Saybook: A name with ties to Norman Conquest

Saybrook was not named after the sound of a babbling waterway talking.

Instead, it carries a combination of names of Parliamentary Lords.

Lords Saye and Brooke, members of English Parliament in the 1600s, were not residents of Warren County.

In fact, they never even made their way to the colony at the mouth of the Connecticut River that was a mash-up of their names — Saybrook, or maybe Sayebrook — and to which they held the land grants.

The Barony of Brooke was created in 1621 for a favorite courtier of Queen Elizabeth. The first Baron died in 1628. The second Baron was the prominent Parliamentarian.

The Saye family traces back to participation in the Norman Conquest in 1087. In 1603, the title of Baron of Saye and Sele was re-created and, by the time of the land grant, the Saye and Sele title had taken a step up to Viscount.

The Saybrook colony was founded in 1635 and lasted only nine years. When the founders didn’t make their way over from England, the colony foundered and, by 1644, joined with Connecticut.

The original colonists were long gone by the time the Saybrook name was carried to the northwestern corner of Sheffield Township more than 200 years later, but there is still a town of Old Saybrook in Connecticut and it is likely that some people who lived there made their way inland and dropped a familiar name on their new homestead.

According to Ernest C. Miller’s Place Names in Warren County, the postal service recognized the village as West Sheffield — another name with English roots — from 1853 to 1868, when the post office there closed and the post office in Sheffield, about a mile-and-a-half down Route 6, took over.

It wasn’t until 1886 that the current name was affixed.