Gene Surfing

Adventures in Family History

Thomas Codrington – Sheriff of New York

Farmer BullshotCaptain Thomas Codrington, Merchant, turned up in Somerset County, bought land and become Sheriff of New York in 1691, yet nobody seems to know where he came from.

To have enough money to buy a large amount of land he must have been doing pretty well as a merchant.

He may have come from the West Indies and been related to Christopher Codrington but no records exist for a Thomas in the family.

Could this Thomas be the son of Robert Codrington of Bristol, who was a merchant working for the East India Company, last heard of in 1648?

Or perhaps an unknown son of Robert Codrington and Henningham Drury who’s son Robert is known to have been in Barbados?

New York

nycmap1764a[1]In 1664 the British captured New Amsterdam from the Dutch and renamed it New York after James, the Duke of York, brother of the King who had sponsored the expedition.

At about this time the population of New York was only about 2000.

Captain Thomas Codrington, merchant, was sheriff of New York in 1691 and bought a significant amount of land in Somerset County where he built a homestead.

14 Oct 1691 Minutes of Council of New York. Abraham De Peyster sworn Mayor of New York, and Thomas Codrington, Sheriff. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. LXXV., p. 288.]

He is first recorded in New York 1678 when he married Margaret, the daughter of Thomas Delavall, an influential figure who had been the Mayor of New York.

One record shows Margaret to be born in 1652 so would have been 26 when she married – Thomas is likely to have been significantly older, perhaps 10 or 20 years – but perhaps this was a political marriage where age differences don’t seem to matter.

He is first recorded buying property in 1681.

Green Brook Township had its beginning in the Original Indian Purchase made May 4, 1681, when English settlers purchased it from two Raritan Indians named Konackama and Quereomak, presumably Indian chiefs.

John Royce had eight hundred and seventy-seven acres; Thomas Codrington eight hundred and seventy-seven acres next to him; the proprietors, eleven hundred and seventy acres next to Bound Brook;

Thomas Codrington, one thousand acres on the rear next to Chimney Rock and the mountain.

Green Brook Historical Society

Other reports suggest that Thomas Codrington of Barbados was a merchant trading between Bristol and the American Colonies but there seems to be no records of him there other than in a will dated 1714 as “a friend” – however he had already died by then.

Who was Thomas?

If Thomas was the son of Robert Codrington of Bristol A11  then he would have been born about 1616 and about 65 at the time he first purchased land in 1681 – he was last mentioned as a merchant in Armenia in 1648.

Captain Thomas Codrington married Margaret Delavall in 1678 and is mentioned as having links with the the West Indies, based on some of his associates, which does not fit in with what we know about Thomas of Armenia.

Thomas of New York died 20 April 1710 so would have been 95 if he was the son of Robert of Bristol – this is not impossible but I think it is highly unlikely.

Thomas and Margaret do not appear to have had any children and Thomas had sold most of his property by the time he died – perhaps he had planned to have a large family but it had just not happened.

The Codrington homestead, “Racawackhana,” was owned in 1700 by Aaron Lazarder ; then about 1720 by his son Moses Lazarder ; then by his son David Lazarder ; afterwards by Michael Van Tyle, Alexander Campbell and Samuel Swan, M. D.

One thing that we do know about Thomas is that in his will he mentions his two sisters Elizabeth and Katherine.

He also mentions a cousin Frances Willet who is shown as “Dervall” in some trees, but was  the cousin of his wife Margaret, who married Richard Willet and died in 1723.

In the Historical Dictionary of Anglicanism there is a reference to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, which owned estates in Barbados bequeathed by Thomas Codrington.

This may just be a mistake and it should be a reference to Christopher Codrington III who also died in 1710.

speech50There may be some connection to the Willet family of Long Island. Thomas Willet, originally from Bristol, settled in New York and was also Sheriff and about the same (estimated) age of Thomas Codrington.

Much more information about the Willet family in Genealogies of Long Island Families, Vol. II [available through Ancestry although there may be a digital copy somewhere on-line]

Another possibility is that Thomas was an unrecorded son of Robert Codrington [i] and Hennigham Drury [of Norfolk] in which case he could have been born about 1640 and a younger brother to Robert, born in London 1635.

