John S. Skidmore, Sr. (1643 - 1680) MP

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Nicknames: "John Scudamore"
Birthplace: Cambridge, Suffolk Co., MA
Death: Died in Jamaica, Long Island, Queens Co., NY
Managed by: Myrna Huthmacher, (C)
Last Updated:

About John S. Skidmore, Sr.

John Skidmore Biography Added by Dennis_Skidmore on 5 Feb 2008

JOHN SKIDMORE (otherwise SCUDAMORE) was the youngest son of Thomas andEllen (________) Skidmore. He was born at Cambridge, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, on 11April 1643 and died at Jamaica, Queens County, Long Island, before 5 June 1680. He marriedSusanna, who is said to have been the Susannah Davis who was born on 2 November 1642, thedaughter of Fulk Davis later of Jamaica. Davis is first noticed in the records on this side of theAtlantic in January 1639/40 when he sold his house and lot at Hartford, Connecticut, to NathanielWard. The given name of his first wife is unknown, although she is mentioned several times as“Goody” (Goodwoman) Davis at East Hampton where she was accused of being a witch. He wasat Southampton, Long Island, by 1644, at East Hampton by 1653, at Brookhaven by 1660, and atJamaica by 1671, leaving sons at all these places. He had died (aged at least 75) at Jamaica before4 November 1692 when his stepson John Hinds (who had been an overseer of the will of JohnSkidmore) gave a deed mentioning “Ffulke Davies, late of Jamaica, deseast.”

John Skidmore was taken to Connecticut when he was three and presumably his education was hadthere. No mention is found of him in that colony since he had gone as a young man to Jamaica onLong Island. It is possible that he stopped first at Manursing Island at Rye in Westchester County.He may have been there as early as the summer of 1660, although no mention is found of him there.He turns up at Jamaica, apparently newly married, by 15 November 1662 when it was voted andconcluded at a town meeting that “John Skidmore shall have the first lot next the highway .. uponconsideration that he shall do the town’s work for smithery.”

On 1 January 1663/4 he signed his name as one of the proprietors of Jamaica in a statement ofallegiance addressed to Charles II. Long Island was under Dutch rule at this date and the men ofJamaica protested that their “soil being invaded and His Majesty’s rights usurpted by the Hollandersto the great scandal of government and discouragement of His Majesty’s hopeful plantation whichwe will for the future defend as Englishmen, just proprietors, and loyal subjects.”

His name appears frequently thereafter in the Jamaica town minutes. On 5 February 1663/4 it isrecorded that all of the town present “have given John Skidmore their share of the smith’s tools.”At a town meeting on 14 September 1668 “the town have voted and concluded to take the best &prudents course as may be for the procuring of a minister as soon as convenient time will permit.”This entry is signed “By me, John Skidmore, Clark.” Although he continued to act as clerk it is notuntil 4 April 1670 that we find him elected to the office; on that date “it was voted and concludedthat John Skidmore should be town clerk for the present year and the town is to give him twelveshillings for his pains.” The Duke of York’s laws had provided that a Protestant church beestablished in every town but did not specify the denomination; Jamaica’s became Presbyterian indoctrine. John Skidmore was clerk of it as well since all of the business of the church was transactedat the town meetings. The First Presbyterian Church of Jamaica dates from 1662 and it claims (withseveral other churches on Long Island) to be the oldest church of the denomination in the UnitedStates.

He was back in Connecticut on a visit to his father on 9 November 1666. John Westcott of Fairfieldgave a receipt to his stepfather Thomas Skidmore on that day for his share of his father’s estate. JohnSkidmore and Robert Bloomer were the two witnesses to the instrument which John Skidmore mayhave written for his father.

