COE, John & his wife

Cliff McCarthy, 2016

John Coe, our ancestor, was the son of Robert Coe and his first wife Mary, whose surname is unknown.

The following excerpts are from Robert Coe, Puritan: His Ancestors and Descendants, by J. Gardner Bartlett, published in 1911.

“Capt. John Coe, born in Boxford, co. Suffolk; England, and baptized there Aug. 20, 1625, came to New England with his father and stepmother in the spring of 1634, when eight years of age, and accompanied them in their successive locations at Watertown, Mass., Wethersfield and Stamford, Conn., and Hempstead, Long Island. An education superior to that of most of his contemporaries, and the wealth and prominent position of his father, coupled with his own natural abilities and energy of character, enabled him in early manhood to assume a leading position in public affairs which he maintained throughout his life.

On Dec. 7, 1641, a John Coe was granted a houselot of two acres and a woodlot of three acres at Stamford, Conn. John Coe (son of Robert) was but a boy of sixteen years at this time; and extensive evidence makes it clear that this John Coe of Stamford, was not John Coe, the son of Robert [but may have been a newly-arrived cousin].

Our John Coe is first mentioned in America about 1648 when he appears in a list of grantees of land at Hempstead, L. I., where eventually he owned over a hundred and fifty acres. (Printed Records of Hempstead, vol. 1, p. 32, etc.) When his father Robert Coe founded Middleburg (Newtown), L. I., in 1652, John Coe also removed thither, and settled there permanently for the rest of his life. In 1656 he was taxed 12 shillings on a rate made for paying the Indians for a title to the lands in Newtown. For some years, however, he still retained lands in Hempstead, part of which he sold by the following deed on May 2, 1659:

‘I Robert Koa doe hereby in the behalfe of my Sonn John Koa, fully free, and absolutely sell’ etc. to Thomas Champion land in Hempstead. Signed ‘Robart Coo.’ (Printed Records of Hempstead, vol. 1, pp. 107-8.)

Upon locating in Newtown, John Coe began the improvement of a farm, and also built and operated a gristmill on Flushing Creek, an important adjunct to the new settlement,which was owned and carried on by his descendants for several generations. (“Annals of Newtown,” p. 44.) Having thus well established himself in life, about 1656 he married, and soon after was called into public affairs in which he took a prominent part. In 1658, 1661, and 1662, he was appointed the magistrate for Newtown by the Dutch government at New Amsterdam (New York). (Ibid. p. 418.) In the revolution of Long Island from the Dutch government in 1663, John Coe was the most prominent leader; in August 1663 he sent a letter to Hartford concerning annexation to Conn., and in October went there as a deputy of the English on Long Island who about this time made him captain, and at the head of a force of three hundred men, marched through the English towns in the western part of Long Island, overturned the Dutch government, and threatened the Dutch towns with attack. (“Annals of Newtown,” pp. 55-58.) On May 12, 1664, Capt. John Coe was deputy for Newtown at the Conn. General Court at Hartford, by which government he was appointed commissioner (magistrate) at Newtown. (CoI. Records of Conn., vol. 1, pp. 425-8.)

After the conquest of New York by the English in 1664, Capt. John Coe was deputy from Newtown at a convention called by Gov. Nicolls at Hempstead on Feb. 28, 1664/5, to reorganize the government of Long Island. (“Annals of Newtown,” p. 66.) The Records of Newtown show Capt. John Coe as an overseer of the town in April 1666; on Mar. 6, 1666/7, Capt. John Coe is named among the freeholders of Newtown in a confirmation patent by Gov. Nicolls, and his name also appears in a list of Newtown freeholders on Nov. 25, 1686. (Ibid. pp, 74, 110.) In a rate list for Newtown in September 1675, Capt. John Coe was taxed for three horses,. two oxen, five cows, six sheep, and nine swine. On Sept. 5, 1675, Capt. John Coe, et al, were witnesses against Mary Case and Samuel Scudder, Quakers. (Ibid. p. 94.)

jacob_leisler

Statue of Jacob Leisler at New Rochelle, NY (courtesy of Wikimedia)

When Capt. Jacob Leisler secured control of the New York government in a revolution in 1689, he commissioned Capt. John Coe, sheriff of Queens Co., Long Island, on Dec. 18, 1689, which office he held until Jan. 19, 1690/91. (New York Civil List, p. 416.) On the fall of the Leisler regime Capt. John Coe was arrested, indicted for treason, and imprisoned in New York for over a year; on Sept. 9, 1692, he petitioned to be set free having been in jail over fifteen months. Although Leisler and several of his adherents forfeited their lives for treason, Capt. Coe managed to escape this fate, and retired to private life. (“Annals of Newtown,” pp. II 7, 121.) No further records of him appear. He probably died about 1693 although the exact time of his decease is unknown, and no probate records exist of his estate.