Robert is known to have been in Barbados with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Henningham, who was born in Barbados in 1675 and married into the Carrington family.

This makes Thomas about the right age to fit into this scenario, being only 12 years older than Margaret, yet old enough to have been established as a captain and merchant at the age of about 35 when he first appears.

But there are no records to support this, although it seems much more likely of the two suggestions.

[i] Some histories show this Robert as the brother of Christopher, the first Codrington to settle on Barbados,  but I believe this to be incorrect.

See I, Robert  for more information.

speech50Although not available in Ancestry and other sources, there is a baptism record for a Thomas Codrington in 1630, which would be about the right date for this Thomas.

As the grandson of Samuel Codrington of Dodington he would probably have had the resources and finances to embark on a career as a merchant based in Bristol, but trading between Barbados and Virginia.

The record is shown in the History of Antigua but originated in Gloucestershire Notes and Queries volume II.

dodington baptisms

There is a slight problem with this theory – his brother Samuel Codrington (the younger) was in the line of inheritance to Dodington, and identified as B9 in the memoirs by RHC.

Samuel died in 1668 so Thomas would have become next in line, but in a twist his father, Samuel the Elder, was still alive and when he died in 1676, the property passed to his brother Richard, Thomas’ uncle – which seems to show that this Thomas was not alive.

It was Samuel B12 the son of Richard that sold Dodington to Christopher Codrington in 1703.

Perhaps Thomas then set out to create his own dynasty in New York to rival Dodington, but failed to produce the children he had hoped for  – the large house he had built and the lands he had bought were all sold.

He did have a sister Elizabeth as mentioned in his will, but there is no record of a Katherine in this family so perhaps these were sisters-in-law?

The only Katherine I have come across was born in 1644 in Devon, the daughter of Col. Nicholas Codrington (brother of Christopher Codrington I) who was in Dartmouth during the Civil war and his wife Katherine.

speech50It is possible that Nicholas did have other children but they were simply not recorded during the civil war. When his widow, Katherine, claimed a pension for herself only one child, a daughter named Penelope, is mentioned.

1665: Katherine, widow of Col. Nicholas Codrington, and Penelope, their daughter. For a pension or other relief; the late colonel lost 3,000  by his loyalty, and they are reduced to great want, and have received nothing from the 60,000l. for indigent officers, nor the 9,000l. for their widows.

If Thomas was the son of Nicholas then he could have been born around 1645 [too old to be mentioned as a dependent] and about 35 when he appeared in New York, which is about the right age to fit with this scenario.

But where did his money come from?

If Katherine was granted a pension, or compensated from the financial losses to the family, then Thomas [if he existed] could have benefited from it – the sum of £3000 mentioned above would today be worth about £300,000. He could have built up a successful merchant business over the next twenty years and then decided to settle in New York.

I am uneasy about this solution, but then there is no other obvious answer, so perhaps this is something close to the truth.

John Delavall

John Delavall was a son of Thomas Delavall [and brother of Margaret], a captain under Col. Nichols when New York was captured in 1664. It seems from some transactions of [his] that he had been in the city before this time, but immediately after the surrender he took a prominent part in the administration of public affairs. He owned a farm at Harlem as well as a residence in the city, on the south east corner of Broad Street and Exchange Place, embracing an orchard and a large garden. Visiting England in 1669, he had a conference with the Duke of York, who sent by him to the Mayor and Aldermen of the city, a mace of office and a gown to be worn on proper occasions.

The Codrington Estate

Thomas seems to have been the only one of his associates to actually settle on his property.

The only one of the proprietors under this Indian grant who actually settled on any part of it, was Thomas Codrington. He had 877 acres apportioned to him September 25th, 1683 ; and built a house upon it soon after, and called his place Racawackhana.

He also owned 1,000 acres more, lying on the rear of his farm, running up to the apex of the mountain. Thomas Codrington was living at Racawackhana on the 26th of November 1684, and was at that date appointed one of Governor Barclay’s council.

