|Thomas Willett biographical notes (11)|
On the 8th of September, 1664, Governor Stuyvesant surrendered in the face of overwhelming force. Against the fleet of Col. Nichols, he could have only brought to bear 100 men, 25 guns, and barely enough ammunition to fight for one day. All Dutch rights were to be respected. The Dutch council then in session would rule until the usual change in council members was made the next spring. But the Dutch form of government was not customary in the King's dominions, so
Governor Nicolls [sic] decided to give the city a new charter and government when June, 1665, came around. Who would be the first English Mayor?
Captain Thomas Willett was chosen by Colonel Nichols to be the first English Mayor of the renamed New York City. It was a natural choice made by a Colonel who had avoiced bloodshed through negotiation. And Captain Thomas Willett was one of the chief negotiators. Not only was he respected by the English, but also by the Dutch. He spoke fluent Dutch and had a home in the city, along with business interests. On June 12, 1665, Willett assumed his seat at the head of the council. Of five aldermen on the council, three were Dutchmen who had previously served. New York was then a small town of a few narrow streets, south of Wall Street, lined with small thatched cottages and some big handsome Dutch buildings.
Even though he was governing New York, Thomas still found time to increase his land holdings in Rhode Island. On March 5, 1665, he purchased 400 to 500 acres on the north side of Rehoboth, Rhode Island. Thomas was an alderman the following year, 1666, and again mayor in 1667. This was following the Dutch tradition of continuous service. Also, in these first few years of transition, the court records and the proceeding were conducted and kept in Dutch.
On March 5, 1668, and Swansea, the Court ordered that the township granted unto Captain Willett and others at Wawnamoisett and places adjacent shall be henceforth known by the name of Swansea. There is a house in Kingston on the Bridgewater road about one mile from the Railroad Station which is purportedly the original home of Captain Willett (The House of Our Fore Fathers, 1879). It is a large salt-box house with two windows on each side of a central hall and 5 windows across the 2d storey. The fireplaces were built in a central system in the center of the house. It is not to be assumed that this was Captain Wilett's [sic] authentic residence, at least, until further research has proven this unsubstantiated claim.
By authority of the Court of New Plymouth, in 1666, he obtained the Rehoboth North Purchase, which became Attleboro; he bought the land from Massasiot’s [sic] eldest son,
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Updated Mar 2014
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