford.
15 May 1660 – Lawsuit – Hartford, Richrd Hartley plt contr Math: Beckwith Dft in an actioon of ye case to ye damadge of £24; The Jury finds for ye Plt the debt according to Bill and the forfeiture of ye sd payment on ye Bond and costs of ye Court. Mathew Beckwith Plat contr Thomas Brooks in an action of Debt by Bill to bye damadge of £50; Thomas Brooks not appeareing to answer according to Summons The Court Grants to ye Plaintief a spetial warrant for Brooks his appearance at ye Court in June vnless there happen a Court at N: London about that time.
4 Sep 1662 – Lawsuit – Hartford, John Richards Pt contr Georg Halsey Math Beckwith Peeter Blachfield & Tho: Stafford in an action of ye case respecting an assult & Battery; Matthew Beckwith not mentioned in the final judgement of the Court.
1665 – Matthew was able to give land somewhat liberally to his sons, and it is recorded that, thirty acres more were “laid out” to him, all of which he gave his son Joseph
13 Dec 1682 – Inventory Taken Lyme, New London, CT 14. £293.01.00
In 1645, Matthew purchased land in Hartford from a proprietor, William Platt. In 1650 he bought more land in Hartford from another proprietor, Thomas Porter. In the spring of 1651, Matthew was given a home lot in that section of New London known today asEast Lyme. Matthew traveled from port to port, keeping his homeport in Lyme in a section of waterway that became known as Beckwith Cove. Matthew and Mary had twelve children, and many of them traveled with their father as youngsters.
Matthew was not a quiet, obscure man. His name appears several times on the pages of the recorded history of Connecticut. He was fined once for public drunkenness, was a defendant in two separate cases, one for “slaunder” in which he paid a fine and did public penitence. In 1662, at the age of fifty-two, suits were brought against him and three other men for assault. He paid a fine. He in turn brought suit against two other men for debts owned and for killing his “swine.” This same Matthew Beckwith is given credit as one of the founders of the church at Bramford.
Matthew died on October 21, 1680. Records report that “Matthew Beckwith, age abt. 70, missing his way in the very darknight, fell from a ledge of rocks about 20 or 30 feet high and beat his brains against a stone he fell upon.” This gave occasion for a sermon on the providence of God which took away Matthew Beckwith and spared his fellow wayfarer. The inquest showed that he was then seventy years old, and this is the only evidence as to the year of his birth. His widow Mary married Samuel Buckwall (Buckland). Mary died June 30, 1694.
The estate of Matthew Beckwith was after his death appraised at 293 pounds, indicating him to have ranked among the “well-circumstanced class of that day.” He was able to give land “somewhat liberally to his sons.” It was recorded that in 1675 thirty acres more were “laid out” to Matthew Beckwith, all of which he gave to his son Joseph.
Oral family history records that JABEZ BECKWITH is a descendant of Matthew Beckwith; however no records so far have been found to confirm this. Jabez Beckwith is recorded in the 1800 census in Litchfield, Connecticut. The family story is that in 1803, he and Ormanda and their five children moved to Charlotte, New York.
In 1811, their son, Ransom, and his two brothers, Samuel and Simeon, left home to go west to Ohio. At a stopover, called the Cross Roads in Stueben County, New York, they met another party of travelers which included the fourteen-year-old Anna Palmer. Ransom made a three-day stopover. He and the talented young singer, Anna, were married on April 25, 1812. They settled at Sartwell Creek where the old Beckwith homestead is located and where their thirteen children were born.
Historical accounts in McKean County, Pennsylvania state, “Jabez Beckwith, with his wife, Ormanda and five children, was on his way from Charlotte, New York, to go to the home of his eldest son, Ransom, who had settled west of Roulet. He was taken sick on the way and died within the week at Major Isaac’s home. This was the first death in Potter County.” Jabez was buried in a unmarked grave. His widow later married the Honorable Joel Bishop.
1. Matthew Beckwith Jr.
Mathew Jr. had a rather interesting marital history. See John Rogers – Rogerene Founder for details.
John Rogers (1653 – 1707), the founder of the Rogerene Quakers spent a cummulative fifteen years in jail for his beliefs, among them celebrating the Sabbath on Saturday and working on Sunday. He wasn’t our direct ancestor, but his love story with Elizabeth Griswold is unique. His first wife Elizabeth was forced by her family to divorce him. There were no grounds for divorce based on religious differences, so its legality is questionable and Rogers believed he was still married to Elizabeth and remained faithful to her for twenty-five years until he married his housemaid. He still claimed his first marriage was valid and the Bible permitted him two wives, In 1705, thirty-five years after his marriage, he tried to get Elizabeth back, leading him into a unique conflict with our Matthew BECKWITH family..
