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It is signed by Giles Sylvester, and reads as follows: "Whereas, I am accused to say that all the ministers in New England were worse than witches, I owne I said soe, for which I am heartily sorrowfull, and owne to bee very inconsiderately spoken and to my folly and wickedness in it, and hope the Lord shall guide my wayes and words to be more circumspect and like to himselfe. Then the parties that heard them finding themselves grieved, I told them that I meane noe other than those that were formall and not spirituall, such was my meaning, though not expressed till exception was made; therefore, I say, as I sayed, it is very evill in me or in any man to say any such thing, for we ought not to speak evill of any man." 28th of the im., 1657.
GILES SYLVESTER. Before leaving the Quakers it is worthy of record that George Fox, the founder of this sect, twice visited this island and was entertained by the Sylvesters. The Rev. Mr. Fox, in his journal of 1672, speaks of his visits to this island, and of his preaching to the Indians and the people, who were deeply impressed by what he said unto them.
And now let me refer briefly to the various names that have been given to this island. The first is Cotjewaminick, which appears upon a deed given to Sir Gardiner by Yoco, the Manhansick chief. It was also called by the Indians "Manhansick Ahaquashuwornock” or “Manhansick Ahaquazuwamuck,” which is said to mean “at or about the island sheltered their fishing place," or "their sheltered fishing place at or about the island." The first English name which it bore was Mr. Farrett's Island or Farrett's Island. After Mr. Farrett sold the island to Mr. Goodyear, it was also known as Goodyear's Island, and when Mr. Goodyear disposed of it to the four English gentlemen, one of whom selected it as his dwelling place, namely, Captain Nathaniel Sylvester, it was known as Sylvester Island, appearing as such upon record as late as 1674. However, long before this, it was also called Shelter Island, and this, too, before the Quaker persecution began. Indeed, it is so called in the confirmatory paper, bearing date March 23, 1652, namely, “Wee whose names are here underneath subscribed do hereby testify and declare that Yokee, formerly Sachem of Menhansick Ahaquazuwamuck, now called Shelter Island.” Hence Bowden and Evans are wrong in claiming that because of the friendly acts of succor and refuge which the proprietor of this island extended to the persecuted Quakers, the island received its present name of Shelter Island.
iture made the eight Day of May in the yeare one thousand Six hundred fiftie and six betweene John Booth late of Shelter Island formerly called Menhansack gent of the one part and Captaine Nathaniell Silvister of the same of the other part Witnesseth that whereas James ffaret Esqr Deputie for the Right honoble Willm Earle of starling was by purchase from Unkenchie Sachem of pammanuck & the said Menhansack possest of Menhansack aforesaid beinge a member of Long Island called pammanack as aforesaid or lying nere unto the same as by a deede of bargaine & sale from the said sachem Reference being thereunto had more largely doth and may appeare: And whereas the said James ffarrest by deede under hand & seale bearing date the eighteenth of May one Thousand Six hundred ftortie & one for the considerations therein expressed conveyed unto Stephen Goodyeare of Newhaven Merchant, his heires & assignes for ever the aforesaid Iland of Menhansack wth all the Rivers woods uplands meadowes harbours & creeks & all other the apptening rights liberties & conveniences what soever there unto in any wise belonginge & appertayninge wth all that right title & interest wch the said Willm Earle of Starlinge his heires or assigns or the said James fforrett & his heires or assignes then did or at any time from thenceforth should clayme or demand together wth the aforesaid originall grant as by the last menconed & recited grant relacon thereunto beinge had more fully may appeare. And whereas alsoe the said Stephen Goodycare by his bill of sale from Robert Carmand did stand seised of one Island comonly called by the name of Roberts lland scituate lyinge neere Menhansack Island aforesaid hee the said Robert carmeand haveinge formerly purchased the same of Iyonancam Sachem of pammanack aforesaid.
