December 1, 1785 Harry Benjamin Hawley


HARRY HAWLEY: The Journey Continues

In 1788 the Connecticut State Legislature passed a statute requiring all slave masters to register with the Town Clerk the names of all slave children born after March 1, 1784, within six months after their birth.  Failure to do so would result in a penalty of seven dollars for every month’s delinquency.

 It could have been a cold or warm or mild day on the 17th of November, 1788, because the weather patterns in this part of New England are unpredictable.  On that day, that is, the 17th day of November, 1788, a Caucasian man by the name of William Hawley appeared before Lemuel Sanford, town clerk of Redding, Connecticut, to comply with the law enacted earlier that year.

William Hawley made an oath stating he had in his possession

one negro boy named Harry who was born on the 1st day of December 1785 of a negro woman who was a slave for life, and a negro boy named Peter, born of the same woman on the 5th day of August, 1788.

So, we know where and how Harry acquired the surname Hawley.

Harry Hawley went on to father two children that we know of at this time, Aaron and Orrin Hawley. Family residences have been indicated as Redding and Woodbury, Connecticut.

The State of Connecticut passed a series of laws that eventually led to the manumission, that is, freedom of all slaves residing in that state, such as:

1)  In 1784, Black and Mulatto Children born after March 1st would become free at the age of 25

2)  In 1821, State Law declared that all Black and Mulatto Children born into slavery were to be freed at age 21.  Freedom could also have come by the hand of the slave master.  Slave owners could emancipate their slaves by applying for a certificate from government authorities.  A certificate would be awarded if an enslaved person was in good health and between the ages of 25 and 45.  Upon receipt of such a certificate, the master and his heirs would be forever discharged from any charge or cost associated with supporting the freed Black.

The abolition of slavery in Connecticut occurred in 1848 by means of a law that abolished slavery in all forms.

It should be noted that laws governing the behavior, handling and movement of both enslaved and free Blacks were called Slave Codes.   In many instances Slave Codes also applied to both Blacks and Native Americans in the State.  Any action or prosecution related to the slave trade or concerning Indian, Mulatto, and Black servants and slaves, could be brought and prosecuted at any time within three years after such cause of action arose.

We do know that the children of Harry Hawley were free.  A certified document authored by Lamar Ironhorse, an American Indian Lineage Specialist, dated January 13, 2004, states

Aaron Hawley listed in the household of John Bacon.  Aaron Hawley and the Hawleys are listed as continued free inhabits of the land even during slavery. The family showed continued signs of being consistent with the land of the county of Litchfield, Town of Woodbury.  The family meets the requirement as to be certified American Indian, by a Tribal Government, 1850-1930 census records.”

Mr. Ironhorse connected the Hawley Family with two Native American tribes, the Schaghticoke and the Golden Hill Paugusetts, both of Woodbury, Connecticut.


We have learned that Harry Benjamin Hawley was born on December 1, 1785 of a Negro woman, a slave for life. There also was another child, Peter. Once we can determine this slave woman’s country of origin, we can begin our journey to Africa. I have donated my DNA to Ancestry.com  and have learned that I have African blood from the sub Saharan part of Africa.

Orrin Benjamin Hawley was born October 2, 1826 in Redding, Connecticut, the son of Harry Benjamin Hawley and died September 9, 1900 in New Haven, Connecticut. Orrin’s birth certificate does not list his mother. Orrin married Lucy Sands in November of 1847 in Woodbury, Connecticut. Orrin was to marry again, this time to Mary Ann Jackson (daughter of Lot Jackson and Julia Phillips). They were married on December 23, 1852 in Woodbury, Connecticut. Mary Ann Jackson was born October 22, 1830 in Woodbury, Connecticut, and died February 24, 1909 in New Haven, Connecticut.  Orrin and Mary had 17 children. Both Orrin and Mary are buried at Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut.

Orrin and his brother Aaron enlisted in the 29th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment (Colored) and fought in the Civil War. The 29th Connecticut Infantry was organized at Fair Haven and mustered in March 8, 1864.

My brother, Lester, and I have been doing research on our family and are proud to recognize Orrin as a member of the 29th Regiment.

This has been a very rewarding and exciting adventure. We have met so many new “cousins!” We are thrilled to meet these new family members and to make new friendships. Family is a wonderful thing and we should treasure it. We are searching for descendants and hope to include all members of Orrin’s Family.

Y’r Most Humble & Ob’t Servant,

Charles (Ben) Hawley

29th Regiment Connecticut Descendant