Matthew’s first wife Elizabeth [Hill?]
Matthew’s second wife Elizabeth Griswold was born in Milford, CT. Her parents were Matthew Griswold and Anna Wolcott. She first married John Rogers (See his page for more detail about his life) the founder of the Rogerine Quakers on 17 Oct 1670. She was granted a divorce from John Rogers, 12 Oct 1676. She next married Peter Pratt (1647 in Plymouth, Mass – 24 Mar 1688 in Lyme, New London, CT). Finally she married Matthew Beckwith in 1689 or 1691.
Matthew’s third wife Sarah Starkey?
Elizabeth Griswold Rogers Pratt Griswold had children by each husband. In 1703, Rogers made a rash attempt to regain his divorced wife, then married to Beckwith; Beckwith complained that he laid hands on her, declaring she was his wife, threatened Beckwith that he would have her in spite of him , all of which Rogers confessed to be true. But he defended on the plea that she was really his wife. In June, 1703, Mathew Beckwith, Sr appeared in court and swore that he was in fear of his life of him.
The Rogerenes (also known as the Rogerens Quakers or Rogerines) were a religious sect founded in 1674 by John Rogers (1648–1721) in New London, Connecticut. Rogers was imprisoned and spent some years there. He was influenced by the Seventh Day Baptists and the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and opposed the Established Puritan church. Rogerenes initially held to a Seventh Day (Saturday) Sabbath, but over the years began to regard each day as equally holy. Their disdain for Sunday worship often brought them into sharp conflict with their neighbors. Increasingly they adopted a Pacifist stance, including war tax resistance, which further brought them the ridicule of the larger community. Some of the Rogerenes left Connecticut and migrated to New Jersey settling in parts of present-day Morris County. One such group settled in what is presently the Landing section of Roxbury Township, New Jersey near Lake Rogerine, then known as Mountain Pond in about 1700. Another smaller group of Rogerenes in about 1734 settled on the eastern side of Schooley’s Mountain near present-day Hackettstown, New Jersey. Rogerene worship services continued through the early 20th Century in Connecticut.
The Rogerenes: Part II, History of the Rogerenes. Boston: Stanhope Press, 1904. by Anna B. Williams
In 1637 John’s father, James Rogers, was a soldier from Saybrook in the Pequot war. He is next at Stratford, where he acquires considerable real estate and marries Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel Rowland, a landed proprietor of that place, who eventually leaves a valuable estate to his grandson, Samuel Rogers, and presumably other property to his daughter, who seems to have been an only child. A few years later, James Rogers appears at Milford. His wife joins the Congregational church there in 1645, and he himself joins this church in 1652.
The conversion of John Rogers was directly preceded by one of those sudden and powerful convictions of sin so frequently exemplified in all ages of the Christian church, and so well agreeing with Scriptural statements regarding the new birth. Although leading a prominently active business life, in a seaport town, from early youth, and thus thrown among all classes of men and subjected to many temptations, this young man has given no outward sign of any lack of entire probity. Whatever his lapses from exact virtue, they have occasioned him no serious thought, until, by the power of this conversion, he perceives himself a sinner. Under this deep conviction the memory of a certain youthful error weighs heavily upon his conscience
He has at this time one confidant, his loving, sympathetic and deeply interested young wife, who cordially welcomes the new light from Newport. In the candid fervor of his soul, he tells her all, even the worst he knows of himself, and that he feels in his heart that, by God’s free grace, through the purifying blood of Jesus Christ, even his greatest sin is washed away and forgiven.
Does this young woman turn, with horror and aversion, from the portrayal of this young man’s secret sin? By no means. she is not only filled with sympathy for his deep sorrow and contrition, but rejoices with him in his change of heart and quickened conscience. More than this, understanding that even one as pure as herself may be thus convicted of sin and thus forgiven and reborn, she joins with him in prayer that such may be her experience also. They study the New Testament together, and she finds, as he has said, that there is here no mention of a change from a seventh to a first day Sabbath, and no apparent warrant for infant baptism, but the contrary; the command being first to believe and then to be baptized. Other things they find quite contrary to the Congregational way. In her ardor, she joins with him to openly declare these errors in the prevailing belief and customs.