The descendants of Capt. John Coe, through three of his sons who married, were mostly Presbyterians; those descended from his second son Robert Coe remained on Long Island, and through excessive intermarriage among themselves became extinct about 1800; descendants of his fourth son Jonathan Coe lived on Long Island for several generations and then removed to New Jersey and the West, but this branch is a small one; the youngest son Samuel Coe, late in life removed with his large family to Orange (now Rockland) County, N. Y., where intermarriage with Dutch families produced a prolific and vigorous race which flourished there for several generations and then dispersed over the United States.

The name and parentage of the wife of Capt. John Coe are unknown, nor are the births of his children recorded; but from the will and a deed of his son John Coe, we probably have the names of all who survived childhood.”

On his great website “Hidden Waters Blog,” Sergey Kadinsky writes this about Coe’s Mill:

“The story of Colonial Avenue begins in 1652 when English settler Captain John Coe established a gristmill on an island in Horse Brook to supply the residents of Newtown with bread…

The Coe family arrived in America in 1634, settling in the Puritan colony of Massachusetts. A year later, the family relocated to Connecticut. The patriarch Robert Coe had three sons, John, Robert and Benjamin, who each figured prominently in the transition period when New Netherlands became New York. The family crossed the Long Island Sound in 1644 following a dispute within their church. Together with the Rev. Richard Denton, they founded the Town of Hempstead… [Robert] Coe was also among the founders of Newtown and Jamaica…

The border between the Dutch and English colonies was a blurry one and the influx of dissident Puritans and Quakers to Long Island caused friction with the Dutch administration… New Netherlands and Connecticut both claimed the entirety of Long Island. Eventually they settled on a border that today separates the counties of Nassau and Suffolk.

Skirmishes occurred on the border and following the successful Native raid that destroyed Maspeth in 1643, English settlers accused New Amsterdam of not doing enough to protect them against Native attacks. Settler Richard Brutnell authored a rumor that Stuyvesant would ally the Dutch with local Natives in a likely war against the English, and that the local English colonists would also be slaughtered in this scenario…In 1662, John Coe and his sons authored a letter on behalf of English settlers on Long Island requesting that their towns be annexed to Connecticut…

At the same time, the Newtown settlers elected delegates to meet Governor Stuyvesant to defuse tensions. The colonists swore loyalty to the Dutch, who in return approved of democratic elections within the settlements of Hempstead, Flushing, Newtown and Jamaica. Nevertheless, mistrust and accusations of dual loyalty persisted as the number of English settlers on Long Island rapidly outgrew the Dutch. 

In August 1664, four English frigates commanded by Captain Thomas Nicolls sailed into the harbor of New Amsterdam and the colony peacefully surrendered to the English in exchange for guarantees of religious tolerance. [see Nicolls’ Expedition] New Netherlands became New York. Suffolk County was detached from Connecticut and awarded to New York, putting all of Long Island within one colony.”

The location of Coe’s Mill has been obliterated by the imposition of the Long Island Expressway. However, in his book The Skillmans of New York, Francis Skillman included an article from the Long Island City Star from 9 January 1880, which had much to say about John Coe and his mill in 1892:

“From Shady Lake down to the marsh is a rapid descent of Corona avenue, where a triangular intersection of roads meets the traveler; that on the left is Strong’s bridge and causeway; that on the right leads to the horse brook which of yore turned the wheel of Captain John Coe’s mill. In this fine position he had built the first mill ever erected in Newtown, and that such a head of water power is not now made use of is a strong proof of the industrial apathy of modern Newtown, leading to the conclusion that we want some modern John Coes among us at the present time. This deserted spot was once the focus of Newtown’s political activity — the familiar ground of Robert Coe, Thomas Hazard and Edward Jessup — a triumvirate strong in resolve and full of conspiracy against old Stuyvesant…”

“In sight of the aged house which from the lofty bluff overlooks the brook, can we not resuscitate the living household of John Coe, his wife, children, the slaves who dwelt in the basement…? The house is in its decay, too capacious for any family that would at the present day wish to dwell -therein ; it will of necessity soon succumb under the influence of neglect and final desertion. Bricks were imported from Holland to build its substantial chimneys and fireplaces; while the seasoned beams and timbers speak well of the Newtown forest. The axe cuts denote the period when saws were little used, and we can use them as an alphabet to read the thoughts of the stalwart pioneer hewing his way along the fallen trunk.”

