Category: Hartford CT

Timothy Stanley and Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground

Grave of Timothy Stanley in the Ancient Burying Ground of Hartford

The Ancient Burying Ground of Hartford, Connecticut,1 one of America’s oldest cemeteries, is tucked  beside a historic downtown church2 and surrounded by insurance company office towers and state government buildings. This is the final resting place of many of the city’s founding settlers, and a tall monument lists their names.3 Several, including Bull, Bunce and Mygatt, are on my family tree, but it is the name Stanley that interests me most. Hartford settlers Timothy Stanley (c. 1603-1648) and his wife Elizabeth (c. 1602-1678) were my direct immigrant ancestors.

Three brothers, John, Thomas, and Timothy Stanley, with their wives and children, set sail for America from England in 1634. They were part of a wave of strongly religious Puritan settlers who came to New England because they disagreed with the Church of England. Their father, Robert Standly (c 1570-1605), was a whitesmith (meaning he made things out of metal) in Tenterden, Kent, in the southeast of England.4 Their mother’s name was probably Ruth.

It could not have been an easy voyage for this extended family because John, the eldest of the brothers, died at sea, leaving his three young children to be raised by Thomas and Timothy. The Stanley family spent about two years in Cambridge, Massachusetts where Timothy was granted six acres of land and was named a freeman and admitted as a member of the Congregational church.5

Some Cambridge residents complained that there wasn’t enough land for all the new settlers. Then, after Pastor Thomas Hooker had a dispute with Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop, Hooker and about 100 parishioners followed the old Indian trails south to the spot on the Connecticut River (also known as the Great River) that became Hartford.6

Monument listing founders of Hartford

Timothy Stanley quickly established himself as a successful farmer in Hartford, and when a land inventory was taken in 1639, he held nine parcels of land of varying sizes. His house lot, including outhouses and gardens, was about two acres, on the west side of Front Street and with a view of the river. Later, he also bought property in Farmington, about 10 miles away.

The Stanley house was described in 1670 as follows: “It is a small, two-storey building, having on the first floor only the hall and “kitchinn”, the latter serving alike for a cook-room, living-room and parlor. Meager enough is the furniture: a deal table with a “form” or bench for sitting upon at meals, and standing in winter before the great open fireplace….. Such a luxury as a carpet is unknown.” 7

Timothy and his wife Elizabeth (whose maiden name is unknown) had seven children. The two eldest, Joseph and Timothy, were born in England; both died very young. Elizabeth, Abigail, Caleb (my direct ancestor), Lois and Isaac were all born in Hartford.8 Timothy also raised his niece Ruth.

Timothy was active in the community. He served on several juries, he served as a Hartford selectman (town official) and was on a committee to distribute land.

As Puritans, their religious beliefs were central to their lives. Puritans believed that man was inherently sinful. Even though they were unworthy, God chose to save some people and to send others to hell, and there was nothing anyone could do to change this. They believed everything happened for a reason. Meanwhile, the Puritans believed in hard work, and in the importance of education.9

Grave of Elizabeth Bacon

Timothy died in April, 1648, at age 45. The inventory of his estate, taken on Oct 16, 1648, totalled £332, of which £167 represented the value of his real estate. The inventory counted household goods such as a bedstead and pillows, a hall chest, kettles and dishes, several books, a warming pan and two muskets. The farm animals included six oxen, several cows, a horse, sheep, pigs and bees.10 The court ordered that all his children be awarded something from his estate, while the house and lands in Hartford went to son Caleb.

In 1661, the widowed Elizabeth married Andrew Bacon and she inherited Andrew’s land in Hadley, MA when he died eight years later. By 1671, when she made out her will, she had returned to Hartford to stay with son Caleb’s family. Elizabeth Bacon died in 1678, around age 76.

While many of Hartford’s early settlers moved to other Connecticut towns, my direct ancestors stayed in Hartford for several generations. Eventually, great-grandson Timothy Stanley moved to Harwinton, CT and then to Wethersfield, and his son, Timothy Jr., settled in Litchfield, CT. Perhaps there are more family graves waiting to be found in Connecticut.

all photos by Janice Hamilton

This article also appears on the collaborative blog

See also:

“The Elusive Pamela Stanley,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Sept. 28, 2018,

“Timothy Stanley Jr., Revolutionary Martyr,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Nov. 15, 2013,

“My Line in the Stanley Family,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Oct. 30, 2018,


  1. Ancient Burying Ground
  2. First Church of Christ in Hartford, established 1632
  3. Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford,
  4. Leslie Mahler, “Re-Examining the English Origin of the Stanley Brothers of Hartford, Connecticut: A Case of Invented Records,” The American Genealogist, vol. 80, July, 2005, p. 218., accessed July 24, 2013.
  5. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, series 2, vol. VI, Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009. 463.
  6. David M. Roth, Connecticut: A History. American Association for State and Local History, New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1979, 39.
  7. Israel P. Warren, compiler. The Stanley Families of America as descended from John, Timothy and Thomas Stanley of Hartford, CT, 1636. Portland, Maine: printed by B. Thurston & Co., 1887, 228.
  8. Anderson, 465. 
  9. Francis J. Bremer, Puritanism: A Very Short Introduction, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, 43.
  10. Warren, 226.

