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Volume I — 1653-1690



Containing an Historical Sketch by George W. Cocks (who

also prepared part of the copy for this volume in 1898

for the Oyster Bay Historical Society) and

various important documents.









19 16



wn. 1^^

I hereby certify that I have compared or caused to be compared this
printed volume with the original manuscript records in my office, and
that I believe the same to be a correct and exact copy of said original
records, excepting interpolated matter as explained in introduction.


Town Clerk.
April 6lh, jgi6.
Town of Oyster Bay,
Comity of Nassau, N. Y.
Official Seal.


The publication of the old records of the Town of Oyster Bay
is being carried on by the Committee under the following resolu-
tion adopted at the Town Election on April 4th, 1911.

RESOLVED, That Townsend D. Cock, Frederick E. Willits
and James Malcolm be, and they are hereby appointed a com-
mittee to have the Town Records of the Town of Oyster Bay
transcribed, annotated as fully as possible, thoroughly indexed
and printed at the lowest cost commensurate with good work and
that the sum of Five Thousand ($5,000.00) Dollars be, and the
same is hereby appropriated to meet the expense of transcribing,
annotating, indexing, printing and binding the records of the
Town of Oyster Bay. That said work be done under the super-
vision of the Committee above named, who are hereby appointed
for that purpose and are to serve without pay ; that the Supervisor
of the Town of Oyster Bay cause the said sum to be inserted in
the next budget, to be raised by tax, and paid over by the Col-
lector, to the Supervisor, to be drawn on the order of the said
Commission, or a majority of them.

The Historical Society of the Town of Oyster Bay had previ-
ously, in 1898, undertaken this work, and had, through its secre-
tary and historian, George W. Cocks of Glen Cove, prepared a
typewritten copy of Book A, of the Book of Purposes, of the
Court of Assize records and of some important unrecorded
documents. These copies were carefully compared with the
originals by Mr. Cocks and his daughter. The lack of financial
support prevented the Society from continuing its work, and
after the adoption of the above resolution by the town electors,
the Historical Society, on November 23rd, 1911, placed its manu-
script at the disposal of this Committee.

Before the next biennial Town Election, James Malcolm, one
of the Committee, died, and since the original resolution con-
tained no provision for the appointment of his successor, and
since it had then been ascertained that the appropriation was not
sufficient to complete the work, a further resolution, empowering
the survivors of the Committee to fill vacancies and authorizing
them to sell printed copies of the records as issued, and to use
the proceeds to carry on the work, was adopted at the Town
Election of April 2nd, 1913.

James Malcolm died September 16th, 1912, and James H. Lud-
1am was appointed in his place April 1st, 1913. Townsend D.
Cock died June 19th, 1913, and was succeeded by Daniel Under-
bill, appointed February 19th, 1914. James H. Ludlam died
February 17th, 1915, and Edward T. Payne was appointed his
successor September 3rd, 1915.

vi Preface

It was intended that George W. Cocks, whose many years of
research in Colonial history, both general and local, and in the
records of the Town, peculiarly qualified him for the purpose,
would be employed by the Committee to take the active super-
vision and conduct of the work, but his illness and the infirmities
of age made it impossible for him to carry out such a laborious
task. It was apparent to the Committee that for the copied rec-
ords to be of value the copy must be prepared and verified by an
expert in such matters. After having the records transcribed
down to about 1850, the Committee found in Mr. John Cox, Jr.,
a cousin of Mr. George W. Cocks, who has had large experience
in examinations of early records, a worthy substitute to verify
the transcript and read the proof, and to annotate and index the
printed records.

