How I am related by marriage to the Sands Family,
and more about my Stillwell Ancestors.
By Vicky Moon, 2010
Captain Kidd visited Block Island around 1699, where he was supplied by Mrs. Mercy (Sands) Raymond, daughter of the mariner James Sands. The story has it that, for her hospitality, Mrs. Raymond was bid to hold out her apron, into which Kidd threw gold and jewels until it was full. After her husband Joshua Raymond died, Mercy removed with her family to northern New London, Connecticut (later Montville), where she bought much land. The Raymond family was thus said to have been "enriched by the apron."
This story is told in all of Captain Kidd’s history.
When the century opened the two most important land owners in the
vicinity of the ferry were Comfort and Joshua Sands, whose farms
included all of the fifth and about half of the fourth wards and were
bounded by the river, Fulton street, the Navy Yard and Concord street.
The Sands property was broken up about 1802, when the owners began
subdividing it into building lots. They argued that the hill so
fashionable and exclusive, was too steep and difficu1t of access to be
available for residence purposes. The two Sands farms had, before the
revolution belonged to Jobn Rapalje, a great great-grandson of the
first settler, and a wealthy Tory land owner, whose adhesion to the
mother country led to the confiscation and sale of his property by the
state authorities. Comfort and Joshua Sands being the purchasers. The
price paid for the property at the sale on July 13, 1784 was £12,430 in
state scrip. The area of the farm was 160 acres. It was first surveyed
for subdivision into building lots in 1787 and received the name
Olympia. The Navy yard dates from this period and the land it occupies
was purchased by The United States government for $40,000.
Simultaneously with this improvement a portion of the Comfort Sands
property was purchased by Irish refugees who came to this country after
the suppression of the rebellion of 1798. The Sands family descended from James Sands who moved from England to Massachusetts. They were not Loyalists.
James Sands, born 1622 England died 1695 Block Island Rhode Island.
Sarah Walker, wife
“son John Sands born 1649, brother of Mercy Sand in the story above.Sybil Ray, wife
“son John Sands born 1708
Elizabeth Cornell, wife
Two of John and Elizabeth’s sons were Comfort and Joshua, above. John and Mercy Sands brother, James son Samuel was the father of another Mercy SandsShe was the grand niece of the above Mercy Sands. This Mercy Sands married Richard Stillwell. She was his second wife. Richard’s parents were Richard Stillwell Sr. and Mary Freelove Cook, my 11th great grandparents.Richard Stillwell Sr. was the oldest son of Nicolas Stillwell who arrived in Virginia in 1638. He was a tobacco farmer and was also known as “Valiant Stillwell”He sailed north to New Amsterdam (N.Y.) in 1645. Richard Jr’s grandparents were Nicholas Stillwell and Abigail Hopton, my 10th great grandparentsand his great grandparents were Nicholas Stillwell and Catherine Van Keuren, my 9th great grandparents. Richard Stillwell’sJr. 1671-1743, first wife was Lydia Bowne who died, no children. His second wife Mercy Sands 1693-1746. They married in 1708.Notice their age difference. When they married she was 15 and he was 37.He was one of the founders of the Presbyterian church of Manhatten. He died in Shrewsbury, Monmouth, NJ.
More about the Stillwell’s
Nicholas Stillwell, who arrived in 1638 was born 1609 at Collopmore, Surrey, England married Abigaile Hopton in England. She was the daughter of Sir Robert Hopton of Hopton Priory, England. Abigail Hopton died at Leyden, Holland, Netherland. Nicholas came from Leyden, in Holland, about 1638, after the death of his first wife Abigail Hopton, bringing with him his two only children Richard and Nicholas. He settled on Manhattan Island and married second wife, Ann Van Dyke. We descend from his first wife Abigail Hopton.
