Richard Bryan Sr. &
Mary Harriman Pantry

7th Great Grandparents of David Pierce Rodriguez

Milford Connecticut Free Planters 1639Richard Bryan Sr. (1632-1689)

  • Birth: 1632 | Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England
  • Death: 1689 | Milford, New Haven, Connecticut Colony
  • Father: Alexander Bryan (1602-1679) Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England
  • Mother: Anna Baldwin (1604-1661) North Church, Hertfordshire, England
  • Prominent merchant of Milford, Connecticut (Alexander Bryan & Son shipping and merchant house)
  • 9th great grandson of King Edward III of England
  • Descendant of Emperor Charlemagne

>> Richard's Bio & Photos​

Mary Harriman Pantry (1630-1679)

  • Birth: 1630 | Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, USA
  • Death: 15 Jul 1679 | Milford, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  • Father: William Pantry (Peyntre) (1598-1649) Staplehurst, Kent, England
  • Mother: Margaret Wilbourne (Weyborne) (1592-1641) Canterbury, Kent, England

>> Mary's Bio & Photos​

Alexander & Richard Bryan

The first public house was kept by Henry Toralinson, a weaver, The town were disatisfied with him and brought a suit. Some of the complaints were that he sold "strong water, wine and beer at greater prices than was allowed, and kept a disorderly house," in " that he suffered young men and maids to come there and dance and play at shuffle board " (cards). April, 1644, the town after debate with Tomlinson, and thinking they could not build for him before harvest, the purchase of Richard Bryan's house was then proposed, Tomlinson's to be given in part exchange. "Ensign Bryan to judge of ye price of his house and lot and of the value of his sonnes house and lott." The trade was made fixing Richard Bryan's house at £68, by giving him Tomlinson's at £23, and £45 boot. The house stood on the old country road, ten or twelve rods west of the meeting house, and a public house was kept there from that time until about 1826. " June 26, 1655, Richard Bryan and William East bougnt ye house above named of ye town for ye same price of £68, with the barn, house lot and all ye privileges except ye long table and bench which the town lett remain there gratis for the use and improvement of said Bryan."

Milford was in its early days quite a commercial place. The first merchants were Alexander Bryan, his son Richard Bryan, and William East. In 1640 "Ensign Bryan sent a vessel to the Bay (Boston) laden with beaver, otter and other precious furs, and in return brought back such goods as were needed by the planters for their own use and for trade with the Indians.'" In May, 1650, the town granted him land (twenty feet by sixty) on which to set a warehouse, on the west corner of Broad Street and Dock Lane. The same year he built a wharf at the end of the lane, which he resio-ned to the town in 1653 on the condition that they should always keep it in repair. Before this Mr. William Fowler had a small wharf above this one aud below his mill. 

In Oct., 1655 " the town gave Richard Bryan leave to build a warehouse near unto his father's on the other side of the highway, thirty feet one way and eighteen feet another." Sergt. East had a warehouse between Ensign Bryan's aud the home of Miles Merwin, the tanner. These three merchants in 1675 owned two brigs and a sloop. The brigs made voyages to the West Indies and the sloop to Boston. To the West Indies were sent staves, cattle, horses, beet, pork, dour, and corn meal, for which were returned rum, molasses aud goods from Europe. Furs were sent mainly to Boston for dry goods. 

In 1714, Samuel Clark, merchant, bought Richard Bryan's warehouse for £14. In 1690, a brig ot 150 tons was built in Milford for Alexander Bryan, and in 1717 the Sea Flower was launched for Richard Bryan

Mr. Thomas R. Trowbridge, Jr., in his scholarly aud very interesting paper on the Ancient Maritime Interests ot New Haven, says - "In an interesting paper and one that shows extensive research, Mr. J. W. Fowler, of Milford, says: "In 1650 Mr. Bryan, merchant, built a warehouse on the corner of Broad Street and Dock hane, which in 1653 he gave to the town on condition that they keep it in repair. Previous to this John Fowler had his mill and wharf near this place. Richard Bryan and William East had also warehouses near by, and from this they sent their vessels to West India and European ports, bringing their cargoes in return which were taken to New Haven for sale. For many years the credit of the Milford merchants was so high that their notes of hand were as current as bank notes at a later period." [Source: Alexander Bryan of Milford, Connecticut, his ancestors and his descendants]

Children of Richard Bryan Sr. & Mary Harriman Pantry

Milford, Connecticut ColonyRichard Bryan Jr. (1666-1734)

  • Town Clerk of Milford, Connecticut
  • Birthplace: Milford, New Haven, Connecticut Colony
  • Father: Richard Bryan, Sr.
  • Mother: Mary Harriman Pantry
  • 10th great grandson of King Edward III of England
  • Descendant of Emperor Charlemagne

The Story Of Milford, Connecticut

Milford, ConnecticutDeeding the land to its new owners was effected with the old English "twig and turf" ceremony. After the customary signing of the deed by both parties, Chief Ansantawae was handed a piece of turf and a twig. Taking the piece of turf in one hand, and the twig in the other, he thrust the twig into the turf, and handed it to the English. In this way he signified that the Indians relinquished all the land specified in the deed and everything growing upon it. The Paugusset Indians sold the Wepawaug land in the hope that they would enlist English protection against the Mohawks, who were continually raiding their territory. Title to the region was based solely on land purchase from the Indians and not upon any grant from the English Crown.

