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Witter family papers

Call Number: MS 1075

Scope and Contents

The Witter Family Papers consist of miscellaneous items related to Avery Downer (1762-1854) of Preston, Conn., Jacob Witter (1737-1798) of Norwich, Conn., and several of their relations. The papers of Avery Downer have to do with his career as a physician, including his service in the Revolution. The papers of Jacob Witter are legal documents and religious writings. Jacob Witter's grandnephew, John Witter (1785-1858; Y. 1812) is represented by a play, "The Lounger," said to have been produced unofficially around the time of his graduation. The connection between the two lines is that Lucas Witter, one of Jacob's nephews married Avery Downer's second daughter, Emily. For more genealogical information see The Witter Genealogy and The Downers of America.


  • 1752-1852
  • Majority of material found within 1781 - 1852


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Henry W. Beckwith, 1940 and 1943, and Mrs. John H. Quinlan, 1948.


0.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers consist of legal papers, medical accounts, religious writings, and other papers relating to Avery Downer, Jacob Witter, and their relations, including Jonah and John Witter.

Biographical / Historical

John Witter, the eldest son and second child of Jonah Witter, of Brooklyn, then part of Pomfret, Connecticut, and grandson of Nathan and Keziah (Branch) Witter, of Brooklyn, was born in Brooklyn on April 28, 1785. His mother was Eunice Cady, of Brooklyn. The Rev. Thomas Williams (Yale 1800) was a first cousin, and Professor John H. Hewitt (Yale 1859) is a nephew. In the year of his birth his parents removed to Preston, and after having taught for a few terms he was prepared for College by John Adams (Yale 1795) in Bacon Academy, Colchester.

For the three years next after graduation he taught in the Hopkins Grammar School in Hartford. He then returned to Yale as Tutor, declining the offer of a post in the Academy where he was educated. In March, 1816, he united with the College Church on profession of his faith.

In the fall of 1817, he returned to Bacon Academy, and on April 30, 1819, he was married to Eliza Loomis, eldest child of Asa and Sophia (Loomis) Bulkeley, of Colchester.

After a few years he became principal of the Academy in Plainfield; and after retiring from that position his residence continued in the town, where he was occupied with the cultivation of his farm and occasional teaching until his death on December 30, 1858, in his 74th year.

He maintained a good reputation as a scholar and as an instructor, and was esteemed for his high character. He was for years a deacon in the Congregational Church in Plainfield.

After the death of his first wife, he married Olive Smith, of Plainfield.

By his first marriage he had three daughters and two sons. One son and one daughter died in infancy.

(Taken from F. B. Dexter, Biographical Sketches of Yale College, Class of 1812, pp. 505-506).

Guide to the Witter Family Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Susan Grigg
February 1980
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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