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Posted by: Deborah Richardson Date: November 13, 1999 at 17:58:37

From "Biographies of American & Colonial Governors" by Meckler

TREAT, Robert, Governor of Connecticut 1683-1687, 1689-1698

Born circa 1622 in Pitminster, Somerset, England, the second son of Richard and Alice (Gaylard) Treat (or Trott). A Congregationalist. Brother of Richard, James, Honor, Joanna, Sarah, Susanna and Catherine. Married circa 1647 to Jane Tapp, by whom he was the father of Samuel, John, Mary, Robert, Sarah, Hannah, Joseph and Abigail; after his first wife's death in 1703, remarried on October 24, 1705 to Elizabeth (Powell) Hollingsworth Bryan; no children by his second wife.

Immigrated with his parents to America, probably late in the 1630's; later became one of the early settlers of the town of Milford in New Haven Colony. Was serving as a Deputy in the New Haven General Court by 1653, representing Milford; also named Lieutenant and Chief Military Officer of Milford in 1654. Selected as a Magistrate of New Haven Colony in 1659, a position which he held until he declined to serve in May 1664. Following the formal merger of New Haven with Connecticut in 1665, acted briefly as a member of the Connecticut General Assembly, but soon moved to Newark in East Jersey; served as a Deputy in the East Jersey Assembly from 1667 to 1672; also held office as Magistrate and Recorder of Newark. Returned to Connecticut early in the 1670's, and became an Assistant of that colony in 1673. From 1675 to 1676 played a major military role during King Philip's War, serving as Commander-in-Chief of the Connecticut forces deployed against the Indians. Elected Deputy Governor of Connecticut in May 1676, a position he retained until he succeeded the deceased Governor William Leete in April 1683.

Except for the period between November 1687 and the spring of 1689, when Sir Edmund Andros governed the colony as part of the Dominion of New England, Treat served as chief executive of Connecticut from 1683 to 1698. A political moderate, Treat agreed to serve as a member of Andros' Council during the eighteen months of Dominion rule, but he also wished to avoid unnecessary encroachment by Crown officials. Consequently, after the demise of Andros, Treat advocated resumption of government under Connecticut's old charter, a charter which had never been legally invalidated. The impressive victory by Treat in the gubernatorial election of May 1689 was a major triumph over both the conservative Gershom Bulkeley, who claimed that the overthrow of Andros had been illegitimate, and the popular James Fitch, who attacked Treat's complicity with the Dominion government.

Following his tenure as chief executive, the aged Treat continued to serve as deputy governor until 1708. He died on July 12, 1710.

Bibliography: John Harvey Treat, the Treat Family (Salem, Mass., 1893); George W. Solley, "Major Robert Treat," Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Proceedings, V (1912), 62-78; George Hare Ford, "Robert Treat, Founder, Farmer, Soldier, Statesman, Governor," New Haven Colony Historical Society, Papers, VIII (April 1914), 163-80; Charles A Scully, Robert Treat, 1622-1710 (Philadelphia, 19599), DAB.

From the "History of Newark, NJ" by Joseph Atkinson (1878):

Robert TREAT is described as "the flower and pride of the whole company." In establishing and laying out the town he was among the most active and energetic. More than any other settler he is justly entitled to be remembered as THE FOUNDER OF NEWARK. To none more than to Treat is the Newark of today indebted for the natural beauty of its location, the order of its original plan, and the width and attractiveness of its leading thoroughfares, more especially Broad street. In evidence of the esteem in which he was held by his fellow settlers of Newark, the town records tell that when the town was parceled into lots, he was given first choice by universal consent, and besides, two extra acres or lots in recognition of his services in negotiating for the settlement.

He remained in Newark after its settlement only some six years, returning to Connecticut in 1672. In Connecticut he became more than ever a man of mark. Besides taking a commanding military position in early colonial Indian warfare, Treat served the Colony for thirty-two years as Deputy Governor and Governor. It is traditionally related that at the "Battle of Bloody Brook," between the Indians and the Colonists, Major Treat commanded the latter, and behaved heroically. It is said that in the action: "He that commanded our forces then and now us, (the Colonial Legislature), made no less than seventeen fair shots at the enemy, and was thereby as oft a mark for them." As Governor (of Connecticut) he was elected annually from 1683 until 1698. He died July 12, 1710, full of years and honors. He was in his 85th year. Trumball, Connecticut historian, justly says of this remarkable man: "Few men have sustained a fairer character or rendered the public more important services. He was an excellent military officer; a man of singular courage and resolution, tempered with caution and prudence. His administration of government was with wisdom, firmness and integrity. He was esteemed, courageous, wise and pious. He was exceedingly beloved and venerated by the people in general, and especially by his neighbors at Milford where he resided."

