Birth: JUN 1605 Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England
Immigration: 06 MAR BEF 1637/38
Freeman: 06 MAR 1637/38
Place: Massachusetts Bay Colony
Marriage: 21 JAN 1639/40
Occupation: He raised sheep and wove cloth from the wool.
Note: He was called “Shepherd Smith” and “Mr.” Smith in respect of him being a pastor in his early years.
Lived in: Marshfield or Greens Harbor (as it was then called)
Note: He is believed to have been the first religious teacher at that place
Note: 05 MAY 1640
Details: He is on a committee of five to view all the meadows of Greens Harbor which were not granted forth and to measure them and to report to the Court.
Birth of Daughter: ABT 1641
Name: Elizabeth Smith
Place: New Haven, Connecticut
Note: 23 APR 1641
Details: Nehemiah Smith and Mrs. Bridget Fuller, a widow residing at New Field, entered into an agreement by which he was to keep her sheep on shares. Mrs. Fuller was to furnish four ewes, which he was to keep until the 23d June, 1643, each to have half of the wool annually and the increase to be divided at the expiration of the time. Mrs. Fuller one-half, and Nehemiah “thother” half, and the stock sent to Mrs. Fuller at ” thend ” of the term, there was also an agreement of a second term of years which was never entered upon.
Note: 01 JUN 1641:
Details: Most likely the first agreement was soon dissolved as the widow married Henry Sirkman the next September, and under date of Plymouth records June 1st, 1641, is the following:”Whereas there is an act against the selling of sheep out of the Colonies and that Nehemiah Smyth having some sheep is departing the collonies and would carry them away with him contrary to the said act, the Court doth order that the said Nehemiah Smyth shall bringe his sheepe to the towne of Plymouth the next second day at night or the morning following, and shall sell them to any person or persons that is disposed to buy them viz: his ewes at fourty shillings a piece, and the lambs at twenty shillings a piece, to bee payed in money or such commodities as the said Nehemiah shall like; of and for the rest that are not bought he to be permitted to carry them with him whither he goes to dwell.”
Birth of Daughter: ABT 1642
Name: Sarah Smith
Birth of Daughter: ABT 1642
Name: Mary Smith
Birth of Daughter: ABT 1644
Name: Hannah Smith
Lived in: 1644
Note: From Marshfield, Nehemiah Smith probably sailed with his wife direct to Stratford, taking his sheep with him.
Note: 23 JUN 1644
Details: “A motio made on the behalf of Goodma Smyth for a lott by the sea side, beyond the West River, was taken into consideratio and referred to bro. Gibs, bro: Miles, bro : Ceely, bro: Clark and bro: Peck to see if itt may stand with the convenience of the towne to grant itt.”
Note: 21 OCT 1644
Details: ” Goodma Smyth of Stratfords desired thatt he may have 30 or 40 acres of upland and 10 acres of meadow granted him for the comfortable keeping of sheepe about the Oyster River whereupon itt was ordered that those who were intrusted in the townes occasions for disposeing of lotts, shall consider of the said ppositio and order itt as they. see cause.”
Birth of Daughter: ABT 1645
Name: Mercy Smith
Birth of Son: ABT 1646
Name: Nehemiah Smith
Note: In 1641, a cart bridge was erected over the West River in New Haven and in 1646, Nehemiah Smith agreed to care for the town’s sheep in exchange for the use of certain west-side pasture (Records of the Colony & Plantation of New Haven 1638-1649 ,Charles J. Hoadley, Hartford, Conn: Case, Tiffany & Co.1857, p. 266).
Birth of Daughter: ABT 1647
Name: Lydia Smith
Birth of Daughter: Ann Smith
Birth of Daughter: 1655
Name: Mehitable Smith
Note: 16 JUN 1645
Details: ” Whereas some have taken offence att the shepheards keeping his sheep and making a penne for them towards the Oyster River thinking they were wronged by itt, but the order of the Court the 21 of October, 1644, being read itt appeared thatt nothing was done butt by order of Court.”
Note: 02 OCT 1645
Details: ” Goodman Smith desired the Court to take some order that his land may be layed out. The Govennour wished the Court to consider whether they would confirm their former grant to the said Smith or revoke or alter it, but it was respited to further consideration because for the present he hath put off his sheep.”
