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.

Life[edit]

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. One of Smith's children died during the passage to North America.

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.[2]

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's descendants include:

References[edit]