INTRODUCTION TO VOL. III, OF TOWN RECOBDS--1702-1734
The second volume of printed records of the Town of East-Hampton overlapped
the commencement of the Eighteenth Century a few months only. The preceeding
hundred years had been eventful in the History of Great Britain. Through
the long reign of Elizabeth closing at her death, in 1603, the lustre of
her name and nation shone undimmed. The reign of the four Kings of the
House of Stuart was from commencement to conclusion a strife by them to
establish regal irresponsible power on the ruins of representative government.
The 1st James weak, pedantic, "the wisest fool in Christendom," "was a
king for himself alone." The 1st Charles, whose tyranny was equalled by
his perfidy, his duplicity, his obstinacy, judicially blind, went to death
on the scaffold. The 2nd Charles, and 2nd James, both dissolute, both professing
Episcopacy but secretly or openly Catholics, both foresworn, both pensioners
of France, dishonored and disgraced their country and sold its rightful
supremacy to its foes. The Commonwealth for a time upheld the ancient power
and glory of the British name among the nations. After the Revolution of
1688 Parliamentary rights were firmly established. The Prince of Orange
gave to England the grandeur of his great name and England gave to William
and Mary the devotion that the long heroic strife of the house of Orange
so well deserved.
In 1603, 1625, 1665, with wide desolation the plague visited London. In 1666 the great fire there burned 13,200 dwellings and over two hundred thousand people were houseless. Taxation on rich and poor bore heavily. On every hearth and at times on every pane of glass a tax was levied. Within and without the British Isles, by sea and land, wars raged. In Germany a continuous thirty years war had been waged, terminating in 1648 in the Peace of Westphalia between France, Germany and Sweden. From the accession of William and Mary in 1688 to the death of Queen Anne in 1714 there were only four and a half years of peace.
Emigration to the North American colonies was escape from the desolating pestilence of the old world, from its consuming fires, its grinding taxation, its incessant wars, its abounding debauchery. The terrors of the tomahawk and scalping knife exceeded not those of European wars. In 1683, the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes expelled the best protestant blood of France. The besom of war in Germany augmented the tide of Protestant emigration from thence. The weakness, the debauchery, the despotism, the treachery of the Stuart reigns impelled the best citizens of the British Isles to find a home in the new world where distance alleviated the anguish of National dishonor and degradation.
Exceptional causes besides those named combined to swell the tide of emigration from Holland, Germany, France and the British Isles. The records contain names representative of varied nationalities. We have found Schellinx and Van Scoy (Van Schaick) Dutchmen; Dominy and Sherrill, Irishmen; Baillerjeau, a Frenchman, perhaps Hugonot.
The early settlers of East-Hampton well knew the corruption and infamy of the Stuart Kings. They knew something of the line of European policy and courts, something of the intent of the Protestant league, whether its battalions were under the banner of the great Gustavus, the Prince of Orange or Charles XII. The aims of beligerent powers in the wars of the past or present were not unknown to them. Lion Gardiner had served in the bloody battles fought in Flanders--"William Fithian, according to the traditions of the family was a native of Wales, a soldier in Cromwell's army, present at the execution of Charles I, and after the restoration of Charles II, prescribed as a regicide and obliged to flee his country." At the opening of this volume Joshua Garlicke had just died, "about one hundred years old." Ben Conkling survived till 1707. Jeremiah Conkling, Sen., died in 1712, 78 years old. The same year died Robert Dayton "about 84 years old," Thomas Osborne "about 90 years," Stephen Hedges survived until 1734, "not wanting quite six months of a hundred years old."
Those and others were familiar with the early settlers and with the narratives of Gardiner and Fithian, with the story of wars, of policies, of generals, of martial achievement. In the long evenings, at the huskings, at the fireside, tradition and legend old beguiled the tardiness of time. The aged listened intent, the young amazed. Their story was never old and never dull.
