Monday, June 4, 2012

Samuel Phelps, Revolutionary War Patriot

Samuel Phelps (1735-1777) was my fifth great grandfather, from Lyme, Connecticut.  Born in 1735 to Charles Phelps and Margaret Tiffany, of the colonial Phelps and Tiffany families of New London County, Connecticut. 

As for Samuel's paternal ancestry, many researchers cite from the book "The Phelps Family in America" by Oliver Seymour Phelps, and determine that Samuel was named for his great grandfather Samuel, who had emigrated to Connecticut from Crewkerne, Somerset, England on the Mary and John in 1630 along with his father William of Crewkerne, Somerset England (not to be confused with William Phelps of Gloucestershire, as many trees have conflated).  This Samuel the immigrant's mother, by the way, was a descendant of King John of Gaunt of the Plantagenet line via the Neville dynasty.

DNA studies have indicated that Crewkerne Phelps Clan (who settled in Windsor, CT) are not of the same family as the Lyme Phelps Clan (of unknown English origin).  It's possible that the Lyme Phelps Clan traces from William of Gloucestershire, but more research is needed here.  Here is a link to a wonderful repository which studies the many Phelps clans of old New England.

Now, back to my ancestor, Samuel of Lyme.  Samuel's wife was Sarah Tiffany, who was some distant relation to his own mother.  Samuel and Sarah had at least six children, including Samuel Jr (1755-1824) and my fourth great grandfather, Niles Phelps (1771-1848).  Niles' granddaughter, Esther Phelps Martin, married Leonard Sherman Clark of East Haddam Connecticut (my 2nd great grandparents).

From a Sons of the American Revolution application, I found the following bit of information about Samuel's career during the War...
Samuel enlisted in the Revolutionary War in Captain Coit's Company in April 1775.  He fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill.  

He re-enlisted in 1776 in a Soldiers Regiment, where he served one year from March 1778 as marine and carpenter on board privateer "Sampson" commanded by Captain David Brooks, which sailed from the Connecticut River.  He was wounded in fight with a British Sloop-of-War named "Sparrow".
Unfortunately, there were several men with Samuel's name living in Connecticut around his time.  One such Samuel who causes the most confusion would be Samuel Phelps of Harwinton CT.

Samuel's son, Niles Phelps (1771-1848) married Esther Peck (1778-1825) in East Haddam, CT in 1790, and had at least five children.  Niles and Esther are my fourth great grandparents, and are buried at Tater Hill Cemetery in East Haddam.

Their daughter, Livia Phelps, married Joseph Martin of East Haddam.


  1. I'm really having a hard time finding my Samuel Phelps connection. With some certainty I have a Samuel, father of William, Maxon, Hiram and John. But only info on the William whose War of 1812 pension papers say his father was Samuel. It appears our Samuel was also in the revolutionary war but we have no way of knowing for sure. William moved to Chenango co, NY, married Lydia Baldwin and had a family there before moving west to Ohio. He was born in 1790. His father could have been born anywhere in the 1830's to the 1860's.

    Any info would be appreciated. Janice

    1. Hi Janice. There were many Samuel Phelps' in Connecticut during the Revolution. How do you arrive at the idea that yours is the one above?

  2. Dear Janice,
    I have the same information that was given to me by my father. He was raised in WI. One of his relatives was passionate about genealogy. I am 55 and he gave this information to me in my teens. I was told there was a Mayflower connection. i also, of course, am having a tough time. Holly (Miller) Heintz