William Spencer

William Spencer (1601 - 1640)

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Lt William Spencer
Born in Stotfold, Bedfordshire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married about 1632 in Cambridge, Massachusettsmap [uncertain]
Descendants descendants
Died in Hartford, Connecticutmap
Profile last modified 9 Feb 2020 | Created 7 Feb 2011 | Last significant change: 26 Jan 2020
21:35: Whitney Rapp edited the Biography for William Spencer (1601-1640). [Thank Whitney for this | 1 thank-you received]
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The Puritan Great Migration.
William Spencer migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1620-1640).
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William Spencer, son of Gerard and Alice (Whitbread) Spencer was baptized 11 Oct 1601, at Stotfold, Bedfordshire, England.[1]

He immigrated to New England about 1631, settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, then removed to Hartford, Connecticut in 1639.[2] His name can be found on the Hartford Founders Monument. He was brother to three other immigrants Thomas Spencer of Cambridge and Hartford, Michael Spencer and Gerard Spencer of Lynn.[1]

William Spencer married Agnes Harris, daughter of Bartholomew Harris and Elizabeth (Collamore) Harris.[3] After the death of William she married William Edwards.[2]

William became a freeman of the Massachusetts Bay Colony 4 March 1632/3.[4] This gave him the right to vote and to hold office. He was the Deputy from Cambridge to the General Court eight times between 9 May 1632 and 12 March 1637/8. In April 1637 he was listed as Lieut. Spencer.[5] In addition to serving as Lt. of the Cambridge trainband, William was a Charter member of the Ancient and honorable Artillery Company.[6]Governments can't run without committees. William served on several Colony committees[7]

He was the town clerk at Cambridge 1632-1635, and town selectman 23 November 1635. A committee was appointed to "survey the town lands and enter [mutilated] a book appointed for that purpose" 3 Feb 1634/5, and on 27 Oct 1636 "Newe Towne presented a book of their records under the hands of Will Andrews, constable, John Beniamin, & Will Spencer." He and George Steele measured the undivided lands and alloted portions in 1635.[8]

The "Town Records of Cambridge" and the Cambridge Land Inventory show that William owned land and a house, garden, etc. in the years between 1633 and 1638[9]

Click caption to see larger

In Hartford, William had a house, outhouses, yards and gardens, and about 98 acres in various parcels. He had lots 48 and 88 on the map.[10]

William continued public service after his move to Hartford. He was Deputy for Hartford to the Connecticut General Court five sessions in a row starting 11 April 1639 and ending shortly before his death, 9 April 1640. In addition, he was the surveyor of armor and other military provisions for Hartford in 1639.[11]

"A noate of the mynd and Will of Williã Spenser for pr the 4th of May, 1640" Basically the will states that his wife Agnes should get one third, his son Samuel on third, and his daughters Sarah and Elizabeth one third. It refers to some property that his wife might receive and names overseers "Cosen Mathew Allen, my brother John Pratt and John Taylcoate. These last two items were keys to the identity of Agnes as Agnes Harris. His will and inventory (£67 moveables plus real estate, debts owed and debts due) are found in the Colony Records.[12]


  1. Elizabeth b. c. 1633; m. (1) William Wellman, who died at Killingworth 9 Aug 1674; eight children; m. (2) May 23, 1672, Jacob Joy, four children.[1]
  2. Sarah b. c. 1636; d. Nov. 3, 1691, Simsbury, Connecticut; m. before 17 Aug 1656, John Case, who died 21 Feb 1703/4; ten children. He m. (2) Elizabeth (Moore) Loomis.[1]
  3. Samuel, b. about 1639; d. about 1716.[1] m. Sarah prob. dau. of John Meakins. (John M. names dau. Sarah Spencer in his will, Nov. 22, 1702.[1]


Information on William Spencers. But, are they William the immigrant? There really is nothing to connect these odd bits. They are not mentioned by Anderson.

A William Spencer b. April 1601 was registered at the Merchant Taylor's School 1611/2[13]

"According to some references, William Spencer was a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, England coming to New England with friends of John Winthrop in 1631; they settled in Cambridge. In 1633 he may have then returned to bring his wife and came with her in the ship "Mary and John" (according to page 203 Wm. R. Cutter's Genealogy and History of Connecticut (Vol. 3))"[14]


  • Paternal relationship is confirmed through Y-chromosome DNA testing. Frank Spencer and Chet Spencer, tenth cousins, match on 64 out of 67 markers (see YSearch IDs BVDU9 and 23V7R) thereby confirming their direct paternal lines back to their MRCA Gerard Spencer.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Jacobus, Donald Lines M.A. "The Four Spencer Brothers - Their Ancestors and Descendants", The American Genealogist, 27:162 (April 1951) Article Begins 27:79
  2. 2.0 2.1 Anderson, Robert Charles The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes 3, (New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995).(Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010), link at AmericanAncestors
  3. Richardson, Douglas. "The English Origin of Agnes Harris, of Hartford, Conn., Wife of William Spencer and William Edwards." The American Genealogist. 63:33 (1987)
  4. Shurtleff, Nathaniel. Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England (William White, Boston, 1853-) 0. 367
  5. Anderson: citing Mass Bay Colony Records 95, 135, 164, 178, 191, 194, 204, 220
  6. Roberts, Oliver. History of the Military Company of the Massachusetts (Alfred Mudge & Son, Printers, Boston, 1895) Vol 1. 1637-1738 p. 40
  7. Anderson: Citing Mass Bay Colony Records Vol I pp 139, 162, 166, 173, 179, 184, 188, 200, 210, 222
  8. Anderson: Citing Records of the town of Cambridge pp. vi, 12, 13 and Massachusetts Bay Colony Records 1: 182
  9. Anderson: Citing The Records of the Town of Cambridge (formerly Newtowne) Massachusetts, 1630-1703 pp. 5, 7, 10, 13, 18, and The Register Book of the Lands and Houses in the "New towne" and the town of Cambridge pp 5, 6, 38, 58,
  10. Original Distribution of the Lands in Hartford Among the Settlers, 1639, Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, Volume 14 (Hartford 1912; rpt. Bowie, Maryland, 1989) pp. 353, 353
  11. The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut</i> (Hartford, Brown & Parsons, 1850) Vol 1. Deputy pp 27, 29, 34, 41, 46; armor surv. p 30.
  12. The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut (Hartford, Brown & Parsons, 1850) Vol. 1, Page 449
  13. Robinson, Charles John. A Register of the Scholars Admitted Into Merchant Taylor's School, from A.D. 1562 to 1874, Volume 1. Printed and published for the editor by Farncombe, 1882 Google Books
  14. AndersonFamilyTree Rootsweb.

