Monday, November 7, 2011
News to Me! Ralph Pomeroy’s Marital Connections
Just this morning I read an e-mail from a Pomeroy descendant wishing to learn more about Ralph Pomeroy, the U.S. Paymaster during the Revolutionary War, and son of Reverend Benjamin Pomeroy and Abigail Wheelock, who hailed from Connecticut. He asked whether we had any information about Ralph’s wife Eunice Belden and their offspring, and asked what we knew of Ralph’s Revolutionary War Service.
Upon reviewing our database, I realized that we had rather sketchy information about Ralph’s wife, so I sought to learn more. We knew, from A.A. Pomeroy’s book The History and Genealogy of the Pomeroy Family, that Eunice Belden was born about 1744, the daughter of Thomas Belden and Ruth Wyllys Lord. Eunice had been married to a Mr. Gardner prior to her marriage to Ralph Pomeroy on 31 Jan 1770. The book The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records, Vol 1-55, edited by Lorraine Cook (Baltimore; Genealogical Publishing Company, 2002) confirmed the marriage date and gave Hartford, CT as the place of marriage. The book also recorded Eunice Belding’s marriage to William Gardiner in Hartford on 21 Oct 1764, and identified the birth of a son James William Gardiner on 19 Oct 1765, and gave a date of death for William of 8 Jun 1766, all in Hartford.
The book Historical Catalogue of the First Church in Hartford, 1633-1885, (Hartford; Published by the First Church of Hartford, 1885), found on googlebooks, also confirmed the 21 Oct 1764 marriage date of William Gardiner & Eunice Belding. Another book Families of Early Hartford, Connecticut, by Lucius Barnes Barbour (Baltimore; Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2001) also found on googlebooks, gave some additional detail to the families of William Gardiner, Eunice Belden and Ralph Pomeroy. On page 256 was found the following statement: “William Gardiner s[on] of Dr. Sylvester Gardiner of Boston or son of John & Mary (Taylor) Gardiner b Mch 1742 died June 9, 1766 ae 24 (HTR) of wounds blowing up of school house bur Center Ch by Rev. Roger Viets. William Gardiner m Eunice Beldding, sister of Ruth Belden, Oct 21, 1764 (1 Ch Rec) (HTR). She mar/ 2 Ralph Pomeroy Jan 31, 1770 (1 Ch Rec) (HTR.)? James William s of William Gardiner bp Nov 24, 1765 (Viets Rec) b Oct 19, 1765 (HTR).”
Page 46 gave information about Eunice Belden/Belding’s parentage: “Thomas Belden of Wethersfield m Ruth (Wyllys) Lord wid of Richard Lord d of Hezekiah Wyllys. Children: Eunice Belden b 1744 m/1 Oct 21, 1764 William Gardiner blown up in schoolhouse May 23, 1766 m/2 Jan 31, 1770 Ralph Pomeroy. Ruth Belden b 1747 m/1 Jan 31, 1765 Capt John Stoughton m/2 Samuel Wyllys.” Page 699 gives additional information about Samuel Wyllys: “Gen. Samuel Wyllys s of George & Mary (Woodbridge) bp Jan 7, 1738-9 (1 Ch Rec) died June 9, 1823 mar Feb 3, 1777 (HTR) Ruth (Belden) Stoughton widow of John Stoughton. She died Sept 2, 1807, dau of Thomas Belden and Ruth (Wyllys) Lord. Census 1790 – 2-3-3-0-0. Children: Oliver St. John b Nov 9, 1777 (HTR), Samuel Hobard b Aug 16, 1784 (HTR) died Mch 5, 1797 ae 12 bur Center Ch, Mary Woodbridge b May 19, 1785 (HTR) m John M. Gannett, William Alfred b Feb 3, 1790 (HTR).
