CHAPTER III

INTRODUCTION TO VOL. I OF THE TOWN RECORDS--1649-1680.

The town of East-Hampton settled in 1649, in 1653 built and thatched a church. Tradition (probably correct) locates that church on the east side of the present burying-ground, opposite to and west of the house-lot of Lyon Gardiner. South of Lyon Gardiner and also on the east side of the street lived William Hedges. On the west side of the street then lived Thomas Baker and Thomas Osborn, and all within one-fourth of a mile of that church as a centre. Jonathan T. Gardiner, descendant of that Lyon; Jonathan Baker, descendant of that Thomas; Joseph S. Osborn, descendant of that same Thomas Osborn, are a committee chosen by their fellow townsmen to procure the publication of the ancient records of their town. They have invited the writer, a native of their town and descendant of the same William Hedges, to prepare an introduction to such publication. More than two and a fourth centuries have passed since the ancestors of these descendants with others, the first settlers, laid the foundations of the good old town of East-Hampton. Our forefathers wrought in harmony the great work of planting a colony which should endure for coming centuries. Side by side their bones are mouldering in the old "Southend" burying ground. Succeeding generations took up their work in turn to cease, and again beside each other there, to rest in the last long sleep. The animating sentiment, the impelling motive, the moving impulse, the sustaining fortitude, the elevating aims, the upholding faith, the cheering friendships, the darkening perils were similar for all. They were in life united and in death not divided. This invitation to the writer from the descendants of such sires, is enforced by the memories of eight generations of the dead. Their mighty shades make the call to him sacred.
The free Government and institutions of the United States of America were born in its early settlements. Of necessity the first colonial communities were self governed. They were in a wilderness which must be subdued to sustain them.
Wild beasts and wild Indians encircled them. They were visited by roaming tramps and vagabonds. Discordant elements divided them. Gaunt famine threatened. On every side without and within the dark cloud of danger hung over them. Untiring industry alone could keep away starvation. Fearless strength alone subdue the wild beast. Sleepless vigilance only secure from the savage foe. Organized power only could settle and put down individual grievances and quarrels. Combination only could build churches and schoolhouses, roads and bridges. Martial law only could gather power to repel the enemy. Self-preservation required self-government. Discord and disorder was ruin.
The government must embody the people's will or be a shadow. It must be strong to act or be defied. It must be swift to strike or fail of opportunity. It must drown all discord or be overwhelmed by it.
In such conditions were all the early colonial settlements.
Therefrom sprang a hardy race who by unshrinking toil felled the forest, built villages and towns, made laws suitable to their requirements, instituted churches, organized armies and in self-reliant hope and courage founded a nation on the Western shore of the Atlantic. As truly as the river's source is found in remote springs and fountains whose union forms the rolling stream, so truly the springs and fountains of these great States are found in the early settlements of this fair, free land.
The Records of the Town of East-Hampton are more full, more clear, more continuous, more intelligent than are usually found in like early colonies. They contribute clear historic light wherein from the source in the past we may trace the causes which produced the present. Every native of the old town, every careful student of our National History will rejoice that these records by publication have become an enduring memorial to the world, and thank the sons of her early settlers for this generous contribution to the history of our nation.
From the settlement of the Town in 1649 until the conquest of the Colony of New-York in 1664, East-Hampton was practically self-governed. Left mainly to itself these fifteen years the colony gained an experience of self-control and self-reliance that educated it for free institutions which in succeeding ages arose out of like experiences in all the old settlements of the country.
The Town Meeting was the originating organizing, electing, legislating and deciding power. As early as October 3, 1650, at a Town Meeting then holden, called a "Court of Election," Thos. Talmage, Jr., is chosen recorder. Also "four men with the constable for the ordering of ye 'affairs' of ye Towne." The ordinances then and thereafter enacted were such as were called for by their peculiar condition.
The oaths prescribed for the offices of Recorder, the three men, sometimes 4 and sometimes more, holding magisterial authority; the pound-master and constable are on pages 6 and 7. The four men or any two of them could try cases involving any sum under forty shillings. See page 7.
The Montauks were the most powerful and probably numerous tribe of Indians on Long Island, claiming tribute and service from all the other tribes at the time of this settlement. Even after the universal massacre of their warriors by the Narraghansetts, (see pages 174, 175-6) and the terrific ravages of the small-pox (see page 201), their number was large and stated in 1761 to be 180.
An alliance with the nearest settlement for purposes of security of defence and improvement of adjoining lands, was vital. The entry succeeding the earliest record of the Town Meeting shows the care taken to make this secure, (see pages 8, 9, 10.)
The order that all that are fit to bear arms be sufficiently "provided of such armes" and the prohibition to sell "powder, lead, shot, sword, flint, gun or pistol to any Indian," (page 8,) show the sense of impending peril.
In all that required care for the general safety against outside foes, internal dissension, individual neglect, violence, fraud or injustice against oppression, avarice, theft, crime, disorder and vice, the Town Meeting fitted the Law for the emergency, and with heavy hand repressed all disorder.
Although the Town Meeting met often, sometimes monthly and sometimes "in 3 wekes," "or els the first wet day and all to appere at the beat of the drum" (p. 12); although the magistrates, generally "3 men" were directed to hold court "every month," see page 17), yet it might be too long for an impatient litigant to wait until the sitting of either. In case the real or supposed necessity so required a court could be demanded sooner provided the litigant paid the fees therefor (see pages 7, 74 and 424. The term "purchased court," or purchasing a court, occurring in these records simply means that the court was held at an extra occasion and the fees of the court were paid by a litigant and were simply a compensation for the time of the court. In the sense that the judgment of the court was "purchased" or purchasable, a comparison of the ancient with modern tribunals or legislatures would do no discredit to the former.
The Town Meeting, the acorn out of which grew the stately oak of local and national government in these United States acted under so many occasions and emergencies that entire classification is hardly possible. The following may assist the reader in the study of the subject:

THE TOWN MEETING.

Elected all officers--pages, 7, 45, 88, 99, 103, 113, 148, 180, 185, 187, 197, 200, 225, 242, 255, 274, 364, 366, 414.
Constituted Courts--pages, 7, 45, 154, 177, 227.
Tried important cases--pages, 22, 38, 87, 389.
Heard Appeals--pages, 27, 28.
Ordered Lands Allotted--pages, 15, 25, 151, 180, 181, 186 188, 204, 267, 392.
Chose the Minister, &c.--page' 16.
School Master, &c.--page, 380.
Fixed their Salaries--pages, 16, 155, 183, 393, 404, 432.
Ordered the Church built--pages, 19, 20, 66.
Admitted or excluded Settlers.--pages, 7, 13, 18, 20, 91, 176, 182, 327, 371, 387, 395, 400, 421.
Ratified or annulled Sales of Land--pages, 13, 18, 20, 109, 154, 231, 327.
Assigned to Committees their duties--pages, 13, 18, 291
Made police regulations--pages, 8, 11, 17, 18, 20, 21, 29, 71, 81, 101, 104, 192, 201, 367, 380, 422.
Imposed fines for absence from Town Meeting--pages, 7, 13, 14, 16, 17, 145, 251, 856.
Neglect to vote or accept office--pages, 28, 100, 145.
Ordered a prison--page, 57.
Licensed Tavens--pages, 61, 154, 370.
Appointed or provided for the Whale Watch--pages, 18, 29, 60, 87, 114.
Regulated the fencing and improvement of the public lands--pages, 10??, 144, 146, 148, 155, 185, 186, 190, 192, 197, 218, 220, 224, 257, 270, 327, 361, 367, 386, 388, 392, 401, 404, 423.
Chose military officers--page, 225.
Fixed times for burning the woods--pages, 17, 21, 220.
Expelled vagabonds--pages, 18, 20, 93, 371, 421.
Provided for highways, &c.--pages, 27, 60, 68, 22, 32, 46, 59.
Labor thereon, and footpaths--pages, 27, 71, 187, 224, 269.
Enacted Laws for Estrays--page, 272.
For settling Mechanics--pages, 307, 331, 338, 339, 349, 360, 415, 416.

