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At the 2006 General Convention, the Episcopal Church called on all dioceses around the country to explore whether they have a history of complicity in the institution of slavery and in deriving economic benefits from it.  Like many other dioceses, the Diocese of Long Island did not respond to this call for some time, although a few individual churches did.  In 2022, our Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Lawrence Provenzano appointed The Rev. Dr. Craig Townsend, who had already spearheaded the research at his parish in Brooklyn, as Historian-in-Residence for Racial Justice for the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island to oversee the Uncovering Parish Histories project.  Rev. Townsend extended an invitation to, and encouraged the parishes in our Diocese that existed before the Civil War to do this research.  St. John’s Church in Huntington was one of them.  With the concurrence of the Rev. Duncan Burns, Rector, the St. John’s Racial Reconciliation and Social Justice Ministry formed a committee in 2023 to undertake the task.  This report is the result of that committee’s work.



To place St. John’s Episcopal Church, Huntington in its proper historical context, we need to start before it was established, initially as a mission church. 

Huntington The Early Years, Fertile Ground to Plant a Church of England Mission Church

Beginning In the mid 1600’s, a little over one hundred years before the European settlers had arrived in Huntington, it was home to the Matinecock Indians.  Europeans, mostly English, who came by way of Massachusetts and Connecticut, replaced these earlier residents.  Three English settlers from Oyster Bay -- Richard Holbrook, Robert Williams and Daniel Whitehead -- secured a deed on April 2, 1653 from Raseokan, Sachem (leader) of the  Matinecocks for six square miles of land stretching from Cold Spring Harbor to Northport Harbor and from the Long Island Sound to what is now Old Country Road.  At that time the Town extended from the Long Island Sound on the north to the Great South Bay on the south with ten miles of coast on the Sound (from Cold Spring Harbor to Northport Harbor) and six miles on the Bay.¹  

Even the origin of the name Huntington is shrouded in obscurity, having been changed from the original Indian name of Ketewomoke.  One theory is that it was named after Huntingdon, the birthplace, of Oliver Cromwell who was Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland at the time the Town was established.  Another is that the name was derived from the abundance of game here, which made it a desirable hunting ground.²

These early European settlers were principally Presbyterians, or Independents in their religious beliefs, who came either from England or from New England and organized a church of the Independent Order shortly after they settled here, around 1658.³  They built the first meeting house a few years later in 1665 for Town Meetings, the earliest form of government in Huntington, following the custom of New England.  The Church was led by one Mr. William Leveredgeᶣ who was educated at Cambridge University and ordained in the Church of England but adopted the principles of the lndependents that emphasized the theology of John Calvin in rejecting any state role in religious practice, including the Church of England.  It should be noted that this was the time when the Calvinists in England had become known as Puritans, and migrated to Plymouth, Massachusetts via Holland beginning in 1620, the first arriving on the Mayflower.  No longer tethered to the state, these Puritans who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Separatists of Plymouth Colony later migrated from New England into New York and elsewhere and were the first of many groups known as Congregationalists.  

Until 1740 all the people of the Town of Huntington worshipped together at the First Church (today’s Old First Church located at the other end of the Village from St. John’s).  The 1740 revolt from Calvinism led some worshippers to seek refuge in the Church of England, doubtless playing a role in the establishment of what we now know as St. John’s in Huntington.  It started sometime around 1745 or later as an outpost of St. George’s of Hempstead, the mission church in the area established by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (“SPG”).  Prior to that time, the earliest visit of a clergy member from the Church of England to the church in Huntington was by Robert Jenney of Hempstead on August 25, 1727, when he solemnized the marriage of Benjamin Treadwell of Hempstead to Phoebe Platt of Huntington.  Mr. Samuel Seabury of Hempstead, the first of the Seaburys who served at St. John’s, visited Huntington as early as 1744 or 1745, where he held services and found a number of worshippers inclined to the Church of England.

An article by current Huntington Town Historian, Robert C. Hughes, Esq., on the Town website describes life in the early years of the Town.  Huntington was becoming an established community consisting mostly of farms but also included a school, initially the single church referenced above, flour mills, brickyards, tanneries and a fort.  With a town dock, shipping was also an important part of its economy with trading vessels travelling both to and from other ports on the Long Island Sound and also as far as the West Indies.  The article reports further that several farmers in the Town relied on slave labor for help in the fields until the beginning of the nineteenth century, adding that it was also a mark of social status to have enslaved persons as domestic servants but rarely did a person own more than a few.  The basis for this general conclusion is the 1755 New York Slave Census that showed 84 enslaved persons belonging to 54 families in Huntington.  Hughes notes, however, that by the time of the first federal census in 1790, there were 213 enslaved persons in the Town of Huntington, two and half times more than 35 years earlier, but that number fell to 185 ten years later, and kept falling through successive federal censuses, to 53 in 1810 and by 1830, there were no enslaved persons in Huntington.  At the same time, “Other Persons” rose to 208 in 1810 and in the 1820 federal census that included a new category “Free Colored Persons,” showed that number at 179 with “Other Persons” at 57.  The decrease in the number of enslaved persons reflected the gradual abolition of slavery in the State of New York by the passage of several laws, initially the manumission of enslaved persons.  The first manumission law in 1785 freed enslaved persons under the age of 50 without bond provided that it was determined that the person to be freed was of sufficient ability to provide for himself.  Shortly after the end of the American Revolution, a second law manumitted older enslaved persons provided the owner posted a £200 bond “to keep and save such slave from becoming or being a charge to the town”.  Three years later in 1799, a law was enacted for the gradual abolition of slavery.  Emancipation was gradual based on the provision in the law that any child born to an enslaved person after July 4, 1799 would be deemed to be born free but was required, nevertheless, to continue to be the servant of the legal proprietor of his or her mother until the age of twenty-eight, if male, or twenty-five, if female.  There is no reason to believe that the general trend toward a drop in slave ownership throughout the Town was not reflected in a similar decrease in enslavers among parishioners of St. John’s.

The authors of the 2020 collaborative piece between the Stony Brook University School of Journalism and WSHU⁸ found evidence that the practice seen in Huntington of some households having one or two enslaved persons as domestics was repeated throughout Long Island.  As slavery spread throughout the Island among all types of people, even ministers and Quakers used them as personal servants or as laborers on their farms.  Their study also found that the Island had the largest enslaved population of any rural or urban area in the north for most of the colonial era but it may not have been evident because they were widely scattered about the thinly populated countryside.  As they documented further, only a wealthy 18th Century landowner like William Floyd in Mastic might have a dozen or so enslaved persons.  In Huntington, we see a similar larger slaveholding by Henry Lloyd on his working plantation on Lloyd’s Neck.  They also noted that the daily family life of a Long Island enslaved person was markedly different from his or her counterpart in the South where large groups of blacks lived in separate slave quarters and could at least share their religion, culture and social life, often with their own family members.  On a significantly smaller scale, Lloyd Manor similarly provided the enslaved people resident there the opportunity to socialize and it also included a school where we know that at least one of its enslaved residents, Jupiter Hammon, was taught to read and write.

Henry Lloyd, An Early Benefactor and One of the Top Enslavers in the Area

Henry Lloyd, the principal patron in the founding of St. John’s circa 1745, was also one of the largest enslavers in our area.  The Oyster Bay Historical Society website notes that he “brought with him his bride, Rebecca, six slaves¹⁰ and valuable business experience to turn this new venture into quite a varied and profitable enterprise.”  His father had acquired the Neck by royal patent in 1658 but he remained in Boston and rented the property out to tenant farmers until Henry decided to take over and farm the property in 1711.  The 24-year-old, Henry left the flourishing trading business in Boston and Newport, Rhode Island, owned by his father, James Lloyd, and took up residence on the 3,000-acre parcel of land located on Lloyd Neck (then called Horse’s Neck) to cultivate it and use its abundant resources for a wide range of farming activities. 

