Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Bootlegger Captured in North Pelham in 1922


Given its proximity to New York City, it comes as no surprise that the tiny little Town of Pelham played a colorful role during Prohibition as a cross-roads for illegal distillers, liquor-serving roadhouses, and bootleggers during the 1920s and early 1930s.  Today's Historic Pelham Blog article tells yet another story of illicit bootlegging in North Pelham -- this time in 1922!

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North Pelham Police Captain Michael J. Fitzpatrick was a stickler for detail.  He took pride in his work and pride in his appearance.  On a lazy Pelham afternoon in late spring, 1922, Captain Fitzpatrick strolled into the little tailor's shop on Fifth Avenue to have his coat pressed.  As he waited, he glanced out the shop window and watched the hustle and bustle of Pelham outside.  

As he watched, he noticed an interesting character whom he did not recognize struggling with a large suitcase.  The man was "glancing around furtively" as he carried a very heavy case along the sidewalk outside.

Chief Fitzpatrick called North Pelham police headquarters and dispatched Police Officer James Whalen to intercept the stranger on the sidewalk and bring him to headquarters.  Chief Fitzpatrick then hustled to headquarters where he met Officer Whalen with the stranger who identified himself as "Henry Bersohn."  Bersohn, it turned out, had just arrived in North Pelham on a New York, Westchester & Boston Railway train.  

Chief Fitzpatrick and Officer Whalen had the stranger open his heavy suitcase.  Inside were twelve quarts of "colorless fluid . . . labeled 'Gordon's Gin.'"  Doing his duty, Chief Fitzpatrick took a swig.  According to the Chief, it "tasted like Hell."  (The local newspaper reported that Chief Fitzpatrick "was forced by law to taste it.")  

Busted, the stranger wove an odd tale.  He told a strange story of a strange man on the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway train who asked him to hold the suitcase, then wandered off and failed to return.  For a time, Chief Fitzpatrick could not shake the man from his "fishy story."  Then the Chief had an idea.

He mentioned casually that if the liquor were for the man's own consumption and he had a permit to transport it, the situation "might be different."  Henry Bersohn took the bait.

Bersohn changed his tune and "admitted" to the Chief that the gin was his own and intended for his own consumption.  The Chief confronted Bersohn with the change in his story and the fact that one way or the other he had lied.  At that point, "Bersohn then broke down and confessed that he was bootlegging and that the liquor was intended for Pelham Manor consumption."

Chief Fitzpatrick arrested Henry Bersohn.  He was brought before Judge I. Balch Louis on Saturday, June 10, 1922.  After his formal arraignment he was released on a $250 bond furnished by his father.  The case scheduled before a Federal Grand Jury.

North Pelham police had apprehended yet another bootlegger due to good old-fashioned police work.  Pelham Manor, consequently, would be just a little bit drier for just a little while. . . . . . 




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"Bootlegger Arrested In North Pelham
-----
Captain Fitzpatrick and Officer Whalen Arrest Henry Bersohn on Fifth Avenue
-----
Twelve Quarts of Gordon Gin Found In Suitcase That He Was Carrying -- Released On $250 Bond
-----

Twelve quarts of Gordon gin which were en route from the Boston and Westchester station to Pelham Manor, snugly ensconced in a suitcase carried by Henry Bersohn, now repose on the desk of Captain Michael Fitzpatrick of North Pelham, while Bersohn is out on $250 bail awaiting a Federal jury trial.

Captain Fitzpatrick was having his coat pressed in the tailor shop on Fifth Avenue when he noticed Bersohn traveling along Fifth Avenue.  Bersohn's furtive glancing around and the fact that the suitcase seemed particularly heavy aroused the captain's suspicions, so he dispatched Officer James Whalen to bring Bersohn into headquarters.

On the suitcase being opened, twelve quarts of colorless fluid which is labeled 'Gordon Gin' but which the captain says tasted like h__l (captain is forced by law to taste it) were found.

Bersohn was quizzed at headquarters as to where he got the liquor.  He told a strange story of a strange man on the train asking him to hold the suitcase for a while, and the strange man failing to come again for his grip.  His story was fishy, so Fitzpatrick mentioned the fact that if the liquor was for his own consumption and he had a permit to transport it, the case might be different.

Bersohn then changed his story, according to the police, and told that the liquor was his own and intended for his personal use.  Fitzpatrick immediately pointed out that the statement contradicted his story of the man on the train, and Bersohn then broke down and confessed that he was bootlegging and that the liquor was intended for Pelham Manor consumption.  He was arrested and brought before Judge I. Balch Louis on Saturday.  After a formal arraignment he was released on a $250 bond furnished by his father, the case to be taken before the Federal Grand Jury."

Source:  Bootlegger Arrested In North Pelham -- Captain Fitzpatrick and Officer Whalen Arrest Henry Bersohn on Fifth Avenue -- Twelve Quarts of Gordon Gin Found In Suitcase That He Was Carrying -- Released On $250 Bond, The Pelham Sun, Jun. 16, 1922, Vol. 13, No. 16, p. 1, col. 7.  

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I have written extensively about Pelham's struggles with Prohibition and the enforcement of the unpopular laws that it spawned as well as illegal stills, bootleggers, and speakeasies in Pelham. See: 

Tue., Mar. 13, 2018:  House Fire in Chester Park Revealed Bootleg Still in 1935, Nearly Two Years After the End of Prohibition.

Tue., Feb. 27, 2018:  Police Raided a Storefront Still and Bootlegging Operation in a Fifth Avenue Store in 1926.

Wed., Feb. 21, 2018:  Massive Prohibition Raid in 1927 Netted Four Bootleggers and 225 Kegs of Beer.

Tue., Jan. 30, 2018:  Visit to the Wrong House Uncovered Massive Pelham Manor Bootlegging During Prohibition.

Wed., Jan. 03, 2018:  The Massive Illegal Still Discovered at 137 Corlies Avenue During Prohibition in 1932.

Wed., Jun. 21, 2017:  The Infamous Ash Tree Inn of Pelham Manor and its Prohibition Violations During the 1920s.

Thu., Feb. 02, 2017:  Bootleggers Began to Feel the Heat in Pelham in 1922.

Mon., Dec. 26, 2016:  Pelham Stood Alone in Westchester When It Voted to Go Dry in 1896

Mon., Aug. 22, 2016:  Pelham, It Seems, Became a Hotbed of Bootlegging and Illegal Stills During Prohibition.

Mon., Jul. 06, 2015:  Police Raided a Massive 300-Gallon Illegal Liquor Still on Corlies Avenue in 1932.  

Fri., Jun. 19, 2015:  More Liquor Raids in Pelham During Prohibition in the 1920s.

