of Craven County North Carolina
Benjamin is the ancestor of thousands of people alive today. Might you be one of them? But who were his parents and grandparents? The answer is a fascinating tale of genealogists as much as it is of genealogy.
Currently-known records show without doubt that the Benjamin Brockett who died in 1758 in North Carolina was also recorded there as an adult in 1743 and fairly regularly thereafter up to his death. And we know from a later 1773-4 North Carolina deed that he was the father of William Brockett of the Carolinas, who was born 1748, fought as a Patriot in the Revolutionary War and died in Tennessee in 1821, see the separate page. We mostly call him ‘Capt’ William—short for Captain—as his post-Revolutionary War contemporaries did. But when and where was Benjamin born?
A scattering of early 17th C and 18th C records reveals a number of Brokets in neighboring counties in Virginia and North Carolina. Were some of them Benjamin’s ancestors? It would seem likely. But interestingly, a significant number of matching Y-DNA results from present-day descendants of Capt William has proved that he descended from John Brockett (d 1690), an original 17th C settler much further north in New Haven. So if he was Capt William’s father, Benjamin must also have had roots in New Haven. 1758—when he died—was almost 120 years after the first New Haven Brockett record and during the first 100 years 5 Benjamin Brocketts are known to have been born in New Haven, and as will be explained, all were apparently spoken for:
It doesn’t look as though the Benjamin who was in North Carolina as an adult in 1743 could have been one of these 5, and no genealogist—or descendant apparently—thought so. Up until May 2020, that is. This webpage is a proof statement that a previously unnoticed document in the Connecticut State Library shows conclusively that the Benjamin Brockett who died in Craven Co North Carolina in 1758 was indeed one of these 5 apparently-already-spoken-for New Haven Benjamins.1
Contents of this page:
1. The genealogists—part 1
1.1. EJ Brockett 1833-1919
1.2. RW Nash 1924-2016
2. North Carolina 1720-60
2.1. Craven County 1743-73
3. Y-DNA results
4. The genealogists—part 2
5. New Haven County up to 1738
5.1. Benjamin of New Haven town 1697-1700
5.2. Benjamin of New and North Haven towns 1731-1804
5.3. Benjamin of Wallingford b 1733
5.4. Benjamin of Wallingford m 1720
5.4.1. Birth date and place
5.4.4. Lydia’s Petition 1738
If you want a bird’s-eye view of this webpage, there’s a short list of main points at the end of each section. For the main points of §1.1, for instance, click here, and scroll down for the others.
The first—and sometimes only—source of information for many American Brocketts interested in their ancestors is EJ Brockett’s 1905 book: The Descendants of John Brockett: One of the Original Founders of the New Haven Colony, mostly referred to here as ‘EJB’.2 This book definitely has value, especially for the period 1790-1850 when only the heads of households were named in census returns,3 but it has a major drawback: its lack of source references. EJB was written at a time when, like him, many amateur genealogists from old settler heritage were compiling similar genealogies of their own ancestors and relatives, and few of them consistently cited sources. They gathered much of their information from contemporary living relatives, and mostly didn’t cite who told them what. Nowadays, with the ever-increasing availability of online primary sources it is often possible to check their information. But wherever it can’t, EJB’s information has to be treated with caution and healthy scepticism—there are many reasons why a family might conceal facts or improve their own ancestry. For a fuller discussion of EJB as a source, see the separate page.
If EJB is your preferred source for USA Brockett information, you will certainly find all 5 Benjamins in the chart above, and its information about them is discussed in their individual sections below. You will also find 2 more Benjamins born in New Haven during the first 100 years than the 5 in the chart above, both without further details and, as usual with EJB, without a source:
1. Benjamin, born and died 1645, son of John (d 1690),4 see the separate page.
2. Benjamin, born Dec 1716, son of Moses, son of John son of John (d 1690),5 see the separate page.
Neither can be found in transcriptions of the original records, and there is no other evidence for them.
As mentioned above, we know from a 1773-4 deed that the father of Capt William Brockett of the Carolinas and Tennessee was a Benjamin Brockett who died in 1758 in Craven Co North Carolina. However, you won’t find such a Benjamin in EJB. Instead, in his sketch of Capt William you find:6
So, according to EJB in 1905, this was William’s descent:
“William Brockett, (Elisha, John, Samuel, John), the son of Elisha and ( —- ) Brockett, was born 1749 in Wallingford.7 He left home in early life, settling in New Bern, N.C., where he married Patsey (Martha) Ives, Oct. 1, 1771, daughter and only heir of Thomas Ives…”
Samuel, John and Elisha were all Wallingford men, so EJB’s statement that William was born in Wallingford would at first sight seem reasonable, however, as nearly always with EJB, statements of ‘fact’ like that are given no source whereby you can verify them. He apparently had limited access to original Wallingford sources, and in any case you won’t find William’s birth in them. That William married in New Bern 1 Oct 1771 is confirmed from Patsey Brockett’s application for a pension in 1839, and was perhaps conveyed to EJB by a descendant, however evidence that he left home—i.e. Wallingford—in early life hasn’t been found.
One can only speculate why EJB might have allocated Elisha as the father of William; it appears that his information about Elisha and his brothers in general was patchy. But what seems clear from other records, like Elisha’s Will of 1805,8 is that he had no surviving wife or issue of his own. Jacobus’ sketch was brief:9
‘d s.p.’ stands for the Latin ‘demisit sine prole‘, i.e. died without issue. For more on Elisha and his parents, see the separate page §§ 2.2.1 and 18.104.22.168.
- The Descendants of John Brockett—the 1905 family genealogy by the amateur genealogist EJ Brockett (EJB) is often people’s first—and sometimes only—port of call for information on New Haven Brocketts and their descendants.
- EJB’s book has value, but has be treated with caution because of its not-infrequent inaccuracies and lack of source references. For instance, it recorded 2 more Benjamins than the 5 in the chart above. However, since they are without supporting references they can be disregarded.
- Many of the differences between EJB’s accounts and other more reliable evidence regarding other Benjamin Brocketts are mentioned in their individual sections below, e.g. re Benjamin, husband of Alethea RAY.
- EJB gave Elisha as the father of Capt William Brockett, but documentary evidence shows that is incorrect. EJB apparently had limited access to original Wallingford sources and may have relied on faulty reports from living early 20th C descendants. This faulty Elisha-parentage has since proliferated in family histories and webpages, and needs to be amended.
Richard W Nash was also an amateur genealogist researching his own ancestors—he descended from Capt William Brockett—but he was a sound, evidence-based researcher too. It was Nash who came across the evidence that Capt William Brockett’s father wasn’t Elisha. Like most Brockett researchers he combed through EJB’s 1905 Brockett Genealogy. He found his own evidence from Revolutionary War records that Capt William was born in 1748—which wasn’t far off EJB’s 1749 or c 1750. But he was intrigued to find out why—as EJB had also said—William might have migrated to NC, and he began a long search for records of William in the southeastern States. Although the NC records we refer to below are now mostly available online, we are indebted to Nash for first discovering many of them in physical archives and libraries back in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, when they weren’t readily available for most people.
Nash privately published a book in 2000 summarising his research into his various ancestors, including Brocketts. But it was only printed in a run of 60 copies, most of which he gave to libraries, and only small excerpts from it are available online. Prior to that he shared some of his research in online forums, like Rootsweb, and after his death his widow generously donated his Brockett papers to the Broket Archive. Among these is his useful Time Line of Southern US Brocketts, published here on the separate page. From these various writings it’s not always clear when he discovered specific items of evidence. His account of Benjamin and William in his 2000 book, for instance, was clearly written long after he had made his most significant findings about them. Writing in Rootsweb in 1998, he appears to have been referring to the early 1970s when he described a eureka moment while looking for evidence of southern Brocketts:10
“I took a quick look in the 1790 NC census, and the lid blew off. There were other Brocketts. I dug and dug for 20 years and more, gathering every scrap and every little record that showed the name. There were numerous Brocketts in VA and NC, and there is no evidence whatever that William and Martha ever spent a day of their lives in New Haven.”
It wasn’t for another 10 or more years after this that he came across probably the most significant record—the 1773-4 North Carolina deed, which stated in black and white that William’s father was a Benjamin Brockit who had been granted land in Craven Co NC in 1747. According to Kathryn Fry, Nash came across the deed in August 1986,11 see below.
Having discovered that William’s father was a Benjamin rather than Elisha, Nash no doubt checked all the potential Benjamins in EJB and would have found none that looked suitable. All were spoken for. So, he ceased looking in New Haven Co for Benjamin of Craven Co, NC, and between 1986-99 carefully pieced together all the Brockett records he was finding in VA and NC and constructed a southern line of ascent for Benjamin (and William) as follows:
Details of the actual records of the individuals in the chart above, can mainly be found on this separate page, and for a reconstruction of Nash’s wider southeastern Brockett clan, see the chart on this separate page and his Timeline, along with their following discussions. You won’t find the completed charts as they are presented in this website in one location in Nash’s writings; they have been assembled here from his publications, papers and email communications. Here is an analysis of Nash’s argument for linking the generations in the chart above:Read more
1. William and Mary of Norfolk VA to Francis I: In the absence of evidence to the contrary, a relationship between these two men is definite, but not necessarily a father-son one. William and Mary were recorded in a 1703 deed of sale of patented land on the west branch of the Elizabeth River, Norfolk Co, VA. Nash found 3 records of a Francis Brockett, married to Rebecka CORNWELL, 2 of which were deeds selling and buying land in Little Creek, near the east branch of the Elizabeth River, Lower Norfolk Co in 1696. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, this combination of uncommon surname; of dates only 7 years apart; and of land deals within less than a day’s journey of each other by two different individuals proves their relationship. However, it’s equally feasible that Francis was William’s brother, or even father. Nash’s further speculation that William was an immigrant to Virginia in 1668 meant that both William and Francis I would have married at an untypically-young age for a man in both England and Virginia at the time.12 These tensions and others reduce if William was not Francis’ father.
2. Francis I to Francis II: This is an obviously-probable relationship. The first name Francis wasn’t in the highest category of popularity, and for a son to have his father’s name was common. Moreover the first records found by Nash of Francis ‘II’ (as he called him) were from Princess Ann Co, VA, in 1720 and 1721, the former a sale of land in Little Creek. By a series of assumptions based on Francis I being the son of William, and on dates of other records detailed more fully elsewhere, Nash concluded that Francis I was born 1673-4 and Francis II was born 1697. These dates free up somewhat if William wasn’t Francis I’s father.