Interestingly, Henry Lloyd did not continue in the business begun by his distant forebears, a prominent Welsh Quaker family who migrated in the seventeenth century to Birmingham, England, from Montgomeryshire, Wales and were involved in manufacturing and established the famous Lloyd’s of London bank.¹¹  Nor did he engage here on Long Island in the trading business he learned from his more immediate family.  Instead, he made his fortune “from fishing and duck hunting in Lloyd Harbor, part of the Manor, to hunting, horse grazing and trapping on the land.  The timber from the magnificent oak and chestnut trees on his property also provided superb masts for the ships of the British navy or colonial trading ships.  With Henry’s ownership of properties both here and in the Caribbean he shipped products both to and from this area.  For example, Henry’s ability to import apple trees enabled him to turn his prolific crops into apple cider and earn him a considerable amount from his extensive apple cider trading business in the other colonies and in the West Indies.  The Manor property also contained fecund salt and fresh water ponds and enough grazing land to support the variety of animals needed to supply meats, hides, wool, candles, powder horns, bristles for brushes, plaster and other products.  These natural resources of Lloyd Neck coupled with the ability to import and export goods enabled the Manor to flourish under Henry’s guidance.“ ¹² The variety and extensive nature of these business ventures required many workers and the Manor had enslaved people to do the work, in fact, increasing the number of enslaved persons kept by his family during this period.  As noted above, Henry initially brought 6 enslaved African Americans with him to Lloyd Manor, which he increased to 8 during his lifetime, but by the time of the first Federal Census in 1790, 27 years after Henry’s death, the number of enslaved persons on the Manor had grown to 15 under the management of two John Lloyds, the son and grandson respectively of Henry.  It should be noted that this increase in the Lloyd family’s slave holdings at Lloyd Manor is not inconsistent with the experience in the Town of Huntington of a decrease in both slave ownership and the number of enslaved persons at this time reported by Historian Hughes since Lloyd Harbor was then still part of the Town of Oyster Bay.

By September 30, 1747¹³, Henry Lloyd had become a magnanimous donor in support of the establishment of a church in Huntington.  He was the lead financial backer of the request to the SPG by Rev. Samuel Seabury, Missionary in residence at Hempstead who had been traveling to Huntington for services and sacraments, to appoint Samuel Seabury, Jr., his son, to serve for 3 years as the Society’s Catechist in Huntington.  This would ensure that the church in Huntington would have assigned clergy instead of having to rely on periodic visits from clergy elsewhere.  In his letter that accompanied Rev. Samuel Seabury’s, Lloyd listed the amount pledged by each of the group of churchmen from Huntington to pay for these services:

“The following amounts were subscribed and duly paid by the persons named —

Timothy Tredwell, £20 ; Dennis Wright, £3,9 ; Hannah Tredwell, £4 ; Isaiah Rogers, £20 ; Epenetu Platt, £5 ; William Nicoll, Jr., £5 ; Richard Floyd, £3 ; Samuel De Honcur, £1 ; Monsieur Viele, £10; George Weiser, £5; Jos. Scidmore, £10; John Slaterly, £1; Isaac Brush, £20; Thomas Nethaway, £6 ; Monson Goold, £1 ; John Davis, £5 ; Wm. Mott, £3 ; Thos. Jarvis, £5 ; Samuel Ackerly, £5 ; John Bennett, £3; Benjamin Treadwell, £3; Eliphalet Smith, £3 given by Mr. Tredwell and others towards raising, £1,1 1;” total £140,1. The contribution of Henry Lloyd may be estimated at £145.”¹³  Henry Lloyd’s contribution was just about one half of the total funds raised.

In addition to generously donating money, Henry Lloyd was reportedly involved in most of the decisions of the church pertaining to the building of the first church as well as supplying clergy for worship at Huntington.  With respect to work on the church building, we are told that an examination of the Lloyd letters uncovered receipts, allowances on subscriptions, a list of expenditures for such work, also a list of paid-up subscriptions and a certificate of an auditing committee attesting these accounts.  He seems to have been heavily involved in what we refer today as the Finance Committee of the Church.  In fact, various of his receipts were used by Rev. Charles William Turner, an early rector, in his Annals of St. John’s Church, Suffolk County, N.Y. (see footnote 5) to correct some errors concerning the date when the building of the church commenced.¹⁴  Henry Lloyd was also responsible for obtaining the deed transferring the house (or houses -- there seems to be a suggestion that there was an old house and a new one) to the SPG and getting it recorded.¹⁵  We already referred to his involvement in getting Samuel Seabury, Jr. named as our catechist.  Turner also talks about his involvement when Mr. Kneeland, who had been employed as the catechist in 1763 and sent to England for Orders in 1764 did not return four years later.  This apparently led the church wardens and vestry to bring their unhappy plight to the SPG in a letter on November 30, 1768.  In it, they also conveyed Henry Lloyd’s recommendation to hire our first full-time rector (then referred to as our first “settled minister”) “Mr. Greaton of Boston, at a salary of £20, with firewood, a house, and glebe.  His services to include Islip and Queens village”. ¹⁶  Turner also references a note from Henry Lloyd advising that between 1764 and 1766, while the Rev. Samuel Seabury, later the first Bishop of the country, was settled at Grace church, Jamaica, he occasionally ministered at Huntington.  We do not know, however, to whom this letter was addressed. ¹

One of the enslaved persons on Lloyd Manor during Henry Lloyd’s tenure was Jupiter Hammon, the first published African American poet in this country.¹⁸  When Henry died in 1763, he left Jupiter to his son, Joseph.  During the American Revolution members of the Lloyd family found themselves on opposing sides.  Joseph was a patriot and fled to Connecticut to escape the British occupation of Huntington, taking Jupiter with him in his exile.  We will discuss Jupiter further a little later on.

Some Other Known Enslaver Parishioners of St. John’s

In addition to Henry Lloyd, Turner’s Annals, which covered most of the period of our research, identified a total of 13 of our parishioners who were slaveowners.  We suspect there were others, including descendants of these 13 original parishioners that we have found on the ancestry websites (primarily and but without being able to connect them to St. John’s.  The chart below lists those we have been able to identify, including those with family member enslavers, during the period of our research.


Enslaver’s Name

# Enslaved Owned


Isaac Brush


Listed in the 1755 NYS Census of Slaves for Huntington, he owned at least one enslaved person, Ned.  He is one of the parishioners that pledged to contribute to Samuel Seabury Jr’s salary, supporting the request to the SPG to assign him as a catechist to St. John’s.

John Davis


Listed as Captain John Davis in the 1755 NYS Census of Slaves for Huntington as owning one male enslaved person.

Thomas Jarvis


A “Lieut Thomas Jarvis” is listed in the 1755 NYS Census of Slaves for Huntington as owning one female enslaved person.  Turner reported that he either donated or sold his property on Mill Dam Lane with a house on it to the church for use as its rectory when Reverend Greaton was called to be its first resident minister and served as one of the trustees who held the land before conveying it in trust to the SPG to be held for the use of the Church of England.

Isaac Ketcham


Listed in the 1755 NYS Census of Slaves for Huntington as owning one enslaved person. Turner mentions his marriage to Freelove Carr ‘by license’ on April 28, 1761.

Epenetu/Epenetus Platt          


While neither he nor his wife, Phoebe Wood Platt, was an enslaver, the NYS 1755 Slave Census shows an Epenetus Platt (likely his son) owning 1 enslaved person and a Mary Platt (likely his daughter) owning 2 enslaved persons.  It also lists other Platts who were enslavers, including Captain Isaac Platt (1 enslaved person), Dr. Zopher Platt (6 enslaved persons), Jonas Platt (1 enslaved person), Zephaniah Platt (4 enslaved persons) and Mary Treadwell, née Platt (6 enslaved persons).  NESRI also lists a number of enslaver Platts: 6 In the 1790 Census and 2 in the 1800 Census.  We have found nothing connecting these other Platts to St. John’s.

Rufus Prime


Rufus Prime served on the Vestry from 1863 to 1866 and 1870 to 1882. His name does not show up on the Northeast Slavery Records Index (“NESRI”) or any of the Federal or New York Censuses as  an enslaver.  As described in further detail in this report, however, he was the son of Nathaniel Prime and dedicated his life to the care of his father’s huge estate and ran his banking empire after his death (head of the great banking firm of Prime, Ward & King), generating a huge amount of wealth from investment in slavery-related ventures, wealth he passed along to his daughter, Cornelia Prime.

Cornelia Prime


Born after New York’s 1799 Act of Gradual Emancipation, she was not an enslaver herself but she benefitted from the slave economy.  While her grandfather, Nathaniel Prime, a principal generator of the wealth she inherited, is listed in both the 1800 and the 1810 Federal Censuses as owning two and one enslaved persons respectively, he lived in New York City.  Both Censuses, the latter in particular, was taken after New York began its process of gradual emancipation in 1799.

