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The Dinkel – Sleight – Steuart Shelter Island Colonial Manuscript Archive

$350,000.00

A manuscript archive of hundreds of documents relating to the family, business and political affairs of the heirs of Nathaniel Sylvester, one of the three original owners of Shelter Island, which documents the way the Sylvester, Dering, Dinkel, Steuart, Rysam, Fosdick, Gardiner, Wentworth and Havens families lived and worked in Colonial America as proprietors on Shelter Island and as shipping and whaling entrepreneurs in Sag Harbor. With 116 principal documents from 1700 – 1799, one may follow the intermarriages of the original Dutch families in New Amsterdam and subsequently in New York during colonial administration.

Description

A manuscript archive of hundreds of documents relating to the family, business and political affairs of the heirs of Nathaniel Sylvester, one of the three original owners of Shelter Island, which documents the way the Sylvester, Dering, Dinkel, Steuart, Rysam, Fosdick, Gardiner, Wentworth and Havens families lived and worked in Colonial America as proprietors on Shelter Island and as shipping and whaling entrepreneurs in Sag Harbor. With 116 principal documents from 1700 – 1799, one may follow the intermarriages of the original Dutch families in New Amsterdam and subsequently in New York during colonial administration. Also, from their business interactions and marriages, one may learn much about such colonial institutions such as the enslavement of people of color, bought from the Faneuil family in Boston, for instance. From a suite of ten extraordinary letters written by Hannah Sylvester, between 1702 and 1720, written to her husband’s neglectful executor, advocating for her own cause in terms any modern advocate would admire, one may read first-hand the abusive, discriminatory and sexist legal constraints enforced on women in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and, by extension in the Province of New York. The archive is not without interesting and, at times, amusing appearances of prominent colonial personalities such as Edward Hyde, self-identified in this archive in an extraordinary attestation, as “Edward Viscount Cornbury Capt[ain] Gentl[man?] and Governor in Chief of the Provinces of New York and New Jersey &c …”. As America’s reputed first cross-dressing politician and notorious royal relative of Queen Anne, the abbreviation “Gentl” begs the question, was he attired as a female at the time of his signing not once but twice on the same document? Of scientific and medical interest are the records of family inoculations in correspondence and genealogies and the establishment of a “Pock House” on Shelter Island, where smallpox patients were quarantined in the 1700s.

A manuscript wedding certificate entirely in Rev. Ezra Stiles’s own hand for the marriage of Thomas Dering and Mary Sylvester March 9, 1756. in Newport.

With a long-standing connection to Yale College and Law School in both the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it is not surprising to find a wedding certificate entirely in Rev. Ezra Stiles’s own hand for the marriage of Thomas Dering and Mary Sylvester March 9, 1756 in Newport. In the nineteenth century, Cornelius Sleight II (1853-1881) kept a meticulous “Notes of a Course of Lectures on Elementary Law. Delivered by Professor Robinson to the Students of the Yale Law School.” Cornelius’s sister and mother were both also diarists, and their diaries survive among the 100 principal nineteenth-century documents in this manuscript archive. Among the signatures on the principal documents are:
Thomas Burroughs
Jonathan Clark
Adam Comstock
Joseph Conkling
Griselda Cotton
Jonathan Cotton
Nathaniel Cotton
Capt. Danvers
Jonas Dayton
Brinley S. Dering
Anna Charlotte Dering
Eliza. Dering
Frances M. Dering
Mary Frances Dering
Captain Henry Dering
Henry Dering
Henry Packer Dering
Henry S. Dering
Henry Thomas Dering
Nicol Henry Dering
N. Richard Dering
Capt. Richard N. Dering
Sylvester Dering
Thomas Dering
William Henry Dering
John Eastwicke
Hepzibah Edwards
Nicoll Fosdick
Thomas Fosdick
Eliza. P. Gardiner
Robert M – – -h. Gardiner
Mary Gooch
Abigail Grant
Mary Dering Gray
Robert F. Hand
Jonathan Nicoll Havens
Ludowick Havens
Mary C. Havens
Nicoll Havens
Sarah Hampstead
James H. Hicks
Thomas Hutchinson, Jr.
Edward Hyde, Earl of Cornbury
John Knowling
H. Lloyd
John Lloyd
James Monk
Lewis Morris Junior
Benjamin M. Mumford
Rensselaer Nicoll
William Nicoll
Andrew Oliver
Marcus B. Osborn
E. Prime
Thomas P. Ripley & His Wife, Elizabeth
Elizabeth Rutty,
Griz[ze]ll Sanford
William Sanford
Benjamin Sawyer
Stephen Seabury
Anna F[rances] Sleight
Cornelius Sleight
Cornelius Sleight II
Cornelius R. Sleight
Elizabeth Sleight
Hannah P. Sleight
Henry C. Sleight
Sarah Sleight
William R. Sleight [Jr.]
John Smith
Sally Smith
A.M. Steuart
Rev. Ezra Stiles
Charles Storer
Brinley Sylvester
Hannah Sylvester
Margaret Sylvester
Mary Sylvester
Nathaniel Sylvester II
Nath[anie]ll Sylvester III
Mary Thomas
Sarah Dering Thomas
Daniel Updike
Elizabeth Dering Wentworth
John Wentworth
Mark H. Wentworth
Sam[uel] Wentworth
Silas Wood

The line of ownership of these papers by the Dinkel-Sleight-Steuart family from their dates of creation in the eighteenth century to the present day is unbroken, some of the content of these documents demonstrates the diligence of the successive family members in recording their genealogies as well as retaining documents that record their verifiable positions in eighteenth and nineteenth century American society, namely the Sylvester, Dering, Dinkel, Sleight and Steuart families. Condition of individual items is noted in the full catalogue descriptions. Generally, the overall condition is remarkably good. A few documents, some of them recording the Dering-Sleight family’s participation in defining moments in colonial American history, are deserving of conservation, but still legible.

A longer description as well as a catalogue of the significant documents are available upon application.