Ancient Town Rulings

Footnotes to Long Island History

Ancient Town Rulings

July 26, 1955


Thomas R. Bayles


          (This is the last of a series of articles written by Advance historical writer Thomas R. Bayles in connection with the Setauket-Brookhaven town tercentenary celebration.)

          Many interesting orders and regulations enacted at the town meeting of the early settlers in the years before 1700 appear in the records of Brookhaven town.

          A town meeting held on April 6, 1663, ordered that all the inhabitants of the little settlement at Setauket should be partners with Daniel Lane in the purchase of the land he bought from the Indians in the Little Neck, excepting “such persons as will not pay the Minister’s Rate.”  This indicates that any of the settlers who did not pay the church tax were not allowed to share in this division of lands.

          On June 10, 1672, an agreement was entered into between the townspeople and Richard Warning and Samuel Ackerly “to keep the said inhabitants cows, taking them in due time in the morning between Goodman Jenner’s corner and Robert Ackerly’s hollow and to bring them back again at night, and if in case the said cowkeepers should lose any cows, to be careful to go, the same way the next morning and so from day to day until they have found them.”

          Their pay was to be two shillings six pence per day, to be taken half in Indian corn and half in wheat and peas.  In addition a pound of butter per cow was to be given to them.

          In 1662, a man by the name of Richard Bulleck came into the town and bought some timber and planks from John Ketcham for the purpose of building a boat.  The townspeople, learning of this agreed to give him four months time to complete his boat and leave the town, and instructed him not to make any disturbance or buy any land in the town.

          At a town meeting held December 18, 1685 it was voted “that Mr. Samuel Erburne shall go to Yorke to confer with the Governor about our lands within our patent:  and to get a new patent, and that the town is willing to find the Governor 20 sheep for a present forthwith.

          Early slavery was practiced, as is shown by the following record dated December 9, 1672.  “Robert Hudson of Ry. sold a negro man name Antony, that was John Ogden’s of Ry. to Richard Floyd of Brookhaven, to be delivered in this town of Brookhaven, to the above said Floyd, sound winde and limb, and in consideration of the same, the said Richard Floyd doth ingaege to pay forty aight pounds sterling to Elavander Brian of Milford, Conn.”

          A town record of December 13, 1677, states that Isack Rainer of Southampton sold a negro man named Samboe, to John Thomas of Setauket, and the “said Iseck Rainer, doth ingaege to bring him safe and sound, winde and limb, and deliver him unto the above said John Thomas at Setauket.”  The payment was 19 barrels of good whale oil.

          An order adopted by the town on July 1674 states:  “wheras there have been much abuse and prophaneing of the Lord’s day by the younger sort of people in discoursing of vaine things and Running of Raesses.  Therefore we make an order, wheras if have been too coman in this towne for young men and maieds to be out of their father’s and mother’s house unseasonable tiems of niete, it is therefore ordered that whosever of the younger sort, shall be out of their father’s or mother’s house past nien, of the clock, at niet, shall be summoned in to the next court, and ther to pay cort charges, with what punishment the cort shall se cause to lay upon them, ecksept they can give suffissient Reason of there being out late.”

          Wheras God have been much dishonored much pressious time misspent and men impoverished by drinking and tippling, ether in ordnery of other private houses, therefore we macke this order that whoe soe ever shall thus transgress, or sett drinking above two hours, shall pay five shillings, and the man of the house for letting them have it after the time fixed, shall pay 10 shillings, except strangers only.”


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