My Line in the Stanley Family

Grave of Caleb Stanley, Hartford

Many family names disappeared quickly in my family tree, but two stand out through several generations: Bagg and Stanley. Both of these families lived in colonial New England from the mid-1600s to the 1790s. The name Stanley disappeared from my line in 1780 when Pamela Stanley married Phineas Bagg. After her death, Phineas Bagg moved to Canada. Born four generations later in Montreal, my grandmother’s maiden name was Bagg.

I have already covered the colonial generations of the Bagg family in some detail on this blog, and I do not intend to do the same with the Stanley family. They are well known and have been thoroughly researched, starting with a book compiled by Israel P. Warren in the 1880s, The Stanley Families of America as descended from John, Timothy and Thomas Stanley of Hartford, CT, 1636. The best known descendants of my ancestor Timothy Stanley (through his daughter Elizabeth) are undoubtedly George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, both former presidents of the United States.1

I have posted an article outlining what little I know about Pamela Stanley.2 In my next post I will pull together more details about the immigrant Timothy Stanley and his wife Elizabeth. Meanwhile, this article outlines the four generations in between Timothy and Pamela in my line of the Stanley family.

Timothy Stanley (1603-1648) and his wife Elizabeth (c 1602-1678) came from Tenterden, Kent, England, and, in 1636, they settled in Hartford, CT.3 They were part of a wave of Puritans fleeing England because they wanted to reform the Church of England. In New England, the Puritans hoped to establish “a city upon a hill” where they could put their beliefs into practice.

Five of Timothy and Elizabeth’s seven children were born in New England and grew to adulthood. Their fifth child was my direct ancestor, Caleb Stanley (1642-1718).4   In 1688, Capt. Caleb Stanley was appointed the important task of keeping Hartford’s ammunition safe. He was married three times: 1) Hannah Cowles, daughter of John Cowles; she died in 1690, age 44; 2) Mrs. Sarah (Foster) Long, who died 1698, age 44; 3) Mrs. Lydia (Cole) Wilson, died 1732.

Hannah Stanley, wife of Caleb, Ancient Burying Ground, Hartford, CT

Caleb Stanley and Hannah Cowles had a number of children, but most died as infants. My line of the family goes through Caleb’s and Hannah’s fifth child, Caleb Jr.. Caleb had two more children with his second wife.

Caleb Stanley Jr. (1674-1712), of Hartford, was said to be one of the most distinguished men in the colony. He was secretary of the colony from 1709 until his death three years later, and he was appointed surveyor for Hartford County in 1700. He was also a wealthy man: when Caleb died, the inventory of his estate totalled £774.

He was married to Hannah Spencer in 1696. They had no children and she died six years later. In 1704, he married Abigail Bunce, daughter of Thomas and Susanna (Bull) Bunce, and they had four children. Their oldest son, Timothy, was my direct ancestor.

Timothy Stanley (1705-1787) inherited his father’s homestead in Hartford and sold it in 1742 when he moved to Harwinton, CT. By 1781, he was living in Wethersfield, CT. He married Mary Mygatt in 1729 and they had eight children, seven of whom grew to adulthood. Mary Mygatt died in 1786 at age 78, and Timothy died the following year, age 83.

Both Timothy and Mary were said to “own the covenant,” meaning they were bound to God and one another through a covenant. The covenant, a contract that rested on consent and mutual responsibilities, was an important aspect of the Congregational Church at this time.

Their eldest son, Timothy Stanley Jr, born in 1730, lived near Litchfield, CT and appears to have been a clothier. He married Mary Hopkins of Harwinton in 1754 and they had eight children. Mary Hopkins probably died around 1770. During the American Revolution, Timothy Stanley Jr. enlisted with Capt. Beebe’s regiment in 1776, and he died on a British prison ship in New York Harbour.

Their fourth child was my four-times great-grandmother Pamela Stanley, born in Litchfield, CT in 1760. She married Phineas Bagg in Pittsfield, MA in 1780 and probably died in Pittsfield around 1793.

All photos by Janice Hamilton, May, 2018.


  1. Gary Boyd Roberts, compiler, Ancestors of American Presidents, 2009 Edition, Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009.
  2. Janice Hamilton, “The Elusive Pamela Stanley,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Sept. 28, 2018,
  3. Leslie Mahler, “Re-Examining the English Origin of the Stanley Brothers of Hartford, Connecticut: A Case of Invented Records,” The American Genealogist, vol. 80, July, 2005, p. 218., accessed July 24, 2013.
  4. Israel P. Warren, compiler. The Stanley Families of America as descended from John, Timothy and Thomas Stanley of Hartford, CT, 1636. Portland, Maine: printed by B. Thurston & Co., 1887. This book serves as the main source of this article.