Pioneers, Settlers & Colonists
Over a period of nearly four centuries the Bliss name has spread out of England and around the globe.
It all began with the Portuguese and Spanish discoveries in the New World at
the end of the 15th C. The horizons of the people of Western Europe were
greatly increased but, for many years, Englishmen could only entertain dim
hopes of colonising the new lands across the Atlantic. The power of Spain,
backed by a Papal interdict, prevented other nations from attempting to explore
and settle in the Americas.
English scholars, scientists, explorers and courtiers formed a lobby to plant a
new colony in North America, to be called Virginia, in honour of the Virgin
Queen, Elizabeth I.
The Queen's favourite, Sir Walter Raleigh, led the campaign to colonise
Virginia. In 1585 an attempt was made to settle colonists at Roanoke Island,
off Virginia. Their nerve was broken by a hurricane and they eagerly accepted
the offer of a passage back to England from Sir Francis Drake, who was
returning from a raiding expedition on Spanish strongholds in the West Indies.
Raleigh sent out a second expedition to Roanoke in 1587.
The colonists were abandoned to their doom, when the Queen refused permission
for a relieving expedition the following year. This was the year of the Spanish
Armada and all ships were commandeered to repel the invasion. The lost
colonists were never seen again.
In 1593 RICHARD BLISSE of Hingham, Norfolk, made his will, wistfully declaring
his eldest son William his heir- 'should he return again to this country'. It
is tempting to think that WILLIAM BLISSE was one of the lost colonists,
particularly as one of the colonists, Ananias Dare, whose daughter Virginia was
the first English child to be born in the New World, was also from Norfolk in
The English naval triumph over the Armada ensured that, eventually, Englishmen
would return to the Americas and they would settle pemanently and prosper. In
1607 the Virginia company sent out 120 colonists to settle at Jamestown. Some
sketchy records remain in the Public Records of early Bliss colonists who went
to this new land on the Chesapeake Bay.
- 12 Aug 1620 MOYSES BLISSE was sentenced to transportation to Virginia.
- 7 Apr 1623 John Blisse, smith, of Newport Mews mentioned in dispatch from Sir Frances Wyatt. First proven Bliss in America.
- Mar 1655 WILLIAM BLISSE was reprieved from sentence of death at Surrey Assizes and sentenced to transportation.
- 7 Nov 1655 letters were granted in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury for the estate of MARY BLISSE of Virginia to be administered by her sister Martha,
the wife of John Ward.
- 12 Nov 1657 SUSANNAH BLISSE of Bristol was bound apprentice to John Charles for four years service in Virginia.
- 16 Jun 1661 JOHN BLISSE yeoman was bound apprentice in Bristol to Richard Greene, mariner, for five years service in Virginia. Perhaps this John Bliss
(and a brother?) survived the fevers and dangers of Virginia for:-
- 20 Sep 1667 Mary Shepheard was bound apprentice in Bristol to JOHN BLISSE for 7 years service in Virginia. And:-
- 18 Nov 1667 Richard Towsey was bound apprentice in Bristol to THOMAS BLYS for 4 years service in Virginia.
- 10 May 1667 Captain Thos Busby was granted 1170 acres in Surrey Co. & Charles City Co. ...... 650 acres for the transportation of 13 persons
including THOMAS BLISS. - Virginia Land Grants Patent Book 6 page 17
- 3 Apr 1667 Thos Page, Wm. Hodgson & Sam. Weilding granted 3075 acres in Rappa. Co. for transportation of 62 persons including THOMAS LISS. - Virginia
Land Grants Patent Book 6 page 47
- 10 Oct 1672 Robert Moss granted 944 & 1/2 acres in Sittingbourne parish, Rappa Co. ......613 acres for transportation of 16 persons including JOHN BLISS.
- 26 Oct 1694 Captain John Battaile & Mr. Francis Merriwether 1091 acres deserted and now granted by order. Importation of 22 persons including JOHN
BLISS - Cavaliers & Pioneers page 120.
