Tristram Coffin

M, #13906, b. before 11 March 1609, d. 2 October 1681
Father*Peter Coffin1 b. 1580, d. 1 Dec 1627
Mother*Joanna Kember1 b. 1578, d. 30 May 1661
ChartsBentley (maternal side) - Phoebe Meredith Frey
Note*  Birth: About 1605 or 1609, Brixham or Brixton Parish, Plymouth,Devonshire, England. Son of Peter COFFIN and Joanna. 1605/1609, Briston,Devonshire. Baptism: (1) 11 Mar 1609/10. Marriage to Dionis STEVENS: (1) Between 1628-1630, Before coming toAmerica. Before 1631. Death: 3 Oct 1681 - 2 Oct 1681, Nantucket, MA. Burial: (1) It was the custom on the island to wrap the body in a sailingcloth and bury the person on his property in a plain box. Served as Constable, Brixton, Devonshire, of Butlers. 4 Jan 1627/28 His uncle John COFFIN wrote his will, making TristramExecutor and leaving him most of his estate. 3 Apr 1628 Tristram's uncle Nicholas COFFIN and his aunt Ann WINSTONbrought suit against Tristram in the Exeter District Probate Court,claiming that 2 or 3 days before New Years, John COFFIN instructedTristram to make John's will and told him that Nicholas COFFIN, son ofJohn's brother Nicholas, should be executor, but that Tristram had puthis own name as executor, and John tore the paper when he saw it. Thepaper of the will read in court was not torn, and was witnessed by HenryTAMMAS and Maethal SIMNELL. Henry and Martha, the witnesses, testifiedthat they saw Tristram write the will and John sign it and seal it with akey. The court found for Tristram. 1642: Tristram and his brother John were mustered to fight with theRoyalists against the Roundheads (mostly Puritan) at Plymouth Fort. Hewas a royalist, and was one of the few, if not the only early settler tocome to New England as a consequence of the success of Oliver CROMWELL. 1642: Came to New England with his mother, sisters Eunice and Mary, wifeand 5 children on a ship belonging to friend Robert CLEMENT. 1642, spring: Came first to Salisbury, MA. 1642, summer: Removed to Haverhill. By tradition, was the first inPentucket (later called Haverhill) to use a plough of his own inventionon the cleared land. He lived close to the Parker River and its marshlandand settled near Mr. CLEMENTS. 1642, 15 Nov: Witness to an Indian deed. Deed was with the Passaquo andSaggehew Indians for a tract of land 14 miles long and 4 miles wide 'withye isleand and the river that ye isleand stands in.' 15 Nov 1642, heresided in Haverhill, MA. Passaquo and Saggehew, with the consent ofPassaconaway, who was leader of the Merrimacs, sold for 3 pounds 10s tothe inhabitants of Pentucket, now Haverhill, a tract of land 14 mileslong and 6 miles wide, with the island and the river that the islandstands in. 1645/6: A landholder at Haverhill, MA. 1647, 26 May: Licensed by the MA General Court to keep an ordinary atNewbury, 1644. Sold wine in Newbury. (10c) 1644: Moved his family toNewbury, where he became a prominent innkeeper and ferryman. 26 May 1647 Licensed to keep a ferry on the Newbury side of the MerrimacRiver. George CARR was in charge of the ferry on the Salisbury side. In1644. Licensed to keep a ferry on the Newbury side of the Merrimack Riverbetween Newbury and Carr's Island. George CARR ran the ferry from Carr'sIsland to Salisbury. This arrangement was confirmed in the town recordson 26 Dec 1647. 26 Dec 1647, Tristram COFFIN Sr. is allowed to keep an ordinary andretail wine, paying according to order, and also granted liberty to keepa ferry at Newbury side. c.1648: Removed to Newbury, MA. Lived in Newburyport. Probably moved toNewbury about the time his license was granted. Settled at Newburyopposite what has since been called Carr's Island. 28 Mar 1648, The town of Newbury was presented at court 'for want of aconvenient safe way from the new town to the ferry side.' 'WitnessTristram COFFIN of Newbury and John STEVENS of Salisbury.' 9 Apr 1650, George CARR offered to build a floating bridge to connect theisland where he resided with the Salisbury shore, and the Court atSalisbury granted him the ferry on both sides of the river so long as hebuilt and maintained the bridge, thus taking the business away fromTristram. 1 Mar 1651, On a list of freeholders who had purchased proprietor'srights, Newbury, MA. His were purchased from Mr. SNELLINGS. 1652: Taxed in Salisbury. 