Looking back from the year 1700, the review is a history of martial conflict by sea and land wherein England's part was often inglorious if not disgraceful. With the early years of the 18th century, under Queen Anne, the dangerously predominating power of France and Spain were limited, and victory so long witheld alighted on the banner of England. At the battle of Blenheim, (1704) Eugene and Marlborough broke the power of France, and the same year the British fleet took Gibraltar, over which, to the lasting humiliation of Spain and the enduring honor of England, her flag still floats. The victory of Marlborough at Ramilies in 1706, of Eugene at Turin the same year, and of the two in 1708 at Oudenarde, and at Malplaquet, forced Louis XIV, of France, to assent in 1713 to the treaty of peace at Utrecht. France then ceded to England, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Hudson's Bay territory; and Spain, Gibraltar and Minorca. By the same treaty the claims of France to the country of the five nations in the colony of New York were surrendered. Thus began the accession of French America by England, which continued until all the Canadas were lost to France and North America became overwhelmingly Protestant. Although the treaty of Aix La Chapelle, at the end of the long war in 1748 left the possessions of the combatants substantially as at the commencement of hostilities, yet the treaty of Paris in 1763, at the end of the French and Indian war began in 1755, gave to England the Canadas and all the possessions of France east of the Mississippi, besides Florida, then ceded to her by Spain.
Thus the wars waged by Roman Catholic powers for two and a half centuries, intended to crush out Protestantism from the face of the earth, ignominiously failed of their purpose. Not armies or armadas, anathema or interdict, rack or dungeon, inquisition or torture, ban or banishment, outlawry or treason, could conquer the nations or wrest Northern America from the realm of Freedom. The elemental powers, even "the stars in their courses fought for liberty."
Samuel Mulford born in 1645, taking his seat as Member of Assembly in June, 1705, rapid in speech, vehement in utterance, hasty in temper, positive in opinion, Republican in sentiment, puritan to the core, waged unequal war against the Governors Cornbury and Hunter from that time until his second expulsion from the house in 1720. His contention for freedom, his voyage to England, the circulation of his memorial there, the consequent repeal of the tax or duty on oil, the rejoicing of the whalemen, the ardent devotion of his constituents, the unseduced fidelity of Capt. Mulford to uphold their rights; all these are matters of history occurring within the period covered by this volume. Mulford was an old whaleman entitled to be called Capt. from his command in this perilous pursuit, as well as from his command of a militia company. Fearless, adventurous by nature and training, his broadened views of life and business naturally attracted him to the fields of commercial enterprise. As early as 1702 he had erected a warehouse at Northwest, the then harbor of the town before Sag Harbor as such was known. (See page 28.) It is probable a wharf had been constructed there previously. In April 1700 Abraham Schellinx had made application for a permit to build one, and in 1705 he was master of and running the sloop "Endeavor."
The simple manners of the time is shown in the Records by both positive and negative testimony. In all these three volumes one christened name, and one only, precedes the surname. The multiplication of names was an afterthought of later times. Official titles and the prefix "Goodman" occur often. At page 199 of this volume for the first time succeeding the name of Josiah Hobart and unapplied previously to a townsman, is found the title "Gentleman." Hobart had been high Sheriff of the County more than a score of years anterior thereto, was venerable for age, probably disabled for manual labor, and deemed worthy of the appellation. On page 264 the same word is used as descriptive of Thomas Chatfield. His education, his descent from honored ancestry, and superior intellect, constrained the cotemporary scribe to distinguish him specially as a "gentleman." He was afterwards appointed a Justice of the Peace, and in 1738 as one of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas for Suffolk County and known as "Judge Chatfield." He held this office until his death, Jan. 12th, 1764. His son John was a Justice of the Peace appointed in the reign of George III, and continued until the Revolution annulled royal authority. On page 366 we read "John Wheeler Gentleman." Honored by his fellow citizens repeatedly with public trusts as committeeman, as captain, as town trustee, as Supervisor, venerable for age, he well deserved the distinction. He died June 18th, 1727 aged about 80. His descendents removed to Smithtown, L. I., and there now reside. (See page 423).
