vital records sources are discussed in the text
left: Walter's signature from his brother John's will when he was about 66; right: signature from Walter's will when he was about 77. He also signed the inventory of Ephraim Lockwood of Norwalk in 1685, which appears very similar to the example above left.
A note about name spelling
The early generations of the Hoyts in Connecticut and New York used varying spellings of their first and last names. In some instances there was no concensus within nuclear families. This may indicate they were only partially literate. I don't subscribe to the practice of using phonetic or interpretive spellings for an individual in biographical text unless there is a specific reason to do so. I think it's enough to note exact spellings in quoting documents. In some cases this is a judgement call. Was Walter firmly committed to his name being "Hoyte," but his son was committed to "Hayt?" Considering how few times it was necessary for them to sign their names, given their circumstances, it seems unlikely they thought much about it. When they learned how to write their names, they might have learned it from a schoolmaster, for instance, who spelled it as it sounded. I do think it's important to note exact name spellings when quoting documents. For these reasons, the surname of this family is referred to uniformly as "Hoyt," and "Waltar" is converted to the normative "Walter."
Walter came with his father and siblings to New England probably in 1629.
His mother had probably died by this time, and the family may have sailed
with his stepmother Susannah. Walter likely came of age in Windsor, CT.
He was granted several pieces of land there. Thirty acres were set and aside
for him from his father's grant on 28 February 1640/41,(1)
"yt lyes neere the falls in the rivulett [probably the Farmington River];
it is in length from the river back a hundred and twenty rodd, in breadth
a hundred twenty six rodd, bounded every way by the Common." Walter supposedly
bought a house lot in Backer Row in the fortified heart of the settlement
called the Palisado. His brother Nicholas also lived there. Early land
records(2) give the following: "Walter Hoyt
hath Granted from the Plantation of Land, threescore and four acres more
or Less, in bredth seventy-three, in Length a Hundred and forty, Bounded East
by Nicholas Hoyt, West and North by the Commons, and South by the Rivulett;
Also fifty acres more or Less, opposite John Tinkers farm, Bounded North and
East by the Land of Nicholas Hoyt, Southeast by the Land of William Thrall,
and South by the Rivulett; also Ten acres of Land, in bredth Twenty Rod, in
Length four score, Bounded west by Nicolas Hoyt, North by Richard Willer,
& South by William Thrall." He bought another lot which may not be recorded
in extant records, but the following records its sale: "John Denslow hath
by Purchas of Walter Hoyt, a homelott and house with all the appurtenances
and Common Priviledges pertaining thereto, Twelve acres more or Less, which
formerly was Elias Parkmans, the bredth is fourteen rod and half, Bound North
by Nicholas Hoyt, South by a way in part, and William Hofford the other part,
West by the wood Lott of John Mason, East by the Sreet."
Walter moved to Norwalk,
CT, by 18 December 1653, when he and Ralph Keeler entered into an agreement
with the town to build or supervise the construction of a house for Rev.
Hanford.(3) On 21 January 16(54/?)55 Walter
made an agreement with the Town of Norwalk to "erect and sett up a good and
sufficient gate leading into [his] meadows."(4)
He and Ralph Keeler were chosen fenceviewers "to worke the fence" on
29 March 1655.(5) On 22 May 1655 Walter, Matthias
St. John/Sention and Matthias' brother Mark were reported to have driven the
"dry" herd of cows to "Rooton" and were to receive 6 pence "a turne."
(6) In the same year he is listed among the landowners of
Norwalk, and his property value, though obliterated in the record, was probably
about 100 to 110 lbs. He was chosen a deputy to the General Court of Connecticut
supposedly in 1658/59 and 1661 (records not yet found) and certainly in 1667.
(7) He was supposedly a selectman, although this was not
found in the published records of Norwalk. At the General Court of Election
at Hartford, "Mr. Campfield presenting from the Towne of Norwalk, Richrd Olmstead
for yr Lieutenant and Walter Hoyt for their sergeant [in the local militia],
they are both confirmed by this Court" on 19 May 1659.(8)
The Town of Norwalk granted Walter the home lot of Thomas Barnum at a town
meeting in February 1663 for the use of "one of his sons."
