Monday, May 25, 2009

John Cleaveland - A New Light In New England

"The World of John Cleaveland" by Christopher M. Jedrey, profiled the life and times of John Cleaveland, who was, as am I, a direct descendant of Moses & Ann (Winn) Cleveland. John Cleaveland was the 3rd son and 7th of 11 children of Josiah Cleveland and grandson of Josiah Cleveland. [President Grover Cleveland was also a descendant of Moses Cleveland]. John Cleaveland was also a descendant of Elisha & Rebecca (Doane) Paine; I am a descendant of the Paines as well.

The scope of Mr. Jedrey's book went beyond the genealogy of Reverend John Cleaveland (1722-1799), although that was included. Reverend Cleaveland's triumphs and struggles within the religious community that itself was going through changes was another theme, although his elders were not immune from religious tensions.

"Some...opposed the Half-Way Covenant (created 1662), and hence were inclined toward toleration for these Baptists* who had sprung up in their midst." *"North Woburn, where the (Moses) Cleavelands lived, contained the Wymans, the Pierces, the Wilsons and the Pollys--four of Woburn's Baptist families."

The author also described the world in which Rev. Cleaveland lived, the impact of New England life and how that life and the dynamics of it reinforced the world of John Cleaveland. The plight of younger sons when land in New England was inherited by the oldest affected John. Younger sons might learn a trade or turn to fishing; John thought he'd try higher education instead.

"... Woburn readily gave land to new settlers from its seemingly inexhaustible holdings of undistributed lands. However, as the amount of available land shrank, it became important to determine who was entitled to a share of the remainder... ." "The question arose ... in February 1666, and the next year a list of the eighty proprietors was made, excluding some latecomers and younger sons." The exclusion of 'younger sons' was not the only time the significance of birth order was mentioned in Mr. Jedrey's book.

"In the early 1690s, Josiah (Rev. John Cleaveland's grandfather) and Samuel moved to the Quinebaug Country... . In the fifteen years that followed, their brothers Isaac and Edward joined them there... ." Connecticut became more settled after King Philip's War, a war in which Moses, Jr., Aaron, and Samuel Cleaveland participated.

"In August 1710, he (Josiah Cleaveland, Jr.) married Abigail Paine, who, like so many Cleaveland brides, belonged to a family whose standing in the community was superior to that of the Cleavelands. Her father, Elisha, had migrated from Barnstable about 1700 and purchased 2,000 acres from Major Fitch. He had become one of the leading citizens of Canterbury [CT]."

"The second Josiah Cleaveland (an eldest son) was able to provide a better start in life for his children than any previous Cleaveland had done, but he did so according to the old family strategy. He gave his eldest son and namesake the bulk of the paternal estate that he had so carefully reassembled."

John Cleaveland, not being the oldest son, but the third, decided in 1739 that his future was at Yale. "John Cleaveland's decision to attend Yale was only the first step in a long process of finding his way in the world. But, given his family's background, it was a bold step forward. The Cleaveland family was no longer hampered by the illiteracy that had been the lot of their emigrant ancestor; nevertheless, their educational attainments were still not very high."

There was mutual dissatisfaction between John Cleaveland and Yale administrators, stemming from the New Light preaching, and Cleaveland was expelled from Yale. John Cleaveland eventually accepted a position as a minister in Massachusetts (Chebacco) rather than Connecticut (laws unfavorable to John's position were being passed in Connecticut). Yale eventually bestowed a degree upon John Cleaveland and also claimed him as one of their own (as a military chaplain) listed in a Yale publication.

"Before 1768, [Rev.] Cleaveland had not often felt called upon to comment upon political affairs (Note: an example of his pre-1768 writing can be found here and a 'bibliography' can be found here). " the fall of 1768 he wrote his first political essay for the newly founded Essex Gazette (most of his essays were under the pseudonym Johannes in Eremo -- John in the Wilderness)." With the Revolutionary War looming, there were plenty of issues for Rev. Cleaveland to address.
John Cleaveland's life would fill a book (literally!). "John and Mary Cleaveland had reason to be thankful, for God had vouchsafed them both her life and the lives of their first seven children. The children survived the rigors of childbirth and the dangers of adolescence; in fact, all but one saw their father to his grave in 1799."

"The World of John Cleaveland" provided a glimpse of the world of my Cleaveland and Paine ancestors and their place within it.

Note: All quoted material was from the Jedrey book.

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