Dr. B.( Benjamin) Y. Prime


NESRI shows Benjamin Y. Prime in Huntington as owning three enslaved persons per the 1790 Federal Census.  He married Mary Wheelright, the widow of Rev. James Greaton, our first rector.

David Rogers


The NYS 1755 Slave Census shows a David Rogers owning one enslaved person.

Zopher Rogers


The NYS 1755 Slave Census shows a Zopher Rogers owning one enslaved person.

Henry Scudder


NESRI shows a Henry Scudder in Huntington owning two enslaved persons in each of the 1800 and 1810 Federal Censuses.  He served on the St. John’s Vestry from 1840 to 1842.

Henry T. Scudder


According to the 1800 Federal Census, he owned 2 enslaved persons, but his name does not show up on NESRI in Huntington.  He served on the St. John’s Vestry in 1846 and again from 1855 to 1860.

Freelove Smith


NESRI shows a Frelove Smith (first name spelled differently) in Huntington owning one enslaved person per the 1790 Federal Census.  Although listed as one of our parishioners, our other searches did not find a Huntington resident by that name although there is a Freelove Smith (1743-1815) residing in Oyster Bay.

Abraham Van Wyck                


NESRI shows an Abraham Van Wyck in Huntington owning three enslaved persons per the 1800 and four enslaved persons per the 1820 Federal Censuses respectively (also showing his abandonment of 1 enslaved child in 1804).  He served on the St. John’s Vestry from 1838 to 1844.

Daniel Wiggins


NESRI shows both a Daniel Wiggins and a Daniel Wiggins, Jr. in Huntington, both enslavers, the former owing three enslaved persons, the latter one enslaved person, per the 1790 Federal Census.  Daniel Wiggins was a Vestry Member in 1789.

Martha A.S. Williams


NESRI shows a Martha Williams in Huntington having one enslaved person per the 1810 Federal Census.  Martha was the wife of Timothy Williams, a parishioner from 1804-1888.

Rachel Fleet Williams             


NESRI shows a Rachel Williams in Huntington with one enslaved person per the 1790 Federal Census.  She was the mother of Gilbert Williams who served on the St. John’s Vestry from 1844 to 1848 and again from 1855 to 1865.

Timothy Williams                  


NESRI shows a Timothy Williams in Huntington owning one enslaved person per the 1800 and two enslaved persons per the 1820 Federal Censuses respectively.

Naomi Youngs


NESRI shows a Noama (different first name) Youngs in Huntington owning one enslaved person in 1801 and a Nasoma (another different first name) Youngs in Huntington owning one enslaved person according to the 1810 Federal Census.  Naomi was the widow of Israel Youngs.  Her enslaved female gave birth to twin girls, Marian and Clarisa, in 1801.  Isaac Youngs’ sister-in-law, most likely his wife’s sister, was also an enslaver.  Isaac and Israel were the two brothers in the foiled counterfeiting scheme involving Isaac Ketcham described in this report.  Turner also reported that Isaac Youngs represented St. John’s at the convention of the Diocese of New York in 1788. 

Three Parishioners of Note During Our Colonial Times

As far as we could tell, the parishioners identified above mostly kept enslaved persons for household use, an indication of their wealth or social status, as was mentioned above.  Three of them, however, are worth further mention for one reason or another that our research uncovered, in the case of the first discussed below, not directly related to slavery but having an undeniable indirect effect.  

Isaac Ketcham

That first parishioner of note is Isaac Ketcham but there are two Isaac Ketchams at St. John’s during this period.  One of them, Isaac Carl Ketcham, born in 1752, son of Nathaniel Ketcham, served as a lieutenant in the Revolutionary War and died in 1808.  He was more likely the Isaac Ketcham listed in the 1790 census as owning 2 enslaved persons along with a Nathaniel Ketcham owning 3 enslaved persons.  Neither his ‘Find a Grave’ listing nor his Last Will and Testament, however, mentions any enslaved persons.

The second Isaac Ketcham, with no middle name, was born in 1718 according to both Family Search and to Nathaniel Ketcham and Abigail Bassett Ketcham and died in either 1782 (Family Search) or 1787 (  He appears in Turner’s Annals only once in reference to his marriage to Freelove Carr ‘by license’ on April 28, 1761. ¹⁹  According to the 1755 New York State Census of Slaves listing for Huntington, he owned one male enslaved person, nothing remarkable there, but the notoriety he gained during the Revolutionary War was certainly remarkable.  A widower with six children, Ketcham was recruited by brothers Israel and Isaac Youngs (or Young) of Cold Spring Harbor along with printer Henry Dawkins to purchase the special paper needed for their colonial currency counterfeiting scheme.  Although Ketcham did go to Philadelphia to make the purchase, he apparently had a change of heart at the last minute and never procured the paper, but he was subsequently arrested by the British military and imprisoned in Manhattan.  While in prison, he overheard a plot to kill General George Washington.  He warned the colonial authorities and stopped the plot,²⁰ possibly affecting not only the outcome of the war effort but very likely the entire history of the United States and possibly of the institution of slavery as well. 

Town of Historian, Robert C. Hughes, describes this latter Isaac Ketcham as possibly having been the most influential Huntingtonian during the Revolutionary War years. ²¹  He is memorialized in the historical marker in Firemen’s Park in Cold Spring Harbor, one of some 125 such historical markers throughout the Town of Huntington, but it bears the wrong first name. (See below photo)  A current book by the History Channel’s Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch, The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill Washington, provides a more detailed account of the conspiracy story than the few words on the marker.  Despite Isaac Ketcham having been an enslaver, it is difficult not to share Hughes’ lament: “Poor Isaac Ketcham.  The important role he played in the early months of the Revolution was almost lost to history, he was arrested for a crime he never committed, and even his first name is wrong on the historical marker.”

Isaac Ketcham

Abraham Van Wyck

The next parishioner worthy of mention is Abraham Van Wyck.  He was selected for two reasons.  One, his actions vis-à-vis the enslaved persons he owned seemed to parallel the legal steps New York state was taking at the time to reverse the evil of slavery.  Two, his case illustrates the insufficient information found in our research as well as the at times inconsistency of the scant records from one source to another. 

He was one of three Van Wyck’s at St. John’s during this period along with his brother, Samuel Hewlett Van Wyck and his son, Samuel A. Van Wyck, all three serving on the Vestry.  As noted in the above chart, Abraham Van Wyck was reported as having 3 enslaved persons in the 1800 Census and 4 in the 1820 Census.  During New York’s manumission period, we also find Abraham Van Wyck granting freedom to one enslaved person and abandoning another. ²²  As reported in Robert C. Hughes article on “Slavery in Huntington and its Abolition”, he granted freedom to twenty-eight-year-old, Prince, in 1802 and he abandoned the female child of his enslaved female negro on February 27,1804.  As his actual handwritten notice of abandonment dated February 27, 1804 found in the Huntington Town Clerk’s records as well as the transcript in the New York Heritage Digital Collections states: “I hereby inform you that agreeable to a law of the state of New York that my Negro slave named Naan was delivered of a female child named Rachel on the nineteenth of September 1803 which I abandon.”  Curiously, there is some question about whom he abandoned, the mother Naan or the child Rachel.  Although his statement seems to suggest the latter, both the Huntington Town Clerk's Archives and The New York Heritage Digital Collections, the latter apparently copying the information from its source, have as their heading “1804-02-27 Abraham Van Wykle abandoned Nann”. (also, incidentally, misspelling his name).  His handwritten notice of abandonment with the above-referenced heading appears below:

1804-02-27 Abraham Van Wykle abandoned Nann

1804-02-27 Abraham Van Wykle abandoned Nann

In another questionable aspect of the records concerning his slave ownership, the Northeast Slavery Records Index shows Abraham Van Wyck as having 3 enslaved persons in his household according to the 1800 Census and 4 according to the 1820 Census.  Could there have been another Abraham Van Wyck?  If it is the same person described in the foregoing, his slave ownership would have decreased from 3 in 1800 to 1 in 1804 (after freeing Prince and abandoning Rachel/Naan).  Might he have purchased additional enslaved persons later so that the number in his household would have increased to 4 in 1820 when the next census was taken?  

