Records Reveal Early Life

Footnotes to Long Island History

Records Reveal Early Life


Thomas R. Bayles


By Thomas R. Bayles


            Early records of Brookhaven town reveal interesting glimpses of every-day life as the settlers of Long Island knew it.

            The first excerpt below shows the way the community provided for its clergy.

            “October24, 1665; Mathew Priar doth sell all his home lot, with housing, glass windows, doors and partitions, with all the fencing, young apple trees and other fruit trees, to the Constable and other Overseers, for the minister’s accommodation, namely, Mr. Brewster  The said Constable and ‘Overseers engage td satisfy the paid Mathew Friar with twelve pounds in Indian corn, wheat and peas, at the price current, and this is for the use of the town, as witness our hands, this day.”

            In those early days a house with glass windows was something unusual and very much prized. 

            In the early Indian deeds the signature of Wyandanch the Grand Sachem of all the Island tribes was required when purchases were made by the white settlers as shown in the following deed.

            “This writing witnesseth that Wyandanch, Sagamore of Long Island, doth promise to sell the Greeat Neck, to the inhabitants of Setalcott (Setauket) upon the delivery of the articles hereunder  mentioned; Six coats, six kettles, one brass gun, one trooper’s coat, ten knives, one pair of shoes, two pounds of lead, two pounds of powder, twenty muxes, and forty needles. Delivered him in part payment for the above purchase, one pair of shoes. .  .”

            Court actions in the early days contain some interesting items, as the following one in 1666.

            “Obadiah Seward, plaintiff, Thomas Thorp, defendant, in an action of trespass for striking me, and setting his dogs upon me, ‘which did so bite ray legs to my great damage, for which the plaintiff desires the judgment of the court." The record follows:  “The plaintiff and defendant is agreed betwixt themselves.”

            On June 17, 1667 at a town meeting it was voted that John Tooker “is to keep ordinary (tavern) in this town” and it also concluded that the “meadow that lieth about Mount Misery, house, upland and meadow to be for the use of a ordinary of Brookhaven town.”

            At this meeting it was also ordered "that Mr. Daniel Lane is to speak to his honor, the Governor, concerning the whales at the south, that come within the bounds of our town, to be at our disposing.”

            It was also agreed at this meeting that Mr. Lane should have the land and meadow formerly agreed upon, upon condition that he grind the town corn, as long as be could keep the mill in repair,  doing the best he could, and to have one ninth of Indian corn for pay.

            In July, 1670, permission was granted "to John Tooker to sell strong drink at retail, so long as be entertains people for their money, until there be a settled ordnery in this town.”

         On August 22, 1671, it is recorded that “at a town meeting it was voted and agreed that John Tooker, Henry Perring, Mr. Bayles, Samuel Dayton, to go and view the meadows at Unkechauge (Mastic) and treat with the Sachem about the purchase of the meadows, and carry some likers with them to the Indians, upon the town’s account.”

            In 1672 Robert Hudson of Rye, sold a Negro named Anthony, to Richard Floyd of, Brookhaven town, “to be delivered in this town of Brookhaven, to the above said Floyd, sound wind and limb, and in consideration of the same, Richard Floyd doth engage to pay forty eight pounds sterling.”

         In 1662, at a town meeting, it was voted that the town should give William Pletcher 40 pounds a year towards his maintenance, for “dispensing the word of God amongst them as long as be resides amongst them performing his function." 

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