21 Mar 1652, The town of Newbury ordered 'that the ferry over Merrimackshould be kept in the old place thru the Gutt and that the way fordriving cattell should suddenly be layd out and that Mr. COFFIN shouldstill continue fferry man conditionally he keep sufficient men andboates...'. The order also fixed the rates he could charge. 1653, Sep: 'Tristram COFFIN and ux (Dionis) presented for selling beer at3d a quart.' 'Upon the testimony of Samuel MOORES that she put sixbushels of malt into the hogshead she was discharged.' 7 Sep 1653, Robert PIKE was disenfranchised by the General Court for 'hisintemperate zeal and seditious speech' when he disagreed with one oftheir decisions. Tristram signed a petition to the court which wascirculated in Newbury, requesting PIKE's sentence be revoked. 27 Dec 1653, Samuel POOR was licenced by Newbury to keep the ferry. 1654, Feb: Sold his businesses. 14 May 1654, The PIKE petition was presented to the General Court, andthey subsequently appointed a commission to question each signer aboutwhy he had signed it. c.1654/5: Removed to Salisbury, MA. Moved to the northern side of theMerrimac River at Salisbury. 1654: Resided in Salisbury, MA. Signed his name 'Commissioner of S.' 10 Feb1655-56, A grant to Lionel WORTH in Newbury mentions land he hadformerly purchased of Mr. COFFIN which was Mr. RAWSONs land, which Mr.WORTH was giving up to the town for a highway to Salisbury Ferry. 1659: Taxed in Salisbury, MA. After moving from one place to another, he and a band of planters in thevicinity of Salisbury, MA began to seek a location where they would befree of the stifling restrictions which they endured and where therecould be common pasturage and tillage. In the summer of 1659, Tristram COFFIN and others are said to havevisited Nantucket island, with Peter FOLGER of Martha's Vineyard as aninterpreter between them and the Indians. The party included EdwardSTARBUCK, Isaac COLEMAN (age 12), and Tristram's son James, age 18. 1659, Jul: Thomas MAYHEW of Martha's Vineyard deeded 19/20ths of theisland of Nantucket to Tristram COFFIN, Thomas MACY, Christopher HUSSEY,Richard SWAYNE, Thomas BARNARD, Peter COFFIN, Stephen GREENLEAF, JohnSWAYNE, and William PILE, MAYHEW reserving a share for himself. 1661, Thecompany of 9 men purchased 9/10 of Nantucket from Gov. Thomas MAYHEW.Subsequently the company was expanded to 20 shares. MAYHEW retained forhimself 1/10 of the island and that part called Quaise. Tristram COFFINcontrolled 1/4 of the shares through his own and his three sons and ason-in-law. When Thomas MAYHEW had acquired the islands his desire was tofound a manorial system of land tenure. Tristam COFFIN had similar ideas.Part of the attraction of Nantucket was that MAYHEW had been appointedGovernor by New York's Gov. LOVELACE, and it was not governed by theMassachusetts Bay Colony. 1659: Tristram COFFIN and some of his sons wereamong a company of Salisbury men who purchased 19/20ths of the island ofNantucket from Thomas MAYHEW. 2 Sep 1659, At a meeting of the Nantucket proprietors held at Salisbury,the 10 owners of Nantucket were authorized to admit 10 partners. TristramCOFFIN took Nathaniel STARBUCK. Peter COFFIN took James COFFIN. StephenGREENLEAF took Tristram COFFIN, Jr. Feb 1659. Feb 1660, They signed theNantucket Compact, establishing a proprietary, limiting access to theisland's resources to the original 10 purchasers, called 'firstpurchasers.' No one could make private purchases from the Indians. Itbecame evident that there was a need for more craftsmen to share in thedevelopment of Nantucket. Therefore, the meeting authorized the gift of a1/2 share to any craftsman who would move to the island and diligentlyapply his trade for at least 3 years. 1660: Tristram COFFIN Sr. with his wife, mother and some of his childremoved to Nantucket Island, MA. Tristram COFFIN Jr. remained in Newbury. 10 Oct 1669, Purchased, with sons Peter, Tristram and James, from ThomasMAYHEW for 5 pounds, the island of Tuckernuck. Was on committee with Thomas MACY, Thomas BARNARD and Edward STARBUCK tolay out lots on Nantucket. 1660, Apr: Went to Nantucket on son Peter's sloop. Lots were laid out forhimself, Thomas MACY and Edward STARBUCK, 20 acres each. Tristram's lotwas by Capaum Harbor near the SE corner of the island. 