The Pell Family and the Manor of Pelham


The Pell Family and the Manor of Pelham

Numerous local and family accounts have related the early history of the Pells of the Manor of Pelham, particularly those of the seventeenth century (fig. 4). In 1654 Thomas Pell (1603-1669), an Englishman residing in Fairfield, the Colony of Connecticut, purchased from Wampage (alias "Ann-hook"), Maninepoe and four other local Indian chieftains some 200,000 acres. This would have included a substantial area along the Long Island Sound in what is now the Bronx and Southern Westchester County. The sale is recorded in a copy of the original treaty.5 The site of the sale is commemorated by an iron enclosure that was erected around the so-called Treaty Oak in 1903 on the grounds of the Bartow-Pell Mansion.6

The exact boundaries of this large tract included in the sale have not been determined, but it is believed to have comprised the Pelhams (the Town and Manor), New Rochelle, and the old Towns of Westchester and Eastchester, as well as the nearby islands of the Sound. These lands were readily accessible by land and by sea from the English territories along the Connecticut coast. Historians have viewed Pell's purchase as a means by which the English promoted their interests over those of the Dutch, for it encompassed land that the Indians had already sold to the Dutch West India Company in 1640 and was approved by the General Assembly of the Colony of Connecticut.7

In 1666, two years after England's seizure of New Netherlands1 a large portion of Pell's original claim was confirmed by a royal patent from New York Governor Richard Nicolls on behalf of the Lord Proprietor of the Province of New York, James, Duke of York (and the brother of King Charles II.)8 Nicolls authorized the establishment of "an enfranchised township, manor and place" with the same privileges "as of the manor of East Greenwich, in the country of Kent, in free and common socage and by fealty only..."9 (The text of Pell's patent is included in the Appendix.) The Bartow-Pell Mansion Expanded Landmark Site is contained within the original boundaries of the Manor of Pelham.

Although Thomas Pell remained a resident of Fairfield, the inventory of his estate included a house and land in Westchester and other property near the Hutchinson River.10 In fact, in this document he was designated Thomas Pell of the aforementioned Ann Hook's Neck. Although it has never been confirmed, Bolton, in his History of the Countv of Westchester (1848), notes that a residence of Thomas Pell stood on Rodman's or Pelham Neck formerly known as Ann Hook's Neck, on the site of the dwelling house of Samuel Bowne.11 Pell's wife having predeceased him and evidently childless, he bequeathed his estate to his nephew, Sir John Pell of London.12

As sole heir of his uncle's estate,~ Sir John Pell (1643-1702?), arrived in Connecticut in 1670 to claim his inheritance. About 1675 he married Rachel Pinckney, the daughter of one of the original Ten Proprietors of Eastchester, each of whom had been granted their land from Thomas Pell. Soon after their marriage, it is believed that John Pell erected his primary residence in the Manor of Pelham. In 1687 Thomas Dongan, the governor of the province of New York and representative of King James II, issued "a more full and firme grant and confirmation", thereby establishing the lordship and manor of Pelham with "full power and authority at all times hereafter ... one court leete and one court barron, to hold and to keep...." (See appendix for text of this royal patent.) Therefore, it would seem to have been this second royal patent that authorized the use of the title of lord and permitted the manor of Pelham to operate judicially as a manor, that is,. with the holding of a manorial court.1~ In 1688, a year after receiving the royal grant, John Pell was appointed the first judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Westchester County in the territory of New England, holding that office until

.1693. Because of his eventful sale of a large tract of land to the Huguenots in 1789 (for the establishment of New Rochelle) the Manor of Pelham was reduced to approximately 3,066 acres.

Bolton remains one of our only sources for the possible location of John Pell's manor house; he noted that it "was pulled down many years since," and "stood south-west of the present (Bartow] residence." Thus, the old manor house is believed to have stood closer to the shore near the site of the Bartow-Pell Mansion and within the boundaries of the Expanded Landmark Site. A map of of 1708 which shows land in Eastchester granted to a William Peartree and associates by Queen Anne includes the area of Pelham Manor, New Rochelle, Eastchester; a mark which would seem to connote the general location of the Pell Manor house is roughly in this vicinity.14 According to Lockwood Barr, in his 1946 study of the Ancient Town of Pelhain, the manor house of John Pell was probably destroyed during the Revolutionary War.