Neither his brother, Samuel, nor son, Samuel A., is shown as having been enslavers, but we found several other Van Wyck enslavers without any record indicating whether they were parishioners of St. John’s.  They included Eldread (with 2 enslaved persons) and Theodorus (with 5 enslaved persons per the 1790 Census, Richard (with 2 enslaved persons) and Theodorus (with 1 enslaved person) per the 1800 Census

Churchill Caldom Cambreleng

The third noteworthy parishioner is Churchill Caldom Cambreleng, a career politician, public servant and statesman who served on the Vestry of St. John’s from 1842 to 1848 and again from 1855 to 1858.

Born in Beaufort County, N.C., on October 24, 1786 and schooled in New Bern, N.C., he moved to New York City in 1802 and became a Representative from New York with a distinguished political career through several Congresses.  Initially, on arriving in New York, he became a clerk in a mercantile counting room and subsequently worked for a business mogul, the latter reportedly the first multimillionaire in the U.S. with diversified interests that expanded from New York City to the Great Lakes area, Canada and the Pacific Northwest. ²³  Cambreleng then entered politics and was elected as a Republican to the Seventeenth Congress, as a Crawford Republican to the Eighteenth Congress, as a Jacksonian to the Nineteenth through the Twenty-fourth Congresses.  Thereafter, he was elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-fifth Congress (March 4, 1821-March 3, 1839).  He served as Chairman of the Committee on Commerce (Twentieth through Twenty-second Congresses), Committee on Foreign Affairs (Twenty-third Congress) and Committee on Ways and Means (Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Congresses).  He was unsuccessful in his bid for reelection in 1838 to the Twenty-sixth Congress, but was appointed United States Minister to Russia by President Van Buren and served from May 20, 1840 to July 13, 1841.  He was also a member of the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1846.  He died at his residence near Huntington, Suffolk County, N.Y. on April 30, 1862 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y.² 

Cambreleng supported Van Buren in his reelection campaign and also supported the Free Soil Party, an antislavery political party² as well as the Barnburners, a progressive faction of the NY State Democratic Party, which proposed to ban slavery from the territories captured in the Mexican War.²  While we do not have any record of Cambreleng having expressed or acted on his views on slavery in his involvement as a member of our parish, his support for the abolition of slavery in the West makes him perhaps the most promising candidate as an abolitionist at St. John’s during this time.  Then again, he may have shared the peculiar Jeffersonian view of states’ rights embraced by Van Buren,²a belief that the federal government had no authority to interfere with decisions by states, including the institution of slavery, except for new states and territories for which the sake of the Union was paramount to the rights of states.  If Cambreleng held the same beliefs as the candidate he supported, he definitely would not have been an abolitionist but his involvement in the two antislavery political factions mentioned above seems to contradict that hypothesis.  It should be noted that he had been involved in all of his political and antislavery activities well before he was actively serving in a leadership role at St. John’s during the 1840’s and 50’s, beginning in 1842, following his one-year diplomatic engagement as United States Minister to Russia.  Perhaps, a more perplexing question is why he was not more vocal about abolition or antislavery at St. John’s, perhaps using the tenets of our Christian faith as the underpinning of his beliefs.

Not Just Parishioners, But Clergy Members Were Also Enslavers

Throughout all of this time, from the beginnings of the Town we found no mention of the Church – whether Presbyterian, Independents, Congregationalist or Church of England, except for the Quakers – or any of their ministers taking a stand on slavery, although a number among their several congregations were enslavers.  

We know that Quakers who had been enslavers manumitted them (or sold them) as the failure to do so would have resulted in being denied full continuance in the Society of Friends.  In 1785 it was John Jay with a group of very influential men, many of them Quakers, who formed the New York Society for the Promoting of the Manumission of Slaves.  In 1799, then Governor John Jay also signed into law the Gradual Abolition of Slavery.²⁸

The Church of England did not follow the good example of the Quakers.  At St. John’s, it was not just its parishioners who were enslavers; so were a number of its clergy.  In fact, the Seaburys were a slaveholding family. The senior Samuel Seabury legally had at least one enslaved person in his household, Newport, who is mentioned in his Will. ²⁹ Samuel Seabury, the son and future Bishop, became a slaveholder when he married Mary Hicks on October 12, 1756.  His father-in-law, Edward Hicks, gifted his daughter with an enslaved woman. ³⁰  Edward Hicks had also promised the Seaburys a certain level of financial assistance and his failure to do so became the subject of a legal dispute.  As part of settling the ongoing dispute in the 1760s, Hicks transferred the ownership of four enslaved persons to Samuel Seabury.  Hicks and the four enslaved people later moved into the Seabury home.  After Hicks died, Seabury transferred three of them back to the Hicks estate.  Seabury continued to legally own one enslaved person, Charles, as his property. ³¹  

According to the 1790 census, the Seabury household in New London included three enslaved persons.  After the Bishop died, a probate inventory of his estate listed a 38-year-old woman, Nell, and a 9-year-old girl, Rose.³²  Seabury's journal notes that Nell worked in the parsonage house at St. James's Episcopal Church in New London, where he and his daughter Maria lived.³³ 

As stated by one commentator, “A more sobering fact is that Seabury was a slaveholder throughout his life, revealing how the sin of slavery was present at the highest level of our church from its very founding.”³⁴

And, then there is the third Samuel Seabury who served at St. John’s from 1826 to 1827 and became a staunch defender of slavery.  His better-known grandfather grew up in a colony and a family shaped by the slave economies and human enslavement and, writing from that perspective, expressed the view that “liberty is a very good thing, and slavery a very bad thing”.  He later noted that “abject slavery” equated in some way with “cruel oppression” that individuals must avoid. ³⁵  It appears that his grandson came to believe the opposite.  In his later writings while serving as rector of The Church of the Annunciation in New York City, immediately before taking on the post as Professor at General Theological Seminary, he wrote a book expressing his view that slavery is justified by the law of nature and no more forbidden by Scripture than by the Constitution, but permitted by both. ³⁶  On the basis of these authorities alone, he argued, all citizens and all Christians should see that slavery is “neither morally wrong nor socially disreputable”.

This was some 35 years after he served at St. John’s.  We do not know whether this Samuel Seabury was an enslaver while in our employ or whether he already held the views expressed in his later book.  At very least, while among us, he must have been formulating a belief that slavery was not antithetical to his religious convictions.  

Enslaved Persons in Our Congregation

In addition to the white members of St. John’s during this time, our records indicate that at least three enslaved persons owned by our parishioners or other Huntingtonians were either baptized at St. John’s or “admitted to St. John’s” (and others were also being baptized at the church in Oyster Bay).³⁷ 

An enslaved woman named Rachel, as noted above, identified as belonging to Dr. Platt of Huntington, was admitted to St. John’s on December 29, 1774.³⁸  Among the members of the original First Church in Huntington before there was a mission church of the Church of England which later became St. John’s, there are references to 4 possible children of “Rachel Negro” or “R Negro” -- Jane, baptized on August 21, 1726; Peter, baptized on May 11, 1729; another Peter baptized on March 14, 1730 and Hezekiah, baptized on September 10, 1732.³⁹  If so, she would have been giving birth in the 1720’s through the early 1730’s and admitted to St. John’s some 40 plus years later.  Her admission would have taken place during the lifetime of Dr. Zopher (Zophra) Platt (1705-1792).  Both the NYS 1755 Slave Census and NESRI (indicating the source as the 1790 Federal Census) show a Zopher (Zopha) Platt, the only Platt identified as a doctor in the former, as owning 4 male and 2 female enslaved persons 9 years before the Annals place Rachel at St. John’s.  There were 3 Platts listed as St. John’s parishioners: Henry C., Joel (both served on the Vestry) and Phoebe, but no Zopher (Zophra).  Other enslavers in Huntington named Platt were: Captain Isaac Platt (with 1 enslaved person), Mary Platt, (with 2 enslaved persons) Deah (with 1 enslaved person), Ebenezer Platt (with 3 enslaved persons), Gilbert Platt (with 4 enslaved persons), Jesse Platt (with 1 enslaved person), and Scudder Platt (also with 1 enslaved person)As best as we can ascertain, none of the latter were members of St. John’s.

