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.

Friday, September 15, 2006

William Newman: A Witness to the Signing of Thomas Pell's Treaty with Local Native Americans on June 27, 1654

For quite some time I have been researching the backgrounds of a number of the English settlers who signed Thomas Pell's "treaty" with local Native Americans by which he acquired the lands that became Pelham and surrounding areas. See, for example, the following post: Thursday, May 18, 2006: Richard Crabb, the "Magistrate" Who Witnessed the Signing of Thomas Pell's Treaty with Local Native Americans on June 27, 1654.

An image of Thomas Pell's handwritten copy of the treaty as well as a transcription of its text may be viewed here. The treaty consists of two parts. The first half involves an agreement by the Native Americans to transfer lands to Thomas Pell. The second half is entitled "Articles of Agreement". In this part of the document, the parties agreed to maintain peaceful and loving relations and to send two men on an excursion once a year in the spring to agree upon and "remark" the boundaries of the land purchase.

Two English settlers signed as witnesses the "Articles of Agreement" section of the treaty: Henry Accorly (by his mark) and William Newman. I have been fairly successful in developing information regarding Henry Accorly and will share that on the Historic Pelham Blog shortly. I have been less successful developing information regarding William Newman. However, I recently ran across some intriguing information that may relate to the William Newman who signed the treaty. I have documented that information and present it below.

Recently I reviewed Volume V of "The Records of New Amsterdam From 1653 to 1674 Anno Domini: Minutes of the Court of Burgomasters and Shepens Jan. 8, 1664, to May 1, 1666, Inclusive". In that volume is a transcript of the trial of a rather unsavory character named William Newman (referenced in the records as "William Niuman", "William Neuman" and "William Nieuman") conducted in 1665. The defendant in the case had ties to Westchester County and local Native Americans. I have not yet been able to ascertain with certainty that this is the same "William Newman" who signed Thomas Pell's treaty on June 27, 1654, but I suspect he may be one and the same. Given that possibility, I have transcribed the material from the volume below.

As background, it seems that Newman had an Indian indentured servant or, perhaps, slave named Thomas Senequam. The pair was accused of involvement in two schemes. In the first, Newman "sold" his slave to Carel van Brugge and his wife. (Though the records reference a sale of the slave, the context suggests that Newman sold his slave's services for a two-week period -- more of a lease, in a sense.) Apparently, Newman and his slave were suspected of a scheme to place the slave in the couple's home to enable them to steal items from the couple. It seems that during the course of the scheme men's and women's garments, a fabric for making garments called "serge", a wig and knives were stolen from the couple. In the second scheme, the authorities accused Newman of selling his slave to Sara Bridges while planning to return and steal him back and spirit him out of the Dutch territory to Boston or Virginia. Newman and his slave stole items from Sara Bridges such as shoes and a musical instrument. Newman and his slave were accused of theft, tried and convicted as indicated immediately below.

"Tuesday, being the 21st March 1665: In the afternoon, at the City Hall. Present the Heeren Allard Anthony, Cornelis Steenwyck, Tyomtheus Gabry, Joannes van Brugh, Joannes de Peister, Jacob Kip. . . .

Vpon the complaint of Charles Bridges, and Sarah his Wife against William Newman and Thomas Senequam an Indian now in Custody Jou are hereby Required to simmon a Court to meete to morrow to Examine heare and determine the matters in Controversy betweene the said Partyes and to proceed therein according to Equity and good Conscience; Given under my hand at fort James in New Jorcke this 23d day of March 1664: was signed Richard Nicolls. At the Side Stood: -- To the Schout, Burgomasters and Schepens of New Jorcke. . .

"Saturday, 25th March 1665. In the City Hall. Present the Heeren Allard Anthony, Cornelis Steenwyck, Olof Stevensen van Cortlant, Tymotheus Gabry, Joannes van Brugh, Joannes de Peister, Jacques Cousseau.

Interrogatories whereon William Niuman, a prisoner, is heard and examined in Court:--

First. How old are you? First. Answers, Thirty Eight Years.

2. Where were you born? 2. Ans: In England; in the County Foy in Cornwal.

3. Have you not sold an Indian to Carel van Brugh as a West India Indian? 3. Ans: The Indian said, he was a West India Indian.

4. Did you not promise the Indian to come and bring him back fourteen days after he should have been clothed? 4. Ans: No; but received him from Mr. Jackson and the Indian so states to get his freedom thereby, knowing he has no writings by him.

5. Have you not stolen men's and women's garments? 5. Ans: No: I have not seen any.

6. Have you not stolen any serge [ed. note: a type of clothing fabric]? 6. Ans: No; Tho' the Indian says it; I have never seen any serge of hers, except what she gave me for the Indian.

