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, August 09, 2007

Information About John Ffinch: A Witness to the Signing of Thomas Pell's "Indian Deed" with Local Native Americans on June 27, 1654

On June 27, 1654, Thomas Pell signed a so-called "Indian Deed" with local Native Americans acquiring the lands that became Pelham and surrounding areas. A copy of that deed, said to be in Thomas Pell's handwriting, exists. It is among the Pell family papers maintained by the Fort Ticonderoga Museum. That document offers some of the best evidence we have of those who knew Thomas Pell.

For about a year I have been researching the lives of those Englishmen who witnessed the agreement on June 27, 1654. An image of that agreement and a transcription of its text is available on the archive of the Historic Pelham Web site by clicking here. Among those whose signatures or marks appear on the document as witnesses are "Richard Crabb", "Henry Accorly", "John Ffinch", "William Newman" and others. Inquiry into the backgrounds of these men, hopefully, may shed additional light on Thomas Pell and his purchase.

Periodically I have published on the Historic Pelham Blog a little of the massive amount of information I have assembled about these various Englishmen of the 17th century. For example, see:

Friday, November 03, 2006: More About Richard Crabb, the "Magistrate" Who Witnessed the Signing of Thomas Pell's "Indian Deed" with Local Native Americans on June 27, 1654

Friday, September 22, 2006: Henry Accorly: A Witness to the Signing of Thomas Pell's "Indian Deed" with Local Native Americans on June 27, 1654

Friday, September 15, 2006: William Newman: A Witness to the Signing of Thomas Pell's "Indian Deed" with Local Native Americans on June 27, 1654

Thursday, May 18, 2006: Richard Crabb, the "Magistrate" Who Witnessed the Signing of Thomas Pell's "Indian Deed" with Local Native Americans on June 27, 1654

[Subsequent editor's note / addendum posted after this article was written and posted:  For an article published in 1909 collecting addressing the Englishmen who signed Pell's Indian Deed, see Bell, Blake A., The New Englanders Who Signed Thomas Pell's 1654 Agreement Acquiring Much of Today's Bronx and Lower Westchester Counties From Native Americans, The Bronx County Historical Society Journal, Vol. XLVI, Nos. 1 & 2, pp. 25-49 (Spring / Fall, 2009).]

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting collects references to "John Ffinch" that appear in The Minutes of the Court of Sessions of Westchester County (1657-1696). The minutes were published by the Westchester County Historical Society in 1924 and were taken from minutes preserved in the "Leggett Papers" maintained by the New York Historical Society. Each reference below is followed by a citation to its source.

It should be noted at the outset that references to "Easttowne" are references to the settlement once known as "Oost-dorp" and known by the English at the time (and subsequently) as Westchester, now part of the Bronx in the area of Westchester Square. The references below tell an intriguing story. It appears that "John Ffinch" (Finch) ran up crushing debts and owed large sums to several citizens of the plantation of Easttowne. As the court repeatedly entered judgments requiring Finch to repay his debts, it appears that he conspired with an acquaintance named Edward Waters in which Waters filed a "false" lawsuit in which he fraudulently alleged that Finch owed him the large sum of twenty four gilders. Once he recovered the sum he surreptitiously returned the sum to Finch. When the court discovered the fraud, it fined Edward Waters twelve guilders.

"Eastowne april ye 5 1657.
The estate of John ffinch Sold at a out crey by vartu of a court Acte at a towns meting at a out crey according to Law [Page 1 / Page 2] to paye a debt dew upon bill to mary Cuggsshall of fluching [Flushing] to the value of twelf poun"

Source: Fox, Dixon Ryan, ed., The Minutes of the Court of Sessions (1657-1696) Westchester County New York, pp. 1-2 (White Plains, NY: Westchester County Historical Society 1924) (Publications of the Westchester County Historical Society Vol. II, Source Series, Vol. I).

"John finch in [torn] march ye I st 57".

Source: Id., p. 2.

"aprill the 5th: 1657
The sentans of the court is that John finch shall pay to mr John fleekes ye debt and damages and coast of couret twelf pounds and his * * * to be prised according to * * * of the bill ten days after the sentancs"

Source: Id., p. 3.

"Eastowne may ye 16: 1657
The estate of John Finch sold at a outcrey at atownes meeting his house and Lot and acomudations Sold for nine pounds (a leven shilings ten cowes at five pounds apeise and a cow sold at five pounds five shilings to pay a true [?] debte to mr ffeekes of flushing"

Source: Id., p. 3.

"September ye I : 1657
Edmund waters plantive against John finch in a aktion of debt to the valu of three pounds ten shilings

it being proved in couert that John finch is in deted to Edward Waters three pounds ten shilings therfor wee order that John finch shall pay to Edward waters three pounds ten shilings and cust of couert which amounts to twelf shilings -- to be performed in ten days
ye I : 1657 [Page 5 / Page 6]

A prizal off the goods of John ffinch sold at an out crey [auction] at a townes meting by vartu of a cuart acte to pay a dete dew to Edward waters

november the 24: 1657

to Robert baset £ sh
one Stockcloth [£] 00 [sh] 04 [pence] 02
2 botol rings [£] 00 [sh] 03 [pence] 06

to Richard ponton
one axe [£] 00 [sh] 05 [pence] 03
one iron pot [£] 00 [sh] 5 [pence] 03

To Edmand waters
one pare off tongs [£] 00 [sh] 08 [pence] 00"

Source: Id., pp. 5-6.

June ye 6 : 1658

it is by varto of A coarte acte heare Recorded that Edward waters having planted a sute in coarte in the yeare fifty seven against John ffintch and by ffals hood and defraud hath recuvered twenty foure gilders of John ffintches estate and hath in privut retourned the mony to John fintch againe by asinement of bill there fore wee soe caus and have ffined Edward waters twelfe gilders and to stand heare Recorded for a fals case"

Source: Id., p. 9.

"The 24th of march 1659 John Richesons bill of sale was recorded bearing date the 27th January 1658
know All men whom it may consern that I richard Ponton now inhabitant of West Chester or East Towne now within the jurisdict[ion] of the new netherlands have set over & sould [Page 9 / Page 10] unto John Richeson his heirs Executors Administrators or Asignes the home lot which was laid out to Samuel Westket & After sould to hendrick Cornelius & Roger wiles with All the Acomadations there unto belonging [words crossed out here] or which shall hereafter fall by lot with all Buildings & fencings thereunto belonging I say I the said Richard have sould unto the aforesaid John or his heirs Executors Administratrs or Asignes to have & injoy for ever the Aforesaid Acomadations & As witnes hereof I have set to my hand
Robert Basset
John ffinsh
Richard Ponton his mark [a cross within a rectangle standing on end]"

Id., p. 10.

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