What we know of Mathew Woodruff - Susan Abbott Woodruff, Woodruff Genealogy

MATHEW WOODRUFF • We know not whence he came nor where he lived in America before he bought a few acres of land from two of the original proprietors of Farmington, not far from Hartford, seat of the government of the Colony of Connecticut, in 1653.

Although it has been said that he came from Hartford to Farmington in 1640-41, written evidence seems to be entirely lacking. His name does not appear as a landowner or church member that early, but the possibility always exists, evidence or no, that he did in fact come from Hartford, and perhaps in the 1640s.

Nor can we identify his wife, Hannah. Because their son John, in his will, wrote "my cousin John Orton", the chance of her being an Orton was explored, without result. Another lead, which pointed to her being a Pratt, has thus far failed.

In June of 1643 Mathew Woodruff, with Richard Belden, was defendant in a suit at law in "The prticular Court" at Hartford, the plaintiff being one John Robinson. He was made a freeman 21 May 1657 at Hartford, but neither of these means necessarily that he was a resident of Hartford proper.

In February 1653 he bought 2 or 3 acres of land of John Warner and Thomas Upson, — his homestead. From time to time he bought more land in Farmington, five separate pieces being mentioned in the land records in 1665 as belonging to him, and the inventory of his estate listed the homestead, land in the Little Meadow, the Great Meadow, and his "out lands".

There stands in Farmington today, on the east side of Main Street, a house which all evidence indicates as the Mathew Woodruff homestead. It has been moved back from the street and another house built in front of it, and is usually referred to as the Gleason house. Though it has been greatly aftered during the past 150 years or more, much of the original structure remains. It is discussed at length in "Early Connecticut Houses" by Norman Isham (published 1900), on pages 21-26.

Some of its history can be traced down through the years in the Farmington land records. In 1665 Mathew Woodruff's homestead was described as being east of the road, on three acres of land. By his will he left it to his son Samuel, who sold it in 1722 to a Samuel Smith, "weaver", for £l00. Samuel Smith left it to his sons Thomas and Samuel, after which, through a series of exchanges and sales, title passed to Isaac and Chauncey Gleason. In the early 19th century the property was owned by Dr. Chauncey Brown, who moved it back from the street and erected a house in front of it. In 1861 Ira Brown defaulted on the mortgage, after which it passed successively to Henry French and Patrick Maxwell, who tore out much of the interior woodwork, and used it as a barn. Bridget Maxwell in 1894 sold it to Mrs. Stella T. Balazi, since when it has been renovated and seems to be in excellent condition.

Both Mathew and John Woodruff were listed as freemen "in the ffarmingtown" by order of the General Court 12 October 1669. Mathew was appointed a constable 8 March 1672/3, and in 1672 his property was valued at £90.

The Farmington church records are that on 2 April 1654 "Hannah Woodruff the wife of Mathew Woodruff and her daughter Hannah Woodruff aged about 5½ years and Elizabeth Woodruff about the age of 2 yr. 5 mo. were joined to the church"; 5 November 1654 "Mary Woodruff daughter of (Hannah) Woodruff was bapt." ; 16 May 1658 "the children of Hannah Woodruff were baptized, viz: John 15 yr. and upward Mathew in the 12th year of his life"; and 1 March 1672 Mathew Woodruff himself joined the church.

Following is a verbatim copy of his will, Hartford Probate Court N° 4102.

The Last Will and testament of
Matthew Woodruff senior

I Mathew Woodruff being att this pressent very weak and ssick yett by the good hand of god upon mee have my perfect understanding now I doe think meet to sett that Little estate god hath lent me att some stay my will is as followeth — — —

Item — my will is thatt all my lawfull debts shall be discharged and my will is that my son Samuell shal have three acers and a half off my plowing land which lyes in the great meddow next to my son John Woodrufs land my mind is that for itt he shall discharg all my just debts

Item— I give and bequeath to my son Samuell Woodruff my house and my home stead and my meddow land in the little meddow and one acer and a half of plowing land be it more or less which lyeth next the River in the little meddow and my horse and one oxe and one yong boolock and five yong cattle and my cart and plow and plow irons of my plow and chains and harow and all my tackling belonging to my teame and all my tools and my arms and amunition and my Two tabls and two bed steads and my chairs — all these I doe give to my son Samuell with seaven swine upon that condition my son doth maintayne my loving wiffe his dere mother her lives time and after my loveing wives desease my will is that my son John Woodroof shall have two acers of my meddow land lying next to Thomas Porters land and one acer of plowing land over the river next to his own land which he bought of his father and my mind is that my son John shall pay to my daughter Hannah Seamor five pounds= morover my will is after my loveing wives desease that my son Matthew Woodruff shall have two acers off my meddow land next to my son Johns meddow I give him morover iff my son Samuell cannot maintayne my wiffe with a comfortable livly hood iff shee needs my will is that my dear and loveing wife shall have power to sell som of my medow land for to procure a comfortable livly hood

Item — my mind is that all my out land that is layd out or shall be layd out belonging to mee I give to my son Matthew and my son Samuell Woodroof to be equally devided betwixt them both

Item = I give to my loveing wife Two cows — one ffether bedd and all the furneture belonging to itt with the rest off my moveabls in my house to be att her despose too her daughters iff shee please

September The sixt 1682


Robert Porter

Robt. porter made oath in court Decembr 14: 1682 Mathew Woodrofe did declare that the above writen was his last will & testament attest John Allyn Secry.

The inventory of the astat of Mathew Woodruf deseast:
as too Hous and hom stead 50:00 00
8 aight acars of Land in the Letall meadow 50 00 00
four acars and a half of land in the great meadow 22 00 00
all the ought Lands belonging to him 30 00 00
all the Living stock neat hog and swin 35 00 00
corn and hay and flacks 19 00 00
tooles and cart and plow and eyron belongin to them 08 19 00
bedding and bed sted – and furnature to them 11 00 00
Lining and wolling clos 10 00 00
bras and putur oyron and woodan ware 06 17 00
tabals chests chars tabull fram and timbar 04 02 00
moveabull goods: and barals and tubs 01 15 00
toles to manedg husbandry with armes and aminytyon 02 17 00
This inwantory tackan by us: townsmen (251 10 00)
a payer skales 5s
swarme of beese 10s

Thommas hart

Thomas Porter

Richard Seamar

A Country Court hald at Hartford, Conn., December 13, 1682

Matthe Woodrofe his last will and Testament was exhibited in Court proved, and ordered to be recorded, and for as much as one daughter is not mentioned in the Will, the Court orders to be payd to that daughter, a portion equivolent to what the rest of the daughters have had out of the estate. The remaynder of the estate to be disposed according to the Will; and this court grans administration upon the estate to Samuel Woodrofe, with the will annexed.