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William Tuttle

The church in Ringstead

In ancient England the word Tuthill meant conical hill. Derivations of this name: Tothill, Toothill and Tuthill itself are all names of various villages in Great Britain. In 1066, the year of William the Conqueror, the name Toteles is the first one on the roll of the Battle Abbey. Before the Christian era in Ireland, there was a tribe O’Toole, also written as O’Tothill. In our family tree we see the name written as Totehyll and Tootill before finally settling into Tuttle.

The first documented mention of the town of Ringstead, in the county of Northamptonshire was in 1124. The name derives from the Anglo Saxon term for circular place "hring". Possibly this was a description of one of the ancient parish fields. The oldest building in the village is St. Mary’s Church, part of which dates from the 12th century. It is built from the local ironstone, a material often associated with limestone, and which was used also to build private houses.

Symon Tootill, the son of Richard or Woodford and probably grandson of Thomas Totehyll of Woodford was born in 1560. In 1588 (the year of the Spanish Armada) he was a soldier under Captain Nicoles. He married Isabel Wells, daughter of John Wells about 1592. They had six children: Richard, Thomas, John, Simon, Dorothy and William who was born on December 24, 1607. In 1604 and 1605 Symon is listed as a freeholder of land at Ringstead. In 1608 he was charged 4 shillings for expenses of musters. He was a yeoman, but one of wealth and property, as proved by his will, which was written in 1627.

Symon died in 1630 and around that same time his youngest son William married a woman named Elizabeth (last name uncertain). In the next five years they had 3 children, John in 1631, Hannah in January 1633 and Thomas in early 1635. Then in 1635, with trouble in England, and a New World awaiting them across the Atlantic, the Tuttle family packed up and left all that was familiar behind. Three brothers, John, William and Richard, with their families (a total of 13 minor children) and their widowed mother Isabel, sailed on the ship the Planter. The ship, with Nicolas Trerice as its master, sailed from London on April 2, 1635 (baby Thomas was but 3 months old). They arrived in Boston on Sunday, June 7, 1635.

John, who was a mercer, and his family: his wife, 3 step children, mother in law and four of his own children, settled in Ipswich. He was made a freeman in 1639 and in 1644 was a representative. He went to Ireland when some disheartened colonists were negotiating for the purchase of the city of Galloway for a future home. He was there in 1654, and probably fell sick there, for his wife went to Carrickfergus, Ireland, and wrote April 6, 1657, that he died there, December 30, 1656.

Richard settled in Boston, where he died on May 8, 1640, not quite six years after arriving.

William and his family settled in Charlestown – his name appears on a list of inhabitants from 1635 and he was chosen to be the town surveyor and granted the right to build a windmill on what is now Town Hill, but was for a time known as Windmill Hill.

Many townspeople of Charlestown belonged to the First Church of Boston. Elizabeth Tuttle was no exception. Two of her children were baptized there,

Jonathan, born in July 1637 and David, born in April 1639.

David was baptized in Boston in April 1639. On September 8 of that year, Elizabeth was dismissed to the church at Ipswich, the family doubtless lived there for a time. William was part owner of the ketch "Zebulon" of Ipswich, and was associated in business with John Tuttle, of Ipswich.

However, the family did not stay in Ipswich for long, of course, neither did John. They followed the Reverend Davenport to a new settlement west of the Connecticut River called Quinipiack. William was one of the 111 signers of the colony’s Fundamental Agreement and he was one of 28 who took the Oath of Fidelity to New Haven Colony.

In 1640 the town took on the name New Haven and William and Elizabeth had their sixth child, a son named Joseph. They were among the first settlers at Stoney River, about the year 1645.

In all, William and Elizabeth had 12 children, all of whom grew to adulthood. Sarah was born in 1642, Elizabeth in 1645, Simon in 1647, Benjamin in 1648, Mercy in 1650 and finally Nathaniel in 1653.

William had a large estate, rated at 450 pounds, well above the average size, and he was entitled to use the rare honorific, "Mr.". He never ran for public office but he was often on committees and boards of arbitration and his name appears often in records of small affairs of the town. He was fence viewer in 1644, road commissioner in 1646, commissioner to settle the dispute as to boundary between New Haven and Branford in 1669 and to fix the bounds of New Haven, Milford, Branford and Wallingford in 1672. He was often a juror and arbitrator. He was constable in 1666 and 1667.

In 1646 he was fined for falling asleep on the watch.

Seats at the Meeting House were assigned. The closer to the pulpit, the higher the honor. William Tuttle’s seat was the first seat near the pulpit.

In 1656 William Tuttle bought, from Joshua Atwater, a mansion house, home lot, barn and other lands in the Yorkshire Quarter. This was the family homestead, until both William and Elizabeth died. He died early in June 1673. Elizabeth died December 30, 1684. When Yale College was founded, it was done so on this property. For nearly 30 years, this was the only land that Yale College owned.

Despite the honor and prestige bestowed upon William, all was not well in the Tuttle home. At least one of their children, David, was declared mentally incompetent. Others appear to have had mental problems as well.

When Sarah Tuttle was eighteen, she was prosecuted in court at New Haven for a "sinful dalliance", where she had allowed a young man to kiss her, and she kissed him. For the behavior she was labeled a "bold virgin". She later married and had four children. That was not the end of her problems though. When Sarah thirty four, her twenty-nine year old brother, Benjamin, upon having an argument with his sister in her kitchen, in front of her children, grabbed an axe and killed his sister. Benjamin was hanged.

Nor was Benjamin the only one in the family to wield an axe. Their sister, Mercy, who seemed to suffer from various mental problems, took an axe to her seventeen year old son in 1691. He died six days later.

Another sister, Elizabeth, had marital problems, stemming from her pre-marital dalliances, which caused her first child to not be the child of her husband. Her husband divorced her when he learned of this. Elizabeth however, is the ancestor of several notable Americans, including the famous preacher Jonathan Edwards and Aaron Burr, vice president, and duel-winner.

Our ancestor, Hannah, appears to have lived a quiet and non-mentally ill life.

Okay - except maybe not. I don't doubt that Hannah had a quiet and non-mentally ill life - only it appears that my information may have been faulty, and she may not be an ancestor at all. See here for more details.

Map of New Haven

A typical New England home in 1638

William Tuttle m. Elizabeth (Mathews?)

      Hannah Tuttle m. 1. John Pantry

                                        2. Thomas Wells

For more information on the Tuttles see the following, Sinister Sisters, Those Terrible Tuttles and What is it With Those Tuttles?