The Committee considers that its duty is to furnish an exact
copy of the records, leaving it to the reader to adopt interpreta-
tions and constructions of the matter recorded wherever the
meaning is doubtful. The time expended in producing such a
copy of the ancient volumes, with their many obsolete forms of
spelling and writing, has largely increased the expense of the
publication ; but we feel that the production of a dependable copy
is the greatest necessity, and that to publish an incorrect or only
approximately correct copy would be to waste the money of the

It is planned to publish the records, when funds are provided,
down at least to 1800, in six volumes, of which this first includes,
in general down to 1690, although some deeds and proceedings of
an earlier date will appear in the next volume, as the old books
were not always filled in exact chronological order.

The Musketo Cove record shows the acts of the five proprietors
of that Patent in subdividing and selling their land. It is of
great importance in the history of titles to real property in the
Township, but as the record has never been in the custody of the
Town officials, it is here given as an appendix.

The extracts from the records of the Court of Assizes are those
originally furnished to this Town as particularly pertaining to it.
They explain and illuminate interesting matters in the Town rec-
ords, as this Court was a body of plenary power, both admin-
istrative as well as judicial.

There are also included in the appendix several deeds from
the Indians not recorded in the Town records, but of prime im-
portance, and a few unrecorded wills which are also important
in the history of land titles. There are also included certain docu-
ments of importance in the Town's history, which, though in
print, were not before accessible to the average reader.

The record book of Robert Williams' Patent, nearly as impor-
tant as the Musketo Cove record, will, be available for the appen-
dix in a later volume as also the Book of Marks, referred to

Preface vii

in these pages, and which contains interesting data. An index
or digest of such very early deeds and wills pertaining to the
Town as appear in the County Records of Queens County would
also be of great value in connection with the Town records.

The early Town records show to us a small band of pioneers
struggling to establish themselves in their new homes and con-
ducting their affairs in the Town Meeting, in which all took part,
and the majority controlled. Their problems may seem simple to
us, but their administration was excellent, and we who have had
so many years of experience since then to guide us, would do well
to study the direct way in which our forefathers met their diffi-
culties and answered the questions coming before them.

Frederick E. Willits,
Daniel Underhill,
Edward T. Payne,



Seventeenth Century chirography is rendered more difficult by
now disused forms of several of the letters, the many signs, ab-
breviations and contractions used, the very small and frequently
crabbed penmanship of many writers, as well as by the use of
words and phrases now obsolete. Many of the Oysterbay Immi-
grants were good penmen, and their spelling and grammar as
shown in these records is fairly correct for that period. The
second generation in the Colonies usually lacked in some degree,
and the third still more, the culture of Old England, and their
spelling and writing in these records show it, though not so much
here as in some localities. Many words that appear to be badly
spelled in these records are simply obsolete forms, as accar, acer,
acker, acree, and aker, all ancient forms of the word which once
meant the area an ox team could plow in a day. The eighteen
foot pole is another example of forgotten custom, and not an
attempt to defraud the Indians. The ancient English pole was
of various lengths in different localities, 9, 12, 15, I63/2, 18, 20,
21 and 24 feet, lliat of eighteen feet was called "woodland

The most common contraction was the use of y for th, at the
beginning of a word, with the remainder of the word raised, as
y^ for the, y' for that, y'" for them, y" for then or than, etc.
These letters have not been raised in this copy. Annoq Dom :, is
Annoque Domini, now reduced to Anno Domini ; lustrum^ is
clearly instrument, y""" is your and Decemb"" or X'^'' is clearly De-
cember, but the many cases of such words as Decembe"" where all
the letters are used show the subconscious mind of the penman
halting between the contraction and the full word. A contraction
of various forms, but always meant for the word delivered is
best rendered by dd. Another contraction is in such words as
w^'^in, consid^'ation, etc., where letters are raised in the middle of
a word, usually to save a single vowel. A sign frequently used,
and puzzling to the unaccustomed eye, is '^, used at the beginning
of a word for par, per, por, also for pre, pri, pro, etc., as ^t for
part, ^cel for parcel, ^form for perform, ^son or ^con for
person, ^mises for premises, ^tence for pretence, ^^ for proper,
^^ty for property, and in the middle of a word, as ap^tenance
for appurtenance, ap^bacon for approbation, etc. This sign
properly should not be used for pre, pri, or pro, but a slightly
different character, yet in John Newman's minute hand this dif-

