Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Sylvester Family of Shelter Island

To find the Sylvester Monument and Quaker
Cemetery, look for this historical marker
on Route 114 on Shelter Island

At one time the Sylvester family owned all of Shelter Island, off the coast of Long Island between the North and South Forks.  The first owner was Nathaniel Sylvester, a wealthy Englishman, who was a sugar merchant who paid for the island with sacks of sugar.   His wife, Grissell Brinley was the daughter of the auditor for King Charles of England.  Nathaniel left his plantation to his son, Giles.  Both were monarchists and  friends of Quakers, and sympathized with their plight at the hands of the Puritans. The ruins of his plantation built in 1662 have been the site of archaeological research in recent years by the University of Massachusetts.  There is a current manor house built in 1735 after the earlier home was destroyed by fire.

On the Sylvester Manor grounds there is a Quaker cemetery.  The earliest graves here date from 1729, and there are about ten gravestones here with the surnames HUDSON, BROWN and KNOWLING.  The graves of the Sylvester family members have been removed to another graveyard on Shelter Island.  The marble monument in the middle of the cemetery dates from 1884, and names the persecuted Quakers who sought refuge or were aided and befriended by the Sylvester family.   The marble ledger stones are mostly illegible, as well as the steps with the Quaker history inscribed.   See this blog post for the Quaker history transcribed: ******** 


Transcription from Friend’s Intelligencer and Journal:

The monument sits in the middle
of the Shelter Island Quaker Cemetery

We had a hard time reading the inscription
until I found this transcription online

Nathaniel Sylvester
First resident Proprietor
The Manor of Shelter Island
Under grant of
Charles II, A. D. 1666
[Coat of Arms]
An Englishman
Faithful to friendship,
The soul of integrity and honor,
Hospitable to worth and culture,
Sheltering ever the persecuted for conscience sake
The Daughters of
Mary and Phoebe Gardiner Horsford,
Descendants of
Patience, Daughter of Nathaniel Sylvester,
And Wife of the Huguenot, Benjamin L”Hommedieu
In reverence and affection
The good name of their ancestor
Set up these stones, for
A Memorial
1610                              1680

The bottom stone was in better
condition and legible

(On the bottom stone)
Descent from Anne Brinley of the Female Side
[Coat of Arms]
Thomas Brinley, King’s auditor, married Anne Wase
Nathaniel Sylvester married Grissell Brinley
Benjamin L’Hommedieu married Patience Sylvester
Benjamin L’Hommedieu married 2nd Martha Bourne
Ezra L’Hommedieu married Mary Catherine Havens
Samuel Smith Gardiner married Mary Catharine L’Hommedieu
Eben Norton Horsford married Mary L’Hommedieu Gardiner

Succession of Proprietors
The Manhannsett Tribe
 The King
The Earl of Sterling
 James Farrett
Stephen Goodyear
Nathaniel Sylvester
 Giles Sylvester
Brinley Sylvester
 Thomas Dering
Sylvester Dering
Mary Catherine L’Hommedieu
 Samuel Smith Gardiner
Eben Norton Horsford


For more information:        

Part 1- A Visit to Shelter Island

Part 2- The Quaker Memorial at Shelter Island
Friend’s Intelligencer and Journal,  1895, Volume 52, page 571, “An Interesting Monument on Shelter Island”

Sylvester Manor, a 243 historic plantation and non-profit educational farm on Shelter Island

A website about the archaeological digs at Sylvester Manor:

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

1 comment:

  1. Been following close here as I have Quaker Dillinghams and they intermarried with some Sylvesters, but so far no matches. My Dillinghams moved north from the Boston area in to what is Maine today.