Pelham Village

Town of Pelham
Westchester County, NY


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Westchester County
Hudson Valley

Pelham is the oldest town in Westchester County . . . "purchased by Thomas Pell on June 27, 1654 from the Siwanoy Indians; the tract included what is now New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, the Pelhams, and Eastchester."

Source: Excerpts from "New York, A Guide to the Empire State", Compiled by workers of the Writer's Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of New York, 1940 Albany

The State Legislature incorporated the Town of Pelham on March 7, 1788, and at that time included all of City Island and what is now Pelham Bay Park east of the Hutchinson River. In 1895, the Town of Pelham was redefined as two villages. These two Villages known as the Village of Pelham Manor in 1891 and Village of Pelham in 1896; were incorporated within the Town of Pelham.

History And Antiquities, Compiled 1841
The following covers "History and Antiquities", a general collection of interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, and anecdotes about Westchester County and its towns. When reading the following, keep in mind that this information was compiled from papers written about two hundred years ago and compiled in 1841. Population statistics and events have not been revised to reflect current events and perspective. We think this adds to the historical flavor and interest of the writings, giving a different perspective on much of this information and written in an "older world" writing style.

    "Pelham is situated on the sound, 18 miles NE. from New York. Pop. 789."

    Source "Historical Collections of the State of New York, Published by S. Tuttle, 194 Chatham-Square, 1841

History of Pelham, Published 1900
When reading the following, keep in mind that this information was written many years ago. Population statistics and events have not been revised to reflect current events and perspective. We think this adds to the historical flavor and interest of the writings, giving a different perspective on "history" and written in an "old world" writing style.

    Pelham Manor
    John Pell, the successor of Thomas in the " lordship " of Pelham Manor, was born on the 3d of February, 1643. He arrived in America and entered into his proprietorship in the summer of 1670. On the 25th of October, 1687, a new royal patent of Pelham Manor was issued to him by Governor Dongan, the reason for this proceeding being, as stated in the patent, that he desired "a more full and firm grant and confirmation" of his lands. The bounds of the manor as specified in the new instrument were precisely the same as those prescribed in the Nicolls patent to his uncle - Hutchinson's Eiver on the south and Cedar Tree or Gravelly Brook on the north, with the neighboring islands; but the dignities attaching to the manorial lordship were somewhat more elaborately defined, and instead of paying to the royal governor as quit-rent "one lamb on the first day of May" as had been required of Thomas Pell, he was to pay "twenty shillings, good and lawful money of this province," "on the five and twentyeth day of the month of March." He married (1685) Bachel, daughter of Philip Pinkney, one of the first ten proprietors of EastChester. He resided on his estate, and seems to have taken an active and influential interest in public matters related to Westchester County, having been appointed by Governor Andros (August 25, 1688) the first judge of Westchester County, and serving as delegate from our county in the provincial assembly from 1691 to 1695. He died in 1702. The tradition is that he perished in a gale while upon a pleasure excursion in his yacht off City Island.

    The most notable event of John Pell's administration of his manor was the conveyance by him through the celebrated Jacob Leisler of six thousand acres as a place of settlement for the Huguenots - a transaction out of which resulted the erection of the Town of href="" target="_blank">New Rochelle.

    The Edict of Nantes, a decree granting a measure of liberty to the Protestants of France, promulgated in 1598 by King Henry IV., was on the 22d of October, 1685, revoked by Louis XIV., and by that act of state policy the conditions of life in the French kingdom were made quite intolerable to most persons of steadfast Protestant faith. For some years previously to the revocation numerous French Protestants had begun to seek homes in foreign lands, especially America; and after 1685 the emigration grew to large proportions. A great many of the Huguenots came to New York City. Several of the leaders of the sect abroad entered into correspondence with Leisler (known to them as a responsible merchant and influential citizen of New York and, moreover, a man of strong liberal principles), with a view to the purchase by him as agent of eligible land for the establishment of a Huguenot colony.

