Jeremiah Townsend, 1711-1803.


Jeremiah was born in Boston, the fourth generation of this branch of Townsends in the New World. He moved to New Haven in May of 1739 at the urging of William Greenough, a shipwright formerly from Boston, who had recently settled in New Haven. Jeremiah was a peruke-maker and barber. According to tradition, William told Jeremiah that Yale professors and students need a good wig-maker. Jeremiah bought a house on the corner of College & Elm (Methodist Church site now) where he raised his six children by his wife Hannah (Kneeland) Townsend of Boston. When she died, he again married a Bostonian, the widow Rebecca Parkman Coit, with whom he had five children.

Jeremiah was a very religious man and every year spent a day fasting in his attic, reading the Bible. During the Invasion of New Haven on July 5, 1779, he spent one night standing up in the chimney of the back room, because of the gunfire on the market place opposite his house. He had sent his womenfolk into the woods in back of Cedar Hill. Although Jeremiah became a freeman in 1742, he apparently did not involve himself in community activities for there is no record of him in town minutes, even of buying land except for the plot in 1739 in Eaton’s Quarter. His grave was disturbed by placing the west wall of the new (1812) Meeting House foundation, so the stone was moved to its present location and refurbished.

The above account was authored by Church Historian Doris “Deb” Townshend, who married into the fifth generation of this prominent New Haven family.

Jeremiah was born on November 12, 1711.  According to the records of the Kneeland family, Jeremiah was baptized at the Old South Church in Boston on November 18, 1711.  He married Hannah on April 16, 1734, and they moved to New Haven from Boston on May 20, 1739.

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