GREAT-GRANDFATHERS COFFIN, MACY, SWAYNE AND FOLGER ACQUIRE NANTUCKET
During the summer of 1659, Tristram Coffin, given the religious and political climate, decided to move and decided to visit the islands lying off the south-east coast of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. So, accompanied by Edward Starbuck and Isaac Coleman (the latter a mere youth of 13 years of age), he visited Martha's Vineyard. He learned there that the title to Nantucket was held by Great Grandfather Thomas Mayhew, and that Mayhew was willing to dispose of most of his interest there. Great Grandfather Coffin decided to sail to that island to make a survey of it, and evaluate its adaptability to their purpose. They decided to take with them from the Vineyard Great Grandfather Peter Folger to act as an interpreter since he spoke Wampanoag and the others didn't.
Great-grandfather Coffin hoped to find a place where his children could be located around him.
He also wanted to find out if the Indians as well were willing to sell their lands and on what terms, etc. Mr. Coffin, finding the Island suited to his plans, and the sachems willing to make satisfactory terms, reported back to his friends. As a result, they signed the following agreement, as copied from the Town Records:
- "These people after mentioned did buy all right and Interest
- of the Island of Nantucket that Did belong to Sir Ferdinand George
- and Mr. James Forret Steward to Lord Sterling, which was by them
- sold unto Mr. Thomas Mayhew of Martha's Vineyard these after-
- mentioned Did purchase of Mr. Thomas Mayhew these Rights; namely
- the pattent Right belonging to the Gentlemen aforesaid & also the
- piece of Land which Mr. Mayhew did purchase of the Indians at the
- west End of the Island of Nantucket as by their grant or bill of Sale
- will largely appear with all the privileges and appurtenances there-
- of--the aforementioned Purchasers are Tristram Coffin Senior.
- Thomas Macy, Richard Swain, Thomas Barnard, Peter Coffin, Chris-
- topher Hussey, Stephen Greenleaf, John Swain, William Pile, the
- said Mr. Thomas Mayhew himself also become a Twentyeth part pur-
- chaser so that they Vizt. Mr. Thomas Mayhew, Tristram Coffin
- Snr.., Thomas Macy, Richard Swain, Thomas Barnard, Peter Coffin,
- Christopher Hussey, Stephen Greenleaf, John Swain, William Pike,
- had the whole and Sole Interest Disposal power, and privilege of
- said Island and appurtenances thereof."
Of the same date as the Agreement is the following Deed from
Mr. Mayhew to the ten proprietors.
- "Be it known unto all men by these Presents that I Thomas
- Mayhew of Martin's vineyard, Merchant do hereby acknowledge that
- I have sold unto Tristram Coffin, Thomas Macy, Christopher Hussey,
- Richard Swain, Thomas Barnard, Peter Coffin, Stephen Greenleaf, John
- Swain & William Pike all that Right and Interest that I have in the
- Island of Nantucket by pattent the which Right I bought of James
- Forret Gentleman, Steward unto the Lord Sterling and of Richard
- Vines sometime of Sacho, Gent, Steward General unto Sr. Ferdi-
- nando Gorges K night as by Conveyance under their hands and seals
- appeareth for them the aforesaid to Injoy their heirs and assigns for
- Ever with all the privileges thereunto belonging for and in Consid-
- eration of the sum of Thirty pounds of Currant pay unto whomso-
- ever I the said Thomas Mayhew mine heirs or assigns shall appoint
- and also two beaver hats one for my self and one for my wife and
- further this is to Declare that I the Thomas Mayhew have Re-
- served.to myself that Neck upon Nantucket Called Masquetauck or
- that Neck of land called Nashayte the neck but one northerly of Ma -
- quetauck the afores'd sale in any wise notwithstanding and further I
- the so Thomas Mayhew am to bear my part of the Charge of the so
- purchase above named and to hold one Twentyeth part of all land
- purchased already or shall be hereafter purchased upon the so Is-
- land by the purchasers aforesaid or their heirs and assigns for Ever
- briefly it is thus that I Really sold all my pattent to the aforesaid nine
- men & they are to pay me or whom I shall appoint the sum of
- thirty pounds in good merchantable pay in the Massachusetts under
- which Government they now Inhabit and two beaver hats and I am to
- bear a twentieth part of all lands and privileges and to have which
- of the Necks al,oue so that I r ill myself pay for it; only the pur-
- chasers are to pay what the Sachem ;s to have for Mas9uet ck
- though I take the other Neck and in witness hereof I have hereunto
- st my hand and seal this second day of July 1659
- per me
- THOMAS MAYHEW
Witnesses John Smith Edward Scale.
Shortly after signing these deeds, the ten original settlers, of whom four were your great-grandparents, they decided to take partners. The Coffins by themselves also acquired the island of Tuckernuck.
In February 1659 at Salisbury,
"At a Meeting of the purchasers, or the major part of them, approved of and allowed by the rest, together with some others that was owned for Associates, as will hereafter appear; it was agreed and Determined and approved as follows, vizt that the ten owners will admit of Ten more partners who shall have Liberty to take a partner whom he pleases not being justly Excepted against by the rest. At that Meeting Robert Pike was owned partner with Christopher Hussey, Robert Barnard was owned partner with Thomas Barnard, Edwd Starbuck was owned to be Thomas Macys partner and Tristram Coffin Jnr partner with Stephen Greenleaf, James Coffin with Peter Coffin. At the same Meeting it was mutually and Unanimously agreed upon determined and Concluded that no man whatsoever shall purchase any Land of any of the Indians upon the said Land for his own private particular use, but whatsoever purchase shall be made shall be for the general account of the Twenty owners or purchasers and whatsoever person shall purchase any Land upon any other account it shall be utterly void and null except what is don by Leve from the said owners or purchasers. at the same Meeting it was ordered and Determined that there shall be ten other Inhabitant admitted into the Plantation who shall have such Accommodation as the owners or purchasers shall judge meet--as namely necessary tradesmen, and seamen.