Wed., Jun. 17, 2015:   Prohibition Rum-Runners Delivering A Boatload of Booze Were Foiled in Pelham in 1925.

Fri., Apr. 24, 2015:  The North Pelham "Speakeasy Section" Created Quite a Stir During Prohibition.

Tue., Nov. 18, 2014:  More Bootleggers and Speakeasies Raided in Pelham in 1929 During Prohibition.

Fri., May 23, 2014:  How Dry I Am -- Early Prohibition Efforts Succeed in Pelham in 1896.

Thu., Apr. 03, 2014:  The Prohibition Era in Pelham:  Another Speakeasy Raided.

Tue., Feb. 18, 2014:  Pelham Speakeasies and Moonshiners - Prohibition in Pelham: The Feds Raid the Moreau.

Thu., Feb. 07, 2008:  Village Elections in Pelham in 1900 - New York Athletic Club Members Campaign Against the Prohibition Ticket in Pelham Manor.

Thu., Jan. 12, 2006:  The Beer Battle of 1933.

Thu., Aug. 11, 2005:  How Dry I Am: Pelham Goes Dry in the 1890s and Travers Island Is At the Center of a Storm

Bell, Blake A., The Prohibition Era in Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 25, June 18, 2004, p. 12, col. 2.


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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The 1665 Lawsuit Against Thomas Pell Over Cornell's Neck Which He Claimed as Part of the Manor of Pelham




"It appears that the governor [of the Colony of New York, Richard
Nicolls] created Pelham Manor in order to mollify [Thomas] Pell."

-- Philip J. Schwarz, Author of "The Jarring Interests:  New York's
Boundary Makers, 1664-1776" (State University of New York Press, 1979)

Introduction

The Court of Assizes for the Colony of New York was established under the Duke's Laws in 1665.  The first session of the Court began on September 28, 1665 at New York before the Governor of the Colony, his Council, and the Justices of the Peace of the so-called East Riding of Yorkshire, a judicial district that was "ridden" on horseback by Justices of the Peace to dispense justice and that included Long Island.  

One of the very first matters considered by the new Court of Assizes on only its second day of operation (September 29, 1665) was a significant land dispute between Pelham founder, Thomas Pell, and a married couple named Charles Bridges and Sarah Cornell Bridges.  The dispute involved Cornell's Neck to which Charles and Sarah Bridges claimed title through Sarah's mother who once was married to Thomas Cornell.  Thomas Pell, on the other hand, claimed that Cornell's Neck was encompassed within his acquisition of the lands that became the Manor of Pelham from local Native Americans on June 27, 1654.

The map immediately below shows the location of Cornell's Neck.


Map Showing Location of Cornell's Neck and its Relation to
the Settlement of Westchester, Throggs Neck, and Pelham
Neck.  Source:  Cornell, John, Genealogy of the Cornell Family
Portsmouth, R. I., Opposite p. 21 (NY, NY:  {Press of T. A. Wright,
1902).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

If this were a simple land dispute, it would not be as fascinating as it actually is.  Once historical context and color is added, it becomes apparent this very land dispute eventually led to the recognition of Pelham as a "manor" by colonial representatives of the English King.  Indeed, it could be argued that the famed Town of Pelham that became known as an affluent playground for wealthy New Yorkers and a community of grand estates and mansions during the 19th century might have been a very different place were it not for the land dispute between Thomas Pell and the Bridges Family involving Cornell's Neck during the 1660s.  Today's Historic Pelham Blog article tells this compelling story.

Historic Developments Cause Questions Over Land Ownership to Swirl

At the time Thomas Pell bought the lands that later would become Pelham, he knew he was acquiring an area claimed by the Dutch who controlled New Amsterdam and New Netherland.  Indeed, in 1653 and early 1654, only months before Pell’s purchase, the Commonwealth of England and the United Provinces of the Netherlands were at war.  Although they fought the “First Anglo-Dutch War” entirely at sea, English and Dutch settlers feared fighting would spread to the North American colonies at any time.  Only days before Pell’s purchase, Dutch and English colonists were unaware that the Treaty of Westminster had been signed in Europe on April 5, 1654, ending the war.  Amidst all this, Pell negotiated his acquisition of Native American lands claimed by the Dutch – a dangerously provocative act clearly designed to support the English cause and to defy the Dutch.  Pell repeatedly claimed that he purchased the lands "under license" from the colonial authorities of the Colony of Connecticut.

Broadly speaking, Pell's new lands were, in effect, an area between the southern-most area of English settlement in the Colony of Connecticut and the northern-most area of Dutch settlement in New Netherland.  To make matters worse, the descriptions of the land Pell purchased contained in the so-called Pell Indian Deed were ambiguous at best.  

To put it succinctly, the Dutch believed they owned the lands Pell acquired.  They claimed to have acquired the lands through Indian Deeds beginning in 1640 and had authorized settlements in the region including Thomas Cornell's land on Cornell's Neck and Anne Hutchinson's settlement in an area believed to have been near today's Co-op City in the Bronx.  Pell, on the other hand, believed he acquired much of the same lands encompassing an area extending from at least Cornell's Neck (if not beyond), all the way northeast to today's Larchmont (if not beyond) and westward to the Bronx River.

On September 8, 1664, the Dutch surrendered Fort Amsterdam, New Amsterdam, and New Netherland to the English.  English authorities immediately took control of the surrendered lands on behalf of a brother of King Charles II named James Stewart, Duke of York (who later became James II of England and James VII of Scotland).  The new English dominions became the Colony of New York.  

These developments raised a host of issues in the context of private land ownership.  Firstly, what was the status of landholders who occupied their lands through grants made by, or acquisitions derived from, Dutch authorities now that the English had ousted the Dutch?  Secondly, in settlements like those in the little village of West Chester and on Cornell's Neck where Colony of Connecticut residents like Thomas Pell supposedly had acquired the lands "under license" from the Colony of Connecticut, should the lands be properly considered part of the new Colony of New York or part of the pre-existing Colony of Connecticut?  Of course, all these questions swirled around Thomas Pell's acquisition.

Ownership of Cornell's Neck

Thomas Cornell, Sr (b. 1595 – d. 1655) was one of the earliest settlers of Boston (1638), Rhode Island (1643) and the Bronx and a contemporary of Roger Williams and the family of Anne Hutchinson.  In 1646, New Netherland authorities granted Cornell a patent on an area of about four square miles that later became part of today's The Bronx.  It was bounded by Westchester Creek, the Bronx River, village of Westchester and the East River.  Then called Cornell's Neck, the area now is known as Clason Point.  See "Thomas Cornell (Settler)" in Wikipedia -- The Free Encyclopedia (visited Jun. 16, 2018).

