Joseph Hawley (Captain)

Joseph Hawley (Captain)

Joseph Hawley, The Captain (1603-1690), born in Parwich, Derbyshire, England, was the first of the Hawley name to come to America in 1629. He settled at Stratford, Connecticut in 1650, becoming the town's first town clerk or record keeper, and a shipbuilder.


Hawley arrived in Boston, Massachusetts on the ship Planter in 1629 or 1630 along with Thomas and Robert, who spelled their last name Haule. Thomas and Robert may have been brothers and Joseph's sons from a first marriage. Hawley married his second wife, Katherine Birdseye, in 1646 and moved to Stratford, CT with his young children Samuel and Joseph. The Hawleys raised eight children in Stratford; Samuel, Joseph Jr., Elizabeth, Ebenezer, Hannah, Ephraim, John and Mary.

Public service

Hawley was one of the original fifteen proprietor's of Stratford's being listed second after Captain William Curtiss in the town patent of 1683. He became the town's first clerk in 1650, and served in that capacity until 1666. He used a peculiar handwriting style that was very similar to official public state documents found in London, England at the time. He was well educated and may have worked for the government in England prior to coming to America. He was first elected as Deputy on May 20, 1658, by the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut at Hartford under then Governor Thomas Welles. He also served as treasurer, justice of the peace and was elected ordinary, or tavern keeper, on December 29, 1675. He represented Stratford as a deputy, or representative, in the legislature at the Connecticut Colony every year from 1658 to 1687. His name appears in the deed that purchased a vast amount of land from the Golden Hill Paugussett Indian Nation on April 22, 1662 which comprised most of the nearby towns of Trumbull, Monroe and Shelton. Hawley's purchase of land from the Indians that comprises the present-day town of Derby, CT, caused much controversy at the time. Hawley was later court ordered to transfer the land to the town of Derby.

The Captain

According to the records of Stratford, Hawley became one of the first shipbuilders in Derby and Stratford. The records indicate that Hawley sold a one-eighth interest in his ship, the John and Esther, to John Rogers of New London, CT on October 27, 1678 for 58 pounds, one shilling and two pence. In 1680, he sold another one-eight interest in the ship to John Prentice. The ship was used in nearby Fairfield, CT harbor at the time. The sale of the John and Esther in 1678, may be one of the earliest documented sales of a commercial ship built in Connecticut. Hawley became a large landowner or yeoman. It is believed by some that Hawley owned nearly of land in his lifetime. He was posthumously called The Captain by the Stratford selectmen in 1696 when describing the farm highway, one of the oldest documented highway's in the U.S., Connecticut Route 108, which was completed past his farm called simply, Captain's Farm, located north of present-day Hawley Lane in Trumbull, CT. Joseph Hawley died on May 20, 1690 and is buried in Stratford.

Religious rift

Joseph Hawley and Lt. Joseph Judson had a lengthy argument over the introduction of the half way covenant that eventually had to be settled by Governor John Winthrop, the Younger and the Connecticut Colony court in Hartford. They argued over the selection of a new minister and the direction of the church in Stratford which led to a major rift in the town. After the court's decision, many families left Stratford and followed Lt. Joseph Judson to Woodbury, Connecticut to create their own settlement and church.



  • William Cothren, History of Ancient Woodbury Connecticut, Bronson Brothers, Waterbury, 1854
  • Frederick Haines Curtiss, A Genealogy of the Curtiss Family, Rockwell and Churchill Press, Boston, 1903
  • William Cutter, Genealogical and Family History of Western New York, Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1912
  • William Richard Cutter, New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial, Lewis Historical Publishing, NY, 1914
  • Merrill Gates, Men of Mark in America, Men of Mark Publishing Co., Washington D.C., 1906
  • Reverend Samuel Orcutt, A History of Stratford and the City of Bridgeport Connecticut, Fairfield Historical Society, 1886
  • Reverend Samuel Orcutt, History of the Old Town of Derby, Connecticut 1642-1880, Springfield Printing Co., 1880
  • Nancy O. Phillips, Town Records of Derby, Connecticut 1655-1710, Sarah Riggs Humphreys Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, Derby, 1901

See also

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