We would welcome any evidence that any of these Virginian Blisses survived and had descendants.
England took possession of the uninhabited island of Barbados, in 1627. Much
prized for its sugar production, Barbados became a favourite destination for
- 03.04.1635 Passengers embarked on the 'Falcon' of London, commander Mr Thomas
Irish, bound from London to Barbados, included OWEN BLISS aged 30. He is the
earliest recorded Bliss colonist with a known pedigree. He was baptised at
Morley St Botolph, Norfolk, 4th Nov 1604, the son of Owen and Mary Bliss,
- 13.01.1661 Apprenticed in Bristol to Henry Bankes mariner to serve 4 years in
Barbados JOHN BLISSE yeoman.
- Christened at St Peters All Saints, Barbados 25.03.1678-29.09.1679 MARY
BLISSE & DOROTHY BLISSE.
- From list of soldiers under command of Lt/col Sam Tidcomb 11.11.1679 Barbados
GEORGE BLISSE SNR, GEORGE BLISSE JNR
- From list of soldiers under command of maj. Wm Foster Barbados Jan 1679/80
- From list of soldiers taken this 31.12.? belonging to capt. Giles Hall
(presumably taken about the same time as the other two lists) WILLIAM BLISS.
List of Barbados Inhabitants 1715 Smith MSS vol I
- MARGRIT BLISS aged 17 St Andrews parish
- JOHN BLISS family of 1 man 1 woman St Lucys parish.
- JOHN BLISS aged 35 St Peter All Saints, wife aged 37, 3 sons aged 12,11,2
& daughter aged 16 -12 Oct 1715.
Barbados Wills 1681-1720
- Proved 06.05.1690 Will of JOHN BLISS of St Peter's All Saints parish signed
(x) wife PHYLLIS children THOMAS, JOHN & SARAH BLISS.
- Proved 28.11.1694 Will of John Kenn of St Lucy's parish. Named in Will:
brothers GEORGE & JOHN BLISS also SARAH BLISS.
- Proved 20.03.1700/1 Will of Maudlin Hall widow of St Peter's All Saints
parish. THOMAS BLISS (witness)
- Proved 17.02.1703/4 Will of Sarah Wells widow of St Peter's All Saints
parish. Named in will: SARAH BLISS spinster (goddaughter)
- Proved 22.01.1712/13 Will of Ann Thomas widow of St Peter's parish. JAMES
- Proved 08.06.1716 Will of Phyllis Richardson widow of St Peter's parish.
Named in will: THOMAS BLISS (son).
- Proved 19.10.1719 Will of William Murphy, Planter, of St Lucy's parish,
Barbados. Named in will KATHERINE BLISS (Murphy's sister) & GEORGE BLISS
(brother in law).
Blisses can be found in the records of Barbados throughout the 18thC but we have no knowledge of Bliss inhabitants thereafter.
The settlement of New England, as everybody knows, began with the voyage of the
Mayflower and the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth Rock in what is
now Massachusetts Nov 11th 1620. The future of New England was not however
fully secured until Governor John Winthrop led his fleet of well provisioned
pioneers into Boston Bay in 1630.
England was riven by political and religious dissention in those years. There
was also widespread economic hardship and thousands began to cross the seas in
search of a new and better life. About the year 1638 three Bliss families
emigrated to Boston. The story of these three pioneer families and their many
American descendants is told in the 'Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America'
published privately by Aaron Tyler Bliss in 1982. The Bliss FHS recommends all
American Bliss family history researchers to consult the above publication if
possible. We are willing to do look ups for anyone unable to locate 'The
One widespread and completely erroneous idea about the English roots of Thomas
Bliss of Hartford, Connecticut should be laid to rest. The false genealogy is
becoming ever more widely spread by the power of the internet and the trust
still placed in the veracity of a hired researcher in Victorian times.
BELSTONE IN CO. DEVON WAS NEVER THE HOMETOWN OF THOMAS BLISS OR ANY OTHER
BLISS. ALL GENEALOGIES BASED ON BLISSES AT BELSTONE ARE MISTAKEN.
