Taking the Trade: Biographies

This page offers a menu and nutshell descriptions of the figures who appear as major players or deponents in the Grosvenor-Sessions court case. Ages are given for the year 1742, when Amasa and Sarah’s courtship went awry, abortion was induced, and Sarah died. Maiden names of married women appear in parentheses. Persons indicted or charged with a crime at some point in the 1745-1747 period are denoted with an asterisk (*). Biographical information was compiled by Cornelia Dayton from the vital records (births, marriages, and deaths) of Pomfret and surrounding towns, probated estate papers, land records, and published town histories and genealogies.

Grosvenor Family

Sessions Family

Other Individuals

Captain Leicester Grosvenor Lieut. Nathaniel Sessions Dr. John Hallowell
Rebecca (Waldo) Grosvenor Joanna Sessions
Zerviah Grosvenor Amasa Sessions
Sarah Grosvenor Alexander Sessions
Mrs. Anne Grosvenor Silence (Thayer) Sessions
John Grosvenor Sarah (Dana) Sessions
Hannah (Dresser) Grosvenor
Ebenezer Grosvenor
Lucy (Cheney) Grosvenor
Anna Wheeler
Jonathan Shaw
Elizabeth (Pepper) Grosvenor

Captain Leicester Grosvenor
One of two surviving sons of John Grosvenor, who had been one of the six original large landowners in this corner of Windham County, Connecticut. Leicester was chosen as one of the first selectmen when Pomfret became a town in 1714, and he was elected to that office for one-year terms 19 times. He also rose to the elected rank of Captain in the local militia and held numerous other local offices of responsibility. Cornelia Dayton believes that Leicester’s homestead was upon the hill that rises beyond the tiny Pomfret village center (with the meetinghouse), at a distance of a “vigorous walk from the church,” as the town’s historian puts it.

Rebecca (Waldo) Grosvenor
Capt. Grosvenor’s second wife, age 48, (step-mother of Sarah and Zerviah).

Zerviah Grosvenor
Capt. Grosvenor’s daughter, age 21 (born June 24, 1721).

Sarah Grosvenor
Capt. Grosvenor’s daughter. Born June 1, 1723.

Mrs. Anne Grosvenor
Age 54. Widow of Sergt. Ebenezer Grosvenor, who was a younger brother of Leicester. Anne died in June 1743.

John Grosvenor
Age 31, son of Ebenezer and Anne, nephew of Leicester. John lived near the Leicester Grosvenor family in Pomfret.

Hannah (Dresser) Grosvenor
John Grosvenor’s wife, age c.30. Their children in 1742 were 8 and under.

Ebenezer Grosvenor:
Age 28, nephew of Leicester and first cousin of John.

Lucy (Cheney) Grosvenor:
Ebenezer’s wife. She was not called as a witness.

Anna Wheeler
Age 33, wife of Josiah Wheeler; she is a daughter of Leicester Grosvenor and a full sister to Sarah and Zerviah.

Jonathan Shaw
Age 38, a nephew of Leicester Grosvenor and a first cousin of John, Ebenezer, Sarah, and Zerviah Grosvenor; in 1742 he is married with children under age 14.

Elizabeth (Pepper) Grosvenor
Age c. 44, widow of Thomas Grosvenor, who was a younger brother of Leicester.

Lieut. Nathaniel Sessions
Age 60. Nathaniel Sessions ran a licensed tavern out of his house at a junction of major roads about one mile from the Pomfret meetinghouse and village center. He was frequently chosen for town committees and offices such as constable, and many town meetings were held at his tavern. He had been chosen lieutenant in the local trainband in 1729, at age 48.

Joanna Sessions
Nathaniel’s wife–did not testify.

Amasa Sessions
Age 26, Nathaniel’s third son (born 13 August 1715).

Sarah Grosvenor’s lover and the instigator of Hallowell’s scheme to induce an abortion of her illegitimate child. He married a Massachusetts widow in October 1744–two years after Sarah’s death and one year before the first criminal prosecution in the case. In his 40s, Sessions served as a militia captain in the Seven Years War. He and his wife had at least ten children born to them. Amasa died in Pomfret in 1799 at the age of 84. His gravestone is only 25 feet away from the marker for Sarah Grosvenor. His stone, now half sunk into the ground, proclaims that he was a “Gentleman of Abilitie,” who always “acquitted himself with honesty in Public Business.” One of his nephews remembered him as “remarkably capable,” and one of his grandsons recalled that “in his prime he was a very strong man; in his advanced age…he was very corpulent.” Perhaps his physical presence, not just his persuasive powers, proved intimidating to Sarah Grosvenor.

Alexander Sessions
Age 28, brother to Amasa. Next in age among the Sessions sons.

Silence (Thayer) Sessions
Wife of Alexander Sessions.

Sarah (Dana) Sessions       
Age c.20, wife of Simeon, a younger brother of Amasa.

John Hallowell

  • Town and church records document that this John Hallowell lived in Killingly, Conn. (near Pomfret) from at least 1727-1740.
  • In Killingly, Hallowell had 2 children by an early wife, Marcy, and 5 children (including sons named Calvin and Luther) by a second wife, Mehitabel; all 7 children were baptised by the Rev. Mr. John Fisk in the First Congregational Church of Putnam in and after 1729
  • John himself “renewed the covenant” in July 1729, at about the time of his second marriage.
  • It is not clear where John and his family were living in the 1740s.
  • In July 1727, “Dr. John Hallowell of Killingly” was arrested with 3 male confederates on suspicion of counterfeiting (composing copper plates to manufacture false bills in imitation of Connecticut’s paper money). Although witnesses before a local court testified to the team’s suspicious activities in a woodland shelter, the charges against Hallowell were dropped at the Sept. 1727 Windham Superior Court when the original informer failed to appear.
  • In November 1745, when the first charges were brought against Hallowell, Amasa Sessions, Zerviah Grosvenor, and Hannah Grosvenor, Hallowell was not immediately examined because he was in jail for debt in Providence, Rhode Island (where he then apparently resided, separately from his wife and children).

Page Created: May 18, 2007
Last Modified: December 30, 2008