Tuesday, February 23, 2010

evil practices unto the disturbance of Christian order and peace

This is another in a series of posts on family history.1 There was a time when it was prestigious to have colonial ancestors, whether they be soldiers and sailors who fought in the Revolutionary War or religious extremists who set up theocracies in the American colonies. I'm pretty sure this quest for social distinction was the motivation behind "Aunt Minnie's" membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. I don't think she knew that she was probably eligible to join two other exclusive organizations that had been formed at about the same time, the The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America and the The Colonial Dames of America.

Our family tree has branches for two settlers whose early arrival in America would presumably qualify Aunt Minnie to be a Colonial Dame: William Thorne and Lawrence Ellison. I've written about William Thorne on another occasion. Ellison landed in America sometime before June 1643 (he was in Connecticut in that month) and in 1644 became one of the founders of Hempstead, Long Island. In 1655, his daughter Catherine married a man named Henry Lennington who had come from England as a teenager, arriving not much later than her father. Henry and Catherine are direct ancestors of my family.2

Town records of Hempstead for that period give hardly any names of women. Consisting mostly of notes of town meetings, land transactions, and court cases, they give the names of the men who were participating in these events. That's the way it was then. However, there's a short court record saying that on "July ye 3 1667 the testimony of Catthorin Liniugton the wife of hinery linington this deponant affirms that she herd blows severall times and the boy Crie and beg into her owne house but shee did not see them:" This is how it reads, spelling and (lack of) punctuation as you see. The entry that follows is dated much later and concerns a matter of land measurement. The entries that precede are from the same sitting of the "Cort Held in hempsted by the Cunstable and Over-seres," but they cast no light on this matter of a beaten boy. The entry in which Catherine's name appears entry presumably concerns a case that was being heard over several days or a longer period, but my searches of the records turn up nothing more about it. This is not surprising because the records for this time are fragmentary.3

Unlike his wife's, Henry Lennington's name shows up frequently in the records. He bought and sold land, arranged for his cattle to feed in communal pastures, entered into business transactions concerning a mill, accused others of wrong-doing and was himself accused.

His name first appears in a record of cattle put on town grazing land in the summer of 1657: "Hinnery Linengton fower [i.e., 4 head of cattle]." A neighboring record says he has seven "Akers of medowe" among those that were "given out in Allottments unto the particklar Inhabitants of this towne of hempsted." The record reads "Akers Hinery Lennington hath seaven."

On May 7, 1659, his name shows up again. In this record, two men are suing Henry "in an action of accounts." A year later, June 5, 1659, a man accuses him of defamation. In between the two entries, on July 6, 1658, there's one saying that the court passed a sentence on Henry banishing him from the town. Months later, just before his alleged slander of yet another man, he was permitted to return to town "vpon promise of reformacon vnto ye Liberties of an Inhabitant."

The offense for which he was banished was succinctly stated (in text that has been rendered in modern English):
1658, July 6. - At a Court holden at Hempstead. Whereas, Henry Linington, besides other evil practices unto the disturbance of Christian order and peace, and to the violation of the laws, to the great dishonor of God and to the evil example of the nations under which we live, hath solicited Deborah Sturgis; Be it therefore ordered that he shall forthwith be committed to the Marshal's custody who is hereby authorized to apprehend him and in sure and safe manner to keep him in ward, until he shall give sufficient security in recognizance in the value of 500 guilders for his good behavior, in default thereof he is to be sent unto Manhattans, and within 3 months he is to be banished out of the town's limits.
In this case his father and brother-in-law stood bond for him. During court proceedings, Deborah Stugis testified against him:
I can say

1 that hinerry Linnington Came as I was aboute my worke at the well, and asked mee to lie w't him and would have me goe in to the Barne w't him for that purpose

2 that he offered me 10 S to yeeld to his desirers and so he fell from that sum by degrees to half a busheell of mault and I withstood him, and tould him that it was a greate sinne and shame for him that had so good knowledge to sollisit any woaman to soe great A sinn,

3 he tould me that hee offered Largely, and said that he used to give sarah but 5 S atime

4 seeing his importunity w't me to go into ye Barne with him, I bid him goe and stay till I Came, and that while I slipt over to timmothy holsteads.
This was not all that Henry Lennington did to disturb the peace of Hempstead, but it's enough to show that pride of ancestry carries with it a certain amount of potential for embarassment. I'm sure no one's linneage is lily pure and that most have a Henry or two lurking within.4


I don't have any images directly related to family members in the late 17th century. As substitute, here are some old pictures and maps. Most come from History of Queens County; I forgot to record some of the the sources of the others.

