Middlesex County, Connecticut - Brief History of Origin

+5 votes

I do quite a bit of sourcing 1600s and 1700s profiles in Connecticut. Very frequently, those unsourced profiles list Middlesex County as place of birth, marriage or death for the towns of Middletown, Chatham, Haddam, East Haddam, Saybrook, Killingworth, and Durham. That is true only of the first five towns in 1785 and later, and of Durham in 1799 and later. I am often, therefore, correcting the location to the actual county for events occurring prior to those dates. I thought this might be of interest to those who were not aware of it.

"Middlesex county was incorporated by an act of the Legislature passed at the May session, 1785, and at that time consisted of six towns. Of these, Middletown, Chatham, Haddam, and East Haddam were taken from the county of Hartford, and Saybrook and Killingworth from New London county. Durham was annexed to the county in May 1799, from the county of New Haven." from "The History of Middlesex County 1635-1885" (J. H. Beers & Co., 36 Vesey Street, New York; 1884) transcribed by Janece Streig. Dunham, Wilcox

in The Tree House by Jim Parish G2G6 Pilot (158k points)
recategorized by Ellen Smith
Thanks for this lesson on the history of Middlesex County.

One of my chronic annoyances with the standardized place names used in Family Search and Ancestry.com is that they are so often historically wrong. I wasn't previously aware of how late Middlesex County was organized, but I knew of similar issues affecting other Connecticut place names. This information tells me that it is incorrect to characterize an event in (say) 1720 as having occurred in Middletown, Middlesex County. (And this supports me in my inclination to simply record the town without a county. The town names also can be historically wrong, due to splits and renamings, but since few Connecticut records are maintained in counties, I see little reason to include a potentially inaccurate county name.)

1 Answer

+4 votes
In addition, there were no counties in Connecticut prior to 10 May 1666. In 1666, there were only Hartford, Fairfield, New Haven, and New London Counties. Further, county government was abolished in 1960. So there are no records kept on a county level, and no towns have the same name, requiring a county designation to clarify.
by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

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