Although Thomas Cornell and his family settled on Cornell's Neck, numerous sources indicate that he soon was driven from the area by Native Americans who attacked his cattle and burned his buildings.  After Cornell's death, his widow (sole executrix of his last will and testament) reportedly conveyed Cornell's Neck to two of the couple's children including Sarah who subsequently gained sole title to the land.  

Sarah Cornell had been married to Colonel Thomas Willet who died.  Thereafter she married Charles Bridges in November, 1647.  Though Charles Bridges had arrived in America from Canterbury, England, he played an active role in the administrative affairs of the Dutch Colony of Curacao and, later, New Netherland and was known by the Dutch as Carel van Brugge (or ver Vrugge).  

Charles Bridges and Sarah Cornell Bridges File Suit Against Thomas Pell

In 1664, as the Dutch surrendered New Amsterdam and New Netherland to the English, Thomas Pell laid claim to Cornell's Neck.  In an apparent effort to bolster his position as he began to agitate for an expansive recognition of the extent of the lands he acquired from Native Americans, Thomas Pell approached settlers in the settlement he had planted at West Chester (adjacent to Cornell's Neck) and demanded that they sign a writing indicating that they submitted to his dominion as purchaser of the property.  The majority of them did so on June 15, 1664.  (See transcription of, and citation to, the document later in this article.)

Charles and Sarah Bridges of Cornell's Neck grew alarmed.  On October 26, 1664, the couple "entered a protest against all bargains, deeds, and sales of Thomas Pell of Onkway, or any from or under him" relating to Cornell's Neck.  This "protest" involved a lawsuit that subsequently was tried in the Court of Sessions at Hempstead.  Following that trial, an appeal was taken to the newly-established Court of Assizes of the Colony of New York.

On September 29, 1665, the case was tried before a jury in the Court of Assizes.  Plaintiffs Charles and Sarah Bridges were represented by an attorney named John Sharpe.  Thomas Pell represented himself in the matter.  

The matter was tried before a jury of seven men.  The jury foreman was John Tucker.  The remaining six jurors were William Wilkins, John Emans, Charles Morgan, John Forster, Joseph Bayley, and Robert Terry.

The attorney for Charles and Sarah Bridges presented the land grant and patent issued to Thomas Cornell by Willem Kieft, Director-General of New Netherland, on July 26, 1646.  He also presented "the widow Cornell's conveyance of same to Sarah and her sister" as well as evidence of the original purchase of the land from local Native Americans by Petrus Stuyvesant, who also served as Director-General of New Netherland.  The attorney presented the articles of surrender for the surrender of New Netherland to the English in 1664 as well as "the king's instructions confirming Dutch grants."

In reply, Thomas Pell presented evidence of his purchase of the lands from local Native Americans on June 27, 1654.  He also pleaded that his acquisition was made "under license from Connecticut" and that the Dutch lacked power to grant an ownership interest in the lands.

The jury rendered its verdict in favor of Charles and Sarah Bridges.  Thomas Pell was required to pay costs as well as six pence damages to the plaintiffs, a modest award even in  1665.  

Thomas Pell Continues His Fight For an Expansive Recognition of His Property Rights

Thomas Pell was absolutely furious with the result of the lawsuit.  He embarked on a campaign to overturn the result in any way he could.  

As local residents in the region of the settlements of Cornell's Neck and West Chester began to seek confirmations of their patents from New York colonial authorities, Thomas Pell complained bitterly to anyone who would listen that colonial officials would not recognize his land rights in the region.  

Pell wrote to John Winthrop, Jr., Governor of the Colony of Connecticut where Pell resided.  He asked Winthrop to intercede on his behalf with the Governor of the Colony of New York. In that letter Pell pleaded his case once again.  His arguments may be distilled, essentially, to an assertion that the Dutch were intruders in the region as well as enemies of England with "no right off dominion, no right of jurisdiction, no right to purchase" lands that rightfully belonged under English dominion.  Pell argued, in essence, that the Governor of the Colony of New York was treating him as a second-class English subject with fewer rights than enemies of England.

Thomas Pell was an affluent and influential man among the English settlers from New York to Connecticut.  Clearly his importunities could not be ignored without some political risk.

Finally, on July 3, 1666, the office of New York Governor Richard Nicolls wrote to Thomas Pell (through an aide) to note that word had reached him that, as the aide put it:  " you Complaine of very hard Measure that you have rec d in that hee [i.e., the Governor] disposeth of the Lands at Westchester and there about to which you pretend a Title."

In the same letter, the Governor's aide continued, informing Pell that the Governor would stop confirming such patents in the region temporarily so "That if you have any just Clayme to those Lands or Exceptions to what hee doth, or is about to do, you may deliver them in to him."  The letter further warned Pell, however, that the Governor "conceiveth [that] no Person hath a more Lawfull Power to dispose thereof, than himselfe by vertue of his Commission and Authority from his Royall Highnesse And hee did believe the Tryall about Cornhill's Neck, was a Sufficient President for the Clearing of the Title to the rest."

The letter with its warning to Pell did not dampen Pell's fury.   Moreover, it appears that the Governor of the Colony of New York and his advisors recognized that the private land ownership problem was not limited to Thomas Pell and his claims of ownership extending as far as Cornell's Neck.  Indeed, during a Court of Assizes session held between September 27, 1666 and October 2, 1666, several amendments to colonial laws were approved to require reconfirmation or renewal of all previous land grants in the region.  As one source puts it:

"Several amendments of the code were made at this session of the Assizes. Public rates were required to be paid every year in wheat and other produce, at certain fixed prices, 'and no other payment shall be allowed of.' . . . Perhaps the most important decree related to land patents. 'The Court having taken notice of the defects and failings of both towns and persons in particular of not bringing in their grants or patents to receive a confirmation of them, or not coming to take out new grants where they are defective, or where there are none at all, according to former directions in the Law, As also taking it into their serious considerations that several towns and persons within this Government, as well English as Dutch, do hold their lands and houses upon the conditions of being subjects to the States of the United Belgic Provinces, which is contrary to the allegiance due to his Majesty, They do therefore Order that all grants or patents whatsoever formerly made, shall be brought in, to be confirmed or renewed by authority of his Royal Highness the Duke of York, and all such as have not patents shall likewise be supplied therewith by the first day of April next after the date hereof; after which time neither town nor private person, whether English or Dutch, shall have liberty to plead any such old grants, patents, or deeds of purchase in law, but they shall be looked upon as invalid to all intents and purposes." 

