James Olmstead 1580 was born 4 December 1580 in Great Leighs, Essex, England to James Olmstead (1551-1595) and Jane Bristow (1551-1595) and died 28 September 1640 Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut of unspecified causes. He married Joyce Cornish (1580-1621) 26 October 1605 in Great Leighs, Essex, England.


James Olmstead immigrated from England to America in 1632 on the ship Lyon with two sons and two nephews and one niece. They first went to Massachusetts Bay Colony and then went to help settle Connecticut where they are listed on Hartford Founders Monument.

Migration to America

James Olmstead, with his sons Nicholas and Nehemiah, nephews Richard and John and niece Rebecca (children of his brother Richard Olmstead (1579-1641)) sailed from Braintree, England in the ship 'Lion', under Captain Pierce, and arrived in Boston on Sunday, Sept 16, 1632. They settled first at Mount Wollaston, now Quincy, but within a short time went to Newtown, now Cambridge, MA. He was made freeman 6 Nov 1632, was 1st Constable chosen in 1634 and the following February one of the seven men to govern the town.

In a large vellum bound volume in the Rolls Office, Chancery Lane, London, are lists of early emigrants to New England. One list dated June 22, 1632, showed thirty-three men who were transported and who were certified by Captain Mason as having taken the oath of allegiance according to statute. Included among these is the name of James Olmstead, a Puritan, who with his two sons and probably a niece and two nephews, sailed in the Lyon, Captain Pierce, Master, and arrived at Boston on September 16, 1632 after a voyage of twelve weeks.

Braintree Colony

The Olmstead family first settled at Mount Wollaston, later called Braintree and now called Quincy, Massachusetts. After the course of a year, however, they “by order of the Court, removed to New Towne, now Cambridge,” where with their neighbors, were known as the Braintree Colony. James had his house lot at Newtown on the northerly side of what is now Harvard Street on a spot now occupied by the Wadsworth House, which was formerly called the President’s House, referring to the head of Harvard University. He was made a freeman in Newtown on November 6, 1632, and was chosen constable by popular vote on November 3, 1634. He was the constable chosen by popular vote since before that time, the Court appointed the position. On February 3, 1634/35, he was one of seven men selected to transact the business of the town and one of five to survey the town lands and to record them.

First Founder of Hartford CT

Hartford Founder's Monument at Old Church Graveyard

He is listed (with a brother and cousin) as one of the first settlers on the Hartford Founders Monument. In 1633, the purtian preacher, Thomas Hooker (1586-1647) revolted against the authority of the English Church, and was forced to sail to America with many of his followers.

Finding that place to crowded they moved to the Connecticut River Valley, settling down north of the Dutch Territory in 1636. Here in 1638 they wrote the first constitution in America to create the new Colony of Connecticut (for which they retain their nickname as the Constitution State. Their central city is Hartford CT.

He was one of the original proprietors of Hartford, Ct, who left Newtown May 31, 1636 with Rev. Thomas Hooker and in the land distributions of June 1639 he received 70 acres. He left an estate of nearly £400. He and several relatives are listed on Hartford Founders Monument.

The people of Newtown in 1634 soon realized that their holdings and possible future grants would not be sufficient for their needs. Also, they felt an underlying dissatisfaction with the close relationship between the church and civil affairs in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which at that time granted freemanship only to church members; therefore, they asked permission of the General Court to move again. On July 15, 1634, six of Newtowne went in the Blessing (bound to the Dutch plantation that had been established in October 1633 near the present site of Hartford, Connecticut) to explore the Connecticut River country, intending to find a town site. Among these men, who were called “Adventurers,” was James Olmstead.

Marriage & Family

James Olmstead married in England to Joyce Cornish (1580-1621). They had several children before she died in England in 1621.

Fairsted Church Record

Buried: 3d March, 1627, Faith, dau. of James Olmsted; 14th February, 1609, Frances, dau. of James Olmsted.

Baptized children of James Olmsted: Mabel, 30th September, 1610; (Emigrant) Nicholas, 15th February, 1612; James, 22d January, 1615; (Emi- grant) Nehemiah, 10th November, 1618; Mary, 18th April, 1621. Buried: Mabel, dau. of James Olmsted, 18th February, 1621; Mary, dau. of James Olmsted, 24th April, 1621; Joyce, wife of James Olmsted, 21st April, 1621.

Baptized children of Richard Olmsted: Mary, 6th July, 1615; (Emigrant) John, 16 February, 1617; Sara, 2d November, 1620; Joseph, 2d December, 1627. Buried: Richard Olmsted, 16th November, 1641; Frances Olmsted (wife of Richard), 10th September, 1630.

  1. Faith Olmstead (1606-1628) - died young in England
  2. Francis Olmstead (1609-1609)
  3. Mabel Olmstead (1610-)
  4. Capt Nicholas Olmstead - Immigrated to America with his father. Captain of the Hartford Militia in the 1675 Indian War.
  5. James Olmstead
  6. Nehemiah Olmstead (1616-1653) - Immigrated to America with his father
  7. Richard Olmstead (1620-)
  8. Mary Olmstead (1621-1621)


Offspring of James Olmstead 1580 and Joyce Cornish (1580-1621)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Faith Olmstead (1606-1628)
Francis Olmstead (1609-1609)
Mabel Olmstead (1610-)
Nicholas Olmstead (1612-1684) 15 February 1612 Fairstead, Essex, England, United Kingdom 31 August 1684 Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States Sarah Loomis (1617-1689) Sarah Loomis (1617-1689) Mary Lord
James Olmstead
Nehemiah Olmstead (1616-1653) 1616 Essex, England 1653 Connecticut Elizabeth Burr (1632-1675)
Richard Olmstead (1620-)
Mary Olmstead (1621-1621)



  • James Olmstead List of Famous Descendants
  • The Planters of the Commonwealth: A Study of the Emigrants and Emigration - in Colonial Times: to which are added Lists of, Charles Edward Banks, reprinted, Baltiomore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1984, Old Pub Date, Boston: 1930, Burgess Genealogical Library, Page number: 101
  • The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Page number: 14 (1860):300-301


Footnotes (including sources)