Tristram Coffin, Sr.

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Tristram Coffin, Sr.

Also Known As: "OG Coffyn"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Brixton Parish, near, Plymouth, Devon, England
Death: Died in Nantucket Island, Dukes, Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Nantucket Island, Dukes, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Peter Coffin and Joanna Coffin
Husband of Dionis Coffin
Father of Peter Coffin, Sr.; Tristram Coffin, II; Elizabeth Greenleaf; Hon. James Coffin; Deborah Coffin and 4 others
Brother of Joane Coffin; Agnes Hull; Johanna Hull; Peter Coffin; Deborah Stevens and 13 others

Occupation: One of the founders of Nantucket. Farmer, Ferry Owner, Cofferer, chief magistrate, successful businessman.
Managed by: Pamela Carol Kantola
Last Updated:

About Tristram Coffin, Sr.

Tristram Coffyn

The First in The Race That Settled America

In 1642 Tristram emigrated to America with his wife Dionis and five small children as well as his widowed mother and two unmarried sisters. What was the cause of this emigration is not known. Tristram was of the landed gentry and had inherited from his father. But there was political trouble between the king and Parliament and the New World was calling with an ever stronger voice. It is thought that they sailed in one of four ships owned by Robert Clement (the Hector, Griffin, Job Clement and Margaret Clement). The Coffyn family settled in Salisbury, Massachusetts for a while and then moved to Haverhill which had been founded in 1640. In 1659 Tristram investigated Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. With some others they dealt with the Indians and purchased the island of Nantucket. Tristram always got along well with the Indians. By this time some of his children were married and did not move to Nantucket, but some of them moved with Tristram and Dionis. Tristram was appointed the first chief magistrate of Nantucket in 1671.


Tristram married before coming to America and lived, successively at Haverhill, Newbury, Salisbury and finally on Nantucket Island, where he died.

On the fifteenth of November, 1642, Passaquo and Saggahew, with the consent of Passaconaway who was leader of the Merrimacs, sold for L3 10s. "to the inhabitants of Pentucket," now Haverhill, a track of land fourteen miles long and six miles wide, "with ye isleand and the river that ye isleand stands in" etc. Among the witnesses to this deed was Tristram Coffyn, who had this year, arrived in New England and had moved from Salisbury to Haverhill.

Tristram is said to have been the first man to use a plow in Haverhill. He was a royalist, and was one of the few, if not the only early settler to come to New England as a consequence of the success of Oliver Cromwell.

In about 1644, Tristram and his family moved to Newbury, where he became a prominent inn keeper and ferryman. In Newbury in 1644 Tristram was granted permission to "keep an ordinary (saloon), sell wine and keep a ferry on the Newbury side of the Merrimack between Newbury and Carr's island." George Carr ran the ferry from Carr's island to Salisbury. This arrangement was confirmed in the town records on December 26,1647: "Tristram Coffin (senior) is allowed tto keep a ferry at Newbury side." In September 1653, Tristram Coffyn's wife Dionis Coffin was presented for selling beer, at his ordinary in Newbury, "for three pence a quart." (higher than the set price for beer). Having proved "upon the testimony of Samuel Moores", that "she put six bushels of malt into a hogshead" she was discharged. Dionis was found to be "doctoring" the beer sold at the ordinary.

Contrary to current practice Dionis was making her beer stronger and charging a correspondingly higher price. The law at the time called for beer to be "good wholesome beer of four bushels of malt to the hogshead." Goodwife Coffin is said to have remarked: "I'll have better beer than my neighbors and be paid for it. A fig for the law."

In 1654 or 1655, Tristram returned to Salisbury where he signed his name as "Tristram Coffyn, Commissioner of Salisbury."

In 1659, Tristram and some of his sons were among a company of Salisbury men who purchased nineteen twentieths of the island of Nantucket from Thomas Mayhew.

In 1660 Tristram Sr. with wife, mother and some of his children moved to the island where this branch of the Coffin family continued. Tristram Jr. remained in Newbury with his wife and family.

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Tristram Coffyn was born in 1609 in Brixton Parish, town of Plymouth, Devonshire, England and baptized March 11, 1610. He was the eldest child of Peter and Johanna Coffin.

Coffyn's early years in England were during a very eventful time. Intellectual freedom was being claimed as a right for each individual. This period was during the reign of James I. Among the names of the day were William Shakespeare, Francis Bacon and Oliver Cromwell. It was a period when the Puritans were making large gains in the Parliament.

Tristram had one younger brother, John and four sisters, Johanna, Deborah, Eunice and Mary. When Tristram was 19 his father Peter, died. His will was dated December 21, 1627 and was proved by his widow Johanna on March 13, 1628. In the will it was declared that Tristram was to be provided for according to his degree and calling. Tristram was a farmer and therefore most likely took control of his fathers estate near Plymouth. Two years later Tristram courted and wed Dionis Stevens, daughter of Robert Stevens of Brixton. Dionis Stevens was born in 1609 although other accounts say 1613. Shortly after their marriage, their first child Peter was born in 1631 followed by their son Tristram Jr., born in 1632. During the early 1630's England entered into a storm of conflict with the death of James I and the succession of Charles I. In 1638 the Scots took up arms against the King. The Presbyterians took control of the Commons and this was followed by an all out civil war in 1642. During this period of time Tristram and Dionis had two more children Elizabeth (d.o.b. unknown) and James born August 12, 1639. Dionis was also pregnant with their fifth child.

In 1640 Coffyn was selected as a Warden of Brixton Parish. Shortly after in November 1640, he leased his farm that was located at Butlass. With the civil war closing in on his family and the wounding and eventual death eight days later of his brother John at Plymouth Fort, Tristram decided to take his family, including his mother and two unwed sisters to safety in Colonial America. Tristram's friend Robert Clement was leaving for America shortly, aboard a small fleet of ships, some of which were owned by Clement. Tristram quickly put his affairs in order and embarked on his journey with his family aboard Clement's ship named "Hector Clement" in the spring of 1642. This proved to be the last time Coffyn was to see his home in England.

The crossing of the Atlantic took between 60 and 90 days before they arrived in Newburyport Massachusetts, during the summer of 1642. It was a mere twenty years since the pilgrims, aboard the Mayflower had landed at Plymouth. Shortly after their arrival, Tristram secured living quarters for his family and started exploring up the Merrimack River with Robert Clement in search of a good location for a more permanent home. He arrived in a soon to be called settlement named Pentucket, now known as Haverhill Ma. The book "The History of Haverhill" by George Chase states that Clements son, Job Clements had already settled in the area a year earlier, if so, this could be the reason that Coffyn and Clements chose this area. They found the area to have fertile soil with the necessary resources to build a farm, however, it was recorded that the large population of wolves were a problem with the flocks of sheep and a guard had to be posted at all times. In 1641 there were only six homes built in this area Tristram's group of settlers negotiated with the Indians for the property rights and secured a twenty square mile area for the sum of three pounds ten shillings. A copy of this deed is still on record and bares witness to the signatures of Robert Clement and Tristram Coffyn, dated November 15, 1642. Not only is this the first record of the first Coffin immigrant in America, but it also indicates how Tristram spelled his surname, Coffyn, with a "y" instead of an "i".

It was also during this period that John, their youngest child fell ill and died. Dionis was also pregnant with their sixth child who was later named Deborah. She was born the first Coffin child in America, and the third child born in the tiny settlement but was destined for the same fate as the other newborns and died three weeks later. These deaths give evidence to the harsh conditions that the first immigrants must have encountered upon their arrival in the new world. The living conditions were primitive and unforgiving and many families suffered greatly. It was noted that Coffyn was the first white settler to plough land in the area, having made his own plough from materials at hand. A few years after his arrival in Pentucket, his daughter Mary was born, becoming the first Coffin child to be born and survive to adulthood in America. The settlements survival was threatened in the early 1640's when Indian war parties decided to target the settlers homes. They wanted to halt the white invasion but they feared the firepower of the settlers muskets. The plan was to send a small group of Indians to each of the settlers homes at the same time and gain entrance to the houses by pretending to want to trade with each of the settlers. Upon a predetermined signal, the Indians would then jump the homeowners, cut their throats and ransack the house looking for weapons. What the Indians didn't know was that one of their members was a Colonial informant who revealed the plan to British intelligence and the British soldiers along with about forty settlers disarmed the Indians before they could set the plan in motion. The Indians backed away knowing that it would be foolish to try again in the near future.

After only a few years of farming in Pentucket, Tristram embarked on a new direction. It would seem that not only was he a farmer, but he was also a businessman. When the opportunity arose to operate a ferry back in Newbury, he decided to move his family once again. The History of Newbury states that in 1644 Tristram Coffin Sr. is allowed to keep an Ordinary (Tavern) which consisted of selling wine and keeping a ferry and Inn on the Newbury side of the Merrimack River. George Carr kept a ferry on the Salisbury side across from Carr Island. These ferries crossed from Newbury on the south side, between Carr Island and Ram Island, over to the north side of Salisbury. The ferry was operated by Tristram and most likely his older sons Peter and Tristram Jr. in the early years, and as the older boys developed other interests, James took over. In the 1650's Peter left Newbury to go to Dover, New Hampshire, where he became involved in the lumber business. Tristram's daughter Elizabeth wed Stephen Greenleaf in 1651 and resided in Newbury. Tristram Jr. married Judith Somerby in 1653 and became a weaver/tailer and Deacon of the First Parish of Newbury. Tristram Jr. is also the person who brought the Coffin name to the old Coffin mansion in 1654, which still stands in Newbury, housing over eight generations of Coffin descendants up to the 1850's. In 1997 I had the pleasure of visiting Newbury and the Coffin house which is now a historical site. The Coffin house is one of the earliest homes made of wood still standing in New England. It is believed that the father, Tristram Sr., lived here shortly before moving to his new home in Nantucket. In 1735 the first centennial of Newbury was celebrated by the town in the front yard of the Coffin house, under two gigantic elm trees. The Tavern and Inn in Newbury was operated mainly by Dionis, Tristram's wife, and was called "Coffins Ordinary". Not only did she serve the patrons but she was also responsible for making the beverages of the day, which eventually got the Coffyns into confrontation with the law. The laws of 1645 stated clearly that "every person licenced to keep an Ordinary (Tavern) shall always be provided with good wholesome beer of four bushels of malt to the hogshead, which he shall not sell above two pence the ale quart, on penalty of forty shillings the first offence and for the second offence shall lose his licence". Dionis' ale was made with six bushels, giving it a kick that kept them coming back for more. For her troubles she increased the price by one pence and in turn had to stand before the court to defend her actions. Eventually the charge was dismissed, but word spread quickly through Newbury as to where to go for a quality ale. According to the book "Ould Newbury" by John Currier, the Coffins owned forty acres across from Carr Island. In later years the road to the Inn was known as Coffin Lane and was on the west side of present day Jefferson St..

