Penfield Family Genealogy
July 2015 Edition
Editor’s Notes about Samuel Penfield
The parents of Samuel Penfield are not known. He may have been the first Penfield born in North America.

The following note is taken from Pages 1-2 of the book “The Genealogy of the Descendants of Samuel Penfield,” compiled and edited by Florence Bentz Penfield, M. S., ca 1964.
The early history of Samuel Penfield is found in the oldest colonial settlements of New England. No attempt has been made to go back into the history of his forebears in England. But this much has been found. The early records of Sussex, Essex, and Suffolk Counties in England show more "Penfold", "Penfeald", and "Penfield" names than any other section of England. In "The Family Names of Suffolk" by Bowditch, p.227, pub. London 1861, the spelling of the Penfold and Penfield names is discussed. One of the Penfields cited was "a Mr. Penfield of Portland, Conn." This, of course, is our line, and it appears very certain our Samuel Penfield's father came from an English Suffolk family. And legend has it that our Samuel's father had been a sympathizer of Cromwell, and when Cromwell was defeated, all his adherents had to flee the country, including Penfield.

In the many and varied family records which were studied for this work, there was a curiously persistent Legend of three brothers coming to this country. They were William, Thomas, and Samuel. This would have been dismissed as hearsay, had not records been uncovered in North Carolina of a large group of Penfields, in whose records the name of Thomas occurs repeatedly from colonial times. There is a Pension Record for the widow of Thomas Penfield who fought in the Revolution. This brings up the possibility of a brother, Thomas, who decided to settle farther south along the coast than in New England. Hinmans "Catalog of the First Puritan Settlers in the Colonie of Connecticut" refers to a William Penfeald or Penfield, appearing about 1663, in Middletown, Conn. He is also listed in "The Genealogy of Massachusetts", R-929, Vol. 4 p. 2187-8. Thorough research by genealogists in New England has failed to show any further records for him. He may have died early, certainly no descendants were found. The name William Benfield should not be confused with our family, for research found him to be a boat Captain on the Connecticut River, shuttling between Milford and Stamford with many court problems in 1662-1665.

Our Samuel Penfield was born in Lynne, Mass. about 1651. There is a record of Samuel appearing in court to testify in behalf of a neighbor, and he swore he was about 26 years old. It is in "Salem Quarterly Court Records and Files of Essex County, Mass." Jan. 1687 [sic.] (vol. 6 p. 389). On pages 399 and 400 of the same volume, there is a list of members of the colonies who 'swore allegiance to the King' and Samuel's name appears, with the date 2/26/1677. He m. Mary Lewis on 30 Nov. 1675. A deed among the Middlesex County Records, dated Aug. 1695 at Cambridge, Mass. lists her as "Mary Lewis, who married the last of Nov. 1675, Samuel Penfield." Her birth date is Malden 1652 (old style) -- as shown in "County Court Returns of Malden, Mass. Birth Records Up to 1850".

Mary's father was John Lewis and is said to have come from Wales in 1632, being known to his neighbors as "John, the Welshman". In John Farmer's "Genealogical Register of the First Settlers of New England" on p. 149 is listed John Lewis of Charlestown Mass. 1632, and one of the first settlers of Malden. "History of Charlestown, Mass." lists him as an inhabitant there in 1634 and as being admitted to the Church 10 Sept. 1644. The "History of Malden" lists John Lewis, who 'Settled on a 5 acre lot in ye common field' and gave his name to a bridge over a stream, running through his property. Lewis' bridge retained its name for many years, until brook and bridge disappeared in development projects. The first wife of John Lewis was Margaret ...., who died Apr. 1649. He m. (2) 10 Apr. 1650, Mary Browne, the 2nd of 6 children, born---Hawkedon, England, the dau. of Abraham and Lydia Browne. John lewis died in Malden 16 Sept. 1657. His wife later married a Mr. Cutler, as 2nd husband. This record from "Old History of Watertown, Mass."

In Bond's "History of Watertown, Mass." will be found Abraham Browne's Pedigree back to 1330, and as an accurate and reliable compilation. The Pedigree of Agnes Bedingfeld contains names of ancestors of Samuel Penfield and his descendants. It is based on the standard recognized authority: "Die Nackommen Karl des Grossen" by Prof. Brandenburg of Leipsig Germany, Scott & daughter of Sir Edmund Bedingfrld K. B. of Norfolk.