As instances of the genealogical value of these volumes, we cite
Vol. I, John Hand, Sen's will, pp. 178, 179, 180. Nathl. Street's will, p. 189. Wm. Edwards' will, p. 320. Thos. Rose, son and heir of Robert 239. Joseph and Stephen Osborn, brothers, p. 243. Enoch, son of Wm. Fithian, p. 275. Benj. and Joseph Osborn, brothers, p. 281. Steven and John Hand, brothers, p. 284. Geo. Miller, dead, p. 302. Andrew and John Miller, brothers, p. 324. Thos. Edwards, son of Wm., p. 390. Thos. Hand, son of John, p. 497.
Vol. II, James Dimon, son of Thomas, p. 113. Nathaniel Baker, son of Thomas, p. 115. John and Thomas, sons of William Edwards, p. 138. John, son of John Osborn, p. 241. Joseph and Jonathan Osborn, sons of William, of Boston, p. 256. Thomas Chatfield, son of Thomas, deceased, p. 267. Josiah Edwards, grandson of William and son of John, p. 285, 308. Thomas Osborn and Ephraim, brothers, p. 318. Thomas Edwards, son of John and grandson of William, p. 365. Thomas Edwards, record of will, p. 385. Caleb and Thomas Osborn, brothers, p. 415. John Stretton, son of John, p. 439. John Stretton, Jr., son of Stephen, p. 442. Thomas Mulford, son of William, p. 466. Enoch and Samuel Fithian, sons of William, p. 477.
Vol. III. Thomas and Edward Osborn, brothers, p. 2. John Miller, oldest son of George, deceased, p. 21. Samuel Parsons, Jr., son of John p. 37. Samuel Hedges, son of Isaac, p. 56. John Brooks, son of John and grandson of Richard, p. 78. Thomas Osborn, Jr., oldest son of John p. 119. Joseph Hand, son of Stephen, deceased, p. 129. Solomon Stretton, oldest son of Richard, deceased, who was oldest son of Richard, p. 141. Josiah Fithian, son of Samuel, p. 162. David and Lewis Conkling, sons of Jeremiah, p. 174. Thomas Baker, son of Thomas, p. 189. Jonathan Baker, son of Nathaniel, p. 215. Thomas Barnes, son of William, deceased, p. 230. John Conkling, son of Ben who is son of Ben, p. 231. Daniel Dayton, son of Samuel, p. 263. Stephen Leek, brother of Ebenezer, deceased, p. 278. Hezekiah Miller, brother of Nathan, nephew of John, p. 289. Nathaniel Hand, son of James, p. 291. Thomas Osborn, son of Benjamin, p. 308. Thomas Osborn, brother of Ephraim, p. 321. William Edwards, son of Thomas, brother of Daniel, p. 336. Thomas Edwards, grandson of William and cousin of Daniel, p. 338. John Miller, son of George, p. 342. Thomas Osborn, son of John, p. 342. Richard Shaw, son of Richard, deceased, p. 361. John Edwards, son of John, p. 373. John Conkling, father-in-law of Nathan Miller, p. 387. Thomas Wheeler, son of John, p. 423. Obadiah Osborn, son of Ephraim, p. 487.