    It happened that a number of the Huguenot immigrants in New York City, looking about them for suitable places of residence, had in 1686 and 1687 chosen and secured from John Pell parcels of land in that portion of Pelham Manor now occupied by the present City of New Rochelle. From this circumstance Leisler, as the constituted agent of the Huguenots, was led to locate the settlement at that place. He entered into negotiations with Pell, and on the 20th of September, 1689, "John Pell and Rachel his wife'' conveyed to him, " in consideration of the sum of sixteen hundred and seventy-five pounds sterling, current silver money of this province," "all that tract of land lying and being within said Manor of Pelham, containing six thousand acres of land, and also one hundred acres of land more, which the said John Pell and Rachel his wife do freely give and grant for the French church erected, or to be erected, by the inhabitants of the said tract of land, or by their assignees, being butted and bounded as herein is after expressed, beginning at the west side of a certain white oak tree, marked on all four sides, standing at high water mark at the south end of Hog Nock, by shoals, harbour, and runs northwesterly through the great fresh meadow lying between the road and the Sound, and from the north side of the said meadow to run from the due north to Brouckes river, which is the west division line between the said John Pell's land and the aforesaid tract, bounded on the southeasterly by the Sound and Salt Water, and to run eastnortherly to a certain piece of salt meadow lying at the salt creek which runneth up to Cedar Tree brook, or Gravelly brook, and is the bounds to Southern. Bounded on the east by a line that runs from said meadow northwesterly by marked trees, to a certain black oak tree standing a little below the road, marked on four sides, and from thence to run due north four miles and a half, more or less, and from the north side of the said west line, ending at Broncke's river, and from thence to run easterly till it meets with the north end of the said eastern most bounds, together with all and singular the islands and the islets before the said tract of land lying and being in the sound and salt water," etc. This was an absolute deed of sale of the property. The sum paid for it, 1,675, was extraordinarily large, in comparison with the usual amounts given in those times for unimproved landed property, and is a demonstration of the entirely substantial character of the settlement of New Rochelle at its very foundation. In addition to the purchase money, " said Jacob Leisler, his heirs and assigns," were to held and pay "unto the said John Pell, his heirs and assigns, lords of the said Manor of Pelham, to the assigns of them or him, or their or either of them, as an acknowledgment to the lords of the said manor, one fat calf on every four and twentieth day of June, yearly and every year forever - if demanded." This proviso was incorporated conformably with the customs of the times, which required the vouchsafing of peculiar courtesies to the lords of manors on the part of individuals upon whom they bestowed their lands. The ceremony of the presentation of the fat calf was duly observed for many years, and was always made a festival occasion.

    Although the deed of sale specified the Bronx River as the westernmost boundary of the tract, its bounds as finally established stopped at Hutchiuson's River or creek. The six thousand acres comprised the whole northern section of the manor, Pell retaining the southern portion, a wedge-shaped territory, about one-half less in area than the part conveyed to Leisler.

    Shortly after the consummation of the purchase, Leisler began to release the lands to the Huguenots, and the place was settled with reasonable rapidity. It was called New Rochelle in honor of La Rochelle in France, a community prominently identified with the Huguenot cause in the religious wars. From the first the French refugees proved themselves most desirable additions to the population of our county, and the entire history of New Kochelle is a gratifying record of progress.

    It will be remembered that John Richbell's original purchase from the Indians of what is now the Township of Mamaroneck, a purchase confirmed to him at the time by the Dutch authorities, and later by the English governor, Lovelace, comprised three necks on the Sound between the Mamaroneck River and Thomas Pell's lands, and that the interior extension of the purchase was twenty miles northward "into the woods". Of the three necks, called the East, Middle, and West Necks, the first was deeded by Richbell to his mother-in-law, Margery Parsons, and by her immediately conveyed to his wife, Ann; but the latter two were mortgaged and finally lost to Richbell's estate. These Middle and West Necks, with their prolongation into the interior, formed a triangular tract of land owned by several persons, which lay wedge-shaped between the Manor of Pelham, at the southwest, and what later became the Manor of Scarsdale, at the northeast. The East Neck, terminating at the mouth of the Old Guion Place, New Rochelle.

    Mamaroneck River, continued to be the property of Mrs. Richbell until its sale by her to Caleb Heathcote, in 1697. It formed the nucleus of Scarsdale Manor, erected in 1701.

    Source: History of Westchester County, New York: From Its Earliest Settlement to the Year 1900,
    Authors Frederic Shonnard, Walter Whipple Spooner,
    Publisher New York History Company, 114 Fifth Avenue, New York, 1900

History of Pelham Manor, Compiled 1940

    Pelham Manor, 12 m. (100 alt., 5,270 pop.), a residential community, is on land purchased by Thomas Pell in 1654 from the Siwanoy Indians; the tract included what is now New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, the Pelhams, and Eastchester. In 1680 John Pell sold 6,000 acres for 'Sixteen hundred twenty and five currant silver money of the Province, also to John Pell . . . every four and twentieth day of June yearly and every year forever if demanded, one fat calf.' Anne Hutchinson, rebel against Puritan conformity in Massachusetts, settled in this section in 1642 and was murdered in 1643 by Indians at Throgg's Neck, now Pelham Bay Shore.

    Pelhamdale Ave., to the railroad station on Washington Ave., was the route of the tiny trolley said to have provided the inspiration for the Toonerville Trolley series of Fontaine Fox, the cartoonist.

    At 12.5 m. is the junction with Split Rock Road.

    Left onSplit Rock Road to the New York City line, 0.5 m., then through Pelham Bay Park to Pelham Parkway. Split Rock Road was once the private driveway from the manor house of Thomas Pell to the Boston Post Road. Washington's army retreated along this road after the Battle of Long Island. Some of the heaviest fighting in the Battle of Pell's Point, October 18, 1776, took place in the vicinit of the cleft 10-foot boulder, which is near the New York City line. Learn about the American Revolution in Westchester and the Hudson River Valley.

Source: Excerpts from "New York, A Guide to the Empire State", Compiled by workers of the Writer's Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of New York, 1940 Albany

About Pelham Manor Today
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