7. Have you not stolen a wig from a chest? 7. Ans: No; I have never seen any wig.

8. Have you not stolen knives? 8. Ans: No:

Interrogatories on which is heard and examined in Court the Indian whom William Niuman sold to Carel or Sara Verbrugge, named Thomas Senequam.

First. How old are you? First. Answers, Twenty four years.

2. Whence are you? 2. Ans: Was born at Boston.

3. Has not your Master William Niuman sold you to Carel van Brugge or his wife? 3. Ans: Yes.

4.Was it not with your free will? 4. Ans: Can answer nothing thereto.

5. Have you stolen any man's or womans garments? 5. Ans: No; nor do I know that Master has done so, and if I knew of it, I should say it.

6. Have you stolen any serge? 6. Ans: No; but my master Niuman has given it to me and promised to give more, when he should fetch me.

7. Have you not stolen a wig from a chest? 7. Ans: Master gave it to me and said he should cut his hair off, and put it on, when he ran away, and no one else would know, but he was an Englishman.

8. Have you not stolen knives? 8. Ans: Yes, three knives.

9. Is he not Mr. Jacksons servant? [Ed. Note: Apparently a question directed at Newman, not his slave.] 9. Ans. No agreement was ever made between me and Mr. Jackson, but he is a free Indian and was never bound to him.

10. How comes it that you went away from Mr. Jackson, when you was his servant? 10. Ans. Because he beat me and then he took my clothes and went away.

11. How is it you came to William Neuman and where? 11. Ans: I came to him at Warryck, and William Niuman asked me, if I would go with him to Hertfort he should give me ten shillings.

12. Did he give you the ten shillings when you came to Herfort? 12. Ans: He came not there, but brought me here; also did not pay for the canoe sold to him.

13. How came it, that you resolved to accompany him here after you told him, that you would go to Herfort? 13. Ans. We agreed together, that he was to teach me the trade of a tinker, and he should furnish me food and clothes for a long time.

14. Where is the written agreement entered into between you and Niuman? 14. Ans: 'Twas left at Paketocq with Tomas Stanton to keep.

15. Did not you and William Niuman agree together to cheat whomsoever he should sell you to, and make a profit through you? 15. Ans: No.

16. How came it then, that William Niuman sold you to Sara Bridges and you consented thereto? 16. Ans: I consented thereto, because Will: Niuman promised to take him back in his boat, and bring him to a place where this government had nothing to say; either to Boston or in the Virginias.

17. How comes it that you acted so dishonestly by your neighbors, as to endeavor to cheat another for Niuman's profit? 17. Ans: My master ordered him so to do.

He further declares voluntarily, that he saw his master take a new pair of mens shoes from Mistress Bridges room, and carry them off, and saw his master have a dozen of copper Jews harps but does not know where he got them; but they were tied like those of Mistress Bridges. Carel van Brugge and his wife entering, the aforesaid interrogatories and the answers made thereunto were communicated to them, after which they request to have their own property back which remains in the hands of the constable at Westchester, with costs thereon incurred and still to accrue; and that the Indian shall remain so long bound to them, until he shall have served out the remainder. William Niuman also entering and further heard and examined relative to the serge, wig and knives, answers -- that Tomas Senequam told some soldiers, that he bought the serge at Boston. To which Tomas Senequam answers, It is not true; but said that the cloth cost seven guilders at Boston; and as for the wig (which Tomas Senequam declares that William Niuman gave him, and said, he should cut off his hair, and put it on when he came to fetch him, and when he ran away no one should know, but he was an Englishman) he denies such again, and what relates to the knives denies that. William Niuman is asked, where he got Tomas Senequam. Answers, at Warryck and bought him from his master and gave forty pound sterling good pay for him, but not to Mr. Jackson but on his order to another: says further, he made an agreement at Packetocq at Tomas Stanton's with the above-named Tomas to learn a trade with him for seven years, and after the seven years he should be free. Burgomasters and Schepens having heard Carrel and Sara van Brugge against William Nieuman and Tomas Senequam and examined both on interrogatories and verbal debates; and confronted the aforesaid Niuman and Tomas above named with each other, decree that Carel and Sara van Brugge shall have to ask an order from the Hon ble Governor Nicolls, whereby they may again get the property now in the hands of the Constable at Westchester. Meanwhile, that the abovenamed William and Tomas the Indian shall remain so long apprehended; and what it shall afterwards be found, that Carel and Sara may come short, that William Niuman and Tomas Senequam shall have to pay that, with the costs incurred thereon and still to accrue, either in money or service, saving the right of the Officer."

Source: Fernow, Berthold, ed., The Records of New Amsterdam From 1653 to 1674 Anno Domini Volume V. Minutes of the Court of Burgomasters and Schepens Jan. 8, 1664. To May May 1, 1666, Inclusive, pp. 201-06 (NY, NY: The Knickerbocker Press 1897).

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