Toward the mid 1650's the ferry crossings were replaced by a floating bridge leaving Tristram little choice but to sell his holding. He moved across the river to Salisbury where records show his name on some documents as Commissioner of Salisbury. It was during these years in the late 1650's that the first plans to relocate his family to a more desirable location were first laid out. Depending on which source one would believe, there are many arguments that have been brought forward as to why Tristram decided to leave Massachusetts. All would have been valid arguments. It was true that the Puritan rule was harsh and prejudice against freedom of choice both religiously and politically. It was also true that the desire to move to an area where fences were not needed for the livestock (that an Island would provide) would be of some benefit. However, In the end, Tristram's desire to keep his family together around him and in their own community outside of the smothering rules of the Puritans probably could have been the driving factor behind his decision to locate to a new home. In talking to his friends and neighbours he found he was not alone in his thinking. Others were also anxious to leave, many for the same reasons as Coffyn. After a short time their ideas took shape and later after meeting it was decided to form a group of associates to pursue matters further. The idea of common pastures and buildings were appealing to many, especially the farmers who were advancing in age. The back breaking life of maintaining a farm could now be shared among the group with common mills and labour supplied by the Indians. How the Island of Nantucket, thirty miles off the south shore of Cape Cod ever came forth as a choice, is once again debatable. Some point out that the connection lies with Thomas Mayhew, the owner of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, was a cousin of one of the associates in Tristram's group, a man named Thomas Macy. Others think that Nantucket simply came up in a passing conversation and caught Coffyn's imagination. At one meeting the decision was made to send Tristram Coffyn, possibly his son James, Edward Starbuck and cabin boy Isaac Coleman on a fact finding mission to meet with Mayhew and view Nantucket to assess its suitability as a home. Early in 1659 the men set out for Edgartown in Martha's Vineyard, the home of Thomas Mayhew.

Thomas Mayhew came to New England before 1632 from Wiltshire England. By 1637 Mayhew was in the town of Watertown, Massachusetts, where he was operating a grist mill. His business enterprises were flourishing by the time the family of John Folger arrived in Watertown. Mayhew had a son named Thomas Jr. who was very religious. Folger's son Peter was close to the same age as Thomas Jr. and the two became friends. They both shared an appetite for adventure, so when the opportunity came forth for the Mayhew's to purchase an Island named Nantucket, from the Earl of Stirling in 1641 for forty pounds, the adventure began. After seeing the Island it was concluded that Nantucket Island was too far off shore and that Martha's Vineyard would be a more suitable island to inhabit, so shortly after Mayhew also bought Martha's Vineyard.

Thomas Mayhew Jr. moved quickly to establish his home on Martha's Vineyard bringing Peter Folger along with him. His mission was to teach the Indians that inhabited the Islands' Christianity. Folger was to be a school master and surveyor. The work was quite successful and the elder Mayhew came to join them in Edgartown. In 1657 Thomas Jr. found it necessary to go to England to stimulate more financial support, however, his ship was lost in a gale on the crossing and he was never heard from again. Mayhew was devastated by the loss of his son, however he decided to continue with his son's mission. Folger on the other hand was looking for a change. His chance came in the form of a shallop sailing into the harbour at Edgartown with Tristram Coffyn on board. It's interesting to note that this simple twist of fate with Coffyn arriving in Edgartown while Folger was searching for a new adventure, brought about the circumstance to which American statesman, scientist and writer, Benjamin Franklin would later be born into. In later years, Folger's daughter, Abiah, of Nantucket, married Josiah Franklin, where in 1706 shortly after moving from Nantucket, gave birth to Benjamin Franklin. In turn this made Peter Folger, Ben Franklin's grandfather.

Tristram's preliminary discussions with Mayhew were favourable. However, Mayhew insisted that if Coffyn's group wanted to purchase Nantucket, the Indians on the Island would have to be included in the negotiations. It was estimated that Nantucket had about 700 Narragansett Indians living in six villages, mostly on the east shore. Today, unfortunately, there is not a single Indian descendant living on the Island. The last Indian descendant died in the 1850's. Nantucket in Algonquin is interpreted as "far away Island". Coffyn realized that without an interpreter he would have problems communicating with the Indians. To address this problem he enlisted the services of Peter Folger who was also a skilled Surveyor. Shortly thereafter, the group left for the Island. The Indians greeted them favourably and although their interpretation of purchasing land proved to be different than the white interpretation, they agreed on the idea. In later years the Indians were surprised to learn the meaning of trespassing, for in their culture no one ever owns property but instead they only had rights to live upon it, yet anyone could travel through it. After achieving their goal, Coffyn and the rest headed back to Edgartown for further negotiations with Mayhew.

Committed to carrying on with his lost son's work, Mayhew had no real interest in Nantucket and therefore agreed to very reasonable terms for the purchase of the Island. The sale price of 30 pounds along with two beaver hats, one for him and one for his wife, was a bargain especially if one considers that after owning the Island for close to twenty years Mayhew was selling it for ten pounds less than he bought it for. The beaver hats incidently were made by Tristram Jr. Today one can only speculate on the mood of the negotiations, but judging by the eventual results, Coffyn and Macy must have respected each other a great deal in order for things to have gone so smoothly. Mayhew did however retain a one twentieth share of the venture so he could have a voice in how the Island affairs were being handled.

Coffin returned home to Salisbury to organize the purchase of Nantucket. Once there, his eight partners ratified the agreement with Mayhew and ten new partners and ten tenant inhabitants were admitted into the company.

Original Owner Partner Selected Half Share Owners

(See attached scan of the actual document of the agreement and purchase terms)

Thomas Mayhew Richard Swain

Tristram Coffin John Bishop

Thomas Macy Edward Starbuck Peter Folger

Richard Swain Thomas Coleman Eleager Folger

Thomas Barnard Robert Barnard Thomas Macy

Peter Coffin James Coffin Joseph Coleman

Christopher Hussey Robert Pike Joseph Gardner

Stephen Greenleaf Tristram Coffin Jr. John Gardner

John Swain John Smith Sam Streton

William Pile Thomas Look Nathaniel Holland

The half share partners were tradesmen who were needed to help develop the settlement. Folger was the interpreter/surveyor who later became the miller. Joseph Gardner was a shoemaker and Nathaniel Holland was a tailor ect. Some of the other half-share holders listed didn't join the group until the later years.

In the fall of 1659 before any formal deed was drawn up with the Indian leaders Wanackmamack and Nickanoose, James Coffin, Thomas Macy and family, Edward Starbuck and Isaac Coleman left Salisbury for Nantucket to take up residence. Macy was in trouble with the Puritan judges for harbouring Quakers during a short rain storm. Nantucket was out of the Judge's legal realm, so rather than stay and face the charges he decided that the sooner he could leave Salisbury the better it would be. Edward Starbuck was Macy's partner in the company and also his best friend. He felt compelled to go with Macy and the rest to see them through what was going to be a tough first winter. James Coffin age 19 went to watch over his father's interests and Isaac Coleman age 13 was probably just looking for adventure.

The first winter on Nantucket proved to be one full of hardships. The crossing was reported to have been a rough one in which the tiny craft was almost lost. During the first winter the Indians were said to have been most helpful in seeing to the needs of the first white settlers on the Island. In the spring of 1660 Edward Starbuck returned to Salisbury to update the rest on the progress of Nantucket. The reports were favourable and others made preparations to relocate quickly.

The freedom enjoyed in Nantucket, by being independent from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was the lure that attracted many from Salisbury. But along with their freedom certain laws and regulations had to be drawn-up to keep the new settlement from deteriorating. For instance one guideline was that Indian land could not be purchased by any individual except for use by all its original purchasers. This would ensure a balanced ownership. The Colony of New York claimed jurisdiction over Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and so it was with the Governor of New York, Francis Lovelace, that the Colony had to deal within terms of being recognized. By the summer of 1661, records show that the meetings were now being held on Nantucket indicating that many of the settlers had made the move to the Island. The first concerns of many were where their house lots would be located. At a town meeting held July 15, 1661 it was agreed upon that each owner would have the freedom to choose his lot within limits not previously occupied. It was also decided that the lot size for each full share holder would be sixty rods square (a rod consisting of 16?"). It was also agreed that Tristram Coffyn would select first, in which he selected a lot on the north western coastline of the Island at a place known as Cappammet Harbour (today known as Capaum Pond). The original Nantucket record states "Tristram Coffyn, Sr., had his house lot laid out at Cappammet, by the aforesaid lot layers, at Cappamet Harbour head, sixty rods square, or thereabouts, the east side line part of it bounded by the highway; the south side by a rock southward of the pond; the north by the harbour head; the west side bounded by the lot of Tristram Coffin Jr." In the aftermath, once all was said and done, Tristram had succeeded with his wish to live out his days in a free society surrounded by his friends and family, not unlike the communes that arose during the 1960's. To his east side, across Cappamet Harbour was his son Peter who didn't reside on the Island but was a frequent visitor seeing as he had secured the rights to supply the settlers with lumber for their homes. To the west was the lot of his son Tristram Jr., again not a full time resident but a frequent visitor. To the south laid the lots of his daughter Mary and her husband Nathaniel Starbuck. Mary and Nathaniel were very much a part of the Island's development. Mary owned the first store on the Island as well as being regarded in later life as a spiritual leader, having embraced Quakerism. Mary and Nathaniel also had the honour of having the first white baby on the Island during the early 1660's. Also to the south lay the lot of James Coffin. After Tristram, James was the head of the Coffin interests on Nantucket.

The first years of settlement consisted of building houses along with shelters for their livestock, mainly sheep and oxen, as well as developing pastures and common buildings. The Indians helped to develop the farms and taught the settlers a great deal about living on the Island. In turn they were given employment and some formal education. The first years were often regarded as the best years upon Nantucket, in terms of creating a society that flowed in harmony, where one could rely on their neighbours as though they were family. The great grandson of Thomas Macy would later write, "The little community was kind and courteous to each other and hospitable to strangers. The prevalence of good feeling was remarked and felt by all who came among them".

From the beginning Tristram Coffyn and Thomas Macy were the spokesmen for the settlement. In 1671 they were selected by the group to go to New York and meet with Governor Lovelace and secure their claim to the Island. Upon their return the Islanders nominated Coffyn to be Chief Magistrate of Nantucket. The town also selected all other officers except the Chief Military Officer who was to be selected by Governor Lovelace from nominees chosen by the settlement. After a few more years of harmony, or about the early 1670's the first signs of trouble on the Island began to appear. The problems came through the evolution of the two classes of settlers. On one hand they had the full share owners and their partners, who by Nantucket law had two votes each. On the other hand the half share owners only had one vote resulting in less of a say on Island affairs. They viewed themselves just as important as the full share settler. The only thing missing for a revolt by the half share members was a leader. That changed in 1673 when it was decided that the community needed to expand their fishing interests by enlisting the services of a skilled tradesman by the name of John Gardner of Salem, Massachusetts. Gardner was the brother of full share owner Joseph Gardner. Right from the start John Gardner challenged the original owners on most issues and from this began the feud between the Gardners and the Coffins.

Another problem arising on the Island involved the Indians and liquor. Some of the white settlers were taking advantage of the Indians' ignorance regarding liquor consumption. Laws had to eventually be implemented prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol to Indians. John Gardner often ignored these laws which escalated the tension on the Island. Gardner also attempted to buy land from the Indians, however the final blow most probably resulted from a meeting Gardner set up with Gov. Lovelace's replacement, Governor Francis Andros. One of the requirements of the Islanders was to pay taxes to New York. This payment was met by giving the government four barrels of fish. John Gardner convinced the settlers to let him deliver the payment. While there, he met with Governor Andros and in turn convinced the Governor to name the main town in Nantucket, Sherborne, after his home town back in England. He then managed to get himself appointed as Chief Military Officer. This all came about shortly before the Dutch takeover of New York. With the change in governments in New York, Gardners's group declared that past arrangements with the original settlers were no longer valid. The tension ran high for a short period until the Dutch were run out of New York and the old government was reinstated. Upon this action, Tristram and Mathew Mayhew, grandson of Thomas, once again sailed for New York and had their agreements with the government reinstated.

