The Settlement of Long Island

Footnotes to Long Island History

The Settlement of Long Island



Thomas R. Bayles


          In 1620 King James I of England granted a patent to the Plymouth company for all the land lying between 40 and 48 degrees north latitude, extending from “sea to sea,” or in other words from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  It was evident that in those times the people of the Old World had but a very imperfect idea of the distance through the “howling wilderness,” or across the continent.  These bound of course included Long Island.  The territory thus granted was called New England, and the privilege of “planting, ruling and governing” it was given to the Plymouth company.

          After granting the Plymouth patent in 1621, the Massachusetts patent in 1628, and the Connecticut patent in 1631, the Plymouth council, on the 22nd of April 1635, granted a patent for the whole of Long Island to William  Alexander, Earl of Stirling on April 26, 1636, the Earl of Stirling appointed James Farrett as his agent, to dispose of real estate on Long Island, and authorized him to act by a power of attorney to that effect.  In consideration of his services Farrett was allowed to take up a certain amount of land for his own benefit, wherever he might choose upon Long Island.  He made the choice of Shelter Island and Robbins Island.

          Earl Stirling died in 1640, and was succeeded by his son, who also died a few months afterwards.  His heir surrendered the grant of Long Island soon after, and it was embodied in the King’s patent to the Duke of York in 1664.

          ---Settlers Ran Own Affairs---

          During the years that passed between the time Stirling’s patent was abandoned and the reception of the new charter of Connecticut in 1662, the eastern part of  Long Island was not claimed by any power, so the settlers held the controlling power in their own hands, and disposed their governmental affairs according to their own wishes.  during this time they purchased lands of the Indians without being obliged to obtain patents for them from any source.  Purchases were regulated somewhat by the towns, and subject to confirmation afterwards by the governors who presided over the colony under the Duke.

          The first individual English settlement within the bound of Suffolk county was made by Lyon Gardiner, on Gardiners’ Island, in 1639.  He was probably the first English settler within the territory now occupied by New York state.

          The following towns were settled by the English, and held undisputed control over their own affairs until the organization of the Duke’s government in 1664:  Southampton was settled in 1640 and Southold the same year; East Hampton in 1648; Shelter Island in 1652; Huntington in 1653; Brookhaven in 1655; Smithtown in 1663.  Oyster Bay, settled in 1653 was on territory claimed by the Dutch.

          the settlers were mostly Englishmen, who came over to the colonies of New England, and later sailed across the Sound to the shores of Long Island in companies of 8 to 15 families, and settled here in independent colonies.  They were soon joined by others from the New England colonies.

          ---Settlers Very Religious---

          These first settlers who established their homes on the wild shores of Long Island were very devoted to religious matters, earnest in cherishing and extending the influence of Christianity, and profound in their reverence for the Bible and its teachings.  One of their first acts, after landing on the soil of a new world, was to offer up the sacrifice of thankful hearts to Him who had preserved them and brought them safely here.

          Before the camp fires and wigwams of the Indians were supplanted by the civilization of the white man, the principles of Christian religion were established here.  From religious persecution at home our forefathers fled to this new country, to enjoy the exercise of their own liberal opinions.  the organization of churches, and provision for gospel preaching were to them matters of the first importance.

          (The material in this article has been taken from “Sketches of Suffolk County,” by Richard M. Bayles, 1885.)

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