The later purchases of 1655, 1659, 1660, and 1661, rounding out the boundaries of the settlement over a period of six years, were also made directly from Indian possessors, referred to in an Indian eed of 1682. As Isabel M. Calder, in her recent History of the New Haven Colony points out, "The hodge-podge of Indian deeds by which the greater part of the lands of the colony were held would have received no recognition outside of New England, and would never have stood the scrutiny of an English Court of law."

Several months of planning and labor followed the purchase of the Wepawaug land before the settlers took actual possession of their new home. On August 22, 1639, while they were still living in New Haven, those intending to move to Wepawaug met in council in Robert Newman's barn and formed the First Church of Milford.

The organization followed the plan adopted by the New Haven Church that same day. "Seven Pillars" were chosen as the governing body, the idea being derived from the Scripture, "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars." The "Seven Pillars" of the Milford Church were Peter Prudden, Zachariah Whitman, William Fowler, John Astwood, Edmund Tapp, Thomas Welch, and Thomas Buckingham. Upon them rested the responsibility of examining and passing upon the qualifications of all members. As part of the ceremony of organization, these men appeared before the council of the church, gave a detailed account of their religious experience, made a profession of faith, and ended by reciting the covenant, written by Rev. Peter Prudden.

Milford Connecticut Free Planters 1639

The church was not only a dominating first cause for settlement, but also the controlling force in colonial government, education, and social life. The leaders in the church were the leaders in civil affairs. Except for allegiance to the English Crown, which did not weigh too heavily upon the Fathers, they acknowledged no authority but the word of God, and "combined into a little republic." Their constitution was the Scriptures.

In 1641 a young surveyor of uncommon ability, Robert Treat, was called upon to assist in the laying out of the land. He was destined to become one of the most colorful and prominent figures in the affairs of New Haven Colony and later of Connecticut. 

The original grant of homelots sufficed only for the first year or two, while the settlers were occupied clearing the land, building homes and barns, and raising crops. Soon a further division of land was demanded, and twice before 1643 additional grants were made in the outlying sections of the purchase. The original plan of allotting acreage in proportion to a settler's wealth and importance was again followed.

As all of the land was not equally desirable, the lots were "sized" according to value ; if a piece of land were rocky or a long distance from the homelot, the settler who received it was given a larger portion than the man who received a piece of well-watered, easily accessible bottomland. A map of Milford for this period would show the rectangular strips of each man's land-holdings scattered here and there about the settlement. 

In this manner, two tracts, called Eastfield and Westfield, lying southeast and southwest of the village center, were allotted. The next division covered other lands south of the homelots and other sections to the north and east. A large tract of meadow, south of Westfield, called the Great Meadow, was also apportioned among the settlers and enclosed by a common fence. Each landowner was compelled to keep up that part of the common fence which bounded his land. Each section was marked with a landowner's initials on an end stake and a penalty of two shillings sixpence was imposed for failure to keep this initialed stake in place. The owner of a section of fence was required to repair any break within sixteen hours or pay a fine of five shillings. Certain designated individuals built and maintained gates instead of a specified footage of fence.

By 1659 tne population had increased to over five hundred, and again there were demands for more land. Robert Treat and Ensign Alexander Bryan negotiated with the Indians for the tract lying between the Indian River and the New Haven line, and extending from the New Haven-Derby path on the north to the Indian path to Oyster River on the south, and purchased it on December 20, 1659, for twenty-six pounds in goods. In 1660 Indian Neck, lying between the Indian River and the Sound, was bought, the Indians reserving twenty acres for planting ground, agreeing "to defend the land, with the swamps, timber, trees, and all the privileges, from the claims of any Indian whatsoever." This twenty-acre reservation was bought from Ansantawae and his son on December 12, 1661, for six coats, three blankets, and three pair of breeches. The town then sold it "by an outcry" for twenty-one pounds six shillings to Thomas Welch, for whom the point was named.

This established Milford's territorial bounds as they are today, with the inclusion of the present town of Orange. The local Indians were granted the right to fish in their old waters, and protection was promised for Chief Ansantawae and his family. Constant disputes over the boundaries of the grants made to the settlers accompanied the rapid division of the land of the community. "Boundary fixers" were in constant demand. To clear up the confusion, in 1646 the first map of the town was made, showing the location of each homelot, the name of the owner, and the number of the lot. 

