Draft:Hooker Family

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Hooker Family
Thomas Hooker statue Connecticut
Thomas Hooker, the patriarch of the Hooker Family
Current regionNew England
Place of originEngland
Estate(s)Hartford, Connecticut and Gardiner, Maine

The Hooker family is an old New England family that was notable for their social prominence, wealth, political influence, business enterprises and philanthropy throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The patriarch of the family was Thomas Hooker (1586 –1647), who came from England to Boston, Massachusetts in 1633.

Called today "the Father of Connecticut", Thomas Hooker was a towering figure in the early development of colonial New England. He was one of the great preachers of his time, the first minister of Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the first settlers and founders of both the city of Hartford and the state of Connecticut, and cited by many as the inspiration for the "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut", which some have called the world's first written democratic constitution establishing a representative government.[1]

Branches of the family are found on the United States East Coast, predominately in New England. Prominent members of the family and descendants include Henry Hooker, Mary Hooker Pierpont, Pierpont Edwards, Henry W. Edwards, William Howard Taft, Timothy Dwight IV, Timothy Dwight V, Aaron Burr, Francis Gillette, William Gillette, William Huntington Russell, Elbridge Gerry Hooker, Henrietta Edgecomb Hooker, Edward H. Gillette, George Catlin, John Hooker, Emma Willard, J.P. Morgan, Rev. Joshua Leavitt, Roger Hooker Leavitt, Hart Leavitt, Frank Nelson Doubleday and John Turner Sargent.[2] On May 16, 1890, descendants of Thomas Hooker held their first reunion at Hartford, Connecticut.[3]


Thomas Hooker was born in Leicestershire at "Marfield" (Marefield or possibly Markfield)[4] and went to Dixie Grammar School at Market Bosworth.[5] Hooker was linked to the affluential Hooker family of Devon which included members such as theologian and clergyman Richard Hooker, English historian, writer, solicitor, antiquary, and civic administrator, John Hooker, and Alice Hooker, daughter and heiress of Richard Hooker of Hurst Castle, Southampton.[6]

In March 1604, Thomas Hooker entered Queens' College, Cambridge as a sizar but migrated to Emmanuel College[7]. He received his Bachelor of Arts in 1608 and his Master of Arts in 1611. In 1609 he was elected to a Dixie fellowship at Emmanuel.[5][7][8]

His leadership of Puritan sympathizers throughout England brought him a summons to the Court of High Commission. Forfeiting his bond, Hooker fled to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and considered a position in the English Reformed Church, Amsterdam, as assistant to its senior pastor, the Rev. John Paget.[8][9] From the Netherlands, after a clandestine trip to England to put his affairs in order, he immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony aboard the Griffin.[2][5]

Hooker and Company Journeying through the Wilderness from Plymouth to Hartford, in 1636, Frederic Edwin Church, 1846

Hooker arrived in Boston and settled in Newtown (later renamed Cambridge), where he became the pastor of the earliest established church there, known to its members as "The Church of Christ at Cambridge."[10] His congregation, some of whom may have been members of congregations he had served in England, became known as "Mr. Hooker's Company".[5]

Voting in Massachusetts was limited to freemen, individuals who had been formally admitted to their church after a detailed interrogation of their religious views and experiences. Hooker disagreed with this limitation of suffrage, putting him at odds with the influential pastor John Cotton. Owing to his conflict with Cotton and discontented with the suppression of Puritan suffrage and at odds with the colony leadership[8], Hooker and the Rev. Samuel Stone led a group of about 100[11] who, in 1636, founded the settlement of Hartford, named for Stone's place of birth, Hertford in England.[12]

This led to the founding of the Connecticut Colony[5]. Hooker became more active in politics in Connecticut. The General Court representing Wethersfield, Windsor and Hartford met at the end of May 1638 to frame a written constitution in order to establish a government for the commonwealth. Hooker preached the opening sermon at First Church of Hartford on May 31, declaring that "the foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people."[13]

On January 14, 1639, freemen from these three settlements ratified the "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut" in what John Fiske called "the first written constitution known to history that created a government. It marked the beginnings of American democracy, of which Thomas Hooker deserves more than any other man to be called the father. The government of the United States today is in lineal descent more nearly related to that of Connecticut than to that of any of the other thirteen colonies."[14]

In recognition of this, near Chelmsford Cathedral, Essex, England, where he was town lecturer and curate, there is a blue plaque fixed high on the wall of a narrow alleyway, opposite the south porch, that reads: "Thomas Hooker, 1586–1647, Curate at St. Mary's Church and Chelmsford Town Lecturer 1626–29. Founder of the State of Connecticut, Father of American Democracy".[15]


Connecticut Branch[edit]

Mary Hooker Pierpont, wife of Rev. James Pierpont. Their daughter Sarah Hooker Pierpont married Rev. Jonathan Edwards

Thomas Hooker came to the colonies with his second wife, Suzanne. Nothing is known of his first wife.