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Memories: 1
Enter a personal reminiscence or story.
William Spencer was baptized at Stotfold, Bedfordshire on 11 October 1601. He matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He married at Stotfold in 1633 Agnes Harris, a daughter of Bartholomew Harris, yeoman, Mayor of Barnstaple, County Devon, England and his wife, Elizabeth (Collamore) Harris. Agnes Pratt was a witness. Agnes was christened on 6 April 1604 at Barnstaple. Agnes had a brother, Richard and a sister, Priscilla. (Agnes’s ancestry has been traced to Charlemagne). William and his brother’s Thomas, Michael and Gerard emigrated to New England in the Winthrop Fleet. William Spencer was one of only four gentlemen in the Fleet. In 1632 William is recorded as being an inhabitant of New Town, afterwards Cambridge, Massachusetts. On 4 March he took the freeman’s oath. William was a Deputy to the General Court of Massachusetts from 1634 until 1637. He was a member of the committee formed to frame a body of fundamental laws for the Colony of Massachusetts. In March 1636 William was appointed Lieutenant of the Military Company of New Town. On 13 March he was founder of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston. William Spencer, Gent. Appeared fourth on the charter granted by the General Court of Massachusetts. William moved to Hartford, Connecticut where his brother, Thomas Spencer, had settled. He became town Clerk in 1639 and at a general meeting of the whole town, on 23 December 1639, there was chosen to order the affairs of the town for one year, William Westwood, William Spencer, Nathaniel Ward and John Moody. He was an early member of the First Church. His name appears on the Founders Monument. William was a representative to the General Court of Connecticut in 1639 and 1640. William Spencer’s will was dated 4 March 1641. He mentions his wife, son Samuel, and daughters Sarah and Elizabeth. He appointed John Pratt, John Talcott and Matthew Lane overseers of his estate. In the inventory of his estate there is mentioned land yet remaining at Concord on the Bay. This was probably part of the grant of 300 acres beyond the Alewife River made him by the General Court of Massachusetts in 1638. William’s will also provided that two-thirds of any estate in England and Massachusetts, due his wife, be used for their children’s welfare. William and Agnes Spencer’s Children Were: 1. Elizabeth Spencer was born c. 1633. She married (1) William Wellman and (2) Jacob Joy. 2. SAMUEL SPENCER 3. Sarah Spencer was born 7 March 1636. She married John Case 17 August 1656, who was born at Gravensend, County Kent, England.

"Spencer's of Badby to the four Brothers of CT."

posted 16 Feb 2012 by M Lechner   [thank M]
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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with William by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. Y-chromosome DNA test-takers in his direct paternal line on WikiTree:

Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Comments: 8

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Daphne, I've checked there aren't any duplicates of this profile so whatever the comment below referred to, it is no longer an issue.
posted by Anne B
Daphne, Frank and I are both direct descendants of William's father, so by default our Spencer fathers and grandfathers have the same yDNA, thus tested by default. That's the beauty of the yDNA test. It would be nice if a related Spencer in England took the yDNA test so we could go back further than Gerard.
posted by Chet Spencer
I hope merges aren't being rejected because it's "not worth it". Duplicates are errors, and they breed more errors and confusion. Dupes should be merged if they're dupes...
posted by Daphne Maddox
Does anyone know why the line of Spencers has DNA confirmation tags on them? There isn't any documentation in the profiles as to how the confirmation was determined.... and the two yDNA profiles with tests here do not appear to match each other...
posted by Daphne Maddox
22 Sep 2017 A rewrite, using Anderson Great Migration and eliminating large quoted blocks from other websites is in order. Would one of you like to take this on? Otherwise objections to my doing so.?

7 Oct 2017 Rewrite done.

posted by Anne B
Spencer-7328 and Spencer-629 appear to represent the same person because: Spencer-7328 is an unnecessary duplication or possibly in error. Spencer-629 is the older profile and should be preferred. William was baptized on Oct 11, 1601 in Stotfold, birth date unknown but prior to that date (per Anderson, Great Migration, V1-3, page 1724). Alice Spencer is not shown as the daughter of William per Anderson nor by Jacobus in the American Genealogist. Alice is likely the daughter of some other William Spencer.
posted by Michael Spencer
dup not worth merging
Spencer-2106 and Spencer-7328 do not represent the same person because: Not a match
posted by Chet Spencer

William is 15 degrees from Peter Roberts, 8 degrees from Emma Smith and 10 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.