Today, May 31st we are marking the anniversary of your delivery of your most well remembered sermon at Hartford, Connecticut in 1638. Those of us who are students of the origins of the United States of America, consider it to be among those sentiments that led to our Declaration of Independence. Your declaration that "the foundation of authority is laid firstly in the free consent of the people" was passed on by Henry Wolcott, Jr. who was in attendance at church that day and made handwritten notes of your revolutionary statement.
In the 21st century, most have forgotten that in your time, the world was dominated by Kings and Emperors and that normal, everyday people had little, if any say, in their government. Your sermon is credited with providing some of the impetus for Connecticut citizens to ratify, in January 1639, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the first known written constitution to form a basis of government. According to the Office of the State Historian (Connecticut) historian John Fiske wrote 150 years later that the Fundamental Orders "mark the beginnings of American Decomcracy, of which Thomas Hooker deserves more than any other man to be called the father."
So who were you? Some records are lost to history. You were born in Leicestershire, either at Marfield or Birstall on July 5, 1586.
You recieved your first formal education at Dixie Grammar School, a free school in Market Bosworth. Following that you matriculated at Queen's College, Cambridge University in 1608 and then transferred to Emanuel College where you received your BA in 1608 and your MA in 1611. You later studied Divinity there.
|Front Court Emanuel College, Cambridge|
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0
|St. George's Church, Esher where Rev. Thomas Hooker preached circa 1620.|
Church was not remodeled during the Victorian era and appears much as it was in Hooker's day.
from Wikimedia Commons
Perhaps it was the reputation you gained in Esher, that led to you being hired as a lecturer and preacher for St. Mary's Church in Chelmsford under John Michaelson. Archbishop William Laud decided to suppress church lecturers in 1629, and you left to run a school at Little Baddow, just to the east of Chelmsford. We don't know exactly when they were able to identify you as a leader for the Puritan sympathizers but we do know that your were summoned to the Court of High Commission and later forfeited your bond and fled to Rotterdam, The Netherlands. These difficulties led you to seek a new start in Massachusetts. Some reports say that your congregation from Chelmsford preceded your journey to Massachusetts and wrote to you in Holland inviting you to come and once again serve as their leader.
The Governor of Massachusett, John Winthrop, recorded the arrival of Griffin in his diary writing,
“The Griffin, a ship of three hundred tons, arrived (having been eight weeks from the Downs). This ship was brought in by John Gallop a new way by Lovell’s island, at low water, now called “Griffin’s Gap”. She brought about two hundred passengers, having lost some four, whereof one drowned two days before, as he was casting forth a line to take mackerel. In this ship came Mr. Cotton, Mr. Hooker and Mr. Stone, ministers, and Mr. Pierce, Mr. Haynes (a gentleman of great estate), Mr. Hoffe, and many other men of good estates. They got out of England with much difficulty, all places being belaid to have taken Mr. Cotton and Mr. Hooker, who had been long sought for to have been brought into the high commission; but the master being bound to touch at the Wight, the pursuivants attended there, and, in the meantime, the said ministers were take in at the Downs. Mr. Hooker and Mr. Stone went presently to Newtown, where they were to be entertained, and Mr. Cotton stayed at Boston."
Hosmer, James Kendall ed. (1908). Winthrop's Journal, "History of New England," 1630-1649. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. https://archive.org/details/winthropsjourna05hosmgoog
|Drawing of Griffin from GENI|
(For family members, another of my 11th great grandfathers, John Gallop, was also aboard Griffin.
It must have been wonderful for you and your family to be reunited with your friends from Chelmsford who had settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Once you were pastor of your old congreation, you are quoted as saying, "Now I live, if ye stand fast in the Lord."
|Plaque honroing Thomas Hooker's Ministry at First Church of Cambridge, Cambridge, MA|
|Hartford, Connecticut from www.wikipedica.org|
Your 11th great granddaughter
For family members, here is our descent from Thomas Hooker
Rev. Thomas Hooker married Susanna Garbrand
Mary Hooker married Rev. Roger Newton
Capt. Samuel Newton married Martha Fenn
Susanna Newton married Joseph Plumb
Susanna Plumb married Nathan Nettleton
Anne Nettleton married Samuel Woodruff
Andrew Woodruff married Miranda Orton
Olive Woodruff married Stephen Sanford
Caroline Beckworth Stanford married Reuben Newton
Charles Shepard Newton married Mary Elizabeth Clarke
Helen Brown Newton married Frederick Naaman Cone
Charles Newton Cone married Hazel Bynum Allen, my paternal grandparents.
The two Newton lines do not seem to be related. Though both English, Rev. Roger Newton's line is from Lincolnshire and Reuben Newton's line goes back to Bures St. Mary, Suffolk.