“DECKS OF A SLAVE SHIP” FROM THE HISTORY OF SLAVERY AND THE SLAVE TRADE, ANCIENT AND MODERN, COMPILED BYWILLIAM O. BLAKE (COLUMBUS OH: J. & H. MILLER, 1861) JHC ARCHIVES
his son Adolphus and a nephew Jacobus Van Cortlandt became the new proprietors of the Mamaroneck mortgages. The eight prisoners had survived the ravages of a sea voyage while clamped in “shakles.” By one account, they were among 45 total captives brought to the Philipse’ Mills that year. The waters of Long Island Sound may seem idyllic today, but they also provided safe harbor for treacherous deeds in the past. What other illicit activities might have taken place at Mamaroneck’s Harbor or islands within Richbell’s jurisdiction? How many enslaved people were brought there just two miles from neighboring Rye and close to the ancient Westchester Path? Can we trace their narratives beyond their enslavement or find their descendants? Renewed examination of primary sources with fresh interpretations, unbiased by race or gender, are needed. The clues are there. They just need to be connected. * The 2019 exhibit “Preserving Westchester’s African-American Heritage: Engaging Youth & Community” reopens February 5 - 29, 2020 at the Jay Estate. jayheritagecenter.org –– Suzanne Clary is the President of the Jay Heritage Center at the historic Jay Estate.
to Steenwyck in 1673. Certainly, Steenwyck would have understood the advantages of Mamaroneck’s geography. Then at some point before his death in 1684, Richbell assigned both Steenwyck’s mortgage and a second plot on Mamaroneck’s “West Neck” to the Philipse family through a “fee simple.” Frederick’s wife Margaret had brought measurable wealth and unique skills to her union with Frederick in 1662. She possessed her own fleet of ships from a previous marriage and huge stores of mercantile shrewdness. Where Frederick had started out as a carpenter for the Governor of New Amsterdam and the Dutch West India Company, Margaret was respected as a “she-merchant” under Dutch law. This allowed her to serve as supercargo on her own vessels. Although Margaret was stripped of her economic independence by the British conquest of New Netherlands in 1664, in practice, she continued to help her husband and sons run the Philipse shipping and slaving ventures. She too would have recognized Richbell’s land as an ideal site for landing human contraband from The Charles in 1685.
a jury of 11 reviewed the testimonies of Johnson, Lockcourt, Wilson and Barham. On August 4, 1685, they acquitted Frederick Philipse as well as Robert Codenham, Master of The Charles , of any wrongdoing with respect to breaking the Laws of Navigation. No penalty existed for their heinous crimes against the Angolan prisoners. Emboldened by the lack of punishment, the Philipse’ activities continued and not just in Westchester. Other stops made by The Charles had included Stamford in the “Conecticote Colony” and an assignation “westward of Captaine’s Island.” Who is to say how many times this route was repeated? When Codenham died in 1688, he was owed monies from the Van Cortlandt branch of the family for services rendered in Jamaica; witnesses to his last will included associates of the infamous Captain William Kidd. Margaret died in 1691 having contributed significantly to her family’s empire. Her husband would remarry a less salty woman but continue to “acquire much of his fortune from the tempting trade with pirates.” Upon Frederick’s death in 1702,
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