JOHN DEMING, the Settler 1615-1705 by WtHzUp


									                          JOHN DEMING, the Settler 1615-1705

Brother of Elizabeth Deming, who married Nathaniel Foote, Settler of Wethersfield,

Note: After Nathaniel Foote died in 1644 at age 51 years, Elizabeth married Governor
Thomas Welles in 1646.

Two possibilities have been suggested as to the origins of John Deming’s ancestors. The
earliest explanation suggests the Deming family were originally French Huguenots and
spelled their name DeMing. After the massacre of St. Bartholomew 24 Aug 1572, the family
scattered and eventually found their way to England where they began spelling their name
Deming. [One Bassett Family in America, by Buell Burdett Bassette of New Britain,
Connecticut, 1926]

A later explanation refers to early church court records in Essex County, England about 1615.
 This is the year his older sister Elizabeth, born about 1595, married Nathaniel Foote, born
about 1593. Records from the Nathaniel Foote family suggest he lived in Shalford, Essex
County, England and would place the Demings in the same area at the close of the 16th

It is not known the exact year John Deming and his brother Thomas sailed from England with
his sister Elizabeth, her husband Nathaniel Foote and their 5 children, but it has been
generally believed that John was a teenager. Their ship landed in the Colony of
Massachusetts Bay and the Demings and Footes first settled in Watertown, Massachusetts,
near Boston.

As more immigrants swarmed into the villages around Boston the quarters became cramped
and land difficult to obtain. In 1635, John, Thomas, and the Foote family set out to find a
more permanent home. A party led by John Oldham was seeking a new location where they
could own their own land and worship God more according to their own beliefs. The Demings
and Footes had similar desires and joined with the Oldham party and began the adventure of
moving their families across the uninhabited frontiers southwest a hundred miles to the
Connecticut River. They probably followed trails made by local Indians that were too narrow
for teams or herds. They would have faced unbridged streams, steep hills, the dangers from
wild beasts, or from savage men. Food would never be plentiful.

Sometime during 1635 they would discover the Great Meadow along side the majestic
Connecticut River at a place called Pyquag. Here the tired and suffering band of settlers
could envision a beautiful village. They discontinued their journey and began to establish
primitive homes near the river. The first winter would bring many hardships as the rivers and
streams became locked with ice, and the fires in their temporary lodgements could no longer
keep out the biting cold. Famine would stare them in the face and they would have to seek
assistance from the settlements along the Coast.

Probably because they still had a special spot in their hearts for their homeland in Essex
County, England, they took the name of one of the villages near Shalford, and called their
new settlement, Wethersfield. One might even suspect that one or more of the families
actually lived at one time in Wethersfield, Essex County, England. Could that have been the
These first settlers, as they referred to themselves, were looking for a place they could call
their own and a place where they could practice the tenants of their religion as they saw fit. At
the same time, other families were making claim on the land that would in time become the
nearby villages of Hartford and Windsor, Connecticut.

These humble but very adventurous and hardworking families believed that God had given
them a special commission to establish a New England with towns that would be nothing like
the English provincial towns they had left behind. They wanted their society to be much more
close-knit where families would willingly help and serve each other. They wanted only settlers
who shared their same ideals and the same theology. They believed words should not be
wasted on boasting and degrading those around them. Their society was to be shrewd and
resourceful, but maintain always a new moral standard that reflected their deepest
convictions. Public displays of emotions were discouraged as being distasteful.

These early settlers of Wethersfield would join with the settlers of Hartford and Windsor in
laying the foundations of a Commonwealth in which it was their desire to “maintain and
preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus” and “to be governed and
guided by such laws, rules, orders and decrees as shall be made, ordained and declared” by
the General Court, to be appointed by the freemen of the Commonwealth. [Foote History and
Genealogy, by Abram W. Foote, 1907] To found a new State where the equal rights of all
men would be guaranteed and guarded, in a primitive wilderness where the citizens were still
doing battle with frost, famine, and death, is but one indication of the power of their leadership
and the determination of their every citizen.

