In 1695 People Who Missed Town Meetings Were Fined

Footnotes to Long Island History

SEPT 8 1966    


Thomas R. Bayles

     (This is the third of a series of five articles on the early years in Brookhaven Town)

       As settlements were made in other parts of the towns schools were established, but usually by private subscription rather than by public tax.

       A fine of two shillings was imposed in 1659 on anyone who was late or failed to attend a town meeting with out a good excuse The town trustees ordered a fine of a pint of rum to be paid in 1695 by any one of their members who did not appear at the time and place appointed for an official meeting .In 1667 the regular fee for arbitrator in setting disputes between neighbors was"a gallant of sider."

         A man was fined ten shillings in 1663 for cursing, and another was found guilty of lying and fined ten shillings. Corporal punishment was common and in 1696 Jonathan Owen was employed to make a pair of stocks for the town. It was voted at a town meeting in 1716 to have a pair of stocks made for the use of Justice Brewster at Fireplace.

         The blacksmith was an important man in the early life of the town as the settlers had to depend on him for most of their farming implements, their nails for building, and many other articles of every day use. The people voted at a town meeting in 1686 that Christopher Swaine be admitted and encouraged as a smith for this town, and that a shop shall be built for ye said Christopher about May next, he paying the workmen by work at his trade."

      The residents of the "high" street employed Richard Waring and Samuel Akerly in June 1672 to take their cows from home every morning, drive them to the common pasture, look after them through the day and return them at night .The "cow ceeppers" were to be paid two shillings six pence a day, and a pound of butter for every cow.

        Setauket in 1715 to replace the old "town church' and it was used during the Revolution for military purposes by British soldiers Although considerably damaged by them, it was repaired after the war and used until the present Presbyterian church was built in 1811.

       The oldest church on Long Island still standing is the Caroline Episcopal church, which was built on the north side of the Setauket green in 1729. A gallery was added in 1744 and furnished pews for the slaves which still retains the name "slave gallery." The colonial interior of the church was restored in 1937 by Ward Melville and his mother Mrs. Frank Melville.

As the settlements on the south side grew, the need for a church was felt, as it was a long trip across the Island to the old "town church' at Setauket, so in 1740 a Presbyterian church was built at South Haven just west of the "goin over" on the Connecticut river. This church was used as a horse stable by the British soldiers during the Revolution, and a new one was built in 1828, which has recently been moved to a new location in Brookhaven. This was a central point in those days as roads came together here from all parts of the town to the grist and saw mill across the roads on the river.

        The next church built was the Presbyterian church in Middle Island in 1776 and Rev. David Rose was pastor of both churches until his death in 1799. The present church in Middle Island was built in 1837. "Priest Rose," as he was called was a loyal supporter of the American cause during the Revolution and served with Col. Josiah Smith who commanded a regiment in the Battle of Long Island in August 1776.

       Slavery was common in the early years and in December 1677, John Thomas of Setauket purchased from Isack Rainer of Southampton, a negro named Samboe, and the "said Rainer doth ingaege to bring him safe and sound, wind and limb, deliver said John Thomas at Setauket." The price to be paid was 19 barrels of good whale oil. Most of the important men of those days kept slaves and town records show about 100 slaves kept by their owners in 1800. Most were set free between 1800 and 1825.

There was no church on the south side of town except the one at South Haven, until the Congregational church was built in Patchogue in 1793.This stood on the corner of the Montauk highway and Waverly ave. The first Baptist church in the town was built in Coram in 1747, where the present Methodist church stands but little is known about it. A congregational church was organized at Mt. Sinai in 1789, although a church is supposed to have been located there as early as 1740. The present church was built in 1807. Wading river had a Presbyterian "meeting house" 26 x 28 feet in size which was built in 1740. A Congregational church was organized in 1785. 

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