(9) The property was then granted by Walter to his son John
two years later.(10) 1665 saw a series of grants
to John from his father, likely for his being the oldest son. Returning to
civic activities, "Walter Haite has undertaken to beate the drumm for meetings
when all occasions required, for which he is to have 10 s[hillings]" on 24
July 1665.(11) This duty was performed again,
as recorded at a town meeting on 21 February 1670.(12)
His estate was valued at 192 lbs. in 1670,(13)
and he had added to it that year with 16 acres in Norwalk and referred
to as "six acres to the hundred."(14) One of
the parcels was on Elie's Neck. He acquired more land in "six acres to the
hundred" in 1683 or 84, this time it was 6 acres on the east side of "Seakautuck
Hill."(15). He had written his will on 11 February
1675/1676, although he had about 20 more years of life (see below).
aaaWalter signed the
Norwalk charter of 8 July 1686.(16) He is listed
among the men having "estates of commonage" on 3 January 1687, valued at
242 lbs. - a relatively high amount.(17) For
all his land transactions, his residence has not been located exactly, but
it is said to have been in the village of Norwalk, now East Norwalk, on land
east of the cemetery and bordering partly on the harbor. It isn't known
when he died, but he was involved in a confirmation of property ownership
with Samuel Camfield on 13 August 1695.(18)
The next pertinent record is his inventory, taken after his death, literally
dated 10 January 1698.(19) Since this not a
double-date (10 January 1698/1699) which was often used at the time to indicate
the Old and New Style (Julian and Gregorian) calender systems, it may be
wholly in the Old Style, which would make it 10 March 1699 in the New Style.
Estate inventories were usually taken shortly after someone's death,
pointing to Walter's death in late February/early March 1699.
marriage, no evidence has been found - not even a first name. He had two sons, referred to in his
will, and two daughters are named in the Norwalk town records when they married. They apparently were born between
1640 and 1650, given circumstantial evidence. This is sensible given that their father was of prime marrying age in the early 1640s and had property. It is possible that their
mother died perhaps about 1650. She has, without proper explanation in published
material, been called Rhoda (Tinker) Hobbs Taylor, widow of Thomas Hobbs
and probably widow of John Taylor.(18.5) It would have been very abnormal in the 17th century for a man to marry someone 6 years his elder (Rhoda was evidently born in 1611), and even more so to marry a woman twice-widowed as his first wife. The oldest child known to be Walter's was born when he was about 26, indicating a marriage at about 24. The possibility that he was already a widower is slim. There is a record of a Rhoda Taylor paying
a church rate in Windsor in 1660 (source?), but it may be a reference to something
that didn't occur in that year. She supposedly was a widow with two daughters
(Hannah and Anna) when she married John Taylor. Evidence of this hasn't
been seen. Citing Walter selling land to Thomas Taylor late in life, this has been presented as supporting evidence of their being related, but there is no mention of a familial relationship in the document. If Walter and Rhoda did marry, it was most likely later in life when both were widow/widower. Mathias St. John/Sention of Norwalk, who was the same generation as Walter, mentions "brother and sister Hoyt" in his will. This is supposed to indicate that his wife Mary Tinker was the sister Rhoda (Tinker) Hobbs Taylor. I's an interesting theory, but is there any further evidence of it?
Walter's will bequeaths his land two John and Zerubbabel, and
his inventory indicates that he had no other assets to speak of, material
or financial, to give to daughters or their children. Matthew Grant compiled
a list of heads of households in Windsor in this early period, although the
list, compiled in 1677, postdates the events, and included how many children
were born in Windsor to those families. Walter is said to have had three.
(20) Records ascribed to Mr. Rowland apparently give the death
in 1647 of a child of "Hoyte," but which isn't known.(21)
The following is
translated from the original estate papers found on microfilm at the Connecticut
State Library. It differs slightly from the reading given in David Hoyt's
genealogy. The document is written in a very poor hand and spelling errors
are numerous. Italics indicate words that are virtually scribbled but intended.
