GILLETT Family Bible on Display at the Windsor Historical Society
Jonathan Gillett Sr.
BIRTH: By about 1609 (based on presumed age at marriage), son of Rev. William Gillett.
MARRIAGE: Colyton, Devonshire, 29 March 1634 Mary Dolbiar, bp. Colyton, Devonshire, 7 June 1607 [TAG 15:208-17]. She died Windsor 5 January 1685[/6] [CTVR 56; TAG 15:210].
ORIGIN: Chaffcombe, Somersetshire.
MIGRATION: 1633FIRST RESIDENCE: Dorchester
REMOVES: Windsor 1638
RETURN TRIPS: To England in 1633 and return 1634
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: Admission to Dorchester church prior to 6 May 1635 implied by freemanship.
THANKS: This News Paper Article was shared by Jason Eichner another descendant of Jonathan Gillett our Immigrant Grandfather.
Page B8 Henderson Home News, Boulder City News, Green Valley News
Thursday, Friday, September 29 & 30, 1994
The Long Trail of the Centuries-
Old Bear Claw Bible —
When Jonathan Gillett carried his Bible
across the Atlantic in 1630
it had not yet earned its unusual name
— The Bear Bible.
Long, long ago this Bible was placed in a
window to keep the sash raised.
One day a bear, trying to get into
the house, clawed it, leaving marks
so deep on the edges of its pages
that they arc still, in 1993, plainly
vi.sible! The Bible has had an interesting
joumey down through time.
Stiles, in his History ofAncient
Windsor (Vol. 2, pg. 289),
says it passed from the Gilletts to
the Holcomb family, probably
when Jonathan Holcomb wed
Mary (Saxton) Gillctl, widow of
William Gillett (1673-1718), son
of Jonathan Gillett Jr., who had
died by 1698. (Jonathan Holcomb,
born 1673, was the son of
Nathaniel Holcomb (1648-1740)
and grandson of Thomas
Holcomb, the emigrant.)
The Bible is also described in
the 1955 book Gillett Families:
Some of the Descendants of
Jonathan and Nathan Gillett, by
Bertha Beal Aldridge (p. 13). It is
the size commonly called "quarto"
— about eight inches tall, seven
and a half inches wide and two
and a half inches thick. It is printed in
Roman type. Although both
title pages arc missing, internal
evidence identifies it as having
been printed in Amsterdam, Holland
in 1599, according to Mrs.
Aldridge, who says it is one of the
many editions of the very popular
Geneva translation of the Bible,
with marginal notes. Commonly
called the Geneva edition, it was
first printed there in 1559. It was
the favorite edition of the English
Bible among the Puritans in England,
where the authorized version
was, of course, the King
James translation of 1611.
This Bible is sadly torn and
damaged. Many pages are missing
and one assumes some of its
owners did not revere it for either
spiritual or family reasons. How
sad, since the cover is a rough,
home-made leather binding which
today conveys an inspiring aura
of antiquity. In spite of the damage,
the precious pages left blank
between the Old and New Testament
for family entries arc still
intact. Their meager pen and ink
entries establish the copy as having
belonged to the early Gillett
family. The script of the Gillett
family entries is in the very old
style which was in use in England
in the late 1500s and early 1600s.
These entries are in the hand of
Jonathan Gillett of the second
generation (ca. 1635 - ca. 1698).
His identity is proven by his reference
to himself in the following
item: "My father Gille came into
new Inglon, the secon time in June
in the yeare 1635, and Jonathan
his sonn was bom about half a
yeare after he came to land."