On the same day that Rachel was admitted to St. John’s, the December 29, 1774 entry in Turner’s Annals references another enslaved person “Richard, son of Obadiah Hammond, slave of Mr. Loyd”, having been admitted along with James and Mary Greaton. ⁴⁰

We could not find any other of the enslaved residents of the Manor under Henry Lloyd listed as members of St. John’s, but several are mentioned among the members of the First Church in Huntington.  They include: “Obium Negro Adult of Mr. Lloyd’s” and a “Nero Negro Adult of Mr. Lloyd’s”, both baptized on August 20, 1732, an “Ann Negro of Mr. Lld”, baptized on April 18, 1736; “Hezekiah Negro Lloyd”, baptized on April 21, 1745.  Is it possible that “Jupiter My Negro”, and “Judith My Negro”, both baptized on May 4, 1748 were enslaved persons owned by Henry Lloyd, the former being Jupiter Hammon?  Another was “Peter My Negro baptized by Mr. J.B.” on September 28, 1748.¹  All of the last three baptisms at the First Church would have been at the time Henry Lloyd was an active member of St. John’s and pledging money for its support.  

Jupiter Hammon: Enslaved by Henry Lloyd and the First African American Poet to be Published in America 

There is no record of the baptism at, or admission to, St. John’s of Jupiter Hammon, the well-known enslaved resident at Lloyd Manor.  He reportedly was raised as a member of the Lloyd family and educated in the school on the Manor.  He was trusted by Henry Lloyd as his right hand in business, accompanying him to various business meetings and engaging in negotiating business deals and he became recognized as a theologian and poet.  Jupiter apparently never married or had children. The Hammon family line continued through his brother, Obediah.  Jupiter is best known as the first African American poet to be published in America (but see footnote 18).  

Without evidence that Jupiter Hammon was either baptized or admitted to St. John’s, and finding nothing to indicate that he ever attended or got involved in St. John’s in any way, he is nonetheless being mentioned here.  It is our observation that Henry Lloyd’s benevolent treatment of the enslaved persons on his estate, possibly influenced by his own faith and practice at St. John’s Church, may well have resulted in Hammon’s belief system that colored his writings, including those on slavery.  In fact, not just Henry, but a succession of Lloyd family members owned him and facilitated his education and the publication of his work.  We confess, all the same, that it is a decidedly bizarre twist on Christianity that would be okay with owning another human being if treating him with kindness and compassion.

Jupiter himself was a devout Christian and his faith profoundly influenced both his life and his writings.  A possible source for the name, Jupiter, that he adopted, is the Bible since many editions published during this period included a glossary of terms that included both the Latin word “Jupiter” and the Hebrew word “hammon”.  The glossary defined the former as meaning lord or father and signifying salvation and the latter as preparation.  When he later adopted the surname Hammon for himself sometime after 1745, with the apparent approval of the Lloyd family, the implied meaning of his full name reflected his belief in salvation preparation. His brother Obediah also adopted the surname before his death, but spelled it with a “d”, similar to the English surname Hammond. ²

Jupiter Hammon published his first poem, An Evening Thought”, written on Christmas Day in 1760 and by the time of his death around 1805, he left an impressive body of poetry and prose.³ 

Perhaps his most controversial writing was his last published work, An Address to the Negroes in the State Of New York (1787).  While he makes it clear that he believes slavery is wrong, he nevertheless recommends respectful behavior of enslaved persons to their masters and urges those in slavery to seek spiritual freedom through Christianity.  The most controversial part is his statement that “it may be more for our own comfort” to remain in bondage rather than be freed.  Some have interpreted this statement as an apologia for slavery, but the article on Hammon by Charla E. Bolton, AICP, and Reginald H. Metcalf, Jr. of the Town of Huntington, New York African American Historic Designation Council (referenced in footnote 41) points out that this was a practical issue for him personally since he was elderly at the time that he penned his address and had no assurance of care if he were freed.  They speculated that he was referring specifically to the widespread concern at the time that northern slave holders might abdicate responsibility for elderly enslaved persons, no longer able to fend for themselves after lifetimes of service, by manumitting them without adequate provision for their care.  The article goes on to say that as general manumission became more likely, the issue of how freed slaves who were elderly, impoverished, or in ill health were to be treated emerged as a critical and very troubling issue for all former enslaved persons,  Apparently this was not the case with Hammon, however.  Henry Lloyd’s Will enjoined all four of his surviving sons to share the expenses of caring for the enslaved persons of the Manor in their old age.  Jupiter’s master rewarded his years of service with the proceeds of an orchard, which seem to have provided him with some modest retirement income.  The authors note that family papers clearly show that the Lloyd brothers felt a sense of familial regard for the Hammon (and Kit) families, perhaps since they had all grown up together.  The income from his orchard may have been Jupiter’s family’s main source of support.  His household consisted of Benjamin Hammon, Phoebe, Benjamin’s wife, and himself.  Benjamin, the grandson of Jupiter’s brother Obediah, had lived in the same household with Jupiter since his birth in 1761.  When Benjamin purchased the house, Jupiter was already  88 years old and very likely in need of some assistance.  Bolton and Metcalf also suggested the possibility that this Hammon family unit may have been the three-member household, headed by a Jupiter with no last name and listed under “All other free Persons” in the 1800 Federal Census for Huntington.

Interestingly, despite his strong anti-slavery and reformer views and his unshakable belief that total abolition is a litmus test for true Christians, Jupiter Hammon himself chose to remain an enslaved person until his death.  (This would, of course, contradict the above-mentioned possibility raised by Bolton and Metcalf that the 3-person household of Jupiter, Benjamin and Phoebe could have been the listing in the1800 Census under the heading “All Other Free Persons”.)

Cornelia Prime (1838-1923)

Cornelia Prime, Magnanimous Patron at The End of Our Colonial Period, Not an Enslaver Herself, but a Beneficiary of the Slave Economy

Book ending the other end of our colonial history, actually a little later than the end of the period of our research, is another very generous parishioner, Cornelia Prime.  Born in 1838, she was not herself an enslaver, and, in fact, never experienced legal slavery in New York.  Her inherited wealth, however, shows clear ties to the slave economy, particularly the Southern slave economy.

Her parents were born into generational wealth accumulated in the American Colonies and the new United States.  We can see, by looking at each of her grandparents in turn, how Miss Prime's ancestors were both financially connected to the slave economy and 
enslavers themselves. She was the last of her siblings, none of whom ever married and the final beneficiary of her parents' wealth.

The origins of Miss Prime's wealth are traced in the writings of her brother, Temple Prime, one the four St. John’s Primes, that include his and Cornelia’s father, Rufus Prime, who served on the Vestry from 1863 to 1866 and 1870 to 1882 and of whom Turner wrote in his Annals “His departure from the parish in 1886 was a great financial loss”.⁵  Temple lived from 1832 to 1903 and was both an amateur scientist

and genealogist. He published brief genealogies of each of his grandparents, and several prominent early ancestors.  These genealogies establish family relationships and a timeline that allow us to explore the family's ties to slavery.

Rufus Prime, was born into one of the wealthiest families in New York.  His father, Nathaniel Prime, was a self-made man.  He descended from the first generation of

European colonists in Massachusetts, but they were still largely small farmers.  His father died when he was only two, which may have left Nathaniel to fend for himself, coming to New York as a young adult.  The family of Rufus Prime's mother, Cornelia Sands, had been present in New York and on Long Island for some generations already before Nathaniel Prime arrived.  Comfort Sands had already made and lost a fortune by the time Rufus was born, but his powerful connections helped him maintain an influential position in society, regain his financial footing and eventually hold public office in New York.

On her father's side, Cornelia Prime's wealth descends from both her grandfather Nathaniel Prime and from her grandfather Comfort Sands. Both men were enslavers in New York and profited off of slavery in the south.

Nathaniel Prime, who married Cornelia Sands on June 3, 1797⁷ is listed in the 1800 Census as having two enslaved people in his home in New York's Ward 2.  At that time he was living at 79 Greenwich Street, after having moved out of his father-in-law, Comfort Sand's, home.  In 1810, he is listed as having one person enslaved in his home in New York's 9th Ward.  This shows that Nathaniel Prime continued to enslave people in his home even after New York began its process of gradual emancipation in 1799.

Accounts of Nathaniel Prime describe how he rose from a coachman in Boston to become the third richest man in New York by the time of his death by suicide in 1840. He began his banking firm in 1796 and eventually took on a number of partners. The firm was known by a number of names, but primarily as Prime Ward & King.⁸ As one of the largest commercial banks in the early 19th century, it would be difficult for the firm to be independent of the slavery economy.  Furthermore, it appears that Prime, Ward & King was deeply invested in slavery, including holding "millions in slave-backed securities issued by south-western states."

