Sarah Tefft b. 1680

Sarah Tefft, 8th great grandma on RootsMagic tree.

Sarah Tefft was born around 1680 in Providence, Rhode Island. Her parents were Samuel and Elizabeth Jenckes Tefft. Her grandparents came to America from England. Sarah’s family was big, she probably had 11 siblings.

Sarah married John Witter in 1703, an estimated date. They married in Providence or nearby. Many early sources and family trees show Sarah Tefft married Ebenezer Witter, a half brother of John, this has been proven incorrect. By 1712 John and Sarah were in Westerly, later Hopkinton, Rhode Island, 30 miles southwest. Sarah was a Sabbatarian, she and John are listed as members on the church list. The Sabbatarian turned in to Seventh-day Baptists “The Church in Hopkinton, considered a part of the Newport congregation until 1707, grew to become one of the largest in America with almost 1,000 members by 1816.” Mary Witter on this record could be John Witter’s 2nd wife.

Vital record of Rhode Island 1636-1850 at HathiTrust

When Sarah’s dad wrote his will on March 16, 1725, Sarah had already died. Her children were mentioned in the will, their grandad left them money and possessions.

Sarah is probably buried at Witter Cemetery, also called First Hopkinton Cemetery near where the original Sabbatarian Church Cemetery stood.


Samuel Tefft b. 1643

Samuel Tefft 9th great-grandfather on RootsMagic tree

Samuel was born near Kingstown, Rhode Island in 1643. His parents were John and Mary, he had a brother Joshua and 2 sisters. Samuel moved to Providence RI his first record there in 1676 when he’s named guardian of brother Joshua’s son. Joshua was accused of treason in the Great Swamp Fight of King Philips War and put on trial for fighting with the Narragansett tribe against New England colonies. Joshua was found guilty and hanged. That’s when Samuel and Jireh Bull (husband of Godsgift Arnold) were named guardians of Joshua’s son Peter.

In 1676 or 77 Samuel married Elizabeth Jenckes, daughter of Joseph, sister to Gov’r Jenckes. Samuel was a freeman in 1677 and by 1687 the Teffts had moved to Kingstown Rhode Island by 1687. Samuel wrote his will on March 16, 1725. He put his widow Elizabeth in charge of the estate and she received all moveables, the dwelling house, orchards, and more. Samuel’s kids and grandkids are named in this will. He owned a lot: lands, livestock, housewares, a sword and 2 linen wheels, 2 spinning wheels, a pair of worsted combs and yarn.

Samuel Tefft and Daniel Williams elected the Grand Jury, 1679

Samuel Tefft and Daniel Williams elected the Grand Jury, 1679

Joshua Tefft b. 1650 treason, maybe

Joshua Tefft (10th great uncle) was tried for treason, “The fact that he was known not to have attended church, a considerable offense to the strict Puritan sensibility of the United Colonials, was also used against him at his trial.” The United Colonials were loosely Massachusetts, Plymouth and Connecticut. These Colonials made a plan to take Rhode Island and the Narraganset tribe’s land as their own. Somehow this all gets mixed up in King Philip’s War and Joshua, living on his farm in Rhode Island with his son- his wife dies 2 days after giving birth- attempts to defend his farm, is captured by the fighting Narraganset tribe and held as a slave. That’s one story.

Or Joshua, living peacefully with his family was somehow wronged and left the family and colony to take up with the Indians whether out of spite or pride. He rose in rank to become an advisor to Metacomet, King Philip.

Or, according to some United Colonial Soldiers, Joshua Tefft’s deceased wife was of the Wamponoag tribe and Joshua joined forces with the Narragansets and Wamponoags and fired 20 shots against the colonists.

Definitely Joshua was taken to court. Roger Williams recorded Joshua’s court statements, most court records have been permanently lost. Joshua was definitely convicted of treason, hanged, drawn and quartered. Facts are scarce and it appears the verdict then January 1676 and today is still somewhat undecided. Joshua was the only person executed for treason in New England history. John Tefft (1oth great grandfather) is described as ‘losing his head’ at his son’s execution. John was either beheaded, overwhelmed with grief or could not recover Joshua’s actual head which was supposedly mounted on a stake or used ‘for sport’.

Joshua’s son Peter was about 6 years old when his uncle Samuel (9th great grandfather ) and Jireh Bull were appointed guardians to oversee Peter and his inheritance. Peter lived and grew up with Samuel and Elizabeth Jenckes Tefft. Joshua’s orphan son marries Sarah or Mary Witter they have children and hopefully a happy life.


Rhode Island Renegade: The Enigma of Joshua Tefft by Calloway, Colin in Rhode Island History. Vol. 43 (November 1984) PDF here pages 136 – 145 image 22 of 38. (This source provides a lot more sources including) 

The Narragansett Historical Register: a Magazine edited by Arnold, James N, Volume 3 pages 164 – 169 at HathiTrust.