Respose to Mrs
Bigelows article - "The Tangier Smiths"
A few corrections and suggestions by
Chester G. Osborne
Mrs. Stephanie S. Bigelows
article "The Remarkable Tangier Smiths" is an interesting
perspective on the history of that family. A few corrections and suggestions
are offered: properly, there should be quotation marks around the word
"Tangier" in Colonel Smiths name, since his given name was simply William
Smith. As for the place name itself, my "Britannica gives it without the
"S", as "Tangier."
Young Smith wasn't
sent to Africa to be Mayor: the corporation elected him to that post on
Nov. 11, 1682; prior to that he had been variously "Judge to the Court
Merchant", Councilman, Alderman and first Judge.
He married Martha Tunstall
on Nov. 26, 1675. To the best of my knowledge the couple had thirteen,
not fourteen children. A typed manuscript in the files of the Museum, Manor
of St. George, presumably copied from the "Pigskin Book," names the children
in order; Theodocia was the "seventh daughter" and Charles Jeffrey the
Apparently six children
survived him, not five; the one omitted in Mrs. Bigelows account was Jane
or Jeanne; she married a "Capt. Nicoll", is mentioned in Col. Smiths will
with Gloriana as "my youngest daughters . . ."
Colonel Henry Smith
died in 1767, not 1737. He had ten children by his first marriage, not
nine; there were two daughters named Gloriana, the first born in 1713 and
dying in infancy, the second born in 1715.
Dr. Gilbert Smith,
(Gilbert III), married Mary Biggs according to Mathers "Refugees of 1776
. . ." (p. 566), and Thompsons "History of Long Island" (p. 595 in V. III)
names nine children - five daughters and four sons. Thompson may have erred
in naming Dr. Gilberts wife as "Margaret." There is an amusing letter in
Museum files on the Biggs-Smith relationship, written by Orville Ackerly
and addressed to Clarence G. T. Smith, the late Eugenies brother:
"Yonkers, Dec. 16, 1917
"In writing to you Friday
last I didn't give you the "last word" from Thompsons L. I. about the Tangier
Smith entry, for I have learned this day that, in the 3rd edition of the
book soon to be issued by Dodd, Mead Co. the genealogy is more elaborate.
It may establish the fact that the Henry Smith who conveyed the beach in
1789 was clearly the heir of Bill who married a Lloyd & was the heir
of Col. Henry Smith the Patentees heir.
"In a book about the
Nicoll family (1894) Wm. Nicoll (the clerk) wrote: "Oct. 14, 1742,
"'The old Col. is certainly
in his dotage: He is now running mad again after a wife which he seems
to be no more contented without than a toper without his bottle and nothing
less will serve his turn but young flesh. To show us therefore his bright
fancy and nice taste, he has pitched upon one of . . . . . . . .'s
daughters, a nasty dirty drab that has neither sense or manners and would
be as fit a piece of Household stuff to furnish an Indian wigwam as the
Colonel's house. I thought the difficulty he had to obtain the last and
the miserable life he led with her would have made him prize his Happy
Deliverance more and been very cautious how he repeated the same farce
"'But it seems that the burnt child does
not dread the fire, and I am afraid all the remonstrances of his friends
will not be able to prevent so ridiculous and unnatural a conjunction."
"This no doubt refers
to Colonel Henry. At this date he was 64 years old . . . The Colonel married
Margaret Biggs Nov. 6, 1742. She no doubt was the "dirty drab."
"The joke of it is
that by this wife the Col had a daughter Frances who married Mr. Wm. Nicoll,
who died in 1796, and was a nephew, I am sure, of the one who wrote the
letter in Oct. 1742."
Of William Henry Smith
(III) Mrs. Bigelow writes that he became "proprietor of St. Georges Manor".
It might be helpful to researchers to note that the inversion of the Manor
title is a family tradition: St. Georges Manor generally refers to the
North Shore property, and Manor of St. George to the South. The article
continues, "Little is known of their sons, who went off to New York, Boston
and Halifax as Tories. . . .
This is the particular
William (there were thirteen or more Smiths with that first name!) who
married Margaret Lloyd, and there is a lengthy account of his posterity
in Museum files, supplied through the courtesy of Mrs. Joseph Mills Hanson
of Manassas, Virginia, and Swansea, Massachusetts. (See also Thompsons
L. I., V. 3, p. 596.)
Miss Eugenie Annie Tangier Smith sitting
portrait by Alfred M. Turner. The painting
is dated 1890.
One of William and
Margarets Sons was Paschal Nelson Smith who married Hester Sears, daughter
of Capt. Isaac Sears ("King Sears"), who was very active in the Revolution.
