founders and patriots
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Founder and Patriot:

Sgt. Francis Nichols

Sgt. Nichols was baptized on May 25, 1575 in the ti ny village of Sedgeberrow in Worcestershire, England. His parents were John and Joan Nycholls. He married Frances Wimarke in the same town in 1599/1600. He came to the colonies in 1635/6 and was one of the fi rst sett lers of Stratford, Connecti cut. In fact, the fi rst menti on of anyone every being in Stratf ord was a Connecti cut General Court order “to assigne Srjeant Nicholls for the present to trayne the men and exercise them in military discipline”. Histories of Stratf ord have suggested he went to London and belonged to the famous regiment of the Royal Horse Guards of Charles I, but no evidence whatsoever has been found to support that claim. He was probably a widower when he came to America with his three sons and a daughter. Sgt. Nichols also owned land in Southold, Long Island, New York, where he married in 1645 Anne Wines, daughter of Deacon Barnabas Wines. Francis Nichols died in 1650 and his personal property inventory was recorded in Stratf ord in 1655. It was suggested by some in publicati ons of the late part of the 19th and early part of 20th century that he was the son of Francis Nicolls and Margaret Bruce. This has since been disproven.

Joseph Nichols

Joseph Nichols, the 3rd great grandson of Sgt. Francis Nichols, was born on January 16, 1749 in Waterbury, Connecticut. His parents were Richard Nichols and Elizabeth Hickcox. He married Mary Winters on December, 28 1772 in the same town. He died on February 12, 1826 and is buried in Gunntown Cemetery in Naugatuck, CT. His revoluti onary service is documented on a bill of expense of Captain Daniel Chatf ield for services rendered in the pursuit of the Dayton robbers in March, 1780. The story of that incident is very colorful. The following is taken from “Connecticut Historical Collections” by John Warner Barber (1836):

On the night following the 14th of March 1780 the house of Capt Ebenezer Dayton then residing in this place was broken into and robbed by seven men who were Tories and headed by a Briti sh offi cer from Long Island. Mr. Dayton’s house was situated nearly opposite where the first meeting house in Bethany was erected about half a mile south of the present Congregational church and about ten miles NW of New Haven The parti culars of this robbery were obtained from the Rev Mr. Dayton son of Capt Dayton menti oned above Mr. Dayton who belonged to Long Island was on account of his att achment to the American cause obliged to leave that island and bring his eff ects with him to Bethany A number of men some of his neighbors were obliged to leave the island for the same cause and brought a considerable quanti ty of money with them and for a while resided in Mr. Dayton’s house. With these facts the robbers appear to have become acquainted. At the ti me of the robbery, Mr. Dayton was absent on business at Boston and the men who had been staying in the house had left the day before so that there was no one in the house but his wife Mrs. Phebe Dayton three small children and two servant colored children. About midnight while they were all asleep the window in the bedroom where Mrs. Dayton was sleeping was burst in at once seven armed men rushed in passed through the room and immediately rushed into the chambers expecting it is supposed to fi nd the men who had left the day before While they were up stairs Mrs. Dayton went to the front part of the house raised the window and endeavored to alarm the neighbors. Mr. Hawley the minister of the parish and Dr. Hooker the physician of the place both lived within 20 rods distance both had lights in their houses at the time and both heard the alarm but did not know from whence it proceeded. The robbers hearing Mrs. Dayton came down and tearing a sheet into strips tied her hands behind her made her sit in a chair and placed her infant about six months old in her lap while one of the robbers placing the muzzle of his gun near her head kept her in this position for about two hours while the house was thoroughly ransacked from top to bottom. They found about 450 pounds in gold and silver which belonged to Mr. Dayton besides other valuable articles what they could not conveniently carry off they wantonly destroyed breaking in pieces all the crockery furniture, etc. The whole amount of property carried off and destroyed including bonds notes fcc amounted to fi ve thousand pounds. The robbers left the house about 2 o clock and went to a place in Middlebury called Gunn town where they were secreted in a cellar by a family who were friendly to the British cause. While they were on their way to Gunn town they met a young man by the name of Chauncey Judd of Waterbury on a bridge who had been to see the young lady lie afterwards married Fearing he might discover them they took him along with them In the cellar kitchen where they were all secreted there was a well Into this well they talked of putting Mr. Judd but the old lady of the house begged they would not think of it as it would spoil the water. They stayed in this house a number of days aft erwards they went to Oxford where they were secreted for several days longer in a barn from thence they went to Stratf ord took a whale boat and crossed over to Long Island The people at Derby having received information of their passing through that place two whale boats and crews commanded by Capt William Clarke and Capt James Harvey pursued them to the Island and were fortunate enough to catch them all but one just within the British lines. They were brought back tried condemned and sent to Newgate they however broke prison and finally fled to Nova Scotia.