Understanding the full scope of Prime's investments is beyond the scope of this report, but two examples are illustrative.  They show, even from the vantage point of two hundred years, how involved Prime was in the slavery economy of the late 18th and early 19th century.  First, Prime was an investor in the 1790s speculative land deals west of Georgia which became known as the Yazoo land scandal.⁵⁰  Investors hoped to secure the land that later became Mississippi and Alabama as territories where slavery was legal.⁵¹  The state of Georgia had issued deeds to this land without a clear right to do so, and the legal arguments in the case, Fletcher vs. Peck, went all the way to the Supreme Court.  Nathaniel Prime gave testimony in the case.  Historians today understand the Yazoo land scandal as being motivated primarily by a desire to profit from plantations worked by enslaved laborers in a new and fertile region.

This interest in expanding the territory where enslavement was legal continued to be an area of investment for Prime.  Nearly four decades after the Yazoo scandal, and after slavery was nearly eliminated from New York, he continued to seek profit from the expansion of slavery.  In 1832, Prime, Ward and King invested millions of dollars in the Union Bank of Louisiana, facilitating a $7 million purchase of bonds in partnership with the British Bank, Baring Brothers & Co.²  The 1830 Federal Census shows the population of Louisiana as being slightly more than 50% enslaved.  It’s impossible to imagine that Prime was not deeply aware of the role of enslavement in the business in the state or in the huge profits his firm was making from it.

The Ups and Downs of St. John’s Through It All

It is an important part of our narrative to return to the story of how St. John’s was faring at this time.  Recalling its promising start by the generation that founded the church in 1745, we have several records of letters sent by the senior Rev. Samuel Seabury, to the SPG with positive and upbeat reports on how the church was doing.  On October 21, 1761 he reported that while he could only attend the church at Huntington seldom it was a full church with zealous members.³  A year later, Mr. Seabury continues his glowing accounts of developments at the church in Huntington, including the erection of a church building and purchase of a rectory in the expectation of being able to send to the SPG a candidate for holy orders within a year or two.⁴  After a promising start, however, the church survived through two very difficult periods during this time, perhaps better described as one long period of near dormancy.

The first occurred during the Revolutionary war and for several decades subsequent, in fact for about fifty years, when the parish fell into a moribund condition.  Quoting from Prime’s History of Long Island, Turner reported that from the time of the death of the Rev. Mr. Greaton in 1773, no regular services were maintained. “ Indeed for many years,” the history reads, “ the house was not opened, and was literally the undisturbed possession of bats and owls. It was repaired, however, about 40 years ago ” ( i. e. about 1805 ) and service re-established, but with considerable irregularity.”

Even after spotty services resumed in or about 1805, Turner reports that from 1807 to 1837, elections of parish officers may possibly have ceased and the work of the church became dependent upon whatever missionary effort was provided by the Diocese of New York.  No records have been found of the official acts of either the first rector, Rev. James Greaton, (1769 to 1773) or of the Rev. Ed. K. Fowler, (1823 to 1826), although the latter is referred to in the Convention Journals of the Diocese of New York as “ Deacon, and Missionary at Huntington, A. D. 1826”.  From November 1826 to April 1827, the Rev. Samuel Seabury was in charge, the third Seabury to serve at St. John’s.  The son of the Rev. Charles Seabury, of Setauket, he was still a Deacon at the time he served as Missionary at Huntington under the Missionary Committee of the Diocese of New York. ⁵⁶

St. John's recovered from this period of dormancy in 1838, the year of its incorporation and when it was finally consecrated.  Its resuscitation was about a decade after the final abolition of slavery in New York State by the 1799 Act of Gradual Emancipation and the 1817 law that abolished all slavery in the state by 1827.  This was the time of the new generation of parishioners that included Miss Prime who would not have enslaved anyone.  By 1860, the Vestry had determined that it was time to make a decision on a question that had been simmering for some time and relocate the church to the new village center, which had moved west since the church was first established.  Miss Prime donated land for the new church, at the corner of Main Street and Prospect Street.⁷  She was a generous contributor to many causes in the Town of Huntington, including being a primary driver of the effort to build Huntington Hospital.

Then in 1905 a fire destroyed the church's building, and the church was rebuilt at its new location, underwritten in large part by Cornelia Prime.

As Far as Abolitionists in Our Midst:

As stated previously, the only promising candidate our research turned up for a possible abolitionist at St. John’s during this time was Churchill C. Cambreleng.  

Referencing the work of The Harvard & Legacy of Slavery Memorialization Committee in reckoning with the history of slavery in the present, one of our early researchers pointed out it’s a distinct possibility that a number of our early church families were abolitionists.  After all, slavery was abolished in Britain around 1720, so the institution had to have been a serious and, most likely, divisive, topic of discussion at our church.  But, we have been unable to find any records to support that supposition.

And So, We End

In researching our colonial history, we were reminded that our in-house historical records are scant, many of them having been destroyed or damaged by occupation of the invading British army and by various fires and floods over the years and that diocesan records are negligible.  St. John’s in Huntington had been established before the creation of either the Diocese of New York or the Diocese of Long Island (and was affiliated with the former before the latter was created).  Requests for records to both Dioceses came up short.  By a stroke of fortune (or, perhaps the working of the Holy Spirit, in anticipation of this moment in time when these records would help us uncover the truth of our past involvement with the sin of slavery), much of our historical narrative through 1895 was preserved because of the scholarship of one of our early Rectors, Rev. Charles William Turner.  The full title of his book, which we have cited throughout this report, is Annals of St. John’s Church, Suffolk County, N.Y. Also, Historical and Descriptive Notes.  

Our research raised as many questions as it answered.  Clearly the records, such as they are, are not only scant but also contradictory in some areas.  Still, the conclusion reached by the authors of ‘The Slavery on Long Island’ piece mentioned above and in footnote 8 is indisputable that, despite its poorly preserved history, it is undeniable that slavery played a central role on Long Island – certainly in Huntington, and, as our research suggests, most certainly at St. John’s.  We also have to agree with them that while historians and archivists are working hard and doing their best to preserve and educate people about that history, it’s us who have to choose to remember.

Respectfully submitted,

St. John’s Huntington Parish History Committee

Heather G. Kress, Chair

Barbara Hinton

William P. Kiley

Daria Quinones

Alan Schorn

Rob Wheeler

Rev. Mary Beth Mills-Curran*

(*A big thank you to Mother Mary Beth, Curate at our closest neighbor, St. John’s, Cold Spring Harbor, with which we share some common history, for her gracious offer of assistance and doing the extensive research and write-up of her findings on Cornelia Prime.  Significant portions of her contribution were included in this report .)

Footnotes to Report on St. John’s Church (Huntington)’s

Colonial History And Involvement With Slavery

¹ History of The Town of Huntington as posted on its website, citing as its source HUNTINGTON TOWN RECORDS, INCLUDING BABYLON, LONG ISLAND, N.Y. 1776-1873, WITH INTRODUCTION, NOTES AND INDEX BY CHARLES R. STREET.  Volume III.  Transcribed, Complied and Published by the Authority and at the Expense of the Two Towns, 1889, Part of Selected Digitized Books (155,339), General Collections (190,529), Library of Congress Online Catalog (1,497,317)  

² HUNTINGTON TOWN RECORDS. footnote found on pp. 21-22.

³ There is some disagreement as to when the first church was built.  One report states the early colonists organized a church of the Independent Order shortly after they settled here, around 1658 (and built the first meeting house a few years later in 1665).  The TOH history website, on the other hand, places the date the first church was built at 1715.  There is no disagreement, however, that the church, like St. John’s, was used as a stable by the British invading forces and near the end of the war was dismantled to construct a fort on top of the town burying ground.  It was rebuilt after independence had been secured and the British army evacuated.  

⁴ The term “Mr.” is used interchangeably with “Reverend” or “Rev.” in referring to ordained clergy or ministers of the church.  Following Mr. William Leveredge (also spelled Leverich) and Mr. Eliphalet Jones, the third leader at First Church was Mr. Ebenezer Prime, father of Dr. B. Y. (Benjamin Youngs) Prime, either a parishioner or sometimes visitor at St. John’s, having married Mary Wheelright, the widow of Rev. James Greaton, our first settled minister, in 1775.  (It should be pointed out, however, that the Diocese of New York’s Volume IV of the Hobart Correspondence (see footnote 5 below) identifies Mary Wheelright’s second husband as Dr. Nathan G. Prime, perhaps erroneously.)