Note: It is possible that at about this time he moved from Stratford to New Haven, but more probable that he continued to reside in Stratford for a longer time, but kept a flock of sheep on the west side of Oyster river, then in the jurisdiction of New Haven, which gave him the name of Shepherd Smith. It appears that he built at this place a sheep-pen on what was afterward called Shepherd’s Hill, as early as the Spring of 1645. This now falls within the town of Milford and is located near the junction of Oyster river with the Sound.
Note: 08 DEC 1645
Details: “The Goernour propownded to the Court whether they would confirme their former grant to Goodman Smith in refference to his sheepe, or such part of it as might bee conveynient for him and his famyly, wch occasioned a lardg debate, and sundry questions were put to Goodman Smith, both about the quantitye of ground he desired and keeping sheep for the town’s benefit. Goodman Smith declared that he would not be content with five acres of meadow, nor would he be tyed to keep any sheepe but his owne, at wch the Court was offended because his promise to keep other men’s sheepe was the grownd of their former grant. In conclusion, the former condition grant being voted, was by this Court revoked.”
Note: 16 AUG 1646
Details: “Nehemiah Smith’s request was read, viz.: “‘These are the propositions I thought meete in wrighting to propownd to yo’r worp’s, upon which 1 desire land. ‘”First: that I might have tor myne owne propryety 20 acres of upland and 10 acres of meadow. “‘ 2dly, that I might have it upon that hill where I have made a sheeps penne, of the south side of the hill of Mr. Malbons cove, because the sheep may have the ay re of the sea in the summer time, lying four square by reason lesse chardge will fence it. ” ‘ 3dly, also I desire when the sheepe doe returne, I may have 20 acres of upland and 10 acres of meadow, for w’hout 20 acres of meadow I can doe noe good wth keeping the sheepe. Also that it may be the hithermost of the Oyster River, & yt I may cntt timber for fencing upon the common, by reason there is little besides walnut upon that land. “‘ This being granted, I shall doe what I am able for the keeping the town’s sheepe and the good of them. This I desire may be granted as speedyly as may bee, that I may provide for them against they come. (Signed) « ‘ NEHEMIAH SMITH.’
” The above said request of Nehemiah Smith was granted to him according to his propositions in the close of his wrighteing if it be accepted. ” It was ordered that the Surveyor should runne the lyne on this side of Mr. Davenport’s farme, from the stone east & by south 120 gr. parrallell to the other.
Note: 05 JUL 1647
Details: ” It was now remembered that form’r orders were made for the incouradgetnent of the sheapheard but lately it is fownd that uppon some speeches that he hadd mett w’thall from some, he has entertayned thoughts to remove. Therefore it was desired that things might be so considered off, that the sheepe with himselfe might bee kept in this towne, for thereby much good may redound to the publicque.
” Whereupon it was ordered that the necke, or so much of it as may be improved by the sheep, should from time to time be made use of as a sheep pasture, and to that purpose it was further ordered that every one who hath grownd in the neck should cleare his land, according to order from the Committee to be chosen to treate w’th Goodman Smith, & consederatiou was had also about a penn to keepe sheepe in, all wch w’th sundry other questions was committed by this gen’ll Court unto those of the particular Court, joyning to them elder Newman, bro: Myles, Mr. Tnttle, Mr. Caffinch, Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Wackman, Wm. Preston, bro: Camfield and Goodman Johnson as a committee unto whom all questions concerninge the sheep buisinese is referred.”
Note: 11 JUN 1649
Details: June 11, 1649. “after excusing Jno. Thomas ‘ to goe cary some phisicke to one that was sicke.’ The Governor acquainted the Court that the principall ocasion of this Court was aboute Nehemiah Smith the Sheppard, whoe is willing if he maye be accommodated heare to come hither & bring ye flock of sheepe with him, hoth them yt belonge to ye towne and his own allso, thoughe not willing to keepe the townes sheepe because of some weakness he finds upon himselfe, but he shall sell some of his owne & Keepe aboute 20 or 30 himselfe, and therefore propounds that he might have land wher he formerly propounded for it; that is, twenty ac’rs of upland at ye sheppards penn & 10 ac’rs of meadow in Oyster meadow.
” Affter much debate it was voted that he should have 20 ac’rs of upland upon sheppards hill and 10 acrs of meddowe in Oyster River meddow for his proprietie, and for the rest of his commonage he must fall under ye rules of a planter as other planters doe.
