Deacon William Douglas


DEACON WILLIAM DOUGLAS was b. 9th August, 1610, doubtless in Scotland ; m. probably about 1636, Ann MATTLE, dau. of Thomas MATTLE of Ringstead, England. 

William Douglas and Ann Mattle are the progenitors of a large family in America.  Their known life seems to start in 1640, when they arrived in New England.  What follows are assorted notes.

In 1640, with his wife Ann and two children, Ann and Robert, William DOUGLAS went to New England. Tradition says that they landed at Cape Ann. They settled first in Gloucester, but removed within [p.1 88] the year to Boston, where he is first mentioned in the Boston records on 31st June, 1640 , when he was made a Freeman. Here moved shortly to Ipswich where he was entitled to a share of the public land, 28th February, 1641. There he remained for about four years,returning to Boston in 1645. 


He was a cooper by trade and on 1st May,1646, there is record of his purchasing from Walter MERRY and Thomas ANCHOR, a dwelling house, shop and land ???. Later he went to New London, Connecticut, and obtained considerable property through purchase and grants from the town. 


One of his farms was inherited by his son William and has remained in the hands of descendants for over two centuries. In 1662-1663 he was appointed one of the Appraisers of Property for the town of New London. The land for a new church was purchased from him and the graveyard still remains on that place. 


He and Mr. WILLERBY were appointed to deliver provisions to Commissary TRACY at Norwich during King Philip's War. His education for the times was liberal. He held many important offices in the town at different times. 


He was Deputy to the General Court in 1672 and once or twice later. In May, 1670, his wife, then sixty years old made a journey to Boston to establish her claim as heir to her father's property. 


She died in New London in 1685 and William DOUGLAS himself d. there on 26th July, 1682


Click here to view theories on his ancestory It seems that Pitgear is no longer with us.  If anyone can help locate this research, please let me know.

This Gedcom is another theory.   This too has disappeared.  I will replace the link when I find it.


A 2013 update on the search for evidence (pdf)



DOUGLAS Family Bible     *


Handwritten inscription (ink, faded with age) and dedication from Erskine and Sophia Douglas to their daughter Laura and John Atwood (son-in-law?) is found on front flyleaf. 

The inscription reads:

Our Children
Laura and John Atwood.
With God's Blessing and our {...text is illegible...}

Erskine and Sophia Douglas

Bellefontaine Ohio December 25th 1873

Six sheets of ruled paper were taped behind one illustrated middle page.  The beautiful penmanship is apparently from the hand of Erskine Douglas. 

The last paragraph was signed:


"April 1856.    Erskine Douglas"

Extracted from the handwritten pages:

Two Brothers, "William" & "Robert Douglas" emigrated to the newworld in the second voyage of the "Mayflower". (Robert Douglas remained at Plymouth Mass, a few years ago the writer examined a list of voters of that town and found about one fourth were of the name Douglas, no doubt they were his descendants.


Ancestors of Captain Richard Douglas of the Revolutionary Army.

First.  William Douglas, died July 26. 1682. He was Ipswitch N. England, 1641, of Boston 1645, made Freeman of Massachusetts 1646, of N. London CT. Dec. 1659, He was born in 1610, his wife was about the same age, her maiden name was Ann Maltte - she was the daughter Thomas and sister of Robert Maltte of Berigstead in Northamptonshire, England - both of whom died before 1670, leaving property to which she was {...illegible text...} heir - Family tradition says he was buried near the large tree which was used as a place of interment by the first settlers of N. London, CT.

Third.   Capt. Rich Douglas. died Feby 26th 1734/35 in the 53 d. year of his age.
The farm known as the Robt. Douglas farm - also the Wm Douglas farm - lately occupied by Danl. Douglas have never been out of the possession of the Douglas family since they were first purchased of the Indians. The house on the Wm. Douglas farm is this year  1875  223 years old


Richard Douglas one of the Pilgrims, who came over to Plymouth with his wife and children, and who was subsequently removed to New London CT. was the Grand Father of Wm Douglas first decon and for life of the Old Presbyterian church, which stood near to the Powder House and has been in ruins more than a half a century - this deacon Wm Douglas had a son William. who was also a Deacon in the same church and this Wm Douglas, who died Nov. 13. 1787 old style, was the Father of Capt. Richd Douglas of the fifth Connecticut Regiment of the Continental Army whose commision as Capt. bears date 1781. His commission as Ensign bears date June 20, 1776. and as first Lieutenant of the Connecticut Regiment is dated March 16.1779.

He was a volunteer to the Battle of Bunker Hill and fought bravely on that and many subsequent battles. He was a prisoner for more than a year to the British, and was confined on board a {..illegible text...} on prison ship at Brooklyn opposite New York.

