Robert Kitchell

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Robert Kitchell, son of John Kitchell and Joan Jordan, was born probably shortly before his baptism at Hayes, Kent, England, 25 October 1601.1,2,3 He died at Newark, Essex Co., New Jersey, in October 1671.1,3,2,4

Robert married (1) Jane (…), whose parents are unknown, say 1625;5 he married (2) Margaret Sheafe, daughter of Richard Sheafe and Margery Roberts, at St. Mary Brendin, Canterbury, Kent, England, 21 June 1631.3,1,2,6

A "feet of fines" (an archaic form of land conveyance) of Kent, England in 1629 gives evidence for Robert's first wife:
Final Concord between Stephen Scott, gentleman-complainant, and Robert Kitchell and Jane his wife, deforicants, touching one messuage, one cottage, one barn, one dovecote, two gardens, two orchards, 40 acres of land, 10 acres of meadow and 30 acres of pasture, 2 acres of wood and common of pasture for sheep and horses with appurtenances in Hayes and Bromley. Consideration £100.

Essentially, this transaction is a fictitious lawsuit, the complainant being the buyer, the deforciants (defendants) being the seller. For more information regarding the form of this transaction please see this Wikipedia article (

Before sailing to New England, Robert and Margaret sold their properties in Rolvenden:7
Between John Finch, gent., & John Morgan, plaintiffs and Robert Kitchell and Margaret, his wife, deforciants, Touching two messuages, two barns, two gardens, two orchards and 25 acres of land, six acres of meadow, and ten acres of pasture, with appurtenances in Rolvenden and Brenchley., Consideration £60.

Between John Finch, gent., plaintiff, and Robert Kitchell and Margaret, his wife, and Alexander (---) and Joan, his wife, deforciants, Touching a messuage, barn, garden, two orchards, 20 acres of land, 5 acres of meadow, 8 acres of pasture and 8 acres of wood, with appurtenances in Rolvenden. Consideration £60.

Aboard ship, Robert signed the Plantation Covenant:8
We, whose names are hereunder written, intending by God's gracious permission to plant ourselves in New England and, if it may be, in the southerly part, about Quinnipiac; We do faithfully promise, each to each, for ourselves and families and those that belong to us, that we will, the Lord assisting us, sit down and join ourselves together in one entire plantation, and to be helpful each to the other in every common work, according to every man's ability, and as need shall require; and we promise not to desert or leave each other or the plantation but with the consent of the rest, or the greater part of the company who have entered into this engagement. As for our gathering together in a church way, and the choice of officers and members to be joined together in that way, we do defer ourselves until such time as it shall please God to settle us in our plantation. In witness whereof we subscribe our hands, this first of June 1639

Robert resided in Guilford for 27 years, from 1639 to 1666, and throughout this period he held various positions of trust and responsibility. It seems he was one of the wealthiest of the planters, and was commonly referred to as "Mr.," a prefix indicating one of the town's "worthies."

He was one of six planters chosen, 29 September 1639, to draw up the deed between the settlers and the Menunkatuck chief, Shaumpishuh. The price paid for nearly all of the present town of Guilford [1937] was a dozen each of coats, shoes, stockings, mirrors, fathoms of wampum, hoes, hatchets, knives, hats, pooringers, spoons, four kettles and two English coats.9 The six planters again acted as trustees and, 17 December 1641, they purchased what was called the Neck, eastward to Tuckishoag Pond.10

On 2 February 1642/3 the settlers, "Agreed that Civil power for the administration of justice and preservation of peace shall remain in the hands of Robert Kitchell, William Chittenden, John Bishop, and William Leete, formerly chosen for that work, but the church was finally orgainized, 19 June 1643, and government power was tranferred to "the church." The planned organization of government in Guilford was by church members only, and they would be a member of the New Haven colony. Each town (New Haven, Milford, and Guilford) would govern itself by the body of church members, and a General Court made up of deputies from the various towns, would govern colony-wide issues.11

In 1645, the tide mill was completed and then delivered to Robert Kitchell, who had contributed £80 towards it's constriction, and on 8 January 1646 agreed "to maintaine & uphold a sufficient mill for the service of the Town upon the consideration of toll." He further agreed to pay for one-half of all breaches, within the next three years, and afterwards:
To bear all charges whatsoever, belonging to the said Millworke as well about dames, flood-gates, foundation work, together with all running gears and implements appertaining to ye sd mill, with detriment to ye plantation.