The said Stephen Goodyeare by his deede poll bearinge Date the Nynth day of June one Thousand six hundred fiftie & one for the consideracons therein expressed did sell convey & make over all his estate right title & interest of in & to both the said Ilands together wth all rights liberties ymunities & priviledges belonging or in any wise appurteininge to them or either of them & theire & either of theire appurtunce unto Captaine Thomas Middleton Thomas Rous Constant Silvister gents, & the said Nathaniell Silvister and theire heires & assignes for ever as by the last menconed grant more fully may Appeare and whereas Yoko Sachem of the said Menhansack formerly called Unkenchie Actoncocween Captaine Yowoconogus Sonquoequahisick some of his cheife men by their deede beareinge Date the seaven & twentieth Day of December one Thousand six hundred ffiftie & two for such consideracon as therein is expressed Did alien assigne bargaine & sell unto the said Thomas Middleton Thomas Rous Constant Silvister & Nathaniell Silvister & their heires & assignes for ever All that their Ilands of Ahaquazuwamuck otherwise called Menhansack with all the rivers woods uplands medows harbours & creeks with all other apptenneg rights liberties (Book 2, page 48.] and conveniences whatsoever thereunto in any wise belonginge & appurteyninge as by the same deede last mentioned may appeare. And whereas the said Thomas Middleton for valuable consideracon purchased of the said Thomas Rous all his fowerth part in & throughout bothe the said llands & joynt stock thereuppon for & to the use of the abovesaid John Booth & his heires & Assigns for ever by virtue whereof hee the said John Booth became legally possest of the same, hee the said Join Booth for & in consideracon of the some of Seaven hundred poundes sterlinge before the sealeinge & delivir here of in hand payd by the said Nathaniell Silvister to the said John Booth to full satisfaction accordinge to agreement in that behalle hath granted bargained & sold & by these puts Doth ful.y & absolutely grant bargaine & sell unto the said Nathaniell Silvister & his heires & assignes All his estate right tytle interest clayme & Demand whatsoever of in & to one intire fowerth part of the said Ilands soe bargained & sold as abovesiad & all the Dwellinge houses barne outhouses ffences Orchard yards gardens earable land meadows marches, harbours creeks woods underwoods comons & comon of pasture proffitis priviledges y munities advantages & easemts wth theire & every of theire appurtennces & stock of cattle in & upon the said Menbansack thence called Shelter lland as above said in as large & ample manner to all intents & Book 2, page 48.) purpose as hee said John Booth mought or ought to heave inioyed the same as if these p'nts had not beene thereof had or made To have & to hold the said intire fowerth part if both the said llands stock of cattle & all other thabove granted premises with theire & every of theire appurennes unto the said Nathaniell Silvister his heires & assignes To the only proper use & behoofe of him the said Nathaniell Silvister & of his heires and assignes forever, And he the said John Booth for himselfe his heires executors administrators & for every of them doth covenant promise grant & agree to & wth the said Nathaniell Silvister his heires & assignes & to & with every of them by these p'nts in manner & form followinge That is to say That hee the said John Booth his heires executors & administrators shall & will warrant all & singuler the prmises above spesified wth theire & every of theire apptenntnes unto the said Nathaniell Silvister his heires & assignes against him the said John Booth & his heires & assignes & all & every other person & persons whotsoever now haveinge or weh at any time hereafter shall or may have or clayme any lawfull estate right tytle or interest by from or under him them or any of them his heires or any of their estate or tytle. And finally that hee the said John Booth & his heires & assignes shall & will at any time hereafter within the space of Seaven yeares next ensuinge the Date hereof art the proper cost & charge of him the said Nathaniell Silvister his heires & assignes Requiringe further assurance ratifie & confirme such legall conveyance under his or their hands & scales when provided and Demanded as aforesaid beinge comprised within the warrantie herein specified. In witness whereof the parties first above named have hereunto interchangeable sett theire hands & seales the Day and yeare first above written.