In 1676 Thomas Mayhew became Chief Magistrate on Nantucket with Peter Coffin, a new resident on the Island becoming Assistant Magistrate. Peter and James Coffin had returned to the Island as a result of the conflict on the mainland between the Indians and the white settlers known as King Philip's War. This appointment of Macy and the election of Peter Coffin infuriated the Gardner group. Not only was Peter a "Coffin" he also held government positions back in Dover and was not considered a full time resident of Nantucket. A few years later the tension eased with the elections of James Coffin, John Gardner and Nathaniel Starbuck who would all be elected as Assistant Magistrates. The feud continued toward the late 1670's in a period that would result in Tristram Coffyn being selected as Chief Magistrate by Governor Andros in the hopes of trying to pull the community back together. Coffyn was regarded by most of the settlers as the one person who could rectify Nantucket's struggle with growth. Unfortunately, for everyone, a shipwreck on the Nantucket shoals diverted any plans that Tristram had for the Islanders. In September 1678 a French ship ran aground during a storm, forcing the crew to abandon ship. Shortly thereafter the cargo was salvaged by certain parties and sold for profit. This action put Tristram, who was chief magistrate, in violation with maritime law which stated that the cargo should have been secured until claimed by the owner. In failing to do so, Tristram subjected himself to be responsible for the lost cargo. The courts came down hard on him with a stiff penalty which would ruin him financially. The action cast a dark cloud over Coffyn, who was now in his early 70's. His family rallied to his side but the strain of the penalty along with the feuding years had worn him down. His son James made financial arrangements to pay the fine. In the end, surprisingly, it was John Gardner, who had become the new Chief Magistrate of Nantucket, who stood up to the courts with a touching appeal on Coffyn's behalf. He convinced the courts to reduce the penalty substantially.


Tristram was born in Brixton, Devon, England in 1609, the son of Peter and Jan Kimber Coffin. Dionis Stevens (or Stephens) was born in Plymouth, England also in 1609, the daughter of Robert Stevens and his wife Dionis. Tristram and Dionis were married about 1629. Tristram was a land owner in England, but as taxes grew heavier and heavier he longed to go where they could have more freedom. He always liked adventure and challenge, and after his brother’s death and civil disruptions, he was convinced to come to America. They had five children (one of whom was James, mentioned above, who was two years old at the time), and left while Dionis was pregnant with her sixth. They sailed to America on a ship owned by Robert Clement, a friend of the family.

They settled in a new section of Massachusetts, first known as Pentucket and later changed to Haverhill. Shortly after their arrival, their five-year-old son John died. Two weeks later Dionis delivered a baby girl, who only lived for three weeks. They had three more children while living in Massachusetts (one of whom was Mary, mentioned above). In addition to farming, they ran a tavern and a ferry on the Merrimac River.

Dionis died in 1676 in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and Tristram died in 1681.

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Founder of the family line of Coffins in America, signed his name Coffyn.

==(See attached image of signature)==

He was the first Chief Magistrate of Nantucket.

Moved to Nantucket in 1661.


Our Coffin line in America was founded by Tristram Coffin (Coffyn as he always signed his name), who was born in Brixton, a small parish and village, near Plymouth, in the southwestern part of Devonshire County England, in the year 1605. About 1630 he married Dionis Stevens, daughter of Robert Stevens, Esquire, of Brixton, and in 1642, emigrated to America with his wife, five small children, his widowed mother, and two unmarried sisters. It is not known on what ship they took passage but it is generally believed that it was the same ship that brought Robert Clement, who owned the ships "Hector," "Griffin," "Job Clement," and "Margaret Clement". Both men settled at Haverhill in 1642.

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Death date also listed as 2 Oct 1681 in Northam, Capsum Pond, Nantucket, Mass.

Coffin Family Papers, 1661- 1962

Historical Note: Tristram Coffyn (as he signed his name), founder of the Coffin family line in America, was born at Brixton, Devonshire County, England in 1605. He married Dionis Stevens, also of Brixton, in 1642 and emigrated to America with his wife, five small children , his widowed mother, and two unmarried sisters. He lived alternately in Salisbury, Haverhill and Newbury, in the colony of Massachusetts, until 1660 when he came to Nantucket, part of which he, along with eight other men, had purchased from Thomas Mayhew, Sr. then under the jurisdiction of New York, and made arrangements for the purchase of the Island by a group of men whom he organized at Salisbury. Later that year, he brought his family to the Island and remained there until his death in 1681. Tristram Coffyn was the leading spirit among the Islanders at the commencement of the settlement, and the interests which he and his sons and sons-in-law represented gave him power to control to a great degree the enterprises of the Island. Among the sons of Tristram was the Hon. James Coffin (1640-1720) who served as Judge of the Probate Court. Mary (Coffin) Starbuck (1645- 1717), daughter of Tristram, participated in town meetings and was consulted on all matters of public importance. In 1701, she became a member of the Society of Friends and held the first Quaker meeting on Nantucket in her home. Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin (1759-1839), Baronet, was the fifth generation from Tristram. Perhaps his most beneficial and philanthropic act was the founding of the Coffin School at Nantucket. Many of the Nantucket Coffins made whaling voyages; others became involved in local political events and land transactions. Several emigrated to North Carolina, New York and California, drawn by dreams of rich farm lands or gold.


Tristram and his family plus his mother and his two sisters had moved to Newbury by 1647. Tristram was authorized by the General Court to, "keep an ordinary and also a ferry" to carry passengers from Newbury to Salisbury. By 1652, he was taxed in Salisbury where he signed his name "Commissioner of Salisbury" until 1660. In Salisbury, Tristram, along with Peter Folger, organized a company of 10 proprietors for the purchase and settlement of Nantucket. On 2 July 1659, they agreed to purchase nine-tenths of the island from Gov. Thomas Mayhew for 10 pounds and other considerations plus two beaver hats, one for Mayhew, the other for his wife. At the time, beaver hats were the fashion in Europe and in America. The ten proprietors included our ancestors Christopher Hussey and Stephen Greenleaf. Stephen was Tristram's son-in-law. In July 1661, house lots were awarded and Tristram Coffin was given first choice. For many years, Tristram lived there and he with his son, Peter, held controlling interest in the island. At that time, Nantucket was under the jurisdiction of New York and Tristram was appointed "Governor" of the island in 1671 (Albany Deeds, vol 3:62). Two years later his commission is found in the Massachusetts Records. He held this office until 1680.

Tristram and his wife Dionis (Stevens) Coffin had nine children


Tristram was the eldest son of Peter Coffin and his wife Joan Kember, and was born at Brixton, a parish near Plymouth in Devon; he was baptised on 11 March 1610. He became a churchwarden of the parish church (where his customary pew in the front of the chancel was marked on a plan made in 1638) and also a parish constable - holder of one of the offices created under the Elizabethan reforms of parochial administration. In 1630 or thereabouts he married Dionis, daughter of Robert Stevens of the same parish.

Tristram may have inherited some property from his father, as he was the executor both of Peter and of his uncle John, whose will was proved in 1628. Records of Devon Quarter Sessions show that he had a legal dispute with a Thomas Maynard, also of Brixton, which in midsummer 1641 was referred for arbitration to Robert Savery and Henry Pollexfen. The subject of the dispute and the outcome of the arbitration are not known. But they may have had a bearing on Tristram's decision in 1642, shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War in England, to embark for America - taking with him his wife and 5 small children, his mother and two unmarried sisters. None of them ever returned. It is thought that they sailed in one of four ships owned by Robert Clement (the Hector, Griffin, Job Clement and Margaret Clement).

Tristram is said to have gone first to Salisbury, in what is now Massachusetts, but to have moved soon afterwards to the new settlement of Pentucket (later renamed Haverhill). Later still he moved to Newbury, and then back to Salisbury (1654-5), from where he set out first to Martha's Vineyard and then to Nantucket, intending (it is said) to report on the disposition of the Indians and the possibility of emigrating thither. His report was satisfactory on all counts.

On his return to Salisbury in 1659, a company was organised for the purchase of Nantucket, and the first settlers arrived later that year - Thomas Macy and his family, Edward Starbuck, Isaac Coleman and James Coffin (Tristram's fourth child, and only 19 years of age at the time).Tristram himself seems to have moved to the island in 1660, and to have been given some priority in choosing his house lot at a meeting in July 1661, when it was agreed among the first purchasers that each should be free to choose a lot of 60 rods square. According to Louis Coffin, author of The Coffin Family, his first home was near the Capaum pond, where he lived until his death.

Of the other members of Tristram's family, his mother Joan died in Boston in May 1661, and never went to Nantucket. His eldest son Peter was among the original purchasers, and like his father was allotted land near Capaum; but if he lived there, it seems to have been only for a short time. Two of Tristram's other children, Tristram Jr. and Elizabeth, were (like Peter) married by this time; but although among the original purchasers, Tristram Jr. and Elizabeth and her husband (Stephen Greenleaf), are not thought to have ever lived on Nantucket. However, James Coffin, the third son, was allotted land bounded on the west by the common, and on the south by the lot of Nathaniel Starbuck. Tristram Sr. and his three eldest sons also bought the neighbouring island of Tuckernuck in their own right.

According to the early accounts, Tristram Coffin Sr. was the leading man on the island, and notably so in his dealings with the American Indians who were its aboriginal inhabitants.He is said to have treated them considerately in all ways, and to have employed numbers of them in farming the land he acquired. However, some white settlers foolishly sold rum to the Indians, who soon became drunk and troublesome as a result. As the first chief magistrate of the island, appointed in 1671, Tristram (with his opposite number from Martha's Vineyard, Thomas Mayhew) had to promulgate a law prohibiting the sale to Indians of intoxicating drink - perhaps the first liquor law on record.

Another account:

Coffyn's early years in England were during a very eventful time. Intellectual freedom was being claimed as a right for each individual. This period was during the reign of James I. Among the names of the day were William Shakespeare, Francis Bacon and Oliver Cromwell. It was a period when the Puritans were making large gains in the Parliament.

Tristram had one younger brother, John and four sisters, Johanna, Deborah, Eunice and Mary. When Tristram was 19 his father Peter, died. His will was dated December 21, 1627 and was proved by his widow Johanna on March 13, 1628. In the will it was declared that Tristram was to be provided for according to his degree and calling. Tristram was a farmer and therefore most likely took control of his fathers estate near Plymouth. Two years later Tristram courted and wed Dionis Stevens, daughter of Robert Stevens of Brixton. Dionis Stevens was born in 1609 although other accounts say 1613. Shortly after their marriage, their first child Peter was born in 1631 followed by their son Tristram Jr., born in 1632. During the early 1630's England entered into a storm of conflict with the death of James I and the succession of Charles I. In 1638 the Scots took up arms against the King. The Presbyterians took control of the Commons and this was followed by an all out civil war in 1642. During this period of time Tristram and Dionis had two more children Elizabeth (d.o.b. unknown) and James born August 12, 1639. Dionis was also pregnant with their fifth child.