3. Francis II to Benjamin: Subsequent records of Francis II show him in Camden and Pasquotank Counties, NC, where he died in 1732. Francis therefore moved south into North Carolina, albeit to areas adjacent to Princess Ann Co. Nash also found one-off records of 2 other adult Brockets in Pasquotank Co in 1754 and 1755 and speculated that they were children of Francis II, recorded as they were 20 plus years after his death. This is quite possible, given the uncommon surname recorded around the same time in the same county. However, the dates of the records don’t provide a reliable indication of the ages of the two at the time, nor that they were children of Francis II, which therefore remains speculative—and Nash didn’t mention the possibility in his Timeline. In addition, as detailed below, Nash also found a cluster of records of Benjamin Brockett in Craven Co NC 1743-58. The 1743 record showed him as an adult eligible to own land and married. Here we have the combination again of an uncommon surname recorded around the same time in the same general area, and as with the records of the 2 other adult Brockets in Pasquotank Co in 1754 and 1755, Nash speculated that Benjamin too was a child of Francis II. In his 2005 Timeline he termed it a probability:
“1725 – Estimated year Benjamin Brockett I born, Pasquotank Co, NC, prob son of Francis Brockett II.”
The probable parentage appears to be a deduction from the two preceding claims: an estimated birth in 1725 in Pasquotank Co, but it was more likely the other way around. Neither the 1743 record, nor any other so far found, indicates either Benjamin’s age or that he was born in Pasquotank Co. Both claims are assumptions, probably based on Nash’s speculation that he was a son of Francis Brockett II. An estimated birth for a child of Francis II has of course to fit with Francis II’s own birth. This Nash calculated to have been in 1697—to fit with Francis I’s birth in 1673-4, which in turn was calculated on the assumption that Francis I was the son of William. Thus we have a chain of estimated dates of birth, each one depending on an assumption that depended on another which depended on another. Most were indeed linked to a record of an event, but it may not have occurred at the time assumed.
There are other difficulties. An estimated birth in 1725 for Benjamin would mean that in 1743, when he was married and eligible for land, he was aged only 18. And the claim that Benjamin’s birth was in Pasquotank seems to be presented in the Timeline excerpt above as fact—it wasn’t an estimate like the date or a probability like the parentage, he was “born, Pasquotank”. The records of the 2 other adult Brockets mentioned above in 1754 and 1755 were in Pasquotank Co and so were the later records of Francis II. The records of Benjamin were in Craven Co—some 100 miles or so distant. This is not proof against a connection, but the combination of an uncommon surname recorded around the same time in the same State is not so strong circumstantial evidence as in the same County. Perhaps to accommodate the distance between Pasquotank and Craven Counties, Nash had previously written, “Benjamin Brockett, father of William, was born probably about 1720 in Perquimans, Currituck, or Hyde Co, NC, most probably the latter.”13 Hyde Co is more or less half way between Pasquotank and Craven Counties.
All in all, the evidence for the Francis II to Benjamin link in the chart above is very weak.
Negative proof. Some of Nash’s evidence for this southern line of ascent for Benjamin comes under the heading of negative proof. This is a well-accepted genealogical method whereby in the absence of explicit evidence—like a document—the most likely conclusion is drawn from circumstantial evidence, see the separate page. Concerning an individual, it involves exhaustive research into all currently available records to make sure no one else of a particular name was recorded, and if they were, then to show they weren’t the person under investigation. It should always remain open to new evidence to the contrary emerging. This method is particularly effective when records in the area are known to have generally been kept well, as in the discussion of early New Haven below. More than anyone, Nash immersed himself in these southeastern records for years and also traveled in the area, but records there in the 17th and 18th C were less well kept and many have not survived, and Nash was often working with one-off items of unconnected evidence. But negative proof is still a sound method in such cases, provided possibilities aren’t stretched too far, and provided not too many assumptions are based on other assumptions. And of course, provided the door is always kept open to new evidence emerging—a single unexpected find can disprove a whole theory based on negative proof.
With all these Broket records from VA and NC that he was finding, Nash ceased looking in New Haven Co for Benjamin of Craven Co NC, and became ever more convinced that Benjamin’s forbears were from NC and VA. So much so that Jacobus’ Families of Ancient New Haven wasn’t in the list of sources for his Brockett research in his 2000 book—as it had been for his Atwater research.14 This was an oversight; he might have picked up on a clue hinted at by Jacobus.
It’s easy with the benefit of new evidence that wasn’t available to Nash, to criticise him in this case for turning his attention away from a New Haven connection. But even before the new evidence cast doubt on Nash’s southern theory of William and Benjamin’s ancestry, contemporary US Brockett family researchers didn’t appear to acknowledge Nash’s contributions. 10 years after his discovery of the 1773-4 deed, Vi Poland referred to it in passing in her 2 volume compilation of The Descendants of William E. Brockett Sr., 1741-1821, published 1996. She followed EJB for William’s ancestry—Chapter 1 of her book begins:15
“William E BROCKETT, Sr. was born 26 June 1748 in Wallingford, New Haven, Connecticut. He was the son of Elisha BROCKETT and Huldah ELLS.”
However, in ‘Source Notes’ at the bottom of the page Poland added, without acknowledging Nash:
“A land transaction document provides reason to continue the research on his parents, because this document shows Benjamin Brockett as the father of William Brockett.”
Nash also obtained a photocopy of Capt William’s Will, which he must have sent to Vi Poland as she reproduced it at the beginning of her book—but again without acknowledging him. For more on Poland see the separate page. It has to be said, that when people stuck to EJB’s account of Capt William’s ancestry despite the evidence to the contrary, Nash could be abrasive in his criticism and he probably offended some.
Kathryn Fry, the 2001 author of Brockett family history: featuring the William E. Brockett line, privately published in 2001, but available online, favored Nash’s account of William’s ancestry (“the third account”), but without mentioning him as the source. She reproduced the account of Benjamin from Nash’s 2000 book, but apparently via an intermediary, Mike Husman.16 Fry did, however, mention that Nash wrote a memo to researchers in August 1986 that he had obtained the 1773-4 land deed from Elizabeth Ives Reedy of Riverdale, MD, but Fry’s concluding sentence about Nash’s view was incorrect—that he believed that the Brocketts of VA and NC were undoubtedly related to those of the same name in New England. For more on Fry see the separate page.
Main points of §1.2
- Nash discovered that the father of Capt William Brockett (1748-1821) was not Elisha, as EJB had reported, but Benjamin who died in North Carolina in 1758. This led him into decades of searching for records of William in the southeastern States. Researchers are indebted to him for his discoveries.
- All the New Haven Benjamins in EJB were spoken for and Nash discounted a New Haven origin for Benjamin. He didn’t apparently check Jacobus. Nash found many early NC and VA records of Brokets and built up a picture of them as Benjamin’s ancestors. Some of Nash’s conclusions here were sound, but others were based on too many unfounded assumptions, like his parentage for Benjamin. Nash was researching Benjamin before new evidence showed he had New Haven roots. As an evidence-based researcher he would no doubt have accepted that his theory of a southern line of ascent for Benjamin was mistaken and that Benjamin’s parents weren’t Francis and Mary.
- Nonetheless, contemporary US Brockett family researchers didn’t adequately acknowledge Nash’s contributions.
- Some of Nash’s evidence in his southern line of ascent for Benjamin comes under the heading of negative proof. This is a well-accepted genealogical method, provided the door is always kept open to new evidence emerging—a single unexpected find can disprove a whole theory based on negative proof.
So who was Benjamin of North Carolina?
Land grants. From at least the 1670s the government of Carolina offered free land to anyone over 16 in order to attract settlers to the new State. A law of Apr 1741 awarded 50 acres for each person in the incoming family (including slaves), applicable not only to newcomers but also to existing inhabitants who wished or could be induced to take up land in sparsely settled, or unsettled areas. In Sep 1741 this was increased to 100 acres for Whites. On swearing an oath they were given a certificate as proof of their rights. The 1741-1752 records of these indicated the county, date and number of persons in the household concerned.17
Up to 1760 records of only 2 grants of land have been found for Brokets or Brakets, both to Benjamin Brockett in 1747, see below.
Broket and Braket. In 17-19th C New England—much more than in old England—there was cross-over between the surnames Broket and Braket, and to a lesser extent vice versa. This is often hidden in secondary sources when they lump all occurrences under a single head name BROCKETT or BRACKETT. Both Brokets and Brakets were recorded also in 18th C North Carolina—and Virginia—so, just as with New England records, it’s necessary to try to make sure a particular record or index entry for a Braket wasn’t actually a scribal variant for a Broket, and vice versa. 18th C records show that in the NE corner of North Carolina bordering on Virginia—in Camden and Pasquotank counties—a Broket could occasionally be recorded as a Braket: Francis d 1732 and Joel d 1777, for instance. However the same hasn’t been found with the Brokets of Craven and Jones counties—including Benjamin d 1758—nor with the Brakets recorded inland in SW North Carolina in the counties of Burke, Rutherford and McDowell—who included several Benjamins.
- In all the Craven and Jones Co records found so far the surname was consistently spelt with an ‘o’.
- Likewise in all the Burke, Rutherford and McDowell Co records found so far the surname was consistently spelt with an ‘a’—excepting some obvious errors.
- The distance between the locations suggests a lack of connection. Camden and Pasquotank counties are c 120 and 136 m N of New Bern, Craven Co, and Burke, Rutherford and McDowell counties are over 300 miles inland from New Bern.
- The time gap between the land grants to Benjamin Brockett in Craven Co—1743-7— and the ones to the Brakets of Burke, Rutherford and McDowell counties—1814-31—also suggests a lack of connection. It appears that the Brakets of Burke and Rutherford counties didn’t arrive, or at least settle there, much before the 1780s, while Benjamin Brocket was recorded in Craven Co from the early 1740s.
Main points of §2
We can be confident that:
- Benjamin Broket of Craven Co d 1758 couldn’t have shared a common ancestor through his surname with the Brakets of SW NC. For details on those Brakets see the separate page.
- In the 1740s and 50s there was only one adult Benjamin Broket in North Carolina. This has been determined by negative proof, see above. Records from the 1790s show that by then there was another adult Benjamin Broket in North Carolina, who resided in neighboring Jones Co NC, and died 1819, and who was also the only adult of that name in NC during his lifetime, see the separate page.. In all likelihood he was a son of Benjamin d 1758. Y-DNA will probably confirm it one day.
The earliest record found so far of a Broket in Craven Co North Carolina—from 1743—is of Benjamin, and it shows with little doubt that he had a wife or partner with him by then. All subsequent records cited below of a Benjamin Broket in Craven Co, up to and including a Will and inventory of 1758-9, without doubt concern the same person, indeed his was the only Broket household recorded there 1743-58. His Will of 1758 appointed wife Sarah sole Executrix, so any record of an adult Sarah Broket 1743-58 is likely to have been of his wife. We know from a 1773 deed that he had a son William Brockett, whom Nash correctly identified as the one who had married Martha/Patsey in New Bern NC in 1771, i.e. ‘Capt William’, and who we also have evidence was born 1748. So he would presumably have been a son of Sarah. Nash also concluded that Benjamin and Sarah had another son Benjamin—whom he referred to as ‘Benjamin II’—“because there was no one else to whom he could have belonged.” This is a sound use of negative proof, and Y-DNA results of descendants should verify. It’s unclear when Benjamin II was born, but according to Nash, he became High Sheriff of Jones County, NC, in 1798 and 1799 and died 1819, see the separate page. Jones Co was adjacent to Craven Co, and was formed out of it in 1779.