These are the first generations of the three Bliss pioneers in New England.
- THOMAS BLISS of Hartford Connecticut was probably a native of Co.
Gloucester, England and we now think he lived his adult life prior to
emigrating in the City of Gloucester. First wife? Margaret wife of Thomas
Blisse was buried 4 Jun 1621 at St Nicholas church in Gloucester. Thomas had
children by his first marriage to Margaret (maidenname unknown) THOMAS born c
1618 ANN born c 1620. Sarah christened 23 Ap 1620 at St Nicholas.Thomas then
married Margaret Hulins of Rodborough at Gloucester St Nicholas 18th Oct 1621.
Their son Nathaniel was baptised at Rodborough 28th Dec 1622. Other children by Margaret Hulins were MARY born c 1625 LAWRENCE born c 1628
HANNAH born c 1633 JOHN born c 1635 Samuel christened 4 Feb 1637/8 St Mary de
Crypt, Gloucester, HESTER & ELIZABETH twins born c 1640 (Hartford?).
- THOMAS BLISS blacksmith of Rehoboth, Mass., son of JOHN of Preston Parva, Co. Northants. Married 22 Nov
1614 at Daventry, Co. Northants. DOROTHY WHEATLEY. Children: ELIZABETH bap
Daventry 19 Sep 1615 MARY bap Daventry 16 Mar 1617 JANE bap Daventry 14 Jan
1618 (buried 16 Sep 1621) JOHN bap Daventry 21 Nov 1620 (died?) MARTHA bap
Daventry 8 Dec 1622 (Note Martha not Nathaniel!) THOMAS bap Daventry 19 Sep
1624 (buried 14 Aug 1628) JONATHAN bap Daventry 2 Apl 1626. Dorothy died and was buried 10th May 1631. Thomas
remarried Abigail Southam Feb 1632/3. They had two children but both died and
were buried at Daventry. It is not known if Thomas Bliss was accompanied by his
second wife when he left for Boston MA c1638 but an Abigail Bliss, blind, was
buried at Holy Cross, Daventry 6th Oct 1681.
- GEORGE BLISS blacksmith of Newport, Rhode Island,
son of JOHN of Preston Parva, Co. Northants and brother of Thomas of Rehoboth.
Married 30 May 1635 at Daventry ANN SHAW. One son JOHN born c 1645 (Sandwich
- Circa 1822 JOHN BLISS, carpenter & sons JOHN EDWARD & WILLIAM SAMUEL
emigrated to New York City. John was the son of John & Sarah (nee
Pluckwell) of Rochester, Co. Kent.
- Circa 1835 ROBERT BLISS & wife MARY ANN, nee Dallett who was born in
Pennsylvania, emigrated to Westchester and Elizabeth, New Jersey. Robert was
born 16 May 1802, the son of William Bliss of Chipping Norton, Co. Oxford. For
a time he managed the Bliss Woollen Mills which afterwards became famous for
the production of Bliss tweed.
- 1836/7 JOSEPH BLISS & wife LUCY, nee Warwick, emigrated to unknown State.
Joseph was son of Richard & Elizabeth (nee Chambers) of Farthingstone,
- Late 1853 THOMAS BLISS with wife ELIZABETH, nee Chapman, & son GEORGE
EPHRAIM emigrated to Ballston, NY state with brother:
- Late 1853 PETER BLISS & wife ANN, nee Townley. Thomas and Peter were sons
of Thomas and Ann (nee Aspland) Bliss of Upwell, Co. Cambs and their earlier
genealogy may be found in Blissful Times.
Little is known about early Bliss settlers in Canada. Several Loyalist Blisses
crossed over from the new USA after the Revolutionary war (or the war of
American Independence as we know it in Britain). We welcome information about
other Bliss arrivals in Canada.
- WILLIAM BLISS arrived 1748/9 at unknown place.