The policy of England to cripple the commerce, trade and manufactures of the colony to its injury, and the agrandizement of England, was now barely begun. By the ordinance of 1651, re-enacted in 1660, Parliament restricted exportation from America to English, Irish and Colonial vessels, substantially excluding "foreign ships from all American harbors." The more valuable colonial staples known as "enumerated articles," were required to be shipped exclusively "to England or some English colony." With few exceptions exportation to the colonies was prohibited, except in "English vessels,"--Hildreth's History U. S., Vol. I, p. 473. In 1699, by act of Parliament, it "prohibited the transfer of domestic woolens from one colony to another; or the export of colonial wool or cloths to any foreign country."--Ib. Vol. II, p. 213. In 1719 the House of Commons resolved, "that the erection of manufactories in the colonies tended to lessen their dependency on Great Britain."--Ib. p. 297. The act prohibiting transportation of woolen goods from one colony to another did not include hats, but in 1732 they were inclnded in the prohibition, and colonial hatters forbidden to take more than two apprentices at once.--Ib. p. 325. Since East-Hampton was prohibited from purchasing manufactured articles from another colony, or at exorbitant rates only from England, necessity constrained a supply of wants by home manufacture which had made great progress at the commencement of the 18th century. This explains the great number of weavers, cordwinders, (shoemakers) coopers, carpenters, and the presence of tailors, a hatter, glover, glazier and brickmaker, &c., in the town. The subjoined table of persons engaged in the mechanic arts may be convenient for reference. At the commencement of the eighteenth century the productive and mechanic arts had made great progress in the Colony, and its wants were mainly self-supplied. This may be gleaned from the records, and is shown in the following list taken from this volume:
Surveyor, Ebenezer Leek, page 5
" Nathl. Dominy, " 389
Cooper, Wm. Schellenger, " 38
" Thos. Dibble, " 74
" Jacob Schellenger, " 110 " " " " 199
Plasterer, Jas. Barber, " 24
Glover, John Evans, " 106
Hatter, Nathan Cooper. " 389
Brickmaker, Isaac Barnes, " 122
Glazier, Samuel Russel, " 187
Tailor, Joseph Osborne, " 130
" Isaac Mulford, 136, 418
Blacksmith, Robert Hudson " 113
Merchant, Jacob Baillergean, 83
" Peter Murdock, " 389
Doctor, Jacob Baillergean, " 129
Carpenter, Ephraim Edwards, 17
" Ebenezer Belding, 113
" John Jones, " 105
" Isaac Hedges, " 125
" Enoch Fithian, " 128
" Dan. Burnitt, " 227
" Samuel Hedges, " 226
" Probably. Jeremiah Mulford, 415
" Matthew Mulford, 416
" Cornelius Conkling 415
" Eleazar Miller, 415
" Jeremiah Hedges, 480
Josiah Hobart, Gentleman, p. 199
Thos. Chatfield, " " 264
John Wheeler, " " 366
John Edwards, Cordwinder, " 73 " " " " 397
Matthias Burnitt, " " 136
Robt. Moore, " " 265
Geo. Smith, " " 457
Nathl. Baker, Weaver, " 37
Thomas Dibble, " " 38
Danl. Bishop, " " 42
Joshua Garlick, " " 46
Lewis Conkling, " " 70
Geo. Dibble, " " 84
John Davis, Jr., " " 121
Thos. Barnes, " " 135
Isaac Barnes, " " 121
Nathl. Barnes, " " 165
Nathl. Bishop, " " 183
Ichabod Leek, " " 183
Abiel Carle, " " 183
John Conkling, " " 199
Recompence Barnes, " 229
Nathl. Dominy, " " 265
Stephen Leek, " " 278
Nathl. Hand, " " 291
Danl. Edwards, " " 337
John Davis, " " 339
John Conkling, Jr. " " 397
Thos. Wheeler, " " 412
Josiah Osborn, " " 430 " " " " 474
Lion Loper, " " 486
Ephraim Osborn, " " 487
John Conklin, Tapster, " 499
X Mr. Baker 1
-- Mr. John Mulford 2
-- Wm. Hedges 3
-- Lieut. Fithian 4
X Goodman Barnes 5
-- James Diamont 6
Male members 6
X Widow Osborn of Wainscott 1
R The wife of Th. Diament 2
X The wife of John Miller 3
X The widow Diament: 4
X The wife of James Diament 5
R The wife of Corn. Stretton 6
R The widow Harris 7
-- The wife of Mr. John Stretton 8
X Mrs. Mary wife of J. Mulford, 9
X Mrs. Baker 10
R The wife of Sam Fithian 11
X The widow Carle 12
X The widow Garlick 13
X The wife of Dan Osborn 14
R The wife of Eben Leek 15
X The wife of Capt. Hobart 16
X The wife of Mr. Ab. Shellink 17
-- The wife of Nathl. Baker 18
-- The wife of Lieut. Fithian 19
R The wife of Th. Edwards, Sen 20
-- The wife of John Horlington 21
-- The wife of Goodman Barnes 22
Female members 22
The church of 1717, erected on the south-east side of the
Main street nearly opposite Clinton Academy, was then said to be the
largest and most costly church edifice on Long Island. Thompson and Prime,
historians, both so record. Externally it was 45 by 80 feet, covered first
with clapboards, afterwards with three feet cedar shingles fastened with
hand-wrought nails. The tower at the west end, built separate from the
foundation, projected slightly beyond the line of the main building. On
each side of the belfry were arched openings and the belfry floor or deck
was substantially covered with lead. Above this square tower rose a lofty
sexagonal steeple. Above that a long massive red cedar shaft or spire.