In 1640 Coffyn was selected as a Warden of Brixton Parish. Shortly after in November 1640, he leased his farm that was located at Butlass. With the civil war closing in on his family and the wounding and eventual death eight days later of his brother John at Plymouth Fort, Tristram decided to take his family, including his mother and two unwed sisters to safety in Colonial America. Tristram's friend Robert Clement was leaving for America shortly, aboard a small fleet of ships, some of which were owned by Clement. Tristram quickly put his affairs in order and embarked on his journey with his family aboard Clement's ship named "Hector Clement" in the spring of 1642. This proved to be the last time Coffyn was to see his home in England.

The crossing of the Atlantic took between 60 and 90 days before they arrived in Newburyport Massachusetts, during the summer of 1642. It was a mere twenty years since the pilgrims, aboard the Mayflower had landed at Plymouth. Shortly after their arrival, Tristram secured living quarters for his family and started exploring up the Merrimack River with Robert Clement in search of a good location for a more permanent home. He arrived in a soon to be called settlement named Pentucket, now known as Haverhill Ma. The book "The History of Haverhill" by George Chase states that Clements son, Job Clements had already settled in the area a year earlier, if so, this could be the reason that Coffyn and Clements chose this area. They found the area to have fertile soil with the necessary resources to build a farm, however, it was recorded that the large population of wolves were a problem with the flocks of sheep and a guard had to be posted at all times.

In 1641 there were only six homes built in Pentucket. Tristram's group of settlers negotiated with the Indians for the property rights and secured a large area for the sum of three pounds ten shillings. A copy of this deed is still on record and bares witness to the signatures of Robert Clement and Tristram Coffyn, dated November 15, 1642. Not only is this the first record of the first Coffin immigrant in America, but it also indicates how Tristram spelled his surname, Coffyn, with a "y" instead of an "i". It was also during this period that John, their youngest child fell ill and died. Dionis was also pregnant with their sixth child who was later named Deborah. She was born the first Coffin child in America, and the third child born in the tiny settlement but was destined for the same fate as the other newborns and died three weeks later. These deaths give evidence to the harsh conditions that the first immigrants must have encountered upon their arrival in the new world. The living conditions were primitive and unforgiving and many families suffered greatly. It was noted that Coffyn was the first white settler to plough land in the area, having made his own plough from materials at hand.

A few years after his arrival in Pentucket, his daughter Mary was born, becoming the first Coffin child to be born and survive to adulthood in America. Shortly after Coffyn's arrival, the settlement was threatened when Indian war parties decided to target the settlers homes. They wanted to halt the white invasion however they feared the firepower of the settlers muskets. The Indian plan was to send a small group to each of the settlers homes at the same time and gain entrance to the houses by way of presenting goods for trade. Upon a predetermined signal, the Indians would jump the white men, cut their throats and ransack the house looking for weapons. What the Indians didn't know was that one of their members was a Colonial informant who revealed the plan to British intelligence and the British soldiers, along with about forty settlers disarmed the Indians before they could set the plan in motion.

- Page 2-

After only a few years of farming in Pentucket, Tristram embarked on a new direction. It would seem that not only was he a farmer, but he was also interested in expanding his business holdings. When the opportunity arose to operate a ferry back in Newbury, Tristram decided to move his family once again. The History of Newbury states that in 1644 Tristram Coffin Sr. is allowed to keep an Ordinary (Tavern) which consisted of selling wine and keeping a ferry and Inn on the Newbury side of the Merrimack River. George Carr kept a ferry on the Salisbury side across from Carr Island. Tristram's ferry crossed from Newbury on the south side of the river, between Carr Island and Ram Island, over to the north side to the town of Salisbury. The ferry was most likely a tow ferry with oxen providing the power to pull the craft across the river, with his sons helping to load and disembark the passengers. In the 1650's Tristram's eldest children began to expand their horizons with Peter leaving Newbury to go to Dover, New Hampshire, where he became involved in the lumber business along with holding a variety of public office positions. Tristram's daughter Elizabeth wed Stephen Greenleaf in 1651 and resided in Newbury where the couple eventually had ten children before Elizabeth's early death. Tristram Jr. married Judith Somerby in 1653 and became a weaver/tailor and Deacon of the First Parish of Newbury. Tristram Jr. is also the person who brought the Coffin name to the old Coffin house in 1654, which still stands in Newbury, after housing over 240 years of Coffin descendants.


Tristram Coffin was the son of Peter Coffin and Joanna Kember.1 Tristram Coffin was born on 4 March 1609 at Brixton Parish, Plymouth,, Devonshire, England.2,3 He was baptized on 11 March 1610.3 He married Dionis Stevens, daughter of Robert Stevens and Dionis (?), in 1630 at Brixton, Devonshire, England.1,2 Tristram Coffin died on 2 October 1681 at Nantucket, Nantucket Island, MA, at age 72.2

He left England when Cromwell's men took over his ancestral manor at Brixton. Coffyn's early years in England were during a very eventful time. Intellectual freedom was being claimed as a right for each individual. This period was during the reign of James I. Among the names of the day were William Shakespeare, Francis Bacon and Oliver Cromwell. It was a period when the Puritans were making large gains in the Parliament.

He came to the shores of America with his widowed mother, Joanna, his pregnant wife Dionis, and five children, about 1643, to Newbury, MA, then to Salisbury, MA.

In 1660 they settled at Nantucket, being one of the first ten purchasers of the island. He was commissioned as the first Chief Magistrate of Nantucket on June 29, 1671, by New York Governor Lovelace and by New York Governor Andres in 1677.

In just forty years after Tristram's death his descendants numbered 1,138 born in America. In 1728 the number increased to 1,582. All of them descendants from one couple, Tristram and Dionis Coffin.4,3


Tristram Coffin was a first-generation immigrant to the United States in his family line. Coming from an ancient family estate called Alwyington, he emigrated to Massachusetts. He and his son were two of the small group of men that purchased Nantucket Island. In Massachusetts he ran a "pub". After purchasing Nantucket, he moved his family and business there. He also owned the ferry to the mainland. He became a leading member of the community on Nantucket.


Royalist. Came over in 1642. Lived in Salisbury, Newbury, Haverhill. County Magistrate at Salem. Kept the ordinary at newbury in 1653. He and 8 others bought nantuckett from the indians for 30 pounds and 2 beaver hats. farmer. first magistrate at nantuckett in 1671 and again in 1677.

A few websites:

http://www.essexheritage.org/sites/tristram_coffin.shtml

http://www.jacksonsweb.org/coffinnotes.htm

http://thegoldenbasket.com/family.htm

Also, here is a site with full text of book on Coffin history in England

http://www.archive.org/stream/coffinfamilylife1881coff/coffinfamilylife1881coff_djvu.txt'''


Tristram and Dionis are the founders of the Coffin family in America. They arrived in New England in 1642 aboard a ship owned by Robert Clement, probably the Hector, but perhaps the Margaret Clement or the Job Clement. He signed an indian deed to Haverhill with Robert Clement in 1642. He brought with him from England his mother and two sisters, Eunice and Mary. In 1648 he moved to Newbury, thence to Salisbury in 1654 and in 1680 to Nantucket, where he joined ten others in purchasing the island (Thomas Macy, Christopher Huffey, Richard Swayne, William Pike, Thomas Bernard, Peter Coffin, Stephen Greenleafe, John Swayne, and William Pike) from Thomas Mayhew.

This info from "The Coffin Family" edited by Louis Coffin and published by the Nantucket Historical Society in 1962. There are also Indian deeds for parts of the island.

.


  • Name: Tristram COFFIN
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 1605 in Brixton, England
  • Death: 2 OCT 1681 in Nantucket, R I
  1. Note: Brixton, County of Devon, England with wife, mother and two sisters, Mary and Eunice. 1640
  2. Note: Salisbury in 1642
  3. Note: Nantucket in 1659

Marriage 1 Dionis STEVENS b: in England

   * Married: 1628

Children

  1. Elizabeth COFFIN b: 1629 in England
  2. John COFFIN b: 1630 in England
  3. Peter COFFIN b: 1630 in England
  4. Tristram COFFIN b: 2 MAR 1632 in England
  5. James COFFIN b: 13 AUG 1640 in England
  6. Deborah COFFIN b: 5 NOV 1642 in Haverhill
  7. Mary COFFIN b: 20 FEB 1644 in Haverhill
  8. John COFFIN b: 30 OCT 1647 in Haverhill
  9. Stephen COFFIN b: 11 MAY 1652 in Newbury, Mass.

tristram coffin left england when cromwell's men took over his ancestral manor at brixton.


Tristram Coffin Moved to Nantucket in 1661. He came to N.E. in 1642. He 1st of Nant.
hurch warden, constable, commissioner, colonist, founder of Nantucket Island, first chief magistrate of the Nantucket colony, governor of Nantucket in 1671 and 1677. He was born in Brixton parish near Plymouth, Devonshire, England in 1609. He was the oldest child of Peter Coffin and Joanna Kember. He married Dionis Stevens in 1630.

Their children were:

i. Peter Coffin, baptized July 18, 1630 at Brixton ii. Tristram Coffin, b. abt. 1632 in England iii. Elizabeth Coffin b. in England iv. James Coffin, b. Aug. 12, 1639 in Brixton parish v. John Coffin, b. in England vi. Deborah Coffin, b. Nov. 15, 1642 at Haverhill, MA vii. Mary Coffin, b. Feb. 20, 1645 at Haverhill, MA vii. John Coffin, b. Oct. 30, 1647 at Haverhill, MA ix. Stephen Coffin, b. May 11, 1652 at Newbury, MA

He was a church warden in Brixton in 1639-40 and a constable in 1641. In 1642, he and his family came to America and settled in Newburyport, Massachussetts. He negotiated with the American Indians for some land and moved his family to what is now Haverill, Massachusetts. He was the first white settler to plow land with a plow he had made with his own hands. After farming for a few years, he moved back to Newburyport, where he operated a ferry and kept Coffyn's Ordinary, a tavern and inn managed by his wife. In the 1650's, he sold his property and moved to Salisbury, where he became Commissioner.

In the late 1650's, he and a few others purchased Nantucket island from Thomas Mayhew for the price of 30 pounds and two beaver hats, which were made by his son Tristram Jr. Among the eight original owners of Nantucket island, he became the most prominent. He was granted first choice of land and in 1659, he settled on the eastern slope of what is now called Trott's Hills, near Capaum pond, toward the western end if the island. He was a leader among the first settlers and was often asked by other inhabitants to transact important public business. He and Thomas Macy were the spokesmen for the settlement and were selected by the settlers go to New York and meet with Governor Lovelace and secure their claim to the Island in 1671. His letters to the Colonial Government of New York are preserved in the Archives of the Department of State at Albany. He built a corn mill and employed many Native Americans who were the aboriginal inhabitants of the island.

In 1671, he was appointed governor of Nantucket, serving again in that office from 1674 to 1680. He died the following year and was buried on Nantucket Island on the private property he purchased in 1659 (at Trott's Hills, near Capaum pond, toward the western end if the island.) According to the Nantucket Historical Society, the grave is unmarked and its exact location has been lost over the years.