John Pell is said to have drowned in the Long Island Sound near City Island about 1702.15 Dying intestate, his eldest surviving son Thomas inherited the title of Lord of the Manor. In 1702 Thomas Pell II (1675?-1739?) married Anna (also known by the Dutch name Aeltie Beeke), who is believed to be the daughter of a local Indian chief.

Pell family literature states that Thomas Pell, the Third Lord, divided his estate among all of his children, thereby abolishing. the system of primogeniture, whereby the estate would have passed solely to the eldest son.16 This would have taken place prior to his death, for in his will of 1739 Thomas bequeathed to Joseph (1722-1752), the eldest of his eleven children, all and singular his land, meadows, houses, tenements, buildings and so forth, which then belonged unto him."17 Therefore, it would seem that Joseph became the Fourth Lord of the Manor of Pelham. This Joseph, along with his wife phoebe (1720-1790), is buried in the small Pell family burying ground located on the site. However, Barr believed that Joseph Pell predeceased his father, so that he did not inherit the title of Lord, and it passed instead to his son Joseph II. Several unanswered questions still remain regarding the succession of Lord and land title in the Manor of Pelham in the eighteenth century and more extensive research in the deeds and church and family records is needed.

In any case, the part of the manor which contained the family dwelling remained in the family of Joseph Pell I. Eventually Thomas Pell, the third son of Joseph and Phoebe, took title to the family homestead. The first census of the United States, taken in the year 1790, lists five Pells as heads of families in the Town of Pelham: David, James, John, Philip and Thomas. Thomas, the latter, is listed as living with one white male under the age of sixteen, three white females, and three slaves. It is likely that he would be Thomas, the son of Joseph Pell.

In the early 17905 Thomas Pell, a farmer, along with his wife conveyed 232 acres in Pelham to John Bartow, Jr.18 The son of Theophilus Bartow of Westchester and Bathsheba Pell (the youngest sister of Joseph Pell I), John Bartow in 1771 had married his second wife, his cousin Anne Pell, who was the sister of Thomas Pell. Bartow and Pell geneaologies note that Thomas was married to his cousin Margaret, who was also John Bartow's sister. (This would have made Pell and Bartow not only cousins, but double brothers-in-law!) However,~according to the actual deeds of title, Thomas Pell's wife was Phebe Pell. These factual inconsistences still need to be ironed out.19 Bartow family tradition states that Thomas and Margaret, having lost their children, wanted the old homestead to stay within the family and sold it to John and Ann.20 In any case, the property appears to have~remained in the family of Joseph Pell, since Ann was the daughter of Joseph and Phoebe Pell.

The  Bartows  of Westchester: 1702-1816

As Scharf noted back in 1886, the Bartows have "occupied a much respected position of influence and usefulness in the country during both the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries."21 The family was descended from General Bertaut, a Huguenot from Brittany, who fled to England before 1672 (figs. 5 and 6). The first of the family to settle in this country was The Reverend John Bartow (1673-1725). Soon after his arrival in 1702, he became the minister of the first Episcopal parish of Westchester county, which included Westchester, Eastchester, Yonkers, as well as the Manor of Pelham. He was also the founder and first rector of St. Peter's Church in the village of Westchester, which is now located in Westchester Square in the Bronx.

In 1705 Rev. Bartow married Helen Reid, the sister of the Governor of New Jersey; they resided at the family homestead in the town of Westchester. Among their descendants, who included lawyers, ministers, farmers, and businessmen, were some of the most "valued citizens of Westchester County."22 The Bartows remained closely associated with the development of the Episcopal church in Westchester 'County and elsewhere in the country. In Westchester County a grandson of the Rev. John Bartow, Theodosius (1747-1819), was the first rector of Trinity Church, New Rochelle, serving from 1790 to 1819. He was also the brother of John Bartow, Jr.

The census of 1790 lists six Bartow heads of households residing in the Town of Westchester, the location of the original family homestead. Included are the families of Anthony, Theophilus, William, Punderson, John Bartow Jr., and his son Augustus, who was the father of Robert Bartow.