The 1635 date agrees with his
marriage to Mary Dolbiar at
Colyton, Devon, England March
29,1634. His name also appears
on the passenger list of the Recovery
of London, which left
Weymouth, Dorset, Mar. 31,
1633. Also aboard this ship were
many other people closely associated
with the Mary & John
passengers who settled in
Dorchester, Mass., and Windsor,
Conn., including Stephen Terry,
Sarah Hill, Thomas Bascomb and
Thomas Newberry — all well
known early pioneers to New
With reference to this Bible's
journey down through time. Apparetly
it came into the possession
of Lois Holcomb, bom 1748,
to Jonathan Holcomb by his second
wife, the widow Gillett. Lois
married in 1772 Noah Cooley of
North Granby, Conn. During
Windsor's 350th "Founders Day"
anniversary other descendants of
Windsor's founders were brought
together in 1983. Among them
were: The Rev. Lyman Gillett
Potter, then minister of First
Church of Christ, Simsbury,
Conn., attended as a direct descendant
of Jonathan-Gillett. He brought
with him and placed on
exhibit the Bear Bible. Then, when
the Windsor Historical Society
planned a local history exhibit in
1990, director Robert T. Silhman
wrote retired Rev. Potter in
Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and asked
to display the Bible. A few weeks
later Rev. Potter telephoned to
say he was in nearby Simsbury
and would visit the next day to
donate the Bible to the Society as
a memorial to all descendants of
Jonathan Gillett. What a wonderful
And now, the rest of the story!
How did Rev. Potter get the Bible?
That's the amazing clincher to
this story. When the last Cooley
in Granby died, a foster son named
Charles Coffey came from westem
New York, settled the estate
and took the Bear Bible as a curio.
though he was not a Gillett descendant.
A Raymond A. Beardslee, who was a Gillett
descendant through his mother,
traced its whereabouts and bought
it from Coffey about 1915. When
he preached the June 15, 1947,
ordination .sermon for his nephew,
Lyman Gillett Potter, at the Congregational
Church in Norfolk, Conn, (where Lyman's father
was a pastor), Beardslee presented the
young minister with the Bear
Bible once owned by his ancestors,
charging him to prize it as a symbol
See History, Page B9
History, from Page B8
of the continuity of the Christian
faith through the generations!
[Your columnist joins the editors
of Second Boat in grateful
acknowledgement in the use of
material from Vol. 15 of Search for
the passengers of the Mary &.
John 1630 published by Burton
W. Spear's Mary & John Clearing
House, 5602 305th St., Toledo,
Ohio 43611. We urge readers who
descend from Windsor, Conn,
families to contact Burton to exchange
data. His volumes contain
much additional material on
members of the Gillett and allied
families, and Vol. 15 lists additional
inscriptions for members
of Jonathan Gillett Jr.'s family in
the pages of the Bear Bible.]
Briggs, a valley resident, writes
a column about genealogy.
Ancestry Chain 1: (10th gr.grandfather) Jonathan Sr. GILLETT (GYLETTE) Immigant b.1604, Mary GILLETT b.1638, Abigail BROWN b.1662, Jonathan FOWLER b.1685, Catherine FOWLER b.1723, Lydia NOBLE b.1768, Horace Datus ENSIGN-76 b.1797, Martin Luther ENSIGN b.1831, Harriett Camilla ENSIGN b.1859, George Ensign SMITH b.1898, Camilla SMITM b.1926, Lark, TR.
Ancestry Chain 2: (10th gr.grandfather) Jonathan Sr. GILLETT (GYLETTE) Immigant b.1604, Samuel GILLETT, Hannah GILLETT b.1674, Mary TAYLOR b.1708, David BRONSON b.1733, Sylvanus BRONSON b.1769, Mary BRONSON b.1806, Martin Luther ENSIGN b.1831, Harriett Camilla ENSIGN b.1859, George Ensign SMITH b.1898, Camilla SMITM b.1926, Lark, TR.
Ancestry Chain 3: (11th gr.grandfather) Jonathan Sr. GILLETT (GYLETTE) Immigant b.1604, Joseph GILLETT, Joseph GILLETT b.1664, Elizabeth GILLETT b.1688, Esther MARSH b.1714, Esther SAWYER "GUNN" b.1739, Esther REMINGTON b.1772, Mary BRONSON b.1806, Martin Luther ENSIGN b.1831, Harriett Camilla ENSIGN b.1859, George Ensign SMITH b.1898, Camilla SMITM b.1926, Lark, TR.