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.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The "Rediscovery" of the Deed Reflecting John Pell's Sale of the Lands That Became New Rochelle

On September 20, 1689, John Pell and his wife, Rachel, conveyed to Jacob Leisler of New York City 6,100 acres of land that had formed the northeastern part of the Manor of Pelham acquired in 1654 by Thomas Pell, John Pell's uncle. The original deed is framed and maintained among the collections of the Thomas Paine Cottage in New Rochelle. For an image of the deed and a transcription of its text, see:

Friday, April 6, 2007: The Deed Reflecting John Pell's Sale of the Lands That Became New Rochelle

The deed long was thought to be lost but was "rediscovered" in a secret compartment of a small desk. An account of the rediscovery appeared in the February, 1912 issue of Westchester County Magazine. That account appears in its entirety immediately below, followed by a citation to its source.

Lord John Pell Sold to Jacob Leisler who afterward transfered the 6,000 acres to Huguenot Refugees.

The Huguenot Association of New Rochelle has secured the original deed of the 6,000 acres of land delivered by John Pell, Lord of the Manor of Pelham, and Rachael, his wife, to Jacob Leisler, then acting Governor of the Province of New York, who, in turn, sold it to the Huguenot refugees from France for the same price that he paid.

The deed, which is on a large sheet of parchment bearing the signature of John Pell, the mark of his wife, and the names of five witnesses, together with the seals of the Pells, was purchased by Henry M. Lester, President of the Huguenot Association, from William D. Bonnett, of North avenue, New Rochelle a descendant of a Huguenot family.

A few days ago Mr. Bonnett was cleaning out an old desk bequeathed to him by his grandfather, intending to have it restored, and opened the panel of a secret compartment. In this compartment was the deed, in an excellent state of preservation, after 223 years.

The parchment bears date 'the twentieth day of September, in the first year of the reign of our sovereign Lord and Lady, William and Mary, King and Queen of England, and in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and eighty-nine.'

As payment for the land, Mr. Leisler, according to the deed, gave 'one thousand six hundred and seventy-five pounds, and agrees to give to John Pell, his heirs or assigns one fat calf on every four and twentieth day of June yearly and every year forever (if demanded).'"

Source: Original Deed to New Rochelle Found in Westchester County Magazine, Vol. VIII, No. 5, p. 64 (Feb. 1912).

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