Two main sources give the date of Rev. Samuel Seabury’s first visit to the church in Huntington that later became known as St. John’s as 1744 and 1745 respectively, the former in the chronicling of our history by an early Rector, Rev. Charles William Turner, entitled The Annals of St. John's Church, Suffolk County, N.Y. Also, Historical and Descriptive Notes, The Stiles Printing House, Huntington, L. I. 1895, the latter in the Archives of the General Convention, edited by order The Commission on Archives, by Arthur Lowndes, DD, The Correspondence of John Henry Hobart, September 27, 1804 to August 1805.  New York, Privately Printed MDCCCCXII (1912)  (hereinafter “Volume IV of the Hobart Correspondence”)

It seems that we had four Seabury’s serving at Huntington – three of them named Samuel.  The first was the SPG Missionary at St. George’s, Hempstead from 1743 until his death on June 15, 1764, who traveled to Huntington from time to time to conduct various worship services and rites.  The second, Samuel, Jr. his son, was approved by SPG for a 3-year term as catechist and served in this capacity from 1748 to 1750/1751 and visited from time to time thereafter to administer the sacraments.  He later became the first Bishop of Connecticut and of the U.S.  The third Samuel, grandson of the Bishop, reportedly served at St. John’s from 1826 to 1827.  He is mentioned in both Turner’s Annals and in the records of the Diocese of New York (Volume IV of the Hobart Correspondence, p. 431)  He is identified as the son of Charles Seabury of Setauket – himself the fourth Seabury who is identified by Turner as having been in charge of the Huntington cure from 1814 to 1823 while serving at Setauket.  His son, Samuel, was made deacon by Bishop Hobart in April 1826 and reportedly served at St. John’s later that year, succeeding Edward K. Fowler and remaining in this post for a year.  He subsequently became founder and rector of The Church of the Annunciation in New York City and Professor at General Theological Seminary.  In his later career, he apparently became a staunch defender of slavery.  While we have no record of this last Seabury’s beliefs on the subject while he was serving at St. John’s, it is hardly likely that these beliefs materialized out of thin air.  (See footnote # 36 for a further discussion of his views on slavery.)

TOH Historian, Robert C. Hughes January 4, 2021 article, “Slavery In Huntington and its Abolition”, published on the Town of Huntington website and using as his source materials Manumission Book of the Towns of Huntington and Babylon (originally printed in 1980 by Rufus Langhans and updated with additional entries by Stanley Klein in 1997), Huntington Overseers of the Poor Records 1752-1861, by Rufus Langhans, 1986 and relevant records in the Huntington Town Clerk’s Archives.

“Slavery On Long Island: The History That We Forget To Remember” Long Island News, WSHU by Brianne Ledda, published July 8, 2020 at 8:23 AM EDT (This story was reported and written by Brianne Ledda, Wilko Martinez-Cachero, and Vaidik Trivedi, as part of a collaboration between the Stony Brook University School of Journalism and WSHU)

Kerriann Flanagan Brosky, Ghosts of Long Island;

¹⁰ While the Oyster Bay Historical Society reports that Henry Lloyd brought six slaves with him to Lloyd Manor, he apparently increased the number to 8 slaves to work on the property during his lifetime, but by the time of the 1790 Census, there were 15 slaves at the Manor.  The owners were both identified in NESRI and the Federal Censuses as John Lloyd, the son and grandson of Henry.  John Sr. owned 5 slaves and John Jr. owned 10 slaves respectively.  Henry had left the Manor and its management to his older son, John when he died in 1763.  So, despite the fact that slavery was receding in Huntington at the time, as Town of Huntington Historian, Robert C. Hughes, reports in his 2021 article “Slavery in Huntington and Its Abolition”, clearly that was not the case with Lloyd Neck, then part of Queen’s Village and later Oyster Bay.  It wasn’t until 1885 that the New York State Legislature finally separated Lloyd Neck from Oyster Bay, Queens County, establishing it along with the Manor as part of the Town of Huntington, Suffolk County.

¹¹ Apparently Henry Lloyd gave up not only his family’s banking business but also the staunch Quaker opposition to slavery that presumably his Welsh Quaker forebears shared.

¹² This entire description on Henry Lloyd’s diverse farming activities and other business ventures in Lloyd Neck borrows heavily on, and sometimes quotes (as indicated by the text set off by quotation marks) from, the historic narrative complied by the Lloyd Harbor Historical Society and posted on its website.

¹³ Turner’s Annals, p. 26 (Although the text dates the commencement of the subscription for funding the salary of Samuel Seabury, Junior to be a catechist at St. John’s as September 1749, Turner later concluded, based on an examination of other church records, that the date given at the head of the subscription list was a copyist error and should have been September 1747.)

¹Turner’s Annals, p. 25

¹⁵ Turner’s Annals, pp 35-36

¹⁶ Turner’s Annals, p. 34

¹⁷ Turner’s Annals, p. 33

¹⁸ Although Phyllis Wheatley Peters, born around 1753 in Gambia, Africa, captured by enslavers and brought to America in 1761 and sold to the Wheatley family in Boston, Massachusetts, is  broadly recognized as the first African American to publish a book of poems, she traveled to London with the Wheatley's son to publish her first collection of poems, “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral” in 1767.  It was the first book written by an enslaved Black woman in America.  Jupiter Hammon’s poem, on the other hand, was published here in the U.S.

¹⁹ Turner’s Annals, p. 29

²⁰ Robert C. Hughes April 18, 2019 article ““A Little-Known Story from Huntington’s Revolutionary War History” published on the Town of Huntington website.

²¹ Hughes, ““A Little-Known Story from Huntington’s Revolutionary War History”.

²² Among other things, the 1799 Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery also provided for the abandonment of the newborn children, transferring responsibility for the care and maintenance of such child to the government.  Its pertinent section states: “The person entitled to such service may, nevertheless, within one year after the birth of such child, elect to abandon his or her right to such service, by a notification of the same from under his or her hand, and lodged with the clerk of the town or city where the owner of the mother of any such child may reside; in which case every child abandoned as aforesaid shall be considered as paupers of the respective town or city where the proprietor or owner of the mother of such child may reside at the time of its birth; and liable to be bound out by the overseers of the poor on the same terms and conditions that the children of paupers were subject to before the passing of this act.”

²³ This is a reference to John Jacob Astor, the German-born American businessman, merchant, real estate mogul, and investor.  Wikipedia reports that Astor was the first prominent member of the Astor family and the first multi-millionaire in the United States who made his fortune mainly in a fur trade monopoly, by smuggling opium into China, and by investing in real estate in or around New York City.  Cambreleng worked for Astor after returning to New York City from Providence, Rhode Island in 1806 where he had worked as the chief clerk for a merchant with interests in the Pacific Northwest.  He came back to New York City when his employer died and his hope of pursuing a business opportunity in New Orleans was frustrated because of ongoing combat during the War of 1812.  Cambreleng traveled throughout  Europe and Asia while handling commercial opportunities for himself and Astor, and he eventually became wealthy as a result of his business success.

²These details of Cambreleng’s life and career are taken right out of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress with some minor modifications.

²⁵ John Van Buren, Van Buren’s second son, became involved in New York state politics and was a founder of the Free-Soil Party. The party was an interesting mix of political ideologies; abolitionists that once belonged to the then defunct Liberty Party, Whigs such as Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, bent on abolition and Democrats, many either in favor of or ambivalent about enslavement where it already existed. What they all had in common was a goal to prevent slavery moving westward.  Martin Van Buren himself joined the party but never held abolitionist views. He thought abolitionists were a detriment to national security because of their willingness to resort to violence.

²⁶ The Barnburners, founded in 1830, were a group of radical New York Democrats supporting Van Buren.  They were referred to as "Barnburners" because in their zeal for social reforms and anti-currency fiscal policy they were likened to farmers burning their own barns to drive out the rats.  Their opposing faction in the New York Democratic Party in the mid-19th century were The “Hunkers”. The main issue dividing the two factions was slavery, with the Barnburners being the antislavery faction.  While this division occurred within the context of New York politics, it reflected the national divisions in the country in the years preceding the Civil War.  During the 1848 presidential election, the Barnburners left the Democratic Party, refusing to support the Party’s presidential nominee, Lewis Cass.  They joined with other anti-slavery groups, predominantly the abolitionist Liberty Party and some anti-slavery Conscience Whigs from New England and the Midwest to form the “Free Soil Party”.  This group nominated former President Van Buren to run again for the presidency.  Their vote diluted Democratic strength and Zachary Taylor, the Whig nominee, won the election.

