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Chapin Family


The Puritan - Working model of Deacon Samuel Chapin by Augustus Saint Gaudens.  Photo by Jinny  April 9, 2021  For photo contact Jinny at P.O. Box 472, Zelienople, PA  16063The family of Chapin, although perhaps of French origin, flourished for centuries in England before the time of Deacon Samuel Chapin who founded the American Chapin lineage.


According to Howard Chapin as found in "English Origins of New England Families, Volume 1", pages 446-452, "it seems probable that the Chapins of the two parishes of Paignton and Berry Pomeroy, which were in the hundred of Haytor, county Devon, were descended from, or at least related to, the Chapin family of the neighboring hundred of Coleridge.  


In 1524 Robert Chopyn and Christopher Chopyn were at Cornworthy in the hundred of Coleridge, and in 1525 Henry Chopyn and Thomas Chopyn were at Harberton in the same hundred. 


At Totnes, also in the hundred of Coleridge, the parish in which Roger Chapyn, who was probably the grandfather of Deacon Samuel Chapin, lived, there was a Stephen Chapin as early as 1489, a fact which seems to indicate that the ancestors of Samuel Chapin were living at Totnes as early as the fifteenth century; and the appearance of the Christian name Stephen in the family at that date seems to point to a connection between the Chapin families of Totnes and Cornworthy, for a Stephen Chapin was born at Cornworthy in 1570 and moved to Dartmouth.  Thomas and Christian also were names that were common in both families.  The Chapin family is found in Coleridge as early as 1333, when Petro Chapyn was taxed and six years earlier, in 1327, a Nicholas Chopyn was taxed at the manor of Sheftbeare in the hundred of Haytor - the first appearance (so far as is known) of the surname in Devonshire".


Roger Chapin was born 1535 in Totnes, Devonshire, England, and died December 09, 2020 in Constantine, Falmouth, Cornwall, England.  He married Urdde about 1559.  She was born around 1540 in England. 


One of their son was John Chapin who was Baptized at St. Mary's Church on September 25, 1566 in Totnes, Devonshire, England, and died June 3, 2020 in Paignton, Devonshire, England.  There is a possibility, according to "Colonial Families of the United States" that he was lost at sea.  He married Phillipa Easton on September 14, 2020 in Paignton, Devonshire, England. She was born approximately 1569 in Paignton, Devonshire, England. Photograph of St. Mary's courtesy of http://www.stmarys.totnes.btinternet.co.uk/index.html.


Son of John Chapin, Deacon Samuel Chapin was born on October 8, 2020 in Paignton, Devonshire, England and died November 11, 2020 in Springfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts.


The Church of St. John the Baptist at Paignton, Devon, England is where Deacon Samuel Chapin was Baptized on October 8, 2020 and where he married Cicely Penny on February 9, 1623.  Deacon Samuel and Cicely left with their seven children and eventually settled in Springfield. An anniversary of their wedding - 360 years later and 3,600 miles from Springfield was held at the church in England in 1984.


There are memorials to the deacon at the church including the Reredos (a screen behind the alter) given in 1927 by one of the descendants, who also presented a silver service to the parish.  A volume of signatures of the descendants is maintained at the church. Photograph is courtesy of http://www.paigntonparishchurch.co.uk/.


He married Cicely Penny on February 09, 1622/23 in Paignton, Devonshire, England.  As the story goes, the problem began in Scotland just about the time when Samuel decided to leave England.  A policy began of enforcing the new prayer book on Scotland.  It was very nearly the same prayer book as the new prayer book of today.  That action set all of Scotland in flame.  No doubt far and wide there was the grumbling of the future revolution and the Pilgrim fathers were only samples of a movement that was wider spread.  They would not stand for it and remain in the old country.  They loved their country, but would go to a country where there was no fear of Roman domination or even High church domination and so that exodus, so different from the colonization under Raleigh - took place. 