A monument was erected to honor the founders of Nantucket island in 1881. The monument is located in the Nantucket Founders Cemetery (also referred to as the First Settlers' Burial Ground and the Forefathers' Cemetery). The Founders Cemetery is a small plot of land located off Cliff Road and overlooking Maxcey's Pond.


  • Marriage to Dionis Stevens: (1630 — Age: 25) Brixton, Devon, England
  • Arrival: (1642 — Age: 37) Massachusetts Colony
  • Residence: (1653 — Age: 48) Newbury, Essex, Massachusetts Colony
  • Residence: (29 Apr 1668 — Age: 63) Newbery, Essex, Massachusetts Colony
  • Burial: (6 Oct 1681) Nantucket Island, Nantucket, Massachuset Colony
  • Military: Massachusetts, United States

Birth: Mar. 11, 1609, England Death: Oct. 2, 1681 Nantucket Nantucket County Massachusetts, USA

Church warden, constable, commissioner, colonist, founder of Nantucket Island, first chief magistrate of the Nantucket colony, governor of Nantucket in 1671 and 1677. He was born in Brixton parish near Plymouth, Devonshire, England in 1609. He was the oldest child of Peter Coffin and Joanna Kember. He married Dionis Stevens in 1630.

Their children were:

i. Peter Coffin, baptized July 18, 1630 at Brixton ii. Tristram Coffin, b. abt. 1632 in England iii. Elizabeth Coffin b. in England iv. James Coffin, b. Aug. 12, 1639 in Brixton parish v. John Coffin, b. in England vi. Deborah Coffin, b. Nov. 15, 1642 at Haverhill, MA vii. Mary Coffin, b. Feb. 20, 1645 at Haverhill, MA vii. John Coffin, b. Oct. 30, 1647 at Haverhill, MA ix. Stephen Coffin, b. May 11, 1652 at Newbury, MA

He was a church warden in Brixton in 1639-40 and a constable in 1641. In 1642, he and his family came to America and settled in Newburyport, Massachussetts. He negotiated with the American Indians for some land and moved his family to what is now Haverill, Massachusetts. He was the first white settler to plow land with a plow he had made with his own hands. After farming for a few years, he moved back to Newburyport, where he operated a ferry and kept Coffyn's Ordinary, a tavern and inn managed by his wife. In the 1650's, he sold his property and moved to Salisbury, where he became Commissioner.

In the late 1650's, he and a few others purchased Nantucket island from Thomas Mayhew for the price of 30 pounds and two beaver hats, which were made by his son Tristram Jr. Among the eight original owners of Nantucket island, he became the most prominent. He was granted first choice of land and in 1659, he settled on the eastern slope of what is now called Trott's Hills, near Capaum pond, toward the western end if the island. He was a leader among the first settlers and was often asked by other inhabitants to transact important public business. He and Thomas Macy were the spokesmen for the settlement and were selected by the settlers go to New York and meet with Governor Lovelace and secure their claim to the Island in 1671. His letters to the Colonial Government of New York are preserved in the Archives of the Department of State at Albany. He built a corn mill and employed many Native Americans who were the aboriginal inhabitants of the island.

In 1671, he was appointed governor of Nantucket, serving again in that office from 1674 to 1680. He died the following year and was buried on Nantucket Island on the private property he purchased in 1659 (at Trott's Hills, near Capaum pond, toward the western end if the island.) According to the Nantucket Historical Society, the grave is unmarked and its exact location has been lost over the years.

A monument was erected to honor the founders of Nantucket island in 1881. The monument is located in the Nantucket Founders Cemetery (also referred to as the First Settlers' Burial Ground and the Forefathers' Cemetery). The Founders Cemetery is a small plot of land located off Cliff Road and overlooking Maxcey's Pond.

While none of the founders are actually buried in the cemetery, the monument bears the names of the founders and the location is open to the public. Tristram's name is inscribed on the monument as "1609 - Tristram Coffin - 1681." (bio by: Cindy K. Coffin)

(bio by: Cindy K. Coffin) 

Family links:

Parents:
 Peter Coffin (1580 - 1628)
 Joanna Kember Coffin (1584 - 1661)

Spouse:
 Dionis Stevens Coffin (1610 - 1684)*

Children:
 Peter Coffin (1630 - 1715)*
 Tristram Coffin (1631 - 1703)*
 Elizabeth Coffin Greenleaf (1634 - 1678)*
 James Coffin (1640 - 1720)*
 Mary Coffin Starbuck (1645 - 1717)*
 John Coffin (1647 - 1711)*

Sibling:
 Joanna Coffin Hull (1602 - 1632)*
 Tristram Coffin (1609 - 1681)
  • Calculated relationship

Burial: Founders Burial Ground Nantucket Nantucket County Massachusetts, USA


Created by: Greg Derylo Record added: May 02, 2005 Find A Grave Memorial# 10904410


Tristram Coffin, Sr.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tristram_Coffin_%28Nantucket%29

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tristram_Coffin_(settler)

http://www.ancestry.com/genealogy/records/tristram-coffin_32103195

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Coffin-221

wikitree

'Tristram Coffin Sr. (1608 - 1681)

Tristram Coffin Sr.

Born 4 Mar 1608 in Brixton, Devonshire, England

Son of Peter Coffin and Joanna (Kember) Coffin

Brother of

Joane Coffin, Christian (Coffin) Davis, Agnes Coffin, Peter Coffyn,

Deborah (Coffin) Stevens, Joanna Coffin, Eunice Coffyn, Mary (Coffin) Adams,

Ruth Coffin, John Coffin and Infant Coffin

Husband of Dionis (Stevens) Coffin — married 1630 in Brixton, Devon, , England

Father of

Peter Coffin, Tristram Coffin Jr., Elizabeth (Coffin) Greenleaf, Stephen Coffin,

James Coffin, Deborah Coffin, Mary (Coffin) Starbuck, John Coffin and Stephen S Coffin

Died 2 Oct 1681 in Nantucket, Massachusetts

Profile managers: Doug Coldwell [send private message], Loren Fay [send private message], Glenn York [send private message], Michael Dunn [send private message], George Bedinger [send private message], and Grant Glover [send private message] Coffin-221 created 14 Apr 2010 | Last modified 28 Nov 2016 This page has been accessed 4,056 times.

Categories: Puritan Great Migration | Questionable Gateway Ancestors | Nantucket Founders and Descendants | Descendants of Tristram Coffin-221 | Founders Burial Ground, Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Tristram Coffin Sr. migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1620-1640). Join: Puritan Great Migration Project Discuss: PGM

Tristram Coffin Sr. is notable. Join: Notables Project Discuss: NOTABLES Contents

If any one man may be considered the patriarch of Nantucket, to whom more than to any other person, the descendants of old Nantucket families may trace a common origin, that man is Tristram Coffin.

In 1639/40, he became a church warden of the parish church (where his customary pew in the front of the chancel was marked on a plan made in 1638) and in 1641 a parish constable-holder of one of the offices created under the Elizabethan reforms of parochial administration. A difficulty arose between him and Thomas Maynard of Brixton, gentleman, which in midsummer of 1641 was referred to the arbitration of Robert Savery and Henry Pallexfeu, Esquires. How this was decided is unknown, but if adverse to Tristram it may have been one of the reasons why he left the parish for New England.

Tristram belongs in that class of early immigrants for whose departure from England there seems to be little reason. Like Robert Clements, with whom he is said to have come, he had estates in England for he owned property in Dorset as well as in Devon. He was of the landed gentry and before his departure not of the Puritan faith. One would expect to find him allied with the Royalist forces, yet in the very year of the crisis between Charles I and Parliament he left England for the colonies bringing with him his wife, five children and his mother. Apparently he was moved neither by a desire for property nor freedom in religion in emigrating. The times were troubled ones and it is possible that he could see no peace in prospect for England for some time while perhaps America offered a chance of security and freedom that attracted him. It is stated that his younger brother John was wounded at the battle of Plymouth Fort and died eight days later. If true it may have been a factor in Tristram's decision to emigrate. Tradition in both the Clement and Coffin families places the men as coming together on a ship owned by Robert Clement, but nothing exists to prove the name of the vessel.

Tristram settled at Salisbury for a few months moving shortly to Haverhill (Pentucket) where with the other inhabitants he obtained of the Indian Sachems the deed of the township.

"Know all men by these presents, that wee Passaquo and Saggahew wth the consent of Passaconaway; have sold unto ye inhabitants of Pentuckett all ye lands wee have in Pentuckett... And wee ye said Passaquo and Saggahew wth ye consent of Passaconnaway, have sold unto ye said inhabitants all ye right that wee or any of us have in ye said ground and Ileand and Rivver: And wee warrant it against all or any other Indeans whatsoever into ye said Inhabitants of Penuckett, and to their heires and assignes forever Dated ye fifteenth day of november Ann Dom 1642.

Witnes our hands and seales to this bargayne of sale ye day and year above written (in ye presents of us.) we ye said Passaquo & Saggahew have received in hand, for & in consideration of ye same three pounds & ten shillings: John Ward, Robert Clements, Tristram Coffyn, Hugh Sherratt, William White, Thomas Davis."(1)

Tristram settled in Haverhill near to the Clements and tradition states again that he was the first person to plough land in the town, having constructed his own plough. With Robert Clement he was made a freeman in Haverhill in Nov. 1645. About 1643 he moved to another part of Haverhill called the Rocks where he was licensed to keep a tavern "Coffins Ordinary" and before 1647 he moved to Newbury then in 1648 to Salisbury, in 1649 to Newbury again and finally in 1654 to Salisbury.(2)

In 1644 Tristram was allowed to keep an ordinary, sell wine and keep a ferry on the Newbury side and George Carr on the Salisbury side of Carr's Island.(3) "Dec. 26, 1647- Tristram Coffin is allowed to keep an ordinary and retayle wine, paying according to order, and also granted liberty to keep a ferry at Newbury side."(4) With Samuel Winsley of Salisbury he sued Richard Ayre of Salisbury about a hogshead of beef and was in Court again in 1649. In 1653 his wife Dionis was presented in Court for selling beer for threepence per quart. She proved by the testimony of Samuel Mooers that she put six bushels of malt into the hogshead and hence was discharged by the Court. The law which she was supposed to have violated was passed in 1645: "Every person licensed to keep an ordinary, shall always be provided with good wholesome beer of four bushels of malt to the hogshead, which he shall not sell above two pence the ale quart, on penalty of forty shillings the first offence and for the second offence shall lose his license."(5) Dionis doubtless intended to make a better beer than was afforded at other ordinaries and as three pence per quart bore the same relation to six bushels of malt as 2d per quart did to four bushels she could see no reason why her beer should not sell for 3d per quart. Proof of this fact secured her discharge and her beer gained a good reputation from this proceeding and Coffyn's ordinary became distinguished as the place where the best beer was sold.

