The founding of Guilford, 1639

About the time they arrived in America, John Parmelee Sr. and the 24 other men whose families would later settle at Guilford entered into the Plantation Covenant. John, who would have been about 55 at the time, would have been one of the oldest members of the Rev. Henry Whitfield's expedition. As late as the 2010s -- nearly four centuries after the covenant was formed -- the descendants of John Parmelee Sr. and 14 other signers still reside in the Guilford area.

This is a copy of the Massachusetts Historical Society's contemporary copy; the location of the original document is unknown. Contemporary copies, such as this one, are easily identifiable as all the signatures -- except Whitfield's which is below all the rest -- are all in the same hand. One theory is that one of Whitfield's relatives made the copies and let him sign the documents himself. "John Permerly," above, is the first name on the fourth line. (We do have a copy of his signature.)

Here is a "translation" of the handwriting:

"We whose names are herein written, intending by God's gracious permission, to plant ourselves in New England, and if it may be in the southerly part, about Quinpisac [Quinnipiac, later named New Haven], we do faithfully promise each for ourselves and families and those that belong to us, that we will, the Lord assisting us, sit down and join ourselves together in one entire plantation and to be helpful to the other in any common work, according to every man's ability and as need shall require, and we promise not to desert or leave each other on the plantation but with the consent of the rest, or the greater part of the company, who have entered into this engagement.

"As for our gathering together into a church way and the choice officers and members to be joined together in that way, we do refer ourselves until such time as it shall please God to settle us in our plantation.

"In witness whereof we subscribe our hands, this first day of June 1639.


John Bishop Abraham Cruttenden John Hoadley Henry Kingsnorth John Permerly
Francis Bushnell Henry Doude/Dowd John Housegoe/Hughes Wm. Leete Wm. Plane/Plaine
Francis Chatfield Wm. Dudley Thomas Joanes/Jones John Mepham John Stone
Thomas Cooke Richd. Guttridge/Goodrich John Jurden/Jordan Thomas Naish/Nash Wm. Stone
Wm. Chittenden Wm. Halle/Hale Robert Kichell/Kitchel John Norton Henry Whitfield

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Updated Feb. 28, 2021