Samuel2 Terrill in Easthampton (Long Island, NY)
by Conrad W. Terrill, Oct. 2009
In 1883 the Town of Easthampton, Long Island, NY, appointed a three man committee to transcribe the town records. The committee published their first two volumes in 1887, covering the history of the town, as recorded in the pages of these records, from its settlement in 1649 up to the year 1701. These two volumes are all we need to learn all there is to learn of Samuel2 Terrill from these records, since Samuel had moved away from Easthampton by 1682. A
Click here to see transcriptions of the five Samuel2 Terrill records.
Samuel's name first appeared in the town records in mid-1675 (when Samuel was twenty-seven years old), as a witness to a whaling contract. He may have been in Easthampton earlier, but we can't tell from these records. Most likely, though, he was somewhere else, blacksmithing. Blacksmiths were highly prized in colonial times, since they made items required by other tradesmen, and farmers, and so kept the town in good repair. Because of this, blacksmiths who were interested in practising in a town were rewarded with land grants. Few other tradesmen were so rewarded. The land was granted to the blacksmith only if he agreed to remain there a certain number of years, after which time the land was his to keep, and to sell when he decided to move on. Easthampton granted land to Samuel in 1676, and apparently the term was two years, since the deed was dated 8 April 1678. The town had voted to deed Samuel eight acres of land "upon the Eastward woodland which lieth within the fence belonging to the Easterne plaine." In addition Samuel was granted one eighth acre "in the strete" (in town, apparently), "Two pole & a half broade" (about 41 feet of street frontage) and "Eight pole long," upon which Samuel could build a house. Presumably his blacksmith shop stood on this property in town.
It may have been whaling which brought Samuel to Easthampton. The Indians had been whaling there from time immemorial. At first it was on-shore whaling, which meant that they killed whales which had managed to beach themselves, which happened quite often. The Easthampton white men joined in from their first arrival, forming companies with the Indians, splitting the haul fifty-fifty. They soon moved off-shore, though, chasing after whales which had beached themselves out on the reef, or had become stuck in shallow water. It doesn't seem likely that they chased whales out on the high seas, with longboats and oars. Still, it was a dangerous game, and the Indians were good at it. The white men built the longboats, and provided the Indians with boats, hardware and rope. Samuel officially broke into the whaling business on 13 March 1678 (just before he was granted the land mentioned above), when, as a partner in Richard Shaw & Company, he contracted with the others in the Company and with some Indians to go whaling the next season (three months in the winter of 1678/79). Each of the five men in the Company pledged his "Indyan." Should he have decided to withdraw his Indian for any reason he was required to pay the Company a five pound sterling penalty. The Indians were required "to doe Their faithful Indeavor dureing ye season for killing of whales and other great fish alsoe to cut out and preserve it according to ye Costome of yt design: for which Richard Shaw & Company are to allow them halfe share of whale according as Myster James doth ..."
"Myster James" was Thomas James, the minister of Easthampton, who had a whaling company of his own, and who on 9 April 1678 issued, on its behalf, "a Solemne Protest against any person or p[er]sons who have or shall Contrary to all Law of god or man Justice or equity goe about to violate or infringe ye above mentioned Contracts or agremts without our Consent." B Rev. James's complaint does not seem to have slowed down the competitors.
There are very few records of indentures with Indians, but there are some, and it's possible that Samuel had one, although perhaps he had a less formal arrangement. His Indian's name must be one of those on the list in the 1678 contract—perhaps "plato," "livewell," or "Scanderbag." These are names given to the Indians by the whites, of course—names which may or may not have sounded similar to their actual Indian names. One of the few recorded deeds is that of Richard Stretton, who in 1683 contracted with John Indian, son of Wobbeton, who bound himself to Stretton for two years. John was to receive 12 pounds at the end of his term of service, and to pay 20 pounds if he went to sea without Richard Stretton's consent. For those two years he lived with Stretton and served him, except when he was at sea. C
There are also very few records of apprenticeships. It seems rather likely, though, that Samuel brought his brother Thomas, who was twenty years old in 1676, to Easthampton to be his assistant, perhaps without a legal contract. It's not a certainty, though, since Thomas's name does not appear in Easthampton records before 1685. D And by then Samuel had moved to Brookhaven. On 6 May 1681 Samuel sold the eight acres which had been deeded to him in 1678, to Capt. Josiah Hobart, for nine pounds. The deed mentions that Samuel was "Moveing," but names him "Samuel Terrell of Easthampton," still. Since Samuel did not acknowledge the deed until 26 Jan. 1682, it seems clear that he was gone from Easthampton during most of 1681. There is no deed for the additional 1/8 acre in town, so it's possible that Thomas remained there and took over the house and blacksmith shop, possibly without an official transfer of ownership for some time.
A. Records of the Town of East-Hampton ..., Vol. I (1639 to 1679-80) and Vol. II (1679-80 to 1701-2), transcribed by town committee (Sag Harbor: John F. Hunt, Printer, 1887). (Availability) The references to the five Samuel2 records can be found in the transcriptions.
B. Ibid., I:416.
C. Ibid., II:132.
D. See the companion story for Thomas2 Terrill.