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Phelps Origins in Dorchester (Windsor), Connecticut

Massachusetts Bay Colony leaders sought a Royal Charter for the colony because they were concerned about the legality of conflicting land claims given to several companies (including the New England Company) for the little-known territories of the New World, and because of the increasing number of Puritans who wanted to join them. Charles granted the new charter on 4 March 1628/9,  superseding the land grant and establishing a legal basis for the new English colony at Massachusetts, appointing Endecott as governor.

It was not apparent whether Charles knew that the Company was meant to support the Puritan emigration, and he was likely left to assume that it was purely for business purposes, as was the custom. The charter omitted a significant clause: the location for the annual stockholders' meeting. Charles dissolved Parliament in 1629, whereupon the company's directors met to consider the possibility of moving the company's seat of governance to the colony.

Windsor Leadership

The leaders were elected by freemen examined for their adherence to Puritan religious views. It was the first English chartered colony whose board of governors did not reside in England. This independence helped the settlers to maintain their Puritan religious practices without interference from the king. 

Windsor was Connecticut's first community. It was founded in 1633 when settlers sailed from Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts to establish themselves at the confluence of the Farmington and Connecticut rivers. The Indians called this place Matianuck. (1)

Thus, their leadership was usually intolerant of Anglican, Quaker, or Baptist religious ideas. These strict religious norms were one of the factors contributing to dissidents' early migration westward away from the colony center and out of reach of colony leaders.[2] Another significant factor in westward migration was the need for new farm land for the maturing children of large New England families.

For a thorough list of research sources related to Windsor, see Windsor Genealogy.

The Reverend John Warham and 60 members of his congregation, a church organized in England in 1630, including William Phelps, arrived two years later. They renamed the settlement Dorchester. A final name change to Windsor was decreed in 1637 by the colony's General Court. From Stiles history and others, it was written, "At a Court held May 1st, 1637, 'It is ordered that yt the plantacon called Dorchester shall bee called Windsor.' "

Families of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut Consisting of Volume II of the History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut; Including East Windsor, South Windsor, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Ellington, 1635-1891. By Henry R. Stiles.

William Phelps arrived on the ship Mary and John in 1630. George Phelps, since proven not to be William's brother, apparently arrived on board the Recovery in 1635. A great deal of research has been done on early Windsor, Connecticut.

Map of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut. The highlighted areas indicate the homes of William and George Phelps.

In 1638, it being admitted that this Connecticut colony was out of the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts colony, the people of Windsor, Wethersfield, and Hartford, met in Hartford, Jan 2nd, 1639, and adopted a constitution for the Connecticut colony, what became the first local government in America. This document recognized no authority save God, superior to that delegated by the people. This was an affront to the King.

This document was drawn up by Mr. Roger Ludlow presiding magistrate, with the assistance of the magistrates, of whom Mr. William Phelps was one...

Mr. William Phelps held the office of magistrate from 1639-1643, and 1656-1662; from 1645-1649 inclusive. He was a deputy also in 1651.

At a court held 1642, the first of government on record relating to Simsbury, whose Indian name was "Massaco," was an order passed by the Court of which Mr. William Phelps was a member, and in these words:

"It is ordered that the governor, and Mr Haynes shall have liberty to dispose of that part of land on the river called Massacoe, to such inhabitants of Windsor, as they shall see cause."(1)


(1) From The Phelps Family of America and Their English Ancestors, (Save $200 by ordering through us.) By Oliver S. Phelps and Andrew T. Servin. (Get an updated index here.)Original spelling and punctuation preserved.

(2) Families of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut Consisting of Volume II of the History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut; Including East Windsor, South Windsor, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Ellington, 1635-1891. By Henry R. Stiles.

(3)The Eno and Enos Family in America, Descendants of James Eno of Windsor. Connecticut. By Douglas C. Richardson. 1973.