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Robert Seeley (bef. 1602 - 1668)

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Captain Robert Seeley aka Seeley
Born before in Huntingdon, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married in St Stephens, Coleman St., Londonmap
Husband of — married [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Father of
Died in New York, New Yorkmap
Profile last modified | Created 6 Jul 2011
This page has been accessed 3,191 times.

Categories: Puritan Great Migration | Puritan Great Migration Project Needs Biography | Winthrop Fleet | Signers of the New Haven Fundamental Agreement.

The Puritan Great Migration.
Robert Seeley migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1620-1640).
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NOTE: Anderson in his "The Great Migration Begins" says that the notion that Obadiah Seeley of Stamford was the son of Robert Seeley should be rejected. "Robert Seeley married for the 1st time in 1626, and had son Nathaniel in 1627, so Obadiah if he was a son of Robert, must have been born in 1629 or later. But the eldest son of Obadiah was born in the late 1640s, when Obadiah, under this hypothesis, could have been no more than twenty, and perhaps even less." Anderson goes on to say, "This chronological impediment is not fatal, but it makes the connection highly unlikely... Beyond this we see that Robert Seeley and Obadiah Seeley lived in different towns, that they do not appear in the records together in any action, and that the name Obadiah does not appear among the immediate descendants of Robert, nor does the name Robert appear among the immediate descendants of Obadiah." "All these clues indicate that Obadiah was not son of Robert."



Robert's was baptized on July 4, 1602 at St. Johns, Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire, England. A search of the parish records of Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire included the following entry from St. John's Church: "chr 4 Jul 1602, Robert son of William Seley and Grace his wife." The full name of Robert's mother was, Grace (Prett) Seeley. A search for a previously published christening date in Bluntisham cum Earith showed that the 22 Aug 1602 date correctly reads "Ralphe ye sonne of Wm. Stookley."[1]His mother died and his father remarried on October 12, 1614 to Briget Hills.[2]

"Huntington, where Robert's baptism record was found, was also the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell and a hotbed of Puritanism" says Ralph M. Seeley in his "The English Life of Robert Seely." Robert Seely became a staunch Puritan and he may have first come to the faith from Dr. Thomas Beard, the same man that Cromwell is known to have sat before at the free school attached to the hospital of St. John, Huntingdon.[2]


An apprenticeship record for a Robert Seely recorded in the Cordswainer Company records, now at Guildhall Library in London is as follows: "Robert Seley ye sonne of William Seley of Hunt in ye county of Hunt joyner bound to John Plomer citt[izen] & c [= and et cetera] to serve from ye day & c for 7 yeeres dat 10 Marcij 1623 ii [2] s[hillings]." [1][2]Robert was about 24 years of age at the time of this recording. A cordswainer was a shoemaker, originally it meant someone who worked with cordovan leather.[1]

Normally an apprentice was about 14 years old, but it appears that Robert was older and more experienced (he was 21 years old when he began his apprenticeship) so he did not serve out the seven years.[2] He likely came to London already skilled as a shoemaker but unable to ply his trade, he served a short apprenticeship. Sometime after 1 August 1626, there is a "Record of Robert Seley late the apprentice of &c being made free by redemption a white spone OO". In other words, he bought his freedom not with a monetary payment (O(~zero shillings, zero pence) but by a symbolic presentation of a silver spoon. He was then free to work in London. He was also free to apply to become a citizen of London.[1]


Robert was 24 and probably a bachelor when he married on December 15, 1626 to Mary (_____) (Heath) Mason at St. Stephen's Church, Coleman Street, London.[3]They may have been acquainted as fellow Puritan worshipers in St. Stephen's parish.[1]Mary was twice widowed (to William Heath and Walter Mason.) Her 2nd husband Walter was buried September 1, 1625 and on the following March 14, the last of their known children were buried; they had 5 children buried at St. Stephen's Church.[2]Phipps in his writings "The English Ancestry of Robert Seeley" says that Mary had given birth to at least ten children prior to the time of her marriage to Robert Seeley.[1]This may be accurate, however what we know from Anderson's writings in "The Great Migration Begins" is that Mary was a childless widow when she married Robert Seely and they had only one son, Nathaniel, who later accompanied them to New England.