1660, May: Negotiated a deed with the Indians which gave the proprietorsIndian rights to the land they were to settle on the western half of theisland, half of the marshes and meadows on the rest of the island 'withinthe jurisdiction,' and the right to feed cattle on any part of the islandbetween harvest time and spring planting. The chiefs Nichanoose andManamamack to be paid 12 pounds given the summer before plus 14 pounds tobe paid within 3 months of May, 1660. Negotiated a deed with the Indian Pattachaunet for the southern half ofTuckernuck Island. Hired 2 Indians to help him construct a house. Called his home'Northam.' 1660: Removed to Nantucket with his wife, mother, and 4 children. Wasliving in Nantucket by 1659. Took 4 youngest children: James, Mary, John,and Stephen. Sons Peter and Tristram had adjoining property, but did not move toNantucket. They delegated their voting rights as proprietors to theirfather, as did son-in-law Stephen GREENLEAF. 15 Jul 1661, The proprietors met on Nantucket. 1663/4: 'Tristram COFFIN for William PILE.' 'In regard of my Fatherly affections (I) do give unto my daughter, MarySTARBUCK, the one half of my accomodation of my purchase, on NantucketIsland, namely, the half of my tenth part which I bought with the othernine first purchasers of Mr. Thomas MAYHEW, in Patten right, and of theShachems Indians right... and all my Right of the half of all lands,Meadows, marshes, commons, Tember, wood, and all appurtenances Thereuntobelonging.' Deed witnessed by Thomas MACY, Mary SWAIN, and Sarah MACY. 1664: Nantucket was made part of the newly created New York. In 1668,Gov. Francis LOVELACE asked all property owners to present their patentson claims of land. The order to present claims was dated 16 May 1670. By 1670 had conveyed half his rights in Nantucket to son John. 1671: Indian deed of Nantucket Island was to Tristram COFFIN, ThomasMACY, Richard SWAYNE, Thomas BARNARD, John SWAYNE, Thomas MAYHEW, EdwardSTARBUCK, Peter COFFIN, James COFFIN, Stephen GREENLEAFE, Tristram COFFINJr., Thomas COLEMAN, Robert BERNARD, Christopher HUSSEY, Robert PYKE,John SMYTH, and John BISHOP. 1671, Jun: Went with Thomas MACY to New York, Tristram to representCOFFIN land interests. They petitioned for the island's right to governitself, to show that its treatment of the Indians met the requirements ofthe crown, and to ask for authority to form a militia. Their requestswere granted, and they were allowed to set up courts on Martha's Vineyardand Nantucket, together to form the General Court for the islands. Theywere asked to recommend 2 persons for Chief Magistrate for the governor'sapproval 3 months before 13 Oct. Gov. LOVELACE of NY granted Nantucket anew patent in 1671 which made it a distinct enfranchised township. 22 Jun 1671, Appointed first Chief Magistrate of Nantucket. Was notrenominated at the end of his term. The office was for one year beginningin October. 1671: Gov. LOVELACE commissioned Tristram COFFIN to be ChiefMagistrate of Nantucket and Tuckernuck Island. The first sitting of theNantucket General Court was in Jun 1672. 1672: After the failure of Peter FOLGER and then William BUNKER toprovide and operate a mill, the right was given to Tristram. He followedthrough. 1673, Apr: A feud started with John GARDNER when GARDNER protested beforea town meeting that each inhabitant should have one vote, rather than thehalf-share men to have one and the original proprietors to have two,whether they lived on Nantucket or not, as originally agreed to in theNantucket Compact. After John GARDNER represented Nantucket at New York, the Governor of NYdecreed that only those who lived on the island could vote, then gaveGARDNER the right to buy land from the Indians to set up a fishingindustry for profit, also prohibited by the compact, and made GARDNERCaptain of the Militia. The governor also agreed to name the mainsettlement on Nantucket Sherbourne, the name of the ancestral village ofthe GARDNERs in England. Then the governor declared all deeds, grantsetc. of Nantucket before 1673 invalid. 1673: Called a meeting of the original proprietors. Richard PIKE broughtrecords from Salisbury. They appointed Thomas MAYHEW to go to New York toconvince the court to nulify the Governor's decisions. But before hecould reach New York, the Dutch retook it, and MAYHEW turned back. TheDutch regained control of NY in Jul 1673. They held it until Oct 1674.Since Nantucket had no appeal procedure during this period, TristramCOFFIN and associates governed the island in accordance with their ownconcepts. 