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, April 29, 2015

1702 Deed by John and Rachel Pell Conveying Land to John Hain Refers to Manor Courts of Pelham Manor

John Pell, often referenced by members of the Pell family and a variety of secondary sources as the "Second Lord of the Manor of Pelham," was the nephew and principal legatee of Thomas Pell who bought lands that became the Manor of Pelham from local Native Americans on June 27, 1654.  Born in England in 1643, John Pell traveled to America in 1670 following his uncle's death to claim his inheritance that included the lands that formed the Manor of Pelham.  

John Pell became a notable and important figure in Westchester County before his death in about 1712. (Many sources claim he died in a boating accident in 1702, although that does not appear to be the case.) 

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes a deed by which John Pell, with the consent of his wife, Rachael Pinckney Pell, conveyed to John Hain property adjacent to New Rochelle lands the couple earlier had conveyed to Jacob Leisler for sale to French Huguenots.  The deed is very interesting in one respect.  It references the "manour court" of the Manor of Pelham.  Specifically, it contains a provision requiring John and Rachael Pell to defend Hain's ownership interest reflected by the deed, if necessary in the future, on the condition that if Hain were to file suit, serve process, and seek their support in defense of his ownership interest, he would be required to file his suit in the "manour court."  This is one of the few such references to a "manour court" of the Manor of Pelham during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.  

Portrait of John Pell.

It long has been known that on October 25, 1687, the Captain General and Governor-in-Chief of the Province of New York, Thomas Dongan, issued a royal patent to John Pell reaffirming the deed to the Pell lands earlier granted by Richard Nicholls, Governor-in-Chief of the Province of New York, to Thomas Pell on October 6, 1666.  Among other things, the royal patent issued by Governor Dongan to John Pell established that the lands would "henceforth be called the lordshipp and manner [i.e., Manor] of Pelham" and granted John Pell, his heirs and assigns:

"ffull power and authority at all times hereafter, in the said lordshipp and manner of Pelham aforesaid, one court leete and one court barron, to hold and keepe at such times and so often yearly as he and they shall see meete, and all sines, issues and americiaments at the said court leete and court barron, to be holden and kept in the manner and lordship aforesaid, that are payable from time to time, shall happen to be due and payable by and from any the inhabitants of or within the said lordshipp and manner of Pelham abovesaid; and also all and every the powers and authorities hereinbefore mentioned, for the holding and keepeing of the said court leete and court barron, ffrom time to time, and to award and issue forth the customary writs to be issued and awarded out of the said court leete and court barron, and the same to beare test and to be issued out in the name of the said John Pell, his heirs and assignes, and the same court leete and court barron to be kept by the said John Pell, his heirs and assignes, or his or their steward, deputed or appoynted . . ." 

Source:  Bolton, Robert, The History of the Several Towns, Manors, and Patents of the County of Westchester, From Its First Settement to the Present Time, Carefully Revised by its Author, Vol. II, p. 59 (NY, NY:  Chas. F. Roper, 1881).   

The references to "court leete and court barron" are references to medieval English judicial courts known as "court leet" and "court baron."  The Crown often granted a lord of a manor certain jurisdictional rights over the manor lord's tenants and bondsmen concerning the administration of the manor.  These jurisdictional rights were limited to non-criminal matters and disputes.  In some instances, however, where the lord of the manor was particularly trusted by the Crown, limited criminal jurisdiction could be granted.  According to one source:

"Criminal jurisdiction could, however, be granted to a trusted lord by the Crown by means of an additional franchise to give him the prerogative rights he owed feudally to the king.  The most important of these was the 'view of frankpledge,' by which tenants were held responsible for others within a a grouping of ten households.  In the later Middle Ages the lord, when exercising these powers, gained the name of leet which was a jurisdiction of a part of a county, hence the franchise was of court leet."

See Court Leet, Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia (visited Apr. 26, 2015) (citations omitted).

Over time, it became customary for the court baron and the court leet to meet together in many areas and, often, the courts together were referenced as the Manor Courts.  

Below is the text of the deed from John Pell, with the consent of his wife, Rachael Pinckey Pell, to John Hain executed in 1702. 


Know all Christian People to whom these presents shal Come or whom itt Shall or itt may Concern Sir John Pell proprietor of the Manour of Pelham and Rachel his wife Sent greetings in our Lord [G]od Everlasting Know ye that the sd John Pell with the consent and good Likning of the sd Rachel his wife for the consideration of the Sume of Seaventy pounds currant money of new york to them or one of them well and truly in hand payd by John hain before the Ensealing therof the receipt therof they doe thereby acknowledge and their selves to be fully satisfyed contented and payd and therof and there from and of and from all and Every part and parcell therof doe fully freely and absolutly acquit Exonerate and discharge him the sd John hain his heirs Executors or assignes have granted barguined and sold assured and Confirmed and by these presents guive grand barguin assignes and Confirme unto him the sd John hain his heirs Executors administrators or assignes for Ever the full quantity of fifty accres of Land being and Lying according the Limites here after Expressed that is to say beguining from the marked three [i.e., tree] said to be markd for the division Lignes of the french in new Rochelle purchase to run South to the fresh medow and from Said marked three att the road to run north over the sd road so far as att twenty five rods in breath shall contain the full quantity of fifty accres with all the dependencies of the Same unto him the sd John hain his heirs Executors or assignes to the Sole and onelly proper use besought and benefit of him the sd John hain his heirs or assignes for Ever and the sd parcell of Land and all the apartenancies therof in the peacable and quiett pocession and Injoyment of the sd John hain his heirs Executors or assignes against what persons whatsoever claiming right or titles Lawfully to the Same Shall and will warrant and for Ever deffend by these presents provided allways that the Said purchaser and his heirs or assignes Shall do Suit and Services now or att any tyme hereafter from tyme to tyme the manour court and pay his proportion to the minister in the pleace in wittnesse whereof the sd Sir John Pell and Rachel his wife have hereunto Set theirs hands and Seals in new"

Source:  Forbes, Jeanne A., ed., Records of the Town of New Rochelle Transcribed, Translated and Published By Jeanne A. Forbes, pp. 31-32 (New Rochelle, NY:  The Paragraph Press, 1916).

Order a Copy of "Thomas Pell and the Legend of the Pell Treaty Oak." 

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