Who Sarah’s parents were is unclear, and it is difficult to harmonise all the records that mention her. There is little doubt that Benjamin had a wife or partner with him in NC from 1743, and it seems likely that the Sarah Brockett who was witness to the Will of Thomas Stevens in 1751 was Benjamin’s wife, see below. But there is also reliable evidence that “Simon Foscue … first married on 29 March 1759 to Sarah Brocket, the widow of Benjamin Brocket”, see below. This tallies with the fact that Sarah, Executrix of Benjamin’s Will of 1758, signed a first inventory as Sarah Brockett and a subsequent one for auction as Sarah Foscue. Benjamin was Executor of the Wills of Thomas Stevens in 1751 and Benjamin Sanderson in 1757, but neither Will proves that he was their son-in-law. Furthermore, the signatures—discussed below—of Sarah Brockett’s in 1751 was not the same as Sarah Brockett’s in 1758-9. Perhaps Benjamin had two wives called Sarah.
Nash appears to have been uncertain about Sarah’s identity.Read more
In 1998, referring to Benjamin Brockett’s land grant of 1747, Nash wrote:18 “… it is not unreasonable to assume that Ben was married by then to Sarah Sanderson, dau of Benjamin and Sarah Foscue (Fortescue). … Ben was survived by Sarah and children unnamed.” Nash’s source is unknown, however the Benjamin Sanderson he referred to was presumably the Benjamin whose 1757-8 Will Benjamin Brockett was an Executor of. Nash’s second statement here that [this] Sarah survived Benjamin isn’t supported by Sarah’s differing signatures in 1751 and 1758-9.
7 years later in 2005, Nash estimated that in 1745-7 Benjamin “married Sarah (Stevens?) (prob dau of William and Elizabeth Stevens of Pasquotank Co, [and later, of Craven Co] NC)”, see the separate page. This also was unevidenced by Nash, other than his suggestion that they named their son William born 1748 for Sarah’s father, and that Benjamin was probably married when eligible for land in in 1743. William and Elizabeth Stevens were clearly not the Thomas and Mary Stevens of the 1751 Will.
Here is Nash’s account in his book of Benjamin and his sons, written in his vivid narrative style:19
“In North Carolina a 1750s list of Craven County landowners, a sort of county census, included Benjamin Brockett, showing that his right to the land was proved in June of 1743. In October of 1747 he received title to 200 acres on the south side of the Trent River in Craven County. In an effort to populate the area, land grants had been offered at the rate of 100 acres for each adult in a family, so Benjamin would have been married shortly before this time. One son, William, was born in 1748/9, and another was born about six years later. Whether there were other children, we do not know.
“In April of 1757 Benjamin was listed as Ensign in the local militia company, but a little more than a year later he was dying. He sent for his neighbor and long-time friend, John Grenade, to help prepare a will. Ben left everything to Sarah, telling her to provide for the children, whom he did not name. By October, he was dead. The next year, Sarah married Simon Foscue.”
Following are all the records currently found concerning Benjamin Broket of Craven Co NC, d 1758, as far as possible all are primary. We are indebted to Richard Nash who first discovered most of them.
Discussion: This recorded Benjamin’s right to the land, which he was actually granted in 1747, see next. Nash found this reference in a 1966 journal article which drew up a list of the names found in 2 NC documents recording the heads of families who proved their land rights in the period 1741-52. The article called it a small but very valuable early ‘census’ of North Carolina.20 Benjamin’s is the only Broket or Braket entry in the list. As noted above, the law of Sep 1741 had increased the award from 50 to 100 acres for each person in a family, so the 200 with reference to Benjamin shows that his household comprised 2 persons. Nash was probably correct in concluding that this meant Benjamin and his wife, however he jumped to some other conclusions from this record which suited his overall assessment that Benjamin’s ancestral origins were from Virginia. He said, “so Benjamin would have been married shortly before this time”, i.e. Sep 1741.21 This turns out to have been probably correct, however, not in the way Nash implied when he went further and said, “Being of age, married but with no children means he must have been born c 1720”, i.e. aged about 21.22 This turns out to have definitely been incorrect, but it fitted his speculation that Benjamin was a son of Francis Brocket. Francis was recorded in Princess Ann Co VA and Pasquotank Precinct of Albemarle Co NC in the early 1720s and died 1732, see the separate page. Note that in his 2005 Timeline Nash estiamted Benjamin’s birth date as 1725, making him only 18 in 1743, see the separate page.
In an email communication Nash also mentioned an earlier record than this 1743 one: “In 1742, Benjamin (home county not stated) applied for a land grant in nearby Craven Co, which was subsequently granted in 1747, when he moved there as a married man.”23 This 1742 record has not so far since been located, and it’s unclear exactly how it would relate to the 1743 record or the 1747 ones. Perhaps 1742 was a typo for 1743. Nash’s email implied that Benjamin came to Craven Co from Pasquotank. Y-DNA evidence later showed, however, that Benjamin’s ancestral origins were in New Haven not Virginia, see below. The 1743 record could therefore be interpreted in other ways, e.g. that Benjamin had been born much earlier than 1720, and that the other person in the household could have been an adult son or daughter—although the birth of son William in 1748 makes that unlikely.
1747 8 Oct. Grant of 200 acres on on the south side of Trent river in Craven Co NC. There are two card catalog index cards and two book entries for this grant to Benjamin Brockitt/Brockett. Images of the two card catalog index cards are accessible on Ancestry.com, although one is wrongly indexed for Columbus Co in the south of the State.24 The text of the two book entries quoted as follows is identical except in minor spelling differences, like Brockett and Brockitt, and shows them to be duplicates:25
“George the Second &c To all to whom &c: Know ye that we &c. Have Given and Granted unto Benjamin Brockitt a tract of Land Containing Two Hundred Acres Lying & being in Craven County on the South side of Trent river begining at a red Oak in Colonel Wilsons line & Frederick Jones’s line runing North 55 East 320 Pole along said Jones’s line to a Stake then South 51 West 100 Pole to a Stake then South 53 East 340 Pole to a Pine in Wilson’s line then along his line to the first Station To Hold &c: Yielding & paying &c: Four Shillings Proclamation Money Yearly for every hundred acres Seating the same according to his Rights Clearing & Cultivating three acres for every hundred within three Years And Entering these Letters with the Auditor within Six months In Testimony &c: Witness &c: Dated the 8th day of October 1747. Gab Johnston.”
Discussion: Benjamin’s right to 200 acres had been proved in 1743. Here in 1747 he was granted a 200 acre plot on the south side of the Trent river. This plot became known as ‘Brockit’s plantation’ which son William confirmed had been granted by Patent to his father Benjamin on 10 Oct 1747, on his sale of it to William IVES in 1773.
1751 11 Jun. Benjamin Brockit was co-executor of the Will of Thomas Stevens of Craven County, written 11 Jun 1751, probated in the June Court. Excerpts:26
“Item My will and Desire is that my Loving wife Mary may have the use of the plantation I live on this Year & whensoever she quits the possession of the place, That then it shall fall into the hands of the Executors here after named, the same Land and plantation I give & bequeath to my son John …
Item I Give unto my Daughter Mary Stevens one bed & furniture & bed stead to her proper use forever …
Item I Give unto my well beloved Children Elizabeth & Anna Stevens Each of them Eighty pounds old tenor …
Item I Give unto my Daughter Frances Stevens three three Year old Stears …
Item The Residue of my Estate Either within Doors or without to be Equally Divided amongst my Children here named Tho’ Stevens, & Sara, & Mary & Frances & John Stevens …
And Lastly I do hereby Nominate, Constitute & ordain my Son Tho: Stevens and Benj: Brockit my whole & Sole Executors of this my Last Will and Testament …
Witnesses: John Granade, John Kinsey, Sarah Brockett.”
Discussion: To have been co-executor with Thomas Stevens’ son Thomas, shows that Benjamin Brockit was a trusted friend. But who was Sarah Brockett, one of the witnesses? To have been a witness she must have been an adult and perhaps connected to Thomas Stevens the testator. She must also have been connected with Benjamin; there was no other Broket family in Craven Co at the time. If she wasn’t his wife she must have been an adult relative, for which there is no other evidence. So, given the likelihood from the 1743 and 1747 land records above that Benjamin was married, it seems most likely that Sarah was Benjamin’s wife.
Thomas itemised bequests to his son John and daughters Mary, Elizabeth, Anna and Frances Stevens, and left the residue equally to children “Tho’ Stevens, & Sara, & Mary & Frances & John Stevens”. Son Thomas was co-executor and neither he nor daughter Sara had been left a specific bequest. It would be speculation to assume that this was because Sara was sufficiently set up by being married—i.e. to Benjamin Brockett. Didn’t the surname ‘Stevens’ at the end of the list of children who had been bequeathed the residue apply to all of them? And would a legatee have been a witness? Too much can be read into Wills, and without other evidence answers to these questions can only be speculation. So, pending further evidence, this Will doesn’t prove that the Sarah Brockett of 1751 was Thomas Stevens’ daughter.
But with little doubt, it is Sarah’s actual signature witnessing the Will; it would have been written more neatly if by someone else:
yet it is completely different from the Sarah Brockett signature—which was also with little doubt her own—7 years later on one of the inventories attached to Benjamin’s Will of 1758, for which she was Executrix as Benjamin’s wife:
I’m sure you will agree that a simple 6 or 7 year interval couldn’t explain the difference, and that the Sarah Brockett who signed as a witness to Thomas Stevens’ Will in 1751 wasn’t the Sarah Brockett who signed as Benjamin’s wife in 1758. So, if the Sarah of 1751 was Benjamin’s wife, as seems likely, then it looks as though Benjamin had two wives called Sarah.
1753 17 Feb. Craven Co., NC: “Ordered that the following persons be appointed Constables in the room of the former ones for the ensuing year (to wit): Benjamin Brocket in the room of William Foster.”27
1757 5 Mar. Ensign Benj. Brockett was recorded in the Muster roll for Arthur Johnston’s company of the Craven County Militia.28 This was during the French and Indian War of 1754–1763.
1757-8. Benjamin Brockett was co-executor of the Will of Benjamin Sanderson of Craven County’s, written 1 Oct 1757, probated 3 Jan 1758. Summary details:29 Sons: Joseph, Benjamin (Executor). Daughter Dina Foscue, Hannah Barber. Granddaughter Sarah Foscue ([bequeathed] one negro). Executor: Benjamin Brockett. Witnesses: William Gardner, Simon Foscue, John Granade.