1674, Jun: Called another meeting, attended by James COFFIN, StephenGREENLEAF, John BISHOP, Stephen HUSSEY, Joseph AUSTIN, Nathaniel BARNARD,John SWAIN, Richard SWAIN, Thomas MAYHEW, and COFFIN relatives. Theyagreed to financially support a voyage to New York to petition forredress from the Dutch Governor. 1674, Nov: The English retook New York and a letter was written to thenew Gov. Edmund ANDROS. Tristram and Matthew MAYHEW delivered it to NY.The new governor restored their rights. 1675, spring: Tristram COFFIN, John SWAIN, Richard SWAIN, NathanielBARNARD, John COFFIN, Stephen COFFIN, and Nathaniel WIER voted againstsending John GARDNER to New York to represent Nantucket. They lost. 1675, Apr: With Thomas MAYHEW, delivered another letter to NY at the sametime that John GARDNER and Peter FOLGER delivered a letter presenting theopposing view. The governor confirmed the rights of the originalproprietors to their land titles. The COFFIN faction controlled the court, and the GARDNER factioncontrolled the town meeting. On the COFFIN side were Tristram, Peter,Tristram Jr., James and John COFFIN, Nathaniel STARBUCK, StephenGREENLEAF, Richard and John SWAIN, Robert PIKE, Christopher HUSSEY, JohnBISHOP, Nathaniel BARNARD and Thomas MACY. Was appointed Chief Magistrate by the Governor at the expiration ofThomas MACY's term. As chief magistrate, had John GARDNER's cattle seized for nonpayment of afine he had levied against him earlier. The Governor ruled this actillegal, but the court refused to revoke its judgement. 1678: A French ship carrying animal hides ran aground at Nantucket. Thecrew and islanders rescued some of the cargo, but called off efforts asthe as the hold filled with water. The ship's papers and salavager'sreports were given to Tristram as Chief Magistrate. The rule was that allsalvaged goods should be held one year, and after that time, if no claimwas made, the goods would be equally distributed among the Englishinhabitants. When the salvage officially stopped, Indians and islanderstook things from the wreckage without authorization. James COFFIN andJohn COLEMAN asked Tristram's permission to salvage the rest as privatecitizens, and he gave them permission on condition they be liable foranything they took if protest were made. He neglected to report theshipwreck. Governor ANDROS found out and sent John WEST as his agent toinvestigate. Tristram was ordered to secure all the salvage. He hadWilliam WORTH write up an official account for the town records. 1 Dec 1678, Wrote his will, giving son John his house lot, including allbuildings, upon his death or the death of his wife if she survived him.Left 10 acres on Tuckernuck Island to each of his grandchildren. Governor ANDROS ordered him to New York for proceedings concerning thewreck. He postponed sailing when informed that Massachusetts was claimingjurisdiction over Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. He wrote the governorsaying he had not gone to New York in March because of stormy seas andill health. 1679, Jun: His son James offered a compromise to settle grievances, butTristram would not support it, nor any of the other agreements reached bythe other members of his faction with the GARDNER faction. 26 Jun 1680, Governor issued an order for the Court of Admiralty to hearthe case concerning the wrecked ship. 1680: Tristram wrote the Governor that he had been informed by ThomasMAYHEW that Massachusetts was about to take over the islands, and that hechose 'not to goe Abroad from home but forbare a few months.' He sent theGovernor 3 broken guns from the ship, and said the 40 hides salvaged wererotten. He said he had difficulty preventing the pilfering. The letterarrived in NY August 6th. 28 Aug 1680, The Admiralty Court convened at Nantucket. John GARDNER, asnew Chief Magistrate, was on the court, with John WEST. The court foundthat 'COFFIN's Actings Proceedings in disposing of the said goods, arecontrary to law,' and fined him for the amount of salvage not returned,343 pounds, 10 shillings. Appealed to the Governor of NY, apologizing for any mistakes and claimingunfamiliarity with maritime law. He stated he had made no profit, andthat he would be imprisoned if his son James could not borrow the moneyto pay. 1680: The Admiralty Court reduced his indebtedness to 150 pounds and thecase against him was discharged. He had paid half, and the other half wassecured by a bond from James COFFIN. 