CHAMPION, Henry Sr. - I15219

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The name is from the word meaning one who fights in public combats in his own or another man’s quarrel.[1] Tradition has it that this English family was of Huguenot origin, which belief is strengthened by the fact that fleur-de-lis, the emblem of France, appears on their coat-of-arms.[2]


Henry CHAMPION, the American ancestor, is believed to have come to New England from his home in the neighbourhood of Norfolk, England, embarking at Yarmouth. Many other prominent settlers of Saybrook, Connecticut, are known to have come from that vicinity, and the neighbouring town of Norwich, Connecticut, is supposed to have received its name in honour of the English home-town of Norwich, also in Norfolk.

Yarmouth is a seaport town of fair size and considerable age. It is nineteen miles from Norwich, which was a flourishing town in the time of Edward the Confessor, 1041 - 1066. Records of Champions in East and West Norfolk, and also Suffolk, appear at various periods during the last four or five hundred years. Several armour-bearing families of the name, with established pedigrees, are to be found in various parts of England. “A Matthew Champion who died 8 October 1793, at the age of 111 years, according to his tombstone near the church of Saint Nicholas, in Yarmouth, England, was born in Flanders, and came to England with his father, who was attorney to the army or household of the Prince of Orange.[3]

Among well-known Huguenot families is that of Claud Champion, Lord of Crespigny, of lower Normandy, who was an officer in the French Army. At the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), he fled into England accompanied by his wife, the Comtesse de Vierville, and a family of eight children, two of whom were carried on board the ship in which they escaped, in baskets. De Crespigny entered the British Army, and served as colonel under Marlborough.[4]

Our immigrant ancestor, however, was in America before that time, although he may be descended from some branch of the French family which had come to England at an earlier date than the one mentioned above. Henry Champion was in Saybrook, Connecticut, as early as 1647[5], thirteen years before the first town records of that place are dated. He participated in the hardships of early pioneer life, those hardships being shared by his first wife Sarah, to whom he was married in August, 1647, by the Reverend Mr. Sylvester Nash, of Saybrook.[6]. Later, when a portion of Saybrook was laid out and incorporated as Lyme, they were residents of the new town, and shared in its building and development -- "a first and most active founder."[7]

He owned considerable land both in Saybrook and Lyme, in which latter place he had his "ear mark," 1674. There his house was built on the hill just east of the old meeting house, and near the old burying-ground.[8] The lands of Henry Champion are recorded as follows: “One parsell lying on the East side of the Great River Con. Whereon a house now standeth containing by estimation six ackers, the ends abutting against the highway North East and South West, the sides abutting against the land of Morgayn Bowers South East and the land of Joseph Jarrit North West.[9] Also: “one parsell in the planting fielde on the East side of the great River Con. By estimation four ackers, the end abuts against Blacke Halle River N. East, and against the greate Marsh South West, the side abuts against the Land of Will. Bechous North West.[10] He was made a freeman of Lyme, on the 12 May 1670.

After having assisted in the development of Saybrook, Henry Champion removed with his family to the east side of the Connecticut River and became one of the first and most active founders of Lyme, being propounded a freeman of that town on May 12th, 1670. In 1671 he was involved in a land dispute between the towns of Lyme and New London. The dispute was with Renald Marvin and subsequently settled by an agreement dated 8 Sep. 1696.[11] In 1688 he paid taxes under Andros.[12]

After the death of his first wife, he married, 21 March 1698, Deborah JONES, who drove a rather hard pre-nuptial bargain with him, of financial advantage to herself. He died in Lyme, 17 February 1708, "aged 98 years." She married again, 26 December 1709, Captain Henry Crane. He was born about 1635 and had married (1) about 1663, Concurrence, daughter of John MEIGS, of Killingworth, Connecticut, who had died there 9 October 1708.[13] Captain Crane died 22 April 1711, and Deborah TOWNER, ancestor of Emma Hale.[14]

Colonel Henry, General Henry, and General Epaphroditus Champion all won distinction in the Revolutionary War[15], the latter of whom was commissary general of provisions for the United States Army in 1778, and in 1793 was a member of the General Assembly.[16] There have been numerous other members of the legislature among the descendants of this pioneer. Major Henry Champion of the war of 1812[17] and the Reverend George Champion, celebrated missionary to Zululand[18] are also numbered here.


  1. Sarah, born 1649; married 29 December 1673 "recorded 27 January 1673, by Leftenant Pratt", Henry Bennett, of Lyme. He died 17 January 1726, and she 31 March 1727. One of their eight children was Love, born 19 March 1685, who married John MACK of Lyme.[19]
  2. MARY, born 1651; married Aaron HUNTLEY.
  3. Stephen, born 1653; died "the beginning of May," 1660.
  4. Henry, born 1654; died "the middle of July 1704," He married 1 April 1684, Susanna, daughter of Balthazar and Alice DeWOLFE, of Lyme. They were the parents of five sons and four daughters.[20] After his death Susanna married (2) John HUNTLEY, senior of Lyme.
  5. Thomas, born April 1656; died 5 April 1705; married 23 August 1682, Hannah, daughter of Wolston and Hannah (Briggs) Brockway, of Lyme. They were the parents of five daughters and two sons[21], and ancestors of several military men of distinction by the name of Champion, and of General Stephen DeWolfe, as well. Hannah Brockway was born 14 September 1664. After the death of Thomas, she married (2), as his second wife, John Wade, of Lyme, and died 2 March 1750.[22]
  6. Rachel, born about 1658; married John Tanner.


Mary CHAMPION, born in Saybrook, Connecticut, 1651, married in Lyme, Connecticut, 22 February 1676, Aaron HUNTLEY, of the same town. Upon the old records this name appears to be Nason.

  1. Directory Ancestral Heads of New England families, Holmes, xlv.
  2. Champion Genealogy, Francis Bacon Trowbridge, 3.
  3. Ibid. 5
  4. Huguenot Refugees, Samuel Smiles, 407.
  5. Champion Genealogy, 15
  6. "Records of Saybrook," New England Historical and Genealogical Register 4:22.
  7. New England Genealogies, Cutter, 4:1604 - 5; "First Settlers of Lyme," in History of New London, Calkins, 175.
  8. New England Genealogies, Cutter, 4:1604/5.
  9. Say. Rec. p. 10
  10. Ibid
  11. Lyme Town Rec. Book II, p. 130 & Genealogy of the Puritans, Hinman, 520.
  12. New England Historical and Genealogical Register 34:373 - 6.
  13. Boston Transcript, 8 January 1923.
  14. Crane Genealogy, Ellen B. Crane; History of Ancient Woodbury, Cothren, 2:1484; Genealogy of the Towner Family, James W. Towner.
  15. Ibid. 523
  16. Mack Genealogy, Martin, 2:1408
  17. Champion Genealogy, 37
  18. Connecticut Genealogy 1:137
  19. Mack Genealogy, Martin, 1:25; 2:1353.)
  20. New England Historical and Genealogical Register 23:428.
  21. Ibid. 23:428
  22. Champion Genealogy, 37.