Sealed subscribed and Delivered
in the prsence of
GILES SILVISTER DAVID GARDINER
It received this name upon the coming of the Sylvesters in 1652, without doubt, suggested and determined by the meaning of the Indian name, Manhansick Ahaquatuwamock, a sheltered island or Shelter Island. It is a goodly name, and long may it be significant, not only of a popular watering place, but of friendliness, love of mankind, liberty of conscience, nobility of character, and every grace that should adorn a Christian and God-fearing community.
Let us now resume the tracing out of the various owners of this island. These have thus far been:
The Manhansett tribe of Indians;
Messrs. Middleton, Rouse, Nathaniel and Constant Sylvester. Now another name is introduced as part owner, namely, that of Ensign John Booth, who with Captain Sylvester made the purchase from the Indians in December, 1652. It may be that this John Booth simply represented Messrs. Middleton, Rouse and Constant Sylvester, as there is another paper on record bearing the date of 1656, which implies that Thomas Rouse was still the owner of onefourth of the island, that paper being a release of his quarter of the island to Thomas Middleton for John Booth. John Booth thus, in 1656, takes the place of Thomas Rouse, and the owners are Middleton, Booth, Nathaniel and Constant Sylvester. This ownership continued for a while, when John Booth withdrew by selling his portion to Nathaniel Sylvester for 700 pounds sterling. Nathaniel Sylvester soon after conveyed a portion of this newly acquired quarter to his brother Constant. This happened September 12, 1662. It was now in the hands of Thomas Middleton, Nathaniel Sylvester and Constant Sylvester, and continued so until 1673, when Captain Nathaniel Sylvester became sole proprietor of the island, as will be shortly seen from documents bearing that date. Let us, however, return again to old England, for there certain things have happened since last we referred to her, that, like previous events, affected this island during these years of Captain Nathaniel Sylvester's residence upon it and in the progress of which he became sole proprietor. Our last reference to the mother country closed with Oliver Cromwell's decisive victory over the royalist forces, by which he became ruler of all England, assuming the title, not of King, but of Protector. He continued thus until his death in 1658. We also had occasion to state the rejection on the part of Cromwell for England, of the proposed division of Long Island, between the Dutch and the English, according to the proposed treaty agreed upon at Hartford, in 1650, between the Dutch and English colonists, which treaty was sent to Holland and England for ratification. In rejecting this treaty, the claims of the Dutch were entirely ignored, the reason given being in these words, "of not knowing of any plantations of the Netherlands there, save a small number upon Hudson's River.” This, as was then stated, resulted in war, in which the English were the victors. While this war lasted, which was for about two years, there were troublous times for our early settlers here. Upon Cromwell's death, September 3, 1658, his eldest son, Richard, was proclaimed his successor. But he was not the success his father was at ruling, and so the people once more desired the restoration of kingly rule, inviting Charles II. to return and assume the crown, which he did on the 29th of May, 1660.
He immediately issued orders to the New England colonies to cease their persecution of the Quakers, having been kept informed, while in exile, of their suffering, through the writings of Mrs. Sylvester to her father, who was always near the King in his flight. On the 12th of March, 1663, King Charles II. gave to his brother, the Duke of York, an extensive grant of territory in the New World, which included the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam and the whole of Long Island. Immediately upon receiving this patent, the Duke of York sought to take possession by constituting Colonel Richard Nicholls Deputy Governor of the Colony, and commissioning him to take possession of this territory. The following year, or in 1664, he sailed with a fleet of man-of-warsmen, and in due time appeared in New York harbor. He immediately issued a summons to surrender, which he enforced without bloodshed, and thus the English became possessors of New Amsterdam, now called New York in honor of the Duke of York, and the whole of Long Island, including the adjacent islands. This necessitated a confirmation in the title of this island, which the Sylvester brothers sought and received from Governor Nicolls. They also received from Governor Nicholls a perpetual exemption from taxes and other public burdens upon the payment of £150, “one-half of which was to be in beef and the other half in pork."