Discussion: To have been co-executor with Benjamin Sanderson’s son Benjamin, shows that Benjamin Brockett was a trusted friend. Nash (see above) appears to have thought that Benjamin Brockett was Benjamin Sanderson’s son-in-law, but this Will doesn’t prove that.
An image of Benjamin Sanderson’s original Will might yield more clues, but on the face of it one interpretation of this transcribed summary data is that Dina was married to Simon Foscue and Sarah was their daughter. Alternatively, Dina could have married another Foscue, and Simon simply a witness here. But it does look likely that Sarah was Dina’s daughter, at least, unless perhaps she was a daughter of a sister of Dina who had also married a Foscue and had since died or simply wasn’t mentioned in the Will. However, to have been bequeathed a slave, would Sarah not have had to be an adult, therefore born by c 1739? That might make the testator a very old man. But all these are speculations, and the evidence from the Will is too scant to be sure who Sarah Foscue here was and who her parents were.
Another perspective on these families is provided by a 1998 Application to the National Register of Historic Places by the owners of the Foscue and Simmons Plantations, Jones County, North Carolina.30 The document provides current and past details of the plantations and buildings of this large estate, and Brocket is mentioned twice. The first mention comes in a subsection on the historical background and social history context ascribing the origins of the plantation to a purchase in 1766 by Simon Foscue, Sr., planter, of a 100 acre tract of land on the North side of Trent River in a part of Craven County that later became Jones.31 The family and further land acquisitions by Simon Foscue, Sr, are then summarized:32
“Simon Foscue, Sr., (ca. 1734-1814) prospered in Craven and Jones Counties and through three marriages, sired a very large family. He was first married on 29 March 1759 to Sarah Brocket, the widow of Benjamin Brocket, and he had four children with her: Stephen Foscue (1761-17.. ); Phoebe Foscue (1763-17.. ); Frederick Foscue (1766-1832); and Rachel Foscue (1771- ) … Frederick Foscue prospered in Jones County. Both Stephen and Phoebe Foscue were dead by 1788, apparently never having married (Jones County Deeds Book 1: 428).
Simon Foscue, Jr. (1780-1830), the first child of his father’s (second) marriage in 1779 to Nancy Mitchel (1749-1793), the daughter of Alexander Mitchel was born on 21 January 1780.”
Although this is a 20th C document, the precision of the details about the Foscue family gives the impression of them being sourced from reliable Foscue family or estate records. It shows that Benjamin Brocket’s widow Sarah married Simon Foscue Sr on 29 Mar 1759, bore him 4 children 1761-71, and died by 1779 when Simon married again. It explains why Benjamin Brockett’s 1st estate inventory was signed by Sarah Brockett, Executrix of Benjamin’s Will of 1758, but a subsequent one was signed by Sarah Foscue, Executrix, see below. It was a common and prudent custom in those times for a widow to remarry soon after the death of her husband, especially a younger widow with children.
There are two secondary sources that mention a Sarah Sanderson, but it’s unclear if they are correct, and would need verification:
1. A Sarah Sanderson is reported to have married a Simon Foscue in 1759, in North Carolina, birth year of Simon given as 1734 and of Sarah 1736 [i.e. aged 26].33 The county in North Carolina isn’t recorded in the transcription, nor the month and day. If this is the same marriage of Simon Foscue mentioned above on 29 Mar 1759, then why would Sarah Brocket have married Simon Foscue as Sarah Sanderson?
2. In 1998, referring to Benjamin Brockett’s land grant of 1747, Nash wrote: “… it is not unreasonable to assume that Ben was married by then to Sarah Sanderson, dau of Benjamin and Sarah Foscue (Fortescue).”34 But Nash’s source is unknown, and as mentioned above, he apparently took a different view of Sarah’s parents some years later. If the Benjamin Sanderson he was referring to was the testator of this 1757-8 Will, then as we have seen, the Will doesn’t prove that Sarah Brockett was his daughter.
The second mention of Brocket in this 1998 Application to the National Register of Historic Places is:
“Simon Foscue, Sr.’s largest land purchase, for one thousand and four pounds, came on 7 April 1794 when he acquired from George Pollock a tract of 627 acres whose boundaries began “at a Cypress on ___ side of Trent River Brocket’s corner thence …, thence down the river to its first station (Jones County Deeds Book 2: 326-327).”
Was the ___ side of Trent River the south side, where the Brocket Plantation was? William Brockett had sold it in 1773-4, but might it have retained its name?
1758. Benjamin Brockett’s Will of 9 Jul 1758, probated Craven Co Court Aug 1758 by oath of witness Mary Gardner, letters issued 10 Aug 1758. Excerpts:35
“… I Benjamin Brockett of Craven county & Province of North Carolina planter … I give and bequeath unto my well beloved Wife Sarah all my reall and personal Estate … And I do hereby nominate constitute and ordain my well beloved wife Sarah my whole & sole Executrix of this my last Will and testament as also Trustee & Guardian for my Children, to act and do according to the best of her judgment and to the benefit of my Children and also to dispose any part of the Estate or convey lands as my beloved Wife Sarah shall see proper and convenient …” Witnesses: Mary Gardner, Mary Pringell, John Granade. Signed neatly by Benjamin himself:
- Benjamin’s signature shows he was educated.
- Benjamin appointed his wife Sarah as sole Executrix and “trustee and guardian of my children,” whom he did not name. Son William, 1748-1821, is a known son. Benjamin, d 1819, was probably too. It isn’t known if there were any others.
- Sarah should “act and do according to the best of her judgment and to the benefit of my Children” and could “dispose any part of the Estate or convey lands”.
- The witness John Granade was also a witness to the Wills of Thomas Stevens in 1751 and Benjamin Sanderson in 1757, above.
1758 or 59. Benjamin Brockett’s estate inventory, surviving in 2 copies.36
The Inventory contains many practical implements of planter life but also three old guns, two Bibles and seven books, and by far the most valuable item: “one Negro fellow named Mingo”, valued for auction at £20.
One copy of the Inventory is an undated and unvalued list of items entitled ‘Inventory of the Estate of Benjn. Brockett Deceased’, with ‘proved’ written at the end, followed by the signature of Sarah Brockett in a different hand—i.e. not a clerk’s copy of her signature, so probably her own:
The other copy has a mostly illegible date and is written in a neat copperplate-style hand, such as a trained clerk would use, and is entitled “A Copy of the Inventory of the Estate of Benjn. Brockett Deceasd. and Sold at Publick Venue the …”. Values are ascribed to the items on the right hand side of the page in pounds, shillings and pence (£sd) totalling £48 11s 4d, and the smaller items are lumped together and given a combined value. Most of the items in the undated and unvalued Inventory are also present in this copy, but not in the same order and most are grouped together in lots, and a few are missing. Following the grand total at the end are the words “By Sarah Foscue Executrix proved”. The name “Sarah Foscue” is written in a similar—perhaps the same—copperplate-style hand as the Inventory itself. Compare the ‘S’ with ‘Side’ on p 2 line 1, and the F with ‘Furniture’ on p 1 line 4. The word ‘Executrix’ is in a different, less sophisticated hand, as also the word ‘proved’ below, which was possibly written by the same person who wrote ‘proved’ above Sarah Brockett’s signature on the 1st Inventory:
Discussion: Since the undated and unvalued Inventory was entitled simply “Inventory …” and the one for the Auction was entitled “A Copy of the Inventory …”, we call the 2 inventories here the ‘1st Inventory‘ and the ‘Auction Inventory‘ respectively. Furthermore, the items in the Auction Inventory were nearly all organised into groups or lots with values attached. So, it’s unlikely that it was compiled before the 1st Inventory, in which items were listed individually without value.
Benjamin died between the writing of his Will on 9 Jul 1758 and its probate in Aug 1758. He had appointed “my well beloved wife Sarah my whole & sole Executrix”. One of the main tasks of executing a Will is obtaining probate, for which the deceased’s estate normally has to be valued, any debts and funeral costs settled, and then any monetary bequests paid before the residue of the estate can be determined and distributed. However, Benjamin left all his real and personal estate to his wife. So, perhaps in this case a valuation wasn’t necessary before probate, and it only occurred later for purposes of an auction. The inclusion of the words ‘Executrix’ and ‘proved’ after Sarah Foscue’s name in the Auction Inventory are therefore unexpected but were perhaps needed because her name was different from the name in the Will and/or the 1st Inventory.
As for the dates of the two Inventories, it’s probable that the 1st Inventory was drawn up in July or August 1758 for probate soon after Benjamin’s death and signed by his recent widow, Executrix Sarah Brockett.37 Some time later she perhaps decided to sell the personal estate at public auction. The bulk of the Auction Inventory appears to have been prepared in advance of the actual auction and then completed afterwards once the amounts achieved were known. It was entitled “A Copy of the Inventory of the Estate of Benjn. Brockett Deceasd. and Sold at Publick Venue the …” with a blank space left for the date, and apparently also a blank space left down the right hand side of the pages for the amounts once they were known. It seems that the person recording the amounts wrote the heading “£ s d” at the top of the column of amounts on the right hand side of the page, but in the blank space where the date had been intended, and then subsequently someone tried to squeeze the date into the same space as well. The result is difficult to decipher, but it is possible to discern “24th”, but the month and final numeral of the year are illegible. “175” is however clear so the final numeral would have been either 8 or 9. As we know, Sarah remarried 29 Mar 1759, so the auction must have been held between April and December 1759. Ancestry.com indexed both copies to ‘Abt 1759’.
On the basis of a single word ‘Sarah’ or a letter ‘F’ we can’t be sure, but the signature “Sarah Foscue” appears to have been written in a similar—perhaps the same—copperplate-style hand as the Auction Inventory itself. Moreover, the ‘Sarah’ of Sarah Foscue has similarities in its slant and the general shape of its letters to the ‘Sarah’ on the 1st Inventory. Sarah’s signature on the 1st Inventory was most probably her own, and it was completely different from the hand that wrote the Inventory. So might Sarah have written the whole Auction Inventory herself? Being able to write in sophisticated copper-plate style was probably limited to clerks in NC at that time, so it’s unlikely, in which case the signature of Sarah Foscue on the Auction Inventory may have been a clerk’s copy of her signature. Alternatively, copper-plate may have been the style taught in schools and a good student would develop a calligraphic hand not dissimilar from trained clerks. Sarah was certainly literate, and it’s possible that she excelled in handwriting.
For an image see the separate page. Nash uncovered this deed and correctly identified William as the one who had married Martha/Patsey in New Bern NC in 1771. He and his family were in York Co SC for for the 1790 and 1800 censuses and his Will of 1819 showed him in Smith Co, Tennessee, where he died in 1821.