On the 30 Dec. 1797 he was appointed Postmaster at New London CT. which office he held until his decease March 1. 1816


Footnote:  There is obviously more information in this Family Bible.  The seller at Ebay, did not give all family information.  This is all that was given.


The following information had been contributed by Bryan J. Douglas:

       (1) William Douglas, Deacon, was born in the year 1610, without doubt in Scotland, though in what part of Scotland there is no means of knowing. Had he been born in England, and been acquainted with his wife from childhood, there would doubtless have been mention of the Douglases on the parish records of Ringstead, the home of his wife and her family, the Mattles. His father, whose name there is reason to believe was Robert Douglas, was born 8 June 1588 in Scotland, and beyond this point no effort has been able to penetrate in this line. How and where William Douglas became acquainted with his wife, Ann Mattle, is unknown; but their marriage must have taken place at his parish church, probably in 1636, when they were, each of them, 26 years old, as their daughter Ann was born in 1637.

       Ann was the only daughter of Thomas Mattle of Ringstead, Northampton, England, where she was born in 1610, the year of her husband's birth. She had two brothers, both older than she -- Robert, born in Ringstead 5 October 1595, and William, baptized at the parish church 6 April 1599. Of these, William appears to have died young, no mention being made of him when the family estate was inherited by Ann; and Robert, the eldest of the children, was unmarried or without descendants at the time of his death, for Ann was the "next heare." Robert and the father, Thomas, both died previous to 1670, the latter probably many years before, and their property fell to Ann. It thus appears that Ann's descendants are the only descendants of Thomas Mattle, who, judging by the birth of his son Robert, was born as early as 1575.

        William Douglas emigrated to New England with his wife and two children, Ann and Robert, in 1640, though the exact time of their arrival and the name of the ship which brought them is unknown. The very common tradition is that the company landed at Cape Ann, Massachusetts. William settled at Gloucester (founded 1624) nearby, but removed to Boston that same year, 1640. The first mention of him on the Boston records is under date of "The 31st of the 6th moneth, 1640." (August 31, 1640). "William Douglas is allowed to be a townsman, he behaving himselfe as becometh a Christian man." He did not, however, remain in Boston, but removed the next year to Ipswich, where he was entitled to a share of the public land, 28 February, 1641. (Ipswich Rec. Vol. 1). He remained at Ipswich some four years, returning to Boston in 1645. He was made a freeman 1646.

       He followed the cooper's trade (barrel maker) in Boston, and May 1646 purchased of Walter Merry and Thomas Anchor, "one dwelling house in Boston, situate betweene the lotts of John Sweet and John Seabury, together with the shopp which was Thomas Anchor's and the ground there unto belonging. " Also, "March 12, 1647, of Walter Merry, one little house with the house late in the tenure and occupation of John Newsgrove, adjoining to the former house and ground." June 20, 1648, he sold, "unto Henry Browne of Limehouse, mariner, a parcel of land, part of his house-lott in Boston, containing fifty six perches, (rods), three quarters, of land be the same more or less; being in front at the sea thirty one foote, and in fronte toward the street fyve rod, three foote, or thereabouts." In December 1659, he purchased of William Hough of New London, Conn., "the house that was Robert Isbell's in New Street."

       Soon after in 1660, he removed with his wife and three of his children, Robert, Sarah and William, to New London, where, that same year, he purchased "a house on the so. side of meeting-house hill." Miss Caulkins, the historian, in her History of New London, speaking of the house in 1865 says: "The house is very ancient, and a part of it, which has heavy timbers overhead and is proppe d with rude posts in the area, probably belongs to the first dwelling built upon the spot, which was before 1670." A tract of land "by the waterside, on the bank so. of Mr. Raymond's" was also granted him in renumeration of services to the town; the first, in 1660, consisting of 60 acres and described as being "three miles or more west of the town plot, with a brook running through it." This farm was inherited by his second son, William, and remained in the family, in the direct line of his male descendants, for over two centuries.

        New London had first been called Pequot Harbor, because of the Pequod or Pequot Indians -- a very formidable tribe -- having their principal settlement on a hill at that location. The Indian name f or New London was Nameaug, meaning "fishing place." New London had such a good natural harbor that it was written, "a ship of 500 tons may go up to the town and come so near shore that they may toss a basket on shore."

        In the winter of 1662-3, William Douglas and Cary Latham were appointed appraisers of property for the town of New London. They duly made their appraisal, which was delivered to the General Court at Hartford. But for some reason, the court was not satisfied with the results, and:
"At a Gen. Assembly held at Hartford, March 11, 1662-3.
'This court having duly considered the valuation of ye estate of New London, apprised by Cary Latham and William Douglas, doe judge, that they have not attended any rule of Righteousness in their works, but have acted very corruptly therein, and therefore doe order the Treasurer that he send forth his Warrant to ye Constable of N. London, to Levy Four pounds upon ye estate of Cary Latham, and Two pounds vpon Mr. Douglas his estate, as a fine for their corrupt and deceatful acting therein'."

