Friday, November 4, 2016

The Bliss Family - Colonial Americans

Mary Bliss was the wife of Nathaniel Holcombe. She was born is Springfield, Massachusetts in 1651. Mary was the third of four children of Nathaniel Bliss (b.1622, d.1654) and Catharine Chapin (b.1630, d.1711).

Old First Church of Springfield - 1645

Thomas Bliss

The Bliss family came to America in the first half of the 17th century. There is some disagreement about the first generation of Bliss and where exactly they came from (early genealogists wrongly stated that the family came from Belstone in Devonshire). Current researchers refer to three lines of early settlers: Thomas Bliss (from this line), probably of Gloucestershire and two brothers, another Thomas and George, both of Northamptonshire. Thomas Bliss (b.1590, d.1650/51) may have been a cousin of Thomas and George and was believed to be from Painswick, Gloucestershire.  Thomas married Margaret Hulins (b.1595? d.1684), of Rodborough at St. Nicholas in Gloucester on October 18, 1621.  It is not proven but possible that Thomas emigrated with his cousins about 1638 (maybe as early as 1635) and he is known to have owned land in Hartford on the Connecticut River by 1639.  By the time of his death, he owned 58 acres of land and a house lot on a road west of Lafayette Street in Hartford. Thomas’s son, Nathaniel, who was about 13 at the time, travelled to America with his father and at least two other siblings with Margaret Hulins and the rest of the children following later. Thomas has been noted as a likely a descendant of John Bliss of Tyringham, a feudal serf.


Saint Nicholas Church - Gloucester. Started around 1109,
added to, rebuilt and restored a number of times over the years.
Margaret’s maiden name is not entirely clear; it may have been Hulinge, Hulings or even Lawrence. Here ancestry is in question but Margaret might be the daughter of John Hulins (b.1595, d.1638?) from Rodborough and Margaret (b.1566?). John Hulins (b.1540, d.1609) was the son of Henry Hulins (Huling) (b.1540, d.1608) also from Rodborough and Joane (d.1612). After the death of Thomas, Margaret Hulins would join some of her sons in Springfield, Massachusetts. She carried on after Thomas without remarrying, something that was not that common in Puritan society. Also a bit unusual, she ran the household as the head of the family and grew her husband’s wealth after his death. At the writing of her will, the estate was worth about £280 of which about £250 was land. She had a house on South Main Street between Fremont and Margaret Streets.


Margaret Hulins Bliss House - Springfield, still standing in the mid-1800s.


The possible children of Thomas and Margaret were:
  • Hannah (d.1660).
  • Ann (b.1617, d1685), she married Robert Chapman in 1642. There children were: John (b.1644, d.1712), Robert (b.1648, d.1711), Ann (b.1648, d.1648), Hannah (b.1650, d.1719), Nathaniel (b.1653, d.1726), Mary (b.1655, d1726), Sarah (b.1657)
  • Thomas (b.1618, d. 1688), married Elizabeth Brichard and they would eventually settle in Norwich, Connecticut. There children were: Elizabeth (b.1645, d.1689), Sarah (b.1647, d.1730), Mary (b.1648, d.1698), Thomas (b.1651, d.1681), Deliverance (b.1655, d.1731), Samuel (b.1657, d.1729), Anne (b.1660), Rebekah (b.1663, d.1737).
  • Nathaniel (b.1622, d.1654), married Catherine Chapin in 1646. He would be an early settler in Springfield. More on Nathaniel below.
  • Samuel (b.1624, d.1720), married Mary Leonard and settled in Springfield. Their children were: Hannah (b.1666), Thomas (b.1668, d.1733), Mary (b.1670, d. 1707), Jonathan (b.1672, d.1740), Martha (b.1674), Sarah (b.1677), Experience (b.1679, d. 1697), Mercy (b.1680, d.1763), Ebenezer (b.1683, d.1717), Margaret (b.1684, d.1736), Esther (b.1688, d.1768).
    • From First Century of the History of Springfield:  Samuel Bliss married Mary Leonard, daughter of John and Sarah Leonard, November 10, 1665. He received several grants of land from the town,—at Freshwater Brook and on the north side of Agawam River, at Ackanunset, at the latter place 35 acres. He was Selectman in 1685, ‘92, and ‘99. He died March 23, 1720, aged 96, outliving all his brothers living here. His widow died January 1, 1724.
  • Lawrence (b.1628, d.1676), married Lidia Wright and settled in Springfield. There children were: Lidia (b.1655, d.1656), Sarah (1658, d.1659), Samuel (b.1660, d. 1660), Samuel (b.1662, d.1733), Hannah (b.1665, d.1737), Sarah (b.1667), William (b.1670, d.1733), Pelatiah (b.1674, d.1747).
    • From First Century of the History of Springfield: Lawrence Bliss married Lidia, daughter of Deacon Samuel Wright, October 23, 1654.  He was chosen Constable in 1660 and Selectman in 1665 and 1669.  He died in 1676.  His widow married John Norton October 31, 1678.  John Lamb, January 27, 1688, and Quartermaster George Colton in 1692.  She died February 13, 1699.
  • Mary (b.1628, d1712), married Joseph Parsons in Springfield in 1646. There children were: Hannah (d.1729), Joseph (b.1647, d.1729), John (b1650, d.1728), Samuel (b1653, d.1734), Ebenezer (b.1655, 1675), Jonathan (b.1657, d.1694), Mary (b.1661, d.1711), Abigail (b.1666, d1689), Esther (b.1672, 1760).
    • Mary was tried and acquitted of witchcraft in 1674 in Northampton, Connecticut. Most allegations of witchcraft evolved out of feuds between families and this case was no exception. The Parsons’s family was very successful and envy seemed to be the impetus for the accusations.
  • Elizabeth, (b.1637, d.1683), born in Boston, she was the second wife of Miles Morgan and was married in 1670. She is known to have at least one child.
  • Sarah, (1638, d.1705), born in Boston, she married John Scott in 1659 and Samuel Terry in 1690.
  • Hannah (b. 1639, d. 1660), never married.
  • John (b. 1640, d. 1702), married Patience Burt and settled in Springfield. Their children were: Infant child, John (b.1669), Nathaniel (b.1671), Thomas (b.1673), Joseph (b.1676, d.1754). Hannah (b.1678), Henry (b.1681, d.1684), Ebenezer (b.1683).
    • From First Century of the History of Springfield: John Bliss, the youngest of Widow Margaret’s children married Patience Burt, daughter of Henry and Eulalia Burt, October 7, 1667. The town granted him several pieces of land before he was married, as did also Northampton where his sister, Mary Parsons, resided. His homelot in that town was next north of his brother-in-law’s, Joseph Parsons, and extended from the present Market Street on the west, to Bridge Street on the east, or in front of the cemetery. He resided in that town several years after marriage, but returned to Springfield and resided in that part of the town now within the limits of Longmeadow. He died November 4, 1702, and his widow October 2, 1732.
  • Hester (?) (born after 1640), she married Edward Foster.
Early Map of Springfield with the plots of Margaret and
 her son Nathaniel. Samuel Chapin, a founder of Springfield
 is also on the map (see the Chapin family in this series).
Thomas Bliss was buried at the Ancient Burying Ground, Harford, Connecticut. Margaret was originally buried at Chicopee Cemetery (Chicopee Street Burying Ground) in Springfield.