Main points of §2.1
- Benjamin Brockett was eligible for land in Craven Co in 1743 and was probably married at the time. The same land was patented to him in 1747 and sold by his son in 1773-4. As a landowner he would have been a prominent member of the local community and so was doubtless the same Benjamin Brockett who was recorded in other Craven Co records from the 1750s—as constable, executor and witness of Wills. He died between the writing and proving of his own Will, between 9 Jul and 10 Aug 1758.
- In his Will Benjamin mentioned his wife Sarah and unnamed children. The 1773-4 record shows that Capt William Brockett 1748-1821 was one of the children. Another with little doubt was Benjamin, later Sheriff of Jones Co, NC, d 1819.
- It appears that Benjamin may have had two wives called Sarah. The evidence is not yet sufficiently clear to say who their parents were. The signature of Sarah the widow was different from the signature of Sarah, the probable earlier wife. 7 months after Benjamin’s death, Sarah his widow married Simon Foscue. She had signed a first inventory as Brockett, probably for probate soon after Benjamin’s death, and a second one with values for auction as Foscue within 9 months of her remarriage on 29 Mar 1759. She gave Simon 4 children 1761-71 and died by 1779.
RW Nash’s discovery of many of the records discussed above threw the accepted ancestry of Capt William given by EJB into doubt. Some accepted Nash’s conclusions but many—much to his frustration—stuck to EJB’s account. And there matters stood until the Brockett Y-DNA project, established in 2000, began to produce some challenging results.
Research into DNA is of course highly scientific and its application highly technical, such that lay folk simply interested in its value for genealogy can easily get bamboozled by details and jargon. In order to try and minimise this here we will go into as little technical detail as possible. More information can be found on other pages in this archive, see the Site Map. It is also vital to maintain strict confidentiality of all living persons, and we will divulge no more than can be found on the separate public FTDNA Table of Results.
One concept that needs brief explanation is Genetic Distance. This is “the number of differences, or mutations, between two sets of results [i.e. two people]. A genetic distance of zero means there are no differences in the results being compared against one another, i.e. an exact match.”39 As a general rule of thumb, FTDNA places a Genetic Distance of 1, 2 and 3 on 37 markers, i.e. 36/37, 35/37 and 34/37, as “within the range of most well-established surname lineages in Western Europe”,40 but not a Genetic Distance of 4. For more detail see see the separate page.
Within a few years of the start of the project 5 men who traced their descent from the 17th C immigrant John Brockett of New Haven had participated. One traced his descent from John’s eldest son John and Elizabeth DOOLITTLE, and the other 4 from son Samuel and Sarah BRADLEY. 3 of these 4 traced their descent through Capt William of the Carolinas. But the results showed no clear picture. One who traced his descent from son Samuel through Capt William matched the one who traced his descent from son John at a Genetic Distance of 3, which was promising. But doubt was injected by the other 3 results of those who traced their descent from son Samuel. They all varied from each other at Genetic Distances of more than 3, which as a general probability don’t indicate a common ancestor within the time frame (early 17th C). Furthermore, one was entirely different from all of the others.
No firm conclusions could be drawn from this data, and Nash’s theory of the VA/NC ancestry of Capt William remained possible. There the matter rested for many years until the results of a new participant who thought he might have descended from son Samuel—but not through Capt William—matched the one who traced his descent from son John at a Genetic Distance of zero. This exact match between two men who traced their descent from two different sons of the original immigrant verified that he was their common ancestor. We thus became confident of the 37 marker Y-DNA profile of the 17th C immigrant John Brockett of New Haven. And subsequent testing from new participants has since confirmed:
- the same conclusion from a different pair of results.
- why some earlier participants who traced their descent through Capt William had Genetic Distances greater than 3.
- that the original participant whose results were entirely different from the others must descend from a different ancestor.
More specifically, in the context of this essay, in which we have seen that Capt William was the son of Benjamin Brockett, who died in North Carolina 1758, these findings confirmed that Benjamin must have descended from John Brockett of New Haven (d 1690). RW Nash had proved that the line of descent put out by EJB was mistaken, but Y-DNA proved that the line of descent put out by RW Nash had to be mistaken too. However, probably because US Brockett family researchers relied too heavily on EJB, none apparently worked out how Benjamin could have fitted into the New Haven clan. If you rely on EJB, all known Benjamins are spoken for. Research halted there until May 2020 when Betty Hager suggested reviving it; new evidence was soon found, and a long-standing genealogical mystery was finally solved.
Main points of §3
- As a general probability, matches up to a Genetic Distance of 3 on 37 Y-DNA markers are sufficient to prove two men’s descent from a common ancestor this side of surname formation. The results of the 5 first participants in the Brockett Y-DNA project who traced their descent from the original immigrant John Brockett of New Haven (d 1690) presented a confused picture and no firm conclusions could be drawn from the data.
- It wasn’t until many years later that the results of two participants who traced their descent from two different sons of the original immigrant were found to match exactly, thus verifying his Y-DNA profile right back to himself. A number of further tests taken by different descendants further confirmed this and clarified the other differing results, and apart from one, their interrelationship is no longer in doubt. Thanks are due to all the participants.
- Most significantly in this context, this proved that Benjamin Brockett, who died in North Carolina 1758, must have descended from John Brockett of New Haven (d 1690), and the ancestries of Capt William proposed by both EJB and RW Nash had to be mistaken. There matters rested until May 2020.
4. The genealogists—part 2
Donald Lines Jacobus was a professional genealogist who lived and worked in New Haven, CT, see the separate page. He was one of the pioneers of a rigorous method of using and citing primary sources in genealogical research. His 1923-4 Families of Ancient New Haven is a model of whole-community reconstruction and should be the first port of call, not just for the Benjamins discussed here, but for all Brocketts of New Haven up to 1790/1800.
There are a number of differences between Jacobus’ and EJB’s information on the various Benjamins. They can be found in the discussions below, so need not be listed here. But since EJ Brockett seldom cited his sources and therefore can’t be verified, Jacobus is followed here. By contrast, Jacobus did cite his sources, and they can mostly be verified, like his two main sources for the Benjamins discussed here:41
NHV: New Haven Vital Statistics, Adams, Barbour et al 1917. For a discussion of this source, see the separate page.
WV: Wallingford Vital Statistics, checked here from Coralynn Brown’s internet copy of the 1924 Typescript of the Wallingford records 1670-1850 referred to here sometimes as ‘Brown’s online WV transcriptions’. For a discussion of this source, see the separate page.
Verification of primary and secondary versions of some of the other sources Jacobus cited less frequently in this context, like NoHC—‘Congregational Society, North Haven’—and burial references like NoHT2—‘Old graveyard, Montowese, North Haven’—via Findagrave, have been made where necessary and where available online, see the separate discussion.
Whether through his painstaking use and citation of these two main NHV and WV sources, or because he was a lifetime local resident, or both, Jacobus would have known the towns of the New Haven area well and could avoid mis-allocation of New or North Haven town individuals to Wallingford families, like EJB did with Benjamin and Alethea RAY for instance, or vice versa, and in cases of possible confusion Jacobus can be trusted to have made correct decisions. Furthermore, it is because he was engaged in whole-community reconstruction that he provided the clue to solve the puzzle of which Benjamin of New Haven it was who died in North Carolina in 1758. EJB didn’t have that wider perspective, and over-reliance on EJB for information has probably led to that clue being overlooked—up until now.
And because the early New Haven community kept good vital records, we can be confident that Jacobus recorded all Benjamin Brocketts born in New Haven before our cut-off point of 1733, at least those that survived infancy. Further, in the Introduction to his Families of Ancient New Haven he said, “Nearly all of the heads of families who appear in the First Census (1790) in the region covered have been identified.”42 By ‘region’ he meant the towns of New Haven, East Haven, North Haven, Hamden, Bethany, Woodbridge and West Haven of his day, see the separate page, so we can be confident that his search through the official source of the 1790 census would also have captured any New Haven Co Broket/Braket householders called Benjamin born between c 1700 and 1733. Further afield than that region Jacobus was stepping into territory he was not so familiar with and his identification of one Benjamin in Ashfield, Massachusetts, for instance, was a rare example of an error on his part, see below.
Main points of §4
- The first port of call for genealogical information on 17-18th C New Haven Brocketts should be the 1923-4 book Families of Ancient New Haven by the professional genealogist Jacobus.
- We can be confident that through his rigorous research into the original records he correctly documented all adult Benjamin Brokets/Brakets born in the New Haven area before our cut-off point of 1733.
- It was because Jacobus was engaged in whole-community reconstruction that he provided the clue to solve the puzzle of which Benjamin of New Haven it was who died in North Carolina in 1758.
As we have seen above, Y-DNA evidence shows that the Benjamin Brockett who died in North Carolina 1758 had roots in New Haven. It has also been shown that the same man was eligible to be a landowner in NC in 1743 and probably married by then. He would therefore have been born by c 1723. But for good measure, and the avoidance of doubt, all known New Haven County Benjamin Brocketts born by 1733 will be considered here.
The educated Puritan immigrants kept good vital records of their relatively small 17-18th C New Haven community, and Barbour’s team, Jacobus and Coralynn Brown subsequently carefully transcribed them. Moreover, Broket/Braket was not a common name in the community, so the absence of evidence of any other Broket/Braket families there at the time does in this case mean evidence of absence. Thus there can be no doubt that the original immigrant John, d 1690, had just the 4 surviving sons, all of whom lived and had their families in New Haven Co:43
1. John and his wife Elizabeth DOOLITTLE named their 8th and last child Benjamin but he died aged only 3 in 1700. One of their grandsons was named Benjamin, 1731-1804.
2. Benjamin and his wife Elizabeth BARNES had had 4 children in the 1670s before Benjamin himself died in 1679, but they had neither son nor grandson called Benjamin.
3. Samuel and his wife Sarah BRADLEY removed to Wallingford, where Sarah gave birth to 7 children, the youngest of whom was named Benjamin, who became the father of a Benjamin himself.
4. Jabez and his wife Dorothy LYMAN also removed to Wallingford, where Dorothy gave birth to 10 children, none of whom—nor any grandson—were called Benjamin.
We can further be confident that no Benjamins—certainly none that survived infancy—went unrecorded during the first few generations. So without doubt the only Benjamin Brokets born in New Haven Co 1646-1733 were sons and grandsons of John and Samuel.:
Other Benjamin Brocketts were born in New Haven Co in subsequent generations, but as noted above the extra 2 born before 1733 found in EJB are unfounded, and for proven Benjamins born before 1733, we need only investigate the following 4.
This Benjamin was a late 5th son and 8th child of John 1642-1720 and Elizabeth DOOLITTLE. There was no other John Brockett in New Haven at the time who could have been his father. Citing the New Haven Vital Statistics, Jacobus recorded his short life of 3 years entirely in New Haven town:44
b 28 May 1697 NHV, bp 1697 NHC1, d 28 June 1700 NHV
Jacobus cited them correctly. This was his birth record in NHV:45
and this his death record:46
EJB transposed the 97 part of his date of birth to 1679, and to his death as well. Both were obvious mistakes.47
Main point of §5.1
This Benjamin Brockett of New Haven town, son of John 1642-1720 and Elizabeth DOOLITTLE, died aged 3 in 1697-1700 and clearly couldn’t have been Benjamin Brockett of NC, d 1758.
