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Town ‘Choosy’ of Settlers

Footnotes to Long Island History

 Town 'Choosy' of Settlers
November 8, 1951

by

Thomas R. Bayles


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

            At a town meeting held on April 6, 1668 it was ordered that all the inhabitant of Setauket should be partners with Daniel Lane in purchase of the land he bought of 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 May 25, 1673, the following is recorded:

                "These presents testifieth that whereas there was a difference between Henry Rogers and Roe about damages of swine and other things, these do satisfy whom it may concern that they have mutually and fully agreed each to the other to pass by all differences that is between them from the beginning of the world to this day concerning any creatures or damages of either side, and have promised each to the other to live neighborly together, and to do what they can to keep themselves from any damage each to the other, either by fence or swine or cattle and if either of them shall fall out without a cause they shall forfeit five pounds to the other, that is clear."

           The records for March 30, 1675 show the following item. "Francis Muncie before he died exchanged his meadow at the Fire Place in the Old Purchase with Samuel Dalton for his lot of meadow seabannek in the nue purchase and at this time the widow Muncie is willing to the same and gives he consent."

                On June 29, 1666 the following order was voted. "An order made by the constable and overseers of this town that is to say that whosever doth intend to sell or give houses or lands shall first proffer it to the towne, and if they cannot agree they have liberty to sell to any that the constable and overseers shall except of, but if any person belonging to this town bargains sell, let or give any house or housing, land or lands directly or indirectly without the license from the above mentioned parties, shall forfeit for every such default the sum of twenty pounds sterling to the use of the town."

                Again on April 2, 1672 the following is recorded:

               " Mr. Alcock is accepted as a townsman upon condition he bring a letter of recommendation or certificate of his good behavior. Benjamin Hubbard is admitted to purchase land in this town. It was voted and agreed that there shall be no more land given out to strangers."

                In 1662 it appears a man by the name of Richard Bulleck strayed into the town and bought some timber and plank off John Ketchum for the purpose of building a boat. The townsmen 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.

                These items show that the early settlers exercised vigilance in guarding against admission of undesirable persons to the rights of citizenship and property owners.

                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 Ackerlys hollow and to bring them thither again at night, and if in case they said cow keepers should happen to 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."

                On March 16,1672 it was voted and agreed that Henry Perry and Thomas Biggs were to burn off the west side of the west side of town and John Roe and Thomas Ward the east side, they have 5 shillings a year as now "if they burn it well and so Mount Misery neck."

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