Nathaniel Bliss

Nathaniel Bliss, the third or fourth child of Thomas and Margaret came to America, at the age of about 13, with his father and some of his siblings. In about 1643 he moved to Springfield, Massachusetts. Some writing indicate that he accompanied  his mother to Springfield, which is possible as we know she did settle there but Nathaniel’s father lived until 1650 so it seems unlikely that she would have gone to Springfield before her husband’s death. In Springfield, Nathaniel met and married Catherine Chapin (m. 1646). Nathaniel’s home lot was noted as “ten rods wide and was the second below the present William Street.”

Nathaniel and Catherine had four children:
  • Samuel (b.1647, d.1749), married Sarah Stebbins and lived in Springfield. They would have about eight children: Sarah, Nathaniel, Samuel, Margaret, Thomas, John, Samuel, and Ebenezer
  • Margaret (.1649, d.1745), married Nathaniel Foote. He was noted and a Carpenter and Lawyer and fought in King Philip’s War. They would live in Wethersfield and possibly for a time in Simsbury, Connecticut. Margaret and Nathaniel would have nine children: Sarah, Margaret, Elizabeth, Mary, Nathaniel, Ephraim, Josiah, Joseph and Eunice.
  • Mary (b.1651, d.1722), married Nathaniel Holcombe and lived in the wilderness at Salmon Brook, Connecticut. To read about the colonial Holcombe family, see link at the end of this post.
  • Nathaniel (b.1653, d.1736), married Deborah Colton and lived in Springfield. They would have at least one child: Nathaniel (b.1679).
Longmeadow extension of Springfield. Thomas, Joseph
 and Nathaniel Bliss Jr. where granted plots in this section.

After Nathaniel’s death, Catherine Chapin would marry Thomas Gilbert (m. 1655) and have four more children: Sarah, John, Thomas and Henry. When Thomas died, she married yet again to Samuel Marshfield (b. 1664) and had an additional four children: Josiah, Hester, Unknown and Margaret (so, four with each husband). It is also reported that Thomas Gilbert's first wife, Lydia was executed for witchcraft at Springfield in 1654.

A direct descendant of Thomas Bliss is the actor Clint Eastwood. A direct descendant of Nathaniel Bliss is Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of many books, her most famous being “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Additional Information:
For the five-part story of the Holcombe family, go here . . .
To read more about Catherine Chapin's family, go here . . .

Research Notes: There is a wealth of information about the Bliss family that can be found on the internet, including: Bliss Family in America found at usgennet.org; late 19th century books on the family – "Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America from about the year 1550-1880" and "First Century of the History of Springfield;" the website geni.com; the website ancestry.com, the website familysearch.org, the website find-a-grave.com and many other family websites.

This post is one of a series about the allied Colonial Families that branch off from my Holcombe line. From time-to-time, additions to the series are made. For an overview of all of the families covered and links to each story, go here . . .

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