ATWATER, Christopher


Family Links

SAYRE, Damaris


  • Born: 8 Oct 1615, Lenham, Kent, England
  • Christened: 8 Oct 1615, Lenham, Kent, England
  • Marriage: SAYRE, Damaris on 10 Mar 1647 in New Haven, Connecticut
  • Died: 5 Oct 1692, New Haven, Connecticut at age 76
  • Buried: Cedar Hill Cem, New Haven, CT

bullet  General Notes:

1641 Map of New Haven, "Nine Squares", shows a lot assigned to David Atwater.p12

His father died without a will. He is named in the wills of his uncles, David and George, in 1620 and 1622. Bequeated the place at Grant's Gate in Royton by his uncle George's will proved 26 April 1622 and two pieces of land called Parkfields, by the will of his uncle David, proved 27 Sept 1620. These places can be traced by wills to the will of his great-grandfather Robert Atwater, 'The Elder', proved 22 December 1522.

Atwater claims that David accompanied his brother in 1637 with the advance party to Quinnipiack, returning to Boston for the winter.

1639, June 4: signed the plantation covenant at Mr. Newman's barn.

1643: on the list of rates for New Haven as one of 29 whose estates were valued at 500 pounds or more (Barber's History and Antiquities of New Haven, 1831)

Feb 7, 1668: At a town meeting when action was taken to establish the Hopkins Grammer School.

On the 1685 list of names of Proprieters of New Haven, CT.

"Besides the town lot assigned to him, as to each of the original settlers, the plantation assigned to David Atwater in the original division of lands among the planters was in the Neck, between Mill and Quinnipiack rivers, at the north side of what is now the city of New Haven. There appear of have been three of these divisions in his lifetime...the general name of Cadar Hill has been given to his region..." p 55.

Various debate over the immigration of the Atwaters, David, Joshua and Ann.:

'Atwater's History' claims that the three arrived in Boston 26 June, 1637 on the Hector with the founding fathers of the New Haven Colony, Theophilus Eaton and John Davenport. Calder, in her history of 'The New Haven Colony' (New Haven, 1934) considers that the Atwaters 'possibly' arrived in one of three ships in 1639 as part of the 'Rogers Party'. References in Atwater would seem to indicate that he is correct, however:

31 August 1637 Joshua Atwater accompanied Mr. Eaton from Boston to explore, with others, a site for a new community at Quinnipack. (History of the Davenport Family, New York, 1851). They were so favorably impressed that seven of the number stayed the winter to begin negotiations with the Indians. It is claimed that Joshua Atwater was one of the seven. The documentation here is sketchy, evidence only from family histories and traditions, but with the claim of the Davenport History, one might put the three Atwaters in Boston in the fall of 1637.

Atwater's 'History', quotes to the citizens of Hew Haven in 1888 as evidence that Joshua Atwater was in this 'advance party'. A commemoration 'Founders Day' on the 250th anniversary installed a granite tablet in the wall of a brick building at the corner of College and George Streets in 1888. In a pamphlet published with the 1888 ceremony was printed the following record:

"Six men, under the direction of Joshua Atwater, a merchant of Kent, England, encamped near this spot in the winter of 1637-8..."

The background on their immigration is probably typical in the history of the times. Their father, a warden of the church at Lenham, died within six months of his wife in the midst of the "eleven years tyranny' of Charles I and the purging of Puritans from the Church of England by Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud. Ashford, which was named in letters to the King on several occasions by William Laud as a hotbed of Puritan activity, lies about nine miles from Lenham. While Lenham is not mentioned specifically, it is evident that the children of John Atwater were 'infected' by Puritanism, and with the death of their parents in 1636/7, it behoved them to leave the country for the New World and a chance to practice their religion.

Lenham is a town and parish in Mid-Kent, between Maidstone and Ashford, deriving it's name from the river Len and Ham, which signifies a town. The parish registers of St. Mary's, the old church of Lenham, record the baptisms of David, Joshua, and Ann, the baptism of their father, their parents marriage, and their parents burials. The wills of their ancestors stipulate burial in the churchyard of Lenham church.

'Royton' is a district in the parish of Lenham. The name applies to a section of the parish which had an organization of its own in ealry times, and a market regularly held within or near its limits. Royton is mentioned as early as 1259, when Simon Fitzadam was in possession of the manor of Royton. His successor was Robert de Royton, who took his surname from this place. The manor was purchased by Robert Atwater early in the reign of Henry VIII and it was in the possession of his descendants through his daughter for several centuries. In 1901, in the year of the writing of Atwater's History, Royton Manor was somewhat of a tourist attraction in Kent.

In the record books of early New Haven David's name occurrs frequently, although not as much as his distinguished brother. The surviving map of the 'Nine Squares' of 1641 New Haven shows his homelot in the northeast quadrant of New Haven.

There is a difference of opinion in the history and genealogical books over exactly when David and his brother Joshua came to America. The family genealogy asserts that they came in 1637 and were on the 'advance party' to New Haven, commorated 250 years later with a granite slab in New Haven that reads: " "Six men, under the direction of Joshua Atwater, a merchant of Kent, England, encamped near this spot in the winter of 1637-8..." In any case, David and his brother were among the founders of this breakaway Puritan community that sought to form a true theocracy, believing that already the Puritans at Boston had swayed from their original intentions.

The reasons for leaving England were no doubt typical of the current pruge of the Church of England of Puritans, and his homelands around Lenham were named by Archbishop Laud in a letter to King Charles as a hotbed of puritan activity. David's father was a warden of the church there, and although David's father died without leaving a will, he is named on his uncle's wills and his baptism record is at the church there.

It is not known for sure what he did for a living in New Haven, but he married at the age of 30 the 21 year old daughter of one of the founders of Southhampton, Long Island. 1 2


David married Damaris SAYRE, daughter of Thomas SAYRE and Margaret ALDRICH, on 10 Mar 1647 in New Haven, Connecticut. (Damaris SAYRE was born in 1625 in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England and died on 1 Apr 1691 in New Haven, Connecticut.)



1 Osterweis, Rollin G (1907- ), Three Centuries of New Haven, 1638-1938 (New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1953) Reprinted 1975.

2 Atwater, Francis, Atwater History and Genealogy (Meriden, CT, 1901).

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