However, within two months storms "beyond all mens expectations and beyond all mens foresight,"4 had broken the dams, and the town voted, 5 March 1646, "seeing the profit is at present no way equivalent to such charges," and "out of love & respect for Mr. Kitchell & for his encouragement, " that he only needed to pay for "all running geeres & timber works." Finally, he offered to sell the mill back to the town for his original £80 less £5 "wch the sd Mr. Kitchell is contented to lose, in consideration of the former use of the sd mill," and also deducting his portion of the expense as a planter. The planters agreed to pay the amount asked, with eight per cent interest on the next 25th of March in "currant merchantable corne."

Kitchell was apparently well educated and was engaged with several clients who were plaintiffs or defendants in various small suits involving fences and straying animals.12 He and two others were chosen every to collect for the minister's maintenance and to manage the "temporalities" of the church.13 Robert was on a list of freemen, 22 May 1648. There is no such list before this date.14

In October 1646, he was chosen as a deputy of the "particular Court," and held that post until he left Guilford. In June 1650, he was elected as deputy to the General Court at New Haven, and reelected in 1656, 1662, and 1663. He was also treasurer of the plantation for many years.15

His home lot of 5 ¾ acres was at the corner of Broad and Fair Streets.16 It appears he also had a home in New Haven, probably for use when he attended court:
John Bracy allenate unto Mr. Kitchell his house and home lott conteyning 2 acr & halfe, and 25 ac of upland lyeing in Mr. Wakeman quarter next Mr. Wakeman land, 5 ac of medow, be it more or lesse, lyeing at the end of Mr. Wakeman quarter, in the west meddows, & 9 ac of upland, be it more or lesse, lyeing in the neck wth commanage remaining unsold.

The union with Connecticut would make serious changes in the way New Haven and it's towns could govern themselves. It appears they tried to make things work for a few years. The general assembly at Hartford, 11 May 1665, chose Robert and George Hubberd as commissioners for Guilford, giving them magistrate power to keep court at Guilford, with the town to choose one or two selectmen to assist.17 They were reappointed 10 May 1666 and again 9 May 1667. But by this last date, Robert had had enough and declined the appointment, having already decided to join his fellow townsmen in moving to New Jersey.

In October 1665, four agents from New Haven negotiated to purchase the site of Newark for £130 New England currency, 12 Indian blankets, and 12 guns. At Branford, a new Covenant was agreed to:18
October 30th 1665. At the meeting Touching the Intended design of many of the inhabitants of Branford, the following was subscribed:

Deuteronomy I:13
Exodus XVIII:21
Deut. XVIII:15
Jere. XXXVI:21
1st That none shall be admitted freemen, or free Burgesses within our Town upon Passaick River, in the Province of New Jersey, but such planters as are members of some or other of the Congregational Churches nor shall any but such be chosen to Magistracy, or to Carry on any Part of Civil Judicature, or as deputies, or assistants, to have power to Vote In establishing Laws, and making or Repealing them, or to any Chief Military Trust or Office. Nor shall any But such Church Members have any Vote in any such elections; Tho' all others admitted to Be planters have Right to their proper Inheritance, and do and shall enjoy all other Civil Liberties and Privileges According to all Laws, Orders, Grants, which are, or hereafter shall be made, for this Town.

2nd We shall with Care and Diligence provide for the maintenance of the purity of Religion professed in the Congregational Churches.

Twenty three men signed at Branford that day.

The covenant continues:

And upon the Reception of their Letters and Subscriptions the present Inhabitants, in November following, declared their Consent and readiness to do likewise, and at a Meeting the 24th of the next June in 1666, they also Subscribed with their own Hands, unto the two fundamental Agreements expressed on the otherside.

Forty-one additional men from Milford, Guilford, and New London signed the agreement.

