Cliff McCarthy, 2016
Last updated, 19 October 2017
It is unknown how and when John Potter arrived in America. He is not listed with his brother William on the passenger list of the Abigail. John and William were sons of William and Hannah (Langford) Potter.
John Potter was a freeman in New Haven in 1639 or 1640, but he was not one of the original signers of the Fundamental Agreement, instead signing shortly afterwards, when it was decided that free planters coming afterwards, should also sign the agreement.
It is believed by many, based on a speculative note by genealogist Donald Lines Jacobus, that his wife was Elizabeth Wood, daughter of Henry and Isbell (Goodspeede) Wood, of Chesham Parish, Bucks County, England. At that place, in 1630, a John Potter married an Elizabeth Wood. However, there are some problems with this. In her research on the Beecher and Potter families, Patricia Law Hatcher stated that this scenario had been investigated and proved to be a “dead end.” First, this Elizabeth Wood was supposedly baptized in 1606, which would make her 46 years old at the birth of her last child in 1652 — possible, but unlikely. However, if Elizabeth were, say 40, at the birth of her last child, then she would have been just 18 at her marriage in 1630, which is certainly possible. Perhaps, the baptismal record refers to an earlier child named Elizabeth of Henry & Isbell, or to an Elizabeth unrelated altogether. Either way, the only thing we know for sure is that John Potter’s wife was named Elizabeth.
In 1643 there were four persons in their family, their estate was valued at 25 pounds, and they had 28 3/4 acres of land. Tuttle says that John Potter died in 1643.
In June 1646, one Mrs. Brewster was before the court for slandering many people, one of whom was William Preston. She also slandered widow Potter (John’s wife), and Edward Parker. For some unknown reason, the church leaders did not approve of Edward Parker — who was not a church member — and requested Mrs. Potter not to receive his attentions. She refused. The result was that Mrs. Potter was excommunicated. Mrs. Brewster said that “Mrs. Potter would not join the church because she would not give up Edward Parker.” Elizabeth Potter married Edward Parker about this time, for in July 1646, “Edward Parker and his wife presented their desires to the Court to invest John Potter’s two sons in the right of their father’s land and house and declared themselves willing to bestow a heifer of a year old on Hannah.” In the same year “It was ordered with the consent of Edward Parker and his wife, that Jn. Potter [Jr.] should be put an apprentice for 8 years from the first of Aug. last unto Roger Allen for to learne his trade.” This seems to indicate the the Edward and Elizabeth Potter Parker were providing for John Potter’s children by distributing his estate.
In November 1649, Edward Parker appeared in Court and “desired that he might be freed from his engagement concerning the house and lott which was John Potter’s and is securitie for the children’s portions, for he is willing to leave it to the court to dispose of otherwise.”
In 1650 William Potter, John’s brother, was called before the court to account for a heifer he had of his kinswoman Hannah Potter. He said he would give twenty shillings a year for her until his kinswoman was of age to receive her.
Edward Parker died in 1662 and his widow, Elizabeth, married a third time to Robert Rose of Branford, who died in 1665. Widow Rose was probably a business woman, for her son John Potter, in his will in 1706, gives to his son Samuel “ye still that was my mother’s.” He also gives to the same son the bedstead and little chair “that was his grandmother’s,” (widow Hannah Beecher’s). Widow Elizabeth Rose made her Last Will and Testament, dated 23 July 1677, and died before signing it. The children agreed to abide by the will and later the court admitted the will to probate. Nothing is known against widow Elizabeth Rose, alias Parker, alias Potter, except her romantic attachment for Edward Parker, and nothing is known against Parker except that the elders for some unknown reason did not approve of him. The fact that her heirs agreed to stand by a void will indicates that she was a woman of merit and had the respect of her children, who were willing, even in property affairs, to abide by her wishes. She died July 28, 1677. The inventory of her estate amounted to £49. lIs. 09d.
Children of John & Elizabeth Potter
ELIZABETH was born in England, and died 28 July 1677. She married (1) JOHN POTTER, son of WILLIAM POTTER and ANN LANGFORD. He was born Bef. 18 February 1609/10, and died Abt. 1643. She married (2) EDWARD PARKER in 1646. She married (3) ROBERT ROSE after 1662, by whom she had no children.
Children of ELIZABETH and JOHN POTTER are:
i. JOHN POTTER, b. 1636; d. 24 December 1706; m. (1) HANNAH COOPER, Abt. 1660; b. 1638, New Haven, CT; d. 15 June 1675, New Haven, CT; m. (2) MARY HITCHCOCK, wid. of RALPH RUSSELL, 29 December 1679; b. 2 February 1638/39.
ii. HANNAH POTTER, b. 1637; d. 7 November 1723, New Haven, CT; m. (1) SAMUEL BLAKESLEY, 3 December 1650, New Haven, CT; m. (2) HENRY BROOKS, 21 December 1676, New Haven, CT.
iii. SAMUEL POTTER, b. 7 October 1641, New Haven, New Haven Co., CT; d. 1696; m. (1) HANNAH RUSSELL, 21 November 1670, New Haven, CT; b. 29 July 1650, New Haven, CT; d. 9 May 1676; m. (2) UNKNOWN, 6 December 1676.
Children of ELIZABETH and EDWARD PARKER are:
iv. LYDIA PARKER, b. 14 April 1652, New Haven, CT; d. Aft. 1740; m. JOHN THOMAS, 12 January 1671/72, New Haven, CT.
v. MARY PARKER, b. Bef. 1648.
vi. JOHN PARKER, b. Bef. 1648; d. 1711; m. HANNAH BASSETT, 8 November 1670; b. 13 September 1650, New Haven, CT; d. 7 June 1726, Wallingford, CT.
vii. HOPE PARKER, b. 26 April 1650.
- Blakeslee, Sr., Russell J., Our Blakeslee Heritage, (1985).
- Blue, Jon C., Case of the Piglet’s Paternity, The, (Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT, 2015).
- Clark, Harmon R., Jr., “John Potter: Some of His Descendants.” unpublished manuscript, 1996
- Cutter, William Richard et al., Genealogical and Family History of the State of Connecticut, Vols 1-4, (Lewis Historical Publishing Co., New York; 1911).
- Dexter, Franklin Bowditch, Historical Catalogue of the Members of the First Church of Christ in New Haven, CT, (New Haven, CT, 1914).
- Dodd, Stephen, compiler, “East Haven Register in Three Parts,” “Electronic.”
- Hatcher, Patricia Law, “English Origin of the Potter and Beecher Families of New Haven, Connecticut,” The American Genealogist, Vol. 79, 2004.
- Jacobus, Donald Lines, Families of Ancient New Haven, (Genealogical Publishing Co.; Baltimore, MD, 1981).
- Potter, Charles Edward, Genealogies of the Potter Families and Their Descendants in America, (Alfred Mudge & Son, Boston, 1888).