This is the information I have collected on Nicholas-1 Disborough of Connecticut, the immigrant ancestor. Each factual statement is footnoted with the source from which I acquired the material, but GenForum does not support footnotes so if you have a question about sources please e-mail me and I'll be happy to provide them to you. Of course, I also welcome corrections or additions to any of the information which I do have.
The origins of Nicholas Disborough (also spelled Disbrowe, Bisbrow, Desborough, etc.) are somewhat obscure. Because he had only
daughters, with no sons to carry on the family name, chroniclers and genealogists have show little interest in him. What is known
is that he was born in England, perhaps in Saffron Walden, Essex, between 1613 and 1620, and settled in Hartford,
He fought in the Pequot War of 1637, and was later granted fifty acres of land for that service. His homelot in Hartford was on
the east side of the road to the cow pasture, which later became North Main Street. He was an early member of the First
Congregational Church of Hartford.
He married MARY-1 BRONSON on 2 April 1640, probably in Hartford. Mary was baptized on 6 March 1622/3, in
Lamarsh, Essex, England, shortly before her mother's death. She was the daughter of Roger Brownson of Earl's Colne and his
wife, Mary Underwood, and the sister of John Bronson.
Mary was raised by her stepmother Margaret, and was an extremely rebellious and "high-spirited" girl -- to the point of being a
juvenile delinquent. She accompanied her older brothers John and Richard to the New World when still a very young girl. Once
there, she apparently lacked adequate adult supervision. In the Spring of 1640, four boys (John Olmstead, Jonathan Rudd, John
Pierce, and Nicholas Olmsted) got into trouble with the authorities for "wanton dalliances, lacivious caridge, and fowle
mysdemeanors at sundry times with Mary Brunson." Mary and the first three boys were "corrected;" Nicholas Olmsted was
fined and pilloried.
Nicholas and Mary had five daughters:
iMaryb.c. 1641m. Obediah Spencer
iiSarahb.c. 1642m. Samuel Eggleston
iiiHannahb. 20 December 1644m. John Kelsey
vPhebebpt. December 1646prob. d. young
ivAbigailb. 1 February 1648/9m. (1) Robert Flood
m. (2) Matthew Barnes/Barnard
His name does not appear often in the colonial records. He was appointed Surveyor of Chimneys in 1646/7, and again in
1654/5, 1661/2, and 1668/9; and was appointed Surveyor of Highways in 1665. Nicholas was a carpenter and cabinet maker
by profession. On 28 March 1660, he received permission to build a carpenter's shop on the highway next to his own fence.
His name appears on the Hartford list of freemen dated 13 October 1669.
Mary died by 1670, probably in Hartford. In late 1670, Nicholas married Elizabeth (Shepard) Spencer, the daughter of
Edward and Violet (------) Shepard of Cambridge, the mother of five children and the widow of Thwaite Strickland who died
in Hartford shortly before 21 June 1670. Administration of Thwaite's estate was granted to Nicholas on 1 September 1670.
Nicholas was freed from training in the militia on 6 March 1672/3, probably because he had reached his sixtieth birthday.
One of the last episodes in Nicholas' life was perhaps the most disturbing for him. In 1683, Cotton Mather (1663-1728), one of
the most renowned Puritan clergymen of his time, tells how Nicholas was beset by witchcraft:
"In the year 1683, the house of Nicholas Desborough, at Hartford, was very strangely molested by stones, by pieces
of earth, by cobs of Indian corn, and other such things, from an invisible hand, thrown at him, sometimes thro' the door,
sometimes thro' the window, sometimes down the chimney, and sometimes from the floor of the room (tho' very close) over his
head; and sometimes he met with the in the shop, the yard, the barn, and in the field.
There was no violence in the motion of the things thus thrown by the invisible hand; and tho' others besides the man
happen'd sometimes to be hit, they were never hurt with them; only the man himself once had pain given to his arm, and once
blood fetch'd from his leg, by these annoyances; and a fire, in an unknown way kindled, consum'd no little part of his estate.
This trouble began upon a controversie between Desborough and another person about a chest of cloaths, which the
man apprehended to be unrighteously detain'd by Desborough; and it endur'd for divers months; but upon restoring of the
cloaths thus detain'd, the trouble ceased.
At Brightling in Sussex, in England, there happened a tragedy not unlike to this, in the year 1659. 'Tis recorded by
Clark in the second volume of his "Examples.""
Nicholas died in August of that same year. An inventory of his estate dated August 31, lists among his effects the following:
"his Wearing Clothes & Lining & money, Bedsted & cord a Bed & 3 Boulsters . . . a rugg . . . a Trundle bedsted & 2
Hatchets . . . Tin wear earthen ware 8 glass bottells . . . 12 Spoones & wooden ware Two churns Tubs & payles, 2 Iron potts
& pot Hookes a chaffin dish . . . tosting Iron & Tongs, Hooke & Tramill a frying pann an hower glass & Chamber pott . . . Gun
& old Pistole & a Sword & ammunition 2 payre of gloves . . . Bibles & other bookes Two tables . . . 2 Table cloathes & 4
pillowbeers 5 napkins 2 Toweles, 3 payre of Sheets, five pound of Ginger . . . & 5 Cushions, In meale English & Indian old
Hogsheads & Barrills . . . Three howes & an adze . . . Two Smoothing Irons . . . Indian corn upon the ground Hay in the Barn,
a mans Sadle & bridle . . . The dwelling house & Barn & out houses Home lott & orchard £65.00.00, Three acres of pasture
& Land adjoyning £20.00.00, [?] upland over the great river 4 acres & a halfe £40.00.00, A cannew halfe a bushel of oat
meale . . . a grindstone . . . a bason a pint pott & a chamber pott, one bed an old [?] a Blanckett & a payre of sheets a boulster
& 2 pillows, An old Spade & a payer of [?], his part in the Mill £2.00.11, his Lott at [?], Debts owing to the Estate Mr [?]
The total value of the estate was £210.07.11, with debts against the estate owed to several individuals totaling £81.15.00. As
he died intestate, the administration of his estate was granted to his step-son Joseph Strickland (since he had no sons of his
own) on 18 December 1683. His second wife Elizabeth, by whom he had no children, died in Hartford and was buried on 30