“Yale College 1758; went to England 1764 and remained there for six years; in 1771 he became the first captain of the First Company of Governor’s Foot Guard; in 1774 Colonel of the First Regiment; he served through the Revolutionary War as Colonel of a Connecticut regiment; was town clerk of Hartford 1796-1805; held other town offices, and was Major-General of the Connecticut Militia. He succeeded his father as Secretary of State 1796, and held the office until 1809. His wife was Ruth dau of Thomas Belden & Ruth (Wyllys) Lord and widow of Capt. John Stoughton whom she m Jan 22, 1765. He died Nov 25, 1766. Brewster Gen p 89 says Lucy Brewster (dau of Elisha & Lucy (Yeomans) Brewster of Mddtn born May 30, 1745 m Oct 11, 1764 as 1st wife of Samuel Wyllys of Hfd. (See Wolcott Mem p 216).”
Page 459 gave a short bio on Ralph Pomeroy: “Ralph Pomeroy s of Rev. Dr. Benjamin mar Jan 31, 1770 (HTR, 1 Ch Rec) Eunice (Belding) Gardiner widow of William Gardiner. She was dau of Thomas Belden and Ruth (Wyllys) Lord. Census 1790 – 4-1-3-1-2. Children: Infant/Abigail b Mch 17, 177- (HTR) died Apl 20, 1779 (HTR) bur Center Ch., Ralph b. Dec 1, 1771 (HTR) died Jan 10/11, 1792 ae 20 (2 Ch Rec) bur Center Ch., George b Dec 1, 1773 (HTR) died July 20, 1799 (HTR), Eunice b Nov 25, 1776 (HTR) m/1 Rev Amos Bassett Y.C. 1784 m/2 ( ) White, Frederick b. Aug 16, 1781 (HTR), Elizabeth b May 24, 1784 (HTR).
Eunice Pomeroy (Hfd) m Rev. Amos Bassett (Hebron Jan 19, 1802 (2 Ch Rec.).”
So, if I have read the above information correctly, Eunice Belden’s mother was a Wyllys, and her sister Ruth married General Samuel Wyllys. Was the mother of Ruth and Eunice related to Ruth’s second husband? Also, I have become fairly familiar with the Samuel Wyllys Pomeroys who were early settlers of Pomeroy, OH. Could this explain the reason for the use of this name? Sure, General Samuel Wyllys was well known at his time, and the name could have been given to a child because a famous name was thought to honor the originator and to communicate the hope of future greatness in the child. So, we don’t know for sure why Eleazar Wheelock Pomeroy and MARY WYLLYS (!?!) named their eldest son Samuel Wyllys Pomeroy, but, my goodness, Eleazer Wheelock Pomeroy was the brother of Ralph Pomeroy, and his wife, Mary Wyllys the daughter of Colonel George Wyllys, whom I believe was also the father of Samuel Wyllys. Small world.
The most interesting information I have found in my half-day research into the family of Eunice Belden was found in the book A History of The Episcopal Church in Narragansett Rhode Island, Including a History of Other Episcopal Churches in the State, by Wilkins Updike (Boston; The Merrymount Press, 1907) also found on googlebooks. On page 101 starts “Mars. Anstis Lee’s narrative of a Horseback Journey to Connecticut, in 1791. Written about 1845, when Mrs. Lee was in her eightieth year.” If you didn’t already think that most 18th Century inhabitants of the Colonies were related, read this:
“On one of the first days of May, 1791, in pursuance of previous arrangement, my oldest brother, Daniel Updike (who lately died at East Greenwich, in June 1842, at the advanced age of 81 years) and myself started on a visit to Connecticut.