coe-8

Coe Family Home, Newtown (Maspeth), NY

Apparently, Joe Coe was quite a rabble-rouser in the cause of English control of the Dutch colony and a general thorn in the side of Governor Peter Stuyvesant. The article in the Star offered this letter as evidence:

“Right Honorable, the Lord Stuyvesant: The cause of my presenting these few lines to your honor is to let you understand what traitors there are in Middleburgh [Newtown]. John Coe, Edward Jessup, Ralph Hunt, Richard Betts, Samuel Foe, John Layton, Francis Swayne, went to Westchester in the night, and brought Panton with a company of men over to beat arms against the Dutch, and have taken a copy of Panton ‘s commission to kill and slay any that opposeth him. He beats up the drum under a color to train, and when the town has come together, he plots against your Honor. These seven men set almost the whole town against your Honor; they call private meetings, and there they conspire against you, and have put the town in an uproar. And Richard Betts said he would spend his life and estate in this cause, and John Layton abused your honor, and said you are a devil, a wooden-leg rogue, and a picaroon, and rails against your honor that it is a shame to hear him. Edward Jessup hath been a traitor for a long time; he went to New Haven to see to put the town under them, and I never knew it till they came for money as would go for his charges. If some come, be not taken with them, they will never be at rest, but always a doing of mischief. So, having no more to trouble your honor, I rest your true and faithful subject, John Laurenson.”

The article continued with this:

“Captain John Coe, in October… sailed from the mill dock to Hartford to meet General Court, there assembled…The proposition he bore was a revolution — a transfer of an empire — and the Captain put the very direct question to Connecticut: ‘It had pleased the highest Majesty to move heart of the King’s Majesty to grant unto your colony such enlargements as comprehends this whole island, thereby opening a way for us as we hope from bondage, to such liberties and enlargements as we are informed your patent affords.’ The indomitable mill owner thereupon received for answer from the Colony of Connecticut: ‘As the lines of their patent extended to the adjacent islands, they accepted these towns under their jurisdiction.’ Captain Coe then returned home fully empowered to annex Middleburgh to Connecticut, which power, at the head of eighty armed men, he most effectually made use of, by removing all the Dutch magistrates and by substituting others who took the oath of allegiance to Connecticut. The name of Middleburgh was effaced, and the name of Hastings written over it, in order to perfect the resemblance of the events to the Norman conquest [it would later be changed to Newtown]; a truce was arranged between Stuyvesant and Connecticut, which in due course culminated in the surrender of all the Dutch colonies to Charles the Second.”

The dates and locations of the deaths of John Coe and his wife are not known. He probably died shortly after his release from prison in 1692, but no probate record of his estate has been found.

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Children of John COE & his wife

JOHN COE was born Bef. 20 August 1625 in prob. Boxford, Suffolk Co., England.  He married UNKNOWN 1656 in Newtown (Maspeth Kills), Queens, NY. The Children of JOHN COE and UNKNOWN are:

i.    JOHN COE, b. Abt. 1657; d. 22 June 1735.
ii.    ROBERT COE, b. Abt. 1659.
iii.    HANNAH COE.
iv.    MARY COE.
v.    DAVID COE, b. Abt. 1665; d. 21 December 1728, Newtown (Maspeth Kills), Queens, NY.
vi.    JONATHAN COE, b. Abt. 1668.
vii.   SAMUEL COE, b. Abt. 1672, Newtown (Maspeth Kills), Queens Co., NY; d. 1742, Haverstraw, NY; m. MARGARET VAN ZANDT; b. Abt. 1696; d. 1759.

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SOURCES:

  • Bartlett, J. Gardner, Robert Coe, Puritan: His Ancestors and Descendants, 1340-1910, (Boston, MA, 1911).
  • “Early History of Hempstead, L.I.,” New York Genealogical & Biographical Record, Vol. 10, January 1879.
  • Hart, Frederick C., “Bartholomew Smith of Huntington, Long Island,” The American Genealogist, Vol. 78, 2003.
  • Kadinsky, Sergey, “Coe’s Mill, Queens,” (Hidden Waters Blog, https://hiddenwatersblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/coes-mill-queens, accessed 10 November 2016), “Electronic.”
  • Lawrence, Ruth, Colonial Families of America, (National Americana Society: New York).
  • Mackenzie, George Norbury, ed., Colonial Families of the United States of America, (New York: 1907, as republished at Ancestry.com).
  • Skillman, Francis, The Skillmans of New York, (Jones & Co., New York, 1892).
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