The Havens family is
one of those which early became established in Suffolk County, New York
province. Starting from a small nucleus on Shelter Island, its descendants
spread, over the years, through the county, the state and the nation.
Historians are agreed that the progenitor of the line in this country was William of Aquidneck, Rhode island, who was first recorded in this country in 1635. Five of his 13 children were sons, and one of them, George, bought land on Shelter Island. Some of his descendants made their homes there. By the time Shelter island as a political unit broke away from the township of Southold in 1730, the Havens family was so well established there that six of the 20 founders of the town were Havenses (R49).
Their existence was in sharp contrast to that of the present day. it has been well described by the late Rev. Charles E. Craven in his "History of Mattituck, Long island," as follows:
"The hundred or more residents of Mattituck about the year 1700 lived the same simple life as all their neighbors on the eastern end of Long island. They were mostly large landholders, but had little money and little use for it except to acquire more and. Each well-to-do man owned a Suit of clothes, and perhaps a 'trooper's coat' made of imported cloth. These fine suits, with such accessories as silver shoe buckles, lasted for years and were handed down by will from father to son. The rest of their clothing was homespun. Their communication with the outside world, by small sloops sailing to New Haven and New 'York, was slow, and in winter dangerous, and they were substantially independent, sufficient unto themselves, having large flocks and herds, raising their own corn, wheat, rye and other simple foodstuffs, growing their flax, spinning and weaving their own fabrics, importing not much besides the English cloth already mentioned, sugar, molasses and rum, a very few books, chiefly Bibles, iron and brass kettles and a meager supply of such other utensils as could not be made by the smiths at home, and occasionally silver tankards and spoons that figure in their wills."
There is a Havens tradition that some or all of the early members of the family were Quakers, were married to Quakers, or were sympathetic to them. On the other hand, it is certain that many of them were Presbyterians, for the Rev. Jacob Mailman, a Presbyterian (Ri), devotes most of his genealogical listings to members of the Havens family.
By the time of the Revolutionary War, there were at least 18 heads of Havens families in Suffolk County, judging by the census of 1776. There were six households of them on Shelter Island (Out of 27 census listings), five more were in Brookhaven, and seven were in Southampton. The federal census of 1790 listed 42 Havens families in New York State, 23 of them in Suffolk County -- well over 50% of the state's total. The remainder were distributed throughout nine other counties, mostly in southern New York. Ten years later, the federal census showed an increase in their number to 63, of whom 26 were in Suffolk County and the remainder distribted among 15 other counties in the state. As I write this, I find 32 Havenses listed in a recent Suffolk County telephone directory.
The significance of some of the earlier figures becomes more apparent when one considers that Suffolk County had a population of 2,121 in 1673, 3,346 in 1703 and 5,266 in 1723.
The destinations of early migrants from the Rhode Island starting point were by no means restricted to Suffolk County. A large branch of the family became established in New Jersey (R4), records show many in Connecticut, and a number went south. In the latter half of the 18th century, the lure of the frontier brought about a great westward movement throughout the colonies and the independent states that succeeded them, and many Suffolk County families became involved. When the British took possession of Long Island during the Revolutionary War, large numbers of Suffolk County patriots fled from Long Island to Connecticut and elsewhere (R2). But even before this, some Havenses, as well as others like the Strongs, the Moores, and the Tuthills, had moved westward to destinations on the mainland both within and beyond the state.
The growth of early Suffolk County families and their geographic spread were particularly vigorous in the 18th century, and the Havens family was no exception. As a consequence, quite a few Havenses are listed in censuses and other early records whom I have not been able to identify. On the other hand, there are many Havens descendants today who have been unable to find a link between their ancestors in family records and the early Suffolk County lines.
There has been, and no doubt will continue to be, some dispute over the country of Havens origin. Most records say it was Wales, but Edwin W. Havens of Arieta, California, has stated unequivocally that William I and his wife Dionis "came from the west of England, probably Somersetshire or Monmouthshire -- almost definitely one or the other." He explains: "These are the so-called 'Marches' counties that border Wales." Mr. Havens spent some time in Great Britain in the spring of 1973 searching for records of the Havens family as starting in Wales, and his conclusion was that it did not -- "the mere fact of their having given names and surnames condemned that. We checked out the National Library of Wales at Aberystwith and there were no surnames till well into the seventeenth century, and there were Havenses in the other counties nearby."
The question of relationship between the Haven and Havens families is moot. The late Judge Dwight C. Haven told me there was no such relationship. He said: "So far as there is any record, there were only two emigrants: Richard Haven of Lynn and William Havens of Portsmouth." (He believed, incidentally, that William Havens came from Wales.) Whether the two families were related before they came to this country has yet to be established.
In at least one instance there has been a shift in the other direction: instead of adding an S to Haven, one was dropped from Havens. I have been informed of this indirecty by Mrs. Blake Kocher of Tampa, Florida, whose father, the late George W. Haven, was the son of Henry Pinkerton Havens. She said: "The 'S' was somehow dropped from Havens during the time my father and his immediate family were living."