Introduction ix

ference is not noticeable. When c was substituted for ti, as in
consideracon, a mark was used to indicate the sound. Writers
generally did not double m in such words as common, but put a
mark over the letter to indicate the omission of the second con-
sonant. No attempt has been made to reproduce the superior
marks and specially formed letters, except as here stated, as no
increased clarity would result and the text would be confusing
to the average reader. The use of capitals presents difficulties,
and no two copyists would produce the same result. With some
good penmen a large proportion of the words were capitalized,
regardless of their importance, but omitting capitals in striking
instances, as "god." The capitalization has been followed as
closely as may well be done, rendering for the ancient capital F
the nearest printable approximation, ff, and rendering capital /
as such, though by some penmen written /. Among the letters
whose forms have changed, are c, frequently made like a very
short lower case / ; ^, so much like an o as to require much care
in deciphering ; g, made like a y with a dash across it ; k, much
like our h ; r, especially when raised, so much like the Greek e, as
to be very generally mistaken therefor by untrained copyists, and
when not raised sometimes so peculiarly formed as to easily be
mistaken for rr. U and z' are frequently but not regularly inter-
changed, but in this particular they are here generally rendered
as they were intended to sound. In the case of capitals they are
rendered as given, as in Vnderhill. By the Eighteenth Century
the present forms of the letters had generally prevailed, and fewer
contractions were used.

Where the mark used as a signature is an initial of the given
or surname of the signer, it is here so given in parenthesis, as


John (J) Wright. In all other cases the mark is rendered as an


X. The seal is always rendered by an O. Where the original
is worn away the letters or words are restored, in so far as could
safely be done, the restored matter being placed in square brackets,
thus — "Jo[hn Newmjan." Interpolations of letters, words or
sentences are in Italics in acute brackets, thus— "shall {not) mo-
lest" — and are put in to explain or elaborate the text. Annota-
tions are similarly printed. It may be remarked that this form
of bracket has never before been used, and was specially made for
this publication. The result is a copy verbatim et literatim et
punctuatim, with the exceptions as to the peculiar marks herein
noted. Many apparently clerical errors are faithful reproduc-
tions of the original.

The Book of Purposes, containing (with the exception of the
First Purchase Deed) the oldest extant records, is largely in the
hand of Matthew Bridgman, and the first few pages in an ink as
black and distinct as if written two days ago instead of two and
a half centuries.

X Introduction

Old Book A is, for the most part, in the large hand of Thomas
Townsend, whose ornate capital R distinguishes him. He used
few contractions or abbreviations, but made up by using a plethora
of commas, without regard to their location or sense, and whose
doubling of unnecessary letters is notable. Matthias Harvey's
hand appears on some early pages, identified by the Greek e, rarely
used at that period. A few documents are recorded in the hand
of Thomas Webb, schoolmaster, and sometime Town Clerk, whose
remarkable wrist movement produced interesting, if unusual,

Book B was, by the internal evidence, begun 1684/5, and its
480 tall pages were filled (except a few pages and parts of pages
left blank) by 1698. In this brief period an enormous number of
conveyances were recorded. The joint purchase of common land,
the subdivision by allotment, the further subdivision of small
plots, and the shifting and exchanging to get the land more con-
veniently arranged, explain this. This Book B is mostly in the
excellent penmanship of the Town Recorder, John Newman,
who wrote a very small hand, full of the space saving devices in-
herited from the age of parchments ; but an occasional page is in
the large hand of John Townsend, who used few contractions,
and no punctuation, and though apparently a rapid writer, formed
each letter perfectly and to a true alignment at top and bottom.