According to New York historian John Romeyn Brodhead:

"This stringent ordinance made great commotion. It was vigorously enforced, because the quit-rents and fees on renewals were necessary for the support of the government. In the course of the next few months, Neperhaem, Pelham, Westchester, Eastchester, Huntington, Flushing, Brookhaven, Easthampton, New Utrecht, Gravesend, Jamaica, Hempstead, Newtown, Flatlands, Bushwick, Flatbush, and Brooklyn, paid new fees and obtained new charters which generally confirmed to each of them their old boundaries, and 'all the rights and privileges belonging to a town within this government.'"

Thomas Pell was among those who sought reconfirmation of his land purchase by colonial authorities.  As one scholar has noted, though New York Governor Richard Nicolls would not go so far as to recognize Pell's claimed ownership of Cornell's Neck, he did seem to "mollify" Pell with the broad and expansive nature of the confirmation of his land ownership. Indeed, the patent issued to Thomas Pell on October 6, 1666 recognized Thomas Pell's lands as a "manor."  Though the patent never referenced the lands as "Pelham Manor" or the "Manor of Pelham" (that would not come until a later confirmation issued to Pell's nephew and heir John Pell), the terms of the patent were unmistakable, providing in part that Pell's holdings:

"shall be forever hereafter had, deemed, reputed, taken and be an enfranchised township, manor and place itself, and shall always from time, and at all times hereafter, have, hold and enjoy like and equal privileges with any town, enfranchised place or manor within this government, and in no manner of way be subordinate or belonging unto any other township or jurisdiction, but shall in all be held as an entire enfranchised township, manor and place of itself in this Government."  

As one scholar has noted (quoted and cited in full below):  "the patent did not mention Pell's claim under Connecticut; instead the grant was based on his original purchase from the Indians alone.  Since no counterclaim under a Dutch patent existed, Nicolls was free to grant the land as he pleased.  It appears that the governor created Pelham Manor in order to mollify Pell."

Thomas Pell may have failed to obtain official sanction of his contention that Cornell's Neck was part of the lands he bought from local Native Americans.  He succeeded, however, in gaining a recognition of his remaining vast holdings as a "manor" -- a manor that became known far and wide as the "Manor of Pelham."

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Transcribed below are a variety of materials relevant to today's Historic Pelham Blog article.


"Upon the 16th [sic] of June, 1664, we find the inhabitants of Westchester surrendering all their rights to Thomas Pell, in the following manner: -- 

'Know all men by these presents, that whereas there was an agreement made on the fourteenth of November, 1654, between Thomas Pell and divers persons, about a tract of land called Westchester, which was and is Thomas Pell's, bounded as appears by an instrument bearing date as above expressed, wherein the undertakers engaged the payment of a certaine summe of money, present pay, for the said land expressed in the covenant, by reason of some troubles which hindered the underwriters possession, the agreement was not attended, the present inhabitants considering the justnesse and right of the above said title of Thomas Pell, doe surrender all their rights, titles, and claimes, to all the tract of land aforesaid, to bee at the disposal of the said Thomas Pell, as being the true and proper owner thereof. 

Witness our hande, this 15th day of June in the yeere of Lord one thousand six hundred and sixty four. 

JOHN QUIMBIE
CONSIDER WOOD,
NICKOLAS BALLE,
JOHN WINTER, 
RICHARD PONTON, his [sideways "X"] mark.
JOHN BARKER, 
ROBERT HUESTIS, 
EDWARD JESSOP, 
WILL BEET,
JOHN LARENS,
SAMUEL BARRET, his B mark
THOMAS VAILLE, his [sideways "X"] mark.
WILLIAM JONES, his [sideways "V"] mark.
JOHN ACER,
JOHN WILLIAMS, his [sideways "Y"] mark.
SAMUEL PITCHER, his [sideways "T"] mark.
THOMAS MILLENER.

The same day Thomas Pell issued the following order to the inhabitants of Westchester: -- 

'The major part of the inhabitants of West Chester having surrendered up all their rightes, titles and claimes, of ye land, wch they pr tended, to possesse, to Thomas Pell, the owner thereof (as appeareth by writing under their hande, in the foregoing page), That the inhabitants might enjoy the present improvements of Their labors, Their home Lotts, and planting grounds with what meadowes were in times past laid out to each man's particular to mow for this yeere I have desired Mr. Jessop, with the Townsmen and freemen, That it may bee orderly attended. And in case men want meadow to supply their pr esent necessity, they make Their addresses to the aforesaid persons, for Their order, where to mow, to supply Their present occasions.

Witness my hande This sixteenth day of June, in the yeer of our Lord one thousand, six hundred, sixty-four."

p. me, THOMAS PELL."

Source: Bolton, Robert, The History of the Several Towns, Manors, and Patents of the County of Westchester, from its First Settlement to the Present Time Carefully Revised by its Author, Vol. II, pp. 286-87 (NY, NY: Chas. F. Roper, 1881) (citing "Westchester Town Court Rec. Conn., A.D. 1665, p. 17." for the first record and "Westchester Town Court Rec. Commg. A.D. 1665, p. 12." for the second record).

"[14-15:]

[CALENDAR:  Sept. 29.  Charles Bridges and Sarah, his wife, vs. Thomas Pell; appeal from the court of sessions at Hempstead concerning Cornhills Neck, adjoining to Bronxland, near Westchester.  Jurors:  John Tucker, William Wilkins, Charles Morgan, John Emans, John Foster, Robert Terry, Joseph Bayly.  John Sharpe, attorney for plaintiff; Thomas Pell for himself.

Plaintiff pleads the grant and patent of Gov. Kieft to Thomas Cornhill, father of Sarah, one of the plaintiffs, also the widow Cornhill's conveyance of the same to Sarah and her sister, also the purchase of the said land by Gov. Stuyvesant from the Indians and confirmation of it to Thomas Cornhill, also the articles of surrender and the king's instructions confirming Dutch grants; defendant pleads the purchase of the lands from the Indians in 1654 under license from Connecticut and lack of power in the Dutch to grant these lands.  Verdict of jury for the plaintiffs, the defendant to pay costs and six pence damages.  Judgment and order accordingly.]"

Source:  Christoph, Peter R. & Christoph, Florence A., eds., New York Historical Manuscripts: English -- Records of the Court of Assizes for the Colony of New York, 1665-1682, pp. 5-6 (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 1983).

"The second grantee under the Dutch, (in this town) [i.e., the Town of Westchester] was Thomas Cornhill or Cornell, who obtained the following 'grond brief,' or grant in 1646.  