The first settlers arrived at "Pesayak-towne" (after the Indian deed to the place, and later termed "New Worke," and shortly after, Newark) in the spring of 1666. The second wave arrived at the back bay ("Achter Cul" in Dutch) and then went up the Passaic River in May, 1667. Robert became a leading civil magistrate and was called a "benefactor of the settlement."4 As at Guilford, he was called "Mr." in the various town records.

By the fall of 1667, the town's population had grown to over 500, and was laid out in lots of about 6 acres each, and Robert had lot #12, bounded by Mr. Peck, south; John Rogers, north, Mr. Obadiah Bruen, east; and the highway, west.

"Tide or Floods" on the Passaic apparently made Robert's and son Samuel's home lots untenable, and the town ordered the lots be "lifted" [shifted?] 12 rods further away from the river.

A second division of salt meadow land was made 21 February 1671 and Robert drew lot #57. He would not long enjoy it, for he died at "Arthur Kill" in October. The town directed the treasurer to pay "Mrs. Kitchel 27s on Mr. Leet's acct, she Giving a Rect for the same," 10 April 1672. She later drew tract 23, about 100 acres, in a division of country land, 26 May 1673.19

Although Margaret's will states that Robert left a will leaving legacies to his grandchildren, the will does not seem to have survived.

Family 1

Jane (…) d. bef. 1631

Family 2

Margaret Sheafe b. 21 May 1598, d. 26 Apr 1682
  • Harmon Kitchell1,3,2 b. 27 Apr 1634
  • Samuel Kitchell+1,2,3 b. 6 Dec 1635, d. 26 Apr 1690
  • Joanna Kitchell1,3,2 b. abt. 1637, d. 1711
  • Sarah Kitchell1,2,3 b. say 1640, d. 10 May 1657
This person was last edited on24 Mar 2023


  1. [S27] C. H. Cory, Lineal Ancestors of Susan (Kitchell) Mulford, Mother of Mrs Susan (Mulford) Cory, Vol IV, Pt 1 ([New Jersey]: s.p., 1937), 1-31, further cited as Cory, Ancestry of Susan Kitchell.
  2. [S291] Mary Lovering Holman, "The Sheafe Line," The American Genealogist 22 (Oct 1945): 85-94, further cited as Holman, "Sheafe Line."
  3. [S292] Donald Lines Jacobus, "The Kitchell, Sheafe and Ruck Connections in England," The American Genealogist 15 (Oct 1938): 69-80, further cited as Jacobus, "Kitchell, Sheafe and Ruck."
  4. [S2044] Bernard Christian Steiner, A History of the Plantation of Menunkatuck and of the Original Town of Guilford, Connecticut, Comprising the Present Towns of Guilford and Madison(Baltimore, Maryland: s.p., 1897), 44, further cited as Steiner, History of Guilford, Connecticut.
  5. [S27] Cory, Ancestry of Susan Kitchell, 1.
  6. [S1872] Clarence Almon Torrey, New England Marriages Prior to 1700, 3 vols. (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011), 902, further cited as Torrey, New England Marriages (2011).
  7. [S27] Cory, Ancestry of Susan Kitchell, 5.
  8. [S2044] Steiner, History of Guilford, Connecticut, 24-25.
  9. [S2044] Steiner, History of Guilford, Connecticut, 29.
  10. [S2044] Steiner, History of Guilford, Connecticut, 32.
  11. [S2044] Steiner, History of Guilford, Connecticut, 34-35.
  12. [S2044] Steiner, History of Guilford, Connecticut, 88.
  13. [S2044] Steiner, History of Guilford, Connecticut, 39.
  14. [S2044] Steiner, History of Guilford, Connecticut, 124.
  15. [S2044] Steiner, History of Guilford, Connecticut, 511-512.
  16. [S2044] Steiner, History of Guilford, Connecticut, 52.
  17. [S2044] Steiner, History of Guilford, Connecticut, 106.
  18. [S27] Cory, Ancestry of Susan Kitchell, 15-16.
  19. [S27] Cory, Ancestry of Susan Kitchell, 19.