Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Richard Sperry

Male Bef 1606 - 1698  (> 91 years)


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  • Name Richard Sperry 
    Born Bef 16 Feb 1606  Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Baptised 16 Feb 1606  Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Died 1698  New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Person ID I5397  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of TNH
    Last Modified 9 Jan 2016 

    Father John Sperry 
    Mother Mary 
    Family ID F5357  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Dennis,   b. Abt 1631, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1707, New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 76 years) 
    Married Abt 1648  New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Children 
    +1. Esther Sperry,   b. Sep 1654, New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1707, New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 52 years)
    Last Modified 19 Sep 2018 
    Family ID F6244  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • "Richard Sperry was a proprietor of New Haven in 1685 and a member of the 'Night Watch.'" [Spooner Saga, citation details below.]

      "[T]he most famous incident involving Richard Sperry concerns the regicide judges, Edward Whalley and William Goffe. They had been denied amnesty for their part in the execution of Charles I and were being pursued for retribution by agents of his son, the restored King Charles II. New Haven was, perhaps, the most Puritan of all the colonies and, accordingly, Whalley and Goffe fled there for protection in the late spring and summer of 1661. In the period between May 13th and June 11th, they hid in the 'Judges' Cave' near the West Rock. Atwater's history [Edward E. Atwater, History of the Colony of New Haven to its absorption into Connecticut, 1881] states that this was located about a mile from Sperry's farm and that he and his family provided them with shelter in inclement weather as well as food, which it is told they left on a nearby stump. From a tradition handed down in the family, it has been said that Whalley and Goffe left the cave on June 11th because they had been frightened by a wild animal (supposedly they saw the 'glaring eyes' of a 'panther' at the entrance of the cave). However, this is probably merely a legend since Atwater makes no mention of it and indicates that they left their hiding place and showed themselves openly so that Davenport and others who might have been thought to be concealing them would be relieved of suspicion. It is not known where Whalley and Goffe went between June 11th and the following 22nd, however, on the latter date they returned openly to New Haven. At this time, they considered surrendering to the authorities, but by June 24th on the advice of friends they had changed their minds and, again, went into hiding at the Judges' Cave. Undoubtedly, as before the Sperry family provided sustenance for the regicides. Atwater reports that they remained in secret at the West Rock until August 19th 'when the search for them being pretty well over', Whalley and Goffe went to Milford where they stayed two years and afterward went to Hadley, Massachusetts. They were never captured by royal agents." [David R. Evans, Richard Sperry, immigrant. Evans's essay at that URL is a good overview of the facts and legends around Richard Sperry.]

      It has been persistently asserted over the years that Richard Sperry's wife Dennis was the daughter of the affluent London merchant Stephen Goodyear who emigrated to New Haven in or before 1638. In 1646 Goodyear's wife embarked back to England and was lost at sea. Goodyear himself returned to London in 1656 and died shortly thereafter.

      It appears to be actually the case that Sperry's passage to New England was paid by Goodyear, that Goodyear had a house built for Sperry on the Connecticut lands that Goodyear had purchased, and that Sperry farmed those lands for Goodyear and later acquired them in his own right. Certainly all of this makes sense if Sperry was the man who married "the boss's daughter", as W. M. Bollenbach puts it in The New England Ancestry of Alice Everett Johnson (citation details below). Unfortunately no record exists to confirm this, and no "Dennis" or variant thereof has ever been found listed among the documented offspring of Stephen Goodyear.

  • Sources 
    1. [S662] The New England Ancestry of Alice Everett Johnson, 1899-1986: Memoirs, and Bollenbach Genealogy, by W. M. Bollenbach, Jr. Baltimore: Gateway Press, 2003.

    2. [S727] Spooner Saga: Judah Paddock Spooner and His Wife Deborah Douglas of Connecticut and Vermont and Their Descendants, by Esther Littleford Woodworth-Barnes. Boston: 1997., year only.