Little is the wonder that to Elder Matthew Griswold and his wife the news that their daughter and her husband are openly condemning the usages of the powerful church of which they, and all their relatives, are such prominent members, comes like a thunderbolt. Their own daughter is condemning even the grand Puritan Sabbath and proposes to work hereafter upon that sacred day and to worship upon Saturday. They find that her husband has led Elizabeth into this madness. They accuse and upbraid him, they reason and plead with him. But all in vain. He declares to them his full conviction that this is the call and enlightenment of the Lord himself. Moreover, was it not the leading resolve of the first Puritans to be guided and ruled only by the Word of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ? Did they not warn their followers to maintain a jealous watchfulness against any belief, decree or form of worship not founded upon the Scriptures? Did they not urge each to search these Scriptures for himself? He has searched these Scriptures, and Elizabeth with him, and they have found a most astonishing difference between the precepts and example of Christ and the practice and teachings of the Congregational church.
Elder Matthew Griswold is ready with counter arguments on the Presbyterian side. But “the main instrument” by which Elizabeth is restored to her former church allegiance is her mother, the daughter of Henry Wolcott. This lady is sister of Simon Wolcott, who is considered one of the handsomest, most accomplished and most attractive gentlemen of his day. Although she may have similar charms and be a mother whose judgment a daughter would highly respect, yet she is evidently one of the last from whom could be expected any deviation, in belief or practice, from the teachings and customs of her father’s house. That her daughter has been led to adopt the notions of these erratic Baptists is, to her mind, a disgrace unspeakable. She soon succeeds in convincing Elizabeth that this is no influence of the Holy Spirit, as declared by John Rogers, but a device of the Evil One himself. Under such powerful counter representations, on the part of her relatives and acquaintances, as well as by later consideration of the social disgrace attendant upon her singular course, Elizabeth is finally led to publicly recant her recently avowed belief, despite the pleadings of her husband. At the same time, she passionately beseeches him to recant also, declaring that unless he will renounce the evil spirit by which he has been led, she cannot continue to live with him. He, fully persuaded that he has been influenced by the very Spirit of God, declares that he cannot disobey the divine voice within his soul.
One sad day, after such a scene as imagination can well picture, this young wife prepares herself, her little girl of two years and her baby boy, for the journey to Blackhall, with the friends who have come to accompany her. Even as she rides away, hope must be hers that, after the happy home is left desolate, her husband will yield to her entreaties. Not so with him as he sees depart the light and joy of Mamacock, aye, Mamacock itself which he has given her. He drinks the very dregs of this cup without recoil. He parts with wife and children and lands, for His name’s sake. Well he knows in his heart, that for him can be no turning. And what can he now expect of the Griswolds?
Although his own home is deserted and he will no more go cheerily to Blackhall, there is still a place where dear faces light at his coming. It is his father’s house. Here are appreciative listeners to the story of his recent experiences and convictions; father and mother, brothers and sisters, are for his sake reading the Bible anew. They find exact Scripture warrant for his sudden, deep conviction of sin and for his certainty that God has heard his fervent prayers, forgiven his sins and bestowed upon him a new heart. They find no Scripture warrant for a Sabbath upon the first day of the week, nor for baptism of other than believers, nor for a specially learned and aristocratic ministry. They, moreover, see no authority for the use of civil power to compel persons to religious observances, and such as were unknown to the early church, and no good excuse for the inculcating of doctrines and practices contrary to the teachings of Christ and his apostles. Shortly, James, the young shipmaster, has an experience similar to that of his brother, as has also an Indian by the name of Japhet. This Indian is an intelligent and esteemed servant in the family of James Rogers, Sr.
News of the baptism of these young men into the Anabaptist faith by Mr. Crandall, at their father’s house, increases the comment and excitement already started in the town. The minister, Mr. Simon Bradstreet, expresses a hope that the church will “take a course” with the Rogers family. The Congregational churches at large are greatly alarmed at this startling innovation in Connecticut. The tidings travel fast to Blackhall, dispelling any lingering hope that John Rogers may repent of his erratic course. Immediately after this occurrence, his wife, by the aid of her friends, takes steps towards securing a divorce and the guardianship of her children. From her present standpoint, her feelings and action are simply human, even, in a sense, womanly. He who is to suffer will be the last to upbraid her, his blame will be for those who won her from his view to theirs, from the simple word of Scripture to the iron dictates of popular ecclesiasticism. If John Rogers and his friends know anything as yet of the plot on the part of the Griswolds to make the very depth of his repentance for an error of his unregenerate youth an instrument for his utter disgrace and bereavement, their minds are not absorbed at this time with matters of such worldly moment.