Reliable evidence shows that this Benjamin was the 8th child and 7th son of Samuel 1691-1775 and Mehitabel HILL. Samuel was son of John 1642-1720 son of John (d 1690), see the separate page. He married Alethea RAY. A court copy of his Will—of “Benjamin Brocket of North Haven”—written 6 Jun 1804, is online.48 For Benjamin’s older brother Jacob Bracket, who removed to W Springfield, Massachusetts, see the separate page.
His parental home town was New Haven. His father Samuel married there and all the births of their children were recorded there (NHV). Here, for instance are the NHV records of the births of 3 of their children, including Benjamin’s in 1731:
Jacobus correctly cited this NHV birth record in his sketch of Benjamin. as follows (note, in passing, Samuel’s surname Brackitt for Ebenezer’s entry):49
b 3 Nov 1731 NHV, d 30 June 1804 ae. 73 NoHT2, 1 July ae. 72 NoHC; Census (NoH) 2-1-6; m 3 Jan 1770 NoHC—Alethea da. Thomas & Abigail (Clark) Ray, b 28 Nov 1743 NHV, d 23 Aug 1828 ae. 85 N0HT2, 24 Aug NoHC; she m (2) — Todd.
Both Benjamin and Alethea were born in New Haven town, but it’s clear that they became a North Haven family. Jacobus’ NoHC record of their marriage in 1770 can be found in the CT State Library 1955 edition, as can the baptisms of 6 of their children on 21 Nov 1790.50 Following is Jacobus’ list of their 8 children (abbreviated), born at 2 or 3 year intervals between 1772-86, the 6th of whom was a Benjamin, b c 1781, d 1834:
i Susanna, b c 1772, d 1844 NoHT1; m 1795 NoHV—Benjamin Pierpont.
ii Sybil, b c 1772, d 1847 NoHT1; m 1801 NoHV—Abraham Blakeslee.
iii David, b c 1774, bp 21 Nov 1790 NoHC, d 1827 HT3; m Damaris —, b c 1766, d 1848 HT3.
iv Abigail, b c 1776, bp 21 Nov 1790 NoHC, d 1813 NoHT2.
v Lois, b c 1778, bp 21 Nov 1790 NoHC, d 20 July 1806 NoHT1; m 1805 N0HC—Oliver Smith.
vi Benjamin, b c 1781, bp 21 Nov 1790 NoHC, d 16 Feb 1834 ae. 53 NoHT2; m Mabel da. Joel & Elizabeth (Sackett) Blakeslee, bp 1778 NoHC, d 18 Dec 1853 ae. 76 N0HT2. Children: 1 Alonzo, b c. 1808, d 1 Feb 1830 ae. 22 NoHT2. 2 Lucius, b 6 Dec 1817 N0HT2, d 29 Oct 1891 N0HT2; m Betsey M. Linsley.
vii Alethea, b c 1783, bp 21 Nov 1790 NoHC, d 1801 NoHC.
viii Patty, b c 1786, bp 21 Nov 1790 NoHC, d 1856 NoHT3; m 1812 NoHV—Daniel Sackett.
1790 census: This first Federal census was 32 years after Benjamin of NC had died in 1758, so if any Benjamin Brockett, born by 1733, can be shown alive for it, then of course they couldn’t have been him. However, census evidence can add weight to other evidence, and provide more context for the relevant families. This applies to this Benjamin, born in New Haven town in 1731, who was recorded in both the 1790 and 1800 censuses, as follows. Jacobus’ shorthand for the 1790 census entry for him “Census (NoH) 2-1-6” is confirmed by the actual record:
Benjamin Bracket was recorded in North Haven, head of a household comprising 2 males aged 16 years or over, 1 male under 16 years, and 6 females.51 Comment: One of the 2 males aged 16 years or over would have been Benjamin himself, and the other perhaps son David b c 1774; the male under 16 years was probably son Benjamin b c 1781, and one of the 6 females would presumably have been Benjamin senior’s wife Alethea, and the other 5 females probably some of the 6 daughters all still alive and unmarried in 1790. Benjamin was the only Broket or Braket householder recorded in New Haven Co. The other 4 Benjamins found in the States as a whole were:
· Benja Bracket, Shapleigh, York Co, Maine, see the separate page.
· Benjamin Brocket, Jones Co, North Carolina, see below and the separate page. Most probably a son of Benjamin of NC, d 1758.
· Ben Bracket, Rutherford Co, Morgan District, North Carolina, see the separate page.
· Benja Bracket, Ashfield, Hampshire, Massachusetts, see below and the separate page.
· Also Benajah Bracket, West Springfield, Hampshire, Massachusetts (d 1792). A nephew of Benjamin of New Haven 1731-1804, see the separate page.
Benj. Brockett, North Haven, head of a household comprising 1 male 16-26 [i.e. b 1774-84, perhaps son Benjamin]; 1 male 45+ [i.e. by 1755, himself]; 1 female 10-16; 2 females 16-26; 1 female 26-45; and 1 female 45+ [presumably Alethea].52
Of the other 6 Benjamins, 2 were also in New Haven County, both born between 1755-74. Clearly, neither could have been the Benjamin who died in NC 1758, but their details follow the list to distinguish them from Benjamin of New and North Haven towns 1731-1804:
· Benj Brackett, Waterbury, New Haven Co, see below.
· Benjamin Brockett, New Haven town, New Haven Co, see below.
· Benjamin Brackett, Warren, Lincoln Co, Maine, see the separate page.
· Benjamin Brockett, Jones Co, North Carolina, see 1790 above.
· Benjamin Bracket, Morgan, Rutherford Co, North Carolina, see 1790 above.
· Benjn. Bracket, Ashfield, Hampshire, Massachusetts, see 1790 above.
Benj Brackett, Waterbury—as above—head of a household comprising 1 male aged 26-45 [i.e. b 1755-74, himself]; 3 females 0-10; 1 female 10-16; 1 female 26-45].53 Comment: The next entry for Waterbury in the 1800 census was the household of Zenas Brackett. He and Benjamin were brothers, recorded by Jacobus as sons of Samuel Brockett 1714-96 and Ruth (not Sarah) BRADLEY of Wallingford, Benjamin born there in 1763, and dying in 1842 in Waterbury.54 Zenas likewise 1752-1833. Benjamin Brocket/t was no doubt the householder recorded in Waterbury again in 1810, 20, 30 and 40. In 1810 his household comprised 1 male and 1 female aged 45 and over, and 1 female 10 thru 15, again the next entry to Zenas.55 In 1820 Benjamin’s household again comprised 1 male and 1 female aged 45 and over, and 1 female 10 thru 15.56 In 1830 his household comprised 1 male and 1 female 60 thru 69,57 and in 1840 1 male 70 thru 79 and 1 female 60 thru 69.58 It appears from the censuses that Benjamin had no sons. Although he was born in Wallingford—in 1763— he descended from a different line to that of Benjamin of Wallingford b 1733, next section 5.3.
Benjamin Brockett, New Haven town—as above—head of a household comprising 4 males 0-10; 1 male 26-45 [i.e. b 1755-74, himself]; 1 female 10-16; 1 female 26-45.59 It seems likely that this was the Benjamin born 1762, husband of Rachel CLARK, and son of Hezekiah.60 Jacobus recorded him with 4 sons born 1789-98, although residing West Haven and with no daughters born till l804. The Benjn Brocket recorded in 1810 in East Haven, head of a household comprising 1 male 0-10; 1 male 26-45 [i.e. b 1765-84, himself]; 1 female 26-45; and 1 female 45 and over,61 would not therefore have been the Benjamin of New Haven town in 1800. In any event, both were born after 1755, so neither could have been the Benjamin of Wallingford b 1733, next section 5.3, or the Benjamin of NC, d 1758
If you rely on EJB, you will find this Benjamin (1731-1804 and husband of Alethea RAY), as the son of a different set of parents—of Benjamin and Lydia ELCOCK.62 Benjamin and Lydia indeed had a son Benjamin recorded born around the same time—2 May 1733—but in Wallingford, where they lived,63 see next section 5.3. But as shown here in this section 5.2, Benjamin, son of Samuel and husband of Alethea, was born 3 Nov 1731 in New Haven town and on marriage removed to North Haven, where their 8 children were born, and where the 1790 and 1800 censuses recorded them. EJB confused the two Benjamins, see also below. In any case, evidence provided here shows clearly that neither could have been the Benjamin who died in NC 1758.
Main points of §5.2
- Benjamin was born 3 Nov 1731 in New Haven, married Alethea RAY in 1770 in North Haven, where their 8 children were born. He clearly couldn’t have been the Benjamin who died in NC in 1758.
- His appearance as a householder in both the 1790 and 1800 censuses further confirms that he wasn’t Benjamin of NC, d 1758.
- EJB confused this Benjamin, b 1731, with the following one in §5.3, b 1733.
The above is a handwritten certified true copy dated 29 Aug 1738 of the original 1733 Wallingford record of this Benjamin’s birth. It says:64
“Benjamine son of Benjamine & lide Brokit was born may the second one thousand seuen hundred & thirty three
A true copie test Samll Munson town Clerk
wallingford august 29: 1738”
It is primary evidence that Benjamin was born 2 May 1733 the son of Benjamin and Lydia ELCOCK—for whom see next section 5.4. Jacobus correctly transcribed the 1733 Wallingford birth, and listed Benjamin as Benjamin and Lydia’s 7th and last child and 2nd son; this is his brief sketch of Benjamin:65
“b 2 May 1733 WV; Census (Ashfield, Mass.) 1-1-2.”
The Census reference signifies that Benjamin was recorded in the 1790 Federal Census for Ashfield Massachusetts and the household comprised 1 male aged 16 years or over [himself], 1 male under 16 years, and 2 females. However, the census entry was actually for a Benjamin who belonged to a long line of Massachusetts Brackets rather than to a New Haven one—a rare example of an error by Jacobus. For details see the separate page. In a nutshell, later census returns for Benjamin Bracket of Ashfield show that he was born after 1755, so he couldn’t have been this Benjamin, b 1733, son of Benjamin and Lydia ELCOCK.
- In his Families of Ancient New Haven Jacobus’ primary focus was obviously the New Haven ‘region’, as he called it, see the separate page.
- Jacobus found birth records of 2 Benjamin Brokits between 1731-3 in the New Haven region. He also found records there of the marriage, death and children of the one born 1731. But not so for this one, born 1733.
- Surname variations—like Ailing and Allen, for instance—weren’t significant for Jacobus and he grouped them under one spelling. In our case it is clear that he included all New Haven Brakets in his Brockett section, and with good reason—the name was often spelt either way in the early New Haven records, e.g. above.