His home lot in Jamaica was on the north side of the burying ground (now Prospect Cemetery at159th Street near Jamaica Avenue). This was confirmed to him on 23 May 1673 the record notingthat he was to leave a “sufficient highway to the burying place.” On 18 April 1673 it was agreedat a meeting of the constables and overseers of the town “that Thomas Smith and John Skidmore beWaywardings for this present year to call so many men as they shall see cause or need require forrepairing and clearing the highway.” At some date in the period John Skidmore and Jonathan Davis (probably his brother-in-law) had alease from his father Fulk Davis of his teams and tackle for the term of one year for which they wereto pay £5. The agreement was to expire on the 10 March next, but neither that year or the date of theinstrument is given through some oversight. Fulk Davis appears to have moved from Brookhavento Jamaica in 1671 and Jonathan Davis died untimely in 1674, and this appears to pin down the yearrather closely. Fulk’s property is spelled out: six oxen, a cart and wheels, a plow, and yokes of bothiron and wood. All of this the two partners were to look after carefully. They promised that the oxen would be housed in the winter, and good hay provided for them. The lessors were to be heldaccountable for the oxen if they “do loose any of them through carelessness.” On 10 December 1674 Captain Henry Newton entered a complaint against John Scudamore at theQueens County Court of Sessions sitting at Jamaica. None of the proceedings are recorded exceptthe judgement: “Scudamore to pay what he hath in his hands.” In addition to blacksmithing John Skidmore was also a tobacco planter. On 12 March 1674/5 he hadfrom the constable and overseers the lease of a town lot and barn “to cure a crop of tobacco in andthe land to plant a crop upon.” In consideration of this he was to repair the fence about the orchardand make and hang a pair of barn doors. This lot was apparently the one designated for the townminister for John Skidmore was to enjoy the fruit in the orchard unless “the town doth procure aminister that shall come in time enough to make use of the fruit of the orchard then the town shallpay for the doors.” Ministers and blacksmiths were both hard to come by and the English townswent to any length to “entertain” one among them. It was about this time (the last Sunday in June 1675) that his eldest son John, then about 12 yearsold, accidentally shot and killed a young friend, Thomas Barker, while his parents were gone fromhome. In spite of his youth the lad was indicted for murder. On 22 July 1675 John and SusannaSkidmore addressed a petition to Governor Andros: “to our grief and trouble it fell out so that myson taking up a gun which stood in the house not knowing it was charged as we have very goodgrounds to believe (for we can prove it was charged when the boy was abroad in the fields) yetpresuming to cock the gun without examining it whether it was charged or not, it did that mischievousact killing the other for which hath been so great a grief to your petitioners in so much thatwe know not well how to bear our affliction.” The petition asks that the case be heard by personsunprejudiced to their son for “seeing some of our neighbors manifest so much malice against us andour child adds much to our grief .. for though our child is dear to us yet we are so far from sustainingour child in any evil act that we shall not in the least measure to about to make the case better orworse than it is.” The petition is signed by John Skidmore and with the mark of his wife Susanna.The trial was at New York City on 7 October 1675. Samuel Barker, the father of the victim, camewith an indictment against John Scudamore, Junior, who was brought to the bar. The jury wassworn and lads present at the shooting (“not being put upon their oaths as being too young”) declaretheir knowledge of the accident. Several witnesses were produced who said that there was noquarrel between the boys. John Scudamore, Senior, who seems to have acted as his son’s attorney,then called Nathaniel Denton who stated that the young Barker forgave John Scudamore before hedied and “the father did the like.” Governor Andros, who presided, gave the charge to the jury andthey retired while another case was tried. The jury returned with a verdict of “chance medley” andthe court gave judgment that the prisoner was cleared by proclamation. On 13 June 1676 John Skidmore was the plaintiff in a suit against John Linas. Linas put in a petitionabout the half of the charge being cast on him. At the