A Tillotson Coat-of-arms

Joseph Tillotson and Hannah Graham


Joseph Tillotson, son of John Tillotson and Mary Morrice, was born March 29, 1689 in Saybrook, Connecticut. He married Hannah Graham on January 13, 1725/6 in Hartford, Connecticut. Joseph may have been previously married, but there is little evidence to suggest who the first wife may have been or what happened to her. In my family it was said Joseph was first married to Mary Messenger, a relative -- perhaps a sister -- of Joseph's later wife Hannah Messenger Graham.

Traditionally Hannah Graham has been identified as the daughter of George Johnson and Hannah Dorman, born on April 5, 1699. This seems very unlikely as the wills of the Johnson family do not mention any Tillotson connection, and the marriage of this Hannah Johnson to Samuel Wooster is well established. In my family it was passed down that Hannah's maiden name was Messenger, not Johnson. A hundred years ago, Lucius Barber also suggested Joseph's wife was Hannah Messenger, probably the daughter of Nathan Messenger and Rebecca Kelsey. Hannah was baptized May 8, 1698 and so was probably born shortly before that.

Hannah was a widow, having previously been married to John Graham who died on July 28, 1720. (The name "Graham" also appears as "Grimes" and "Grihms", probably reflecting the way the name was pronounced.) Hannah and John had one daughter, Mary, whom Joseph reared:

Joseph and Hannah produced seven children:

Joseph was one of the richest men in Hartford. He bought the Benjamin Graham homestead and a three-quarters interest in a grist mill on Little River. John, Joseph's father, gifted him with a deed for rights to ancestral lands in Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire, England as well as other property in Newberry, Massachusetts. Unfortunately Joseph lost his property by becoming surety for friends and relatives. Joseph endorsed credit for at least two men who ran off with the borrowed money. Joseph made good the losses, leaving him financially strapped. Tradition suggests Joseph's health deteriorated badly after this time.

Joseph died in 1755 in Farmington, Connecticut. Hannah died on May 26, 1787 in Chester, Massachusetts at "almost" ninety years of age.


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Last modified by pib on October 3, 2010.