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Colchester Town

Colchester Town Hall is located at 127 Norwich Avenue, Colchester, CT 06415; phone: 860-536-7200.

Colchester was settled and named for Colchester, England, in 1699.

Beginnings [1]

There can be but little doubt but that Nathaniel Foote could have justly claimed to be the father of Colchester. He was the grandson of Nathaniel Foote, who early in the seventeenth century emigrated from Colchester, England, to the Colony of Connecticut. His grandson, Nathaniel Foote (3rd), in the latter part of the 17th century was a resident of Wethersfield, and while there obtained a grant from one Owaneco, a sachem of the Mohegan Indians, of a large tract of land including a large part if not the whole of the present town of Colchester. By the terms of this grant, Foote undertook to distribute the land, except fifty acres retained for himself, among the settlers thereon. He undoubtedly intended to settle himself upon this fifty-acre tract, but, his health having failed him, he never personally took possession.

Up to about the year 1703, the land in the town, except the fifty acres of Foote's tract and possibly the "Jeremiah's Farm," was held in common by the settlers; but about that time steps were taken for its division among them, and shortly a town measurer was appointed to measure and set off allotments of land to the persons entitled to it. The first grants upon the record appeared to have been made at a town meeting, January 11th, 1703, when a large number of grants were made by the town. The first to be recorded was the one allotted to Samuel Loomis and John Skinner, the latter the father of the first white child, but the description is so indefinite that it is impossible to locate it. Then followed the records of a large number of grants, but as the descriptions of none of them are more definite than this first one, it is impossible to locate them. It may be said, in passing, that one of the fields on the north side of Packwood Lane was formerly known as the "Loomis lot." This may be the location of that first grant to Samuel Loomis. While these grants cannot be definitely located, it is certain that the first settlement in the town was made upon the property now owned by Mr. Hamilton Wallis.

During the early years of its history, the town and church were one, and therefore the history of the town during these years includes the history of the Congregational church. In 1702 a town meeting had authorized the employment of a minister for the church, and had fixed his salary at forty pounds per annum. In October, 1703, the General Court of the Colony had authorized the organization of a church in the town, and this organization had been effected December 20th of the same year. In 1725 the General Court established a new parish which included the southern part of Colchester and the northern part of the Town of Lyme, which they called Salem. This continued as a separate parish, but was not organized as a separate town until 1819. Again, in October, 1728, the General Court created another parish in the western part of the town, which was called Westchester, which still exists under that name and continues to be a part of the town of Colchester. Obviously, upon the creation of these new parishes, it was impossible to call upon the inhabitants of the entire town to support these several parishes or to exercise control over them, and so there was created what were known as "Ecclesiastical Societies" having jurisdiction over ecclesiastical affairs, within the limits of the parishes. How these were supported is unknown; whether by some system of taxation, as had been the case before, or by voluntary contributions, cannot be definitely ascertained at this time.

  1. Benjamin Tinkham Marshall, A.M., D.D., editor, A Modern History of New London County Connecticut, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York City, 1922.
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