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Guide to the Williams Family Papers
1739-1842 (Bulk 1747-1770)
 MS 698

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jan Hilley

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 21, 2022
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

1607 Birth of Robert Williams (1607-1693) who, with his wife Elizabeth Stalham (1597-1694) began this New England Williams line. The materials within the collection primarily involve the descendants of his sons  Isaac (1638-1707) and  Samuel (1632-1698) who married sisters Martha Parke (1641-1674) and Theoda Parke (1637-1718).
1664 Birth of John Williams, son of Samuel Williams (1632-1698) and Theoda Parke (1637-1718). John Williams (1664-1729), one of the most well known members of the Williams family, was an ordained minister and an early settler of Deerfield, Massachusetts. He lost his first wife, Eunice Mather, and two of his children in the Indian raid known as the Deerfield Massacre (1704) and was held in captivity in Canada for two years before returning to Deerfield. He married Abigail Bissell and one of their daughters,  Abigail (1708-1787), married  Col. Ebenezer Hinsdale (1706-1763). Hinsdale estate papers are included in this collection.
1688 Birth of William Williams, son of William Williams, Sr. (1664-1741) and Elizabeth Cotton (d. 1698). William Williams (1688-1760) is the author of many of the letters within this collection. He was a minister and the father of six children (several others died in infancy). Some of his children are represented in the correspondence: Esther Williams (1726-1800) who married Dr. Thomas Williams (see below); William Williams (1713-1788); and Anna Williams, whose husband,  Oliver Partridge, is also represented in a number of letters. All of William's children are mentioned in his will, which is among the papers.
1706 Birth of Ebenezer Hinsdale. Ebenezer Hinsdale (1706-1763) was the son of Mehuman Hinsdale (1673-1736), said to be the first white child born in Deerfield. Mehuman's father, Samuel (1643-1675), was killed in the Indian raid known as the Bloody Brook Massacre (1675), and Mehuman was captured by Indians twice. Ebenezer was ordained as a missionary but had more success in military and business enterprises. He founded Hinsdale, New Hampshire, and build Fort Hinsdale. He served in the French and Indian Wars. His marriage to Abigail Williams, daughter of Rev. John Williams, formed the connection between the Hinsdales and the Williams family.
1713 Birth of John Hinsdale. John Hinsdale (1713-1746), son of Mehuman Hinsdale and brother of Col. Ebenezer Hinsdale, was another of the Hinsdales of Deerfield. The Hinsdale family was one of the wealthiest in Deerfield. Samuel Hinsdale (1641-1675), one of the first settlers and grandfather of John Hinsdale, owned 1/12 of the entire 8,000 acre grant originally set aside for settling the Pocumtuck territory (later becoming Deerfield, MA). Papers relating to John Hinsdale's estate are included in this collection.
1715 Birth of Ephraim Williams, son of Ephraim Williams, Sr. (1691-1754) and Elizabeth Jackson (d. 1718). Ephraim Williams (1715-1755) has a significant presence within this collection. Correspondence, his will and various other papers are included. Ephraim Williams was the founder of Williams College in Massachusetts; he lived in Stockbridge, Hatfield and Deerfield and had a notable career in the military. He was a commissioned officer as the continuing conflict between England and France erupted in King George's War (1745-1748) and the French and Indian War (1754-1763). He was captain of a company raised for the invasion of Canada in 1746, became major in 1753 and then colonel of the Hampshire troops. He was killed leading his regiment on the "Bloody Morning Scout," September 8, 1755, near Lake George.
1718 Birth of Thomas Williams, son of Ephraim Williams, Sr. (1691-1754) and Elizabeth Jackson (d. 1718). Much of the correspondence and many of the other papers included in this collection involve Dr. Thomas Williams (1718-1775) and his immediate family. A physician, Dr. Williams also participated in several military campaigns. In addition, he served in a number of local government positions. George Sheldon, in his 1895 book  A History of Deerfield Massachusetts, writes that Williams "came to Deerfield in 1789; became a prominent figure as a man of affairs, as well as in his profession; was surgeon in the abortive Canadian expedition 1746 and for the line of forts; he left Fort Mass. only two days before its capture in 1746; was surgeon in the regt. of his brother Ephraim, at the battle of Lake George, Sept. 8, 1755 and dressed the wounds of Baron Dieskau, the captured commander of the Fr. army; in the campaign of 1756 he was lieut.-col.; rep 2 yrs; selectman 2; town clerk 17; judge of probate and justice of the court of common pleas; and had an extensive professional practice." Dr. Williams married Anna Childs in 1740 and three children were born before her death in 1746. He then married  Esther Williams, the daughter of his cousin,  Rev. William Williams (1688-1760). They had eleven children, although three died in infancy.
1764 Birth of Solomon Williams, son of Dr. Thomas Williams (1718-1775) and Esther Williams (1726-1800). Solomon Williams (1764-1836) is represented in this collection both in correspondence and in papers related to his position as town clerk and "Collector of the Direct Tax."

(Williams family trees are available in the repository.)

Additional sources of information include the following volumes, available in the library at the New-York Historical Society:

Andrews, Herbert Cornelius. Hinsdale Genealogy: Descendants of Robert Hinsdale of Dedham, Medfield, Hadley and Deerfield. Lombard, Ill: A.H. Andrews, 1906.

Sheldon, George. A History of Deerfield, Massachusetts: The Times When and the People by Whom it was Settled, Unsettled and Resettled. Deerfield, Mass., [Greenfield, Mass., Press of E.A. Hall & Co.] 1895-96.

Williams, Edward Higginson. Robert Williams of Roxbury, Mass., and His Descendants Four Generations. Newport, R.I., 1891.