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Putnam County, New York


History of Putnam County

Chapter VI
Confiscation and Sale of the Shares of the Patent
Belonging to Susannah Robinson and Mary Philipse

Continued — Page #2 of 4

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Five days after the execution of this instrument, on the 19th of January, 1758, Col. Morris and Mary Philipse were married in the old Manor House at Yonkers, with all the pomp and splendor that was worthy of their station and suited to their circumstances. The greater portion of their time was passed in the city of New York, and the place where they lived is well known in modern times as the famous Jumel mansion, within whose walls have congregated alike the noted men of the early days of the republic and the distinguished characters of more recent times. At the time of the commencement of the Revolution, Col. Morris was a member of Council for the colony, and continued in office till the close of the war and the declaration of peace put a final end to British rule and established a new nation. As a more extended sketch of Col. Robinson and Col. Morris will be found in another place, it is sufficient to state that both were among the most prominent of the royalists, who throughout the war, supported the efforts of the British government to crush the liberties of their native land. Under these circumstances it can not be surprising, that when the final triumph came, the State should deem unworthy of its protection the persons and the property of those who had adhered to the cause of the enemies of its freedom.

It was in accordance with this view that an act of attainder was passed confiscating the property of the most prominent, of the royalists, and banishing them from the State:

"An act for the forfeiture and sale of the estates of persons who have adhered to the enemies of this State, etc., passed October 22d, 1779:
"Whereas, during the present unjust and cruel war waged by the King of Great Britain against the State and the other United States of America, divers persons holding or claiming property within this State, have voluntarily -been adherent to the said King, his fleets and armies, enemies to this State, and the said other United States, with intent to subvert the government and liberties of this State and the said other United States and to bring the same in subjection to the Crown of Great Britain; by reason whereof, the said persons having severally justly forfeited all right to the protection of this State, and to the benefit of the laws under which such property is held or claimed: And whereas the public justice and safety of this State absolutely require, that the most notorious offenders should be immediately hereby convicted and attainted of the offence aforesaid in order to work a forfeiture of their respective estates and vest the same in the people of this State.
" And whereas the Constitution of this State hath authorized the Legislature to pass acts of attainder for crimes committed before the termination of the present war.
" Section 1. Be it therefore enacted by the People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, that William Tryon, Esq., late Governor of the said Colony, * * Roger Morris, * * Mary Morris, wife of said Roger Morris, * * Beverley Robinson, * * Susannah Robinson, wife, of said Beverley Robinson, be, and each of them are hereby severally declared to be ipso facto convicted and attainted of the offense aforesaid, and that all and singular the estate, both real and personal, held or claimed by them the said persons severally and respectively, whether in possession, reversion or remainder, within this State, on the date of the passage of the act, shall be, and hereby is declared to be forfeited to, and vested in, the people of this State."

By the provisions of this act John Hathorn, Samuel Dodge and Daniel Graham were appointed commissioners to sell confiscated and forfeited estates. Under the power given to them by this act, they proceeded to the sale. In a large number of cases, in fact a majority, the lands were sold to the parties who were already in possession of the various farms, as tenants of Beverly Robinson and Roger Morris, by the right of their respective wives. On the 12th day of May, 1781, another act was passed "for the speedy sale of confiscated and forfeited estates and for other purposes." By this act, Daniel Graham, one of the former commissioners, was appointed a sole commissioner for sales in the middle district. He employed Henry Dodge, Esq., of Poughkeepsie, as surveyor to assist in the work, who stated at a later date that "he was a long time employed and formed a field book of at least a quire of paper, completely filled with descriptions of the parcels disposed of by Mr. Graham."

This field book and every trace of the proceedings of Mr. Graham as sole commissioner were lost and have never been found.

The Legislature, in 1819, passed a concurrent resolution: "Resolved that the Surveyor General cause to be surveyed and ascertained the lands forfeited to the people of this State by the attainder of Robert Morris and Mary his wife situated in the former County of Dutchess and now in the Counties of Dutchess and Putnam, claimed by John Jacob Astor and others, and that he also ascertain whether any and which of the said lands so forfeited and claimed remains unsold by or under the authority of this State, and that he report thereon to the Legislature at' their next Session."

In accordance with this the surveyor general appointed Henry Livingston his agent to obtain the requisite information. He engaged as surveyors Mr. James Dodge, of Poughkeepsie, and Mr. Samuel Thurston, of Clinton, and they with six assistants met on Lot No. 3, on the 2d of August, 1819, and finished their surveys on the 16th. The report which he made to the surveyor general conveys a very extended information on the subject, and states, "I caused the exterior limits of Lots 3-5-9 with every open highway and all the ponds to be carefully surveyed and the maps designated every house and the name of its occupant." The sales made by the three commissioners first named were entered in a book in abstract. The abstract gives the name of the purchaser, the price paid, the date, the name of the person by whose attainder it became forfeited, and a full description of the land by the courses and distances of survey. This book is Liber 8, of the Record of Deeds, in the office of the clerk of Dutchess county. The first page, which is mutilated by having about one-third torn off, contains a formal deed to one David Collins. On the last page of the book is the following:

" The foregoing is a true abstract of the sales of forfeited estates made by us the subscribers Commissioners of Forfeiture for the Middle District, in the County of Dutchess, in the State of New York, pursuant to the directions of sundry laws, of the said State in that case made and provided."

" New York 30th August 1788.
" JOHN HATHORN,
" SAML. DODGE,
" DANL. GRAHAM,
Commissioners of Forfeiture for the Middle District."

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