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Capt. Robert and Ann (Bliss) Chapman

The Chapman name is one of Saxon origin and means a Chapman, marketman, a monger or merchant.

Robert Chapman, the son of Puritan parents, was born about 1616 in the Village of Kingston-upon-Hull, Hull Parish, Yorkshire East Riding, England. (Another reference agrees he was born in England, but was not the Robert Chapman born in Hull.) He immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts in August 1635 and by November 1635 had moved t the Saybrook, Connecticut, where he died October 13, 1687. Robert Chapman is considered one of the founders of Saybrook. His land was about two miles west of the town of Saybrook.

Robert Chapman was among the company of Lion Gardiner who contracted with Governor John Winthrop to fortify the site of Saybrook, lay out a town, build a fort and serve as its commander. The ship "Bachelor," arrived at Saybrook in the spring of 1636 carrying 12 men and two women, and supplies for the construction of the fort. Robert Chapman came to Boston in August 1635, and then with Lion Gardiner to Saybrook in November 1635, where it is said he learned surveying under Gardiner. He served as Saybrook's town clerk, clerk of the Oyster River Quarter, and was a commissioner for many years where he was elected deputy to the General Court forty-three times. And assistant nine times. He was also captain of the train band and, together with Captain Bull of Hartford, defended Saybrook in 1675 from the attempt of New York Governor Andros to enforce the claims of the Duke of York in seizing Saybrook. He was a deputy to the General Court 43 times and an assistant nine times over a period of 30 years. This all means he was a member of the legislature of the state at more sessions than any other man from the settlement of Saybrook to the present time.

1648, January 4: " . . . a public Town meeting for that End a Unanimous agreement as to the free Choosing, Satisfying Every one "Then Inhabitant where they would be was Declared and for the Quarter of Oyster River it was Chosen by Mr. James Fitch, Stephen Post, Robert Chapman, Thomas Tracy, William Lord and several others as appears upon Record, who then and soon after did fall in as to make up the Estate of two thousand Eight Hundred Pounds and So took Possession of the said Land being conferred on them as their part of Inheritance in the out Land then in dispose or Quarter Lands in Say-Brook with Power among themselves to Measure, Lay Out and Dispose each to other as they See meet for Corn, Pasture, Stone, timber and the Like into parts and parcels according to Each man's Right and their Occasions Require, which power has remained to this tune without trouble or Disturbance to the Said proprietors or any way to weaken their Right or abate their Power. Now whereas Several have Removed from Say-Brook and Sold of their Rights in Oyster River Quarter, it is hereby Declared that the above Quarter of Land Does now belong to and is under the Disposal of the proprietors of the same according to the Rule of Dividing already Settled and practiced among themselves viz: Mr. George Fenwick, Mr. Richard Lord, ROBERT CHAPMAN, Alexander Chalker, Francis Bushnell, William Bushnell, Robert Bull, John Post, Abraham Post, Thomas Dunk and Richard Tousland, with several others of young beginners who are settled upon those Lands by the present proprietors and do Desire according to the Liberty of Law in said Case provided that the Said Lands Stated and bounded as aforesaid to the present proprietors may be Recorded in the Records of the Town of Saybrook ands else where to them and theirs."

Robert married Ann Bliss on April 29, 1642 in Saybrook, Connecticut. Ann was born in 1620 in Village of Rodborough, Stroud Parish, Gloucestershire, England and died November 20, 1685 in Saybrook, Connecticut.

All their children were born in Saybrook and are as follows:
John (July 1, 1644 – before April 8, 1712 married
           (1) Elizabeth Hawley on June 7, 1670
           (2) Elizabeth Beaumont on 26 March 1677
Robert, Jr. (September 16, 1646 – November 10, 1711 married
           (1) Sarah Griswold on July 27, 1671
           (2) Mary Sheather on October 29, 1694)
Anna (September 12, 1648 - September 1649)
Hannah (October 4, 1650 - ___ and married David Bull on February 27, 1677)
Nathaniel (February 16, 1653 – 1726 married
           (1) Mary Collins on June 29, 1681
           (2) Hannah Bates in 1698
Mary (April 15, 1655 - _____ married Samuel Bates on May 2, 1676)
Sarah (September 25, 1657 - ______ married Joseph Pratt on September 16, 1686)

On July 4, 1665, Robert Chapman, William Post, Francis Bushnell, Robert Lay, William Bushnell & Abram Post, representing the inhabitants of Saybrook, entered into an agreement with the Mohigan Indians, whereby additional lands were acquired by the town, and the former grants confirmed.