Above that the iron spindle on which hung a large copper vane with numerals
cut therein denoting the year of the town's settlement and erection of
the church thus: "1649-1717." One diagonal dial facing the street told
the time and the hammer beat the hour on the clear sweet toned bell. Originally
the entrancc was by a door in the middle of the south-west side. Thereafter,
in 1822, when renovated, the entrance was by doors on each side of the
projecting tower at the west end. The timber of this church was massive,
of white oak largely, the beams 10x10 and the sills and posts much larger.
The window frames were of red cedar 4x6. The frame, cut on Gardiner's Island,
was said to have been the free gift of the proprietor, a fact cited to
show the scarcity of large timber in the town. In recognition of this magnificent
gift, the society, when pews were made, devoted one of the most eligible
to the exclusive use of the owner of the Island, so occupied for generations,
known as the "Gardiners Island Pew." This church, raised in 1717, was not
occupied until the next year. In Minister Huntting's Church Records occurs
this significant entry: "1718, June 22, Sam. Parsons, Jr. owned the covenant.
This was the first person that owned the covenant in the new meeting house."
A like entry, dated April 13th, 1718, not alluding to the new house, indicated
that it was not then occupied. "The halfway covenant" is probably the covenant
named. In the colony of Massachusetts and in New Haven, church membership
was a prerequisite to qualify for voting. As all wished to exercise this
privilege, ways were devised whereby the strict rule was enlarged. A profession
of belief in God, in the divinity of Jesus, in the sacred scriptures, with
a promise "to train their children in the nurture and admonition of the
Lord," was substantially without any claim of regeneration, "the halfway
covenant" constituting those persons taking it quasi members of the church,
entitled to its sacraments for themselves and their children, including
baptism and a power to vote as a free man and citizen. The tendency thus
to secularize the church was accelerated after the restoration by the 2nd
Charles, who required of Massachusetts, in 1662, "the repeal of the laws
which restricted the privilege of voting and term of office to church members,
and the substitution of a property qualification instead," and "finally
the admission of all persons of honest lives to the sacraments of Baptism
and the Lord's supper." Hildrelh's Hist. of U. S. Vot. I, p. 455. Although
church membership was never required as a qualification for voting in East-Hampton,
the halfway covenant traveled there from Massachusetts and Connecticut,
and out of the desire for baptism of children grew in the favor of parents.
The steady, serene, persistent opposition of Jonathan Edwards to this now
discarded "covenant" evoked a storm that drove him from Northampton.
The records of Huntting evince his intense interest in the progress of this church building. With exultation he records among infant baptisms, "1718, May 25th, a daughter of Cor. Conkling, Jr. Mary, Cornelius Conkling's Jr. daughter ye first baptized child in ye new meeting house, June 22d, a daughter of Sam Parsons Jr., Hannah. Sam Parsons child ye first baptized child in ye alley by ye deacons seat after ye pulpit was raised and ye deacons seat put up." Thus this father took the halfway covenant and as thereby entitled on the same day presented for baptism his infant daughter Hannah. There is a tradition that all the persons in the town liable to military duty were summoned and present at the church raising, and that seated on the sills, they filled the whole square of the foundation.