Child of Robert Seeley and Mary his wife

  1. Nathaniel Seeley was baptized at St. Stephen on Coleman Street on September 16, 1627. He married Mary Turney, daughter of Benjamin Turney Gillespie about October 1649. About 1674 he married Elizabeth (Burr) (Olmstead) Gilbert, daughter of Jehu Burr and widow of Nehemiah Olmstead and Obadiah Gilbert.


The last this family is heard of at St. Stephen's Parish was when he paid the tythe for the year of March 1629/30 to March 1630/31. The next records we find on October 1630 indicate he was living in Watertown, Massachusetts Bay Colony where he applied to be a freeman and he became a freeman 18 May 1631. It is assumed that he was a passenger in the Winthrop Fleet which sailed in April, 1630. [2][4]


In New England, Robert's occupation was not only a shoemaker but also a surveyor; laying out lots and roads from his arrival at Watertown to near the end of his life in New Amsterdam.[2]Recalling that Robert's father was a "Joiner" he probably gained this learned ability from him. Joiners were educated well beyond the average men of their day. They could "read and write, figure, measure, draw to scale, and were skilled in the use of their tools and instruments."[2]It can be assumed that William taught Robert at least something of his trade while Robert was still at home in England.[2] He was asked to render an opinion on a case over bad shoes... he found that the leather was not tanned properly and the workmanship was lacking.

Church Membership

On October 25, 1639 Lieutenant Seely was approved and received into membership at New Haven, implying that he had previously been a member of the church at Watertown or Wethersfield, or possibly both. He was assigned a place in the fourth seat at the meetinghouse by March 10, 1646/7. By March 10, 1646 his wife Mary was placed in the sixth seat in the New Haven meetinghouse.


In New Haven he was on a committee to "walk the woods" on November 25, 1639. He was a Viewer of meadow in 1640, 1645, 1646 and 1648. He was on a committee to consider the digging of a channel in 1544. He was Leather sealer from 1645 - 1648; advisor on lots in 1647; and rater in 1649.


They lived at Watertown where he was one of the original forty settlers.[5]In 1636 he moved to Wethersfield, Connecticut, where he was Lieutenant (second in command under Mason) in the militia in the Pequot War in May 1637. He proved a courageous soldier as one of the first to enter the Mystic fort and remove the brush from it's entrance. He received a wound in the eye-brow during this hostile encounter. He was given command of thirty men out of the Connecticut River plantations to maintain access to the river. He was paid s20 a week and 150 bushels of corn from the people of Wethersfield.

  • In 1639 he moved to New Haven, where he was lieutenant in the New Haven Train Band in August 1642, a lieutenant in the Artillery Company in March 1645, a captain of the artillery in May 1648, and a captain of the New Haven troops against the Ningret in October 1654. He signed the fundamental agreement at the gathering of the church on June 4, 1639. He was Lieutenant/Captain, Huntington train band, May 1663.

He was given approval to return to England in 1646 and came back a few years later. Robert's 1st wife, Mary, died before 1651.

  • In 1654 he led the soldiers from New Haven that were placed under the command of the English officers Sedgwick and Leavitt against the New Netherlands; mercifully no blood was shed because peace was made in Europe.
  • In 1662 Robert was awarded L15 by the General Court, to be paid out of the public treasury and was given a house in Say-Brook in which to live, while he was in charge of the ammunitions at the fort.
  • In 1663 he was appointed the chief Military officer of Huntington, Long Island to exercise their trained soldiers.[4]
From the General Court of Hartford:
"It is ordered that there shall be an offensive war against the Pequots,... under the command of Capt. John Mason, & in the case of death or sickness, under the command of Robt. Seely, Lieut..."[6]
In Capt. Mason's own words:
"Lieutenant Seeley was shot in the eyebrow with a flat headed arrow, the point turning downwards: I pulled it out myself."[7]

2nd Marriage

Robert's second wife was Mary (Manning) Walker. They were married 22 December 1666[3][8]and lived in the city of New York after it's conquest. He purchased all of the Island commonly called "Eaton's Neck on the eastward of Oyster Bay (Huntington Bay) together with some land upon Long Island joining to the eastward.


