Friday, September 4, 2015

History of The Bear Bible recalled (Jonathan GILLETT family Bible)

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. 
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 

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 are still, in 1993, plainly

visible! 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) Gillctt, 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 are 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 GILLETTJoseph 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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for publishing the location of the Bible! Most of the information in this article I have read in other sources, but seeing where the Bible is so HELPFUL!