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bly twenty-one years, and as Speaker for sixteen years. He was a mighty man; fearless, patriotic and able, enjoying in unbounded measure the confidence and esteem of the people.
In early life he married the daughter of Jeremias and Maria Van Rensselaer, of New York. He left a number of children, one of whom became as distinguished as himself. In 1695 William Nicoll bought of Giles Sylvester one-fourth of his estate, equal to onefifth of the whole of Shelter Island. Upon the death of Giles Sylvester in 1704, who died without issue, Mr. Nicoll inherited from Mr. Sylvester another fourth of his estate, which made him owner of two-fifths of Shelter Island. It was thus that the Nicoll's became proprietors of Sachem's Neck, which has remained in the family until this day. Mr. William Nicoll was buried at Islip, and over his grave was placed a monumental tablet with this inscription: “Sacred to the memory of William Nicolls. Hospitality, charity and good will toward his fellow man, were the marked characters of his life; and a perfectly resigned submission to the will of his Creator distinguished the sincere Christian at the hour of death, which took place Nov. 20, 1723. Ae 64."
Now, my friends, I have pursued the history of this island thus far, and the career of this William Nicoll with peculiar delight. And that because of the coincidences and connections that exist between my former charge at Newtown and my present charge here on Shelter Island. Both communities had their birth in the same year, namely, 1652, and both were settled by Englishmen of Puritan principles. Both experienced the vicissitudes of the period thus far covered of a little more than fifty years. But that which above all binds the two together is the following, which is particularly pleasing to me. The same year in which William Nicoll took his seat in the Assembly and became Speaker of the House, namely, 1702, Lord Cornbury was appointed Governor of the Colony of New York. This appointment he received as a reward from His Majesty King William for espousing his cause in the overthrow of King James II. Now this Lord Cornbury was a man most obnoxious to the people, according to several historians. “His sense of justice,” says Thompson, "was as weak as his bigotry was uncontrollable. Nor was there a Governor of New York so universally detested or so deserving of abhorrence.” When he became Governor, being an Episcopalian, he endeavored to force Episcopacy upon the people, confiscating their church property, annulling their ordinances and
otherwise by bigotry, despotism, injustice and insatiable avarice oppressed and aroused the people. Among the congregations that suffered most was the Presbyterian Church at Newtown, my former beloved charge.
He seized that church and took possession of it. At Jamaica he did a despicable thing in taking the parsonage of the Presbyterian minister, Mr. Hubbard, which Mr. Hubbard tendered him during an epidemic in the City of New York, Mr. Hubbard thereby putting himself to considerable trouble and inconvenience for the Governor's accommodation. In return for his kindness he, Cornbury, when leaving the place, delivered it into the hands of Episcopal parties, at the same time directing the sheriff to confiscate the parsonage land and church building. He then appointed Mr. Urquhart as rector of Jamaica, Newtown and Flushing, and at about the same time issued an order prohibiting other ministers from preaching within the bounds of his province without special license from himself, an entirely illegal and unwarrantable usurpation of the rights of the people, since the Duke of York had publicly decreed the right to every town of selecting its own minister. In these and many other ways this tyrannical Governor made the years of his rule a time of great trial. And here I quote from a previous historical discourse delivered at Newtown as follows: "Before this oppression Rev. Robert Breck had to fee. Others who followed him in preaching here (that is in Newtown) were put in prison. In 1707 Rev. John Hampton and the Rev. Francis Makemie, who were on their way to New England from the South, stopped at New York. Upon invitation of the people of Newtown these two Presbyterian clergymen visited the place to preach to them. What happened to them can best be stated from the records known as the “Narrative of Imprisonment,” dated Jan. 23d, 1707. “The Rev. John Hampton, an itinerant minister, preached on Sunday, Jan. 20th, in the Presbyterian Church, Newtown, without having first procured a license from Gov. Cornbury, and also gave notice that Rev. Francis Makemie would officiate there on Wednesday. But Gov. Cornbury, anticipating them, had them both arrested as soon as they reached Newtown, by Thomas Carsdale, High Sheriff of Queens County, and Stephen Luff, Under Sheriff. They were kept as prisoners on parole at the houses of two of the neighbors that night. The next day they were led off in a sort of triumph to Jamaica, seven or eight miles out of the direct road, and there kept all day and night. On
the 23d, at noon, they got to the Fort in New York. After vexation and delays they were tried for dissenting doctrines to the great disturbance of the Church by law established. The jury, however, acquitted them, but the Governor took his spite against them in imposing a long bill of costs upon them, £83 7s 6d, over four hundred dollars, which they had to pay before they were released. Livingston, writing shortly after this injustice, wrote: “If any want information concerning suffering of other dissenters, both in persons, estates and religious liberties, I recommend them to the body of inhabitants of Jamaica and Newtown.”