Quoting Mrs. Hansons manuscript, "Both families were in Cambridge with
Gen. Washingtons army. They subsequently resided in Boston, in a house
recently occupied by Gov. Phillips, on Tremont St., and in a short time
returned to New York, where they spent the remainder of their days
This branch of the
family has such an interesting history that it deserves a separate article,
and certainly more research, but a list of the children will have to suffice
here: Thompson gives the children of William Henry (Young Clerk) Smith
and Margaret (Lloyd) Smith as William Henry, William, Gilbert, Paschal
Nelson (above), Oliver, Rebecca, Anna, and Catherine. Mrs. Hanson adds
Shepard and Margaret; both died young.
The people named by
Mrs. Bigelow as the "daughters" of Judge William Smith (1720-1799) weren't
his daughters: they were his sisters. The Judge was away during most of
the Revolution. His son Johns dates are 1755-1816, according to his cemetery
stone; and his half-brother Williams dates are 1769-1803, not 1796-1803:
the former set of dates would have given him a life span of only seven
years or so. John was appointed U. S. Senator to fill the vacancy caused
by the death of De Witt Clinton.
Johns son William "Point
Billy" Smith (V) wrote this in the family Bible, including his own dates:
John Smith & Lydia Fanning was
Married Oct. 7th of 1776 -- William, Son of John. & Lydia Smith was
Born the 7th day of Apiil 1777- Lydia Smith Died the 6th of June 1777 being
16 year 7(?) Months & 20 days old Memento Mori - Lydia Famiing was
born the 17 of Oct 1760.
has many errors: the late Osborn Shaw, whose meticulous work was respected
by all who knew him, added many pencilled corrections and notes to the
Brookhaven Town Historian's Office copy of that book, including a number
of the Tangier Smith entries. Mathers "Refugees" also has errors, one of
which was quoted by the writer in a genealogy chart; Osborn Shaw pounced
on this one, too:
page 571, Lydia Fanning was not a daughter
but a niece of Sir Edmund Fanning. Idem, Johns dates need correcting.
Mrs. Bigelows main
point is well taken, however, and needed to be made: it is likely that
a number of people believe (erroneously) that Miss Eugenie Annie Tangier
Smith was the last of the Tangier Smiths, when actually she was but the
last of her branch of that family. Eugenie, living in near isolation during
her later years and never much inclined to research, was unable to do much
toward assembling the facts or setting them straight. Her sister Martha
seems to have had some interest in history but didn't pursue that subject
consistently. The entry on Judge William Smith (1720 -1799) in Mathers
"Refugees" was made with her help, but it, too has errata: at the time,
thousands of family papers were scattered throughout the old Manor house,
uncatalogued and therefore inaccessible.
One of the more tantalizing
aspects of present research is the pile of snapshots, tintypes and ferro-types,
presumably of others of the "remarkable Tangier Smiths," which are unlabeled
and therefore unidentifiable in many instances. (How many other families
So there are indeed many Tangier Smiths
still living, and a full listing would certainly require a book of a thousand
pages; the Winthrop Papers in Massachusetts, the Dartmouth and royal papers
in Europe, and sources in Africa and other places should be consulted.
One of the Tangier
Smiths told the writer that there is a family tradition that Colonel William
Smith, the "progenitor", was a natural son of Charles II. Were it true,
it might account for the privilege which Smith enjoyed throughout his life.
It might account, too, for Miss Eugenie A. T. Smiths attitude towards one
of her suitors: she is said to have turned down a marriage proposal from
an English nobleman on the grounds that his family tree was not the equal
As for Charles II,
it seems possible from this distant vantage point that he left this "natural"
son; and it didnt take long to find in the Manor house a book which gave
some interesting information on English royalty, Leading Facts of English
History, by D. H. Montgomery (Boston, 1891). From page 258 and following,
"Charles had no love of country, no sense of duty, no belief in man, no
respect for woman. Evil circumstances and evil companions had made him
a "good-humored but hard-hearted voluptuary."
Charles two chief favorites
were the Earl of Rochester, a gifted but ribald poet, and Lord Shaftesbury,
who became chancellor. Both have left on record their estimate of their
royal master. The first wrote on the door of the kings bed-chamber :
"Here lies our sovereign lord,
"To which Charles, on reading
it, retorted, "Tis true! because while my words are my own, my acts are
Whose word no man relies on;
He never says a foolish thing,
Nor ever does a wise one.
Encyclopaedia Britannica says that "He
had no legitimate children; the most important of his many illegitimate
children were" and follows with a selective list.
First appearing in the LI Forum 1973 No
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