A portion of Walter's estate file is written in shorthand and hasn't been
deciphered. It may simply be the will, but a number of regularly-spelled words
indicates otherwise. It isn't known if Walter could write anything other than his name, but the three available signatures show that he spelled it "Waltar Hoyte."
Norwalk the 11 of february - 1675 or 6
the last will and testament of Walter hayt aged aboute 78 years. I the
said Wallter hayt Being ill and weack apprending I shall not long continow
in the land of the living - I will and bequeath my body unto the dust and
desceantt bueriall and my soull to god that give it to me - and for that lettell
estat that god hath given me be disposed of as folloeth unto my tow sons
namly John hayt of Danbury and my son Zarabell hayt that whatt land and
medo and comonogs I have within the towne bounds of Norwalk. be devided equally
to each of them a like - and also whatt other movbabl estat that I
shall leve or may be left after my decese - and that it be to them and there
ares and asines administrators to have and to hold for ever - and
this to be my last will and to contterman any former and to stand good unto
them - after my junst debts be discharged - my desiar that my tow sons be
executors unto this my will - and this for to be my last will as witten
my hand the day and yeare above dated it must be under stood whatt lands
I have not dissposed of before by gift or deed
syined in the presence of us wittness
John Platt, Sr.
The will and Inventory of ye Estate of Walter Hoit of Norwalk deceased being
exhibited to ye Prerogative Court for fairfeild this 11: April 1699 and the
Court do Aprove sd Will and Inventory and do order them to be recorded.
[comments by the author in the following are in brackets]
Jenewairy the 10: 1698 [10 March 1698-99?]
A true Inventory of the estate of Walter Hayte Norwalk deceased is taken
by us whose names are under written
waring apparel as linnin and woolen 05[lbs] - 00[shillings] - 00[pence]
by 2 bedsteeds one chest one cubard 03 - 10 - 00
by old and new iron 00 - 16 - 00
by putter [pewter] and lanthern and 1 tin pan 00 - 12 - 00
by part of a steer 00 - 15 -
by wooden and earthen ware and tow [two] brase [brass]
cettels [kettles] one scillit 02 - 15 -
by one [en?] one grinston one tramell 00 - 11 - 00
by one pare of pothucks and one fether bed 03 - 02 - 00
by land and medow and out land and
commonnage 150 - 00 - 00
The above Inventory attested to Zerubbabell Hoit yt it is a true
Inventory of his decsd fathers estate and if any thing be afterwards found
he will cause it to be inserted
N[athan] G[ould] C[lerk]
children of Walter Hoyt (marriage dates taken from the Norwalk town records, see note #3):
Elizabeth, b. abt. 1643, m. Samuel Sention, September 1663, "the daughter of Walter Haite"
Hannah, b. abt. 1645, m. Judah Gregory, 20 October 1664, "the daughter of Waltar Haite of Norwake"
John, b. abt. 1647
Zerubbabel, b. abt. 1649
1. first book of land records, pg. 113, according to David Hoyt's genealogy.
This particular reference was not found in the Fairfield County deed index.
3. Edwin Hall, The Ancient Historical Records of the Town of Norwalk,
Conn. (ARN), (Norwalk: 1847).
5. Ibid, pg. 48.
6. Ibid. The list is in descending order of value. The landowner just
ahead of him on the list had land valued at 118 lbs. 7. Only record found
is for 9 May 1667 at the Court of Election, CRC, pg. 59.
8. CRC, pg. 336.
10. Fairfield County deeds, vol. 1, pg. 85 (Feb. 1665).
14. Fairfield County deeds, vol. 1, pg. 110.
15. Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 238 (2 February 16(82/?)84).
18. Fairfield County deeds, vol. 1, pg. 321 (13 Aug. 1695).
18.5. New England Historic Genealogical Register, vol. 149, p. 412.
19. Fairfield district probate record.
20. Henry R. Stiles, A History of Ancient Windsor, reprint, Somersworth,
NH, 1976. (HAW)
21.David W. Hoyt, A Genealogical History of the Hoyt, Haight, and Hight
all text and photographs © 1998-2005 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted