Biography of Captain James AVERY 1620-1700

Captain James Avery, only child of Christopher Avery, and the founder of the family that is known as the Groton Averys, was born in England, about 1620, died April 18, 1700. He came to America with his father, and lived at Gloucester, Massachusetts, for several years. Miss Caulkin's History of New London, p. 67, says: "On the 19th of October, 1650, grants were made by the townsmen to Mr. Blynman, Obadiah Biven, Hugh Caukin, Hugh Roberts, John Coile, Andrew Lester, James Averye, Robert Isbell." He received many other land grants in the several distributions, and others for public and military service. His dwelling in New London, once "the unadorned church and watch tower of the wilderness," is still in good repair and was owned and occupied by an Avery in 1893. He was active in military affairs and is generally spoken of as ensign, lieutenant or captain. In the English-Dutch quarrels and in their own Indian troubles he saw much military service and fully earned his rank of captain. He was equally prominent in civil affairs; he was chosen selectman and held office for twenty years; he was a commissioner to "try small causes." Here he gained his title of judge. Before his court came actions for small debts and complaints of evil speaking and disorderly conduct, wills were proved and marriages performed. He was in this office many years. From 1658 to 1680 he was elected to the general court twelve times. In 1871 Judge Wheeler published a list of representatives from Groton which was set off from New London in 1705. "It is worthy of note that out of 545 representatives of the town of Groton, 104 have borne the name of Avery, and all were descendants of Captain James Avery." He was prominent in church affairs, and the references to him in the records are numerous. He married, November 10, 1643, in Boston, Joanna Greenslade, born about 1622 and living in 1693. Children, the three first being born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the others in New London, Connecticut: Hannah, James, Mary, Thomas, John (see forward), Rebecca, Jonathan, Christopher and Samuel. Captain Avery married (second), 1698, Mrs. Joshua Holmes, a widow

This information is from Vol. II, pp. 779-782 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in SCPL's Reference collection at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.

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Captain James Avery

Shortly after 1894, the Avery Memorial Association was incorporated. The association erected a granite memorial in what is now known as the Avery Memorial Park. The shaft is surmounted by a bronze bust, representing Captain James Avery as a typical Puritan, magistrate and Indian fighter. It was designed by the noted sculptor, Bela Lyon Pratt, an Avery descendant. The association is functioning today.

 About 1656, he built the "Hive of the Averys" at the head of Poquonnock Plain, in the present town of Groton about a mile and a half from the river Thames. Here James Avery lived until he died.

There are several traditions concerning James Avery. One was that he came from Salisbury, Wilts, England in the "Arabella" with John Winthrop and landed at Salem, Mass June 12 1630. Another was that he came over with the younger Winthrop, in 1631, and that, on the voyage, the subsequent governor of Connecticut formed a strong and life-long attachment for James.