'We William Kieft, Director General, and the Council on the behalf of the High and Mighty Lords, the States General of the United Netherlands, the Prince of Orange and the noble Lords, the Managers of the incorporated West India Company in New Netherlands residing, by these presents do publish and declare that we, on this day the date underwritten, have given and granted unto Thomas Cornell a certain piece of land lying on the East River, beginning from the kill of Bronck's land east south east along the river, extending about half a Dutch mile from the river till to a little creek over the valley (marsh) which runs back around this land; with the express condition and terms that the said Thomas Cornell, or they who to his action hereafter may succeed, the noble Lords the Managers aforesaid, shall acknowledge as their Lords and Patroons under the sovereignty of the High and Mighty Lords the States General, and unto their Director and Council here shall in all things be confirmed as all good citizens are in duty bound, provided also that he shall be furthermore subject to all such burdens and imposts as by their noble Lords already have been enacted, or such as hereafter may yet be enacted, constituting over the same the aforesaid Thomas Cornell in our stead in the real and actual possession of the aforesaid piece of land, giving him by these presents the full might, authority, and special license, the aforesaid piece to enter, cultivate, inhabit and occupy in like manner as he may lawfully do with other his patriomonial lands and effects, without our the grantors in the quality as aforesaid thereunto any longer having, reserving or saving any part, action or control whatever, but to the behoof as aforesaid for all destiny, for this time and for ever more, promising furthermore this their transport firmly, inviolably and irrevocably to maintain, fulfil and execute, and furthermore to do all that in equity we are bound to do without fraud or deceit, these presents only as undersigned and confirmed with our seal or red wax here underneath suspended.

Done in the Fort Amsterdam in New Netherlands, this 26th of July, 1646, undersigned,

WILLIAM KIEFT.

By order of the noble Lords, the Director General and the Council of New Netherlands.

CORNELIS VAN TIENHOVEN, Secretary. a [Footnote a:  "a  Alb. Rec. G. G. 206, also 351."]

Upon the death of Thomas Cornell, the neck became vested in his widow who conveyed the same to her eldest daughter, Sarah, the wife of Charles Bridges.

In the book of general entries at Albany, occurs the following order addressed to the schout, burgomeesters, and schepens of New York:

'Upon the complaint of Charles Bridges and Sarah his wife against William Newman and Thomas Senequam, an Indian, now in custody, you are hereby required to summon a court to meet to-morrow, to examine, hear and determine the matters in controversie between the said partyes, and to proceed therein according to equity and good conscience.  Given under my hand at Fort James, in New York, the 24th of March, 1664.' b  [Footnote b:  "b  Alb. Book of Gen. Entries, from 1664 to 1665, page 101."]  

The cause appears to have been decided in favor of Mr. Bridges and his wife, for on the 27th day of March, 1665, the constable of Westchester was required (by the Governor0 'to deliver unto Mr. Bridges and his wife, or their assignees, the goods that lye attached in your hands as of right belonging to them, for doing whereof this shall be your warrant.  Given under my hand at Fort James in New York, &c.' c  [Footnote c:  "c  Alb. Book of Gen. Entries, page 102."]  Richard Nicolls.

In 1664, Thomas Pell of Onkway, Connecticut, laid claim to Cornell's neck.

Upon the 26th of October, 1664, 'Charles Bridges and Sarah his wife entered a protest before and against all bargains, deeds, and sales of Thomas Pell of Onkway, or any from or under him, of or concerning a parcel of land situated on the East River, beginning from the kill of Bronx land, east south east, likewise alongst the river bounded almost half a Dutch mile, a copy of the original grant whereof unto Thomas Cornell, father of the said Sarah Bridges they have also registered, until such time as the cause can be tried.'  a  [Footnote a:  "a  Alb. Rec. Gen. Entries vol. i. p. 14."]

The following particulars are taken from the assize records, in relation to a trial between the two parties, held on the 29th of September, 1665.

Charles Bridges          }
                                    } Plaintiffs.
and Sarah his wife,     }

Thomas Pell, Defendant.

Names of Jurors.

John Tucker, Foreman,
William Wilkins, 
John Emans,
Charles Morgan, 
John Forster,
Joseph Bayley, 
Robert Terry.

'The attorney for the plaintiffs produced a copy of the heads of the trial at the court of sessions held in June last, at Hampstead, he likewise puts in a declaration alledging the defendant's unjust molestation of the plaintiffs in their possession of a certain pacel of land called Cornell's neck, lying and being near Westchester, which of right belongs unto them, &c.

To prove their title, a grant and patent from the Dutch governor, Kieft, to Thomas Cornell, deceased, father of Sarah, one of the plaintiffs, is produced and read in court, that upon the said grant, Thomas Cornell was in lawful possession of the said lands, and that he was at consdierable charges in building, manuring, and planting ye same, that after some years the said Thomas Cornell was driven off his said lands, by the barbarous violence of the Indians who burnt his house and goods, and destroyed his cattle, which was made appeare by sufficient testimony.  That widow Cornell's conveyance of the said neck of land to Sarah Bridges, one of the plaintiffs, and her sister, was likewise given in, under which the plaintiffs claime.   That the said widow Cornell was left sole executrix of the last will and testament of her husband, Thomas Cornell, deceased, and so had power to convey the premises; this was allowed of, (although neither the will nor a copy thereof were produced,) there being no exceptions made against it.  There was likewise an act from the late Dutch governor, Stuyvesant, produced, where he buyes the same lands of the Indians again, (though alledged to be bought long before,) and confirms it to Thomas Cornell, his heires and assigns.

Mr. Pell, the defendant, makes answer for himself, that he bought the land in question in the year 1654, of the natives, and paid them for it.  He pleads his being a free denizen of England, and hath thereby liberty to purchase lands in any of his majesties dominions, within which compass this is.  He alledges the fifth clause in the King's treaty, sent over hither to make for him, as declaring this land to be within his majesties dominions, he saith the governor and council of Connecticut tooke notice of this land to be under their government, a  [Footnote a:  "a  The legislature of Connecticut, (says the historian Trumbull,) determining to secure as far as possible the lands within the limits of their charter, authorized one Thomas Pell to purchase of the Indian proprietors all that tract between Westchester and Hudson's river, and the waters which made the Manhadoes an Island; and resolved that it should be added to Westchester, 1663. -- Trumbull's Hist. of Connecticut, 273."] and that they ordered magistratical power to be exercised at Westchester, and that he had license from them to purchase.  He pleads that where there is no right there can be no dominion, so no patent could be granted by the Dutch, they having no right.  Several testimonys were read to prove that ye Indians questioned Mr. Cornell's and other plantations there, about not paying for those lands, which was the occasion of their cutting them off and driving away the inhabitants, but the defendant hath paid a valuable consideration to the natives.

The attorney for the plaintiffs alledges ye articles of surrender, and the King's instructions, wherein any grant or conveyance from the Dutch is confirmed, and plead the antiquity of Mr. Cornell's grant and possession, together with his great losse.  After a full hearing of the case it was referred to the jury, who brought in their verdict for the plaintiffs, the defendant to pay costs and charges of suite, and sixpence damage.'

