Samuel2 Terrill Petition for Charity 16 December 1698

Nancy Tyrrel Theodore, September 2009

On the first day of December 1698, Samuel2 Terrill suffered a calamity. A fire kindled in the thatch of his home "consumed to ashes" his "house together with all his goods, cloathes & provisions," a loss of "neare one hundred pounds." Thankfully, his wife and six small children were spared. His neighbors, recognizing his "great Povertie and Necessitie," and then Samuel himself, petitioned the governor of New York to grant him "authoritie for the Collectinge and Receivinge the charity of well disposed persons" in New York City and the towns of the Island of Nassau, now Long Island.

Samuel, a blacksmith, was baptized in 1647, so he would have been 51 at the time of the fire in 1698. As for the six small children, records are scare. After removing to Brookhaven in Suffolk County in the early 1680s, there is a recorded birth of a son, Samuel3, in January of 1684a, and other children followed. Samuel3 would have been fourteen at the time of the fire.

Of course, a petition for charity would put forward Samuel's most persuasive case.... after all, the family would be facing the Long Island winter in dire circumstances. While Samuel lost his house and possessions, we know from deeds that he had land in the Brookhaven area and in Milford, Connecticut, so he wasn't entirely penniless. However, his fortunes certainly suffered a severe blow that bleak December day.

One can only imagine Samuel's relief when he was awarded a license to collect charity on 5 January 1699b. (Samuel2's life and family will be more fully covered in a future article.)

New York Council Papers 42:119 & 42:126 - Box 33, Series A1894-78
(The documents are torn and partly illegible as they suffered damage in the New York State Capitol fire of 1911.)

Volume 42, Page 119: (See the original: PDF 1.5 MB)

To his Ex.cie Rich.d Earle of Bellemont Cap.t Genll: and Governor
In chiefe of his Maets Province of New Yorke and the Territories
Thereon Dependinge in America and Viz.e Add.ll of the Same etc.

May it Please yor Ex:cie

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Wee whose names are here under subscribed his Maets Justices of the Peace for the County of Suffolk on the Island of [Nassau] doe [illegible] to yor Ex.cie that Samuell Terill of this County [illegible] of this Instant December as wee are Credibly informed by the Providence of Allmighty God from an accident of Fiare had his house with all his Goods household stuff cloathes and Provissions Burnt and Consumed to the Vallue of neare on[e] hundred pounds and that beinge a Poore man and having a Wiffe and Six small children he will be Reduced to great Povertie and Necessitie unlesse relieved by yor Ex.cis Clemencie in grantinge him authoritie for the Collectinge and Receivinge the charity of well Dispoassed persons which is humb submitted to yor Ex.cies Wisdome and great Goodnesse by

Yor Ex.cis
. . . . . . . Moast Dutifull humb Serv.ts

Suffolk County
December ye 16. 1698

Richd Smith
Adam Smith Ia Arnold
Mathew Howell
Thomas Helme
Jos Hobart
Thomas Mapes
John Wickes
Jonathan Smyth
John Tuthill
Samuell Mulforde
Richard Wodhull

Volume 42, Page 126: (See the original: PDF 1.4 MB)

To his Excy Richard Earle of Bellemont
Capt Genll & Governor in chiefe of his Matyes
Province of New Yorke & ye Territoryes ther on
Depending in America, & vice Admirall of ye
Same etc.

The Humble Petition of Samuell Terrill in most Humble Manner showeth

That yr Excys poor Petitioner hath for these many years past, been an Inhabitant of this Province, & by his honest labour & Industry, by the Blessing of God, Maintained his family. But by a sad accident ye poor Petitioner being himselfe from home the first day of December instant, had his House together with all his goods, cloathes, & provisions, by fire kindled in ye thatch of his said house, immediately consumed to ashes, and yr Ex.cyes said Petitioner having a wife & six small Children, will be reduced to greate poverty & necessity, unlesse relieved by yr Ex.cyes wonted Clemency, & accustomary goodness, in Confidence ever of

Yor Excys Poor Petitioner most humbly requests
& prayes yr Excy will be pleased by publique
Authority to Recommend his sad Calamity
to ye Charity of well disposed persons in ye City
of New Yorke, and on all ye towns on ye Island
of Nassau, And yr Petitioner as in duty
bound shall Ever Pray etc.

Samuell Terrill *

Note: *This appears to be Samuel Terrill's actual signature.

a - Records of the Town of Brookhaven, Book B, 1679-1756, Page 3: "Samuell the Sonn of Samuell Turell was born the 11 day of Jenury 1684 which was born vpon his wiefe abegell."

b - Calendar of Council Minutes 1688-1783, New York State Library, Page 136: "5 Jan 1699 License to collect charity granted to Samuel Terrell of Suffolk county."

Transcriptions by NTT, September 2009