        In 1665, the church at New London began to feel some uneasiness in regard to their minister's views. In 1661, the Rev. Gershom Bulkley had succeeded the Rev. Richard Blinman as preacher. When he came he entered into a covenant, as Miss Caulkins says: "To become minister of the town on a salary of 80 pounds for three years; and afterwards more, if the people found themselves able to give it." February 25, 1664-5, their uneasiness had increased, but the town voted that "they were willing to leave Mr. Bulkley to the libertye of his conscience without compelling him or enforcing him to anything in the execution of his place and office contrarye to his light according to the laws of the commonwealth."

June 10, 1665 -- "The Towne understanding Mr. Buckleys intention to goe into the Bay have sent James Morgan and Mr. Douglas to desire him to stay untill second day com seavent-night wich day the Towne have agreed to ask again Mr. Fitch to speake with him in order to know Mr. Buckleys mynde fullye whether he will continue with us or no to preach the gospell."

The application was unsuccessful and October 9th another town meeting was held, in which "Mr. Douglas was by a full voate none manifesting themselves contrary, was chosen to goe to Mr. Wilson and Mr. Eliott to desire there advice and help for the procurinage of a minister." November 24, -- "A town meeting concerning what Mr. Douglas hath done about a minister" was held, and they decided to extend a call to the Rev. Simon Bradstreet, of Boston. In consideration of his journey to Boston for a minister, twenty acres were added by the town to Mr. Douglas' farm.

       Mr. Bulkley now stood in debt to the town for his year's salary, paid in advance; and January 12, 1666, "Mr. Douglas and goodman Hough [William Hough] are voted by the Towne to demand the 80 pound of Mr. Buckley which he stands ingaged to pay ye towne." It was not, however, till after repeated dunning, and Mr. Bulkley had mortgaged his house, that he paid back his salary.

      Mr. Bradstreet arrived early in the year, and the town purchased of Mr. Douglas and Mrs. Grace Buckley, a house and lot for the new minister, until they should build a parsonage. June 1, it was "Voted by the towne that the house now agreed upon to be built for the ministry and also the house and land bought of Mr. Douglas together with y e land which hath hitherto been reserved for the ministry both to us and our succeeding generations never to be sold or alienated to any vse forever." To this day the land is occupied by the Old First Burial Ground of New London, and there repose the ashes of the good old deacon, on land formerly owned by him.

       On 24 November 1665, Mr. Douglas was chosen a town packer of meat and was voted to brand all horses with "L" on the left shoulder, and to record same. He was always active in church activities. There appears upon records under date of 15 August 1667, while he was town clerk: "Myselfe chosen to hold the box for contributions and this to be propounded to Mr. Bradstreet to have his advice therein. William Nichols is also chosen for that worke." Mr. Douglas was chosen o ne of the first two deacons of the church in 1670.

        On 9 December 1667, another farm of 100 acres was granted him "towards the head of the brook Jordan about four miles from town," on the northeast side of the swamp called "Cranberry Meadow." Across the farm ran an Indian path from Mohegan to Nayhantic. It was inherited by his oldest son, Robert, and this was long in the possession of the family in the direct line of male descendants.

      The Indians played a prominent part in the lives of the early settlers. The principal tribes of New England were: Penobscots in Maine; Pawtuckets between Maine and Salem; the Massachusetts around Rhode Island and Peqouds in southeastern Connecticut. There were other tribes and divisions of tribes, such as the Mohegans and Nipmucks and Wampanoags, etc., but they were not as numerous.  Massasoit, Chief of the Wampanoags, remained a true friend to the English to his death and to show his affection for the English named his two sons, Alexander and Phillip. The early death of Alexander left the kingdom to Phillip, who was at first friendly to the whites, but soon proved to be their most powerful and deadly foe. No doubt he had reasons for his conduct, for the English in their dwellings, were not always either prudent or just.

       At the breaking out of King Phillip's War in 1673, the colonists took active measures for their safety. William Douglas served with others to establish a place of fortification. A General Council was convened at Hartford and at a meeting of this council, on 18 May 1676, there appears the following:

"This Council doe appoynt and fully impower Mr. Daniel Witherell and Mr. William Douglas of New London to be Commissarys to the army at that place or elsewhere as they shall be appointed, to see to the provisions, arms, ammunition and other such things as shall be needfull for the warr, and to provide what shall be wanting and dispose of such things as are committed to them or either of them, according to such orders as shall be given them, and the duty of that place in all respects and what either of them shall doe in attendance of that duty shall be held as good, whether it be for impressing or quartering or any other thing within the compass of that office; and they are to keep true accompts of all their transactions, and to render their accompts, or any other estate of the country's in their custody, to such as shall be impowered to require and receive the same."

