ROBERT WILLIAMS

Robert Williams purchased on May 20, 1648, from Pugnipan, Sachem of the Matinecock Indians, the plains area known as the Williams Plantation for a quanity of trading cloth. There were no definite boundaries stated in the purchase. This tract included about nine square miles. The original copy of the Indian tract is missing and no record of the deed is found among the Dutch Records of New Amsterdam.

The following copy was struck off later and certified by Matthias Nicolls, secretary of Governor Andros:

"Bee it knone to all men at these presants that I Pugnipan sacham of Matinnacock do for my selfe and on the beehalfe of Nanamorrouas and Neponhew and pocipupon bargain and sell and make over unto Robert Williams of Hempstead parts of the grete pleains lying northeast from hemstead or there abouts beginning at A points of Tres called by the Indians as Cescascats or Cantiag at A which oake marked by mee pugnipan and from thence uppon a South line to the Middel of the plains and from thence uppon A: Est line to the End of the plaine bounded with the wodes one of the Este and Northest and North or there aboutse all which tract of Long Island. The sayed Pugnipan do for mislife and on the beehalfe of Nanomorrous and Neponhew and pocipupon bargal nsell and macke ouver, unto the Sayed Roberte Williams his ares Executors Arministrators and Asiner for teme pesaubly to ingay fowever from us our ares and Suckeseres for ever allso wel the bove sayed do ackknolyeg that wee have reserved fulle sattisfacktion of Roberte Williames in Trading Clothe for the fore menchoned Tract of plaine Land in witness hereunto we have Set over handes this twentieth day of May in the yere on Thousand Six Hundred Forty Eight." Witness
Richard Willets Pugnipan X his mark
John Washburne Nanamarrous X his mark

Robert did not record his deed with the Dutch.

Little is known of Robert Williams before his arrival at Hempstead. Mary Thomas Seaman, a descendant of Robert Williams, in her "Links On Geneology" states that it is said but not offered for proof that he was born in Wales and was a brother of Richard Williams of Huntington and a near relative of Roger Williams of Rhode Island. In a memorandum furnished by the Library of Congress it notes that the Rhode Island Historical Society may have some material on Robert, a brother or Roger Williams.

Robert Williams had a brother, Thomas, who came with him to Hempstead. Robert married Sarah Washburne, a daughter of William and June Washburne.

From his marriage to Sarah he had seven children: Hope, John, who married Leah Townsend (The Jericho Seamans stem from this branch of the family); Mary, who married John Dole of Philadelphia; Phebe, who married John Townsend of Oyster Bay; Patience, who married a Barnes; Esther, who married John Champion of Westbury.

In 1653, along with Rich Houlbrock and Daniel Whitehead he purchased six square miles in the Huntington area. In this purchase he is mentioned as a resident of Oyster Bay. The three purchasers then assigned their purchases to the people of Huntington.

In the same year Robert appears along with his father-in-law as witness to the deed from the Indians for the purchase of Oyster Bay by Peter Wright, Samuel Mayo and William Leverich. In the recording of that deed in 1667 by Mathew Nicolls, Secretary, Williams is mentioned as "a jont purchaser with us by William Leverich and Samuel Mayo."

On January 23, 1657, Robert appears with others as a signer to a letter to Governor Stuyvesant, listing his address as of Oyster Bay. And again, he is mentioned on December 13, 1660 when Daniel Whitehead sells to Alexander Bryant a house and land previously purchased from Robert Williams of Oyster Bay. Had Robert moved to Oyster Bay? If so When? Miss Seaman mentions that Robert lived in Hempstead until 1659. Yet again, in 1662, in a sale of land by Robert to Robert Forman of Oyster Bay, he lists his residence as of Hempstead. In 1667 Robert made over a part of his plains purchase to his sister-in-law, Mary Willis, and states his residence as Oyster Bay. From this evidence it may be said that he probably left Hempstead for Oyster Bay in the early 1660ís. The move was due to the need for his personal presence on his land holdings in the centre-Island section. In 1664 the Indians brought complaints before Governor Nicolls that they had not sold the Matinecock lands to Hempstead. And finally, in 1677, the Indians owners executed deeds conveying to Robert Williams, William Hudson and others each a specified tract of upland and an undivided one-seventh of adjacent salt meadows. As his share Williams received four acres of East Island. Again in 1664 he adjusted his original Indian patent tract line with the Town of Oyster Bay. By 1665 he was admitted as a freeholder in the Town of Oyster Bay. This, then, becomes the definite proof that at that date he resided in Oyster Bay.