In March, 1675, James Rogers, Sr., and his family send for Elder Hiscox, Mr. Samuel Hubbard and his son Clarke, of the Sabbatarian church of Newport, to visit them. Before the completion of this visit, Jonathan Rogers (twenty years of age) is baptized. Following this baptism, John, James, Japhet and Jonathan are received as members of the Sabbatarian church of Newport, by prayer and laying on of hands. (Letter of Mr. Hubbard.)
This consummation of John’s resolves brings matters to a hasty issue on the part of the Griswolds, in lines already planned. There is no law by which a divorce can be granted on account of difference in religious views. In some way this young man’s character must be impugned, and so seriously as to afford plausible grounds for divorcement. How fortunate that, at the time of his conversion, he made so entire a confidant of his wife. Fortunate, also, that his confession was a blot that may easily be darkened, with no hindrance to swearing to the blot. At this time, the young woman’s excited imagination can easily magnify that which did not appear so serious in the calm and loving days at Mamacock, even as with tear-wet eyes he told the sorrowful story of his contrition. Thus are laid before the judges of the General Court, representations to the effect that this is no fit man to be the husband of Elizabeth, daughter of Matthew Griswold. The judges, lawmakers and magistrates of Connecticut belong to the Congregational order – the only élite and powerful circle of the time; this, taken in connection with the unfavorable light in which the Rogers are now regarded in such quarters, is greatly to the Griswold advantage.
Yet, despite aversion and alarm on the part of the ruling dignitaries regarding the new departure and the highly colored petition that has been presented to the court by the daughter of Matthew Griswold, there is such evident proof that the petitioner is indulging an intensity of bitterness bordering upon hatred towards the man who has refused, even for her sake, to conform to popular belief and usages, that the judges hesitate to take her testimony, even under oath. Moreover, the only serious charge in this document rests solely upon the alleged declaration of John Rogers against himself, in a private conference with his wife. This charge, however, being represented in the character of a crime (under the early laws), is sufficient for his arrest. Very soon after his reception into the Sabbatarian church, the young man is seized and sent to Hartford for imprisonment, pending the decision of the grand jury.
The case before the grand jury having depended solely upon the word of a woman resolved upon divorce and seeking ground for it, they returned that they “find not the bill,” and John Rogers was discharged from custody. Yet, in view of the representations of Elizabeth in her petition regarding her unwillingness, for the alleged reasons, to remain this young man’s wife, backed by powerful influence in her favor, the court gave her permission to remain with her children at her father’s for the present, “for comfort and preservation” until a decision be rendered regarding the divorce, by the General Court in October. No pains will be spared by the friends of Elizabeth to secure a favorable decision from this court.
The Rev. Mr. Bradstreet, bitter in his prejudice against the young man by whose influence has occurred such a departure from the Congregational church as that of James Rogers and his family and such precedent for the spread of anti-presbyterian views outside of Rhode Island, writes in his journal at this date: “He is now at liberty, but I believe he will not escape God’s judgment, though he has man’s.”
[Miss. Caulkins states that John Rogers “made an almost insane attempt” to regain his former wife Elizabeth, wife of Matthew Beckwith. This statement is founded upon a writ against John Rogers on complaint of Matthew Beckwith (Jan. 1702-3), accusing John Rogers of laying hands on Elizabeth, declaring her to be his wife and that he would have her in spite of Matthew Beckwith. The historian should ever look below the mere face of things. For more than twenty-five years, John Rogers has known that Elizabeth, married or unmarried, would not return to him, pledged as he was to his chosen cause. He is, at this particular date, not yet fully separated from Mary, but holding himself ready to take her back, in case a petition to the General Court should by any possibility result favorably. This and another complaint of Matthew Beckwith the latter in June, 1703 – to the effect that he was “afraid of his life of John Rogers” indicate some dramatic meeting between John Rogers and “Elizabeth, daughter of Matthew Griswold,” in the presence of Matthew Beckwith, the incidents attendant upon which have displeased the latter and led him to resolve that John Rogers shall be publicly punished for assuming to express any ownership in his, Matthew Beckwith’s, wife.
1 This “afraid of my life” is a common expression, and was especially so formerly, by way of emphasis. Matthew Beckwith could not have been actually afraid of his life in regard to a man whose principles did not allow of the slightest show of physical force in dealing with an opponent. Although the court record says that John Rogers “used threatening words against Matthew Beckwith,” on presentation by Matthew Beckwith’s complaint, this does not prove any intention of physical injury.