He was a man of influence in his time, and received the same appointment from Lord Neil Campbell Oct 18th, 1686, and again from Governor Bass, May 6, 1698.

Centennial history of Somerset County [New Jersey] 1878

Thomas eventually bought the shares of all the other partners in the original purchase perhaps in the attempt to build an estate to rival those back in England or in Barbados, but had sold it all by 1700 when he had no male heir.

The Codrington land was located partially in what would be come Bridgewater and part what was known as Bound Brook. It started out as a joint purchase of former Indian land by John Palmer, Thomas Codrington, John White, and John Royce.  It appears they had to repurchase from the Proprietors in 1684, each receiving 877 acres.  Palmer was to the west of Codrington and Royce was to the east.

In a deed dated 8 May 1706, Thomas Codrington and his wife Margaret sold the entire plantation at Bound Brook to Phillip French. “With all an singular the houses, edifices, buildings, barns, stables, warehouses, landings” etc.

Phillip French may have been from Kellshall, Hertfordshire and it was on this property, purchased from Thomas, that Kells Hall was built by his descendants.

Both Phillip and Thomas are mentioned in the will of one James Graham who died 1700 and had been the attorney-general of New York .

Archibald Campbell Son of Lord Neil Campbell and the History of Kells Hall

Chris Sidney 2014

4 responses to “Thomas Codrington – Sheriff of New York

  1. Christopher M Codrington July 11, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    Mr. Sidney this page particularly the “work” you are presenting on Thomas Codrington of New York and New Jersey and the comments on William Collins Codrington and Jamaica Codringtons is gleaned from my internet work on the subject. I see not one iota of new information which cannot be shown to have been written in various forms in correspondence or websites, genealogy boards etc etc by me prior to 2010….Nowhere do I see a credit or acknowledgement as would be customary in fair use of another’s work. It is plagiarism pure and simple. I’m not in the habit of tackling people for this kind of thing but you are going way too far sir. You are co opting my work and research.
    The material I speak of is well known to other people in the Carib history and genealogy circles online the result of har work since 1995. In addition to which on a personal note you showed some serious cheek ascribing William Codrington’s birth to Maudlin Moraine as “of a slave” when in fact there is no definitive proof either way and the theory was first presented by me via the Historical Society of the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda in the ’90’s and printed in their Bulletin. There are a variety of ways Maudlin can be explained along with the language of the bequests themselves It is far from a simple issue to settle if indeed settlement will be possible. But this was an issue publicized and broadcast solely by me. Prior to my research and the material assembled by me the bequests noted in the two Christopher’s wills had been glossed over and given virtually no thought by serious history folk. Comparative study of the Codrington family resident in the West Indies was frankly shoddy at best largely because the lesser members were mere play pieces in the constructs hung upon the two Christophers and tangential political cant. Only recently two otherwise interesting historians have given accounts of the family that omit the first Christopher to settle Barbados and show no understanding of the workings of the co-partnership which was largely responsible for their wealth circa 1710.
    I did not wish you anything but good will until I started reading your site seriously today and recognized myself in nearly every paragraph about the Americas. Then you declared William Codrington of Jamaica the son of a slave and that went too far. How glib! There is not enough time to articulate all the arguments against that likelihood…. Thus far actually
    there is no evidence to support that assertion and alot to refute it though I have pursued the issue with candor and a genuine desire to learn truth. Christopher I think you owe me acknowledgement on the research and material you so glibly published in your own name. Be that as it may I owed it to myself to speak up about it you went too far.
    Christopher M Codrington


    • Farmer Bullshot July 12, 2017 at 7:22 pm

      Chris. Thank you for your feedback – both good and bad.

      There are still a number of grey areas in the Codrington story that will probably remain so. I have not really done any active research for some

      time now as all the incoherent bits of information I have lying around are just that, with nothing to tie them together.

      Whether you believe me or not I have not seen your research on Rootsweb that you provided a link to – it doesn’t come up in Google searches – and some of the more interesting looking links don’t work.