Note: 06 MAY 1650
Details: “Nehemiah Smith having had 20 acres of land gran’ted him by this Court, to be laid out for him on Sheppards hill, but by an error it is laid out in another place, which the Court witnessed against, but seing it is laide out, and some cost bestowed upon it the Court did now order for his incouragmt that he should have that ’20 acres that is laide out for him.
Note: 13 MAY 1650
Details: In the margin, “At a towne meeting ye 13th of May, 1650, it was voted yt yt clause in this order of keeping 20 or 30 sheep should be of no force, but that he keepe what sheep he sees meete selling some to ye towne, and when ye towne sees cause to stint themselves in other catle, that then he be stinted also as other planters.”
Note: 01 JUL 1651
Details: ” It is ordered that John Wood, nor any for Nehemiah Smith, meddle no more to break up or any way improve the land formerly granted for sheepe on the Westside, the grant being voyde and the land returned to the townes use and dispose.”
Lived in: ABT 1652
Place: Long Island
Note: 29 AUG 1652
Details: From the Town Records of New London, or Pequot, as it was then known, we learn that ” Goodman Smith that comes from Long Island, hath 8 acres of upland given him for an house lot at the back of Goodman Kenny & Parkers house lots bounded with the highway that runs to the marshes given to Cape Ann men. Also he hath a grant of the next lot upon the general neck that falls to the town.”
Land Rec: 27 DEC 1652
Details: 20 acres of upland given him upon the plain upon the east of the pond in Scull plain.” This was on the other side of the river at Smith Lake, Poquonoc, and since known as the location of the Smith homestead.
Land Rec: FEB 1652/53
Details: Goodman Smith the weaver hath given him next Goodman Waller what land is there left to be divided.
Land Rec: February 9, 1652-3. Nehemiah Smith hath given him 150 acres of upland upon the plain joining to his 20 acres given him by the pond on Scull plain.
Land Rec: Februare 9, 1652-3, Goodman Smith hath given him for his whole proportion of all divided lands 8 acres of upland more to> be laid to hits house lot, excepting swamps, &c.
Land Rec: February 20th, 1652-3 Nehemiah Smith hath given him a piece of meadow joining to Captain Denison’s 50 acres — two or three acres, if it be there.
Land Rec: February 25th, 1652-3, he is on a committee to make the rate £60 for the minister, John Elderkin.
Land Rec: December 23rd, 1653, goodman Smith, the weaver, two acres * * * near high mountain.
Land Rec: January 24, 1653-4, Nehemiah Smith hath given him a piece of plain land about fifteen acres lying on the eastward of his land given beyond Skull Plain. He hath also given him one hundred acres of upland joining to his brother’s about Mistic Hill, his brother’s two hundred acres which is half granted by the Pond and half about Mistio Hill.
Land Rec: Richard Houghton and ‘ Weaver’ Smith one hundred acres each, above goodman Cheesbroughs.
Land Rec: February 19,1654, he hath given him five acres of meadow lying upwards upon Poquonnoc River, at Mistic, he hath given him four acres of meadow.
Land Rec: He hath also given him two hundred acres of upland more or less upon the hills towards Poquonoc plains bounded on the west by land of goodman Burroughs and Thomas toward Poquonoc, bounded by the pond of water. Also more land January 4th, 1053-4.
Details: Nehemiah continued to reside at New London, probably until after 1655, owing to trouble with the Indians. He then moved to his farm at Smith Lake, Poquonoc, where he doubtless had been making improvements, building, etc., for several years.
Land Rec: JUN 1659
Details: ORIGINAL PROPRIETOR – Norwich, Connecticut was purchased of the Indian Chief Uncas and his sons, in June, 1659. Nehemiah Smith was one of the original proprietors, and his home lot was laid out with the others, in Nov., 1659, with fifteen acres added in 1663. Whether he joined the company from Saybrook in 1660, and moved from Pequot to Norwich at that time does not definitely appear; but in 1663 he is spoken of as ” now of New Norridge.” His was the largest tract of land of any possessed by any of the first settiers. His house stood about fifty-seven feet north of the oldest burying ground after it was enlarged and known as the Post and Gager burying ground located on the south side of the road which runs north-west and south-east. He was on the north side of the road with Hammer brook running between his land and that of Thomas Howard on the north-west, while Samuel Hyde was his neighbor on the south-west, with a road between them.
