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Seeley Genealogical Society, 1997


1 ROBERT SEELEY (1) (christened 4 July 1602, SL John Parish, Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire, England; d before 11 Oct 1667, New York City, NY; died intestate; estate administered 19 Oct 1668)

Son of William (christened 23 Feb 1563/4, Great Gransden; d 1614; bur 5 Jun 1614, Bluntisham) and Grace Prett (bur 15 Nov 1635, Bluntisham) Seeley. They were married 30 Sept 1584, Great Gransden. It seems likely that William Seeley was the son of Thomas (bur 6 Oct 1579, Great Gransden) and Elizabeth Mitchell/Michell (christened 11 Jul 1539; bur 24 Feb 1563/4, Great Gransden) Seeley. Thomas Seeley was the son of William (bur 8 Dec 1565, Great Gransden) and Elizabeth (bur 6 Sep 1560, Great Gransden) Seeley.

m 1st 15 Dec 1626, St. Stephen's Church, Coleman St., London, England, Mary Heath Mason, (b about 1590; d between 10 Mar 1646 and 1651, New Haven Colony, CT). Widow of Mr. Heath. Widow of Walter Mason (bur 1 Sept 1625). She had ten known children; Rebecca Heath, Ambrose Heath; John Heath; Phillip Heath; Mary Heath; Stillborn Heath; Judith Heath; Rebecca Mason, Elizabeth Mason, and Abigail Mason, all of whom died before or during 1626.

m 2nd, 22 Dec 1666, New York City, NY, Mary Manning Walker, a widow. Sister of Captain John Manning.

Robert's birth date and place are unknown. A search of the parish records of Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire included the following entry from St. John's Church: "chr 4 Jul 1602, Robert son of William Seley and Grace his wife." A search for a previously published christening date in Bluntisham cum Earith showed that the 22 Aug 1602 date correctly reads "Ralphe ye sonne of Wm. Stookley."

An apprenticeship record for a Robert Seely recorded in the Cordswainer Company records, now at Guildhall Library in London is as follows: "Robert Seley ye sonne of William Seley of Hunt in ye county of Hunt joyner bound to John Plomer citt[izen] & c [= and et cetera] to serve from ye day & c for 7 yeeres dat 10 Marcij 1623 ii [2] s[hillings]." A cordswainer was a shoemaker, originally it meant someone who worked with cordovan leather. Normally an apprentice was about 14 years old, but it appears that Robert was older and more experienced because he did not serve out the seven years. He likely came to London already skilled as a shoemaker but unable to ply his trade, he served a short apprenticeship. Sometime after 1 August 1626, there is a "Record of Robert Seley late the apprentice of &c being made free by redemption a white spone OO". In other words, he bought his freedom not with a monetary payment (O(~zero shillings, zero pence) but by a symbolic presentation of a silver spoon. He was then free to work in London. He was also free to apply to become a citizen of London.

Robert was 24 and probably a bachelor when he married. Mary was twice widowed and had been a mother since 1608. She was probably 36 years old. A 12 year difference in their ages seems rather large, but as a new freeman of the Company of Cordswainers, Robert was probably considered lucky to have a house and shop awaiting him. Robert and Mary were probably well acquainted as fellow Puritan worshipers in St. Stephen's parish.

Nine months and one day after their marriage, Mary and Robert's son Nathaniel (SGS #2) was baptized in St. Stephen's Parish on 16 Dec 1627.

Descendants of Robert Seeley (SGS #1)--Generations One through Five
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Note* This Nathaniel did not die in infancy and did not have a brother Nathaniel. The previously reported Nathaniel Seeley, baptized 1 May 1629, was a son of Robert and Mary Hoskins.

Note* No record has been found of an Obadiah being born to Robert and Mary in England. Current research indicates that Obadiah was not the son of Robert and Mary.

Robert Seeley, left London, Monday, 29 Mar 1630, and sailed, 8 Apr 1630 from the Isle of Wight, along with his wife and child as a part of the John Winthrop Fleet, on the ship Arbella/Arabella. They arrived in Salem MA, 12 Jun 1630.

Soon after arrival, Robert accompanied a group led by Sir Richard Saltonstall going four miles up the Charles river to found a new settlement of Watertown. Robert's landholding at Watertown was 16 acres, one of the largest "homestalls" allotted to any of the planters. The average allotment was five or six acres.

In Jul 1630, Robert was one of forty one who organized The First Church of Watertown. He was one of the first 25 freemen of Watertown. He applied in Oct 1630 and was admitted 18 May 1631.