The map at the back of this volume is a necessary and impor-
tant addition to clarify and explain the text, and to show the
geographical relation of the various settlements to each other
and to the adjoining towns. It has been prepared with the aid
of George W. Cocks, and shows some of the early geographical
names and places, and a few homes of the settlers, approximately

So many errors are made in copying old dates that the follow-
ing explanation seems useful.

Down to 1752 the Julian Calendar, established by Julius Caesar,
remained in use in England. The Gregorian Calendar, by which
most of the world now computes time, was introduced by Pope
Gregory in 1582, at which time the greater part of continental
Europe adopted it. The English Parliament considered it in
1585, but did not adopt it until 1751, when it was ordered that
the New Style go into efifect the following year, 1752, which was
to begin January 1st, and that eleven days should be omitted after
the 2d of September 1752, making the following day the 14th.
Russia still uses the Julian Calendar, and the difference is now
thirteen days. The year formerly began March 25th (The Feast
of Our Lady) but had been generally changed to January 1st
(The Feast of the Circumcision) long before the English reform.
In the Old Style December was the tenth month as its name
indicates, January the eleventh, and February the twelfth, and

















Introduction xi

while March was the first month, the first 24 days in it belonged
to the previous year.

Therefore for a long period preceding the reform, English
dates between January 1st and March 24th inclusive, were com-
monly expressed in both styles, as 1/Jan. 1695/6, 24/Mar.
1695/6 or in Quaker parlance, 1/11 mo. 1695/6, 24/3 mo. 1695/6.
The month is frequently denominated numerically in these earlier
records, and by some who had no connection with the Society
of Friends. The New Style was enjoined in the Dutch patent
of Gravesend, 1645. The difference between Old and New
Style is shown by the following table.
Old Style.
11th Mo. January

12th Mo. February








9th Mo. November

10th Mo. December

One noteworthy fact shown prominently in these records is the
amity between the newcoming race and the old in this community.
The land was purchased from the Indians, who were always re-
ferred to as the proprietors, for a valuable consideration, or in
some cases given by them "for ye many kindnesses and favours
by us ye sd Indians Reed." There is no case where the Indians
make a claim of being defrauded or having their land taken by
men of this Town without their consent and recompense. The
one apparent exception appears in Nicholas Simkins' affidavit
(see Appendix) and that shows only their impatience at the de-
layed delivery of the eel spears and other useful things promised,
and then needed, and was doubtless accentuated by the massacre
of their people that year at Fort Neck. The prices paid appear
reasonable when considered in connection with related matters.
"One Kersey Coat each & every yeare of ye aforesd Indian's Nat-
urall Life" might be worth more to the native than a piece of
land good only for raising corn. Few parcels, however, were con-
veyed by individual Indians. The land was generally sold by a
few Indian Proprietors by and with the consent of the rest of
the Indians, who had deputed them to that service. Life rights
in hunting and camping on unimproved portions were frequently

The Immigrant population of this Township, together with
most of the English on Long Island, differed from the Puritans



























xii Introduction

of New England in degree rather than in kind. They may be
considered as a modified wave of the Puritan migration, some
being Immigrants who had spent some time in New England,
some the children of such Immigrants; few, if any, direct from
England, and no Dutch till a later period. Although the Con-
gregational Church did not take root here, Days and Times were
not much recognized, and deeds were dated on December 25th.
The earliest religious edifice was the Quaker Meeting House,
built near Main Street, in Oyster Bay, in 1672. The Town Meet-
ing was a little Parliament, as in New England, at first an abso-
lute democracy, and the majority vote of the freeholders accepted
new comers as Townsmen, on their ap])lication, sometimes with
a proviso to live in the Town for five years, or, for land or
privileges granted, to build a mill or bridge in a definite time.
The bounty on wolves' heads or ears was frequently provided for,
and the necessary "woulfe trap" had very probably been con-
structed by joint action of the freeholders before the date of our
earliest records, and probably consisted of a deep pit covered by
light brush, with bait thereon. The oyster industry had not been
developed, but the beds of shells, doubtless from the Indian feasts,
were found so valuable for lime burning that the exportation of
shells out of the Township was rigorously prohibited. Remains
of such a shell bed still exist in Glen Cove, near the Landing.
In the long struggle of the Colonists for civil and religious liberty,
the position of "no taxation without representation" was here
taken in 1681, probably the earliest instance in the Colonies. The
high character of the citizens of this new community is only
partly indicated by the absence from the records of much refer-
ence to social disorders or crimes, by the comparatively few cases
of difference brought to the attention of the Town Court, and by
the general adoption of arbitration to settle such differences.

