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.

(From a copy made and certified to by Eleazer Folger, and to which
is appended the following note--"A true Copy of the Record so much
as is legible but Time has Defaced some part thereof.")

 

 

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-

hew Senior.

 

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
hereof.
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
 
(Seal)
(Seal)
 
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.
 

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Ancestor Index

A Narrative about GG Th. Macy's role

Read about Richard Swain & Quaker Persecution