same time George Clare (who apparently wasaccused of the other half of the charge) countered with a petition against Skidmore “for detainingan Estate left in trust with him.” John Skidmore replied that the property in contention was his bya deed of gift and asked the court for time to prove it. The court ordered that Skidmore “hath timegiven him of a month to produce his evidences from Rye [in Westchester County] to prove it.” Ifthe justices were not satisfied with his evidence then Skidmore was to answer to the court at the next session. John Skidmore must have been indignant at the proceedings for on the day following he wascited to the couft for “ill language” presumably provoked by the events of the previous day. Nothingmore is heard of the matter and it appears that he won his case. George Clare was one of the first 17 proprietors of the village of Hastings on Manursing Island atRye, New York, in the summer of 1660. Several of the original men there became prominent soonafter at Hempstead and Jamaica on Long Island. Clare had remained long enough to have the grantof a home-lot at Hastings but left soon after. Hempstead Harbor was about six miles across theSound due south of Hastings village and there was no doubt easy commerce between Rye and LongIsland. The case must have been settled amicably for we find George Clare living on JohnSkidmore’s homelot at Jamaica at the time of Skidmore’s death in 1680. There is nothing yet discovered in the records of Rye or Westchester County to suggest that JohnSkidmore ever lived there, but he may have been there before settling at Jamaica. Presumably it waspersonal property that he had in the town by an unrecorded deed of gift. If it was a gift he may verywell have been related in some unknown way to one of the early inhabitants of that place, perhapseven to Clare himself, but we must wait for some further evidence to turn up. John Scudamore brought a suit against Peter Smith, the clerk of the North Riding Court, on 13December 1677. This was apparently a continuation of his disagreement with John Linas. DanielWhitehead, Junior, testified that he went with Scudamore to see if Peter Smith would pay the debtof £8 8sh in behalf of Henry Bowman. John Lynas confessed his debt and six days later suedBowman apparently to force his settlement. This is the first time we find John Skidmore and Major Daniel Whitehead (1646-1704) mentionedtogether. He was born at Hempstead, the eldest son of Daniel Whitehead by his first wife (a daughterof Thomas Armitage, another of the 50 English proprietors of Hempstead). She was living as lateas 1653, and her sons were still children at the time their father married Jane Ireland and started asecond family. Major Daniel Whitehead became a man of considerable wealth and influence, amagistrate, a ranger-general, a patentee of Jamaica, and a representative to the New York Assembly.He and John Skidmore were about the same age and while they were probably related in someunknown way they were, more importantly, clearly close associates at Jamaica. On Thursday, 13 June 1678, Whitehead sued John Oldfield and Samuel Smith about a division ofthe common meadow “upon the farther East Neck” in Jamaica. It had been put to a vote in a townmeeting and agreed that the neck should be laid out for the inhabitants. However John Skidmore hadsince refused to give his vote knowing that it was prejudicial to Daniel Whitehead’s earlier right.Whitehead won the decision from the court. On the same day John Scudamore entered a suit against Henry Mott who had owed £20 to hisstepbrother John Westcott of Fairfield (although the relationship is not mentioned as a part of thetestimony). John Scudamore produced a letter of attorney from Westcott and the jury on the dayfollowing found for the plaintiff. Mott had apparently already paid a part of his debt and was orderednow to pay a second and final installment. On 13 February 1677/8 John Skidmore “being now sick of the small poxe” made his last will. Hiswife had died just previous to this date perhaps of the same complaint. He left all of his propertyto be divided among his five children. Also to be included in the division was the “£50 given to meby my father Thomas Skidmore of Fairfield in New England which I have a deed of gift for underhis hand and seal which I do give my eldest son John Skidmore power to recover on behalf of himselfand the rest of my children.” The three eldest children were to have leave to choose their ownmasters with the approval of the overseers of his will. The two youngest children, Joseph andAbigail, were