Besides those named in the above record John Smith was chosen
partner with Thomas Mayhew; Nathaniel Starbuck with Tristram
Coffin Sr.; Thomas Look with Richard Swain; Thomas Coleman with
John Swain; and Thomas Mayhew Jr. with his father Thomas May-
Peter Folger is appointed Surveyor of the Island
At another meeting of the proprietors held in Salisbury, the
decision of the previous meeting in regard to the purchase of
land was read, confirmed and ordered to stand "Inviolable unalterable,"
'as that which is likely necessary to the Continuance of the well
being of the place and the Contrary that which tends to the Con-
fusion and Ruine of the whole and the Subverting of the rules
and orders already agreed upon and the depriving of the said owners
of their just rights and Interests." At the same meeting it was
ordered that all the arable land convenient for house lots should
be measured that it might "be divided by equal proportions, that
is to say Four Fifths parts to the owners or purchasers and the
other Fifth unto the Ten other Inhabitants, whereof John Bishop
shall have two parts or Shares, that is to say of that Fifth part
belonging to the Ten Inhabitant. Also at the same meeting it
was ordered that Tristram Coffin, Thomas Macy, Edward Starbuck.
Thomas Barnard, Peter Folger of Martha's Vineyard, shall have
power to Measure and lay out said Land according to the above
said order and whatsoever shall be done and concluded in the
said case by or any three of them, Peter Folger being one, shall
be accounted Legall and valid."
Acquisition from the Indigenous Inhabitants
As Alexander Starbuck reports, having acquired by purchase the English right to Nantucket, it was not only in accordance with many precedents in the Massachusetts Bay that the proprietors should reimburse the Indians for their rights, but also in accordance with their sense of honor and justice. Wanackmamack and Nickanoose being the principal Sachems it was necessary to treat with them. In fact, as Macy says, the men belonging or intending to belong to the association were not disposed to engage in the enterprise until an agreement was made with the Indians, consequently just after a verbal arrangement was made with the Sachems, several families moved to the Island.
In May 1660, however, a formal deed was given reading as follows:
- "These presents witness, May the tenth sixteen hundred and
- sixty, that we Wanackmamack and Nickanoose, head Sachems or`
- Nantucket island, do give, grant, bargain and sell, unto Mr.
- Thomas Mayhew of Martin's Vineyard, Tristram Co in, senior,
- Thomas Macy, Christopher Hussey, Richard Swain, Peter Coff in,
- Stephen Greenleaf, Thomas Barnard, John Swain, and William
- Pile, all the Land, Meadow, Marshes, Timber and Wood, and all
- appurtenances thereunto belonging, and being and lying from the
- west end of the island of Nantucket, unto the Pond, called by the
- Indians, Waqutuquab, and from the head of that Pond, upon a
- straight line, unto the Pond situated by Monomoy Harbor or Creek,
- now called Wheeler's Creek, and so from the northeast corner
- of the said Pond to the Sea, that is to say, all the right that
- we, the afore•esaid Sachems, have in the said tract of Land, provided
- that none of the Indian Inhabitants, in or about the wood land
- or whatsoever Indians, within the last purchase of land, from the
- head of the Pond to Monomoy Harbor, shall be removed without
- full satisfcation. And we, the aforesaid Sachems, do give, grant,
- bargain and sell, the one half of the remainder of the Meadows
- and Marshes upon all other, parts of the Island.. And also, that
- the English people shall have what grass they shall need for to
- mow, out of the remainder of the Meadows and Marshes on the
- Island, so long as the English remain upon the Island, and also
- free liberty for Timber and Wood, upon any part of the Island
- within the jurisdiction. And also, we, the aforesaid Sachems, do
- fully grant free liberty to the English for the feeding all sorts of
- of Cattle on an-v part of the island, after Indian harvest is ended
- until planting time, or until the first of May, from year to year
- forever, for and in consideration of twelve pounds already paid,
- and fourteen pounds to be paid within three months after the date
- To have and to hold the aforesaid purchase of land, and other
- appurtenances, as aforementioned, t, them, Mr Thomas Macy,
- Tristram Coffin, Thomas Mayhew and the rest, aforementioned
- and their heirs and assigns, for ever.
- In witness whereof, we the said Sachems, have hereunto set
- our hands and seals, the d,y and year above written.
- The sign of Wanamamack,
- The sign of Nickanoose
- Signed, sealed and delivered, in the presence of us,
- Peter Folger,
- Felix Kuttashamaguat,
- Edward Starbuck.
- I do witness this Deed to be a true Deed, according to the
- Interpretation of Felix the interpreter; also, I heard Wanamamack-
- ,,k, but two weeks ago say that the sale of Nick and he do
- say that he will do so whatever comes of it. witness my hand this
- l;th 1 mo. 1664.
- Peter Folger.
- witness: I\Mary Starbuck
- John Coffin.
- Wanackmamack and Nickanoose acknowledged the above
- written to be their act and deed, in the presence of the General
- Court, this 12th of June, 1677, as attest
- Matthew Mayhew,
- Secretary to the General Court.