John Bartow, Jr. (1740-1816), who purchased the Pelham property in two pieces (in 1790 and 1792), could very likely have been the same John Bartow who, from 1766 to 1790, owned a large mill in Eastchester that was known as Bartow's and, later, Reid's Mill.23 Described as a farmer in deeds of 1792 and 1813, he subsequently retired to a Manhattan residence. He was the first cousin of the wife of Aaron Burr. According to Bartow family histories, Bartow's home at Pelham was "the center of attraction in the society of the county." Here Bartow is said to have "entertained 


Samuel Delaplaine

On Monday, November 6, 1809, a chilly windy day in New York City, Mr. Samuel Delaplaine, our great great great great great great great grandfather left his house at 136 Bowery (just north of Chinatown the fashionable address in those days) for the Cortlandt Street Ferry on the Hudson River (about where the Vista Hotel now stands). He was on his way to Powles Hook (now Hoboken), New Jersey, perhaps to visit his farm in Shrewsbury, New Jersey. He may have first stopped by his office at the corner of Old Slip and Water Street, in downtown New York, where he owned and operated a prominent export/import company, specializing in trade with the Mediterranean countries.

There was every reason for Samuel to be pleased with himself. The Delaplaines, a Huguenot family, had lived in New York for almost two hundred years, having been "lesser burghers" under the Dutch. Samuel, himself, was one of the richest men in New York City. He was married to Phila Pell, an heiress of the distinguished family in Westchester. He had extensive business dealings in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia (where his kinsmen Joseph Delaplaine was writing Delaplaine's Repository of Famous Americans, a popular compilation of biographies). At 60 years of age, he was also a new grandfather, his son Samuel's wife having given birth to Henry Delaplaine who would in time become our great (6) grandfather.

Mr. Delaplaine boarded the ferry, a sailboat, with ten people aboard, including John B. Coles, Esq. and his son Benjamin, Mr. Anthony Steinbeck and his former partiner, Mr. Brown, two women, a black man and two ferrymen. The ferry pushed off into the crowded New York Harbor, but the boat did not get far before a "headflaw of wind" deadened her way, taking the wind out of her sails. Before the sails were full again, another "flaw" struck the ferryboat and she was upset. Small boats immediately set out and picked up all the passengers, but Samuel was so exhausted when he was brought ashore that he soon died. His was the only fatality.

The following day, the funeral was held at his house at 3:00 p.m. Most of the newspapers carried stories of the accident and short obituaries of Samuel. There had been talk that the Corporation of the City of New York was going to buy one of the new steamboats which Robert Fulton had recently invented, but this hadn't gone through yet. Some believed that the accident would speed the process. The Public Advertiser wrote a poem which began as a memorial, but ended as an advertisement for Fulton steamboats (see next page.)

One of Samuel's sons, John F., went on to become the landlord of a string of bordellos. MORAL: The wages of death is sin.

Prepared by Thomas F. Berner, Esquire (Great 7 Grandson of Samuel Delaplaine)

The foregoing information is courtesy of the New York Historical Society where the Delaplaine family papers repose.

Newspaper Story

The unfortunate oversetting of the Powles Hook Ferry Boat on Monday last, by which event an estimable citizen, Mr. Delaplaine lost his life, has greatly increased fears which individuals have ever felt on crossing this ferry. Fortunately ... the corporation are about concluding a contract with Mr. Fulton to establish steam ferry boats for this passage."  (Nov. 8, 1809, Public Advertiser

Lines occasioned by the late disaster of one of the Paulus [sic) Hook passage-boats upsetting from which accident one of our citizens was drowned and the remainder on board narrowly escaped.

I saw a bargue on Hudson's wave that plies,
Yield to the blast that rends the autumnal skies;
From Cortlandt's wharf she took her vent'rous way
Rude gloom'd the sky, and blustering was the day.
The fatal blast too powerful prose'd for art,
With pain I saw the shivering sail depart:
In vain the helm by cautious hands was held,
One flaw upset her and the wind prevailed;
One worthy man, I tell with grief sincere,
One worthy man* was doom'd to perish there
Leave all behind that could attract his love
Without one farewell at this last remove.
All you who on this rugged Hudson stray,
To seek far Jersey's coast, or Bergen Bay,
Let every future voyage be by steam;
Let Fulton's art, unrivall'd art, prevail,
Nor trust existence to the dangerous sail,
Bid him apply the powers that reason gave,
To waft you safely o'er the treacherous wave;
On his firm deck you may all safety find;
Nor dread the madness of the threatening wind.
See Neptunes car, a floating palace move,
And fears no danger from the blasts above
No tides delay her, and no gales alarm,
The power of steam can every blast disarm,
Be such your choice -- on such a barque rely 
And every danger of the winds defy.
*Mr. Delaplaine"
(Public Advertiser Nov. 11, 1809)