The entry of June 24, 1672, page 346, is significant. In the March of 1672, France and England had declared war against the Netherlands. Governor Lovelace had summoned the eastern towns of Suffolk County to assist in defending the Colony and contribute to repairing the fortification at New-York city. The Justices and deputies from these towns meeting at Southold, had determined that they would so contribute "If they might have the privileges that other of his Majesties subjects in these parts do have and enjoy." The determination "is well approved of by this town and they are willing to answer their part in the charge according to their act if the privileges may be obtained but no otherwise." The novice in history will understand that representative Assemblies were granted to Rhode Island and other colonies by charter, and had just been granted to New Jersey. This privilege so dear to free born Englishmen, inherited from Magna Charta, the safeguard against arbitrary taxation, is the privilege so earnestly desired by them, and the granting whereof is made the condition for their contributing. Thus early the sons of this old town evinced their undying attachment to the liberties of the citizen. The experiment of self-government conducted by them in their forest home for a generation had borne good fruit. In their own experience of nearly one-fourth of a century secluded from the hand of power, too obscure for the notice of rulers, they had administered among themselves such laws, civil and martial, as suited their simple habits. Well they knew no laws made in Parliament wherein they were unheard, could fit their condition so exactly as their own taught them by their circumstances. In after years, through the voice of their representative, Samuel Mulford, they spoke for freedom. Its undying spirit burned in all their succeeding history. The resolve of this liberty-loving town was no more doubtful than the resounding echoes of Bunker Hill. If the heavy hand of despotic power found servility elsewhere in these old towns the unequivocal tones of freedom rang out as warning bells for the coming centuries.
This volume of the Records extends about thirty years from the first settlement. The colony was fairly launched on the political ocean where were sailing many like towns on the borders of the Atlantic. The members of the colony had increased. Dangers from the savage had lessened. Adventurous hearts panted for more acres and more room. John Osborn selling land at the east and acquiring much more at the west at Wainscott, was located there in 1670, and being so "remote from the town," in June of that year a grant of preference "to grind at the mill" is given him. The tradition that he was the first settler of Wainscott is confirmed by this and other entries in the records. His home lot taken by the settlers given to Thos. Smith, a blacksmith, who soon leaves, then dedicated by vote for a parsonage, is finally sold to Josiah Hobart, who settles on it and afterwards becomes High Sheriff of his county.

WITCHCRAFT

The wife of Joshua Garlick, accused of witchcraft, by an order of the town meeting made March 19th, 1657, was directed to be taken for trial to Hartford. The testimony against her is scattered over the records anterior to and about the time of this entry The result of this trial appears to have been unknown until lately. In the printed colonial records of Connecticut, pages 572 and 3, appears the following letter, and on the same page in a Note the letter is said to be in the handwriting of Gov. Winthrop, not dated, but must have been written some time in the spring of 1678:

LETTER TO EAST-HAMPTON. "GEN & LOVING FRIENDS:

We having received your letter & findinge recorded a Court Order of 1649 wherein ye Court declared their acceptance of your Towne under this Government by your Agents Lift. Gardiner, etc., we shall present the same to our next Gen?? Court for a further & full confirmation thereof: And ye meantime did take yt case which was presented from you into serious consideration and there hath passed a legall tryall thereupon: Whereupon though there did not appeare sufficient evidence to prove her guilty yet we cannot but well approve and commend the Christian care & prudence of those in authority with you in searching into ye case accordinge to such just suspicion as appeared.
Also we think good to certify yt is desired & expected by this Court yt you should cary neighbourly & peaceably without just offence to Jos. Garlick & his wife & yt ye should doe ye like to you. And ye charge wee conceive & advise may be justly borne as followeth: yt Jos. Garlick should bear ye charge of her transportation hither & return home. 2ndly, yt your towne should beare all their own charges at home & the charge of their messengers & witnesses in bringing the case to tryall here & their return home--the Court being content to put ye charge of the Tryall here upon ye County's account."
Thus the only known case of accusation for witchcraft in East-Hampton, for the trial of which the town authorities preferred to seek a higher tribunal, resulted in an acquittal, to the lasting honor of the town and the colony of Connecticut.

WHALING.

The first settlement of the Town was located near the ocean, as if for convenience of whaling, which probably was even then a consideration moving to the enterprise. References to this adventurous business occur among the earliest records, and seem to indicate that the whole colony were interested and engaged and sharing therein. (See pages 8, 18 29, 53, 60), even suspending school therefor, (p. 380). As early as 1668, Jas. Loper was here suing Renek Garrison for "non-performance of his agreement about going a fishing," p. 284. In 1672 he was attaching blubber of Nathaniel Williams, p. 344. In May, 1673, he is acquiring a house lot in the Calf Pasture (south of Wm. Hedges' lot), p. 360. In December, 1674, he had married Elizabeth, daughter of Arthur Howell, and was making a marriage settlement on his wife, p. 372. The Records of Nantucket, under date of June 5, 1672, contain the draft of a proposed agreement with James Loper, of East-Hampton, to engage there "on a design of whale catching." It does not appear that Loper went to Nantucket on the "design." Possibly the bright eyes of Elizabeth Howell were a strong attraction and may account for the marriage and settlement and prosecution of whaling thereafter at East-Hampton. The very successful prosecution of off shore whaling in late years at Amagansett, is but the continuation of adventure perilous but prosperous, conducted by the hardy sons of East-Hampton from the earliest times.

THE TITLE TO THE LANDS UNDIVIDED.