At first there were benches for seats in the church building. On the outsides these were replaced by large square wainscotted pews capped on top. Opposite the door on the south-west was the high pulpit in the middle of the north-east side, so high that Minister Huntting, as stated, records "it was raised." Over it hung the sounding board. The galleries were reached by stairways on each side of this door, and afterwards a second gallery was constructed at the ends over those first built, which in the renovation of 1822 were taken down. The women were seated at the east and men at the west end, (see p. 387.) The door in the south-west side was closed in the renovation of 1822 and doors constructed at the west end opening into the vestibule, the centre of which was furnished with seats and the eastern arched opening thereof looked towards the high pulpit on the east end. This middle portion of the vestibule, partitioned by itself, was devoted to the sole occupation of colored people. At each corner near the doors, stairways wound from the doors up to a similar vestibule, the centre whereof was the bell and clock tower, and the sides by doors opened into the galleries, the north-eastern gallery being set apart for the women, the south-western for the men. Two wide aisles below ran from the vestibule to the pulpit stairs. The pulpit was long, narrow, with a semi-circular enlargement in the centre of its 1 annelled front, where the minister stood and was surmounted with the pulpit leaf and cushion thereon, and bible on that.
Four tall round pillars supported the pulpit. Between the pulpit stairs, at its ends, was the deacons' seat, in frout of that the communion table, a simple leaf of cherry-tree wood turned up on hinges when used, when not so, turned down. The double row of narrow seats between the aisles after benches were removed were called slips. The pews on the sides and at the pulpit ends were untouched and remained the same to the end, occupied by the same families and their descendents, sometimes for nearly a hundred years, until they were rented yearly near the commencement of the present century. The galleries about 8 feet high, with braces framed in the posts, rested on round turned pillars. Over them the wall was finished at right angles from the sides, starting at the eaves, then between the galleries and over the pulpit the wall was arched. This church of 1717, graceful, symmetric, solid, enduring, stood until some time after 1861, nearly one hundred and fifty years, when the present church was constructed. On its taking down, the main timbers and most of the structure were sound, massive and easily susceptible of standing another century and a half. Jonathan T. Gardiner, Esq., has largely and kindly contributed many foregoing facts, to whom therefor and for other valuable historic contributions due acknowledgement is made. He states that on the demolition of this venerated structure, on its southwestern side, the old door posts were found and the holes wherein had been driven the hooks on which the doors hung. The pastor, Rev. S. I. Mershon, preached his last sermon in this church September 1st, 1861, from the text Psalm xliv, v. 1: "We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old." Five generations of men had worshipped in their simple sincere way within the walls of this church. They had attested the earnestncss of prayer, the agony of contrition, the depth of penitence, the entirety of consecration, the sublimity of faith, the presence and power of the Eternal Spirit. Grave, thoughtful, sincere, these worshippers
"Ask no organ's soulless breath
To drone the themes of life and death;
No altar candle lit by day,
No ornate wordsman's rhetoric play;
No cool philosophy of speech
To double tasked idolaters,
Themselves their gods and worshippers."
In the devotion of this colony to the cause of human freedom, to the
industrial and mechanic arts; to the education of the youth, to the promotion
of virtue, to the worship of Jehovah, her ancient records certify in words
the most positive and clear. The stock from whence they sprang was of the
choicest blood of their fatherland. By inheritance they claimed the institutions
of freemen. Ancestral piety had consecrated to God, themselves and their
posterity forever. Their free birthright, their schools of instruction,
their church of the ever living God, they must transmit in their purity
to coming generations. "Who would wish that his country's existence had
otherwise begun. Who would desire the power of going back to the ages of
fable? Who would wish for an origin obscured in the darkness of antiquity?
Who would wish for other emblazoning of his country's heraldry or other
ornaments of her genealogy, than to be able to say that her first existence
was with intelligence, her first breath the inspiration of liberty, her
first principle the truth of divine religion?"
Bridge-Hampton, December 15th, 1888.
H. P. HEDGES.
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