Henry Townsend (Norwich)

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Henry Townsend
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

Rose Townsend
Henry Townsend

John Townsend

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


Disagreement exists surrounding the facts of Henry Townsend's place of birth and his parentage. The work Directory of Ancestral Heads of New England Families from 1923 suggests that Henry Townsend was the son of Thomas Townsend (1594-1677) and Mary Newgate (1595-1692).[1]

While some disagreement exists surrounding origins, general agreement exists around other aspects of Henry Townsend's biography. Henry settled in Flushing, where his brother John Townsend (1608-1668) was one of the original settlers of that place, to whom the patent was granted by Gov. Keift in 1645.[2] On account of 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."[3]

The source of Henry's trouble was his practice of allowing meetings of Quakers in his house. The Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant had outlawed this activity, 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.[4] 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, and died at Oyster Bay, in 1695.[5]

Henry Townsend in Oyster Bay[edit]

Henry Townsend married Ann Coles in 1649 and had seven children.

First Generation[edit]

John Townsend (1653-1705)

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) was the son of Henry Townsend and Anne Townsend. He 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.

Susanna Townsend, married Aaron Forman, Jr. and had sons Aaron and Jacob.

Mary Townsend, married John Wright, son of Nicholas Wright, and had Rose, Eliphal, and Mary.

Elizabeth Townsend, died unmarried, September 13, 1680.

Robert Townsend, born June 3, 1667, bought land on Long Island from the Indians, died in 1687.

Second Generation[edit]

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. ^ American Ancestry, by Thomas Patrick Hughes, Frank Munsell (1887)
  3. ^ Cocks, George William (1914). History and Genealogy of the Cock - Cocks - Cox Family. New York: Privately Printed. p. 367. OCLC 14443162. 
  4. ^ The Flushing Remonstrance is considered a precursor to the United States Constitution's provision on freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights.
  5. ^ Hughes, Thomas Patrick (1887). American Ancestry. New York: J. Munsell's Sons. pp. 83–84. OCLC 27520905.