- In 1790 both the Benjamins born 1731-3 would have been in their 40s and assumed to have been householders with families. Jacobus’ opinion of the 1790 census was that it “definitely locates each male head of a household in a definite town”.66 He found a clear census entry for the household of the Benjamin born 1731 in the New Haven region, but not for the one born 1733. He therefore probably suspected that the Benjamin b 1733 had removed elsewhere, and indeed he found an entry in the 1790 census returns for Ashfield Massachusetts for a household of a Benja Bracket, comprising 1 male aged 16 years or over, 1 male under 16 years, and 2 females. This was consistent with a man in his 40s, married with a young son and a daughter, and Ashfield, Hampshire, Massachusetts, was only c 94 m N of Wallingford. It mattered not that his surname was spelt Bracket, as Jacobus also identified—correctly in their case—3 former New Haven Brackets in the 1790 census who had removed to W Springfield, New Hampshire, only c 35 m distant from Ashfield: Benjamin’s 2nd cousins Jacob Bracket and sons Jacob and Benajah, see separate page.
- Jacobus had a comprehensive awareness of the the 1790 community in the New Haven region, but less so further afield and he may not have taken into account that since the early days of immigration there had been Brakets in Massachusetts, with forbears back in old England who were never Brokets. He says in his Introduction “Descendants in the male line who removed from this region are also given, if obtainable, to about 1800, unless they have been adequately set forth in published genealogies.”67 But if he had consulted the 1907 Brackett Genealogy he would have found the Benjamin of Ashfield, born in 1760 in Massachusetts, not in Wallingford 1733.68
As seen above, 5 Benjamins have been found in the States in the 1790 Federal Census. One was the one in Ashfield, just discussed, another was Benjamin of New and North Haven towns 1731-1804 who married Alethea RAY, above . Of the others, one was in Maine and was clearly of different stock, and two were in North Carolina. This Benjamin, b 1733, was too young to have been the one (d 1758) who had been eligible for land there in 1743, and too old to have been the one recorded in Jones Co in the 1800 census aged 26-45, i.e. born between 1755-74. This Benjamin of Wallingford b 1733, if alive in 1790, would have been aged 57, but he wasn’t recorded as a householder in the census that year. What about subsequent censuses?
1800-20 censuses: Again, all 7 Benjamins found in the States in the 1800 Federal Census are spoken for, whether being of different stock or born too late, see above. There were Benjamin Brockets in East Haven and Waterbury in 1810 and 1820, born too late, see above. And the same applies, for instance, with:
- B Brockett of New Haven town in 1810, head of a household comprising 3 males under 10; 1 male 10 thru 15; 1 male 26 thru 44 [i.e. b 1766-84, himself]; and 1 female 26 thru 44.69
- Benjn Bracket of New Haven town in 1820, head of a household comprising 1 male 16 thru 25 [i.e. b 1795-1804, himself] and 1 female 26 thru 45.70
- Benjamin Brockett of North Haven in 1820, head of a household comprising 1 male 26 thru 44 [i.e. b 1776-94, himself]; 1 male 10 thru 15; 1 male under 10; and 1 female 26 thru 44.71
So, what became of this Benjamin (b 1733) we don’t know. No record of his death has so far been found. He appears to have vanished from the record.
If you rely on EJB, you will find a mix-up between this Benjamin, born 1733, and the Benjamin, born 1731, husband of Alethea RAY, as noted above. EJB wrongly swapped the dates of birth and allocated them each to the other’s parents. EJB added “alive in 1792” to the Benjamin born 1731, but as usual he gave no source. He added the same alive-or-dead 1792 date to several others in the family, but it’s unclear why. In any case, the Benjamin born 1731 was indeed alive in 1792—he didn’t die till 1804—and an “alive in 1792” shouldn’t be transferred to this one born 1733.
Main points of §5.3
- We know who this Benjamin (b 1733) wasn’t—neither the Benjamin of Ashfield in 1790, nor the Benjamin of NC, d 1758, for instance—but apart from his birth in Wallingford 2 May 1733 we haven’t yet found any record of him. No record of his death has been found, but if alive in 1790, when he would have been aged 57, he wasn’t recorded as a householder in the census. Nor has he been found in the censuses for 1800-20, when he would have been aged aged 67, 77 and 87. We don’t know what became of him.
- Errors have been published about this Benjamin (b 1733). Jacobus made a rare error about him regarding the 1790 census. EJ Brockett made an error about his parentage and date of birth.
The preceding sections 5.1-3 have shown that of the 5 Benjamin Brokets recorded in New Haven Co up to 1733, none of the ones born 1645, 1697, 1731, or 1733 could have been the Benjamin who was recorded in NC 1743-58, so that leaves only this one. The first surviving documentary evidence of this Benjamin is his marriage to Lydia ELCOCK in 1720, where he was described as “of Wallingford”. Further reliable evidence shows that he and Lydia then had a family of 7 children in Wallingford, or 8 according to Lydia. But how could this Benjamin, with a wife and large family in Wallingford have possibly been the Benjamin recorded with a wife and family in NC 1743-58? If you rely on EJB for your information, or have made other assumptions, like Nash—that the Benjamin of NC (d 1758) was born c 1725, the son of Francis of Pasquotanck Co, see above—then you wouldn’t even entertain the possibility that this Benjamin of Wallingford might have removed to NC. He was already fully spoken for.
The first difference between EJB’s data and Jacobus’ regarding this Benjamin, husband of Lydia, is his date of birth. EJB stated:72
“Benjamin Brockett, (Samuel, John), son of Samuel and Sarah (Bradley) Brockett, was born May 28, 1697.”
But Jacobus was more hesitant. For a full image of his sketch of the family of Samuel and Sarah—Benjamin’s parents—see the separate page, but here are the extracted details of Jacobus’ sketch of the births of their last 4 children:73
You can see that for Josiah’s birth in 1691, Alice’s in 1693 and the second Josiah’s death in 1764, the source is WV; Jacobus had copied this information from the Wallingford Vital Statistics, and you can find them verified in Brown’s online WV transcriptions:
Josiah, son Samuell & Sarah, b. July 15, 1691
Ails [sic], dau. Samuell & Sarah, b. Apr. 23, 1693
Josiah, d. Sept. 20, 1764
But for the births of Benjamin and the second Josiah in 1697 and 1698 Jacobus placed the source in square brackets with a preceding interrogation point: [?WV]. This was Jacobus’ method of indicating doubtful evidence:
“Brackets are used to enclose statements that are not based on conclusive evidence. Such statements, when also preceded by an interrogation point, are considered doubtful.”74
So by [?WV] here, Jacobus was indicating that he found no birth record for Benjamin in the Wallingford Vital Statistics—and it isn’t in Coralynn Brown’s online transcriptions, nor indeed has any other documentary evidence of his birth or baptism yet been found. However, the exactitude of the date 28 May 1697 suggests Jacobus must have had a source. And he subsequently realised it was mistaken. In the section appended to the end of his book, ADDITIONS AND CORRECTIONS, Jacobus added this note:75
“The births of Benjamin & Josiah were not found by the compiler in Wallingford Vital records, but were so entered in the Brockett Genealogy. On reconsideration, it appears that the birth-date assigned to Benjamin really belongs to his cousin Benjamin, s. of John, and the date of birth of this Benjamin is unknown. It is also probable that the date assigned to Josiah (viii) is a second and faulty reading of the birth of Josiah (v), and that the latter was father of FAM. 7.”
Jacobus’ book was published in 1923-4 and the “Brockett Genealogy” here meant EJB’s Brockett Genealogy, published 1905. For his use of family histories see the separate page.
So, on reflection Jacobus realised that EJB had made a mistake—28 May 1697 was the date of birth of the Benjamin Brockett of New Haven town 1697-1700, the son of John 1642-1720, as recorded in the New Haven Vital Statistics, and indeed by Jacobus too, see above. EJB had mistakenly assigned the same date of birth—28 May 1697—to this Benjamin son of Samuel and Sarah BRADLEY as well, and faced with records of several Benjamin Brokets alive at the same time, Jacobus made the mistake of relying on EJB. Thus Jacobus too made a mistake—another rare one for him—by relying on EJB, but he subsequently corrected it.
It is clear, however, that although Jacobus’ correction removed the date of Benjamin’s birth, it did not also remove his membership of Samuel and Sarah’s family. Jacobus didn’t doubt that. His square brackets and interrogation point directed doubt at the date, not at the family, and his correction confirmed this. But without a documentary and correct record of his birth or baptism, how might Jacobus have been sure that Benjamin was a son of Samuel and Sarah?
It’s possible to infer from Benjamin’s wife Lydia’s age (b 1700, see below) that he is likely to have been born in the 1690s. As we shall see, Jacobus found records showing that Benjamin married Lydia 15 Dec 1720, and also that she was born at the end of 1700.76 So she was 20 years and 2 days old at marriage. Given contemporary customs of age at first marriage, Jacobus could sensibly assume that Benjamin would have been of a similar age, and born in the 1690s. Although he didn’t speculate, this may have contributed to his following EJB’s data too readily regarding his date of birth. But regarding his place of birth, or at least his home town, as outlined above, Jacobus could be confident that there were only 4 Broket/Braket childbearing families in New Haven Co 1670-1700, and only 2 of them had sons or grandsons called Benjamin. John and Elizabeth DOOLITTLE’s son Benjamin was born 1697 and died 1700, so they wouldn’t have had a son Benjamin born before and still surviving. They were a New Haven town family and he was the their last recorded child in the New Haven Vital Statistics, their previous child having been born 5½ years previously. They are unlikely to have had another child, and if he had survived he would no doubt have been recorded. That left the family of Samuel and his wife Sarah BRADLEY—see the separate page—as the only possible parents of a Benjamin of marriageable age in Wallingford in 1720. Benjamin was dubbed ‘of Wallingford’ in his 1720 marriage records and the birth records of all their children show him to have remained a Wallingford householder till at least 1729. Of course Benjamin could have removed to Wallingford as a young man prior to his marriage, but Jacobus sensibly assumed that he was also born there. Although Samuel and Sarah both came from New Haven town, around the time of their marriage they became a Wallingford family. Jacobus found a record of the births of 6 children between 1682-93 in WV, and since Samuel didn’t die there till 1742, he reasonably assumed that Benjamin was also born in Wallingford, despite not finding a record of his birth. Jacobus knew that Benjamin had to have been in Samuel and Sarah’s family. All other families were spoken for.
Such was possibly Jacobus’ line of thought. If so, it was sound negative proof, see above. And until contrary evidence emerges, it leaves no doubt that Benjamin was a son of Samuel (1652-1742) and Sarah BRADLEY.