{This is an 18th c. drawing of St. George's Church, Hempstead, in whose graveyard many family members are buried.}

{Picture of a lumber and coal yard from Glen Cove in the 18th c.}

{This shows a house typical of the ones built by early settlers in Flushing and Hempstead; source: Horton genealogy on freepages}

{A very early map showing New Amsterdam including Long Island; family members all settled in western Long Island, the area outlined in violet; source: wikipedia}

{A 17th c. map of Long Island; family members lived in and around where the "L" is}

{The areas inhabited by 17th c. members of our family are all within Queens, shown as a green block on this modern map; source: wikipedia}


Main sources for this post:

Records of the towns of North and South Hempstead, Long island, New York [1654-1880, Vol. 1] ed. by Benjamin D. Hicks (Jamaica, N.Y. Long Island Farmer Print, 1896)

The early history of Hempstead by Charles Benjamin Moore (New York, Trow's Print. and Bookbinding Co. 1879)

Ancestors of Thomas Byron Brodnax by Christine Brodnax, Dallas, TX

Genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of Boston and eastern Massachusetts, Volume 2, ed. William Richard Cutter (Lewis historical publishing company, 1908)

Annals of Hempstead by Henry Onderdonk Jr. (Jamaica, L.I.; June 1880) Courtesy of James Pearsall



1 Others:
2 His son John had a son Thomas who had another son Thomas who had yet another and this son, Ensign Thomas, fought in the War of Independence. His daughter Abby had a daughter Sarah who married Henry Lefman. These two were the parents of Annie Lefman Windmuller, wife of my great-grandfather, Louis.

3 The entry after this one is dated december 4 1667 and concerns a land measurement. The ones just before it, from the same day in court, read as follow:
The testimony of John Chue this Deponant Doth af-firme that when wee went Downe to South there was a hors of Adam Motts and I said Adam Mott Gave me leve to take him up and wee Came up both to gether said Daniell Bedle I will take him up ses John Chue soe you may if you vnll and John Chue helpe mee to Cach the hors

Att a Court held att Hempsted the 3 of July 1667 By the Justis of pece the Cunstable and overseres Daniell Beddle plaintive doth Enter An Action of y'e Case Against Adam Mott Defendant this Action Depending Betwene Daniell Bedle plaintive and Adam Mott Defendant is Eeiserved till y'e Next Court held att Hempsted
4 Here are a few more entries in Hempstead records for this ornery individual.

a) First, one in which he was plaintiff rather than defendant. In December 1682, Henry Linnington successfully sued Matthew Beadle for the cost of wintering a heifer, being awarded 16 shillings plus court costs. Among those who testified was Jonathan Smith, Sr.:
The testimony of Jonathan Smith Seeneer this deponant testifeth that I being at the mill and heniry linintun tould me that there was a stray Beast and he asked me if I knew hose it was and I tould him I thought it was mathu bedls and he desired me to telle mathu bedle of it and whin I cam hom I tould mathu bedle of it and mathu bedle desired me to desier heneri linintun to give har a little meat whil I com for her and I did so and severall tims hinnery ased me when matheu would com for and I tould him that matheu sayd he would com as sone as ever he could and the nex winter leat in the winter heneri linintun desired me to speack to mathew bedle to fetch his beast away and pay him for wintring of har for he could not tell whether it was his or no becas she was not marked and I tould mathu bedle again and he sayd he would fetch har as sone as he could and satisfi him for his pains: and farther saith not...
b) In 1684, Henry Linnington was accused of slander:
The deposetion of Thomas Smith of Jemeco [Jamaica, New York] in the case betwen daniel bedle plentive and Henery linintun defendant this deponant testifieth that he being at Henere linintuns mill I heard here linintun charg daniel bedle with staling a swine but whether it was a hog or a bore that he charged him with I cannot tell for thay ware discorsing of both and daniel bedle answared that he heard that he had often charged him but he could not prove it but now he could prove it and he would sue him for a slander and farther saith not...
c) This one is an offense against the regulation of flour mills.
There was a law against bolting flour except in New York, as it was too difficult to regulate the quality of flour made in distant parts, but there were so many illegal bolting mills that the monopoly was rescinded in 1680. Hempstead had a number of such mills and was astonishingly well supplied with grist mills. Tide mills and wind mills were augmented by watermills which made use of every likely stream. Mill-rights were granted by the townmeeting, often including a tract of land and permission to build whatever ditches or sluiceways might be necessary. The miller was required to be ready for business within a given time, and was occasionally required to build a bridge over the stream. He received as payment one eleventh or one twelfth of the grain he ground, with the stipulation that if ever he should fail to keep a good mill the grant should revert to the town. Henry Linnington, intractable even in his own age, scorned to submit the projects inspired by his rugged individualism to his fellows' approval, and built himself a mill without applying for the right to do so. The meeting [June 16, 1690], at once sensitive to its prerogatives and eager to foster new enterprise, decided to offer him an agreement, which, in case of a refusal to sign, would be granted to someone else.
-- source: From Colonial Hempstead, by Bernice Schultz, 1937, page 138

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting. I just began researching Henry, and I don't know that I would have found this little "gem" otherwise. I wish the worst thing my ancestors ever did was try to pay for sex -- Henry's sin is more interesting than disturbing to me -- compared to -- say-- slavery, which was generally accepted in New Netherland/New York/Nassau Island. :(