Susannah Harkes Garbrand Hooker 1593-1676

Not much is known about Susannah.It is the usual story: She was the daughter of, the wife of, or the mother of. What we do know, aside from the few references we have to her comes from a history blog by Niall O’brian “Some notes on Garbrand Harkes and family of Oxford”. Most of what follows here is from O’brian.

She must have been a woman of considerable stamina as well. She travelled for 6 weeks under deck from old England to New England pregnant and caring for 4 young children. 2 years later she followed her husband on the 2 week journey through the wilderness from Massachusetts to what is today Hartford Connecticut. This trip was undertaken just at the onset of the war between the Pequot Indians and a coalition of Massachusetts colonists and other Native American tribes. It was a particularly vicious war. The journey from Massachusetts to Connecticut was a perilous venture. Susannah was for some reason indisposed and she was transported on a gurney.

Many who mention her refer to Susannah as an immigrant book seller and have little else to mention except the date of her wedding to Thomas in 1621. In the context, this seems unnecessarily disparaging as she was the daughter of possibly the single most important book binder and book seller in Oxford. Being a university city, dealing in books would be a profitable business. Susannah did help her father in the book business and she is reported to have been highly educated and very well read.

“Garbrand of Oxford, Eng. Harkes was the original family name. Garbrand Harkes a protestant fled from persecution, in Holland, to England about 1538 and settled at Oxford. He was a stationer, binder and dealer in books and manuscripts, who flourished mightily, became rich and was connected in many ways with the university. His four sons and four sons-in-law were graduates of the University. He was grandfather of Susan Garbrand’, wife of Rev. Thomas Hooker.

The eighth child of Richard Garbrand and Anne Ferrar was Susan Garbrand, born about 1593. Afterthe death of her mother in 1609 Susan Garbrand went to live with her childless aunt, Mrs. ChristianGarbrand Chaloner at Amersham, Buckinghamshire. At Amersham, Susan Garbrand became awaiting-gentlewoman to Mrs. Joan Tothill Drake and there she met a lodger in the Drake household,Rev. Thomas Hooker, son of Thomas Hooker of Birstall, Leicestershire.
On 3 April 1621 Susan Garbrand married Rev. Thomas Hooker at Amersham where her aunt’s husband, Rev. Robert Chaloanor celebrated the nuptials.
Rev. Thomas Hooker was given the job of lecturer at Chelmsford, Essex but in 1626 he was silenced by Bishop Laud for non-conformity. For the next four years he held a private school at Great Baddow, Essex before further prosecution forcedhim to fl ee to Holland. By this move Susan Garbrand was back in the country of her ancestor,Garbrand Harks.In 1633 the family emigrated to New England where Rev. Thomas Hooker became pastor of thechurch at Cambridge, Massachusetts Their passage was part of the great Puritan migration to New England up to 1640 when about 26,000 people sett led in the new land.
Shortly after disputes arose between Rev. Hooker and the other leaders as regards religious practice. Rev. Hooker believed that each church should be independent and that people had a right to choose their leaders.
Consequently in 1635 Rev. Thomas Hooker and Susan Garbrand with their family and some followers moved to Connecticut where they helped found the town of Hartford. Rev. Thomas Hooker served as pastor of Hartford until his death in 1647. Today Rev. Thomas Hooker is regarded as the“founder of Connecticut”.


Rev. Hooker was not the first white settler in the Connecticut area. In 1614, Adriaen Block, a Dutch explorer, sailed up the Connecticut River and claimed the area for Holland (Garbrand Harks’ home). The Dutch did not act on this claim until 1633 when they built a small fort on the site of Hartford. The Dutch never settled permanently in the area and were finally driven out by the English in 1674.

And, yes, I know, I ended up writing more about Him than Her. Can only plead guilty and lack of information about who must have been a very fine, strong woman.

Inheritance

The Hooker House

Marriage Record

Susannah’s children

Accusation of Adultery

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