Monday, March 17, 2014

52 Ancestors #9 Richard Sperry - Protector of Regicides

Richard Sperry – Protector of Regicides

Richard was born on February 16, 1606 in Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, England to John and Mary Sperry. Thurleigh remains a small village today in the southeast of England. He arrived at the Massachusetts Bay Colony town of Boston on June 26, 1637 aboard the ship Hector. He was part of a group of colonists headed by Reverend John Davenport & Theophilus Eaton ( who later became the English Colonial Governor). The following year, Rev. Davenport led his group of Puritans, including Richard Sperry, to the New Haven Colony. This group followed strict adherence to Puritan beliefs and behavior. On Jan1, 1643 he was granted a tract of land in the colony. He was made a "freeman" on July 1, 1644. This may not refer to indentured servitude but instead to church membership. In 1648 Richard Sperry was the first settler in Woodridge & built his home on the west side of Amity Road.  This is the year he married Denise Goodyear. Stephen Goodyear, upon his death left land to Richard.

England was experiencing political upheaval around 1660.The monarchy had been overthrown in 1648 when Charles I was executed. Oliver Cromwell had then established a commonwealth but when he died in 1658 the monarchy was restored to Charles’ son Charles II. Men who had signed the execution order of Charles I fled England. Two, Colonel Edward Whalley - cousin to Oliver Cromwell - and his son-in-law, Colonel William Goeffe, came to the New Haven Colony. They hid in what became known as Judge’s Cave near the home of
Richard Sperry. In 1896 a plaque was placed at Judges Cave which reads: "Here May fifteenth 1661 and for some weeks thereafter Edward Whalley and his son-in-law William Goffe, members of Parliament, signers of the death warrant of King Charles First, found shelter and concealment from those officers of the Crown after the Restoration. "Opposition to tyrants is obedience to God." Each day Richard or more likely his son left food on a stump near the cave for the fugitives. Richard’s son was just a small boy and would not have been under such watchful observance by the king’s men that Richard was under. Had they been caught they would have received a sentence of hanging or beheading for aiding these men.

Sperry falls in Connecticut is the site of what was once called "Sperry's Pool" where the waterfalls gave power to Richard's saw mill, grist mill, and fulling mill. Sperry Park, on the road of that name, was given in 1907 by the heirs of Enoch & Mary Atlanta Sperry - descendants of Richard, on the site of their home, and in their memory. It overlooks the gorge where those mill wheels turned hundreds of years ago.
Richard died about 1698 and Denise in 1707. Their children were: John, Mary, Richard, Esther, Nathaniel, Ebenezer, Thomas, Daniel and Joseph.


  1. Hi, Arlene -- nice to meet you! I'm also a descendant of Richard and Denise and I live in Woodbridge, CT not far from Sperry Falls. I wrote a blog post recently about Sperry Park and some of the Sperry clan in this line, in case you would like to know more:

  2. Hi cousins. I'm descended from two of Richard and Denise's children. Mary married Benjamin Peck and their son Benjamin Peck married John's daughter Mary, making two consecutive sets of Benjamin Peck/Mary Sperry in my tree. Took a while to get all that straight! Thanks for sharing this history - it's fascinating. I hope to get up that way to visit before long. I live in Augusta, Georgia, since last year.