That the community spirit of the Settlers is not yet extin-
guished, this present enterprise of the Town, rising above the
multifarious activities of the present to consider and perpetuate
the fading records of the past, is ample evidence.

New York, April igth, igi6. John Cox, Jr.


Town of Oysterhay, 1658 to 1663," {so named by Jacob T.
Bozvne, of Glen Cove, zuho placed a neiv cover on the book in
1868) a thin volume zvith all pages injured, and many entirely
or partly zvorn azvay.

The inside of previous cover contains a document in a dif-
ferent hand from any other in the book and nozv so badly zvorn
as to be practically illegible, hence not here included.

As its contents nozv begin zvith 1660, there may have been
another leaf lost since 1868, and perhaps several previous to that
date. Certainly several leaves near the back have been largely
zvorn azvay since Mr. Cocks made this copy in 1898, and the little
volume is in such a state of decay that every touch zvears azvay

{p. 1 and 2 missing; p. 3) — December the 13 day 1660 It is this
Day ordered and Agred by the towne that the fifte parte of all
the south medows is John Richbells And to be layd out of the
fortt-necke of midow belonging to oyster-bay.

The towne have given unto Daniell Whithead a swamp lying
betwene Robart Williams and Mr Leaveredg for and in Consid-
eration of A Deed deHvered unto the townes hands Conserrning
oake necke And matinecoke the A bovesayd swamp Daniell
Whitehead have sould unto John Richbell Merchant December
the 13 day 1660

Sould by Daniell Whitehead unto John Richbell one lott which
Did formerly be long unto Edward Tytus sould by the A bove
named Daniell with all the apertinances there unto be longing
unto John Richbell merchant with A house december the 13 day

Bought of William Levereg by John Richbell two lotts with the
midows and all other apertanments there unto belonging are
John Richbells December the 13 day 1660

2 Book of Purposes

The house and land that Daniell Whitehead bought of Robart
WilHams with all the apertanments thereunto belonging is by
the before named danyell Whithead sould to AUexander Bryand
of mill ford with the sixtenth lott of land at matinecok with
A lottment of midow any where In our bounds December the
13 day 1660
(/». 4 blank; p. 5 and 6 missing; p. 7) — December the 13 day 60

It is this Day ordered by the towne that every inhabitant shall
procure or caus to be procured one bushell of hayseed to be
sowne upon the comon with in the space of one yeare after coming
in to be an inhabitante

It is this day ordered that noe man shall take in any swine or
great cattell with out the consent of the towne ore that the
Abovesaid cattell be properly his owne.

It is this Day ordered that all the midows upon the east side of
the millriver shall be sufficiently and well fenced in by ore before
[ ] next insuing the date heareof

It is this Day ordered that noe person ore persons whatsoever
shall Dyrecktly ore indirectly sell eyther wine ore strong lickors
to the Indians upon the forfiture of five shillings the first defalt
and tenn shillings for the second And the third time to forfit his
righte of midow to the Towne

It is this Day ordered and Agred that ther shall noe man what
soever sett Any stranger ore farriner A worke to falle ore cleave
Any clapbord ore pipestaves tres for to be transported out of
the towne ore the bounds thereof ore Any other timber whatsover

It is (this) Day allso agreed that all the mdows shall be suffic-
ently fensed with A generall fens made betwene this And the

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