In 1653 Tristram acted as attorney for William Furber and in 1654 he served on the jury and signed a petition in Haverhill.(6) This same year he was sued by Theophilus Satchwell for not "insuring him three acres of accomodation according to promise" and won the case.(7) On 18 Jan. 1655 Tristram Coffin of Newbury sold some meadow in Salisbury to William Osgood.(8) While a resident of Salisbury, before his departure for Nantucket he was a commissioner or Justice of the Peace and signed a Salisbury petition in 1658.(9)

"The 20th of November 1647. These prsents wittness yt Tristram Coffyn of Nubery have bargained & sould unto Richard Littlehale one dwelling house & house Lott situate in Haverhill wch lately was belonging unto Willi Duglas now of Boston... fower acres... in the ye playne... & also fower acres of Medow... & also all Comonage for Cattell & hoggs & all other beasts... & also all privilidg of tymber & wood wth all accomodacons to ye say'd house & lott apytaining..."(10)

"I Tristram Coffyn of Salisbury... for a certaine Sum... have... sold unto Samuel Gile of Haverhill one dwelling house & houselot... in Haverhill... 1648."(11)

"I Tristram Coffyn Senr of the Towne of Nubery in ye County of Essex Planter... for fiveteen pounds..by me received of Richard Ormsby of... Salisbury... have wth ye full & free consent of Dionis my wyfe... sell unto ye said Richard Ormsby a certaine dwelling house wth a frame standing att ye end of it together with one halfe of yt houselott on wch ye said house standeth...being... in... Haverhill...ye twenty forth day of ye ninth Mo: one thousand six hundred forty nine."(12)

"Tristram Coffyn aged about forty six years testifyeth yt aboute five, six or seven years agoe att Nuberie I herd Ms Cutting make a bargaine wth Josiah Cobham & Richard Currier for two pcells of meadow lying in Salisbury Township & ye aforesaid Ms Cutting did... affirme that she had a letter of Attorney made to hir by hir husband mr John Cutting before he went to sea that gave her full power to act & doe in settling any pt of his estate here in New England duering his absence The price & all ye pay I doe not now remember only one Cowe was to be part of ye pay... Sworn in Court att Salisbury ye 12d 2d mo: 1655."(13)

"Tristram Coffin of Newbury... for... eighteen pounds... have sould unto Samuel Poore of Newbury... all his house & houselott... in Newbury... next Mr. Cuttings land... with all & singular the glass, boards, plancks, the dung or soyle, with fences priviledges and appurtenances thereunto belonging... Aprill ye fifteenth one thousand Six hundred fifty & two."(14)

"I Tristram Coffin of Salisbury... & Dionis my wife... for... twenty eight pounds...sell... unto Lionel Worth of Newbury... forty acres of upland... in Newbury... being part of the farme formerly granted by the towne of Newbury unto Mr. Edward Rawson... which I the said Tristram Coffin lately purchased of the above named Mr. Rawson" 12 Apr. 1659.(15)

About 1658 Tristram became interested in the island of Nantucket forming a company for its purchase and moving there in 1659. It is disputed why Tristram went to Nantucket. The probability is that it came through his acquaintanceship with Thomas Macy a cousin of Thomas Mayhew who owned the island by purchase from the agents of Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Lord Sterling. Thomas Macy was a deputy to the General Court from Salisbury in 1654. Thomas Mayhew was a resident of Watertown, before moving to Martha's Vineyard, and was a deputy of the General Court from that place. Mayhew who was governor of Martha's Vineyard probably wanted Nantucket settled and offered the land very cheaply to Coffin, Macy and their associates. The first records of the proceedings in regard to Nantucket were kept at Salisbury but after the island came under the jurisdictin of New York the records were kept at Albany where they are still to be found.

Early in 1659 Tristram went to Martha's Vineyard where he took Peter Folger the Grandfather of Benjamin Franklin as an interpreter of the Indian language and went to Nantucket to ascertain the temper of the Indians and the capabilities of the island so that he could report to the citizens of Salisbury. He was apparently favorably impressed by what he saw and heard, for when he returned to Salisbury, a company was formed and the purchase of the island was determined. At Martha's Vineyard he entered into preliminary negotiations with Thomas Mayhew for the purchase of the island before visiting it. After his visit to the island he made additional arrangements for its purchase and returned to Salisbury where his report upon the condition of the island, the character of the Indians and the advantages of a change of residence, was laid before his friends and associates. A company was organized for the immediate purchase of the whole island allowing Thomas Mayhew to retain a one-tenth portion with some other reservations. Several meetings of the purchasers were held at Salisbury and general rules for the government of the island were adopted.

"July 2d, 1659- These people after mentioned did buy all right and enterest of the Island of Nantucket that did belong to Sr Ferdinando George and the Lord Sterling, Mr. Richard Vines, Steward, Gentleman to Sir Ferdinando George, and Mr. James Ferrett, Steward to Lord Sterling, which was by them sold unto Mr. Thomas Mayhew, of Marthers Vineyard; these after mentioned did purchas of Mr. Thomas Mayhew these Rights: namely, the pattent Right belonging to the Gentleman aforesaid; and also the piece of Land which Mr. Mayhew did purchass of the Indians at the west end of the Island of Nantucket as by their grant or bill of sale, will largely appear with all the privileges and appurtenances thereof; the aforementioned Purchasers are Tristram Coffin, Senyr, Thomas Macy, Richard Swain, Thomas Barnard, Peter Coffin, Christopher Hussey, Stephen Greenleaf, John Swain, William Pile; the Mr. Thomas Mayhew himself also becom a Twentieth part purchaser so that they... had the Sole Interest, Disposell, power, and privilege of said Island and appurtenances thereof."(16)

"Bee it known unto all Men by these Presents, that I, Thomas Mayhew, of Martha's Vineyard, Merchant, doe hereby acknowledge, that I have sould unto Tristram Coffin, Thomas Macy, Christopher Hussey, Richard Swayne, Thomas Bernard, Peter Coffin, Stephen Greenleafe, John Swayne, and William Pike, that Right and Interest I have in ye Land of Nantuckett, by Patent; ye wch Right I bought of James fforrett, Gent. and Steward to ye Lord Sterling, and of Richard Vines sometimes of Sacho, Gent., Steward-Genrll unto Sir Georges, Knight, as by Conveyances under their Hands and Seales doe appeare, ffor them ye aforesaid to Injoy, and their Heyres and Assignes forever, wth all the Priviledges thereunto belonging, for in consideration of ye Sume of Thirty Pounds of Current Pay, unto whomsoever I ye said Thomas Mayhew... shall appoint. And also two Beaver Hatts, one for myselfe, and one for my wife... and to hold one-twentieth Part of all Lands purchased... And in Witness hereof, I have hereunto sett my Hand and Seale this second Day of July, sixteen hundred and fifty-nine."(17)

"At Salysbury, February, 1659- At a meeting of the purchasers... it was agreed and Determined and approvd as followss, vizt: tht the ten owners will admitt of Ten more partners who shall have equall power and Interest with themselves, and tht either of the purchasers aforementioned shall have liberty to take a partner whome he pleases not being mostly excepted against by the rest. At that meeting Robert Pike was owned partner with Christopher Hussey, Robert Barnard was owned partner with Thomas Barnard, Edward Starbuck was owned to be Thomas Macy's partner, and Tristram Coffin, jur., partner with Stephen Greenleaf, James Coffin partner with Peter Coffin- at the same meeting it was mutually and unanimously agreed upon... that no man whatsoever shall purchase any land of any of the Indians upon the said iland for his own private or particular use; but whatsoever purchas shall be made, shall be for the general account of the Twenty ownners or purchasers... at the same meeting it was ordered and Determined that there shall be ten other Inhabitants admitted into the Plantation who shall have such accomodation as the Owners or purchasers shall judge meet- as namely necessary tradesman and Seaman."(18)

"At a meeting of these owners of the Island of Nantucket at Salisbury it was Debatted, and after debatted, determed and concluded, that as ther had ben a former meeting in Salisbury at the House of Benjamin Cambell, in February, 1659, in which meeting orders was made for Prohibiting of any Person from the purchasing any land from any of the Indians upon the Island of Nantucket except for the use of the Twenty owners or purchasers, the Order shall stand Inviolable unalterable as that which also as that which is likely necessary to the continuance of the well being of the place and the Conturary, that which tends to the confusion and Ruine of the whole and the Suverting of the rules and orders allready agreed upon and the depriveing of the said owners of there Just rights and Interest. Also it was ordered at the same meeting that all the Land that is fit for areable land convenient for House lot shall be forthwith measured, that the quantity thereof may be known, which being done, shall be divided by equel preportions, that is to say Four Fifths parts to the owners or purchasers; and the other Fifth unto the Ten other Inhabitants, whereof John Bishop shall have two parts or shares, that is to say of that Fifth part belonging to the Ten Inhabitant. Also at the same meeting it was ordered that Tristram Coffin, Thomas Macy, Edward Starbuck, Thomas Barnard, Peter Folger of Mathers Vineyard, shall have power to measure and lay out said Land according to the above said awder, and whatsoever shall be done and concluded in the said Case by or any three of them, Peter Folger being one, shall be accounted Legall and valid."(19)

Late in the season of 1659 the first settlers arrived including Thomas Macy and his family, Edward Starbuck, Isaac Coleman, and James Coffin. The first village grew up to the south and east of Capaum Pond where many of the cellar indentations are still visible. Tristram built his home near Capaum Pond and resided there until his death.

"May the 10th, 1661- At a meeting at Salisbury it was ordered and concluded that the aforementioned parties, vizt: Tristram Coffin, seny., Thomas Macy, Edward Starbuck, Thomas Barnard, Peter Folger, shall also measure and lay out all the rest of the Land, both meadows, Woods and upland, that is convenant to be appropriated within the bounds of the first Plantation; also it is determined that the above mentioned persons, together with Mr. Mayhew, Richard Swain, John Bishop or whatever others of the owners or puchasers that are present, shall have power to Determing what land is convenient to be improved and Laid out, and what should be common or Remain Common, and also, to Lay out the bounds of the Town and record it, provided always that the land being measured, they shall first lay out a convenant quantity of Land with suitable accomodations of all sorts which shall be Particularly reserved for the public use of the Town. Also it was ordered at the same meeting that an authentick Record shall be kept of all that is don about the proseeding and actions about the said Island, both the Island and on the main, untill further orders be taken. At the same meeting it was ordered, that for the particuler apointing which Lot every man shall have it shall be don be casting Lots excepting only those persons that have already taken there Lots, namly, Thomas Macy, Tristram Coffin, Seny., Edward Starbuck and Richard Swain. At the same meeting Robert Pike was appointed to keep the Records concerning the Island of Nantucket at Salisbury, and Thomas Macy to keep the Records at the Island, as in the above said orders expressed at present until further orders be taken by the owners or purchasers."(20)

At a meeting held at Nantucket, 15 July 1661, of the owners residing there it was agreed that each man choose his house-lot within the limits not previously occupied and that each lot shall contain sixty rods square. Tristram appears to have been allowed to make the first selection:

"Tristram Coffin, Sen., had his house lot layed out at Cappammet, by the aforesaid Lot layers, at Cappamet Harbour head, sixty rods squar, or thereabouts, the east side line part of it bounded by the highway; the south side bounded by a rock southward of the pond; the north by the harbour head; the west side bounded by the lot of Tristram Coffin, Jr., more or less, as it is lay out."(21)