29 Nov 1681, Administration of his estate granted to sons James, John andStephen. 1722: His living posterity numbered 908. 1728: His living posterity numbered 1218. His descendants are very numerous, among them Admiral Sir Isaac COFFINand Dr. Alex G. COFFIN, whose wife Narcissa was a Quaker minister andgranddaughter of Joseph HOAG. (NOTE: Also an ancestor of President FORD,Herman MELVILLE.) Tristram Coffin (later of Nantucket) was born in Brixton, near Plymouth,Devonshire, in 1605. Although he did not necessarily descend fromPortledge, he held estates at Brixton, about 40 miles away. In 1639/40 hewas a church warden in Brixton, and in 1641 he was a constable. Tristramwas of the landed gentry; he owned property in Dorset and Devon. Hemarried Dionis Stevens, the daughter of Robert Stevens, Esq., of Brixton,in 1630, at age 25. The name Dionis is a diminutive of Dionysia. Leaving England During this era Puritanism was growing quickly in England, but TristramCoffin was not a Puritan. In 1638 the Scots took up arms against KingCharles I, and at the same time (around 1642), a conflict developedbetween Charles and the Parliament. Charles was supported by thenobility, landed gentry, and Catholics, while Parliament was supported bythe merchant and middle classes. It is unclear why Tristram Coffyn left his estates at the age of 37 tomove to Massachusetts. Part of the reason may be that he was landedgentry and a Royalist, and Plymouth had fallen under the control ofParliament. Around 1642 'each county, town, and hamlet, was divided intofactions seeking the ruin of each other. The two great armies plunderedwherever they came, and their example was faithfully copied by smallerbodies of armed men.' Tristram's brother died in this war, and he mayhave been trying to escape the strife. When he emigrated to the Americaswith his family, his estates were given to Charles II's illegitimate sonduring the Restoration. It is said that he emigrated on a ship owned byRobert Clement. Tristram and his family (Dionis, his 58-year-old mother, his fivechildren, and two unmarried sisters) settled in Haverhill (formerlyPawtucket) in 1642. It is said that Tristram constructed his own ploughand was the first to plough land in this area. This settlement began in1640 and a deed from the Passaconnaway Indians was obtained in 1642.Tristram was a witness to the deed, the signing of which was attended bythe sachems Passaquo and Saggahew. The land was purchased for threepounds and ten shillings: Know all men by these presents, that wee Passaquo and Saggahew wth theconsent of Passaconaway; have sold unto ye inhabitants of Pentuckett allye lands wee have in Pentuckett... And wee ye said Passaquo and Saggahewwth ye consent of Passaconnaway, have sold unto ye said inhabitants allye right that wee or any of us have in ye said ground and Ileand andRivver: And wee warrant it against all or any other Indeans whatsoeverinto ye said Inhabitants of Penuckett, and to their heires and assignesforever Dated ye fifteenth day of november Ann Dom 1642. Witnes our hands and seales to this bargayne of sale ye day and yearabove written (in ye presents of us) we ye said Passaquo & Saggahew havereceived in hand, for & in consideration of ye same three pounds & tenshillings: John Ward, Robert Clements, Tristram Coffyn, Hugh Sherratt,William White, Thomas Davis. [Norfolk Co. Deeds- book 2, p.209] Dionis the Brewmistress In 1644 Tristram obtained a license to 'keep an ordinary, sell wine, andkeep a ferry' in Newbury, where the family had moved. In 1647 he gotanother license to do the same. The pub, 'Coffin's Ordinary,' was run byhis wife Dionis; at the time brewing beer was a common occupation forwomen. In 1653 Dionis was charged with violating a law, passed in 1645,which said that beer could not be sold for more than two pence a quart.Her case was presented and dismissed when she showed that she was puttingmore malt in her beer than was usual, and that the beer should be soldfor a proportionately larger fee. Her pub became known as 'the