Since 1639 the name of Trowbridge has figured in connection with the history of New Haven and probably no other family has had a more continuous or prominent identification with the progress and development of the colony and later the town and city. The first of the family to settle in New Haven was Thomas Trowbridge (II), who was born in Taunton, England, where the history of the family dates back to the time of William the Conqueror. Thomas Trowbridge (II) brought his family to America in 1636 and settled at Dorchester, Massachusetts. In 1639 he removed to New Haven and was engaged in the foreign shipping business, with extensive trade connections with England and the West Indies.
His son, Thomas Trowbridge (III), was baptized in Exeter, Devonshire, England, December 11, 1631 and was but a child when his parents emigrated to America and settled in New Haven. He became one of New Haven's successful merchants and ship owners and was also active in politics. On the 1st of October, 1653, he was chosen watch sentry; in 1667 became county treasurer; and was made a freeman of Connecticut, May 20, 1668. He was confirmed a lieutenant of the New Haven Troop, May 20, 1675, and doubtless saw service in King Philip's war. He was treasurer of the town in 1679, justice of the peace in 1687 and acted as agent for the town in the purchase of much land from the Indians. He was commissioner of New Haven from 1690 to 1693 and he was also actively interested in educational matters. He died August 23, 1702, and his grave is now included in the crypt of Center church. He was married June 24, 1657, in New Haven, and his first wife, Sarah Rutherford, daughter of Henry and Sarah Rutherford, was born in this city July 31, 1641, and died January 5, 1687. Their 80B, Thomas Trowbridge (IV), was born February 14, 1663, in New Haven, was graduated from Hopkins grammar school and later learned the cooper's trade. He also became interested in trade with the West Indies. He served as a trustee of the New Haven grammar school from 1695 until his death, which occurred September 15, 1711, and he was its treasurer from 1703. On the 16th of October, 1685, in New Haven, he wedded Mary, daughter of John Winston, of New Haven. She was born June 24, 1667, and died September 16, 1742.
Their son, Daniel Trowbridge, the direct ancestor of Rutherford Trowbridge in the fifth generation, was born in New Haven, October 25, 1703, and after attending the Hopkins grammar school was graduated from Yale College in 1725. For a number of years he commanded vessels and afterward became a merchant. On the 8th of April, 1731, in New Haven, he married Mehitable Brown, a daughter of Francis and Hannah (Alling) Brown. She was born April 9, 1711, and died October 1, 1797, having for forty-five years survived her husband, whose death occurred August 4, 1752.
Their son, Rutherford Trowbridge, was born February 3, 1744, in New Haven, and here spent his entire life. He early learned the mason's trade and after the Revolutionary war began he petitioned the government to allow him to manufacture saltpetre and received the first bounty for that commodity. He was an earnest patriot and fought with the volunteers of New Haven in repulsing the British. He was married July 9, 1760, to Dorcas Hitchcock, a daughter of Captain Amos and Dorcas (Foote) Hitchcock. She was born in Woodbridge, Connecticut, November 10, 1746, and died February 12, 1788. The death of Rutherford Trowbridge occurred April 6, 1825.
Henry Trowbridge, son of Rutherford and Dorcas (Hitchcock) Trowbridge, was born July 30, 1781, in New Haven, and became a sailor on the ship Betsy, sailing for Pacific waters and China, September 17, 1799. On his return to this country he became first officer of the West Indiaman. He later embarked in the West India trade and subsequently organized the firm of Henry Trowbridge & Son, being joined in this undertaking by his eldest son, Thomas R. This firm was more extensively engaged in the West Indies trade than any other house in Connecticut. In 1837 the second son, Henry Trowbridge, became a partner in the firm. Subsequently the younger sons, Ezkiel H. and Winston G., entered the firm. After the father's death in 1849 the four brothers established the firm of Henry Trowbridge's Sons, in which all were active until their deaths save Ezekiel H., who retired in 1885. Henry Trowbridge was married January 1, 1806, in New Haven, to Harriet, daughter of Ezekiel and Mary (Hemingway) Hayes. She was born March 1, 1789, and died November 21, 1851, having for two years survived her husband, who died October 7, 1849. Their eldest son was Thomas Rutherford Trowbridge, who was born July 17, 1810, in New Haven, and in its schools received his early scholastic training, completing his education, however, in Partridge's Military Academy, at Middletown. After his school days were over he entered the counting house of his father, and from that year (1826) until his death, May 26, 1887, he was, with the exception of occasional absences in the West Indies and elsewhere, always at his office in the unpretentious Trowbridge counting room on Long Wharf. Through his long, active business life of upwards of sixty years in New Haven he was a man of upright character and integrity, and held in the greatest degree the confidence of his fellow citizens, of all who knew him, and with whom he had business dealings. He was broad, liberal and just. He was fitted for positions of high trust and responsibility in city and state, and was often obliged to decline them owing to numerous family trusts and his own large business affairs. During the Civil war he made a record that was envi-able, having shown himself a true and generous friend to the soldiers and their families, responding liberally to constant calls upon his purse and sympathies. From 1847 until his death he was a valued director of the Mechanics Bank, and it was at his suggestion that the bank tendered the use of fifty thousand dollars to Governor Buckingham in the dark days of the Rebellion. Among the various other financial and industrial interests on whose directorates he served were those of the New Haven Bank, the Hartford & New Haven Rail-road Company until its consolidation with the New York & New Haven in 1872, the Security Insurance Company of New Haven, while for many years he was secretary and treasurer of the Long Wharf Company and secretary of the Tomlinson Bridge Company. He was emphatically a merchant of farseeing and wide views.