He was twice married, his first wife being Jane Tapp, a daughter of one of the "seven pillars" of the Milford church. Like brave men generally, Treat appears to have been exceedingly timid and backward in the presence of the fair sex. That is to say, he was extremely backward in coming to the main point - a proposal of marriage. There is good authority for saying that once, while familiarly dancing his future wife on his knee, as was permissible by their disparity of age and long intimacy, the damsel brought her lover to a prompt decision by the suggestive expostulation: "Robert, be still that I had rather be Treatted than trotted."

Gov. Treat left Newark a rich legacy in the persons of several estimable children. His son John, who married Sarah Tichenor, was a Justice of the Peace under Cornbury; represented Essex County in the Assembly when it was necessary that members should along with other requirements, own 1,000 acres of land or L500 in personal estate; was in 1712, Presiding Judge of the local court; and in 1731, held the military title of Major, like his distinguished father. The Governor's daughter Mary became the wife of Deacon Azariah Crane, who left his "silver bole" to be used by "the church in Newark forever," and who appears to have outlived all the original settlers. Governor Treat's "home-lott" was occupied by his daughter's descendants until the beginning of the present century (1800). On a portion of it now stands a noble monument not only to Robert Treat but to all the original settlers - the First Presbyterian Church of Newark. Though the name of Treat is extinct in Newark, and almost entirely so in the State of New Jersey, the Governor's descendants are numerous and representative of the best citizenship and the highest reputation. In New England and the West the Treats number not a few distinguished men in public as well as in private life.
[ 2 July 1998]
The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans:
Volume X
Tree, Lambert, Jr.
page 186
TREAT, Robert, colonial governor of Connecticut, was born in Pitminster,
near Taunton, Somerset, England in 1622; son of Richard and Alice
(Gaylord) Treat. His parents settled in Watertown, Mass., in 1635,
removing in 1637 to Wethersfield, Conn. His father was deputy, 1644-58;
governor's assistant, 1657-65, and one of the patentees named in the
charter granted by Charles II. Robert removed to Milford in 1639, and
became active in laying out the town lands; was lieutenant and captain
of the train-band; a delegate to the general assembly of New Haven
colony, 1653-59, and a member of the governor's council, 1659-64. He was
elected magistrate of Milford and a substitute for one of the
commissioners to the colonial council. He was a member of the committee
to settle the difficulties between Massachusetts, New Haven and
Connecticut. In 1666 he removed to Newark, N.J., and served as town
clerk and deputy to the general assembly, but in 1671 he returned to
Milford. He was major of a company of Connecticut dragoons, and in 1675
was appointed commander-in-chief of the colonial troops on the outbreak
of King Philip's war. He also took part in the Narragansett war,
engaging in the "fort fight", Dec. 19, 1675. He was appointed deputy
governor, May 11, 1676, and on the death of Gov. William Leete, in 1683,
he succeeded to the chair. He refused to give up the charter of the
colony to Governor Andros, Oct. 13, 1687, and during a long discussion
that lasted until dark, the candles were suddenly put out and when
re-lighted the charter had disappeared. It was hidden in a hollow tree,
afterward known as the "Charter Oak." Treat was later appointed colonel
of the New Haven county militia, and on May 9, 1869, on the deposition
of Andros, he continued in the office of governor, serving till 1698,
when he became deputy governor, which office he held till 1708. He was
twice married, first to Jane, daughter of Judge Edmund Sapp of Milford,
and secondly to Elizabeth, daughter of Michael and Abigail Powell of
Boston. His son, Samuel Treat, 1648-72, was graduated from Harvard,
A.B., 1669, A.M., 1672, [p.186] and was ordained pastor of the parish of
Eastham, on Cape Cod, Mass., in 1675. His pastorate included about 500
Indians, and he translated the "Confession of Faith" into the Nauset
dialect for their use. Robert Treat died in Milford, Conn., July 12,


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