Robert brought at least one servant from England. In 1631, Philip Swaden was ordered whipped for running away from his master, Robert Seeley. On 14 Jun 1631, Philip Swaden was released by Robert Seeley from the balance of his service for ten shillings.

In Nov 1634, Robert and Abrarn Browne were appointed to survey and lay out the lots and roads of Watertown. Robert was granted a home lot of sixteen acres which he later sold to Simon Eire, Sr. in 1644. He also had twenty two acres of "upland" which was later sold to one Barshane.

In 1635, he was ordered to "surcease to do any business for the town." About this time, Robert joined a small colony that settled Wethersfield, CT where his home lot was 3 acres.

In 1636, he was appointed by the General Court of CT to take an inventory of the estate of Capt. John Oldhams, who was murdered by the Indians at Block Island, where he had gone to trade.

In May 1637, Robert was appointed a Lieutenant and was second in command under Captain John Mason in the expedition against the Pequot Indians on the Mystic and Pequot (Thames) Rivers. He was one of the first to enter the fort in the desperate "Fort Fight" on Friday, 26 May 1637. He was severely wounded. Captain Mason says in his report, "Lieutenant Seeley was a valiant soldier. I myself pulled the arrow out of his eyebrow." Robert wore the scar on his brow the rest of his life. Pequot Hill, where the fight took place, is about 8 miles northeast of New London, CT. In June 1637, he was paid 20 shillings per week and 150 bushels of corn by the inhabitants of Wethersfield.

Robert sold his house and lot in Wethersfield to Mathew Mitchell and in the fall of 1638, he joined the "Quinpiac" or New Haven Colony.

On 25 Mar 1639, it was recorded that "Lt. Seeley and Gordon Andrews shall walk to the woods and if they find any timber lying in the woods ,uncross cut and squared, they shall have liberty to seize upon it half for themselves and half for the town." In Jun 1639, the church members of New Haven Colony met to sign the Fundamental Agreement, which declared that only church members could choose public magistrates and officers. Robert Seeley was 26th among the original signers. His name is 14th in the original list of

Descendants of Robert Seeley (SGS #1)--Generations One through Five
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freemen in New Haven Colony. Robert was a member of the General Court at New Haven. He was appointed Marshall of the colony. He was reappointed to the office in 1640, 1641, and 1642.

On 7 May 1640, in settlement of the suit for land, the court decided that LL Seeley should have 150 bushels of corn and 20 shillings for delay of payment and on 7 Oct he was ordered to pay Cockwell 4 pounds, 11 shillings either in money, corn, or cattle. In 1641, Edward Haworth was ordered to pay LL Seeley 20 shillings for "taking his canoe without leave."

In 1642, New Haven records show that Robert was rated at 179 pounds. There were four in the family. In the same year, he was chosen LL of the New Haven Train Band. In 1643, he was sent as the head of a force to cooperate with Captain Underhill in aid of the Dutch against the Indians. Colonel George Fenwick mentioned Robert Seeley among the "distinguished men" from Hartford who were his guests at Saybrook Fort. In 1644, he was appointed to serve on a committee to see about a channel being dug to bring ships closer to the town. The General Court commissioned Robert, Lieutenant of Artillery in 1645.

Also in 1645, Robert was requested to advise the court as to prices and quality of the leather being used by inhabitants, "that some course may be taken of it to moderate the price of leather and shoes." This preceded his being appointed "sealer of leather." in May, 1646. Robert asked for permission to go to England in 1645/46. The court granted him a leave of absence but it appears that he did not go until later.

In Feb 1646, the Court asked Lt. Seeley to consider what privileges to allow seaman with reference to watches and training. In March, "Brother Seeley" and others were ordered to sit in the 4th seat of the middle seats, and "Sister Seeley" and others, in the 6th seat in the women's seats in the middle. In May, 1646, Robert sold his New Haven house to John Bassett.

In 1646, Lt. Seeley asked the Court to pay him 50 shillings for time he spent hunting a lost boat, but the Court refused. On 1 May 1647, the Court appointed him to inspect and dispose of unsold lots in the area, and also to reserve lots suitable for the construction of a college.

On 22 May 1648, Robert was commissioned Captain of Artillery. In June, as "sealer of leather," he complained to the Court that leather not fit to be sealed was being used and named persons doing so. In Oct, he was one of a committee to report damage to corn and meadows and to inspect the wharves.

In 1649, Robert was a rate maker. In May, he submitted his resignation as Lieutenant but the Court took up a subscription to pay him extra to retain the office. In Nov, the Governor petitioned the Court for help from the town to enable Robert Seeley to buy Robert Bassett's house. The petition indicates that Robert wanted to remain and follow his trade of shoemaking.