Mr. Trowbridge was the choice of the republican committee as candidate for lieutenant governor of Connecticut, with Hon. William A. Buckingham for governor, in 1858, an honor he positively and persistently declined. At the breaking out of the Civil war he threw his whole soul into the cause of liberty, and although too far advanced in life to enter the field actively, aided in sustaining the government in every possible way by his influence and wealth. When the Tenth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry broke camp, with orders to proceed to their rendezvous, a beautiful state flag was presented to them by Mr. Trowbridge, made expressly for the regiment by his wife and daughter. He afterward presented flags to several Connecticut regiments, and swords to numerous officers, and was the first to provide a flag which was raised and kept flying on the steeple of the Center church. He was one of the most active citizens in New Haven in the formation of the Sanitary Commission, and contributed greatly to its success by pecuniary assistance, as well as by personal service. At one time in order to raise New Haven's quota of men without a draft, he paid fifteen dollars each for thirty enlistments. He was a friend of the soldiers and the soldiers' families, always ready to respond to the constant call upon his purse and sympathies. Mr. Trowbridge had a taste of historical research, was one of the founders and a life member of the New Haven Colony Historical Society, and was instrumental in having prepared and published the history of the Trowbridge family. He served for some time as president of the New Haven Chamber of Commerce. "In his business relation Mr. Trow-bridge showed a breadth of mind which joined with farseeing prudence and a high standard of commercial honor brought him well deserved wealth."
On September 11, 1834, Mr. Trowbridge was married to Caroline Hoadley, who was born in New Haven, April 30, 1818, and was a daughter of Captain Simeon and Polly (Harrison) Hoadley. Their children were: Henry, Thomas Rutherford, William R. H., Caroline H., Rutherford and Emily.
Rutherford Trowbridge, the second youngest son of Thomas Rutherford Trowbridge, was born in New Haven, December 1, 1851, and now ranks with the honored citizens and the capitalists of this section. In his youthful days he attended the popular school con-ducted by Stiles French in New Haven and there prepared for Yale, but instead of entering college he was induced, in 1868, to accept a position in the West Indies branch of the house of Henry Trowbridge's Sons in the island of Barbados. In 1885 he was admitted to a full partnership in the business with his father and brothers and so continued until the firm was dissolved by mutual consent. He is now engaged in the care of numerous family trusts and in the management of a number of important corporations with which he is identified. He is a director of the National New Haven Bank and the Carrington Publishing Company, proprietors of the Morning Journal-Courier, the oldest newspaper in Connecticut.
On the 8th of January, 1891, Mr. Trowbridge was married to Miss May Wells, a daughter of Franklin and Julia Lockwood (Smith) Farrel, of Ansonia. They are members of Trinity Episcopal church of New Haven. In Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where they have spent many summers, Mr. Trowbridge is a director of the Golf Club and of the Casino Club. He also belongs to the Quinnipiac Club of New Haven, the Union League, the Country Club, the Yale Archaeological Society, the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a life member and director of the New Haven Colony Historical Society. He is also a member of the Union League Club and the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts of New York city, of the National Geographical Society of Washington, D. C., of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and is an associate member of the New Hampshire Society of the Cincinnati.
Mr. Trowbridge has long been deeply and helpfully interested in matters of public weal and has taken active part in promoting civic welfare and in supporting and advancing educational and charitable institutions. He was the founder of the Thomas R. Trowbridge course of lectures on architecture in the Yale School of Fine Arts, which he established in 1889. As a memorial to his father he placed a window in Center church illustrating the arrival of the first settlers in New Haven in 1638. As a memorial to his father he also founded the Rutherford Institute in the Young Men's Christian Association of New Haven, which is designed to give a technical education to poor boys, and he also founded the Rutherford Trowbridge, Jr., scholarship in the Hopkins grammar school. Mr. Trowbridge is vice president of the New Haven park commission and a director of the New Haven Hospital, the New Haven board of associated charities and the Connecticut Humane Society. His interests are broad and varied and his activities do not arise from a mere sense of duty but from the keenest interest in the welfare and progress of his fellowmen. He has back of an ancestry honorable and distinguished and has shaped his life in harmony therewith. In person, in talent and in character he is a worthy scion of his race and his activities have continued the name of Trowbridge as a synonym for all that is most worth while to the individual and to the community.
(Photo of Thomas R. Trowbridge attached)
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