placewhere the best beer was sold.' This recipe for 'William Harrison's Wife's Ale' (1577) may be similar tothe brews created by Dionis. For more information about Tristram andDionis's early life in Massachusetts, see Moving to Nantucket The Coffin family moved to Salisbury in 1654, and Tristram 'organized acompany for the purchase and settlement of Nantucket.' In 1659 Tristramwent to Martha's Vineyard with Peter Folger (Ben Franklin's grandfather)along as an Indian interpreter. Together they went to Nantucket, 'hisobject being to ascertain the temper and disposition of the Indians' andcheck out the island itself. Allen Coffin writes that 'Tristram'sintercourse with the Indians was frank and kind, and they extended to hima warm welcome.' He got along well with them from then on, 'a fact whichwas largely owing to the infusion of his liberal, high-minded andchristian character into the practical concerns of life among theIndians.' There were about 3000 Indians on Nantucket when he arrived, andthey are described as being 'kind and hospitable.' After leaving Nantucket, the island was purchased from Thomas Mayhew forthe sum of 30 pounds and two beaver hats. There were 19 purchasers,including representatives from the Coffin, Macy and Starbuck families.Their 1659 agreement stated that 'No man whatsoever shall purchase anyland of any of the Indians upon the said iland for his own private orparticular use; but whatsoever purchas shall be made, shall be for thegeneral account of the Twenty owners or purchasers...' In 1659 Tristram and Thomas Macy also purchased an island from the Sachemof Nantucket: 'This witnesseth that I, Wanochmamack, chife sachem of Nantucket, hathsold unto Mr. Tristram Coffin and Thomas Macy, their heirs and assigns,that whole nack of land called by the Indians, Pacummohquah, being at theeast end of Nantucket, for and in consideration of five pounds to be paidto me in English goods or otherwise to my content by the said TristramCoffin aforesaid at convenient time as shall be demanded. Witness my handor mark this 22 of June, 1662.' [Albany Deeds- Vol.III, p.57] Settlement on Nantucket The first white settlers on Nantucket were Thomas Macy and his family;Edward Starbuck; Isaac Coleman; and James Coffin, Tristram's son.Tristram's other children were Peter, Tristram Jr., John, Mary (whomarried Nathaniel Starbuck) and Elizabeth, who married Stephen Greenleafon November 13 1651. Tristram built a home near Capaum Pond, and livedthere until his death. In 1600 there were approximately 2500 natives on Nantucket, all belongingto the Pokanoket nation. At the time of white settlement, in 1660, theylived in four villages, the two largest headed by Wanachmamak andNickanoose, and the others headed by Attapehat and Spotso. They belongedto the Algonquian language group and subsisted on maize, beans, squash,hunting, fishing, and gathering. Politically, they were allied with theWampanoag or Pokanoket of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, under theleadership of Massasoit. Most sources describe the goodwill between the native Nantucket Indiansand the settlers. In fact, it was the Indians who introduced the settlersto the whale fishery that sustained them for several generations. When asmall right whale came into the harbor in 1672 they showed the settlershow to catch it with a harpoon. In Nantucket: The Far-Away Island (Dodd,Mead & Co. 1937), William Stevens writes, Unfortunately, not much is known about these Indians. Nobody knowswhether they were few or many. It is a credit to both races, however,that they got along together as good neighbors. When King Philip visitedthe island to incite the Indians to join his revolt against the whites,they refused. And the whites managed to save an Indian that Philip wasdetermined to slay, one 'John Gibbs,' who later was sent to Harvard to beeducated. The Nantucket Indians were quick to convert to Christianity. Many wereemployed by white settlers, including Tristram. Gradually, they succumbedto disease and alcohol: The Indians became troublesome only after they had learned to drink rum.The early court records are mainly devoted to trials, convictions andsentences of Indians to be whipped for getting drunk and for pettylarcenies, and of fines imposed upon white men and women for selling rumto Indians. ... . The