October 14, 1675: "Mr. Robert Chapman is by this Court appointed to be Captain of the Train Band of Saybrook, during these present commotions with the Indians." And under the same date, at the time of the Indian uprising known as King Philip's war (an armed conflict between Indian inhabitants of present-day southern New England and English colonists and their Indian allies from 1675-1676.), the General Court issued this order: "And because of the difficulty and danger of moving over the river at Saybrook, this Court orders Saybrook and Killingworth to fall in with New Haven, as part thereof in this undertaking. The proportioning of each plantation and all other things necessary for the well ordering of the several companies is left to the civil authority in each county to order as they shall judge most con* ducible to the end aforesaid; and that they be ready for the relief of each other upon notice, as any exigencies may call for."

October 12, 1676: "this Court do release the garrison soldiers of Saybrook garrison and do nominate and appoint Mr. Chapman and Lieutenant Pratt to appoint some meet person to dwell in the house there and attend the service of the country as they shall order, with the promise of allowance of five pounds per annum."

September 1, 1684: "Robert Chapman, Sr." gave a petition with Capt. James Fitch and Rev. Thomas Buckingham, asking that provision be made for the maintenance of Joshua's son. Joshua was the third son of Uncas, and sachem of the western Niantics. He died May 1676, leaving three children. In his will he directed that they be taught English, and live for four years, with their mother, at or near Saybrook, and afterwards, "be kept at the English schools,: and "come not among any Connecticut Indians." He desired that all his legatees might have respect to his children, but entrusted them to the special care of Capt. Chapman, Lieut. Pratt and Mr. Buckingham. Only one of the children, Abimelech, was living at the date of this petition.

Robert was a very large landholder in the towns of Saybrook and East Haddam. He also owned a large tract in Hebron. He left his to his three sons fifteen hundred acres in that town. He had received the acreage as one of the legatees of Uncas and his sons. A descendant, George H. Chapman describes the lands like this: “The Original Homestead of Robert the settler, judging from the vague boundaries described in the lay-out, but have been a tract of four or five hundred acres. The features of the land are such that within the compass of such bounds, there aere now thirty hoiuses. The limits were, east on Oyster River, north on the Big Hill, west on the Little Hill, and south on the Sound or sea-shore. These are very natural boundaries, and encompass a tract fenced by a creek one hundred feet wide on the east, by the deep waters of Long Island Sound on the south, by a creek and ridge on high land on the west, and by a steep hill from fifty to one hundred feet, abrupt rise, on the north. The spot was well chosen, being a perfectly level tract of good soil, no where elevated much above the sea, and abounding with the purest water by sinking wells ten or twelve fee. His first house was build about in the center of this tract of level land, from which a few minutes’ walk would bring him to the shore, stored with shell-fish of all kinds, and which, to this day, yields thousands of bushels yearly. The creeks at that day must have been replete with plenty of salmon and shad. Many of the old pear and apple trees, of enormous growth, have been in full bearing within the memory of the writer, which were planted by Robert, our common ancestor. His favorite lot was an Indian settlement, disforested and cultivated by the natives, when first visited by him. The soil is now full of shells and arrow-heads, and remains of warriors have been disinterred in several instances. This lot is still in the family, and rented to the public in the seasons for surf-bathing and sea-shore recreations, being fitted up for that purpose. It is, indeed, a most desirable place to visit in warm weather, having in front, a space of about one hundred acres of strand, which at low water is bare, and forms hard and safe riding ground, and at high tide is covered equally over the whole space, with about four feet of water, pure from the ocean, without a spot in the whole tract where the most timid could get beyond a safe footing. From a gallery, erected on the shore, a view of over sixty miles may be had up and down Long Island Sound; that is, large ships may be seen distinctly, thirty miles each way. Such was the resting-place of our Grand Progenitor. ”

Shortly before his death, Robert wrote an address to his children in which he exhorted them to life a devoted life and to abide by the covenant, into which they had entered, with God and his church.

References: New England Marriages Prior to 1700 - Clarence Almon Torrey
Descendants of Robert Chapman - The Reverend F. W. Chapman
The History of Middlesex County 1635-1885
The Founders Of Saybrook Colony And Their Descendants
Saybrook at the mouth of the Connecticut: the first one hundred years - Gilman C. Gates
Genealogical Dictionary First Settlers of New England – James Savage Vol. III
Saybrook Land Records – Vol. 1
Families of Early Hartford Connecticut – Lucius Barbour
Saybrook Vital Records

Robert Chapman Letters

Joshua Uncas Will

The Origin Of Robert1 Chapman Of Saybrook Connecticut