      Of course I have come across some comments of yours from archived discussion boards and from your previous comments on this blog, and I’m sure that some pieces of information have found its way into my blogs, but I have never intentionally cut-and-pasted any research and claimed it as my own.

      The story about Thomas of New York was a follow on from a search for Thomas Codrington who worked for the East India company, and who was the younger brother of Christopher Codrington I. The article I found was from the Green Brook Historical Society and it lead me on to other documents that are referenced as well as several wikipedia articles and a lot of old books such as “Collections of the New Jersey Historical Society, Volume 1”.

      As far as I am concerned I have only added my own thoughts and ideas around these articles, and concluded that this Thomas is unlikely to be the one I am looking for. If you feel there are any specific items that should be attributed to any of your published work then please let me know.

      The information about Maudlin Marianus comes from the wills of Christopher Codrington II and III as transcribed in the History of Antigua. This was brought to my attention by Mathew Parker in his book “The Sugar Barons” where he says “All that is known of her is from the two men’s wills: Codrington Senior in his will of 1698 called her Maudlin Marianus, and bequeathed her her freedom – indicating that she was a black slave – and her son ‘his freedom and £500 at 21’.”

      I am not sure what other conclusion can be reached from the wills other than that both Marianus and her son were slaves or indentured servants of some sort (although I think it more likely that she was Irish based on the name). We did discuss this in an email last year however I do not have access to your research so, for the moment, all I can do is go with the information I do have.

      This is just a blog and reflects my own thoughts and ideas. If some of them appear to support your research then it can only be a good thing, but it has never been my intention to steal any of your work. And if we disagree then this is also good in it’s own way as it stimulates further research or discussion. As far as I can tell we are two of only a few people currently researching the Codrington family and clearly you have the lead on the Caribbean branch. I am not related directly so have no great interest in this branch and only added the Betty’s Hope item after my visit to Antigua.

      Chris S.


  2. Christopher M Codrington August 17, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    To Chris Sidney/ August 2017

    thanks for your reply, Chris. I have enjoyed your thoroughness on much of the British family which was never my particular interest and struck me as a mares nest!
    Mathew Parker was aware of my writing on the subject of Maudlin and various interpretations of the language used to describe here. Unlike Parker I found Gov C Cod’s use of language supported the notion she could be indentured (or even legally retained) there are examples of the term “freedom” being used by him and others of his circle to apply to both slaves and servants. Thomas of New York and New Jersey is interesting for having arrived with Col Nicolls as a member of his council with York’s fleet to New Amsterdam.
    He is immediately active as a merchant and receiving appointments such as sheriff of New York etc so he clearly came with recommendations so to speak. My primary interest in him was to ascertain what if any connection he may have had with a Thomas Codrington noted as a plantation owner in Newfoundland (Placentia) (this would have been a fishing station) who incidentally had a neighbor named Coppleston…..Salt fish and the price you paid for it was an important part of the Sugar supply web. Time will tell. Anyway Pax and hope you are enjoying the summer.


    • Farmer Bullshot August 26, 2017 at 9:18 am

      I still think that Thomas is more likely to have come from the junior branch of the Codrington family because of links to shipping through a marriage into the Shipman family. Francis C. is recorded as having part ownerships in several vessels importing wine from France, but I have found no records that support subsequent generations having any interest in the sea.

      The best match to Thomas in the junior branch was born 1630 the son of Samuel C. & Elizabeth Stephens, but I have no documents linking him to New York, simply the date seems reasonable and there is no burial record for him in England. If this is the right Thomas then he was 1st cousin to Robert Codrington the father of Henningham Codrington (b.1674) who is well documented as having moved to Barbados.

      Perhaps the family had already made the decision to sell Dodington and Thomas decided to start a new Codrington Dynasty in America. Unfortunately, despite his good marriage, purchases of land and the building of a large house, this didn’t happen.

      There are some issues with this theory, as identified in the blog, as to who actually sold Dodington to Christopher C. III. Hopefully I will find some time to revisit this at some point.


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