Monday, February 7, 2011

Capt. James AVERY

Captain James AVERY
Shortly after 1894, the Avery Memorial Association was incorporated. The association erected a granite memorial in what is now known as the Avery Memorial Park. The shaft is surmounted by a bronze bust, representing Captain James Avery as a typical Puritan, magistrate and Indian fighter. It was designed by the noted sculptor, Bela Lyon Pratt, an Avery descendant. The association is functioning today.

Captain James Avery, only child of Christopher Avery, and the founder of the family that is known as the Groton Averys, was born in England, about 1620, died April 18, 1700. He came to America with his father, and lived at Gloucester, Massachusetts, for several years. Miss Caulkin's History of New London, p. 67, says: "On the 19th of October, 1650, grants were made by the townsmen to Mr. Blynman, Obadiah Biven, Hugh Caukin, Hugh Roberts, John Coile, Andrew Lester, James Averye, Robert Isbell." He received many other land grants in the several distributions, and others for public and military service. His dwelling in New London, once "the unadorned church and watch tower of the wilderness," is still in good repair and was owned and occupied by an Avery in 1893. He was active in military affairs and is generally spoken of as ensign, lieutenant or captain. In the English-Dutch quarrels and in their own Indian troubles he saw much military service and fully earned his rank of captain. He was equally prominent in civil affairs; he was chosen selectman and held office for twenty years; he was a commissioner to "try small causes." Here he gained his title of judge. Before his court came actions for small debts and complaints of evil speaking and disorderly conduct, wills were proved and marriages performed. He was in this office many years. From 1658 to 1680 he was elected to the general court twelve times. In 1871 Judge Wheeler published a list of representatives from Groton which was set off from New London in 1705. "It is worthy of note that out of 545 representatives of the town of Groton, 104 have borne the name of Avery, and all were descendants of Captain James Avery." He was prominent in church affairs, and the references to him in the records are numerous. He married, November 10, 1643, in Boston, Joanna Greenslade, born about 1622 and living in 1693. Children, the three first being born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the others in New London, Connecticut: Hannah, James, Mary, Thomas, John (see forward), Rebecca, Jonathan, Christopher and Samuel. Captain Avery married (second), 1698, Mrs. Joshua Holmes, a widow

This information is from Vol. II, pp. 779-782 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in SCPL's Reference collection at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.

Battles: Avery served as a captain in command of forty Englishmen from Stonington, Lyme, and New London. In 1676. He also served as captain of one of four companies which protected the frontier. In the Great Swamp Fight, a battle at Kingston, Rhode Island, Avery commanded a group of ally Pequot Indians.

About 1656, he built the "Hive of the Averys" at the head of Poquonnock Plain, in the present town of Groton about a mile and a half from the river Thames. Here James Avery lived until he died.

Pioneer: Capt. James Avery was among Groton, Connecticut’s early settlers, for whom Avery Point is named. A monument stands on the location of his 1656 home, called The Hive of the Averys. The home burned down in a fire started from an ember of a passing train on July 20, 1894.

Immigration: There are several traditions concerning James Avery. One was that he came from Salisbury, Wilts, England in the "Arabella" with John Winthrop and landed at Salem, Mass June 12 1630. Another was that he came over with the younger Winthrop, in 1631, and that, on the voyage, the subsequent governor of Connecticut formed a strong and life-long attachment for James.



by Mary Virginia Goodman and Elwood James Thacher, edited by Joe Lantiere

Christopher Avery and his only son James (1621 -1700, founder of the Groton Averys) came from England to Gloucester, MA before 1642.

About 1650, James came to Pequot (New London), CT. A house which later became the old Avery Homestead, known as the "Hive of the Averys," and stood at the head of Birch Plain, was built around 1656. Here, the second Captain James Avery [Jr.], oldest son of the founder, lived with his family from 1671 until his death in 1728.

In June of 1684, the old Blinman edifice at New London, "The unadorned church and watch-tower of the wilderness, was sold to Captain James Avery for six pounds, with the condition that he should remove it in one month's time." According to tradition, it was taken down and its materials were carried by river and sound, and added to the 1656 house at the head of Poquonock Cove.

For over 230 years, successive families of Averys lived and reared their children at the Hive, generation after generation. The venerable old house withstood the storms of winter and the heat of summer; the hand of time gently touched every ancient board.

The descendants of James and his father Christopher began to consider the [Avery Hive] forever indestructible until one night on July 20, 1894, a spark from an engine passing over the railroad bridge set fire to the time-seasoned roof, and soon, engulfed by flames, the old Avery Homestead fell.

Its destruction filled the hearts of the members of the Avery clan with sorrow and dismay, but soon their grief gave way to plans for memorializing the house by establishing a memorial society and a monument on this spot to show to generations yet unborn that here lived the men of olden times, James Avery and his sons and grandsons, who were of such prominence in the very beginnings of the colony of Connecticut in this section of New London and Groton.

Soon after the destruction of the old "Hive," The Avery Memorial Association was incorporated. The owner of the homestead site, James Dension Avery, gave the land by deed of gift to the new Avery Association.

The granite shaft, surmounted by a bronze bust representing the builder, is a replica of a typical Puritan, magistrate and Indian fighter. The monument was designed by the noted sculptor Bela L. Pratt, an Avery descendant. The shaft rises from the middle of the outline of the old house. Whoever walks around the monument today will see the old stone steps where Averys for generations entered the old homestead. Parts of the chimney still stand, ivy covered now. The monument was dedicated July 20, 1900. Six hundred descendants gathered on that day to honor their illustrious ancestor and the ancient home spot. Dr. Elroy M. Avery, the President of the Association presided; Helen Morgan Avery unveiled the bust; Frank Montgomery Avery delivered the oration:

"We have assembled here today to join in the dedication of a memorial; not of a monument erected to the memory of a great historical event or the accomplishment of some illustrious personal achievement, but of a memorial designed to designate the spot where the roots of a family tree struck deeply and strong enough to take permanent hold in the soil of New England, and whence its branches have spread out far and wide and lusty with the strength of the parent stock. It is to honor the place of our forefathers' refuse and abode, of their struggles and triumphs, their birthplaces and their death place through the early generations, that this shaft has been erected on the site of the first of their homesteads, and that we are here today." (


Ancestry Chain: 11th gr.-grandfather Christopher AVERY Immigrant b.1590, 10th gr.-grandfather Captain James AVERY Immigrant b.1620, 9th gr.-grandfather Lt. James Jr. AVERY b.1646, Edward D. AVERY b.1676, Joanna AVERY b.1700, Hannah ALLEN b.1734, Lucretia NEEDHAM b.1760, Shadrach ROUNDY b.1789, Almeda Sophia ROUNDY b.1829, Charles PARKER b.1853, Laura Elizabeth PARKER b.1889, Lark, TR.

1 comment:

Lisa Dickinson said...

Thank you for posting summary...I am descended from James Avery Jr.'s sister...Rebecca Avery. B. 1656.