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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 Zerubbable's father Walter firmly committed to his name being "Hoyte," as he spelled it, 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." Zerubbabel is variously spelled in signatures and references in documents, but the established Biblical spelling in English is used here.

     At a Norwalk town meeting on 28 December 1680 "Zerubbabel Hoyt hath undertaken to beate ye drumme for publick meetings, and also for such stray horses as are brought on to be sold, for which he is to have fourteen shillings…" (1) In 1686 he was chosen for this service again in addition to sweeping the meeting house.(2) Zerubbabel's "estate of commonage" was valued at 50 lbs. in 1687. (3) He was on a nine-person committee chosen by the General Court of Connecticut in May of 1697 " purchase of the Indians a certain tract of land lying about fourteen miles northward of the Town of Norwalk to settle a plantation there." Wolves were routinely killed, presumably for the protection of livestock. They were caught in wolf-pits, and in the instance of the Town of Norwalk, they paid Zerubbabel 5 shillings for ˝ a wolf in December of 1701.(4) One wonders under what circumstances a person would bring in only half a wolf. Some men brought in even less portions of wolves. At the same time he was paid 18 pence for "burning the islands." Was this for farmland maintenance? He was also chosen to be a hogward "for to pound all swine that are on the comons of the towne after the 1st of March next ensueing: not sufficiently yoked and ringed." He served on a committee to assign seating in the meeting house, "they to have respect to age, quality, and the estates of persons in the publique list,"(5) and another regarding the creation of a cemetery for the residents on the west side of the Norwalk River with fellow-ancestor John Benedict, Sr.(6) This was likely what is now known as Pine Island Cemetery, where John is known to have been buried. A belfry was ordered to be built on the meeting house in 1709, and in December of 1713, "Ye town grants to Zorubabbel Hoyt twenty six shillings in pay or two thirds money for his ringing ye bell at nine-o'clock at night for ye yeare ensueing sd. [said] engages [agrees] to perform ye same." (7)
      Zerubbabel purchased various pieces of property in Norwalk between 1692 and 1717. The Town of Norwalk granted him land at Canoe Hill in what is now New Canaan in 1700 and 1710, much of which he gave to his sons before he died.(8) There is no record of his death or of his estate brought to probate. He was certainly the Deacon Zerubbabel Hoyt who purchased land from Ebenezer St. John in April 1717, (9) and part of that same transaction seems to appear again in a deed in January 1722/23.(10) Zerubbabel's second or third wife was Mehitabel Rockwell, whose first husband was John Keeler. Although there isn't a record of the marriage, John's heirs deeded land to their mother in January of 1724/25, and she is referred to as the wife of Deacon Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel is not referred to as deceased. His grandson Zerubbabel was 21 at that time, so differentiating between the two men needs further consideration. However, the 1723 deed very likely involved the elder Zerubbabel. It was very likely the younger man who bought land from Joseph Hitchcock in 1733. The elder Zerubbabel was certainly dead by 25 January 1738/39, when an agreement among his heirs was reached regarding his land holdings.(11)
      The widely held belief that Zerubbabel's first wife was Hannah Knapp may have begun with an early history of Norwalk, which does not site a source for the claim. There is no known evidence to support it. It is very unlikely that Zerubbabel married someone at least six years older. His first wife was probably born in the early 1650's, and they probably married in the early 1670's. Whether or not daughter Abigail was their first born isn't known, but she is the first of record.
     Zerubbabel spelled his name "Zerubbaball Hayt." The name Hoyt can be found spelled various ways, both by clerks and family members themselves. Father and son aren't always in sync, either. In some cases, including Zerubbabel's father, their own signature isn't consistently spelled from document to document. This occurs with first names as well. It also carries over to other hand-written documents where they were written by one person who didn't always spell words the same from one sentence to the next. This makes it apparent that consistent spelling wasn't a priority, as long as the point, and a person's identity, was clear enough. Rather then fluxuate back and forth between spellings from generation to generation, the spelling "Hoyt" has been chosen for the biographies at this site, with notations of signatures where they exist.

children of Zerubbabel and his first wife (full dates from Norwalk town records):

Abigail b. 2 February 1675/76
Daniel b. 1 January 1680/81 (Norwalk town records?)
Hannah (m. 1704, indicating a birth abt. 1682-84)
Caleb b. abt. 1686
Rhoda (m. 19 April 1710 to John Keeler, Jr., indicating a birth abt. 1688-90)

1. Edwin Hall, Ancient Historical Records of Norwalk, Conn. (ARN ) (1847), pg. 76.
2. 18 February 1686/87. ARN, pg. 81.
3. 3 January 1687/88. ARN
4. 30 December 1701. ARN, pg. 96.
5. 1706. ARN, pg. 100.
6. 16 December 1708. ARN, pg. 102.
7. ARN, pg. 105.
8. Fairfield County deeds, vol. 2-3, page 19 (1 February 1699/1700).
9. Ibid, vol. 5, page 3 (19 April 1717.)
10. Ibid, vol. 5, p. 519 (14 January 1722/23).
11. Ibid, vol. 6, page 308.

all text and photographs © 1998-2005 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted