Richard Mather Bayles.

History of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time online

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ardus Beekman, 1710; Robert Hunter, 1710-19 ; Peter Schuyler,
1719-20; William Burnet,* 1720-28 ; John Montgomery,* 1728-
31 ; Rip Van Dam, 1731-32 ; William Casby*, 1732-36*; George
Clarke, 1736-43 ; George Clinton, 1743-53 ; Sir Danvers Os-
borne,* 1753 ; James De Lancey, 1753-55 ; Sir Charles Hardy,


1755-57; James De Lancey,* 1757-60 ; Cadwallader Colden,
1760-61; Robert Monkton, 1761; Cadwallader Colden, 1761-65;
Sir Henry Moore,* 1765-69 ; Cadwallader Colden, 1769-70 ;
John, Lord Dunmore, 1770-71 ; Willam Tryon, 1771-77.

We now turn to notice the courts, the officers connected with
them, and some of their works, during this period. The courts
were at first held in different places in the county, wherever
convenience indicated. It is not known at what time they were
first held at Stony Brook as a regular place for them, but we
find the custom prevailing during the early years of the eigh-
teenth century. At the same time the jail seems to have been
at " Cuckoldstown," the early name for Richmond, where it
was built in 1710, as the following order would indicate :

" Ordered that Mr. Lambart Garisone and Mr. Wm. Tillyer.
See the prison House built at Cuckols Towne y e Dimensions
Twelve foot in breadth, fourteen foot Long, Two Story high,
six foot y e Loer Room from beam to plank, and the uper Story
Six foot, all to be built with stone, and for building of the sd.
prison the Said Undertakers have hereby power To take the
Monys out of the Collectors hands for carying on the sd. work
it the order of y e sd. Undertakers & Receipts shall be a Suffi-
cient discharge to y e sd. Collectors."

This building proved inadequate to the purpose as is seen by
the fact that at a court of sessions held in the court house at
Stony Brook, on the 5th day of March, in the ninth of his Ma-
jestys' reign (1723), "Benjamin Bill Eq r high Sheriffe of the
County of Richmond Complains to the Court of the Insuffi-
ciency of his majesty Goal for the said County that it is all to-
gether soe Insufficiency that it is impossible to keep any pris-
oner safe as the Said Goal Divers prisoners having lately Es-
caped thereout and therefore the said sheriffe protest against
the Inhabitants of the County of Richmond for Repairing the
said Goal and against all waits Escapes that may Ensue for the
Insufficiency of the said Goal and pray that his protest may be
t ntered accordingly."

In 1725, Nicholas Larzelier, then high sheriff, repeated the
same complaint in the same terms. Two years after he repeated
it again, but what result attended the complaints we are not in-
formed. A new court house and jail were probably erected at
Richmond, whence the county seat was removed and estab-


lislied. The earliest mention of the court of sessions being held
at Richmond is dated September 2, 1729.

Previous to the erection of a court house the courts were held
in private houses or taverns. The following entry gives some
hints :

"March 2, 1713 - Court a journed till to morow at Ten
of the Clock in the forenoon to the North Side To Coll Grahams
Court opened, and ajourned Till y e fist Tuesday on 7ber [Sep-
tember] next. God Save the Queen."

Col. Aug. Graham was one of the judges of the common pleas
and sessions.

Debtors were arrested and obliged to give bail or go to prison.
The return of the precept of arrest by the sheriff or constable
was " Cepi Corpus." In almost every instance where a prisoner
was acquitted by the jury, he was discharged by the court upon
payment of costs. The courts of general sessions were fre-
quently conducted by an overflowing bench, as for example, on
the 22d of September, 1761, there were present the first, second
and third judges, and nine justices, making in all a bench
of twelve. It was a common thing for a court to be constituted
with eight, nine or ten judges.

The following abstracts from court records will be read with
nterest :

'At a Court of Sessions held for the county of Richmond
March 3, 1712.

"Jos\ Arrowsniith, Lambert Garrison, jSTathi Britton,
Abm. Coole [Cole], Peter Rezeau, Esq 8 .

" March y e 4th. Court opened and Grand Jury calld. The
presentmts of the Grand Jury brought in ; the Court orders
prosess to be issued out against those presented viz. Peter
Bibout for beating Mr Mony [Manee] and his wiffe. Barnt Mar
ling, Andrew Bowman, William Foord & The Taylor peter
peryne & Vn. Buttler, Peter Catherick and Nath 1 Brittin Junr.
all for fighting. John Dove and John Bilew for carrying of
Syder upon the Sabbath Day. Abraham Van Tyle for allowing
his negroe to Gary Irone to the Smiths on the Sabbath day, and
Mark Disosway for being drunk on the Sabbath day."

At a court of sessions held March 5th, 1716, " it was ordered
by the court that Nicholas Brittin pay Twelve shillings ffine
for his misbehavior to Nath 1 Brittin Esq. and also ordered that


he beg Justice Brittins pardon and promise to doe so no more,
and also to pay all the charges of this action."

September 3d, 1717, all the retailers of strong liquors were
summoned to appear before the court of general sessions to
show by what authority they retailed ; thereupon appeared
" Mauris Williams, Jean Brown, Anthony Wright, Barnt
Symerson, Daniel Lane, John Garrea, David Bisset, Cornelius
Eyman, Lamb* Garrittson Jim. Benjn Bill, Jacob Johnson, Isaac
Symerson, Joseph Bastido" thirteen in the whole county.

Simon Van Name was a justice of the peace, and a prominent
man in his day. We give below copies of a couple of legal
documents issued by him:

" Richmond County

To the Constable of the north diuision where as Complaind
is made by Euert van name unto me Simon van name one of his
Magistices Justice of the peace that Hennery day owith him
the Sum of Seuen Shillings and neglect to Pay the same this is
theair for to require you to somins the same hennery day to
apear before me at my dweling house on thursday next at one
of the aclock in the after noon which will be the 13 day of this
instient month els Jugment shall go against him by The fault
giuen from under my hand this the tenth day of March Ano
domini 1728-9


The following venire has a paper attached to it containing the
names of twenty persons, the first twelve of whom are num-
bered, and probably constituted the jury in the cause:
" Richmond to the Constable of

County the North devision

Where as there is an action depending between Tommas mor-
gan plantif & Isaac Garrison Defended Both of the County
Abousd [above said] and the Defendant Desires a Jury upon
the sd Action These are therefore in his Maiestyes Name to
Require & Command you to Svmmons Twelve Sufficient Men
to Appear Before me on Wensday next at Twelve of the Clock
in the forenoon of the Sameday at my Dwelling Hous to Serve
as Jvrers upon the sd Action Depending Whereof fail not
Given under my hand Thee twenty seventh day of July Annoq.
Dom. 1730



Names attached; " 1 Abraham corshon, 2 richard crips, 3
John mengalroll, 4 garet cruse, 5 philip merel, 6 honas deker,
7 barnt sweme, 8 ranses bodine, 9 nicholes stilwell, 10 nichles
depue, 11 John boker, 12 tunas te bout, nickles bush, mr
couanouer, art simanson, Jacob benet, lambart garison. thomas
lisk, alexander lisk, ben goman ayrs."

On the reverse of the venire are the following endorsements:
" Richmond County July the 29
the Jury finds for the sd defendant.

venire 0. 1. 6

to the constabel 0.

swaring the Jury 2.

swaring y evdens 1. 6

swaring the Constel 6

Entring verdeck 1.


The last court of common pleas and general sessions in this
county under the colonial government was held September 26,
1775. Following that a period of nearly nine years elapsed be-
fore another court of the kind was held.

The following names appear as justices of the peace in this
county at an early period: Ellis Duxbury, 1692; John Shotwell,
1692; Abraham Lackman, 1693; Cornelis Corsen, 1689-90;
Joseph Billop, 1702-3.

The only case of capital punishment executed under a decree
of the colonial courts, of which we have learned, took place
about two or three years before the revolutionary war. We
depend entirely upon tradition for the account of it, which is as
follows : A negro, named Anthony Neal, was accused of break-
ing into and robbing the store kept by Col. Aaron Cortelyou.
The goods that were taken from the store did not exceed in
value twenty dollars, and they were all found secreted in a
wheat feald near by. The accused negro, after being imprisoned
about two months, was tried and convicted and hung. The ex-
ecution took place just by the school house at Richmond, the
negro protesting his innocence with his latest breath. It is said
that on the day following the execution his wife confessed that
she had committed the theft herself.

A slight outline of certain important events in European his-
tory now appears necessary as an introduction to the memorial


of an interesting incident, of which Staten Island was the
scene in the autumn of 1761. Between the years 1756 and 1763
the seven years' war raged in Germany. In this remarkable
contest the great Frederick had to defend his recently acquired
Silesia and the new kingly dignity of his house against the
combined powers of France, Austria and Russia. This war
with " the three petticoats " (Elizabeth, Maria Theresa and the
Pompadour), as he facetiously termed them, was in fact, on his
part, a desperate struggle for existence, in which he would per-
haps have succumbed but for the aid of England. In that
country Frederick, whose religious ideas were of the most un-
orthodox liberality, came somehow to be regarded as " the
Protestant hero," and after ignominiously defeating the French
he naturally became the popular idol.

This same seven years' war covers in American history a
space of nine years, and is known by the name of the French
and Indian war, beginning in 1754, with the disputes about the
French and English colonial boundaries in the Mississippi and
Ohio valleys, and blending ultimately with the great European
contest. In the spring of 1755 the colonies made extensive
preparations for an attack on the French, but owing to the ig-
norance of their commanders in regard to the tactics of Indian
warfare the campaign was utterly unsuccessful. Crown Point
and Niagara were both assailed, but neither captured. In the
campaign of 1756 the English losses were even greater, their
fort at Oswego, with 1,600 men, being captured by the French.
This was followed by the still more unsuccessful campaign of
1757, in which Fort William Henry, on Lake George, with its
garrison of 3,000 men was compelled to surrender to the

In 1758, William Pitt (afterward Lord Chatham) was placed
at the head of the government as prime minister of England.
A new impulse was now given to the energies of the nation,
and success followed. In July, Louisburg, which at the former
peace had been restored to the French, was recaptured. Fort
Frontenac was captured soon after, and the French were
compelled to abandon Fort du Quesne. General Abercrombie
attacked Fort Ticonderoga, but was obliged to retire.

Encouraged by these successes, the colony of New York re-
newed her exertions with the utmost energy. In 1759, during
the short period of live months she raised a sum of $625,000 to aid


in carrying on the war, and levied a force of 2,680 men. In that
levy the quota for Richmond county was 55 men. Ticonderoga
was captured by General Amherst, early in the season, and
Crown Point surrendered a few days later. In July, General
Prideanx invested Fort Niagara, and though he was killed in
the attack, Sir William Johnson, his successor in the command,
effected its reduction. On the 13th of September, General
Wolfe laid down his own life in the moment of victory, when
the English banners floated over the towers of Quebec. In 1700,
the French made an unsuccessful attempt to recapture Quebec,
and on the 8th of September, all the French possessions in
Canada, except the two small islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon,
at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, were surrendered to the Eng-
lish. The provincial forces who had been engaged in its reduc-
tion, now turned their faces homeward, while a large body of
British troops were established in a camp on Staten Island,
where they remained for several months. General Robert
Moncton had command of this army. During their encamp
ment here an important ceremony, the investment of Sir Jeffery
Amherst with the "Order of the Bath " took place, and to this
interesting event our introductory remarks under this sub-
ject pointed. Probably Staten Island was never honored with
being the scene of a more dignified or important royal ceremony.

On the 28th of August, 1761, General Amherst, having rode
on horseback down the west side of the Hudson river from
Albany, arrived in camp at Staten Island. The 35th regiment
of British regulars, called Otway's regiment, from its com-
mander, had arrived in the Staten Island camp from Albany about
two weeks previous. The ceremony of investing General Am-
herst with the knighthood took place October 25, 1761, in the
presence of all the dignitaries of the province and a large con-
course of spectators, assembled at the camp on Staten Island.

The explanation will not be out of place here that the mili-
tary order of Knights of the Bath originated, as is supposed,
about the time of Henry IV, of England. At the coronation of
that king, in 1339, a number of esquires were made knights of
the bath because they had watched and bathed meanwhile during
the preceding night. From that time it was usual for the kings
of Great Britain to create knights of this order on great and
joyous occasions, such as their own coronation or the birth or
marriage of princes or on the eve or following the successful


issue of some great foreign expedition. The investment of
General Amherst was probably in honor of the advantageous
conclusion of the struggle with the French on the Canadian
frontier. The badge of the order was of pure gold, a sceptre of
three united imperial crowns, from which grew the rose, the
thistle and the shamrock, and around which was inscribed
the ancient motto, " Trio, juncta in uno." It was hung by a
red ribbon from the collar obliquely over the right shoulder.
Other accessories of the insignia a massive gold collar, rich in
engraved designs, and a silver star resembling the badge and
with a glory of rays proceeding from its center, to adorn the
left shoulder. The order was divided into three ranks, desig-
nated in importance as first, knights grand crosses ; second,
knights commanders, and third, knights companions. The
proper place for their installation to be celebrated was in the
nave of Henry the Seventh's chapel, Westminster Abbey,
which in this instance was impracticable. The warrant for
the ceremony here was found in the following letter from the
prime minister of England:

" Whitehall, July 17th, 1761.

"His Majesty having been graciously pleased, as a Mark
of His Royal Approbation, of the many and eminent Services
of Major General Amherst, to nominate him to be one of the
Knights Companions of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath;
and it being necessary that he should be invested with the En-
signs of the said Order, which are transmitted to him, by this
Opportunity; I am to signify to you the King's Pleasure, that
you should perform that Ceremony; and it being his Majesty's
Intention, that the same be done in the Most Honourable and
Distinguished Manner that Circumstances will allow of, you
will concert, and adjust with General Amherst such Time and
Manner for Investing him with the Ensigns of the Order of
the Bath as shall appear to you most proper for shewing all
due Respect to the King's Order, and as may, at the same
Time mark in the most publick Manner, His Majesty's just
sense of the Constant Zeal, and Signal Abilities, which Gen-
eral Amherst has exerted in the Service of His King and

" I am &c.

" W. PITT.

"Honourable Robert Monckton."


In presence of the concourse of people assembled at the time
and place appointed for the ceremonies General Moncton read
the foregoing letter, and then proceeded to place the ribbon over
General Amherst's shoulder, meanwhile making an apology
that circumstances would not admit of more formal investi-
ture. To this General Amherst replied in the following short
speech :

" Sir: I am truly sensible of this distinguishing mark of His
Majesty's royal approbation of my conduct, and shall ever
esteem it as such. And I must beg leave to express to you the
peculiar satisfaction I have, and the pleasure it gives me to re-
ceive this mark of favor from your hands."

Demonstrations of applause followed the ceremony, and a
few days later, when General Amherst went from Staten Island
to the city his arrival there was greeted by the firing of seven-
teen guns from Fort George. He was now spoken of as "his
Excellency Sir Jeffery Amherst, K. B., from the army on
Staten Island." Following this ceremony General Moncton
was installed governor of New York, and the city was illumi-

Governor Moncton did not remain in the seat of state, but
appointing a deputy, he went with the army on its expedition
to the West Indies. The army encamped on Staten Island com-
prised eleven regiments who had returned from the Canadian
frontier, under Generals Moncton, Amherst and Otway. The
encampment was on the central part of the island, and they
remained here from August till November. Here they formed
a market and invited the farmers to bring in stock and produce
to sell to the army. When all was ready the army embarked
on board of a fleet of one hundred sail of vessels, which on
the 15th of November put to sea with a fair wind.

Reviewing the French war, we find but little in which the
people of Staten Island were directly connected with it. They
raised their proportion of money and their quota of men as
contributions to sustain the cause. Of the men we have no
knowledge farther than that Thomas Arrowsmith was captain
of a company in 1758 and '59, and Anthony Waters was a
captain in 1760.

One of the most important services was the capture of the
French Fort Frontenac, on the 27th of August, 1758. With
3,000 men, mostly provincials, Colonel Bradstreet traversed


the wilderness between Albany and Lake Ontario, carrying
with him eight pieces of cannon, and three mortars. Among
these troops was a regiment commanded by Colonel Corse, of
Queens county, and in that regiment was Captain Thomas Ar-
rowsmith's company of Staten Islanders. This regiment con-
tributed materially to the success of the expedition. Corse
volunteered to erect a battery during the night of the 26th, and
effected his purpose under a continuous fire from the fort. On
the morning of the 27th, this battery opened on the enemy,
who at once deserted the fort and fled. The material captured
with the fort consisted of forty-six pieces of cannon, sixteen
mortars, and a very large quantity of military stores, provisions
and merchandise.

In connection herewith the following advertisement which
appeared in April, 1756, affords interesting suggestions and ex-
plains itself, though we do not know the result:

Of a Lottery for raising One Hundred and Fifty Pounds.

"Whereas the Free holders and Inhabitants of the County
of Richmond, are enabled by an Act of the Governor, Council
and General Assembly, of the Colony of New York, to raise
by Way of Lottery a Sum not exceeding the sum of One Hun-
dred and Fifty Pounds, to purchase Arms and Accoutrements,
fin- the Use of such Persons, in the said County, as are unable
to prbvide themselves therewith, in Cases of Necessity. And
whereas the said County of Richmond is a Frontier County,
and liable, in Case of an Attack, to be the first invaded, it is
hoped all Lovers of their Country will generously encourage
the said Lottery.
No. of Prizes. Pieces of Eight. Whole Value.