"Tristram Coffin, Junior, had his house lot layd out by the aforesaid Lot layers at Coppammet, sixty rods squar, or thereabouts, on the east side by the lot of his father, Tristram Coffin, on the south side by the common; on the west by the lot of William Pile, more or less, as it is layed out."(22)

"The one half of the accomodation to Tristram Coffin, sen., being assigned to Mary Starbuck and Nathaniel Starbuck, Tristram also being present at the place commonly called the Parliament House, Sixty rod square, bounded with the land of Thos. Mayhew on the south; and with the land of James Coffin on the north; and on the east with the land of Stephen Greenleaf; on the west by the common-Same land allowed at the east end with reference to rubbage land, more or less."(23)

"Tristram Coffin, sen., had an acre of meadow lay out by Edwd Starbuck, Thos. Macy, himself being present, and Peter Folger agreeing thereto, on the neck commonly called Nanna hamak Neck, at the south end of the woodland. At the same time Tristram Coffin, junior, had an acre lot laid out at the same place."(24)

"Tristram Coffin, Sen., had a twenty acre lot; being a Second Division answerable to the lot laid out in the five pound purchases, thirty rod in breadth, lying a Long from the north side of the house lot of the said Tristram Coffin lot, by Cuppammet head to the sea, more or less."(25)

"Tristram Coffin, Jr., had twenty acre lot layed out by Tristram Coffin, Edward Starbuck & Peter Folger, answerable to the twenty acres on the five pound purches."(26)

Tristram was 37 years old upon his arrival in America and 55 years old at the time of his moving to Nantucket. It does not appear that his mother, Joan Coffyn ever lived in Nantucket since she died in Boston in May, 1661. The Rev. Wilson who preached the funeral sermon spoke of her as a woman of extraordinary character. Sewall's Diary which recorded her death says that he "embalmed her memory".

For several years after this Tristram, with his sons, held the controlling interest in the Islands, he being conceded to be the richest man there except for his son Peter. With his sons he bought the island of Tuckernuck after trying to have his other associates join in the purchase.

"The tenth Day of October, one thousand six hundred fifty and nine; These presents Witness, That I, Thomas Mayhew, of Martin's Vineyard, Mercht, doe Give, Grant, Bargaine, and Sell, all my Right and Interest in Tuckannuck Island, als Tuckannuckett, which I have had, or ought to have, by Vertue of Patent Right, purchased of ye Lord Stirling's Agent and of Mr Richard Vines, Agent unto Sir fferdinando George, Knight, unto Tristram Coffin Sr, Peter Coffin, Tristram Coffin Jur, and James Coffin, to them and their Heyres forever, ffor and in consideracon of ye just Sume of six Pounds in Hand paid, and by mee Thomas Mayhew, received in full Satisfaction of ye aforesaid Patent Right, of ye aforesaid Island."(27)

"This witnesseth that I, Wanochmamack, chife sachem of Nantucket, hath sold unto Mr. Tristram Coffin and Thomas Macy, their heirs and assigns, that whole nack of land called by the Indians, Pacummohquah, being at the east end of Nantucket, for and in consideration of five pounds to be paid to me in English goods or otherwise to my content by the said Tristram Coffin aforesaid at convenient time as shall be demanded. Witness my hand or mark this 22 of June, 1662."(28)

Tristram assumed the obligation to construct a cornmill, built and maintained it. He employed large numbers of Indians on his land. Benjamin Franklin Folger, the historian of Nantucket, says of him: "The christian character which he exhibited and which he practically illustrated in all the varied circumstances and conditions of that infant colony, is analogous to that which subsequently distinguished the founder of Pennsylvania so that the spirit of the one seemed to be but the counterpart of the other."

The Indians were divided into bands and sometimes had quarrels among themselves and sometimes were at variance with the settlers. The Indians became troublesome only after they had learned to drink rum. The early court records are mainly devoted to trials, convictions and sentences of Indians to be whipped for getting drunk and for petty larcenies, and of fines imposed upon white men and women for selling rum to Indians. The first General Court for Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard composed of Tristram Coffyn, first chief magistrate of Nantucket and Thomas Mayhew, first chief magistrate of Martha's Vineyard and two associates from each island enacted a law prohibiting the sale of intoxicating drinks to Indians. The law was occasionally enforced and John Gardner (whose gravestone alone marks the spot where the settlers were first interred) complained to Governor Lovelace, 15 Mar. 1676 that a half barrel of rum had been taken from him by Thomas Macy. Gardner also said that the Indian Sachems stated they would fight if the laws against them were enforced. The letter of Thomas Macy to Governor Lovelace, 9 May 1676 shows the fear of the Indians if strong drink was allowed to be sold to them and he asked the Governor to prohibit any ship coming into the harbor from selling strong drink to Indians: "Sir, concerning the Peace we hitherto enjoy, I cannot imagine it could have bin if strong Liquor had bin among the Indians, as formerly: for my owne yt I have been to ye utmost an opposed of the Trade these 38 yeares, and I verily believe (respecting the Indians) tis the only Ground of the miserable psent Ruine to both Nations; for tis that hath kept them from Civility, they have been the drunken Trade kept all the while like Wildernesse."(29) It also seems that the Court on one occasion took possession of all the liquor on the island and dispenced it in small quantities to the settlers.

"Whereas ye Honble Coll: Lovelace, Governour of New Yorke, gave forth his Summons for ye Inhabitants of ye Isle of Nantuckett to make their Appearance before his Honor at New Yorke, either in their own Person or by their Agent, to shew their Claymes in respect to their Standing or Clayme of Interest on ye aforesaid Island. Now wee whose Names are underwritten having intrusted our ffather Tristram Coffin to make Answer for us, Wee doe Empower our ffather Tristram Coffin to act and doe for us wth Regard to our Interest, on ye Isle of Nantuckett and Tuckanuckett. Witness our Hands ye 2d Day of ye fourth Month, sixteen hundred and seventy-one, 1671." Signed by James, John, Stephen Coffin and Nathaniel Starbuck.(30)

Tristram as the chief magistrate of Nantucket and Thomas Mayhew as chief magistrate of Martha's Vineyard with two assistants from each island were to constitute a General Court with appellate jurisdiction over both islands.

"Imprimis, Wee humbly propose Liberty for ye Inhabitants to chuse annually a Man or Men to be Chiefe in ye Governmt, and chosen or appointed by his Honor to Stand in place, contantly invested wth Power of Confirmacon by Oath or Engagemt, or otherwise as his Honor shall appoint, one to be Chiefe in ye Cort and to have Magistraticall Power at all times wth regard to ye Peace and other necessary Consideracon.

2ly. Wee take for granted yt ye Lawes of England are Standard of Governmt, soe farre as wee know them, and are suitable to or Condicon not repugnant to ye Lawes of England.

3ly. In Point of carrying on ye Governmt from Time to Time, wee are willing to joyne with or Neighbor Island ye Vineyard, to keep together one Cort every Yeare, one Yeare at or Island, ye next wth them, and Power at Home to End all Cases not exceeding 20lb; And in all cases Liberty of Appeale to ye Genrll Cort in all Actions above 40lb. And in all Actions amounting to ye vallue of 100lb Liberty of Appeale to his Highnesse his Cort at ye Citty of New York; And in Capitall Cases, or such Mattrs as concerne Life, Limbe, or Banishmt. All such cases to be tryed at New Yorke.

4. And feeling ye Indians are numerous among us, Wee propose that or Governmt may Extend to them, and Power to Summon them to our Corts wth respect to Mattrs of Trespass Debt, and other Miscarriages, and Try and Judge them according to Lawes, when published amongst them.

And Lastly, some Military Power committed to us, respecting our Defence, either in respect of Indyans or Strangrs invadeing, &c."(31)

The town voted to have a harrow for the use of the inhabitants and Tristram was to provide the harrow and he along with Thomas Macy were empowered to see that every man sowed seed "according to order".

"Francis Lovelace, Esq., &c.: Whereas upon address made unto mee by Mr. Tristram Coffin and Mr. Thomas Macy on ye behalfe of themselves and ye rest of ye inhabitants of Nantuckett Island concerning ye Mannor and Method of Government to be used amongst themselves, and having by ye advice of my councell pitcht upon a way for them; That is to say, That they be governed by a person as Chiefe Magistrate, and two Assistants, ye former to be nominated by myselfe, ye other to be chosen and confirmed by ye inhabitants as in ye instructions sent unto them is more prticularly sett forth. And having conceived a good opinion of ye fitness and capacity of Mr. Tristram Coffin to be ye present Chiefe Magistrate to manage affayres with ye Ayd and good advice of ye Assistants in ye Islands of Nantuckett and Tuckanuckett, I have thought fit to nominate, constitute, and appoint, and by these presents doe hereby nominate, constitute and appoint Mr. Tristram Coffin to be Chief Magistrate of ye said Islands of Nantuckett and Tuckanuckett. In ye management of which said employment hee is to use his best skill and endeavour to preserve his Maties Peace and to keep ye Inhabitants in good Order. And all Persons are hereby required to give ye said Mr. Tristram Coffin such respect and obedience as belongs to a Person invested by commission from authority of his Royall Highness in ye place and employment of a Chiefe Magistrate in ye Islands aforesaid. And hee is duly to observe the Orders and Instructions which are already given forth for ye well governing of ye Place; or such others as from time to time shall hereafter bee given by mee: And for whatsoever ye said Mr. Tristram Coffin shall lawfully Act or Doe in Prosecution of ye Premises, This my Commission which is to bee of fforce until ye 13th day of October, which shall bee in ye yeare of our Lord, 1672, when a new Magistrate is to enter into the employment shall be his sufficient Warrant and Discharge.

Given under my Hand and Seale at fforte James, in New Yorke, this 29th day of June, in ye 22d yeare of his Maties Reigne, Annoq Dni. 1671."(32)

Between 1675-6 there was a dispute in court between Thomas Macy then chief magistrate and William Worth his son-in-law on one side and John Gardner, Peter Folger and others on the other side. The islanders lined up on one side or the other. The matter was a question of land and superior authority, for Massachusetts vs. New York. Tristram was of Macy's party and aligned against Gardner although subsequently he again became friends with Gardner.

"Testimony of Tristram Coffin aged 67 years: That on the 6th day of June 1677, the General Court being set in the town of Sherburne, and Capt. John Gardner being brought into Court, and sot down on a chest where I sat, ther being of the members of the Court that spake to him concerning the contmptuous carriages in regard to the King's authority then and there present, and he accused and brought as a delinquent.

I spake to him and told him I was very sorry that he did not behave himself. The aforesaid Capt. John Gardner replied and said:

'I know my business and it may be some of these that have meddled with me had better have eaten fier.'

Witnes my hand to the verity of this Tristram Coffin."(33)

The feeling for accepting the jurisdiction of Massachusetts instead of New York grew stronger and Governor Andros, who had succeeded Lovelace, again made Tristram governor perhaps in hope of settling the controversy. This commission is on the Nantucket Records instead of the New York ones:

"Edmund Andros, Esqr., seigneur of Sausmarez, Lieut. & Governour General under his Royall Highnesse James, Duke of Yorke and Albany, &c., of all his Territories in America:

Whereas an undue or illegall returne of the Chief Magistrate of Nantuckett hath been make two yeares successively from thence, the one being by law wholly incapable thereof: Therefore by advice of my Counsell, by vertue of Majesties Letters Pattents, & authority from his Royall Highnesse, I doe hereby in his Majesty's names, nominate, constitute, and Authorize Mr. Tristram Coffin, Senr., to be Chief Magistrate of the said Island of Nantucket and dependencyes for the ensuing yeare, or further order, in the place and stead of Mr. Thomas Macy, late Chiefe Magistrate, and being thereunto sworn by him, or next in place, to act as Chiefe Magistrate according to Law and lawfull custome and practice, requiring all persons who it may concern, to conform themselves thereunto accordingly.