Judgment was accordingly granted by the court, and the following order issued.

'The court having heard the case in difference between the plaintiffs and defendant debated at large concerning their title to a certaine parcell of lnd, commonly called Cornell's neck, adjoining to Bronx land, near Westchester, and having also seen and perused their writings and evidences, it was committed to a jury, who brought in their verdict for the plaintiffs, viz, that thee land in question doth of right belong to the plaintiffs, and that the defendant shall pay the costs and charges of suit, and sixpence damage.  The court doth give their judgment accordingly, and do likewise order that the high sheriff or the under sheriff of ye north riding of Yorkshire, upon Long Island, do put the plaintiffs in possession of the said lands and premises, and all persons are required to forbear the giving the said plaintiffs, or their assigns, any molestation in their peaceable and quiet enjoyment thereof.' b  [Footnote b:  "b  Alb. Assize Rec. p. 15.n"]"

Source:  Bolton, Jr., Robert, History of the County of Westchester, From Its First Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, 152-55 (NY, NY:  Alexander S. Gould, 1848).

"Several amendments of the code were made at this session of the Assizes. Public rates were required to be paid every year in wheat and other produce, at certain fixed prices, 'and no other payment shall be allowed of.' . . . Perhaps the most important decree related to land patents. 'The Court having taken notice of the defects and failings of both towns and persons in particular of not bringing in their grants or patents to receive a confirmation of them, or not coming to take out new grants where they are defective, or where there are none at all, according to former directions in the Law, As also taking it into their serious considerations that several towns and persons within this Government, as well English as Dutch, do hold their lands and houses upon the conditions of being subjects to the States of the United Belgic Provinces, which is contrary to the allegiance due to his Majesty, They do therefore Order that all grants or patents whatsoever formerly made, shall be brought in, to be confirmed or renewed by authority of his Royal Highness the Duke of York, and all such as have not patents shall likewise be supplied therewith by the first day of April next after the date hereof; after which time neither town nor private person, whether English or Dutch, shall have liberty to plead any such old grants, patents, or deeds of purchase in law, but they shall be looked upon as invalid to all intents and purposes.'* [Footnote cites the following: "*Court of Assizes II, 80, Col. MSS., xxii., 107; N.Y. Hist. Soc. Coll., i, 414-419; Hoffman's Treatise, 1, 97."]

This stringent ordinance made great commotion. It was vigorously enforced, because the quit-rents and fees on renewals were necessary for the support of the government. In the course of the next few months, Neperhaem, Pelham, Westchester, Eastchester, Huntington, Flushing, Brookhaven, Easthampton, New Utrecht, Gravesend, Jamaica, Hempstead, Newtown, Flatlands, Bushwick, Flatbush, and Brooklyn, paid new fees and obtained new charters which generally confirmed to each of them their old boundaries, and 'all the rights and privileges belonging to a town within this government.'" 

Source:  Brodhead, John Romeyn, History of the State of New York, Vol. II, pp. 109-10 (NY, NY: Harper & Brothers, Publishers 1871).

"Charles Bridges, who had come over from Canterbury, England, and had taken an active part in the Dutch administrative affairs of Curacoa and New Netherland, even changing his name for a time to Carel van Brugge or ver Vrugge.  His wife was Sarah Cornell, daughter of Thomas Cornell, of Cornell's Neck.  She wsa the widow of Colonel Thomas Willet when Bridges married her in November, 1647.  After the death of Bridges she was married a third time, to John Lawrence, Jr., of Flushing.  Bridges and his wife succeeded in a suit against Thomas Pell, at the court of assizes, on September 29, 1665, for possession of the land on Cornell's Neck, from which Thomas Cornell had been driven 'by the barbarous violence of the Indians who Burnt his House and Goods, and destroyed his Cattle.' -- Innes.  New Amsterdam and its People, pp. 194-195; General Entries, vol. 1, p. 155; Court of Assizes, vol. 2, pp. 15-18; Collections of N. Y. Hist. Society, 1892, pp. 118-119."

Source:  Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York -- One Hundred and Thirty-Third Session 1910, Vol. XXXIII, No. 67, Part I, p. 72 n.1 (Albany, NY:  J. B. Lyon Co., 1910).

In 1666, Mathias Nicolls wrote a letter on behalf of the Governor of the Province of New York, Richard Nicolls, to Thomas Pell addressing his complaints regarding efforts by others to receive land patents that he believed infringed upon his own holdings. The letter is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source. 

"A LETTER WRITTEN BY YE GOVERNORS ORDER UNTO MR. THOMAS PELL, CONCERNING HIS LAND IN WESTCHESTER. 

MEMORANOCK, July 3d, 1666. 

Sr. 

The Governor having been Informed by Mr. Delavall and others that you Complaine of very hard Measure that you have rec d in that hee disposeth of the Lands at Westchester and there about to which you pretend a Title; his Honor gave mee Order to acquaint you, that for ye present hee hath putt a Stopp to Westchester Patent, as well as others there about (although they have for some time laying ready for his Passing) That if you have any just Clayme to those Lands or Exceptions to what hee doth, or is about to do, you may deliver them in to him, But hee conceiveth , no Person hath a more Lawfull Power to dispose thereof, than himselfe by vertue of his Commission and Authority from his Royall Highnesse And hee did believe the Tryall about Cornhill's Neck, was a Sufficient President for the Clearing of the Title to the rest; However, Its his pleasure to heare what you can alleadge or object, so that you do it Speedily for he thinkes it not convenient, to leave those matters much longer in Suspense; yor Answer hereunto by the first oppertunity will bee expected. This is all I had in Charge to deliver unto you, So I subscribe Sr. 

Your humble Serv t MATHIAS NICOLLS." 

Source:  Fernow, Berthold, Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York, Vol. XIII, p. 403 (Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons and Company 1881).

"THOMAS PELL - TO JOHN WINTHROP, JR.

To ye Honored John Winthrop Esquire, Governour off his Maiestys Colony in Connecticut att his house in Hartfford these psent.