Samuel and his wife Mary resided in Lynne, Mass. until 1679. The records of the first two children's births, 1676 and 1678, come from there. Then they went to Rehoboth Mass. where we find the birth records of the next two children, 1680 and 1683. The next move was to New Bristol, RI ( now Providence) but then part of the large Plymouth Colonie. In the first town meeting of the new settlement 1 Sept. 1681, he was admitted as a citizen. He later took the 'Freeman's Oath" 9 Aug. 1686 and we find him captain of the militia. These records come from Muro's "History of Bristol, R.I." p.114. The 5th child was born here in 1685. The 1st Church of Christ, Cong. was organized 3 May 1687 and the next year the first 6 children were baptized, including the baby. Samuel, the father, was bap. 12 June 1695 in the same church. They had 10 children in all, and the parents stayed here until some of the older ones married, then all the family save Mary and Sarah, came to CT ca 1708/09.

They settled in Guilford, CT where he d: 30 Nov. 1710/11 (town clerks record badly blurred). In 1714, his oldest son Samuel Jr. died and later the same year Rebecca, a young daughter passed away. No stones have been found save that of Samuel Jr. which came from the old Guilford Buryimg Ground, abandoned in 1817. Years later, after stones began to disappear for building purposes, the remaining stones were stored in the basement of the 1st Cong. Church until placed along the north wall of Alderbrook Cemetery in 1925. Samuel Jrs, stone is here, but the bodies were never moved from the old cemetery. Later, when it was leveled, it became part of the Village Green. We believe this is where old Samuel is buried. Alderbrook Cemetery Association gave us all needed information.

Mary Penfield remarried after Samuel's death. Her 2nd husband was William Stone. "William Stone Genealogy" states that Wm Stone came to Guilford with wife and 9 children about 1710. Hannah Wolfe, his first wife died 28 Mar 1712. He married (2) Mary .... We believe this is our Mary Penfield and that the families had been old acquaintances since early days of Lynne. He died 28 Sept 1730 and our Mary died 30 Jan 1741 She was buried in the Old Quarry Burying Ground. In 1870 by legislative act some bodies were moved, among them Mary Penfield-Stone. She was interred in Center Cemetery (Portland Conn) with some of her children. This record is found on p. 75 of "Records of Portland Burying Ground," printed in 1897 and is to be found in the Bank near Portland's Town Hall.

Her epitaph -
Here lies the Body of
Mrs. Mary Penfield
and widow of Wilm. Stone
who dyed Jan. ye 30, 1741 ae about 90 yrs.
Samuel and Mary had only two sons with living issues to carry on the Penfield name. The oldest, Samuel Jr. had descendants who bought land farther down the Connecticut River around Old Fairfield and Bridgeport, Conn. Most early records for this branch of the family will be found in that area. This has been called the Samuel line, for purpose of differentiation. John, the 2nd oldest son had descendants who settled around Middletown, and Portland (old Chatham) not far from the old Guilford homesite. Portland and Middletown furnish most of their records. This is the John line of the family.
In the description above Samuel is said to have been born in Lynn, MA. However, mention is made of a family legend that Samuel’s father may have been a Cromwell sympathizer forced to leave England after Cromwell’s defeat. When this “defeat” occured is a little obscure. During the early 1600s England, Ireland, and Scotland were in political and religious turmoil, but Cromwell seems to have survived and ended up on top. He became “Lord Protector” in 1653, essentially running England while the king was in exile, and died of natural causes at age 59 in 1658. Only two years later did the royalists prevail.

If Samuel Penfield’s father came to North America to escape the vengeful royalists, that would have been no earlier than 1658, when Samuel was a young child. It seems unclear whether Samuel was born in North America or not; later-published court records gave his approximate age but do not mention place of birth.

Paul Penfield, Jr., editor. Created 17 Jan 2014. Modified 8 May 2014.
Other pages for Samuel Penfield: Family page with spouse Mary Lewis
Timeline, Notes (this page)
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