“Benjn brockit married Lidea Elcook December 15: 1720
A true copie test Samll Munson town clerk
wallingford august 28 1738”
The above image is of a handwritten certified true copy dated 28 Aug 1738 from the Wallingford record of the 15 Dec 1720 marriage between Benjamin and Lydia.77 They also ratified their marriage in New Haven, Lydia’s home town, as recorded in the New Haven Vital Statistics:78
These two marriage records are the earliest currently known primary record of this Benjamin. They show that Wallingford was his home town, which along with the above evidence that his parents resided in Wallingford, are major elements of the negative proof that this Benjamin who married Lydia was the son of Samuel and Sarah BRADLEY.
Jacobus faithfully recorded both sources, WV and NHV:79
… m 15 Dec 1720 NHV, WV—Lydia da. Thomas & Martha (Munson) Elcock, b 17 Dec 1700 NHV; …
Coralynne Brown’s online Wallingford transcriptions have “Benjamine BROCKIT, m. Lidea ELCOCK, Dec. 15, 1720”.80 EJB’s record of their marriage is the same, except he wrongly gave Lydia’s father as Anthony rather than Thomas, see below.81
“Benjamin Brockett … married Lydia Elcock, dau. Anthony and Martha Elcock, Dec. 15, 1720. She was born Dec. 17, 1700.
Here is Jacobus’ list of the couple’s children, according to the Wallingford Vital Statistics—WV:82
Martha, dau. Benjamine & Lidea, b. Oct 2, 1721
Zillah, dau. Benjamin & Lidea, b. June 17, 1723, d. Mar. 21, 1737
Allice, dau. Benjamin & Lydia, b. Feb. 12, 1725
Hezekiah, son Benjamin & Lidea, b. Dec. 31, 1727
Lidea, dau. Benjamine & Ledia, b. Nov. 14, 1729, d. Nov. 17, 1729
Lidea, dau. Benjamin & Lidea, b. Mar. 7, 1731
Benjamine, son Benjamin & Lidea, b. May 2, 1733
Jacobus and Brown’s transcriptions tally exactly. If it were needed, this provides verification of the data.
But once again EJB’s data differs. He listed a further 3 daughters born 1737-8—Zeruiah, Lydia and Sarah:83
Martha, b. Oct. 2. 1721 ; m. Enos Tuttle; had 5 children, (a) Martha, (b) Sybil, (c) Silence, (d) Thankful, (e) Lydia.
Tilla, b. June 27, 1723; d. March 21, 1737.
Alice, b. Feb. 12, 1725.
Hezekiah, b. Dec. 31, 1827 [sic]; m. Mary Russell.
Lydia, b. April 14, 1729; d. Nov. 17, 1729.
Lydia, b. 1731; d. 1731.
Benjamin, b. May 2, 1733 ; m. Althea Ray.
Zeruiah twin, b. March 20, 1737; d. March 21, 1737.
Lydia twin, b. March 20, 1737; d. 1755; unmarried.
Sarah, b. 1738; d. Feb. 26, 1781.”
Comment: As with Benjamin senior’s brothers Samuel, John and Josiah, EJB gave no date of death for Benjamin or Lydia, and with 10 children born 1721-38 the impression is that Benjamin and Lydia’s was a lifetime family. Note also, as discussed above, EJB mistakenly recorded son Benjamin, b 2 May 1733, marrying Althea Ray.
In his History of Wallingford of 1870 Davis had also listed the extra 3 children:84
Although one of EJB’s dates (Lydia b 14 Apr 1729) tallies with the original Wallingford records (Jacobus and Brown) rather than with Davis, and although EJB differs slightly from Davis with a few dates and spellings, it appears that EJB’s unacknowledged source for the three youngest children may have been Davis. Elsewhere EJB quoted him at some length and even cited him.85 But Davis’ reliability here is damaged by his obvious error of confusing this Benjamin son of Samuel (1652-1742) and husband of Lydia Elcock, with the Benjamin of the previous generation, the 2nd son of the immigrant John d 1690. Having recorded on the previous page that that Benjamin had been born 1648, married Lydia Elcock, and died 22 May 1679, on this page he stated that he married Lydia Elcock on 16 Dec 1720! But that aside, since neither Davis nor EJB referenced their information, it is safer to rely on the primary records, or at least the transcriptions of them. And in those there is no evidence for these extra 3 children, indeed there is other evidence against, as will be shown in the next section. Jacobus ignored them, and so should we.
We can now show Jacobus’ full sketch of this Benjamin, husband of Lydia:86
This reveals the final—and for our purposes the most significant—difference between EJB’s data and Jacobus’ regarding this Benjamin, husband of Lydia: the “probably div.” note, followed by Lydia’s remarriage under her maiden name on 27 Sep 1738 to Samuel Lathrop. It seems that by relying on EJB, rather than Jacobus, everyone—including Nash—missed this crucial clue.
EJB was an amateur genealogist focused on his own Brockett ancestors and relatives, and occasional daughters’ lines, but Jacobus was a professional engaged in whole-community reconstruction. Brockett was just one of many family names he was recording. Elcock of New Haven town was another:
Jacobus found two isolated Elcock records in Wallingford—both of Lydias and both of marriages, one in 1720 and the other in 1738, as confirmed by Brown’s online Wallingford transcriptions.87 Apart from these two isolated Elcock Wallingford records, Jacobus found the entire Elcock family recorded in New Haven town, including just one Lydia born there at the end of 1700:88
He also found the 1720 Lydia marriage (to Benjamin Brockit) in New Haven town records, as shown above. Jacobus assumed—quite rightly—that she was the Lydia born 1700. He also assumed—again quite rightly—that the Lydia Elcock marrying in 1738 in Wallingford (to Samuell LOTHRUP) must have been the same Lydia. But why would she remarry under her maiden name? All this, along with finding no record of Benjamin’s death in WV, or elsewhere, would have led Jacobus to deduce that she “probably div.” Be that as it may, this remarriage would only have been captured because Jacobus was engaged in whole-community reconstruction.
Elsewhere Jacobus commented: “Divorce and bastardy were more common in colonial New England than is generally supposed,”89 and on 10 Aug 1738 Lydia filed a petition to divorce Benjamin on grounds of desertion:90
The dorse records the outcome:
“Lydia Brackets Petition
But the clinching evidence that proves that the Benjamin Brockett who died in North Carolina in 1758 was formerly the husband of Lydia Elcock wasn’t the divorce itself, but Lydia’s statement in her Petition, that he:
“… wilfully deserted her going out of this Govermt to North Carolina …”
For a full transcription of her Petition:Read more
To the Honourable Superior Court to be holden at New Haven in New Haven County on the last Tuesday in August Instant – The Petition of Lydia Bracket of Wallingford in sd. County alias Lydia Elcock Humbly Sheweth that on the 15th. Day of December anno Domini 1720 – She was lawfully Joynd in Marryage with one Benjamin Bracket then of Wallingford aforesd and that your honours Petitioner and the sd. Benjamin lived together as Husband & Wife until about the 23d of November 1732 at which Time and after your Petitioner had had Eight Children by him he wilfully deserted her going out of this Govermt to North Carolina where (or in some other remote parts of the world to your Petitioner unknown) he has ever since continued wilfully to Absent himself from her & to neglect all the Dutys of the Marryage Covenant towards her she Humbly prays that She may be Divorced from him the sd. said Benjamin Bracket and by this Court freed & Discharged from all the obligations she is under to him by force & vertue of the Marryage aforesd. And your Honours Petitioner as in Duly [sic] bound shall ever pray &c
Dated at New Haven this 10th day of August Anno R Regis Georgii Secundi Duodecimo annoque Domini 1738
This divorce petition by Lydia on the grounds of desertion is the final primary record found of Benjamin in New Haven Co records, and the next record so far found of him is from 1743 in North Carolina with a new partner, above.
Note: Lydia was recorded having 2 children by Samuel Lathrop in Wallingford, both dying young: “John, b. Nov. 12, 1739, d. Nov. 13, 1739″ and Ruth, b. Mar. 15, 1741, d. Feb. 9, 1752”. 91
Some other points from the Petition:
- A close up of Lydia’s fluently-written signature in 1738 shows see was literate and wrote regularly:92
- Lydia was fairly precise about the date of desertion: “about the 23d of November 1732”, nearly 6 years before her Petition for divorce. She implied that that was the last time she saw him.
- The date of desertion was just over 5 months before their son Benjamin was born (2 May 1733).
- Lydia stated in 1738 that by the time Benjamin deserted her—about the 23 Nov 1732—she had had 8 children by him. This would have included their son Benjamin, for whom—although not born until 1733—a certified copy of his birth registration at Wallingford was attached to Lydia’s Petition. However, 8 is one more child than the 7 recorded in the Wallingford records. If Lydia was being truthful about the 1732 desertion date, then son Benjamin, b 2 May 1733, had to have been their last child, and the 3 further children listed by EJB and Davis—but not by the Wallingford records—cannot be correct. Perhaps the 8th was an earlier child who died at birth.
Main points of §5.4
- Birth. Jacobus made a mistake about this Benjamin’s date of birth by relying on EJB, but he subsequently corrected it. Jacobus reasonably assumed Benjamin was a son of Samuel and Sarah BRADLEY of Wallingford. Negative proof confirms he couldn’t have been from another family.
- Marriage. This is currently the earliest-known primary record of this Benjamin, and shows that his home town was Wallingford.
- Children. This shows another difference between EJB and the original Wallingford records. The original Wallingford records gave the couple 7 children, but Davis and EJB gave the couple 3 further daughters after 1733. There is no evidence for them, indeed there is evidence against. If 23 Nov 1732 was truthfully the last time Lydia saw Benjamin, then son Benjamin, b 2 May 1733, had to have been their last child, and the 3 extra daughters cannot be correct. Jacobus ignored them, and so should we.
- 1738 Petition. Jacobus deduced that Lydia “probably div.” because he was engaged in whole-community reconstruction and discovered that she remarried in 1738. This two-word note in his sketch of this Benjamin was the clue that led to finding Lydia’s 1738 divorce Petition in the CT State Library. The clue was perhaps not noticed or pursued by anyone because it wasn’t in EJB. Lydia’s Petition, among other things, said that Benjamin “wilfully deserted her going out of this Govermt to North Carolina”, thus confirming that the Benjamin of Wallingford she married in 1720 was the Benjamin who died in North Carolina in 1758.
Who Benjamin Brockett was who died in Craven Co North Carolina in 1758, was unknown throughout the 20th century and probably before. Genealogists and descendants were either unaware of him, uninterested, confused or mistaken. A clue in the 1920s wasn’t followed up until May 2020 and the answer was quickly found in a box in a library. This essay has presented a proof statement that the Benjamin Brockett who died in Craven Co North Carolina in 1758 was in fact the son of Samuel of Wallingford and his wife Sarah BRADLEY, and a grandson of John Brockett, the original immigrant to New Haven:
Are you convinced?
Page Last Updated: August 23, 2020