Newtown Register 3 Aug 1899 article on William Hallett (b.1616)

Thumbnail of an 1899 article on the activities of William Hallett (b.1616) in the 1650’s and 1660’s.

A newspaper account of the activities of William Hallett (b.1616) in the 1650’s and 1660’s, published in The Newtown Register,August 3rd, 1899.

A PDF of the full original article is here:

Text as follows:

The Newtown Register, August 3rd, 1899

Formerly Middleburg
Prosecution of Hallett by the Dutch English Conquest of the New Netherlands – Hallett Indian Deed

William Hallett seems to have been well
received at Flushing, for in 1656, the year
after he had taken up his abode there, we
find him filling the office of Schout, or
Sheriff, of course with the approval of the
authorities of New Amsterdam. He had
scarcely entered upon this office, however,
before he had the misfortune to offend
Stuyvesant and his Council in a matter
pertaining to their religious jurisdiction.
The Council was desirous of compelling
the colonists, both the Dutch and persons
of other nationalities, as far as possible,
to conform to the discipline of the Re-
formed Church of the Netherlands. These
officials entertained an especial aversion
towards the straggling preachers and exhorters
of the Independents of New England,
who occasionally found their way.
among the English-speaking inhabitants
of the Dutch Colony. In order to repress
the Independent preachers, the Council
had passed a severe ordinance against
Conventicles, or the holding of religious
meetings by those “who deign to explain
the Holy Word of God-without being enabled
to by any political or ecclesistical
authority.” It happened, however,; in this
year, 1656 that William Wickenden, an
Independent exhorter from Rhode Island,
found his way to Flushing, and there was
permitted by Hallett to hold meetings and
to administer the sacraments at the house
of the latter. Both were promptly taken
into custody by order of the Council, and
Hallett was sentenced to be deprived of
his office as Schout of the village of Flushing,
to pay a double fine of 50 pounds
Flemish (about $10) and to be banished
from the province of New Netherlands.
Wickenden was fined 100 pounds, or about
$20 in our present currency; but a few
days after, the sentence the following
sagacious order was made: ‘Whereas the
Director General and Council have been
credibly informed that the aforesaid William
Wickenden is a very poor man, with
a wife and several children, and a cobbler
by trade, to which he does not properly
attend, so that nothing, can be obtained
from him, therefore the Director General
and Council have remitted the aforesaid
fine and allowed him to remove, on condition
that if he is caught here again, he
must pay it.”