- DANIEL BLISS ex Harvard and Concord Mass. was a Loyalist and attained the
rank of colonel in the British army. He became a member of the New Brunswick
- JONATHAN BLISS ex Harvard Mass. was a Loyalist who became the first Attorney
General of New Brunswick 1784.
- JOHN BLISS was a Loyalist trooper disbanded after receiving rations at Port
- WILLIAM BLISS aged 2 died at Grosse Isle Immigrant Hospital, Quebec 1834.
- JOHN BLISS tailor of Bugbrooke, Co. Northants & wife RHODA, nee Billings,
emigrated to Pennsylvania circa 1841/2 , thence to New York and eventually
resided at Queensville, Ontario.
- JAMES BLISS arrived Quebec 17 May 1856 from Hull, England. He was the only
son of James & Mary (Vicars) Bliss of Upwell, Cambridgeshire, England. He
finally settled at Buttonville, Ontario. His earlier pedigree maybe found in
- JOHN BLISS a victualler of Stoke Goldington Co. Bucks convicted for forging
banknotes was transported from Portsmouth to Colus, NSW on board the 'Admiral
Gambier' 2nd Jul 1808. John was pardoned and was buried at sea 23 Nov 1817 off
the Cape of Good Hope on his homeward voyage.
- ELIZABETH BLISS 19 convicted Aug 1809 at Gloucester Assizes was sentenced to
7 years transportation and arrived in NSW on board the 'Canada' 23 Mar 1810.
- GEORGE BLISS farm labourer of Co. Kent , convicted for theft of meat at
Maidstone Sessions, was transported on board the 'Parkfield' to NSW 1839. He
married Sarah Ann Furrill 1850 at Yass NSW where they had numerous children.
- JOHN BLISS son of Moses and Sarah of Rochester Kent arrived at Armidale, NSW
- GEORGE BLISS 29 & wife LOUISA 32 with daughter LOUISA 2 on board the
'Earl of Charlemont' from Liverpool bound for Sidney. Shipwrecked off Barwon
Heads Victoria 18 Jun 1853. John was baptised at Balscott, Co. Oxford, the son
of John & Elizabeth Bliss. The family probably settled at Balmain NSW.
Arrivals in Victoria:
- JOHN BLISS & wife SARAH ANN, nee Christmas, arrived 6 Apl 1853 at Port
Philip Bay on board the 'Confiance' with daughter CONFIANCE who was born on
voyage. John was the son of Robert & Elizabeth (White) Bliss of Tydd St
Mary, Co. Lincoln. His earlier pedigee may be found in Blissful Times.
- JOHN BLISS 31 arrived in Victoria on board the 'Lady McNaghten' May 1853.
- THEODORE BLISS 20 arrived Victoria on board the 'Royal George' Nov 1855.
- ALFRED BLISS 17 arrived Victoria aboard the 'Mermaid' Aug 1857.
- JOHN BLISS 34 arrived Victoria on board the 'Kent' Oct 1857
Arrivals in New South Wales
On board The Fairlie 1848
- JOHN BLISS 28 brick & tilemaker born Potterspury Co. Northants & wife
SARAH 28 dressmaker, nee Horner, born Dudley Co. Warwicks with children JOHN 2
born Yardley Gobion, Northants and GEORGE born Potterspury.
- THOMAS BLISS 26 brick & tilemaker born Potterspury & wife LOUISA 30
lacemaker, nee Sharon, born Yardley Gobion.
On board The Hydasfies 1852
- HENRY BLISS 27 stonemason born Hoxton? Co. Middlesex & wife MARY ANN 27
with daughter HYDASFIES ELIZA BLISS born on voyage.
On board The Erato 1878
- GEORGE BLISS 29 clothier born Northampton & wife SOPHIA born
Lincolnshire. On board the Pericles 1877
- ISAAC BLISS 24 born Middlesex Arrival at Moreton Bay, Brisbane on board the
'New Britain' 1857.
- JOB BLISS 20.
- JESSIE REBECCA BLISS 21 left Plymouth on board the 'Piako' for New Zealand 1877.