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, October 19, 2006

The Governor of the Colony of New York Visits John Pell, Second Lord of the Manor of Pelham in 1672

In 1672, Francis Lovelace was Governor of the colony of New York. He also was a good friend of John Pell, Second Lord of the Manor of Pelham, who recently had claimed his inheritance from his deceased uncle, Thomas Pell, and was living in the Manor of Pelham.

In February 1672, Governor Lovelace left New York City and traveled to Pelham for a visit with John Pell. Quite a commotion followed. While Governor Lovelace was staying with John Pell, word arrived in New York City that the Dutch fleet had been seen off the coast of Virginia sailing toward New York. Officials scrambled to send a messenger to Pelham who delivered the warning to Governor Lovelace. Governor Lovelace was forced to leave his friend and return to business in New York City. An account of the incident is quoted below with a source citation following the quote.

"The peace, of which we have spoken, between England and Holland, was of but transient duration. In 1672 war was again declared by England. The conflict which ensued was mainly upon the ocean. New York had so grown since its conquest by the English, and could so easily be reinforced by almost any number of men from populous New England, that the Dutch did not think that there was any chance of their then being able to regain the colony. They, however, fitted out a fleet of five ships, to cruise along the coast of North America, destroy the English, and inflict such injury upon any and all of the English colonies as might be in their power.

Governor Lovelace had no idea that any Dutch ships would venture through the Narrows. He made no special effort to strengthen the defences of New York. Early in February he went to Westchester county, to visit at the residence of his friend Mr. Pell. This was quite a journey in those days. The command of the fort was entrusted, during his absence to Captain John Manning.

A vessel entered the port, bringing the intelligence that a Dutch fleet had been seen off the coast of Virginia, sailing in the direction of New York. This created great commotion. A dispatch was sent, in the utmost haste, to the governor, summoning his return. He promptly mustered, for the defence, all the forces he could raise in the city and neighboring counties, and soon five hundred armed men were parading the streets of New York.

It proved a false dream. No enemy appeared. The troops were disbanded. They returned to their homes."

Source: Abbott, John S.C., Peter Stuyvesant The Last Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam, pp. 320-21 (NY, NY: Dodd & Mead 1873).

Another source suggests that the reason Governor Lovelace visited John Pell on this occasion was to discuss the establishment of the overland mail route between New York and Boston, later known as Boston Post Road. Indeed, at about this time John Pell was involved in laying out that road. The following is quoted from this additional source, with a citation to the source following the quote:

"The times were so disturbed that Lovelace was impressed with the necessity of establishing an overland mail between New York and Boston, for the transmission of intelligence, in case of sudden danger or misfortune, and for the advancement of commerce. He consequently issued a proclamation, on the 10th of December, 1672, that on the first day of January, 1673, and on the first Monday of every following month, a sworn messenger would be dispatched to convey letters and small packets to Boston, taking Hartford and other places on his way. A change of horses would be furnished to the messenger at Hartford on his journey to and from Boston. He was to be paid a small salary, and all the letters were to be free of postage. He was instructed to form a post-road by marking trees, 'that shall guide other travelers as well.' Lovelace wrote to Winthrop, asking him to give the man advice as to the best route to pursue, and in the same letter informed Winthrop of the latest news from England; namely that the Dutch Republic had actually lost three of its provinces, and that there were no tidings of peace. Forty well-equipped men-of-war had just been dispatched from Holland to the West Indies. 'It is high time to begin to buckle on our armor,' he added.


While the snow was yet upon the ground, Lovelace paid a visit to the manor of Thomas Pell [sic; Thomas Pell died in late September, 1669; this could only have been his nephew, John Pell], near 'Annie's Hoeck,' for the purpose of settling some question about the new postal route. An express followed him from Captain Manning, to announce the appearance of a supposed Dutch squadron off Sandy Hook. He hurried back to the city, and, finding no enemy, was inclined to ridicule the fals alarm. However, he summoned the soldiers from Albany, Esopus, and Delaware, and mustered one hundred or more enlisted men."

Source: Lamb, J. Martha, History of the City of New York, Its Origin, Rise and Progress in Three Volumes, Vol. I, pp. 256-57 (NY, NY: Valentine's Manual, Inc. 1922) (reprinted from original plates to commemorate the Centennial of the Monre Doctrine).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Click here to see a single index of all Historic Pelham Blog Postings to date


Post a Comment

<< Home