In 1637, when John Deming was about 22 years of age, the family of Richard Treat arrived in
Wethersfield from Pitminster, Somerset County, England. Richard and his wife Alice Gaylord.
Treat had nine children and had to have been noticed by the local residents. John Deming
noticed, in particular, the eldest daughter Honor Treat. In just a few weeks they were married
and she moved into the small frontier home of John Deming.

Children were born to John and Honor; John, 9 Sep 1638 and Jonathan about 1639. The
Demings were setting down roots in the community and would have become even more
interested and involved in the religious and secular education of their children.

Just across the Connecticut River from Wethersfield was a stretch of land known to the early
settlers as the “Naubuc Farms”. John Deming is recorded to have obtained a lot on the farm
in 1640 but it is not likely that he or his family ever lived there. In time, as homes were built,
the small village was incorporated into the town of Glastonbury, Connecticut.

Within six years, 1641, the Demings recorded in the public records of Wethersfield the owning
of a house, a barn, and five acres of land, bounded by High Street, west, and the Great
Meadow, east, Thomas Standishe’s homestead, north and Richard Crabbe’s homestead
south. The next public record was March 1642 when John was listed as a member of the jury
of the “particular court”. He is reported fulfilling various court related duties until 1667. John
Deming's name appears on the famous charter of Connecticut, in which King Charles grants
to the inhabitants of the Connecticut colony their lands “in free and common socage” and
established the colonial government with unusual privileges.

A daughter, Frances Deming was born about 1643 and a second daughter, Rachel about

1644. Samuel was born about 1646 and Mary about 1648. Mercy joined the family about
1651 and David followed about 1652.

Mr. Nathaniel Foote died in 1644 at about age 51 years, and was buried in the ancient burying
ground in the rear of the Meeting House. He left behind his widow, Elizabeth and two sons
and five daughters. Elizabeth would marry Mr. Thomas Welles, Magistrate, in 1646 and
served with him during his Governorship of the Colony. John Deming would remain one of
the Governor’s closest associates in Wethersfield and he would utilize John's leadership and
dedication on many occasions.

In 1668, John sold his property in Glastonbury to Samuel Wyllis, having acquired land in
Eastbury and at various locations in Wethersfield, which would be passed on to his sons
before he died.

John Deming’s death was never recorded but he did sign a codicil to his Will 3 Feb 1692,
which was the last recorded act of his life. When the public lands were allotted to the citizens
of Wethersfield in 1695, John Deming was not recorded as receiving a portion. It was once
assumed that he had died by this time. Court documents from Hartford list John Deming, Sr.
as being among 114 participants in the Five Mile distribution of land in which he received 339
acres 169 1/2 rods and his son John, Jr. received 183 acres 91 1/2 rods. [1701, Apl. 28, vol.
IVF, p 116 T V] John Deming lived until around 21 Nov 1705 when his Will was finally
"proved" and the Honorable John Deming, Sr. was listed as “dec,d.” [1705, Nov. 21. Vol VII,
p 72 P Ct, Hartford, Conn] The Elder Settler and Statesman had lived a very long and
productive life and died in about his 90th year. The greatest Americans that ever lived were
known only to their family and community. And their deeds and suffering long forgotten. So it
is with John Deming.

Nothing has been found that tells future generations about the character and attributes of
John Deming. The only document available to use in discovering the qualities and concerns
of John is his Will and other court documents to which he was a party. They suggest a strong
faith in Jesus Christ and his final desire for his children that they might follow in his religious
footsteps. He and Honor must have frequently read to the children from the old Geneva Bible
retelling the faith-promoting stories of both Testaments. His love for his children is evident as
he gives to them his most beloved possessions and property.

John Deming was looked upon among the founders of New England as a man of more than
ordinary intelligence and education. Historians mention John Deming as one of the fathers of
Connecticut and at one time served as the Constable of Wethersfield, with the full confidence
of the Governor. Public records indicate Mr. John Deming was a representative at fifty
sessions of the General Court. In this service John had opportunity to represent the colony
and set an example of good citizenship and loyal patriotism, which would be found among his
descendants for many generations.

All those who are descendants of John Deming should be proud of their colonial heritage and
the American spirit of sacrifice and service that had it’s origin in father John Deming who was
always proud to be an American and a believer and founder of freedom.”


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