John Elderkin

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John Elderkin, whose ancestry is unknown (or not traced here), was born at England, in 1616.1 He died at Norwich, Connecticut, 23 June 1687.1

John married (1) Abigail Kingsland, whose ancestry is unknown (or not traced here), say 1635;1,2,3 he married (2) Elizabeth Drake, daughter of John Drake and Elizabeth (…), before 1660.1,3

John Elderkin was a master builder and mill-wright. In the places where he sojourned, he built mills, meeting-houses, probably also bridges, and the better sort of dwelling-houses. At New London he built the first meeting-house, constructed two or three saw-mills in the neighborhood, and occasionally tried his hand in building vessels.

His first wife is said to be Abigail Kingsland, but no evidence is known for that statement. He may be the John Elderman who embarked on the Recovery out of London, from Weymouth to New England in March 1633, and if so, then he was here much earlier than usually acknowledged. The Snow-Estes genealogy says he came from Fenns, Lincolnshire. Elderkins are also known in Northumberland history, and may be of the English-Scottish border area.

Savage notes he was of record in Lynn, 1637; Dedham, 1641; Reading, 1646; Providence, Rhode Island in 1648, New London, Connecticut in 1651, and finally settled at Norwich in 1661. Boston records also show his daughter Abigail born there 13 Sep 1641.

At Lynn, he bought a water mill from Edward Howell in 1637.

While at Providence, in 1648, Governor Winthrop of Connecticut prevailed upon Roger Williams to ask or persuade Elderkin to come to Connecticut, and in October 1650, he was granted a house-lot at New London. By 1651, he was building churches there.

John was also skilled as a millwright, as he was mentioned in a letter from John Pyncheon, Jr., Springfield, to John Winthrop, Jr., Saybrook: "Sir, I am bold to request that the room which my wife shall be in this winter may speedily be made warm. I pray let Goodman Elderkin be called on to do it out of hand [i.e., immediately], in regard my wife is but tender and cold will set in quickly."4

On 6 Nov 1654, "John Elderkin was chosen Ordinary Keeper for Pequot or New London."At the General court of Election Harford, this 17th of May, 1655, John Elderkin of Pequett, being p'sented to the Court as chosen by the Towne of Pequett to keep an ordinary, according to the order of the Courte wch he hath accepted of to attend after 29 Sep: next. the court confirms him in that place."

While still at New London in 1661, he was the first to build a merchant vessel, the New London Tryall. Costing upwards of £200, this was a "big deal" for that era.

The settlement of Norwich opened a new field for his services. The proprietors at their first coming entered into a contract with him to erect a mill upon the Yantic for grinding corn, with the privilege of running the mill for a term of years as a kind of monopoly of the business. In 1664 he styled himself as, 'I John Elderkin of Norwige, carpenter. In building the first meeting-house at Norwich, Elderkin does not appear to have taken part. He was engaged to build a mill at Haddam, but sold his contract to Peter Blachford.

In 1664 he removed to Killingworth where he also built a mill on the Manunkatesek river and had there a £100 estate. He apparenty did not stay there long, selling his lot to William Wellman, 25 Feb 1666, and his cornmill to Thomas Stevens, 15 Oct 1671, and then returned to Norwich. In 1673, Elderkin was engaged to build a more imposing and durable structure for a house of worship, in conjunction with Samuel Lathrop, who also performed some of the work. This edifice was scarcely completed, when he entered into a similar contract with the people of New London. He seems have been occupied in running a mill and building a meeting-house at each place, nearly at the same time.

He deposed in 1672, giving his age as 56, and stated he became an inhabitant of New London the same year that Mr. Blinman and his company came there to dwell.

Richard Hendy's wife was Hannah, daughter of John Elderkin and it is probable that Daniel Comstock's wife, Paltiah, was another of the family, as he and John Elderkin use the terms father and son in their transactions with each other as early as 1661.

A bridge was named after him and the Franklin Church history discusses the history of the church building that he built at Franklin, Connecticut .1,5

Family 1

Abigail Kingsland d. bef. 1660
  • Paltiah Elderkin+1 b. say 1635, d. 21 Feb 1712/13
  • John Elderkin6 b. abt. 1637, d. 1641
  • Abigail Elderkin1,7 b. 13 Sep 1641
  • Hannah Elderkin1 b. say 1644

Family 2

Elizabeth Drake b. 9 Jan 1624, d. 18 Jun 1716
  • Ann Elderkin1 b. Jan 1661
  • John Elderkin1 b. Apr 1664
  • Bathshua Elderkin1 b. Nov 1665
  • James Elderkin1 b. Mar 1671, d. 26 Apr 1698
  • Joseph Elderkin1 b. Dec 1672, d. 1759
This person was last edited on16 Dec 2017


  1. [S925] James Savage, A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, Four Volumes. Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown & Company, 1860-1862, 2:107. CD-ROM reprint, Compendium of New England Pioneers: A Collection of 14 Classic Genealogical Dictionaries of Early New England Settlers (Columbia, Maryland: Archive CD Books USA, 2006), further cited as Savage's Dictionary.
  2. [S1330] Estimated from probable birth date of first child (1635).
  3. [S1872] Clarence Almon Torrey, New England Marriages Prior to 1700, 3 vols. (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011), 504, further cited as Torrey, New England Marriages (2011).
  4. [S1827] Robert F. Trent, "The Waldo Chair: A Monument of Early Connecticut Joinery," Bulletin of the Connecticut Historical Society 48 (Fall 1983): 174-188, at 186, further cited as Trent, "Waldo Chair."
  5. [S1492] Peter Wilson Coldham, The Complete Book of Emigrants: 1607-1660: A Comprehensive Listing Compiled from English Public Records of Those Who Took Ship to the Americas for Political, Religious, and Economic Reasons; of Those Who Were Deported for Vagrancy, Roguery, or Non-Conformity; and of Those Who Were Sold to Labour in the New Colonies (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1987), 107, further cited as Coldham, Complete Book of Emigrants.
  6. [S1831] Ruth Elizabeth Alt, John Elderkin (1612-1687) of Connecticut and Descendants (Morganville, New Jersey: s.p., 1996), 4, further cited as Alt, John Elderkin.
  7. [S1829] David Pulsifer, "Early Records of Boston," The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 2 (Jan 1848) thru 4 (Oct 1850), at 359, further cited as Pulsifer, "Early Records of Boston."