1 of 375 is 375

2 187 and a half are 375
4 125 500

10 25 250

25 12 300

4(3 10 400

60 5 300

142 Prizes.
858 Blanks.

1,000 Tickets at 2 and a Half Pieces of 8 is 2,500


' As soon as the Lottery is finished Drawing, the Prizes will
be published in the New York Gazette, and the Money paid to
the Possessors of the fortunate Tickets, fourteen Days after the
Drawing of the said Lottery, Fifteen per Cent, being first de-
ducted out of the Whole ; which several Deductions of Fifteen
per Cent, are to be applied for the Purposes aforesaid.

"Proper Notice will be given by the Persons appointed to
manage the said Lottery, of the precise Time of Drawing the
same ; which Persons are Mr. Samuel Brooms and Colonel Ben-
jamin Seamans, who are to give Bond, and be under Oath, for
the faithful Performance of the Trust reposed in them.

"Tickets are to be sold by the said Managers at their respect-
ive Dwellings, in the said County, and by the Promoters

Some description of scenes and physical improvements under
the colonial period will be of interest, and may perhaps be pre-
sented here as fitly as elsewhere. The laying out of roads was
one of the first forms of public improvement, some of which
remain in their original position to the present day. As matter
of interest in connection herewith we copy the following record.

" This following Instrument was Recorded for the Inhabit-
ants of the west divishone by the order of the worshipefull
bench sitting in Coarte of seshones the week In September 1694
for the Regelating & Laying out all the highwayes with in said
quarter & Entred upon Record the : 9th day of septr 1694.
Richmond County this first day of September annoque dom:
1694: By vertue of Awarend dyreckted to the Coustabell of the
west dyvishone with In the fore said County to sommonse the
free holders of said quarter to Asemble & meete to Gather to
Ereckte Apoainte & Lay out such hyghwaies with in said quar-
ter As the Inhabitants shall thinke futt and most Conveainent
for the youse & behoofe of his magistie and his subgeckts & for
the Inhabitants That lives back in the woods to transport them-
selvfes & Goods to the water sid. The freeholders having mett
to Gather on the day & yeare Above written And ordred and
apoainted & Laid out the highwayes as heare after are spresi-

: 1 : ordered one highway of six Rod to be betwene Anthoney
deshon and lofa fonoay Cut by Consent Alltred and Laid out
betwene Anthoney deshon and Jerome deshon begining att the
Could spring


: 2 : To one highway betwene Clays Lazeleare & John Cor-
nealisone of six Rood

: 3 : To one highway betwene Williame Elstones Land de-
ceased & abraham Coole of six Rod.

: 4 : To one highway betwene mr Leflore & peter Jonsea wide
of six Rod

: 5 : To one high way betwene Adame hud & mr Emet next to
adem hud of six Rod

: 6 : To one high way betwene fransis barber & the Copper
Planes of six Rod

: 7 : To one high way betwene John Ray & markes disosway
of six Rods

: 8 : To one highway betwene mr John Lecount & Capten
bilope of six Rod

: 9 : To one highway from the west side begining alt mr Le-
counts frount & Runes Cleare over throw the wods by the Line
of Capten bilope to the widow bealies house

: 10 : To one highway betwene Cornell dongones Land and
anthoney Tyse throw the wods To the west side betwene the
Guset and Richard wods Land but Left out of the Guset & soe
downe betwene Abraham Cooles & the Land that was william

: 11 : To one high way betwene mr Cathentone & the widow
haule of six Rood

: 12 : To one high way betwene domeney tarsmaker & John
bodine of six rood

: 13 : To one high way by the water side from John bodines
to Capten bilopes Land of eight Rod

: 14 : To one high way by the water side begining att mr John
Leconnts & soe to the pipe makers and from thence throw the
woods to the water side by peter Jonseames his house and from
thence by the water side to the Land of John hendriksone

: 15 : To one high way from peter Jonseameses alongst the
water side in the frount of mr Stimorles Land & adaham huds
& Elishea parbers and soe alongst the water side to the Coper

Online LibraryRichard Mather BaylesHistory of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time → online text (page 14 of 72)