June 21 -- "the Councill ordered that Mr. Willerby and Mr. Dowglass send to Norwich to be deluerede to Commissary Tracey, seven hundred of bread, a barrell of porek, ten bushells of pease and fifty bush: of Indian corn, and powder and bullits in their hands and fifty pounds of tobacco; and in case Capt. Denison send for any Indian corn they are to send to Norwich, all of which is to be at Norwich Munday night next."

The Society of Colonial Wars Index of Ancestors show William Douglas as Commander of the Army, Province of Connecticut, in K ing Phillip's War. His genealogy can be seen in Newberry Library in Chicago, Illimois, as #E7D7463.

       New London history says that in 1675 there was a threat of an Indian uprising of Wampanoags, Narragansetts and other tribes combining to exterminate the white man from their land. The Mohegans under Uncas were strong and a decided threat to the New London Settlement. Suddenly, before any defense could be affected, King Phillip with his fierce horde of warriors burst upon the colonists attacking in Massachusetts and the valley of the Connecticut River. New London and Norwich were most vulnerable and prepared for the attack. A seven-man committee was appointed, including William Douglas and William Hough, to fortify New London. Three hundred fifty troops were quartered in little New London, bringing disturbances, discomfort and complaints. Housing, clothing, and feeding the troops was a problem. Beef, pork, corn, men, horses and coats were impressed from the colonists and the troop marched off finally. In the troop were many friendly Indians. At the battle at Narragansett 19 December 1675, the Indians, under King Phillip, were defeated and a thousand killed.

      The following year another army was raised and quartered at New London. This time Chief Uncas and his warriors joined the Colonists. William Douglas and another had the task of providing for the troops. After many skirmishes and many deaths, King Phillip was killed August 12th and the war ended. All Indians taken in arms had been executed -- no quarter was given. The women and children were given to friendly Mohegans or distributed among the English for servants.

      As may be seen from the foregoing and from the frequent mention of his name on the records of the town, Deacon Douglas was one of the most prominent members of the flourishing community of New London. He was a man of education and ability and was consulted on all occasions of embarrassment or danger, and he mainfested a lively interest in the welfare of his town. He was one of the "townsmen" in 1633, 1666 and 1667, recorder and moderator in 1667 and 1668, sealer and packer in 1673 and 1674, and on various important committees from year to year.

       In May 1670, Mrs. Ann Douglas made a journey to Boston and appeared before Gov. Bellingham in order to establish her claim to an inheritance which had fallen to her in the old country. James Johnson and the widow Elizabeth Meares, then of Boston, but formerly of Little Broughton, Northamptonshire, England, testified that they had known her and her family in England, and that she was the daughter of Thomas, and a sister of Robert Mattle, of Ringstead. But father and brother were now dead, and Ann was proved to be legal heir to both. She was at this time 60 years of age, and consequently born in 1610. She must have been possessed of great energy and endurance, to have performed at her advanced age, the journey from New London to Boston and back, when the conveniences for traveling were extremely limited.

       William was chosen deputy to the General Court at Hartford in 1672, and once or twice later. He continued to take an active part in the affairs of the church and town until the time of his death. The Rev. Simon Bradstreet, in his diary, which is still preserved, says: "1682, July 26, Mr. William Douglas one of ye Deacons of this Church dyed in ye 72 year of his age. He was an able Christian and this poor ch'h will mvch want him."


Ann (Mattle) Douglas married, second, Thomas Bishop. She died at New London about 1685.


Children of William Douglas and Ann Mattle:
  1. Ann, born in Scotland (possibly in England, as before explained) in 1637; married Nathaniel Geary 14 October 1658; died 16 September 169-.
  2. Robert, born in Scotland (possibly in England) in 1639; mar ried Mary Hempstead 28 September 1665; died 15 January 1715/1716.
  3. Elizabeth, born in Ipswich, Mass., 26 August 1641; married Deacon John Chandler 16 February 1658/1659; died 23 September 1705.
  4. Sarah, born in Ipswich, Mass. 8 April 1643; married John Keeny October 1661.
  5. William, born in Boston, Mass., 1 April 1645; married Abiah Hough, born 15 September 1648, daughter of William Hough and Sarah Caulkins, and granddaughter of Hugh Caulkins.

a. From the Book THE MAYFLOWER AND THE PILGRIMS NEW WORLD by Nathaniel Philbrick.

The Mayflower returned to England April 5, 1621, made excellent time on return home, Jones & the Mayflower on second voyage went to France with a cargo of salt. The next two years the Mayflower lay idle and became a "rotting hulk". Her subsequent fate is unknown but she was probably broken up for scrap.


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This page was last updated on 21 January 2022

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