“We left our father’s house, the residence of the late Lodowick Updike, near Wickford, on horseback, on Monday Morning.... We arrived at Plainfield village late in the afternoon and lodged at Judge Robert Lightfoot’s that night. The Judge had been a resident of Newport for many years before his removal to Plainfield. He was an intimate friend of my father and had visited our mansion in the days of my grandfather, Daniel Updike, for twenty seven years the Colony Attorney-General of Rhode Island... On Tuesday, after breakfast, we cordially shook hands with our friend and, with his benediction, left for Hartford. We passed through Canterbury and Windham and lodged that night at a public house in Bolton, kept by one Mr. White, twelve miles short of Hartford. We rose early, on Wednesday, arrived at Hartford, put up at Bull’s Tavern (sign of the Bunch of Guilded Grapes) and took breakfast on bloated salmon... While we were at breakfast, Mr. Ralph Pomeroy came to take us to his house, on a street leading from the main street, somewhere near where the Episcopal Church then stood. Mr. Pomeroy married the widow of William Gardiner, who was killed in the explosion of the Powder House, at Hartford, on celebrating the repeal of the Stamp Act. William Gardiner was brother to my mother and married Miss Eunice Belden, having by her one son named James, who died at Hartford some twenty or thirty years ago. William had kept an apothecary and grocery store at that town. He was brought up by his uncle, Dr. Sylvester Gardiner, of Boston, and established in business by his father, the late John Gardiner, a brother of the Doctor, but had not kept store long before the explosion. Mr. Pomeroy had been a commissary in the Revolutionary War, was a good person of a man and practiced law, at Hartford, with repute, as I understood. He had been frequently at my father’s, in Rhode Island, previously to this visit of ours. Mr. Pomeroy had four children by this marriage, Samuel, Ralph, Eunice and Elizabeth.
“This being the day before the General Election, the deputies and Presbyterian ministers began to arrive. By afternoon the city seemed to be full, when the Governor, Mr. Wolcott, was expected to arrive. To witness his entrance and the accompanying parade, Mr. Pomeroy took us to the house of General Wyllys, which stood opposite, or nearly so, to the State House. General Wyllys was the son of old Colonel Wyllys. He appeared to be a fine gentleman, aged about forty. His wife was Elizabeth Belden and sister of Mrs. Pomeroy, that being the reason we were carried there to witness the ceremonies preparatory to the election...
“Friday afternoon, the day after the election, we spent, upon invitation, with Colonel Wyllys, who lived at the Charter Oak place, an ancient looking mansion, that stood in a square by itself. From it was a splendid view, overlooking the Connecticut River and the city. The great oak was right before it. We were shewn the gardens and the grounds, which were beautiful and tastefully arranged with many flowers in full bloom. Colonel Wyllys was uncle to Mrs. Pomeroy. He was an old man, I should think over seventy, thin and spare, with red baize bound around his legs, probably on account of gout. He was a widower, and his son’s wife, a portly woman, probably about thirty years old, kept his house. She had two little children, say, one seven and the other five years old. Whether her husband was living or not, I don’t know. Mrs. Strong, the Colonel’s daughter, was also with him, having no children... President Stiles and Colonel Ingersoll, the Attorney-General of Connecticut, and several other gentlemen took tea at Colonel Wyllys’s. President Stiles and my brother conversed nearly an hour, very intimately together, respecting Rhode Island. The President had been settled over a Congregational Church, in Newport, many years, and was much in Narragansett, at the house of Colonel Francis Willet, uncle to my mother. I remember seeing Dr. Stiles once at St. Paul’s Church, Narragansett, when Dr. Smith, afterwards President of the Cheshire Academy, was rector. My father was introduced to him after service...”
What an incredible narrative! I like the fact that a young woman had the freedom (possibly because of her father’s wealth and stature) to travel with her brother and meet so many interesting and important individuals. Mrs. Lee stated that “Colonel Wyllys was uncle to Mrs. Pomeroy.” It seems likely that the Colonel Wyllys to which Mrs. Lee referred, was George Wyllys, born abt 1710, father of Mary Wyllys who married Eleazar Pomeroy. George Wyllys’ father was Hezekiah Wyllys, and his sister was Ruth Wyllys, who married first Richard Lord, then second, Thomas Belden. Colonel George Wyllys was the father of General Samuel Wyllys who married Ruth Belden, daughter of Thomas Belden and Ruth Wyllys, and sister of Eunice Belden/Belding who married second, Ralph Pomeroy. Who knew?!
Note to self: do additional research on wife or wives of Colonel George Wyllys – A.A. Pomeroy states that Elizabeth Whiting was the mother of Mary Wyllys, but much of the research found today points to Mary Woodbridge as mother of Mary. Also, look into the history of Hartford after the repeal of the Stamp Act. Did the school house blow up, or was it the Powder House? Can we find proof that William Gardiner died in this accident? And last, but not least, get all this information into our database so we can make sense of all the connections!