On December 24, 1646, it was ordered by the General Court that every transfer of property, whether by sale, gift, or inheritance, should be recorded in a special book. The fee for recording the transfer was to be twopence, and twopence for a copy of the deed. Two months was the time limit allowed for recording a land transfer, with a fourpence penalty for failure to comply with the law. A report of land transfers was made by the recorder at each meeting of the judges, so that proper tax assessments could be levied. Thus the early court of five judges was not only the first board of selectmen, as the body is known today, but also the first board of assessors.

Communication between Milford and other colonies was usually by way of the old Indian trails. Within the town, instead of first laying out roads, and then apportioning land with reference to the roads, the land was laid out first. The planters then made their own paths or wagon tracks to meet their needs, using Indian trails as much as possible. Broad Street was originally forty rods wide, with the land between it and the harbor left in common as a drill ground for the train band.

In 1646 the Indians went on the warpath and tried to burn down the town by setting fire to the countryside. Fortunately the settlers managed to check the fire at the swamps that lay to the west and north before any damage was done to the palisades, but much valuable timber was destroyed. After this evidence of Indian hostility, sentries were posted along the entire line of palisades. Each household was required to furnish one watchman, who did sentry duty every fifth day. The planters did not venture outside the palisades, except in armed parties. While at work on the farm one of the men would stand guard against a surprise attack. In spite of the hostility of the Indians there is no record of any fatalities in Milford at any time due to Indian attacks. Nevertheless, the whole colony of New Haven lived in constant fear.

In the summer of 1648 the Mohawks, who had been quiet for some time, attacked the Milford Indians in an attempt to capture their fort on the Housatonic River, but were driven off with heavy losses. The story goes that one of the settlers had sighted the invaders hiding in a swamp about a mile from town, and had warned the Milford Indians that the Mohawks were waiting to make a surprise attack on the fort by night. Thus prepared, the Milford Indians were able to meet the Mohawks with such war whoops and volleys of arrows that the enemy fled, leaving behind many dead and several prisoners.

One of these Mohawk captives was tied to a stake on the salt meadows and left to die. He was found unconscious the next morning by Thomas Hine, who released him, fed him, and put him ashore on the other side of the Housatonic River. For this act of mercy the Hine family were ever after venerated and respected by the Mohawks.

It is a tribute to the hardiness of the settlers, and perhaps to the skill of Dr. Jasper Gunn, that there were no deaths in the community for the first five years. The first death, that of Solomon East, the year-old son of William East, occurred on June 18, 1644.

The town was deeply grieved in July, 1656, by the death of its beloved pastor, the Reverend Peter Prudden, at the age of fifty-six. For almost seventeen years he had been the leader and advisor of the little flock. Cotton Mather paid the pastor a tribute which has been inscribed on a tablet, erected in the Church of Christ in Milford by Prudden's descendants. The First Church of Milford remained without a settled pastor from the time of the death of Peter Prudden in 1656 until 1660. The congregation finally agreed upon the Reverend Roger Newton of Farmington, who was "received" July 29, 1660.

The town government kept a regulatory finger upon the tavern and inn, where travelers and their mounts sought accommodation and townsmen gathered of an evening to discuss affairs over a mug of ale. Milford had been without a tavern until June, 1654, when Henry Tomlinson, the weaver, made application to the judges for permission to open an "ordinary." The town was both willing and anxious to grant the request, but neither Tomlinson's house nor its location was suitable for the venture. On West Main Street, then the main road through the town, was a house near the present "Grey Court" apartments owned by Richard Bryan that was better situated for the purpose.

Tomlinson opened the tavern late in 1654, but his innkeeping was not to the satisfaction of the town. He served meagre and unappetizing meals and overcharged his customers. Furthermore, he allowed the young people of the village to congregate there to dance and play cards. In 1655 the town sold the property back to Richard Bryan and William East, with the understanding that they maintain it as a tavern. Since Tomlinson refused to give up the property, claiming it as his own, a court order was necessary before he could be evicted.

Officially, New Haven still had jurisdiction over all the seceding towns and resisted the Connecticut claims to them. The struggle that ensued lasted almost two years. When Robert Treat was elected magistrate from Milford to the New Haven General Court on May 25, 1664, ne refused the office because he was in favor of union with Connecticut. On March 12, 1664, King Charles granted his brother, the Duke of York, all the recently acquired Dutch settlement at New Amsterdam and most of the territory involved in the dispute between Connecticut and New Haven. On July 20, 1664, four royal commissioners with extraordinary powers arrived in Boston to inquire into the affairs of the New England Colonies, threatening their self-government.

New Haven and Branford still held out against the union with Connecticut which would have strengthened both colonies in any resistance to royal encroachments. At this point Milford grew impatient at the delay and, through the efforts of Benjamin Fenn and Robert Treat, severed all ties with the New Haven Colony and united separately with Connecticut. After months of further negotiations between New Haven and Connecticut, the differences of the two colonies were finally adjusted, and on May 11, 1665, New Haven gave up its independence and merged with Connecticut. By this act New Haven abandoned its adherence to the principle of absolute union of church and state. The ecclesiastical character of civil government was modified. Property rather than church membership became the basis on which the franchise was granted.