Called today “the Father of Connecticut,” Thomas Hooker was a towering figure in the early development of colonial New England. He was one of the great preachers of his time, an erudite writer on Christian subjects, the first minister of Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the first settlers and founders of both the city of Hartford and the state of Connecticut, and cited by many as the inspiration for the "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut," cited by some as the world's first written democratic constitution that established a representative government.
Most likely coming out of the county of Leicestershire, in the East Midlands region, the Hooker family was prominent at least as far back as the reign of Henry VIII. There is known to have been a great Hooker family in Devon (colloquially called Devonshire, in the middle of the southwestern peninsula), well-known throughout Southern England. The Devon branch produced the great theologian and clergyman, the Rev. Richard Hooker who, with Sir Walter Raleigh, was one of the two most influential sons of Exeter, the county town of Devon. Family genealogist Edward Hooker linked the Rev. Thomas to the Rev. Richard and the Devon branch. Other Hooker genealogists, however, have traced the Rev. Thomas back to Leicestershire where, in fact, he is said to have been born. Positive evidence linking Thomas to Leicestershire is lacking since the Marefield parish records from before 1610 perished. Any link to the Rev. Richard is likewise lacking since the Rev. Thomas’s personal papers were disposed of and his house destroyed after his death. There remains no evidence giving positive information as to which region Hooker came from, so the issue remains unsettled.