It has been a question often mooted whether the title to the lands vested in the town as a corporation or in certain proprietors, their heirs and assigns. Some expressions in the records appear as if the town as a town owned and controlled until allotted all the lands therein; but the proprietors who undertook the enterprise of settling the colony, purchasing of the Indians, instituting and building the church and schoolhouse, and subduing the wilderness, called themselves "the town." To all practical purposes for over an hundred years they were "the town." Their expenditures of time, labor, money, hardship and danger
made the place habitable for themselves and others, and the enhanced value they deemed as justly an inheritance belonging to them and their heirs.
On page 66 is found "the charge for the Meeting House." Against the name of each land owner is set the amount he contributed, then the number of acres he was entitled to share in the undivided lands of the town; then his proportion due according to his share, then the balance due to or from him.
Thomas Baker contributed 1, 08s, 06d; he was the owner of 21 acres in all the yet undivided lands, he was bound to contribute 0, 13s, 1 1/2d; there was due him 0, 15s, 3 1/2d. Now, turning to page 342, where is recorded the land of Thos. Baker, we find he had "a one and twenty acre lot, viz: Home lot and plains with all privileges and appurtenances belonging to such an allotment." In other words, he had a right in the division of unallotted lands to that proportion, if he had received more that would be deducted, and if less, that would be made up to him in a future division of land.
All this agrees with the purchase of How by Baker, "what he now possesseth & what is or may belong to him with relation to his Lott as his right to his settling there,"

 The 13     acre lot of         William Barnes,     " 437
 The 20     "     "     "            Robt. Bond,         " 445
 The 13     "     "     "            Richard Brooks,  " 447
 The 21     "     "     "            Thos. Chatfield,    " 451
 The 20     "     "     "            William Edwards, " 474

These and others are simply illustrations of the principle admitted on the records, of individual ownership in all the undivided lands covered by the deeds, in proportions well understood and recognized in the allotments or divisions of lands whenever made.
The word "commonage" is often applied to these undivided rights in the unallotted territory, as on page 374, in the gift of John Mulford, senior.

CHURCH.

There is no doubt that the early settlers of this town were strict Calvinists. Characteristic of their Puritan principles they called their church building "the meeting house." Neither in this or neighboring churches was any name sectarian or denominational given to the church as such. "The church in Southampton," in "Bridge-Hampton," in "East-Hampton," were so called from the village or town of their location, and only so called. When the venerable James, after a long service rested from his labors his loving people engraved on his tombstone no narrow epithet, but this: "He was Ministar of the Gospel And Pastyre of the Church of Christ." The colony was happy in the choice of their Pastor. Minister James understood the Indian language, sometimes instructed the Indians and preached to them, and acted as an interpreter (Southampton Records, Vol. I, p. 160, Vol. III, p. 110.) He was learned, resolute, just, sincere, fearless, active, a powerful personality.
The colony were not less happy in the watchful regard of Lion Gardiner, who soon became one of their number and occupied the lot next that of Minister James with whom he took "sweet counsel." He was venerable for years, of large experiance, both warrior and statesman. With the councils at Hartford or of the Sachem at Montauk, his influence was potent. The flight of centuries revealing the weakness, the errors, the mistakes of the past, has left undimmed the radiant name of this magnanimous Puritan.
This volume covers the formation period of the town. The infant had grown to manhood. Under the tuition of Connecticut for the first fifteen years, East-Hampton was cast in the Puritan mould. After the conquest of the New Netherlands in 1664, by the English, the entreaty of East-Hampton to abide with the colony of Connecticut was denied, p.223, 241. In March, 1666, for their own safety they were constrained to purchase and hold under the authority of the Duke of York, by patent from Governor Nicoll--pages 353, 354, &c.
In June, 1674, after the reconquest from the Dutch, a renewed petition to be joined with Connecticut, is made in vain, p. 370. Yet for two centuries East-Hampton in untiring industry, in adventurous enterprise, in intellectual culture, in free aspirations, in modes of thought, in devotional fervor, was essentially Puritan. Disunited in government, it remained essentially in spirit a fragment of New England. The early history of the settlers reveals nothing of which their descendants need be ashamed. The transforming hand of the Puritan swept away its wilderness and planted the harvest. The free soul of the Puritan burst the bands of oppression and instituted freedom. The burning devotion of the Puritan revealed to the world a light that growing in radiance shall yet lead the millions into "the new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness."
BRIDGE-HAMPTON, February 26th, 1887.
H. P. HEDGES.

Return to "History of East Hampton - Table of Contents



Return to Long Island Genealogy Home Page