Seven other Shinnecock also signed the confirmation, which was phrased in
such a general form it could be applied to nearly any transaction. The
fictional "Montauk Grand Sachem" title was no longer evoked. Apparently the
strategy had worn so thin that it had lost all credibility. This 1686
document assumes that the authority to sell lands rests with the family and
heirs of Mandush. Pungamo is identified here as the Sachem and son of
Mandush. The leadership of the Shinnecock appears to have shifted from
Quaquashawge who was "elected" in 1671 to Mandush's son. Both men are listed
in the 1686 document indicating that the title of sachem was no longer a
lifetime office. Unfortunately the records are silent about the details of
Quaquashawge's fall from power. It is possible that the town officials
engineered the change to further strengthen their land title. The two deeds
which were singled out for confirmation had been signed by one or more
members of the Mandush family. It was clear to the Southampton proprietors
that they could make a much stronger case for the authenticity of their
deeds by tracing them back to Mandush. The testimony given by Halsey and
Sayer in 1666 was simply ignored. |
There were still some unresolved questions about boundary designations in most of the early deeds, which often led to endless bickering and lengthy court challenges between the settlers. The Andros and Dongan Patents had not examined the Indian deeds with any degree of scrutiny. In both cases the colonial governor merely wanted to raise revenue and to establish the principle of Crown approval for any future land transactions with Indians. As long as no serious challenge to the Southampton land titles threatened, the proprietors felt quite safe.
This complacency was soon disrupted rather dramatically. Lord Cornbury, certainly one of New York's more colorful governors, gave two members of his Council a most unusual grant. Rip Van Dam and Dr. John Bridges were licensed to buy up all unappropriated Indian land on eastern Long Island in September of 1702. They moved rapidly to press local Indians groups to sell all of their lands which had not been included in earlier transactions. The two agents from New York appear to have used another of the strategies listed by Jennings. They were accused of using "trickery and strong waters" in their negotiation with the Montauk Indians.. Marion Fisher Ales, writing on the Montauk suggests that Van Dam's agents were also aided by a long-festering animosity between the Montauk and the townspeople of East Hampton. The result of all of these factors was a deed which gave the eastern tip of Montauk to Rip Van Dam. All of this had been accomplished in less than six weeks.
The towns of Southampton and East Hampton were virtually in a panic over Van Dam's activities. They needed to review their Indian deeds with an eye to any opening which could be used by Van Dam. The eastern boundary of the 1640 deed was still troubling to the Southampton proprietors. The only documentation they had for the land between the Shinnecock Hills and Wainscott would certainly not survive a court challenge. The proprietors decided to protect their land from Van Dam by negotiating a new deed with the Shinnecock.
In a week-long frenzy of negotiation the proprietors managed to get five important documents signed by the Shinnecock and one by the Unkechaug. It was quite an accomplishment; for the Indians it must have been a bewildering experience. Over a sixty-year period beginning in 1640, the Shinnecock had signed seven or eight major documents; now in one week's time they had been pressured to sign six. The town's concern for a document which carried the full weight of the community led them to identify the party of the first part as the Trustees of the Commonality of the Town of Southampton. The legal implications here are significant. The term 'commonality" included the proprietors and all the other free men of the colony who did not own a share in the unallotted lands. This strategy drew the town into a solid front against any effort by colonial authorities to challenge the agreement. The negotiations began, ironically, on Friday, the thirteenth day of August, 1703. The first round of negotiations appear to have included Abraham Howell, Stephen Boyar, Arthur Davis, John Davis, John Wheeler and Benjamin Marshall for the Town and for the Shinnecock, Pongamo (Mandush's son), Chice, and Manamam. The Unkechaug sachem, Wyongonheot (Wiangonhut), was also included in the negotiations because of his interest in the Quogue land titles.