FAYRFFEILD 2 : 5 : 66 :

HONOURED S R, -- Once more I doo humbly present my request to you yt you would be pleased to visit Generall Niccols in my behalfe w th a few lines.  Ye coppy off ye purchase I sent to your worship when you liued in New London in 1655 p my sonne Scott, wch you judged to be good : since it is conffirmed p oath beffore Captayne Talcot. Wt ever ye Dutch Gouernour Stevensons [Peter Stuyvesant's] pretence was, the kings majesty in his letters 1664 chalengeth all these parts of America to be his dominions; & wt ye Dutch possesed claymed to be his teritoryes, therffore will not suffer any neighbour nation how allied so euer to sitt downe in his terittoryes wth out his leaue. No dominion his majesty allowes to forreigne power, therffore calleth them intruders : no dominion, no jurisdiction, no purchase, no pattent legally. Sr, you well know no alien, except he be naturalized, can inherit in any off ye kings dominion, nor purchase. The Dutch not naturalized because his majesty in ye fore sayed letter 1664 calleth them intruders : therefore will haue them sujected p power (no right off dominion, no right of jurisdiction, no right to purchase), when as a naturall English man hath power to purchase in any off his majestys dominions ; all his majestys dominions being an English mans house & home, beinge vnder ye protection off his Soueraigne Lord. I judge it impossible it can legally fall to ye Duke off Yorke p conquest : when ye inhabitants off West Chester were called vnder one of his majestys colonyes p pattent power, ye inhabitants in parson endeavoringe p force off armes to subdue ye intruders accordinge to ye kings command, & their superiors, vnder whom they were subjected, maniffesting it p their parsonall apperence beffor General Niccols. Neither is it possible yt ye articels off aggreement made wth ye Dutch had any refference to ye English vnder made wth ye Dutch had any refference to ye English vnder his majestyes suiection : articeles off aggreement weare made wth enemies (as enemies) not wth freinds. Ye articells off aggreement could not comprehend ye Dutch breiffs yt they should be ratiffied, wch were no vnder ye Dutch power & weare his jaiestys subjects, as will appeare p ye Court off Records in Hartfford. So it makes ye kings subjects in a worse case then intruders & oppen enemyes : loyal subjects to loose all & oppen enemyes to injoy their clames p articells off aggreement. Sr, you being one of ye 4 New Englands Commissioners know yt ye articels off aggreement did not reach his majestys subjects, but those yt opposed his majestys interest that were made wth those parsons yt weare in enmyty wth his majesty to mantayne their owne interest : his majestyes subjects weare not in a cappasity to be capitulatinge, standing vppon articels off agreement whear was no disagreement, but wear willinge to attend his majestys service. Shall enemys power be established, & his majestyes made null & voyed? Sr, you know in his majestys letter to ye Gouernour & Councell to Connectic[ot] Colony it was his pleasure to exprese himself yt their priveledges & libertys, neither Civill or Eccesiasticall, should be in ffringed not in the least degree. 

I shall desire to present these queres ; whither so doinge doth not charge his majesty off iniustice (establishinge Dutch breeffs), 2ly whither it doth no justly lay a stumbling block to his majestys most loyall subjects. Sr, it was your Worpps pleasure to say you gaue ye Generall ye gouern[ment] off ye bounds belonginge to West Chester, not ye propriety. Sr, I hope you will seriously consider ye premises & appear to be helpffull at this time to your humble servant to command. 

THOS PELL. 

Indorsed, 'Mr Pell. Rec : July 4, 1666.'"

Source: The Massachussetts Historical Society, Collections of the Massachussetts Historical Society, Vol. I - Fifth Series, pp. 410-12 (Boston, MA: The Massachusetts Historical Society, 1871).

"THE ROYAL PATENT OF PELHAM MANOR.

'Richard Nicolls, Esq., Governor under His Royal Highness the Duke of York, of all his territories in America. To all to whom these presents shall come, Greeting, Whereas, There is a certain tract of land within this government upon the main, situated, lying and being to eastward of Westchester bounds, bounded to the westward by the river called by the Indians Aqueouncke, commonly known by the name of Hutchinson's River, which runneth into the bay lying between Throgmorton's Neck and Hook's Neck, commonly called Hutchinson's Bay, bounded on the east by a brook called Cedar Tree Brook, and on the south by the Sound which lieth between Long Island and the main land, with all the islands in the Sound not already granted or otherwise disposessed of, lying before explained, and northwards to run into the woods, about eight English miles in breadth as the bounds to the Sound -- which said tract of land hath heretofore been purchased from the Indian proprietors and satisfaction given for the same. 'Now know ye that by virtue of the commission and authority unto me given by His Royal Highness James, Duke of York, etc., upon whom by lawful grant and patent from His Majesty, the proprietor and government of that part of the main land, as well as of Long Island as all the islands adjacent among other things as settled. 'I have thought proper to give, grant, confirm and ratify unto Thomas Pell, of Oncknay, alias Fairfield, in His Majesty's colony of Connecticut, gentleman, his heirs and assigns, all the said tract of land, bounded as aforesaid together with all the lands, islands, seas, bays, woods, meadows, pastures, marshes, lakes, waters, creeks, fishing, hawking, huntin, and fowling, and all other profits, and that the said tract of land and islands, and appurtenances shall be forever hereafter had, deemed, reputed, taken and be an enfranchised township, manor and place itself, and shall always from time, and at all times hereafter, have, hold and enjoy like and equal privileges with any town, enfranchised place or manor within this government, and in no manner of way be subordinate or belonging unto any other township or jurisdiction, but shall in all be held as an entire enfranchised township, manor and place of itself in this Government; to have and to hold the said tract of land-grant with all and singular the appurtenances, premises and privileges, immunities, and franchises given and granted unto the said Thomas Pell, to his heirs and assigns, to the proper use and behoof of the said Thomas Pell, his heirs and assigns forever, freely and clearly in so large and ample manner with all the privileges as before expressed, as if he had held the same immediately from His Majesty the King of England etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., his successor as of the manor of East Greenwich in the county of Kent is free and common seaage [sic], and by fealty only yielding, rendering and paying yearly unto His Royal Highness the duty forever, and his heirs, or to such Governor as from time to time be constituted and appointed, as an acknowledgement [sic] one lamb upon the first day of May, if the same shall be demanded. 'Given under my hand and seal, at Fort James, in New York, on the island of Manhattan, the sixth day of October, in the eighteenth year of the reign of our sovereign lord Charles the Second, by the grace of God, of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc., etc., and in the year of our Lord God, 1666. 

RICHARD NICOLLS. 

'Entered and recorded in the office of New York, the eighth day of October, 1666. 

Attest: MATHAIS NICOLLS, Sec'y."

Source:  Bolton, Robert, The History of the Several Towns, Manors, and Patents of the County of Westchester, from its First Settlement to the Present Time Carefully Revised by its Author, Vol. II, pp. 38-39 (NY, NY: Chas. F. Roper, 1881).

