Joshua Wolcott (1708-1753)
Joshua Wolcott was born on 15 Jun 1708 in Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut as the seventh child of George Wolcott and Elizabeth Curtis. He had nine siblings, namely: Elizabeth, Deborah, Ann, George, Caleb, Eunice, David, Josiah, and Sarah. Joshua was baptized on 27 Jun 1708 at Wethersfield.
Along with his mother, Joshua was named as the executor of his father’s estate. The father, George Wolcott, died in 1726. Joshua inherited all of the lands that his father owned in Wethersfield, the dwelling house, the barn, the orchard, the gardens and all of George’s household goods. But, he also inherited care of his mother, who lived until 1741. Additionally, there was a condition in the will requiring that Joshua care and provide for his younger siblings until they reached lawful age.
When he was 19, Joshua Wolcott married Esther Belden (or Belding), daughter of Joseph Belden and Mary Willard, about 1728.
Joshua Wolcott and Esther Belden had the following children:
- Joshua Wolcott was born in 1730 in Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut. He married Esther Dean on 20 January 1757. He died on 31 Mar 1766.
- Esther Wolcott was born on 11 Feb 1734 in Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut. She married Samuel Russell in 1756 in Canaan, Litchfield, Connecticut. She died in Canaan, Columbia, New York.
- Solomon Wolcott was born on 01 Sep 1735 in Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut. He married Abigail Hastings on 11 Feb 1767. He died on 12 Aug 1829.
- Honor Wolcott was born on 14 Dec 1736 in Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut. She married Elisha Baxter on 4 Dec 1756. She died on 31 Jul 1809.
- Joseph Wolcott was born in Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut in 1740. He died on 21 May 1808.
- Caleb Wolcott was born in Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut about 1743.
- Josiah Wolcott was born in Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut about 1746. He died on 07 Oct 1793.
- Thomas Wolcott was born in Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut about 1749.
Joshua Wolcott died on 06 Feb 1753 in Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut at the age of 44.
Last Will and Testament
It is likely that Joshua knew he was dying. He made his will on 11 November 1752, a few months prior to his death, opening with, “Whereas I Joshua Wolcott knowing the uncertainty of my bodily life…” At the time, his oldest son was about 22-years old and the rest of his children were minors. His wife and children were all provided for in Joshua’s will and the children were gifted parts of the estate to be received as they “shall respectively come of age if it should please God to continue their lives.” His beloved wife was given a third of his personal estate and the use of his real estate during her natural life. His sons Joshua, Solomon, Thomas, Josiah, Joseph, and Caleb were given real estate. His daughters, Esther and Honor, were each gifted two hundred pounds either in movables or money, whichever they preferred.
Initial Estate Inventory
An inventory of the real and personal property of Joshua Wolcott was published. Note: the date on the document was January 1753, which appears to be prior to Joshua’s death but was more likely a year later. The calendar was changing at that time. Under the old-style calendar, the first month of the year was March, so January and February still were officially in the previous year. The inventory was probably taken in what we would now consider 1754.²
Everything that Joshua Wolcott had owned was inventoried including his clothing, furniture, pots and pans, livestock, land and house. At the time, the husband owned everything. So, even the Blue Bead Quilt, Earthen Platter, White Bowel, Knifes & Forks, and Skillett were part of his estate. Everything added up to an appraised value of a little over 4,723 pounds.
While the estate had a lot of value, it also had some debt that the widow Esther had to settle as part of her responsibility as executrix of the estate. Esther had to sell a few acres of land to pay the debts, but mostly, she was able to cover the costs my selling movable items.
Final Estate Inventory
In March 1757, an inventory of the movables that remained after the debts had been paid was approved. The inventory again covered everything from a Bible, candlesticks, and chairs to sheep, a gun, and a sword. At this second inventory, the estimated value of some items changed. For example, the white blanket that was originally appraised at 3£ was later only estimated as being worth 50 shillings.
Final Estate Settlement
In all, it took twelve years to settle his estate. The real estate was distributed among the six sons as described in 1759. But, the final certification of settlement did not happen until July 1765.
Many of the land measurements were described in units such as “three links of chain wide.” This refers to a measure called Gunter’s Chain which is a unit of length equal to 66 feet. When it was developed in the early 1600’s, the standard measuring chain revolutionized surveying. An area of one chain wide by ten chains long equaled an acre. A link is 1/100th of a chain or 7.92 inches long.¹
Where is he in the tree?
¹”Land Surveying Units,” Land Surveyors, Web, 10 Jun 2017, http://www.landsurveyors.com/resources/land-surveying-units/
²”Calendars,” CT State Library, Web, 10 Jun 2017, http://libguides.ctstatelibrary.org/hg/colonialresearch/calendar
Ancestry.com, Wolcott genealogy : the family of Henry Wolcott, one of the first settlers of Windsor, Connecticut (Provo, UT, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, pp. 41-2, 53-4, 68-9.
Charles William Manwaring, A Digest of the Early Connecticut Probate Records: Hartford district, 1700-1792 (R.S. Peck & Company, printers, 1904), pp. 627-8, GoogleBooks, 10 Jun 2017, https://books.google.com/books?id=u9MLAAAAYAAJ
Probate Files Collection, Early to 1880; Author: Connecticut State Library (Hartford, Connecticut); Probate Place: Hartford, Connecticut