Given under my hand and seale of the Province of New Yorke, this sixteenth day of September 1677.

E. Andross."(34)

He was appointed Chief Magistrate of Nantucket by Governor Andros in 1667, and again by Governor Lovelace on 29 June 1671. Tristram held the office of Governor until 1680 when John Gardner was appointed.

During his entire residence on Nantucket he resided near Capsum, for the most part at a house that he built and named Northam. His house lot was a tract of the usual dimensions, bounded on the north by Cappam Harbor. The spot where his house was placed is marked by a stone monument. The interests which he and his sons and sons-in-law represented gave him power to control, to a large extent, the enterprises of the island.

"I Tristram Coffin of Nantucket, do for divers good considerations, as Also in regard

of my Fatherly affections, do give unto my daughter, Mary Starbuck, the one half of

my accomodations of my purchase, on Nantucket Island... 14th 4th mo. 1664."(35)

This unusual gift to a daughter was probably due to the fact that his sons were all co-purchasers with him in the island.

Later he gave to his sons the remainder of his real estate.

"I Tristram Coffin, of Nantucket, Senore, do give... unto my son,

Stephen Coffin, the one-half of my land at Cappan, Alies Northam, within the township of Sherborn,

situated upon Nantucket Island... all... except... my new dwelling house upon the hill,

and my old dwelling house under the hill, by the Erbe garden; now, for and

in consideration of the aforesaid premisses, my son, Stephen Coffin, shall always

from time to time do the best he can in managing my other half of my lands and

accomodation during mine and my wife's life, and tht he be helpfull to me and

his mother in our old age and sickness, what he can:... the fifteenth of the elventh mone,

one thousand six hundred and seventy-six."(36)

"Tristram Coffin, Senior, in the town of Sherborn, on the Island of Nantucket... in regard to my naturall afections unto my son, John Coffin, now of Sherborn, as also for divers other good and Lawful consideration... I... do freely give unto my son, John Coffin... my new Dwelling house, with all other houses Adjoining unto it, and also the whole half share of land and accomodation... to have and to hold forever, imediatly after the Decease of me... and my now wife Dionis Coffin" 3 Dec. 1678.(37)

"I Tristram Coffin of Sherborn... in Regard of my Natural afection unto my Grand Children... give unto every one of them Ten Acres of land to plant or sow English grain on... upon the Island of Tuckernuck... and if they... shall sow their land with english hay seed they shall have liberty to keep four shep upon every acre during their Lifetime... 3d 10th 1678."(38)

Tristram in 1680 was brought into Court for an infringement of the Admiralty law. A ship having been cast away was salvaged by the people of the Island while he was magistrate and he neglected to make an accounting satisfactory to the Court. He was penalized for the full amount of her estimated value and this after he had parted with all of his property excepting enough for the old age of himself and his wife. The court evidently thought the fine excessive and remitted a part of it, Capt. John Gardner standing his friend in this.

"At a Court of Admiralty, held at the Island of Nantuckett ye twenty-eighth day of August, by his Maties Athority, in the thirty-second Yeare of the Reiagne of our Sovereigne Lord King Charles the Second, and in the Yeare of our Lord on thousand six hundred and eighty.

Present, Captn Cesar Knapton, Captn Richard Hall, Mr. John West, Capt John Gardner, Magistrate.

Mr. Tristram Coffin, late Magistrate, being called to give an Accoumpt of what was saved out of the Rack of a French Ship, cast away on this Island by some of Capt. Bernard Lamoyn's Men about the latter Part of the Yeare seventy-eight, declared he had formerly given an Accoumpt, which being produced and read, it appeared that thare ware saved out of the said Rack two thousand and sixteen Hydes, which he confesseth are disposed of by his Order, Alowance and Aprobation and by Information given, we valleu at fouer Shillings per Hyde, which amounts toe fouer hundred and three Pound fouer Shillings; and also one Cable and a Pece, likwise sold by the said Tristram Coffin at forty fouer Pounds; and one Sayle at six Pounds ten Shillings; and two Pecis of Hafers at eleven Pounds, and an Ancker at thirteen Pounds; which in all amounts toe fouer hundred seventy-seven Pounds fourteen Shillings, for which no Claime hath bin make according to Law.

This Court tharefore, taking into Consideration the Allowance of Salvage of said Goods, and understanding the Difeculty and Hardship the Savers endured, doe alow on fifth Part thareof for Salvage, according to Law, which amounts toe ninety-five Pounds ten Shillings And for what was disburred by the said Tristram Coffin on Accoumpt of some Duch Prissoners left one the Island, and what was paid by him to William Worth, for his Wound, forty Pound one Shilling. In all, on hundred thirty-five Pounds eleaven Shillings; which being deducted out of the said Sum of fower hundred seventy seaven Pounds fourteen Shillings. They doe adjudge and determine that the said Coffin doe make Payment and Sattisfaction toe the Governor or his Order, on Accoumpt of his Royall Highness to whom by Law it doth appertain the Remainder of the said Sum, being three hundred forty-three Pounds ten Shillings. And as for what Guns or Rigeing or other Things that are undisposed of, toe be apprised and Salvage to be alowed as above, and to be sent to New York for his Royall Highness use, the Salvage toe be lickwise paid by the said Coffin, to be deduckted out of the three hundred fourty-three Pounds ten Shillings. The Court lickewise declare thare Opinion that the said Coffin's Actings Proceedings in disposing of the said Goods, are contrary to Law."(39)

"To the Right Honrabell Ser Edmund Andros, Knight, Signeur of Safmaryoe, Lieut. Generall under his Royall Hynes James Duke of York and Albany, and Governor Generall of his Royal Hynes Territorys in America. These present.

Nantuckett, 30th of August, 1680.

Right Honerabell Sir:

My humbell Service presented unto your Excellencye humblie shewing my hartie Sorow yt I should in any way give your Excelency just occasion of Offence, as I now plainly see, in actinge contrary to the Law, as I am convinced I did, throw Ignorance in regard to not beinge acquainted with the maretime Lawes, and yet I humblie intreat your Exclency to consider yt in on Respect my weeackness I hope may bee a littell born with: for I did tender diverse Persons theone halfe to save the other halfe, and I could not get any to doe it: and for the Hides I could not get any to goe but for to tacke all for their Labor, because it was judged by many yt the weare not worth the saving; so I was nesesetated to doe as I did or else the had bin quite lost. Thare fore I humblye intreat your Excelency not to think yt I did it for any bye Respects or selfe Ends; for I doe assure your Excelency yt theare was not any on Person yt did indent with me for any on Shillinge Proffit, only I did tell foure of them yt if I should bee by any cal'd to accot, the should bee accountabell to me. But now the will not owne it and I can not prove it, so I by Law am caust to beare all, only my hop is yt your Excelency will bee pleased out of your Leniency and Favor to me to except of int Money, and Bill is sent for the answeringe of the Judgement of the Court; for had not my Sonn James Coffyn borrowed Money and ingaged for the rest of my Bill, I could not have done it, but must have gone to Prison. Now I humblye intreat your Excelency to heare my loving Nighbor, Capt John Gardner, in my behalfe, and wth your Excelency shall bee pleased to order Concerning the Case, I shall thankfulye except, knowing your Excelency to be a compashonate mercyeful Man. And I hop I shall for Time to com... to be more wiser and doe kept your Excelency's humbell Sarvant whylst I live to my Power.

Tristram Coffyn."(40)

The court accepted £150 in full payment, 6 Nov. 1680.

Less than a year later Tristram died leaving a very small estate as he had given most of it away to his sons and daughter and the fine inflicted by the Court of Admiralty took a large amount of the residue.

"Mr James Coffin, John Coffin, Steven Coffin doe bind ourselves, Joyntly and severally, in the some of an hundred pounds starlinge, to performe the trust in administering on our father's estate, and to baer the Court harmless according to law."(41)

"The 8th day of August, 1682, an Inventory being presented to the Court of the estate of Mr. Tristram Coffin, Senior, who departed this life the third day of October, on thousand six hundred eighty one, the Court taking into consideration the present state of the estate, together with the best Information of his mind before his decease: doe order the use of the estate for Ms Dionis Coffin, his widdow, during her life after al Just debts are paid."(42)

Ref:

(1) Norfolk Co. Deeds- book 2, p.209 (2) History of Haverhill- pp.49-50 (3) A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport and West Newbury- p.43 (4) Ibid- p.49 (5) The Coffin Family- p.40 (6) Mass. Archives- Vol.10, p.300 (7) Essex Co. Court Files (8) Mass. Archives- Vol.15b, p.41 (9) Ibid- Vol.10, p.45 (10) Norfolk Co. Deeds- Vol.1, p.30 (11) Ibid- p.74 (12) Ibid- p.41 (13) Ibid- p.42 (14) Ipswich Deeds- Vol.1, p.117 (15) Ibid- p.240 (16) The Coffin Family- p.44 (17) Albany Deeds- Vol.III, p.56 (18) The Coffin Family- pp.44-5 (19) Ibid- p.45 (20) Ibid- pp.45-6 (21) First Book of Nantucket Records (22) Ibid- (23) Ibid- (24) Ibid- (25) Ibid- (26) Ibid- (27) Albany Deeds- Vol.III, p.57 (28) Ibid- (29) The Coffin Family- p.49 (30) Albany Deeds- Vol.III, p.58 (31) Ibid- p.59 (32) Ibid- p.62 (33) Publication of the Nantucket Historical Society- p.36 (34) Nantucket Records- Vol.1, p.101 (35) Nantucket Deeds- Vol.1, p.197 (36) Ibid- old book, p.63 (37) Ibid- Vol.2, p.19 (38) Ibid- Vol.2, p.17 (39) New York Colonial MSS, XXIX (40) Ibid- p.29 (41) Nantucket Records (42) Ibid-

Christening

Christening: Date: 11 Mar 1609 Place: , Brixton, Devonshire, England Will

"I Tristram Coffin of Nantucket, do for divers good considerations, as Also in re

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Tristram Coffin, Sr.'s Timeline

1605
March 11, 1605
Plymouth, Devon, England
1609
March 11, 1609
Age 4
Brixton, Devon, England
March 11, 1609
Age 4
Plymouth, Brixton, Devon, England
1610
March 11, 1610
Age 5
Brixton Parish, near Plymouth, Devon, England
1630
July 18, 1630
Age 25
Brixton, Devon, England, (Present UK)
1632
February 1, 1632
Age 26
Brixton, Devon, England
1634
1634
Age 28
Brixton, Plymouth, Devonshire, England
1640
August 12, 1640
Age 35
Plymouth, Brixton, Devonshire, England
1641
1641
Age 35
Brixton, Devon, , England