And here let me say that it gives me unspeakable pleasure to be able to state to you that in the progress of preparing this historical review I have discovered who was by his able plea so largely instrumental in gaining the verdict of acquittal for Revs. Hampton and Makemie. That person was William Nicoll, to whom Giles Sylvester bequeathed such a large portion of Shelter Island. For this notable service I here publicly salute his descendants and invoke God's special blessing to rest upon them; and in blessing them may God likewise bless you all.
The second section of our historical paper on Shelter Island and the Presbyterian Church closed with a courteous acknowledge ment of the signal service which William Nicoll rendered, in espousing the cause of Revs. Makemie and Hampton against Lord Cornbury's persecution, and brought our review down to the year 1704, the year in which the said William Nicoll came by inheritance into possession of Sachem's Neck.
We now have cause to mention another family who about that time came upon this island, the members and descendants of which became very prominent in the life of this place, and of great service to our church. I refer to the Havens family. About 1698 Nathaniel Sylvester the ad sold 1,000 acres to Geo. Havens. After disposing of this land the said Nathaniel Sylvester, having married Miss Margaret Hobert, daughter of Isaiah Hobert, of East Hampton, moved with his family to Newport, R. I., where he engaged in business as a merchant. The 1,000 acres which Mr. Havens bought of Mr. Sylvester covered all the central portion of the island, including the ground now belonging to our church. Though most of this purchase has passed into other hands, eighty-five acres still remain in the Havens family, being owned at present by Henry P. Havens, who is of the seventh generation in continuous possession, a direct descendant of the first George Havens. This George Havens was the son of William Havens, a Welshman, who came to America about the year 1635 and settled on Conanticut Island, near Newport, R. I. Upon making the foregoing purchase, Mr. George Havens moved to this island with his family, which consisted of himself, a wife and seven chidren, three sons and four daughters. Besides these children there was another son named George, who did not move with the family to Shelter Island, but continued to live in Rhode Island, as the following abstract of a deed indicates, namely: “For good and sufficient reasons I have and bear to my loving son, George Havens, of Kingstowne in ye Narrowgansett Country, have given to my said son George Havens
--- for ever, - if my said son George shall goe and live on said land hereinafter granted, that is too say two hundred and fifty acres of my farm on Shelter Island.
Dated Oct., in ye 13 year of his Majy's reigne, Anno Domini, 1701.
GEORGE HAVENS.” It is presumed that this son did not improve this offer, as his will is dated from Fisher's Island, Oct. 31, 1726. Mr. George Havens, Sr., continued to reside here until his death, in 1706.
While visiting the ancient burying ground of New London, Conn., this past summer, in search of certain epitaphs, I accidentally came upon the grave and tombstone of Mr. George Havens, the first Havens of Shelter Island. I had searched and inquired for it in all directions, but without success. One can therefore imagine the surprise and pleasure that was mine when the above discovery was made. The grave can be easily found by those interested, as it is marked by a small brown stone headstone, with the following inscription upon it: “George Havens, who deceased Feb. 25, 1706, ae 53 y'rs.”
His wife survived him and married again a Mr. Thomas Terry, of Southold. She lived to the great age of 93, passing away in 1747, and was buried in the south church yard, where a suitable stone with clear inscription stands to her memory.
And thus the community continued to grow, both from natural increase and accretion, until in 1730, there were twenty men, most of them heads of families, residing on this island. Their names were as follows: William Nicoll, John Havens, Samuel Hudson, George Havens, Elisha Payne, Joel Bowditch, Abraham Parker, Edward Havens, Samuel Vail, Thomas Conkling, Edward Gilman, Brinley Sylvester, Jonathan Havens, Joseph Havens, Noah Tuthill, Sylvester L'Hommedieu, Henry Havens, Samuel Hopkins, John Bowditch, Daniel Brown.
These men organized Shelter Island into a municipality of its own, and are therefore the Founders of the Town of Shelter Island. Up to this date, 1730, our Island met with Southold in its Annual Town Meetings. J. Wickham Case, compiler of the Southold Town Records, says that in its earliest stages Shelter Island associated itself with Southold, so far as to recognize their books as the proper place for the record of deeds and valuable papers, and to meet (but not to vote) with them at their Annual Town Meeting. Shelter Island, however, as we have already seen, was placed on the same footing "as any other town, unfranchised place or manor within this government,” as early as May, 1666, by Governor Nicoll. In 1683, when the Province and its dependencies was divided off into Shires and