On 3 Aug 1651, Robert gave his son, Nathaniel, his house and land. No mention was made of Mary Mason Seeley at this time, and so it is believed that she died before this transaction. Nathaniel, in turn, sold it to Peter Mellory.

On 23 Mar 1652, Robert and three others were present on Southold, Long Island, when the Indian Chief Yokes gave possession of Shelter Island to Captain Nathan Silvester and Ensign John Booth.

Descendants of Robert Seeley (SGS #1)--Generations One through Five
Revised from April, 1977 edition

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In 1653 and 1654, Robert was appointed as Captain to the New Raven forces under Major Sedgwick and Captain Leverett, English officers, against the New Netherlands, and in Mar 1654, was put in charge of some troops and took part in the seizure of the trading place at "Dutch Point" in Hartford. In Jun 1654, he was appointed to act against the Dutch. In Jan 1654, he petitioned the Court to pay for his services in the Dutch campaign, but they refused, saying they did not "absolutely require his attendance." Then to "encourage him in any service this way," voted to give him 5 pounds. In Aug 1654, Robert was sent with 12 pounds of powder and 30 pounds of lead as a present to keep peace with the Long Island Indians.

Robert apparently returned to England in 1655 and stayed until 1661/2. On 22 Nov 1659, Nathaniel Seeley of Fairfield, CT, "son of Robert Seeley in England," sold land that was his father's. In Feb 1662, at a town meeting in Huntington, Long Island, it was ordered that a boat be sent to CT to bring Capt. Seeley to Huntington. On 28 Apr 1662, the New Haven General Court stated, "Captain Seeley being returned from England, a motion was made in his behalf for some encouragement for his settling amongst us." In Oct, the General Court awarded him 15 pounds and gave him the use of a house in Saybrook, where he took charge of the fort and ammunition.

In 1663, Robert had a controversy with the town of Stratford about his rights to land there. On 14 May, the Court ordered the town of Stratford to pay him 25 pounds and he gave up all rights and titles. In this same session, Capt. Seeley was chosen commissioner for the town of Huntington, Long Island. He was appointed chief military officer in Huntington to exercise and train soldiers.

Robert Seeley, John Ogden and others, settled the town of Elizabeth, NJ in 1665. Robert had a home lot of 6 acres. There was a suit brought before the courts in 1666 by the town of Huntington which questioned the title of the land at Easton's Neck. This was the third such suit and Robert Seeley was successful in defending his claim in each case.

After his marriage to Mary Manning Walker, Robert is believed to have lived on the Manning Estates on Manning's Island, off the coast of New York City. Robert Seeley died intestate in New York City, NY, on 11 Oct 1667. He is believed to have been buried on the Manning Estates. letters of administration were granted to his widow on 19 Oct 1668.

His widow, Mary Manning Walker Seeley, on 2 Nov 1668, sold his property at Elizabeth, NJ to Governor Philip Canteret for 44 pounds. On 15 July 1669, she sold his lands in Huntington, Long Island. It was in this document that she referred to John Manning as her brother.

Child (2)

By 1st wife:

2* Nathaniel SEELEY (bapt. 16 Dec 1627, St. Stephen's Parish, London, England; d 19 Dec 1675, Great Swamp Fight, Narragansett Bay, RI) m 1st, 6 Oct 1649, New Haven, CT, Mary Turney (bapt. 16 Sep 1631, Soulbury, England; d before 1674). Daughter of Benjamin and Mary O'Dell Turney. m 2nd, about 1674, Fairfield, CT, Elizabeth Burr Olmstead Gilbert. Daughter of John/Jehu Burr. Widow of Nehemiah Olmstead by whom she had a daughter, Sarah Olmstead who m Robert Seeley SGS #6. She was also the widow of Obadiah Gilbert by whom she had a son, Obadiah Gilbert.

*Note The previously reported Nathaniel Seeley (SGS #3), bapt. 1 May 1629, St. Stephen's Parish, London, England was Nathaniel Hoskins, a son of Robert and Mary Hoskins.

Descendants of Robert Seeley (SGS #1)--Generations One through Five
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*Note No record has been found of an Obadiah Seeley (SGS #4) being born to Robert and Mary Seeley in England. Current research indicates that Obadiah was not the son of Robert and Mary.


Ault, Helene B. research

Houtz, Esther research

Huntington, Long Island records

New Haven, CT records

Phipps, Alan J. research

Winthrop's Fleet of 1630

Descendants of Robert Seeley (SGS #1)--Generations One through Five
Revised from April, 1977 edition

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