William Hyde or Hide was born in England, most likely between 1600-1615. His first documented appearance was in 1636, as one of the founders and original proprietors of Hartford, CT.
It is probable that William came from Essex, England, approximately 40 miles northeast of London. William was a follower of Rev Thomas Hooker, a controversial and charismatic leader whose political views tended to run afoul of the establishment. Beginning in 1631, on the ship Lyon, several groups of Congregationalists, calling themselves the Braintree Company, left the Braintree and Chelmsford areas of Essex to settle in Mount Wollaston, aka the notorious “Merrymount”, now known as Quincy, MA. Some of the colonists are listed as coming from Devonshire, England, several of whom had sold their properties and moved to London in preparation for the trip to America. The Braintree colonists were relocated sometime around 1633 to Newtowne, MA by order of the General Court, ostensibly because of a gap in the defenses of the new colony. On Sept 4, 1633, their pastor, Rev Thomas Hooker and his assistant, Rev Samuel Stone arrived in Boston on the ship Griffin. Hooker had been a pastor and teacher at Chelmsford between 1626-29 before being forced to retire to nearby Little Baddow, then fleeing to Rotterdam in 1631. Almost from the moment he arrived at Newtowne (later Cambridge, MA), Hooker was at odds with the local governing body.
In 1636, Hooker and his followers traveled nearly 100 miles through wilderness to Suckiag, which they renamed Hartford, CT. William Hyde was one of the first landholders there, in 1639 his home lot was on the south side of the road “from George Steele’s to the South Meadow” (old Buckingham St.) and he was chosen surveyor of the highways in 1641. He is honored, along with Hooker and his other followers, on several monuments.
Hooker’s death in 1647 created a leadership vacuum in Hartford, with his successor, Rev Samuel Stone, at odds with others over control of the colony. It is not known precisely when William removed to Saybrook, CT, but it can be said that many left Hartford around this time. Later, in 1659 or ’60 William became one of the original proprietors of Norwich, CT. He was well respected among the settlers, frequently elected as a representative or selectman. He died 6 January 1681 at Norwich Village (New London), CT.
He is sometimes said to have married Hester Trott in England, but there is no evidence to date of his wife’s first name or maiden name. Late in life, William Hyde married again, 4 June 1667, Mrs. Joanna/Johanna (—) Abell/Abel, widow of Robert Abell of Rehoboth, Connecticut. She and William had no children. She had eight children from her previous marriage to Robert. Note that Robert’s father George Abell attended Oxford, Bracenose College; also note Robert’s mother Frances Cotton’s descent: “Abell-Cotton-Mainwaring: Maternal Ancestry of Robert Abell of Weymouth and Rehoboth, Mass.,” TG 5 (1984):158-71. Joanna made a will and legal arrangements that clearly designated her property and lands and provided exclusively for the children of her first marriage upon her death, which occurred after 1682. There was a legal dispute over William’s properties which broke out among his heirs around the same time, but this did not involve Joanna’s property as her arrangements were contracted with William prior to their marriage.
William and his as-yet unnamed wife had the following children: Esther or Hester and Samuel.
Esther or Hester Hyde, most likely born in England approx 1627-29, married John Post in Saybrook, CT 31 March 1652 [Town and Misc Records of Saybrook, CT]. John was baptised in Otham, Kent, England 13 September 1629, parents Stephen Post and Elinor Panton [NEHGR 160:33]. I found an old typewritten copy of the Saybrook Records, which shows a curious insertion after the main index. Between Vol 1 pages 16 and 20 there’s an entry for “Vol Q, pg QU” which states “John Post was married the last of March…1652. Margrit was born the 25th of Feb…1652. (The new year started on March 25th, so this was technically Feb of 1653.) Elizabeth was born the 22 of Feb…1654. John Post was born 12 of April…1657. Jasan Post was born the 6 of Nov…1659.” Jasan, a male or female name from the Greek “to heal, healer”, may or may not have been a misreading of “Sarah”, most likely the reading is correct. It would not be unusual at the time for a girl to be named Jasan and have preferred being called Sarah.
Reuben Hyde Walworth wrote the seminal genealogy book, “Hyde Genealogy…from William Hyde of Norwich” the full text of which can be found in our books section (link below). In it, he mentions that the first four children were born in Saybrooke, then in 1660 the couple moved to Norwich, where their remaining children were born. Walworth chooses to list the children males first rather than chronologically, as follows:
13. John, b. 12 April, 1657, at Saybrook, m. Sarah Reynolds.
14. Samuel, b. 8 March, 1668, at Norwich, m. Ruth Lathrop.
15. Margaret, b. 21 Feb., 1653, at Saybrook, m.. Caleb Abel.
16. Elizabeth, b. 22 Feb., 1655, at Saybrook. I have not been able to trace her further. 8he probably died unmarried.
17. Sarah, b. 6 Nov., 1659, at Saybrook, m. Capt. John Hough.
18. Mary, b. , 1662, at Norwich, m. Nathaniel Rudd.
19. Abigail, b. 6 Nov., 1664, at Norwich, d. in April, 1676.
20. Hannah, b. Oct., 1671, at Norwich. She probably died unm.
21. Lydia, b. 11 March, 1674, at Norwich. She m., 1, Abel Moore of New London, and 2, Joseph Harris of New London, and probably died without issue
Samuel Hyde b. 1637 at Hartford, CT, died 1677 at Norwich; married June 1659 Jane Lee, daughter of Thomas and Phoebe (Brown) Lee. Their children, all born in Norwich, were:
1. Elizabeth b. Aug 1660, married Lt Richard Lord.
2. Phebe b. Jan 1662 married Matthew Griswold.
3. Samuel b. May 1665 married Elizabeth Calkins.
4. John b. Dec 1667 married Experience Abel.
5. William b. Jan 1669/70 married Anne Bushnell.
6. Thomas b. July 1672 married Mary Backus.
7. Sara b. 1675, died the same year.
8. Jabez b May 1677 married Elizabeth Bushnell.
After Samuel died, John Birchard/Burchard (b. Jan 1627/8 Terling, Essex, numerous spellings of the surname) became the guardian of his children, marrying Jane Hyde by 1680 [Great Migration Vol 1, p 296].
William Hyde was an incredibly common name in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Unsourced online trees often try to shoehorn him in as the son of minor nobility or gentry, descending from the likes of William Hyde and Eleanor Molyneux, or George Hyde and Elizabeth Keyt, or Robert Hyde and Beatrice Caverly/Calverley. These Hyde lines are well documented and do not include William or any of the other early Hyde settlers in MA and CT. William Hyde of CT is also sometimes given as the husband of Ellen Stubbs (she born circa 1586-1589 per baptism records). While it’s true that a man named William Hyde married Ellen Stubbs at Prestbury, Cheshire on 21 July 1609, this William appears to have died in England and appears not to have had a son named William.
The Hyde DNA Project has male Y-DNA from several of William’s descendants. The results are consistent and show that William was not related to any of the other Puritan Hide/Hyde settlers, such as Samuel or Jonathan of MA and Humphrey of CT.
Hyde Genealogy of the Descendants, in the female as well as in the male lines from William Hyde, of Norwich by Reuben H. Walworth, J. Munsell Company, Albany, NY, 1864, 1446 pages, two volumes available on-line: http://archive.org/details/hydegenealogyord01walw and http://archive.org/details/hydegenealogyord02walw
If you are a descendant of William and have further information to share, please contact us.