Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Peter Tilton

Male Abt 1617 - 1696  (~ 79 years)


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  • Name Peter Tilton  [1
    Born Abt 1617  [2
    Gender Male 
    Alternate birth of Hadley, Hampshire, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Died 11 Jul 1696  Hadley, Hampshire, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Person ID I25955  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of BAM
    Last Modified 27 Aug 2019 

    Father William Tilton,   b. Abt 1589,   d. 1653, Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 64 years) 
    Family ID F15540  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Elizabeth,   d. Bef 1659 
    Married 10 May 1641  Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Children 
    +1. Mary Tilton,   b. Bef 18 Feb 1644, Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified 4 Aug 2019 
    Family ID F15539  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • From The Ancestry of Phoebe Tilton (citation details below):

      In the spring of 1659, after several years of religious differences, a strongly conservative minority of the church at Hartford and a like-minded majority of the church at Wethersfield, under the leadership of Rev. John Russell, decided to seek a new home above Springfield, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Peter Tilton and John Hawks of Windsor joined this group in the foundation of the town of Hadley. All of the "withdrawers," as they were called, signed an agreement on April 18, 1659, at Goodman Ward's house at Hartford. In Hadley, Peter Tilton speedily became one of the leading citizens. Strongly religious, he was one of the two original deacons of the new church, and, with apparent educational qualifications, he held the most important town offices. To lay out the land which the "withdrawers" had bought, two "town measurers" were appointed, one being Tilton, in 1660. He took the freeman's oath on March 26, 1661, and in that year he was elected the town's auditor and also town clerk which office he filled for thirty-two years, or until 1693. He served the town as selectman in 1670, 1674, 1677, 1679 and 1687, and was elected "recorder of lands" in 1663. [...]

      Peter Tilton's contributions to the judicial and legislative system of his town, county and colony were distinguished. In Hadley he was a commissioner to end small causes, or local justice. For Hampshire county he acted as treasurer for ten years, was a member of the Council of War during the struggle with the Indians in the years from 1675 to 1677 known as King Philip's war and by 1680 he was a justice of the Hampshire county court. He represented his town in the General Court of Massachusetts Bay in Boston in 1665, 1666, 1668 and 1670-1679. He was also a legislator in 1667 but representing the town of Chelmsford. Mr. Peter Golding of Hadley accused Tilton of packing a court in 1693 and was fined £5 for the slander. Tilton's judicial career culminated in his election in 1681 as an "assistant" of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which position he held until the beginning of the administration of Sir Edmund Andros in 1686. The assistants to the Governor had originally executive, legislative and judicial powers and duties, but long before Peter Tilton's time their functions had become solely judicial and they acted as the final court of appeal in the colony. Having gone through the successive stages of "Mr." and "Esq." in the colonial social scale he now became "The Worshipful" Peter Tilton, which fulsome title was still a degree below "Honorable" which was sometimes granted him. The Court of Assistants met twice a year during Tilton's in cumbency, and he must have been very much at home in the provincial capital of Boston and a familiar figure in its society.

      The most interesting feature of Peter Tilton's history is by its very nature the most obscure. In 1660 General Whalley and General Goffe, two of the Puritan judges of the Commonwealth who had sentenced King Charles I to death, sought refuge in New England on the eve of the restoration of King Charles II. Hunted throughout the colonies by British agents, they eventually found asylum in Hadley under the protection of Rev. John Russell, the parson, and Peter Tilton, the chief layman of the town. There they remained in concealment for the remainder of their lives, possibly fourteen to sixteen years. Mr. Russell never left Hadley during those years, and Peter Tilton, frequently in Boston, acted as the agent of the family and friends of the regicides in sending and receiving information and in obtaining the necessary funds for their support. The secret was perfectly kept although it must have been known to the Russell and Tilton families and even to some others in the village. So well was it kept, in fact, that when Governor Hutchinson visited Hadley to gather facts for his History of Massachusetts, published in 1764, the people had little of memory or tradition to give him. In later days they made up for this lack, and spectacular and dramatic stories of the two generals were told, particularly of the appearance of one of them, armed and ready to lead in the defense of the town when an alarm was sounded during King Philip's war. They are all apocryphal, however.

  • Sources 
    1. [S3400] Lucius Root Eastman, "Genealogy of the Eastman Family." The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 21:229, Jul 1867.

    2. [S1427] The Ancestry of Phoebe Tilton, 1775-1847, Wife of Capt. Abel Lunt of Newburyport, Massachuetts by Walter Goodwin Davis. Portland, Maine: The Anthoensen Press, 1947.

    3. [S3335] History and Genealogy of the Eastman Family of America by Guy S. Rix. Concord, New Hampshire, 1901.