letter of Thomas Macy to Governor Lovelace, 9 May1676 shows the fear of the Indians if strong drink was allowed to be soldto them and he asked the Governor to prohibit any ship coming into theharbor from selling strong drink to Indians: 'Sir, concerning the Peacewe hitherto enjoy, I cannot imagine it could have bin if strong Liquorhad bin among the Indians, as formerly: for my owne yt I have been to yeutmost an opposed of the Trade these 38 yeares, and I verily believe(respecting the Indians) tis the only Ground of the miserable psent Ruineto both Nations; for tis that hath kept them from Civility, they havebeen the drunken Trade kept all the while like wild Beares and Wolves inthe Wildernesse.' [The Coffin Family p.49; from] Epidemics in 1616-19 devastated the native population of Nantucket. Thelast Nantucket Indian, Abram Quary, died in 1854. In the late 1600s the community was divided by a feud between TristramCoffin and John Gardner, concerning the governance of the island. Thefeud eventually ended and Gardner's daughter Mary married Tristram'sgrandson, Jethro Coffin. Their house, the oldest house on Nantucket, isnow a tourist attraction. Tristram's mother Joan died in Boston in May 1661 at age 77. Tristramhimself died on October 2 1681, aged 76. FROM; The Coffins of Portledge, Devonshire, in the parish of Alwington nearBideford, have resided at Portledge Manor at least since 1254; and evenearlier according to a boundary deed seen by the Rev John Prince whowrote histreatise on Worthies of Devon about 1690. It was written inSaxon, says Prince, about the time of the conquest by the Abbot ofTavistock, granting certain lands to Sir Richard Coffin. The antiquity of the Coffin family is indicated by the appearance of thename in the Domesday Book compiled for taxpurposes by order of Williamthe Conqueror in 1086 Tristrim Coffin, sonof Peter Coffin and Joan Thumbers, was of the Landed Gentry of England, being heir to his father's estates and descendant ofSir Richard Coffin, what motivated Tristrim in 1642 to dispose of so pleasantan estate, we can only draw on conjecture. Tristrim had been employed asColonel in Command of the garrison at Plymouth, his brother John wasslain there. The Stuarts made sorry Kings and the resistance they provoked to their arbitrary rules seems justified. England had been seething on the vergeof twenty years of contentionand Tristrim, not over fond of either party,may have been glad to escape persecution in America. The early settlers of Salisbury, which town was established October 7,1640 commenced a settlement at Nantucket the same year and the Indiandeed for the land was witnessed by Tristrim Coffin. In 1642 he moved tothe place, which was established as the town of Haverhill. Tradition has it that he was the first man to plough land in the twon of+ Haverhill, he having constructed his own plough. In 1643 he changed his residence to the rocks and in 1648 moved toNewbury where he kept the ordinary and sold wine and liquors and kept theNewbury side of Carr's Ferry. In 1653, his wife was prosecuted forselling beer for three pence while the regular was but 2 pence a quart,but she proved that she had put 6 bushels of malt into the hogs head whenthe law only required the use of 4 bushels of malt and was discharged. He returned to Salisbury and was commissioner of the town and whileliving there planned the purchase of the estate of Nantucket where hewith his associates moved to on account of religious persecution. TheCoffin family members that settled in Nantucket included Mary, John, andStephen Tristrim was appointed second chief Magistrate, succeeding hisfriend Thomas Macy. Tristim died at home on Nantucket, leaving a widow,seven children, six grandchildren, and a number of great grandchildren.1 
Birth*before 11 March 1609 Tristram Coffin was born before 11 March 1609 at Brixton, Devonshire, England.1 
Christening11 March 1609 He was christened on 11 March 1609 at Brixton, Devonshire, England.1 
Marriage*1630 He married Dioinis Stevens, daughter of Robert Stevens and Dionis (?), in 1630.1 
Death*2 October 1681 Tristram Coffin died on 2 October 1681 at Nantucket, Massachusetts.1 


Dioinis Stevens b. b Mar 1609, d. 6 Nov 1684
Last Edited14 Jan 2004


  1. [S170] Gedcom file by Debora J Krauss Franklin (see her record for more).