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.

Monday, December 21, 2015

1656 Deed Witnessed by Thomas Pell, Founder of the Manor of Pelham

Thomas Pell may have acquired the lands later known as the Manor of Pelham, but he never resided on those lands.  He made his home in Fairfield where he became a prominent citizen.  

In 1656, various prominent citizens of Fairfield, including Thomas Pell, were called upon to witness the execution of an important "Indian deed" confirming ownership of the ands that comprised the settlement of Fairfield.  The ceremony and execution of the deed were necessary given disputes that had arisen between the English settlers of Fairfield and local Native Americans who remained in the are.

In 1639 and 1640, Native Americans sold lands in the region to Roger Ludlow.  Thereafter, however, occasional disputes arose between English who settled on the lands and the Native Americans who had sold the lands regarding the extent of the land rights granted.  Consequently, local Native Americans occasionally laid claims to a considerable portion of the lands that formed the settlement of Fairfield.

On March 20, 1656 (old-style Julian Calendar), Thomas Pell gathered with Alexander Knowles, Henry Jackson, Nathan Gold, and George Hull to execute as English witnesses a so-called "Indian deed" signed by the following Native Americans:  "Umpeter Nosset," "Nimrod, or Pocunnoe," "Matamuck," "Authonyes, alias Lotashau," and "Washau."

Thomas Pell, of course, was experienced in the diplomatic necessities of negotiating, finalizing, and executing such an "Indian deed."  Less the two years before on June 27, 1654, he had negotiated, finalized, and executed an "Indian deed" for the lands that became the Manor of Pelham."

"Thomas Pell.  Drawing by Thom Lafferty from an
original by an unknown artist.  From Pelliana:  Pell
of Pelham, new series, vol. 1, no. 1, September 1962."

*          *          *          *          *


Whereas there have been several Indians who have made claims to much of ye land yt ye Town of Fairfield have & doe possess, ye Town of Fairfield having taken ye matter into consideration, ordered & appointed Alexandre Knowles, Henry Jackson, Francis Purdy, with several others, should treat with Poquanuck Indians concerning, & upon ye treaty with those Indians, whose names are underwritten in ye behalf of all ye Poquanuck Indians, they have agreed as followeth:  First, they owne ye land yt ye Town is built upon, from ye Creeke yt ye Tide-mill of Fairfield, South Westward is called Sasqua which they owne, have been purchased from ye Indians & is now ye Englishe's Land:  Secondly, ye sd. Indians have acknowledged, consented to & granted yt all that tract of land which they call Unceway (which is from the above sd. Creek Eastward unto ye bounds between Fairfield & Stratford) from ye sea, to run into ye Country seven or eight Mils:  for ye future it shall bee ye land & propriety of ye Inhabitants of ye Town of Fairfield:  Giveing & granting to ye sd. Town of Fairfield all ye above sd. tract of Land called Unceway with all ye Creekes, Rivers, Ponds, Woods & privileges thereto belonging or appertaining to bee to ye sd. Fairfield, ye Inhabitants thereof & to their heirs forever, quietly to enjoy & possesse it:  & they doe promise & engage yt neither they nor their heirs nor any other Indians shall for ye future molest or trouble ye sd. English in ye quiet possesion of ye sd. land:  Only it is to bee noted yt ye feild which ye Indians now possesse, called ye Indian feild, which is a small neck of land or ye other side of ye Creek, is excepted, ye Indians still keeping their propriety in that small neck or feild:  only they are not to set any traps within ye sd. tract of land:  In witness of all which ye sd. Indians have hereunto set to their hands this 20th March, 1656.

Whereas ye above sd. Land is granted to yet town of Fairfield by ye sd. Indians, we also manifest or respects unto them, yt wee doe engage upon sufficient warning, to cart them their stuffe for them to erect & builld a fort, & upon this consideration ye sd. Indians have acknowledged ye above grant.

Umpeter Nosset, X his mark.
Nimrod, or Pocunnoe, X his mark.
Matamuck, X his mark.
Authonyes, alias Lotashau, X his mark.
Washau, X his mark.

Signed & delivered in presence & witnesses of us,

Alexander Knowles.
Thomas Pell.
Henry Jackson.
Nathan Gold.
George Hull.

This is a true copy according to the original, compared by me & recorded this 25. February, 1685.

NATHAN GOLD, Recorder.*

*  Book A, Town Deeds, p. 437."

Source:  Schenck, Elizabeth Hubbell,  The History of Fairfield -- Fairfield County, Connecticut From the Settlement of the Town in 1639 to 1818 by Mrs. Elizabeth Hubbell Schenck, Vol. I, , p. 94 (NY, NY:  J. J. Little & Co.,1889 ).

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

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