I'll post more about their decendents and ancestors tomorrow. They are part of my family tree of my gandmother, Ada Swasey Rogers.
First, what is Shelter Island? Where? New York State. (I have done enough research that I'll leave the details at the end of the post rather than interrupt the flow of Matriarchal commenting.) There was also a movie by this name, which I know nothing about. If you wish to read all about the Sylvesters settling of Shelter Island, I'll copy from Wikipedia at the end of this post.*
|Shelter Island at eastern end of Long Island|
On Ancestry 11) Capt. Nathaniel Sylvester is listed as being born in 1610 in London City, Middlesex, England and dying on 13 Jun 1680 in Sylvester Manor, Shelter Island, Suffolk County, New York. In the Wikipedia quotation below, his birth was in Rotterdam, where he later did business in shipping.
Since my focus for Women's History Month is my ancestresses, let's look at his wife, who was 11) Grisell Brinley Sylvester (born 16 Jan 1635 in Datchet, Buckinghamshire, England and died 13 Jun 1687 at Sylvester Island, Suffolk, New York)
|signature of Grissell Brinley Sylvester|
|St Mary the Virgin, Datchet|
|Datchet Mead and Datchet Ferry in 1686 with Windsor Castle in the background|
Datchet (Buckinghamshire, England) is a village on the River Thames, England. which developed because of its close proximity to Windsor and the ferry service which connected it to the main London road across the River Thames.
|Dachet Village center|
Tomorrow I'll follow my matriarchal path back to see who Grissell's parents and grandparents were.
In 1651 the island [was sold] to a group of Barbados sugar merchants for 1,600 pounds of sugar. Nathaniel Sylvester (1610–1680), one of the merchants, was the island’s first white settler. He was among a number of English merchants who had lived and worked in Rotterdam (where he was born) before going to Barbados. His connections there and with the Netherlands helped him establish a far-flung trading enterprise. On March 23, 1652, he made the purchase official by agreement with Youghco (called Pogatticut), the sachem of the Manhanset tribe. The other owners, Sylvester’s brother Constant, and Thomas Middleton, never came to Long Island. In 1673 Nathaniel Sylvester claimed ownership of Shelter Island, Fishers Island, and other parts of Long Island. By that time the Manhansett had declined in number and power.
In 1652 Sylvester constructed a house on the island for his 17-year-old bride, Grissel (also spelled Grizzel) Brinley from London. Her mother was Anna (Wase) Brinley and her father Thomas Brinley had been an auditor in the court of King Charles I. With the Revolution he had lost his position; Grissel had gone to the colony with her older sister Anne, who had married William Coddington, the governor of the Rhode Island colony. Archeological research in the 21st century has revealed there may have been two early house complexes. The Sylvesters had eleven surviving children. The more elaborate manor house, which survives today, was built in 1733 by a Sylvester grandson [see photos above.]
The Sylvester estate was developed as a large provisioning plantation. It raised food crops, as well as livestock for slaughter, sending casks of preserved meats and other supplies to Barbados. Labor was provided by a multicultural force of American Indians, enslaved Africans and English indentured servants. Sylvester and his associates were part of the Triangle Trade between the American colonies (including the Caribbean), Africa and England. His descendants continued to use slaves on the plantation into the 19th century. An estimated 200 blacks are buried at the Negro Burying Ground on the North Peninsula.
The Sylvesters gave shelter to many persecuted Quakers. Sylvester Manor stands today, just off New York State Route 114, and is controlled by Sylvester descendants. All but about 24 acres of the original thousands of acres have gone into other hands.
Following the death in 1680 of Nathaniel Sylvester, Shelter Island was divided between his two sons, Giles and Nathaniel II. In 1695, William Nicoll, a resident of Islip, bought from Giles the area now called Mashomack Nature Preserve. Three years later, in 1698, another newcomer, George Havens, bought 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) from Nathaniel II. This parcel comprises what today is the Center; it stretched south to South Ferry and west to West Neck Creek. Over time these estates and parcels were split and divided by marriage and purchase, so that by the early 18th century, 20 families lived on Shelter Island. By order of the Provincial Government, the Town of Shelter Island was established in 1730.Note: Most of the photos are from public domain Ancestry collections, or Wikipedia.