William "Tangier" Smith

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William "Tangier" Smith (February 2, 1655 – February 18, 1705) was a mayor of Tangier, on the coast of Morocco, and an early settler of New York who owned more than 50 miles (80 km) of Atlantic Ocean waterfront property in central Long Island in New York State, in what is called the Manor of St. George. In 1701 he was Acting Governor of New York.


Smith was born in Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire, in England.[1] He was sent to join his uncle William Staines in English Tangier and was elected Common Councilman of Tangier in 1677, becoming an alderman there in 1679. He was mayor from 1682 until the English evacuated the colony in October 1683, following attacks by forces under Ismail Ibn Sharif. During Smith's term as mayor, the English destroyed the city's fortifications, as part of the evacuation of the Tangier Garrison.

Smith next settled in the City of London, where he had a trading business in Long Acre. In 1686, Smith and his wife and three of his children sailed from Cork in Ireland to New York at the urging of Thomas Dongan, 2nd Earl of Limerick, who had been Lieutenant-Governor of Tangier during Smith's years there and had now been named Provincial Governor of New York. Smith's daughter Hibernia died during the passage to North America aboard the ship Thomas.[2]

Smith received grants of land from Lord Limerick and supplemented them with large purchases of Native American land. On May 25, 1691, Smith purchased a substantial tract of the land that is now the Town of Brookhaven, New York, from John Mayhew of the Unkechaug Nation. In exchange, the Unkechaugs were given title to 175 acres (0.71 km2), which has now been reduced to the 55-acre (220,000 m2) Poospatuck Reservation — the smallest reservation in New York state.[3]

Smith eventually accumulated more than 81,000 acres (330 km2) stretching from Riverhead, New York, in the north east to the Carmans River at Shirley, New York, in the south west. Additionally, he gained title to all of Fire Island, New York.

The deal cemented when Colonial New York Governor Benjamin Fletcher granted Smith a patent to establish a manor on the land which was to be called the Manor of St. George: a section of land stretching from Riverhead to Mastic, New York. Smith was to oversee the Manor from land he had bought earlier in Setauket, New York, also in the Town of Brookhaven.

He was appointed to the Governor's Council in 1691. That year, he also served as one of the commissioners of oyer and terminer who tried and condemned Jacob Leisler, and he was appointed to the Supreme Court of the Province of New York. In 1692 he was made Chief Justice of that court. In 1701 he served for several months as Acting Governor of New York following the death of the governor and the absence of the lieutenant governor.

After Smith's death, his heirs built a house on Bellport Bay that today is called the "Manor of St. George." A peninsula projecting into Narrow Bay and connecting Bellport with Moriches Bay is called Smith's Point and is the source of the name for Smith Point County Park. The names of "Smith", "Manor" and "Tangier" are used extensively as placenames throughout Brookhaven, including Manorville, New York.


Smith married the English-born Martha Tunstall in Tangier in 1675. They had thirteen (possibly fourteen) children born to this union which were:[2]

1. Elizabeth Smith (September 4, 1676, Tangier - 1681, Tangier)
2. John Smith (Christened September 21, 1677, Tangier - February 22, 1677/8, Tangier)
3. (Col.) Henry Smith (January 19, 1678/9, Tangier - October 31, 1766, Manor of St. George, Setauket, Long Island, New York)
4. William Smith (I) (February 2, 1679/80, Tangier - June 26, 1680, Tangier)
5. Martha (Patty) Smith (September 14, 1681, Tangier - August 18, 1736, New York or Manor of Scarsdale, Westchester County, New York)
6. Mary Smith (November 22, 1682, Tangier - 1684, Long Acre, London England)
7. William Smith, Jr. (II) (January 4, 1683/4, Long Acre, London England - February 1, 1683/4, Old Brainford, London, England)
8. Hibernia Smith (June 9, 1686, Youghal, County Cork, Ireland - August 25, 1686 at sea)
9. Jeane (Janey) Smith (December 8, 1687, New York - after September 7, 1707)
10. (Maj.) William Henry Smith (March 13, 1688/9, Brookhaven, Long Island, New York - January 27, 1742/3)
11. Gloryana Smith (June 21, 1690, Brookhaven, L.I. - October 7, 1710, Manor of Scarsdale)
12. Theodocia Smith (December 14, 1691, Brookhaven, L.I. - December 29, 1691)
13. Charles Jeffery (Jeffry) Smith (December 20, 1693, Manor of St. George - May 23, 1715, Manor of St. George)
14. (possibly) Gilbert Smith (allegedly died 1742)

No evidence insists regarding Gilbert. He is not mentioned in the wills of either of his parents.[2]

Smith's descendants include:


  1. ^ His tombstone states that he was born in Higham Ferrers.
  2. ^ a b c d Smith, Ruth Tangier; Hoff, Henry Bainbridge (1978). The Tangier Smith family : descendants of Colonel William Smith of the Manor of St. George, Long Island, New York. New York: Order of Colonial Lords of Manors in America. pp. 3–4,10,24. OCLC 4630235. 
  3. ^ Illustrated History of the Moriches Bay Area by Van and Mary Field suffolk.lib.ny.us - retrieved November 12, 2007