Saturday, April 16, 2016

Surname Saturday ~ Willet of Connecticut

Image of New London County from CTGenWeb
The first Willet that I know of is John Willet, found in a Groton, Connecticut marriage record and referenced in a 1985 Willet / Willett Genealogy that I found at This book gives me some information, but it would be helpful to find additional primary source info about this ancestor.

Albert James Willett, The Willett families of North America: being a comprehensive guide encompassing Willett, Willet, Willette, Willit, Willot, Willets, Willetts, Willits and other variations and early spellings of the Willett surname (Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, Inc. (1985), digital images, 2015), Internet Archive,, page 59. John Willett of Stonington, Connecticut.

This author acknowledges that family tradition says that John descends from a John Willett of Wales and others claim that he is descended from Captain Thomas Willett of Plymouth and Swansea, but there is no proof to support either of these claims.

Some of thie information in the 1985 genealogy seems to come from an earlier 1906 genealogy, written by Jacob Edgar Bookstäver, which can be found at

John's wife was Mary Clark and the Barbour Collection of Vital Records has a marriage record for them in Groton, New London, Connecticut, on November 19, 1719, as well as record of the births of their eldest three children:

Connecticut Vital Records to 1870 (The Barbour Collection), From original typescripts, Lucius Barnes Barbour Collection, 1928, (Online Database:, NEHGS), Groton Vital Records. p. 164 (Willis - Woodbridge)

Altogether, they had six children born between 1721 and 1735: Mary, John (who died young), John, Hannah, Mercy, and Abigail.

John Willet is believe to have died about 1750, and I have not found a record of his wife's death.

I descend from their son John, their eldest surviving son.

Generation 2: John Willet (or Willett) was born on May 1, 1727, in Groton, Connecticut (Barbour Collection). He married Elizabeth Leffingwell in 1748 and had eight children with her between 1749 and 1771: Eunice, Judith, Philura, Elizabeth, John, Mary, Jedidiah, and Hannah.

John owned a major shipyard in Norwich, Connecticut, up the Thames River from New London. (See the map at the top, where I underlined the towns where I find the Willet family.) He is considered a Revolutionary War Patriot as a prominent shipbuilder in Norwich, Connecticut and I wrote about him at John Willett, Patriot.

I descend from their youngest son Jedidiah.

Generation 3: Jedidiah Willet, born on March 9, 1768, in Norwich, Connecticut, followed in his father's footsteps in the shipbuilding industry.

He married twice and both his wives predeceased him. His first wife was Frances Rogers with whom he had nine children between 1791 and 1805. She died giving birth to her ninth child. He soon married Mary Stanton and had at least three children with her: Frances, Mary Ann and Nathaniel.

He died in Macon, Bibb County, Georgia, on July 3, 1850. I know I need to do more research to determine why this branch of the Willet family moved to Georgia in the late 1820s. For more about him, see There's A Way ~ Jedidiah Willet.

I descend from the oldest daughter of his second marriage, Frances Stanton Willet, born in 1807.

Generation 4: Frances Stanton Willet (1807-1893)
Generation 5: Frances Adelaide Rose (1829-1870)
Generation 6: Frances Adelaide McAlpin (1860-1937)
Generation 7: Charles McAlpin Pyle (1893-1966)
Generation 8: Charles McAlpin Pyle, Jr. (1924-1993)
Generation 9: Me

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