Henry Townsend (Norwich)

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Henry Townsend
Born 1626
Died Circa 1695
Oyster Bay, Long Island, Province of New York
Nationality American
Known for Early settler of American colonies, signatory to the Flushing Remonstrance
Home town Oyster Bay, Long Island
Spouse(s) Ann Coles
Children 7, including Rose, Henry
Parent(s) Thomas Townsend
Mary Newgate
Relatives John Townsend (brother)

Henry Townsend (1626–1695) was an early settler of the American Colonies.

Early life[edit]

Henry Townsend was the son of Thomas Townsend (1594-1677) and Mary Newgate (1595-1692).[1][2] His older brother was John Townsend (1608-1668), one of the original settlers of Flushing.


Townsend settled in Flushing, where his brother John Townsend was granted a patent by Gov. Willem Kieft in 1645.[3] Due to political difficulties with the Dutch governor, Peter Stuyvesant, the Townsend brothers moved to Warwick, Rhode Island.

In 1656, Townsend and his brothers, Henry and Richard, again attempted to settle in Long Island, this time obtaining the patent of Rustdorp (now Jamaica). The following year in 1657, he was arrested, imprisoned and fined. Records from 15 September 1657 show Henry Townsend was asked to pay £8 Flanders or depart the Dutch province within six weeks, "upon the penalty of corporeal punishment."[4] His penalty was handed out due to his practice of allowing meetings of Quakers in his house, which Stuyvesant had outlawed by banning the practice of all religious activity outside of the Dutch Reformed Church.

Later a petition, known as the Flushing Remonstrance was signed by Henry and many others on 27 December 1657.[5] Stuyvesant rejected the petition. Henry Townsend was arrested, imprisoned and fined £8 Flanders for harboring Quakers in his house.

In the following year, 1658, Townsend moved with his brothers to Oyster Bay, which was out of the jurisdiction of the Dutch. Here he spent the remainder of his life.[6]

Personal life[edit]

In 1649, Henry Townsend married Ann Coles, with whom he had seven children:

  • Rose Townsend (1648-1720), who fed her father through the bars of the window while imprisoned by the Dutch government; married Captain Joseph Dickenson.
  • Henry Townsend (1649-1703), who married Deborah Underhill in 1677. Deborah Underhill (1659-1698) was daughter of Captain John Underhill (1597-1672), another important figure in Colonial America who trained the militia of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and served as magistrate of Flushing for a brief period of time, before settling on 150 acres (0.61 km2) of land outside of Oyster Bay. Captain Underhill was converted to Quakerism by his second wife, thus making the union of Henry Townsend and Deborah Underhill the combining of two of the most influential Quaker families in Oyster Bay.
  • John Townsend (1653-1705)
  • Susanna Townsend, who married Aaron Forman, Jr. and had sons Aaron and Jacob.
  • Mary Townsend, who married John Wright, son of Nicholas Wright, and had Rose, Eliphal, and Mary.
  • Elizabeth Townsend (d. 1680), who died unmarried.
  • Robert Townsend (1667-1687), who bought land on Long Island from the Indians

Townsend died at Oyster Bay in 1695.[6]


Henry Townsend (1670-1709) was the son of Henry Townsend and Deborah Underhill. He bought the mill his grandfather had built from his uncle John Townsend, and when his Uncle John died, he was elected town surveyor, being the third generation in direct descent engaged in surveying and to operate the mill. He married Eliphal Wright, daughter of his aunt Mary Townsend and John Wright.


  1. ^ Directory Ancestral Heads of New England Families, Frank R. Holmes, (Originally published: New York, 1923, Reprinted: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, Md. 1999, ISBN 0-8063-0182-1), Page 241
  2. ^ Disagreement exists surrounding the facts of Henry Townsend's place of birth and his parentage. Directory of Ancestral Heads of New England Families from 1923 claims that he was son of Thomas Townsend (1594-1677) and Mary Newgate (1595-1692).
  3. ^ American Ancestry, by Thomas Patrick Hughes, Frank Munsell (1887)
  4. ^ Cocks, George William (1914). History and Genealogy of the Cock - Cocks - Cox Family. New York: Privately Printed. p. 367. OCLC 14443162. 
  5. ^ The Flushing Remonstrance is considered a precursor to the United States Constitution's provision on freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights.
  6. ^ a b Hughes, Thomas Patrick (1887). American Ancestry. New York: J. Munsell's Sons. pp. 83–84. OCLC 27520905.