As for Hallett, he swallowed his disgust
at the treatment he had received from the
Dutch officials, and on September 26th,”
1656, petitioned the Council for a reinis-”
sion of the sentence of banishment. . This
was granted to him, and he afterwards re-
moved to Jamaica, where he cultivated for
some years a small farm which he acquired”
there, his “home lot” fronting the Com-;
mons near the “Beaver Pond” at that
village. In 1665, we find him as one of
the jurors from Jamaica, upon the occasion
of the remarkable trial of Ralph
Hall and Mary his wife Of “Seatalcott,”
Setauket, for witchcraft.
In the meantime, the relations between
the Dutch and the English colonists of the
New Netherlands were becoming more
strained from year to year, as must naturally
be the case with two peoples of different
languages, laws and customs, each
seeking dominion at the expense of the
other. The settlers at Middleburg were
tolerably successful in smothering their
grievances until the ten years had expired
which were allowed them as a period of
exemption from taxes by the authorities
of the New Netherlands, but in 1662, as
eocn as. the latter attempted to enforce the
payment of the taxes, the colonists began
to enter into correspondence with the
towns of Connecticut and with those of
eastern Long Island, who were constantly
endeavoring to induce them to break off
from the Dutch. It became evident that
it was only a question of time when a
conflict should arise, and that period was
soon brought about by a war craze in England
against the Dutch, which was based
upon about as valid grounds as such crazes
usually are, and in which the populace
dwelt in the usual Fools’ Paradise,
of utter disregard of, the consequences.
While the English, for their part, took
possession of the New Netherlands, with
no opposition from the Dutch, in the summer
of 1664; destroyed a considerable
number of Dutch merchant vessels and in
two or three naval battles inflicted a good
deal of injury upon the Dutch fleets; yet
the Dutch conquered from them the settlements
of Surinam or Dutch Guiana,
(which they still hold), nearly ruined their
naval power; burned or carried off a number
of their best men-of-war from the
dockyards of Ghatham, thirty miles from
London, and would probably have sailed
up to that city had not the English filled
the channel of the Thames with sunken
vessels. The Peace of Breda, in 1667.
which terminated the war, was decidedly
favorable to the Dutch.
The preparations for this war., which
took place in the early part of 1664, or
even earlier, were soon known in the New
England colonies and in the Long Island
towns; and William Hallett, in anticipation
of a new order of things under English
rule, now began to lay the foundations
for a larger domain at the Gove by
buying up from certain Indians their title,
or pretended title, to a large traot c( woodland
adjoining hiB neglected plantation
upon the north and east These negotiations
with the Indians for the tract in
question, would not, of course, have been
tolerated for a moment by the Dutch
government of the New Netherlands, had it
been in a position to have interfered; it
recognized no Indian title to these lands,
for a deed from the Indians to the West
India Company for all of Long Island,
west of the present Great Neck, had been
given nearly thirty years before, and that
portion which Hallett was buying up was
retained by the West India Company as its
private woodland, on account of its heavy
growth of ship timber. |
The fact seems to be that these grants
from the Indians to individuals were obtained
without much regard to any actual
title which they had to confer, but merely
to establish a pretence upon.; which a patent
might be applied, for from the government.
Indeed the nature of the title of
the Indians to particular parcels of land
seems not to have been well understood
either by the colonists or by the Indians
themselves. Different persons claiming to
act for the Indians at various times, frequently
would make deeds of the same
lands to different individuals, while the
same Indians; would often sell a parcel of
land over and over again to different persons.
The consideration for these trans-
actions of course, bore no relation to the
value of the land, wild as it was. It was
in a sale of an extensive tract in Westchester
County by the Indians, if I remember
rightly, that”a large black dog” formed
an important part of the purchase price.
As an example of the way in which these,
transactions with the Indians were carried
out, and also as a little known historical
document, throwing an important light
upon, the designs of the English in the
New Netherlands,. I am tempted to give the
Statement of Tapausagh, (sometimes called
Tackapousha) a Sachem or chief of the
Long Island. Indians, and, Rompaicka,
alias Captain Lambert,” who appeared
before Gov. “Stuyvesant and the Council
on the 7th of January, 1664, and reported
“that about six days ago, he Tapausagh
and a squaw were summoned by the Eng-.
lish to come to Flushing, and were told by
them that a parcel of land”—evidently the
whole or a part of the lands of Flushing—
“upon which they, sat had not yet been bought,
and they had it in charge, and an
order from their king not to settle on any
land not bought and paid for; they wanted
therefore to purchase the land. The Indians
were asked who had summoned,
them, and replied, William Lawrence;
however, when they came there, William
Lawrence was absent; but Mr. Noble and
Robert Terry and Mr. Douthy and many
others, —a house full— said to them ‘we
want to buy the land from you’. Being
further asked what they hid replied, they
said the woman had told the Englishmen
she was willing to sell a piece of the land,
upon which the English people sat, and
which lies nearest, but not all together.
The English wanted to buy the whole
upland, meadows and all. He told them
he would confer with his people, whether
they desired to sell the land. The English
then said they should fix the price, whereupon
they, the savages, told them, why
should we fix a price as long as we do not
know whether our people will sell at all?
If they desire to sell, then we first want, to
see the goods, the consideration or
price, usually paid in different articles of
trifling -value. “They further report that
the English had said three ships would
come from England to drive but the Dutch
and Stuyvesant; all the land belonged, to
them,, and if Stuyvesant tried to do anything
they would bind his hands on his
back and send him out of the country or
kill him; but if he kept quiet, it would be
well, and he might remain in his own
house and on his land like any other man.
The report having been heard, they were
told that all the land on Long Island now
occupied by him and other savages had
been conveyed to the Dutch by Meohowodt,
the father of vTapa’usaghvion the 15th
of January, 1639, and that since that time
the conveyance had been renewed and confir
med in his own presence on the 12th of
March, 1656. He was therefore warned
that he must not presume to sell or convey
to any one the said lands, 60 many
years-ago conveyed to us by his father and
by himself, because they are and have
long been our property.”

As for William Hallett, he succeeded in
finding certain Indians on Staten Island,
who were less amenable to the authority
of the Dutch than, the Sachem – above
mentioned; and when the English Commissioners,
in the parlor of Governor
Stuyvesant’s stone mansion (near the
present St. Mark’s Church) upon his
bouwerie were drawing up the terms of
surrender of the New Netherlands on the
26th of August, 1664, Hallet had already
obtained, upon the 1st of that month, for
the consideration of “fifty-eight fathom of
wampum”—worth about $100—”seven
coats, one blanket and four kettles,” a
deed of land extending from Sunswick
Creek to the Bowery Bay, and covering, as
was previously stated, about 2200 acres of
land, of which about 1,300 acres, mainly
of the” finest kind of timber, were not embraced
in previous grantee The title of
these Indians, and of Mattano their sachem,
“chief of Staten Island and Noyack,” — i e
the lands about the present Fort
Hamilton—nowhere appears, nor is it of
much consequence. The sachem Mattano
was taken up as a sort of patron saint
by the villagers of Astoria a number of
years ago, and his name was given to a
fast East River steamboat which many,
doubtless, will remember, plying between
Morrisania, Harlem, Astoria, Ravenswood
and the lower part of New York
City, and touching at the little
pier at Hunters Point from which
the New York and Flushing Railroad ran
its five trains daily, consisting of one or
two passenger cars each, to Flushing.

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