It was in New York City where Robert Seeley died by October 17, 1668 for on October 19, 1668 letters of administration on the estate of Robert Seeley were granted to his widow, Mary. Mary sold the lying in Huntington in Long Island on July 15, 1669.

Mary, Robert's 2nd wife died after July 15, 1669.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Seeley Genealogical Society, The English Ancestry Of Robert Seeley
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2013.) "The English Life of Robert Seeley" Vol. 116, pp. 159 - 165
  3. 3.0 3.1 New England Marriages to 1700. (Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.) Originally published as: New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015.Vol. 2, p. 1349.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Schenck, Elizabeth Hubbell. The History of Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut (J.J. Little & Co., Astor Place, New York, 1889) Page 405
  5. Wikipedia:Robert_Seeley
  6. Schenck: Vol. 1,Page ix
  7. Schenck: Vol. 1,Page xv
  8. Jacobus cites N. Y. Marriage Licenses for this marriage.

Unless otherwise cited, this biography is based on Anderson's Great Migration featured article on Robert Seeley:

  • The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010), (Originally Published as: New England Historic Genealogical Society. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III, 3 vols. pp 1647 - 1650. 1995). (featured article Robert Seeley.)subscription site
  • The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2013.) "The English Life of Robert Seeley" Vol. 116, pp. 159 - 165.subscription site
  • New England Marriages to 1700. (Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.) Originally published as: New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015.Vol. 2, p. 1349.subscription site

See Also

  • Daniels, Larry. Butts, Knowles & Hills; The Seeleys, Turneys, Sturges & Barlows (Privately printed, Bowie, MD 20715-1336, March 1993) pp. 23, 24, 29.

* Donald Lines Jacobus, History and Genealogy of the Families of Old Fairfield (Fairfield, Connecticut: Daughters of the American Revolution, 1930). Vol. I, p. 524.

  • Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England (New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, 1995) Vol. II, p. 1349. SEELEY, Robert (-1668) & 1/wf Mary MASON; 15 or 25 December 1626, by 1625; Watertown/Wethersfield, CT/?New Haven/Saybrook. SEELEY, Robert & 2/wf mary (MANNING) WALKER; N.Y. Mar. Lic. 22 Dec 1666; Fairfield.

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No known carriers of Robert's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests.

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On 19 Jan 2018 at 20:20 GMT Cheryl (Aldrich) Skordahl wrote:

removed following source: link broken. unable to access

Livengood admin, About PhpGedView Page:

On 19 Jan 2018 at 16:50 GMT Cheryl (Aldrich) Skordahl wrote:

I'll incorporate merged biography.

On 19 Jan 2018 at 03:54 GMT Cheryl (Aldrich) Skordahl wrote:

Seeley-1255 and Seeley-67 appear to represent the same person because: Obadiah should be removed as son of Robert Seeley. See note on profile Seeley-1255. These are both in the Puritan Great Migration Project.

On 14 May 2015 at 00:50 GMT Lucy (Selvaggio) Selvaggio-Diaz wrote:

The surname of Robert's wife, Mary (married in 1626) is unknown. She was the widow of both Heath and Mason. She also had borne 10 children, all of whom were dead by 1626. How sad. I wonder if she was overprotective of Nathaniel.

On 14 May 2015 at 00:48 GMT Lucy (Selvaggio) Selvaggio-Diaz wrote:

This information all looks like it has been copied, word-for-word, from another website and/or published books. It should be rewritten. I would be happy to do it, since he is my ancestor also, I just don't want to step on any toes, so to speak.

Robert is 26 degrees from Rosa Parks, 21 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 17 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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