Forty-seven acres of upland meadow and pasture at the further end of the Yantick —” abutting easterly on land of Jonathan Rogers on the Pine swamp and a brook “—was laid out April, 1661, and granted to him May, 1663. In April, 1661, there were four and a half acres of meadow laid out for him ; and again twenty-two acres on Forty-acre hill, abutting easterly on the brook near William Backus, laid out in May, 1663. Also fifteen and a half acres of upland and meadow on Scotch cove, mostly on land of Thomas Bingham. This grant was laid out in May, 1663.
Details: The following was recorded at the Superior Court between June 6 and September 20, 1666 : “Nehehomyah Smith of Norwig declaring himself to be above sixty years in age, his brother John Smith declaring also the same, upon his earnest desire is freed from training, watching and warding.”
Note: 18 NOV 1668
Details: (New London Records) he made over some of the property by the Big pond, to Edward, his nephew. Five days later, he with Nathaniel Leneis apprised a stray horse at Norwich at £4 10s.
Place: Norwich, Connecticut
Land Rec: 02 MAY 1673
Details: He was granted seven acres of pasture and about this time he purchased five and a quarter acres at Yantic.
Note: OCT 1679
Details: At Norwich, Nehemiah Smith aged about seventy-four, and Anna his wife aged sixty-four or ” thereabout,” testified in relation to an attempt to break his brother’s will, that “about seven and twenty years ago they lived on Long Island.” It would seem by this that the family was living somewhere on Long Island in 1652. Probably they moved there in the spring of 1651, as he was in New Haven until after May 13, 1650, since migrations were usually made as early as possible in the spring of the year, and John Wood was on Shepherd’s Hill previous to July, 1651. A branch of the New Haven Church was established at Southold, Long Island, about 1640, and it may be supposed that this was the place where Neheuiiah lived on Long Island. Unfortunately there are but few town records at Southold preserved previous to 1653, or of church records previous to 1745. He remained on Long Island one or two years and returned to Connecticut.
Land Rec: 12 JUN 1684
Details: Nehemiah and Ann Smith made over their homestead and other property to their son-in-law, Joshua Abell, stipulating only for maintenance during life, they being in an infirm and weakly state.
Will: ” The last Will with an Inventory of the estate of Mr. Nehemiah Smith, Sr., of Norwich, being exhibited in Court, was proved and ordered to be recorded, and this Court grants power of administration unto the heir, Nehemiah Smith. This Court approves of the agreement drawn between the legatees, bearing date the 30th of J une, 1686, and ordered it to be recorded. The above was exhibited in a Court holden at New London, September 22nd, 1686.”
Unfortunately no copy of the inventory or agreement of legatees can be found, as the oldest book of wills belonging to the county was destroyed in the burning of the town of New London by the British in 1781.
Death: 08 AUG 1686 Norwich, New London Co, Connecticut
Burial: Post and Gager burying ground
Details: He and his wife were buried in the oldest part, which was purchased by the town of Thomas Post in 1661. All of the early residents were buried here and without gravestones to mark the identical places. The Gager portion was added sometime after Nehemiah’s death. A granite monument has been erected on the highest portion of the ground and contains his name with those of the other proprietors.
Parents are unknown
Pic on right of the Memorial to the founders of Norwich, Connecticut – Nehemiah’s name appears
No pictures of the descendants of Nehemiah Smith earlier than of the sixth generation have been found. Surely, one of the emigrants himself would be most interesting to look at. Judging by later generations he was a man of full height and size generally, with a good constitution. Though spoken of as a minister he does not appear to have ever been permanently settled in that capacity. He doubtless always took an active interest in church affairs and may have occasionally officiated in the absence of the regular pastor. He came to America when he was about thirty-three years of age, and lived here nearly fifty years. He was among -the earliest in the several new towns in which he resided, remaining the longest time at Norwich, in his old age, a period of about twenty-five years. He is occasionally spoken of as Mr. in deference to his being a minister, but more often as Goodman, Shepherd, or Weaver Smith.
He was one of the original proprietors of Norwich which was bought in Jun 1659 of Indian Chief Uncas and his sons. His home lot was laid out in Nov 1659. He had the largest tract of any of the first settlers and received other grants at later times. His house was about 57 feet north of the oldest burying Ground known as Post Gager Burying Ground