The first American Colt

John Colt, ca. 1630-ca. 1713

I kind of hate to write this boring post and burst any family bubbles. The truth is, we know very little about John Colt, the first immigrant to come here with that family name. And much of what we thought we knew turns out to have been spun in the 19th century to please Colt descendants. We don’t know his birth or death date, the names of his parents, or when and how he got here. We don’t know where he came from, or if he has any connection whatsoever to Colts Hall in Cavendish, Sudbury. Turns out he didn’t come here in 1633 on the Griffin as a ward of the famous Rev. Thomas Hooker, and he probably didn’t get here in 1638 on the Susan and Ellen as some have claimed, either. His first genuine sighting in the records is in 1656, when he was fined for playing cards in Hartford.

Here’s what we do know.

  • 1656, 5 Jun: “At Quarter Court at Hartford, George Graves, John Colt, John Adams and William Morton were fined 5 shillings each for playing at cards and that at an unseasonable time of the night.”
  • 1658, 3 Feb: “John Colt, servant to Mr. Megat, was treated by John Winthrop for a speck on his eye.” John Colt and Mary Skinner were both employees of Joseph Mygatt (a Vail ancestor), a weaver who had received a license to sell strong liquors by retail. The two were married in 1658 and had two children together, John and Abraham.
  • 1663, 5 Jul: “John Colt’s wife was treated by John Winthrop at Springfield, same paine as Jacob Drake’s wife had.”
  • 1663, 14 Jul: “John Colt’s wife was treated by John Winthrop at Hartford.”
  • 1665: “John Colt subscribed 6 shillings to raise the minister’s salary at Podunk.”
  • 1665: Mary Skinner Colt died at the age of 26. Before year’s end, Colt was remarried to Hester Edwards and subsequently had seven children with her.
  • 1669, 13 Apr: “John Colt was treated by John Winthrop at Podunk, broake out in several places.”
  • 1669, Oct: He was listed among the freemen at Windsor.
  • 1672, Jun: His name appears in a list of persons on the east side of the Connecticut River, then called the Great River.
  • 1675, Sep: During King Philip’s War, at a meeting of the Council of War at Hartford, “John Coalt declared that he was shot at yesterday by an Indian, whereupon the Council ordered the return of Major Robert Treat and his troops to Hartford from up the River.”
  • 1680, May: He signed a petition for a new town on the east side at Windsor.
  • 1691: He was listed at Windsor in a property assessment with two persons under age and Joseph and Abraham, his sons, of age.
  • 1694, Jul: He signed a petition to settle a minister on the east side of the Connecticut River.
  • 1703, 27 Apr: His name appeared in a list of Windsor freemen.

So there we have it. John Colt showed up in Hartford sometime in the 1650s, probably as an indentured servant. He married, remarried, fathered nine children, became a freeman, moved across the river, and helped found the town of Windsor.

Also, he’s the founder of a pretty interesting family.

John Colt is an ancestor of Lyman Colt Josephs.

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