"By the end of his term of office, in summer 1668, Governor Nicolls learned about the domestic effects of the 1664 boundary decision.  Because former citizens of Connecticut and New Haven in Long Island and the Westchester area now became citizens of New York, they tried to make New York grant them the style of government to which they were accustomed.  Nicolls's efforts to institute a governmental structure that would please both his royal master and his would-be New England masters could satisfy neither and were therefore a cause of instability from the start of New York's existence.  The geographical boundary which the commissioners had tried to delineate between New England and New York proved to be no barrier to New England political beliefs, which were currently under strong suspicion in England.  When dealing with John Winthrop, Jr., Nicolls found little cause to worry that Connecticut would exhibit the same intransigence as did Massachusetts, but when associating with former Connecticut colonists in New York, he did witness some of the righteous stubborness that he had met with in Boston.  If he thought the 1664 boundary agreement protected him from New England republicanism, then he must have been dismayed to learn the degree to which the former Connecticut men were still 'part' of New England in spite of royally authorized commissioners' decisions.

Nicolls was to learn that the boundary decision created land problems as well, even though the apparent precision with which the line was located left no doubt about the extent of the adjoining colonies' jurisdiction.  As much as Connecticut's delegates lost at the 1664 negotiations, they still tried to find a way to protect private land claims in the area west of the new boundary line.  They appear to have attempted to get at least verbal assurances that individuals, groups, and towns could retain possession of any lands they had earlier settled and improved even though they would be under New York's jurisdiction.  That this was understood is indicated by Thomas Pell's later protest to Governor Winthrop that 'it was your worshipps pleasure to say you gave the Generall the government off the bounds belonging to West Chester, not the propriety.'

The common picture of the 1664 negotiations comes from the final agreement of 1 December, but the first draft of the agreement shows the extent of Connecticut's failure concerning private land claim and also reveals the influence of Westchester landowners.  The agreement was so complicated as to be unworkable.  It included a proviso for a line twenty miles from the Hudson River, but also stipulated that 'false borders' or enclaves, might be set up.  The draft agreement meant to reserve to Connecticut the possessiions of Connecticut people and of the town of Westchester .  This appears to be an audacious attempt to begin an irredentist movement within New York.  

No such measures appeared in the final agreement of 1 December 1664.  This meant that all private land claims would have to be settled between individuals and New York's governments or courts.  The efforts of Thomas Pell of Fairfield, Connecticut, to protect his large land claims in the Westchester area show how thorny were problems of determining private land disputes connected with the boundary agreement.  They also show the manner in which, from the beginnings of New York, politics influenced the resolution of the colony's boundary conflicts with her neighbors.

Because of his status, Pell was able to pursue his claims in the Westchester area on many fronts; in spite of his status he encountered insurmountable obatacles.  The Articles of Surrender between New Netherland and the conquering English, by which the Dutch officially gave up the colony to English rule, guaranteed that all the Dutch might 'enjoy their lands' and other property 'wheresoever they are within this country. . . .'  On this basis Charles Bridges and his wife had contested Pell's title to 'Cornell's Neck' in October 1664, for they held a Dutch patent to the same land.  When their case was not decided at the Hempstead Court of Sessions in June 1665, they went before the 29 September 1665 Court of Assizes, over which Governor Nicolls presided.  The Bridges's attorney gave the original Dutch grant as evidence, then reminded the court of the Articles of Surrender.  Pell answered for himself that no patent from the Dutch had any validity inasmuch as the Dutch had never had valid dominion, according to Charles II.  Moreover, Connecticut had claimed the area and had given him license to purchse land there from the Indians.  The seven-man jury, none of whom appears to have been Dutch, brought a verdict in favor of the Dutch grant and assessed Pell for costs and six pence damages.  They did so not only because the Articles of Surrender protected Dutch property, but because it was 'sufficiently and lawfully proved' that the land in question, 'together with a large tract as far as Greenwich, was before purchased by the Dutch government,' so that the duke of York now owned it.  As presiding judge Nicolls therefore accepted the validity of all Dutch patents in preference to Connecticut patents in the area and by implication regarded all the territory retained by New York after the 1664 boundary decision as new land which had never been part of Connecticut.  

Pell was particularly incensed that a Dutch claim should take precedence over that of an English citizen.  At about the time that Governor Nicolls was attempting to make a workable division of land in and near Westchester, Pell began to complain to his friends.  In New York Alderman Thomas Delaval passed on the complaint to the governor.

Nicolls promptly wrote Pell to inform him that he was about to dispose of the lands in the area, since it was he alone who had the authority to do so.  Pell still might enter complaints, but the governor regarded the verdict in the Bridges-Pell case as a satisfactory precedent on which to base his later land-granting decisions.  Pell continued to have a very weak case.

The day after Nicolls wrote to Pell, Governor Winthrop received a long, involved letter of protest, in which Pell pleaded that Winthrop intercede with Nicolls on his behalf.  Arguing as he hd before the Court of Assizes that the Dutch had no right to land in New York, Pell asserted that one of His Majesty's subjects was being treated as a second-class citizen, while the Dutch enemy was being favored.  The Articles of Surrender could have no reference to English claims, for they were directed towards the Dutch.  Moreover the English in the Westchester area had never submitted to Stuyvesant's jurisdiction.  Pell concluded by reminding Winthrop that he had said only the government, 'not the propriety,' had been conveyed to New York in 1664.

It is significant that neither in his plea before Assizes nor in his letter to Winthrop did Pell emphasize Connecticut's pre-1664 claim to the lands as much as he did his English citizenship and the alien status of the Dutch.  Pell correctly insisted that 'a naturall English man hath power to purchase in any off his majesty's dominions; all his majesty's dominions being an English mans house & home, beinge under the protection off his Soveraigne Lord.'  Pell lost most of his claim, however, because his right to buy property anywhere in the king's dominions collided with the king's delegation of land-granting authority to separate jurisdictions in the colonies.  It was Governor Nicolls who was now empowered to grant the territory which Charles II had given to his brother and heir; Nicolls was not only obligated by the Articles of Surrender to honor Dutch titles, but was constrained by the boundary decision of 1664 to make an essentially ex post facto judgment as to which colony had owned the Westchester area before the English conquest.

In doing so, Nicolls risked alienating an influential English subject whose allegiance he needed in order to govern New York effectively.  Therefore Pell's pressure got results.  On 6 October 1666 Nicolls granted part of Pell's claim to him as Pelham Manor.  But the patent did not mention Pell's claim under Connecticut; instead the grant was based on his original purchase from the Indians alone.  Since no counterclaim under a Dutch patent existed, Nicolls was free to grant the land as he pleased.  It appears that the governor created Pelham Manor in order to mollify Pell.  A patent for the townspeople of Westchester followed in a few months and included among the grantees three of the men who had signed a 15 June 1664 submission to Pell."

Source:  Schwarz, Philip J., The Jarring Interests:  New York's Boundary Makers, 1664-1776, pp. 11-15 (Albany, NY:  State University of New York Press, 1979) (footnotes omitted).

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