Any meeting between John Rogers and Elizabeth Griswold could not fail of being dramatic. What exact circumstances were here involved is unknown; what attitude was taken by the woman, when these two men were at the same time in her presence, it is impossible to determine. But it is in no way derogatory to the character of John Rogers, that in meeting this wife of his youth, he gives striking proof of his undying affection. Ignoring her marriage to the man before him, forgetful, for the time being, even of Mary, blind to all save the woman he loves above all, he lays his hand upon Elizabeth, and says she is, and shall be, his. Under such circumstances, Matthew Beckwith takes his revenge in legal proceedings. When summoned before the court, John Rogers defends his right to say that Matthew Beckwith’s wife so-called is still his own, knowing full well the court will fine him for contempt, which process follows (County Court Record).]
John Rogers is fifty-five years of age at this date, and Matthew Beckwith sixty-six. Elizabeth is about fifty.
2. Mary Beckwith
Mary’s first husband Benjamin Grant was born 6 Sep 1641 in Watertown, Middlesex, Mass. His parents were Christopher Grant a glazier who arrived from England and Mary [__?__]. Benjamin died 11 Sep 1726 in Old Lyme, New London, CT.
Mary’s second husband Samuel Daniels was born 1648 in Redgrave, Suffolk, England. Samuel died in 1683 in Medfield, Mass.
3. Elizabeth Beckwith
Elizabeth’s first husband Robert Girard (Gerrand, Gerard) was born 1638. John died in 1690, Haddam, Middlesex County, CT
Elizabeth Beckwith and Robert Gerard were divorced. Court records show that Elizabeth was abused and abandoned by her husband.
Divorce; Oct 1674; New Haven, New Haven Co., CT – Robert Gerard [or Jarrad] made the statement that he “wished… [his wife] to take her course” or be free to remarry. (Divorce Case of Elizabeth Jarrad [Oct. 1674], Recs. Ct. of Assts., Lacy transcript, I, 55) Robert may have threatened to make provisions for binding out their daughter Elizabeth after he deserted the family. [Women Before the Bar, p. 124]
Elizabeth’s second husband John Bates was born 7 Oct 1649 in Scituate, Plymouth, Mass. John died 15 Jan 1718 in Haddam, Middlesex, CT.
Will of John Bates Died 15 Jan 1718/19. Invt. £286-12-00. Taken 28 Jan 1718/19, by James Braynard, Samuel Ingram and Joseph Arnold.
An agreement of heirs either of his body or by marriage: That our hond. mother Elizabeth Bate shall have the use and improvement of halfe the dwelling-house, half the barn and half the orchard in the home lott, and half said home lott, and half the land in the little meadow above the land of Mr. Symon Smith, and all the household goods proper for a woman’s use, and a cow, and a mare, which she shall choose, and the sheep. These, being part of our hond father’s estate, shall be intirely to the use of the forenamed Elizabeth during her natural life or widowhood.
Also, at our said mother’s decease, Elizabeth Bailey or her heirs shall have one-third part of the personal or moveable estate. We agree that Jonathan Bate be put in Adms., and that he pay the lawful debts out of the personal estate, and also that he execute a deed for a small lott on the Plain in the second division upon the right of John Webb, to Nathaniel Spencer, Jr., it being sold to him before our sd. father’s death. We the subscribers do each and every one of us, both for ourselves and our heirs, covenant and engage that we will forever remain satisfyed and contented with the foresd. distribution. Signed and sealed this 23 day of February, 1718-19.
Witness: Joseph Arnold, Samuel Ingram, Hez. Brainard.
John X. Bate, ls. Solomon X Bate, ls. Joseph X Graves, ls. Jonathan X Bate, ls. James Ray, Jr., ls. Elizabeth X Bailey, ls.
I, Elizabeth Bate, relict or widow of the deceased John Bate abovenamed, am fully satisfied with the distribution that my children have now agreed upon, as is above expressed.
Elizabeth X Bate, ls.
Court Record, Page 96–3 March, 1718-19: Adms. granted to Jonathan Bates, son of the decd.
Page 111–1st September, 1719: Agreement exhibited, which the Court accepts.
4. Sarah Beckwith
Sarah’s husband Joshua Grant was born 11 Jun 1637 in Watertown, Middlesex, Mass. Joshua died 14 Aug 1676 in Arrowsic, Maine.
5. Joseph BECKWITH (See his page)
6. Nathaniel Beckwith
Nathaniel’s wife Martha [_____] was born 1657 in Lyme, New London, CT. Martha died 26 Jan 1725 in CT.
7. John Beckwith
John’s wife Prudence Manwaring was born 1668 in New London, New London, CT. Her parents were Oliver Manwaring and Hannah Raymond. Prudence died 17 Nov 1740 in New London, New London, CT.
[S1193] Simeon Moses Fox, “Matthew Beckwith and his Family.”