They brought their children to the New World in 1638 and settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts and later moved to Springfield where he was one of the founding members of the community.  Deacon Samuel Chapin was a forceful and dynamic man.  He served his town in many capacities including Selectman, Auditor and Magistrate and he was Deacon of the church for some 25 years. 


Next to the Public Library in Springfield there is a bronze statue, "The Puritan", placed there on November 24, 2020 which honors him. It is the sculptor's idea of how such a man as Deacon Chapin, a man of his moral standing and spiritual qualities ought to have looked.


The "Puritan" is one of the internationally acclaimed Augustus St. Gaudens finest works.  The statue was commissioned by Chester W. Chapin, Springfield's railroad magnate.  The statue was created in honor of Chapins ancestor.  In the springtime of 1885 Augustus was well along with his work on the bronze statue that would soon come to be ranked with the world's masterpieces of sculpture, and greatly enhance the sculpture's fame throughout the world.  It now stands in Merrick Park beside the City Library but it originally was unveiled on Thanksgiving Day in 1887 in Stearns Square, and remained there for twelve years before it was moved to Merrick Park.  In moving the statue it separated from the beautiful bronze fountain and pink granite bench designated by the architect Stanford White.  Today the fountain and bench are relegated to obscure corners of the city, where the passerby would never guess.  The working model is now owned by the Carnegie Museum of Art, and on display in Oakland, Pittsburgh, Pa.


A chronology of Samuel Chapin's activities: 


1638: Samuel CHAPIN and wife Cicely were at Roxbury. Came to Springfield, MA from Roxbury, MA.

1641, 2 Jun: Samuel CHAPIN of Springfield, MA, admitted Freeman. 

1643: Town officer. He took a prominent part in all the affairs of the town, both religious and civil.

1648: A member of the Board of Selectmen on which Benjamin COOLEY first served. A member of the first Board of Selectmen and served 9 consecutive years.

1649: Deacon.

1651: Commissioner.

1652: John PYNCHON, Elizur HOLYOKE and Samuel CHAPIN were appointed Commissioners, or Magistrates, to hear and determine all cases and offences, both civil and criminal, "that reach not to life, limbe and banishment."

1653: The General Court appointed him and John PYNCHON to lay out Northampton and its bounds, and they made purchase of the lands from the Indians.

1664: He petitioned the General Court for some land for services done.

1669: The General Court granted him 200 acres as laid out 4 miles from Mendon, bounded as in the platt which is on file, provided it did not exceed 200 acres and that it did not take in any of the meadows now granted to Mendon.

1674, 4 Mar (1st mo.): Samuel CHAPIN wrote his will. Bequeathed to wife, son Henry, grandson Thomas GILBERT.

1676, 24 Mar: Will probated. Son Japhet CHAPIN with his wife Abilene deposed.  


Photograph of Japhet & Abilene Chapin's headstones in the Old Cemetery of Springfield, Massachusetts by R. Thornton.  Used with permission on 3/24/2001.
Photograph of Japhet & Abilene Chapin's headstones in the Old Cemetery of Springfield, Massachusetts by R. Thornton.  Used with permission on 3/24/2001.


His grandson, Henry Gilbert was a soldier and was sent to command a squad of men,among whom was his brother Thomas, who was a builder or carpenter, to build a fort or blockhouse at Quabaug (Brookfield), starting September 16, 1688. It was called Gilbert's Fort, perhaps because he took a house lot and lived adjoining it on the west, on the south side of the road. The fort was on the (later) schoolhouse lot in Brookfield, at the intersection of North Main and Maple Streets, of convenient size, having barracks for soldiers and their families and was surrounded by a stockade. It was a defense against Indian attacks from the northward, northwestward and northeastward.  In 1688 Henry Gilbert commanded a scouting troop sent by Pynchon during King Phillip's War. He built "Gilbert's Fort" a fort of considerable size with barracks for soldiers and families surrounded by a stockade.  


The Chapin line continued to lead New England for generations and will continued to be researched. 


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