His son Samuel, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, graduated from Harvard College in 1653. He became minister of Farmington, Connecticut, where the Connecticut branch of his descendants lived for many generations. Samuel married the eldest daughter of Capt. Thomas Willett of Plymouth Colony, a Plymouth merchant who succeeded Myles Standish as the captain of the colonial militia and later became the first and third mayor of New York City. Of Rev. Samuel Hooker, Cotton Mather wrote in Magnalia Christi Americana: "Thus we have to this day among us our dead Hooker, yet living in his worthy son Samuel Hooker, an able, faithful, useful minister at Farmington, in the Colony of Connecticut."

John Hooker, son of Rev. Samuel and grandson of Rev. Thomas, served as Speaker of the Connecticut Colonial Assembly, and previously as Judge of the state supreme court.

James Hooker, brother of John and son of Rev. Samuel, also became a prominent political figure in Connecticut. He married the daughter of William Leete of Guilford, Connecticut, and subsequently settled there. James Hooker served as the first probate judge, and, same as his brother, later as speaker of the Connecticut Colonial Assembly.

Rev. Thomas's granddaughter Mary Hooker, the daughter of Rev. Samuel, married the Rev. James Pierpont. Their daughter Sarah Pierpont married the Rev. Jonathan Edwards and was the grandmother of the third Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr, serving during Thomas Jefferson's first term (1801-1805).[16]

Maine Branch[edit]

In the late 18th century, Samuel Hooker's great-great grandson Riverius Hooker I migrated the family to land in upstate Massachusetts (now current-day Maine). He married and had a son, Riverius Hooker II who took over the Hooker estate located in Gardiner, Maine.


  1. ^ Elson, Henry William. "Connecticut Colonial History". www.usahistory.info. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  2. ^ a b Hooker, Edward; Margaret Huntington Hooker (1909). The Descendants of Rev. Thomas Hooker, Hartford, Connecticut, 1586–1908. Cambridge: Harvard University. p. 231.
  3. ^ "In Honor of Thomas Hooker, His Descendants to Hold a Reunion in Hartford, Conn.", The New York Times, May 1, 1890
  4. ^ Thomas Hooker. Puritans and Puritanism in Europe and America: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. 2006. ISBN 978-1-57607-678-1.
  5. ^ a b c d e "THOMAS HOOKER (1586–1647)". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1911.
  6. ^ "John Hooker (English constitutionalist)", Wikipedia, 2018-09-22, retrieved 2018-10-24
  7. ^ a b "Hooker, Thomas (HKR604T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  8. ^ a b c "Hooker, Thomas (1586-1647)". Encyclopedia of World Biography. 1998.
  9. ^ Thomas Hooker, Writings in England and Holland, 1626–1633. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press. 1975. p. 25.
  10. ^ Records of the Church of Christ at Cambridge in New England. Boston, MA: Putnam. 1906.
  11. ^ Lucas, Beverly Johnson (2002). History in houses: the Butler-McCook house and garden in Hartford, Connecticut. The Magazine Antiques. pp. 88–96.
  12. ^ Leon., Walker, George (1972). Thomas Hooker, preacher, founder, democrat. New York,: MSS Information Corp. ISBN 0842281207. OCLC 495091.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  13. ^ Hooker, Thomas, Lecture delivered at the First Church, Hartford, Connecticut, on May 31, 1638, quoted in Walker, George Leon, Thomas Hooker: Preacher, Founder, Democrat, p. 125; and Trumbull, Benjamin, A Complete History of Connecticut, Vol. I (Maltby, Goldsmith and Co., and Samuel Wadsworth, 1818, and Arno Press, 1972), pp. 20–21.
  14. ^ Fiske, John, Beginnings of New England, or the Puritan Theocracy in Its Relation to Civil and Religious Liberty (Houghton Mifflin Company, the Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1889), pp. 127–28.
  15. ^ The Cathedral Church of St Mary, St Peter, and St Cedd, Chelmsford, England, a centre of worship and mission; Brief History ; Thomas Hooker http://www.britannia.com/bios/hooker.html
  16. ^ "James Pierpont (minister)", Wikipedia, 2017-08-08, retrieved 2018-10-24