Once Robert had become a substantial citizen of Oyster Bay, and after his successful settlement of his boundary line with the town, he worried about the ability to protect his early plains purchase to such a degree that, on February 13, 1666, he obtained a patent confirming his Indian purchase of 1648 from Governor Nicolls. This patent gave him the free liberty to sell to and plant so many families as need, but not to exceed the agreement reached with Oyster Bay. The Oyster Bay agreement limited him to six families of which Hope Washburne was one. Since he had had to journey to New York City to obtain his grant from the English who had taken New Amsterdam from the Dutch two years earlier, he probably increased his influence by contact with the new officialdom. In Governor Androsí patent to the Town of Oyster Bay, he mentions the Williamsí purchase as an accepted patent. (1668)

By 1668, during the French and Indian Wars, Robert obtained for the families on his plains plantation the right for one man in each family to be exempt from military duty because of the distance from Oyster Bay. Again the need for personal attention to his land forced him to move his own family from Oyster Bay to his plains land. This can be gathered from a deed given to Frances Weekes on January 24, 1668, in which he states his residence as of "Lewseem". Just where in Lusum he settled is undetermined, but in a deed given by his widow in 1682, she mentions her old house, located off the East Side of the highway and against Ye hill. This would seem to locate the house on the east side of the Hicksville-Jericho Road and a little north of the Spring Pond. Robert Seaman tells of an old house situated on such a spot, which was torn down about 1928.

As far as the records show, for the next eleven years Williams remained at his Lusum residence. His children were grown, so his interests probably were centered on getting them settled. His last recorded land sales were made on September 12, 1679: one to John Robbins of Mattinecock and one to John Fry.

Robert Williams probably died in 1681, while in Maryland. A copy of his will shows that it was drawn at St. Maryís Kent County, Maryland. It mentions that Robert Williams was "of Long Island", indicating that his residence was still listed as being here. The will was also admitted to probate in Maryland and bears the signature of Philip Calvert. Among the executors of his estate, John Bowne of Flushing, an outstanding advocate of religious toleration, is mentioned. What the circumstances of Robertís death were is unknown. Whether he was buried in Maryland is also a mystery, though conditions of the times would indicated that he was buried close to the place at which he passed away. It is known that in January, 1683, Sarah Williams signed a deed as "widow of Robert Williams."

In All of Williamsí deeds to others his boundaries are indefinite; such phrases as "20 acres of plains and 20 acres of woodland" abound. These indefinite land grants could only lead to much legal dispute over lines and eventually did. His wife and sons continued this same indefinite granting, so that by 1745 something had to be done to correct the vagueness.

In order to follow the final settlement of the original purchase, it might be well to speak of Williamsí wife, Sarah, and his children.

Sarah, his wife, continued to enjoy health and lived in the old Williamsí homestead until her death in 1692. On June 11, 1687, she was commanded to appear at the next Court of Sessions to answer differences of (boundary) lines with the Town of Oyster Bay. In September, 1692, in a suit still pending, the Town of Oyster Bay named Nathaniel Coles, Edward White, and Job Wright to make an agreement with the Williamsí. Sarahís name appears in several other legal documents. On November 30, 1692, also, she and her son, Hope, signed a deed to Thomas Cook. Finally, on September 22, 1693, John Williams confirmed the aforementioned deed, stating that his mother is deceased. Thus, while no record of Sarahís death can be found among the Lusum records, the deed above show that Sarah died in the later part of 1692 or early 1693.

Of Robertsí daughters little is known. Mary is mentioned only as having married John Dole. Her son, John, appears a few times in deed arrangements with his uncles. Of Phebe, Sarah, and Patience, nothing more is known after their marriages. Esther, who married Thomas Cook of Lusum, and her children, John and Charity, are mentioned in 1691 as receiving land in a deed from Sarah, Hope and John Williams. This family was prominent in Lusum for some time.

His two sons, Hope and John, stayed on in Lusum until the early 1700ís and then moved to Cold Spring Harbor and Oyster Bay respectively. From their various land transfers it may be assumed that they got along well together. At one time, however, John refused to sell Hope his share in his motherís orchard. John was chosen collector for Lusum on March 3, 1701, and again on March 7, 1709 for one year terms. This choice by his townspeople denotes his service to them. On June 20, 1703, John deeded land in Jericho to his daughter Temperance, wife of Daniel Seaman, and thus the Seaman family name came into the purchase area.

John had three children: Hannah, whose husband John Seaman is the ancestor of the present Seaman family in Jericho; Temperance, who married David Seaman; and Thomas, who in later life moved to Cold Spring Harbor and became itís Highway Commissioner. One of the latterís children, Martha, married Jacob Willis of Jericho.

Sources:
Hicksvilleí Story
300 years of History 1648-1948
also
The story of Hicksville Yesterday and Today

These books are available at the Hicksville Public Library

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