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Remembrance Philley


      The Filley Family

Great Britain to America

It is general consensus among Filley/Philley researchers that the first settler of that name in this country was William Filley. He settled in Windsor, Connecticut probably in 1633. He is listed on Windsor records as having purchased land in 1634. An extensive search done by a professional genealogist in England failed to locate him there, but indicated the name was found mostly in Devon, just east of Cornwall.

 Some discussion is ongoing about exactly when and how William got here. Two major contenders are only three years apart. The Windsor Historical Society claim he came in 1630 aboard the good ship Mary and John; another authority aboard the Susan and Ellen in 1633. Concrete evidence is lacking since ships seldom had a manifest then. Lists were compiled after the fact. One researcher works compiling ships lists from that era and asserts that over 25,000 people claim to have come here on the Mary and John. A sturdy vessel, that. In any case, William's name is on a brass plaque in Windsor indicating he was an original settler of that town. I guess that is close enough. He certainly didn't swim over.

Windsor is the oldest Town in the state. Its original land has spun off several other towns. Tobacco was the main crop grown there starting in 1640. Brickmaking was also big until the 60s of this century. The town now tends to be overshadowed by Hartford which is only 7.5 miles away and coming closer.  

 These first settlers were Puritans, mostly from the middle classes and fairly well to do. They quickly established the town of Windsor on a solid footing. By 1640 it was quite thriving. Windsor Map

William Filley's home lot can be seen in the upper left corner of the map above.

At this time all the area around this town was wilderness and populated by several tribes of Algonquian speaking Native Americans who did not take kindly to the new people. One reason was that the confluence of rivers was considered a sacred place to the native people and new settlers saw it as prime land for farming and commerce. Conflict was inevitable. Complicating the matter was the animosity that existed between tribes. The tribe within whose territory Windsor stood were friendly to a degree because they saw the settlers as a protection against the more warlike Pequots and Mohawks. The settlers for their part looked after their own interests and did not treat the Native people very well. The Europeans were here to stay and made their intentions clear by forcing the native people back further and further by force of arms, disease, trickery, and sheer numbers.

William Filley married Margaret Cackney in 1642 and together they produced nine children, three of whom were boys and six girls.

  • Samuel b. 1643  m. Anna Gillett
  • John b. 1645 m. Abigail Dyble
  • Elizabeth b. 1650 m. David Winchell
  • Mary b. 1651 m. Joseph Skinner
  • Hannah b. 1653 m. Joseph Harmon
  • Margaret b. 1655 m. David Lombard
  • Abigail b. 1658 m. (1) Joseph Bissell and (2) Samuel Tudor
  • Deborah b. 1661 m. John Sackett
  • William b. 1664 m. Elizabeth ---

That all of these children survived their childhood was quite unusual for that time. All married once save Abigail which also speaks for their hardiness. Child bearing was especially hard on women in those times when medicine was primitive and sterile conditions unknown. Consider Margaret, the mother of these children. She married at age twenty one, bore nine children, and died shortly after the birth of the last one when she was forty-four. Half her life was spent raising children. These were tough, determined people.

Our particular line stems from Samuel, the first born. The descent of the other boys seems to have been neglected. I will return to Samuel.

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