William Backus Jr. was born 30 November 1634 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England to William Backhouse (1606-1664) and Elizabeth Backhouse (1603-1643) and died 17 April 1721 Norwich, New London County, Connecticut of unspecified causes. He married Sarah Charles (1637-1663) 1655 in New Haven County, Connecticut. He married Elizabeth Pratt (1641-1726) 11 May 1664 in Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut.


Ensign William Backus - first listed on the Norwich Founders Monument

Son of William Backus, Sr. and his first wife, whose identity is unknown. No official record of his burial place has been found.

Backus Family History

The following is quoted from THE BACKUS FAMILIES OF EARLY NEW ENGLAND, by Reno Warburton Backus:

"William Backus, Jr.2, son of William, Sr., by his first wife, was named as one of the original band of Saybrook men who purchased the townsite of Mohegan (later Norwich) from Chief Uncas in 1659, and is so recorded on the Founders’ Monument. He is therefore accepted as having reached his majority by that year, perhaps before. Jacobus estimates he was born about 1635. If that is correct, he presumably was born in England, for there is no evidence that his father reached the colonies that early. He is often shown as Sergeant, Ensign, or Lieutenant William, on the basis of the positions he held in the Norwich "train band”, or local militia; perhaps this was also to distinguish him from the elder William. The Colonial Records of Connecticut show him confirmed as Ensign in May, 1680, and as Lieutenant in May, 1693. Frances Caulkins notes however that though military titles were highly respected and generally coveted among the colonists, he "styles himself in deeds simply yeoman”.

The specific occupation of William Backus, Jr., is nowhere mentioned, but that he was well respected is amply clear. At a session of the General Assembly at Hartford, October, 1663, he was ‘”accepted to be made free”’, that is, granted full political privileges, and was listed as one of but 25 such persons in Norwich in 1669. He is shown to have filled various official and community posts, - as Marshal of a Norwich Court of Commission; as Townsman (Selectman) during several periods from 1679 to 1686; as member of church committees, on church construction, selection of a pastor, plan for seating of the congregation; as member of a committee to negotiate a dispute with Uncas, the Mohegan Chief, in 1683; and as Deputy for Norwich to the General Court at Hartford in May and October, 1680, October and November, 1683, October, 1684, and October, 1689. The patent of the Town of Norwich, dated 1685, shows Ensign William Backus as one of twelve patentees of the town.

He accumulated a sizable amount of property before he died. What he may have possessed as a young man in Saybrook is not known. His original allotment of land in the new settlement of Norwich is given as six acres. On August 31, 1682, Chief Uncas and his son Owaneco deeded a further 150 acres of land to him, possibly ‘”in connection with the settlement of the estate of Lt. William Pratt”’, his father-in-law. William was also a member of the group of thirteen men to whom, in February, 1675/6, Attawanhood, also known as Joseph Uncas, another son of the old chief, made over a large tract of land situated northwest of Norwich. This transaction was further confirmed by a will of Joshua Uncas, dated April 29, 1684, by which William is said to have received three shares of 1000 acres each. This jointly held tract eventually became the site of Windham. William continued to live in Norwich, but later deeded part or all of this land to his two elder sons, William and John, apparently receiving in return their property in Norwich, in March, 1691/2.

William obviously believed in preparedness. His will dated February 8, 1693, long antedated his death, but was never changed. He must have been a sturdy man, for his length of life became noteworthy. In 1702 he was mentioned as one of the few surviving founders of Norwich; he died early in 1721, having outlived all the rest.

His will, on file among the Norwich probate records in the Connecticut State Library, is of interest, giving, as Jacobus has noted, the proof that Sarah Charles was his first wife, and not the wife of his father.”

Marriage and Family

"Apparently by 1659 he had taken as his first wife Sarah Charles, born October, 1637, in New Haven, and baptized there in October, 1640. She was daughter of John Charles, a resident of New Haven and later Branford. ... Their first child, William was born May11, 1660, probably in Saybrook, the parents awaiting the birth before moving to the new settlement at Mohegan. Two other children, John and Sarah, were born to the couple later, apparently followed soon by the death of Sarah (Charles) Backus, whether from childbirth or other cause is not known. By 1664, William had taken as his second wife Elizabeth Pratt, daughter of Lt. William and Elizabeth (Clark) Pratt. Her father was an original proprietor of Hartford, a man of considerable standing, and for years a Deputy to the General Court, - the central governing body - of the colony. Elizabeth bore her husband six children; her union with William must have been a propitious one, for their descendants have included many distinguished individuals. Though commonly shown as surviving until 1730, it is more likely that she died in 1703 or thereabouts; this is deduced by Mary E. N. Backus from details in an acknowledgement by Joseph Backus in 1704/5 of property deeded him by his father, William, Jr.


Offspring of William Backus Jr. and Sarah Charles (1637-1663)
Name Birth Death Joined with
William Backus (1660-1742)
John Backus (1661-1744)
Sarah Backus (1663-1732)

Offspring of William Backus Jr. and Elizabeth Pratt (1641-1726)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Samuel Backus (1665-1715)
Joseph Backus (1667-1740) 6 September 1667 Norwich, New London County, Connecticut, United States 23 December 1740 Norwich, New London County, Connecticut, United States Elizabeth Huntington (1669-1762)
Nathaniel Backus (1669-1728)
Elizabeth Backus (1670-1728) 1670 Norwich, New London County, Connecticut, United States 29 December 1728 Windham, Windham County, Connecticut, United States Thomas Huntington (1664-1732)
Hannah Backus (1676-1752) 1676 New London, New London County, Connecticut 22 February 1752 Norwich, New London County, Connecticut Thomas Bingham (1667-1720) Daniel Tracy (1652-1728) Thomas Bingham (1667-1720) Daniel Tracy (1652-1728) Samuel Griswold (1665-1740)
Mary Backus (1677-1752)



  • Backus, Reno Warburton. The Backus Families of Early New England, 1966, p.9 & 10.
  • Lt Wm Backus at Find A Grave #119093859
  • William Backus -disambiguation
  • Backus in Connecticut


Footnotes (including sources)