The Stillwell family dates back to 1324,acquire a modest piece of land and then a larger tract on the York River. He married Nicholas became a tobacco farmer and was named a tobacco inspector. He was in the militia, attained the rank of lieutenant and took part in a number of campaigns against Native Americans. This is how he got the name of "Valiant Stillwell." When Nicholas supported his commanding officer in resisting the transfer of Kent Island in the Chesapeake Bay, where they both were involved with a trading post, from Virginia to Maryland, Stillwell found himself in trouble with the colonial authorities. In 1645 Nicholas sailed north to the port of New Amsterdam, at the time still under the control of the Dutch West Indies Company. He was able to obtain a grant of land in Gravesend, located in the southwestern section of Brooklyn bordering on the Outer Bay. Here he established a pioneer farm and with his English wife Anne raised 11 children. Nicholas also became a magistrate, again joined the militia and was involved in fighting Native Americans up the Hudson River Valley in the Esopus area. He supported the Dutch, who had given him settlement opportunities and advancement, against the English takeover in 1664. He did, though, adapt to the new authorities in New York, obtained a larger tract of land on Staten Island and moved his family there. The died in Dover, Staten Island 1671. He was one of three officers in command in the Indian War (Esopus)in 1663. He was Sheriff of Long Island, under Stuyvesant, Magistrate of Gravesend 1649-1663, President of the Court - Marshall for the trial of freebooters and pirates in 1654, and after he moved to Staten Island in 1664, he was elected by the inhabitants of the island, ConstableThe children of Nicholas and Anne settled on Staten Island and Long Island and in Monmouth and Cape May counties in New Jersey.
The oldest son, Richard Stillwell Sr. born between 1633 and 1638, like his parents, had a farm first in Gravesend and then on Staten Island, but his farms were more developed and better equipped. He also was a magistrate, held various court positions, was a captain in the militia, was an arbitrator in municipal boundary disputes, and was an interpreter and intermediary in dealing with Native Americans. He married Mary Freelove Cook, the daughter of another magistrate in Gravesend. With her, and perhaps a second wife, Richard had 15 children. He died in 1688.Richard and Mary Freelove Cook Stillwell's second son, another Richard Stillwellwas born in 1672. He turned to commerce and became a successful, affluent merchant in New York City. Richard was one of the founders and an important supporter of the Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. He married Lydia Bowne of Gravesend, but she died before they had any children. Richard then married Mercy Sands around 1708. Mercy was born in1693 of a well-to-do Long Island family. Mercy Sands' grandfather was Captain James Sands (Theodosia's great, great grandfather), who was born in 1622 in Reading, Berkshire, England, sailed to Plymouth, Mass. in 1658, resided in Taunton, and then in 1660 became one of fifteen purchasers and one of first settlers of Block Island. He commanded a militia in the King Phillips War, a series of bitterly fought and often cruel campaigns that destroyed Native American power in New England. He also was a farmer, a leading citizen of Block Island where he served as a constable, and was a member of Rhode Island's General Assembly. The family held slaves. Native American slaves and negro slaves. Captain Sands' wife was Sarah Walker the sole midwife and doctor on Block Island.
Mercy and Richard had 8 children, 6 girls and 2 boys, between 1710 and about 1726. Mercy seems to have assisted her husband in his mercantile business and her extant letters indicate a marked skill in writing. Their business dealings reached beyond New York City into New Jersey. There is record of Richard's dealings with Peter Somans, one of the Proprietors of East Jersey. This Stillwell family then bought a sizeable estate in Shrewsbury on the Navasink River. While Richard seems to have continued his business in New York City, the children were brought up primarily in Shrewsbury. As a sign of affluence and because of monetary resources, the family acquired a number of African American slaves. Mrs. Stillwell lost one in the Negro hysteria in New York City in 1641, but owned at least one other male slave and a number of female slaves. In his will Richard gave one female slave to each of three daughters. When he died in 1743 at age 71, Richard left an estate worth over 5,000 pounds which include fine china, silver, silks and paintings, an estate of 450 acres with a new house, an orchard, barns, livestock and cultivated farmland. Mercy died three years later at the age of 53.
The upward mobility of the Stillwell family through its first three generations in America provided Richard's and Mercy's eight children, by the mid-seventeenth century, with an education by tutors, an advantaged position in the society of the greater New York/New Jersey region, and a degree of economic affluence.