to have £20 above their equal share of the estate towards their bringing up. The whitecalf given to Abigail and the black horse given to the boys by his wife before her death wereconfirmed to them. Daniel Whitehead and Joseph Smith, Senior, were appointed overseers “to seethat this my will is punctually performed.” Samuel Ruscoe and Edward Burroughs were thewitnesses. John Skidmore recovered from the pox however, and was active again for a time in the affairs of thetown. He was a plaintiff on 1 May 1678 at Hempstead in a suit against William Osborn. Osbornowed John Skidmore £1 8sh 7d for three quarts of sack (a dry white wine imported from either Spainor the Canary Islands). The court found for Skidmore, and Osborn was ordered to pay for the wineas well as the cost of the suit. In another case tried at Hempstead on 21 February 1678/9 between William Hill and Samuel Allenin an action for debt the case was deferred at Allen’s request “till John Scidmore returns from NewEngland again” so that he might testify. Samuel Allen was doubtless the man of his name who hadlived in the village of Hastings at Rye in Westchester County in 1660. John Skidmore had died just previous to 5 June 1680 when Mathias Nicolls, the secretary to SirEdmund Andros, visited Jamaica. Nicolls notes in his diary that “when I came back to JamaicaDaniel Whitehedd and Joseph Smith Trustees for John Scudamore’s estate offered me a good MilchCow of Scudamores for my debt which I referr’d to Mr. Osborne.” Why Scudamore was indebtedto Nicolls does not appear. An inventory was taken on 7 July 1680 of the estate by Robert Ashman and Thomas Oakley (whohad married Sarah Whitehead). Including his real property it totaled £127 14sh; it included suchdiverse items as his smith’s tools, porringers, candle sticks, trenchers, a saltcellar, a gun and sword,a green apron, and the usual beds, cupboards and livestock, as well as his smith’s tools. There wasalso a looking glass, something of a rarity in the day. His house and land “at home” was appraisedat £60, his land and meadow at Haytrees [Hawtrees Island] was valued at £20, and a 10 acre lot andother lands were worth some £20. Hawtrees Basin still survives just west of the JFK InternationalAirport at Howard Beach. Another overseer was added to the two nominated in the will before 8 December 1680 when theappraisal was exhibited to the Surrogate’s Court. This may have been done at the request of FulkDavis or his son Joseph Davis of Brookhaven. The third overseer was Fulk’s eldest stepson JohnHinds of Jamaica. Hinds had been brought up with Susanna Skidmore after Fulk’s second marriageon 11 March 1660 to Mary, previously the widow of James Haynes/Hinds (who had died at Southoldabout 1655), and then of Ralph Dayton (who died in 1658 at East Hampton). The intention may havebeen to guarantee a shared custody of Susanna’s orphan children. John Skidmore, the eldest, seemsto have been raised by Daniel Whitehead and his grandfather Skidmore at Fairfield. He did not haveany further contact with his mother’s family so far as we know. At least a part of the youngerchildren appear to have been sent to live with their presumptive uncle Joseph Davis at what was later Mt. Sinai in Brookhaven. Abigail Skidmore, the only daughter of the family, subsequently marriedFrancis Muncy at Brookhaven. On 23 April 1681 Smith, Whitehead, and Hinds gave a deed to Benjamin Coe selling John Skidmore’s house, orchard and fences in Jamaica. This deed reserved the “old house” and the whole piece of land that George Clare had fenced in for a cowhouse and yard, and where he [Clare] thenlived for the term of his life. At the death of George Clare it was to revert to Coe. The overseers gaveseveral other deeds from time to time (presumably when needed) for John Skidmore’s other landsin the town and on Hawtrees Island to pay for the bringing up of the orphans.

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John S. Skidmore, Sr.'s Timeline

1643
April 11, 1643
Cambridge, Suffolk Co., MA
1658
1658
Age 14
Sandwich, Plymouth Colony
1662
November 15, 1662
Age 19
Jamaica, Long Island (Present Queens County), New Netherlands (Present New York), (Present USA)
1663
April 11, 1663
Age 20
Jamaica, Queens Co, New York, USA
1665
1665
Age 21
Jamaica, Queens, New York City, New York, USA
1668
1668
Age 24
Jamaica, Queens, New York City, New York, USA
1674
April 3, 1674
Age 30
Long Island, Queens, New York, USA
1674
Age 30
Queens, Queens County, NY, USA
1676
1676
Age 32
Jamaica, Long Island, Queens Co., NY
1680
July 9, 1680
Age 37
Jamaica, Long Island, Queens Co., NY