²⁷ Martin Van Buren was somewhat of an enigma.  He guarded his privacy, dying without leaving personal diaries or journals, and few personal letters have survived.  He kept his thoughts to himself, rarely expressing personal ideas, often leaving both friends and foes questioning where he stood on the issues.  This is true for his view on slavery as well.  He made this declaration in 1819 as a New York State Bucktail (the faction of the Democratic-Republican Party in New York State opposed to Governor DeWitt Clinton), a rare expression in writing of his feelings about the issue: "Morally and politically speaking slavery is a moral evil."  While this statement shows he considered the practice of enslavement immoral and wicked, it was a "moral evil" from which he benefited both personally and professionally. (National Park Service, Martin Van Buren, National Historic Site New York; Martin Van Buren and the Politics of Slavery )


²⁹ Abstracts of Wills on file in the Surrogate's Office, City of New York. New-York Historical Society. Collections. The John Watts de Peyster publication fund series v. 25-41. New York. 1893–1913. hdl:2027/coo.31924067113500

³⁰ Steiner, Bruce (1971). Samuel Seabury, 1729-1796; A Study in the High Church Tradition. Oberlin: Ohio University Press. pp. 65–66

³¹ “Certifying the transfer of four slaves to father-in-law Edward Hicks from Samuel Seabury, 1765,” Samuel Seabury Papers, MSS Se116, General Theological Seminary, New York, NY.  For a greater understanding of the family financial dispute and estimate of slave worth see, Steiner, Samuel Seabury, pp. 66, 75-79

³² "Register". Retrieved April 22, 2021

³³ “Seabury’s Journal B. 1791-1795,” The Bishop Samuel Seabury Papers, General Theological Seminary, Item 453, as cited in Steiner, p. 314.

³⁴ Keith Esposito (then a postulant for Holy Orders in the Diocese of North Carolina),A Question of Loyalty: The Curious Case of Samuel Seabury”, Theology and History, Earth and Magazine, November 8, 2021.

³⁵ “Trinity and Slavery”, a report by students in American Studies 406 at Trinity College.  Begun in the Spring of 2019 as a course titled “The History and Memory of Slavery at Trinity”, the Trinity community embarked on an investigation of the college’s historic connection to the multi-faceted institutions of slavery and their ongoing reverberations on campus, across the nation and around the world.  

³⁶ His 1861 book is entitled American Slavery Distinguished from the Slavery of English Theorists and Justified by the Law of Nature.  He stated in the Preface:

The fact that the Constitution of the United States covers Slave States as well as Free, is reason enough, in my opinion, why every man that lives under it should assume slavery to be neither morally wrong nor socially disreputable.

Slavery is no more forbidden by Scripture than by the Constitution, but is permitted by both; and I cannot but think that modesty and good sense should have taught all citizens and all Christians who could not see the reason of the permission, to take it on the authority of the Constitution of their country and the Rule of their faith, without an appeal to a higher law.”  His was not a nuanced opinion but an unequivocal one, although one might argue neither his logic nor his conclusion is compelling or without flaw.

³⁷ Turner’s Annals, p. 28 lists six baptisms in A.D. 1760 “including four being at Oyster Bay, “ negro slaves ” of Dr. Platt.

³⁸ Turner’s Annals, p. 38.  Curiously, this entry describes Rachel, slave of Dr. Platt, and Richard, son of Obadiah Hammond, slave of Mr. Loyd, as having been admitted to the church, not baptized as the other entries generally read.  Were they were baptized or not?  Were they were already baptized elsewhere?

³⁹ Moses Scudder, ed., Records of the First Church in Huntington, Long Island, 1723-1779 (Huntington, NY: Printed by author, 1898.)

⁴⁰ See footnote 38

⁴¹ See footnote 39

⁴²The Migration Of Jupiter Hammon And His Family: From Slavery To Freedom And Its Consequences”, by Charla E. Bolton, AICP, Town of Huntington, New York African American Historic Designation Council/ Reginald H. Metcalf, Jr., Town of Huntington, New York African American Historic Designation Council

³ Jupiter Hammon’s literary works, generally on the themes of morality and Christian salvation, include:

  • "An Evening Thought" (An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries”, published1761)
  • "Untitled" (1770, unpublished)
  • An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatly (1778)
  • "An Essay on the Ten Virgins" (1779, lost work)
  • "A Winter Piece" (1782)
  • "A Poem for Children with Thoughts on Death" (1782)
  • "An Evening's Improvement" (1783)
  • "The Kind Master and Dutiful Servant" (1783)
  • "An Essay on Slavery" (1786, unpublished)
  • An Address to the Negroes in the State of New-York (1787)

⁴⁴ Excerpts from “WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS, THERE IS FREEDOM”:  BLACK SPIRITUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE ANTISLAVERY MOVEMENT, 1740-1841, A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Cornell University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Dianne Wheaton Cappiello, August 2011

⁴⁵ Turner’s Annals, p. 61

⁴⁶ Online Books by Temple Prime." The Online Books Page. (Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Library) Accessed July 4, 2023.

⁴⁷ Netherlands, Marriage Index, 1575-1938,

⁴⁸ Barrett, Walter. The Old Merchants of New York City. (New York: Thomas R. Knox & Co., 1885) p. 10-12

⁴⁹ Baptist, Edward E. The Half Has Never Been Told. (New York, Basic Books, 2014) p. 273

⁵⁰ Kennedy, Brandon Edward. The Yazoo Land Sales: Slavery, Speculation and Capitalism in the Early American Republic. (PhD Dissertation, University of Florida, 2015) p. 139

⁵¹ Baptist, p. 20

² Hidy, R. W. 'The Union Bank of Louisiana Loan, 1832: A Case Study in Marketing." The Journal of Political Economy 1939-04: Volume 47, Issue 2.

⁵³ The senior Rev. Samuel Seabury’s letter of October 21, 1761 to the SPG reported that while his visits to St. John’s are seldom, they are ”well filled, and the zealous members always lament their want of a minister.”  (From Annals of the Church on Long Island in Rev. A. Whitaker’s Parish Record, March, 1885”, Turner also reported him as stating “I attend a full church at Huntington twice a year, on Sundays … .  I have preached sundry times on week-days, to a congregation of one hundred people, generally poor, who express great thankfulness.” (Extract from the Scrap-book of Mr. Henry Onderdonk.)

⁵⁴ On September 30, 1762, Mr. Seabury, once again reported to the SPG that he had preached two Sundays to the people of Huntington and recommended their application for a missionary, noting they have already erected an edifice for the worship of God according to the Liturgy of the Church of England, and purchased a valuable House and Glebe worth about £200, which they are ready to make a conveyance of for the use of the church of Huntington forever, hoping to have leave within a year or two, to send over a candidate for Holy Orders.  (Note No. 3 in Parish Register.) Page 14, referring to the church and rectory”.  In his Annals, Turner also reports the tradition in the parish that the land was of considerable extent, that a house still standing on the south side of Shoemaker Lane (formerly named Mill Dam Lane) is the house and that the Rev. Mr. Greaton, the first rector, lived in it. He added that he himself had been informed that the Rt. Rev. Horatio Potter, the late Bishop of New York, learned when in England attending the first Lambeth Conference that a deed or paper referring to a House and Glebe at Huntington was in the library at Lambeth Palace, (or more probably at Fulham, the See House of the Bishops of London, Ed. But the authority for this statement was not mentioned. 

⁵⁵ Turner’s Annals, p. 30

⁵⁶ Turner’s Annals, p. 44

⁵⁷ Kenneth P. Quinn, A Short History of St. John's Church. Huntington: St. John's Church, 1994. p.7]

⁵⁸ Reporting on the dedication of View Acre Drive as Cornelia Prime Way to honor Huntington Hospital’s female benefactor, Cornelia Prime, on Thursday, August 1, 2019, designated Cornelia Prime Day, The North Shore Leder article noted: "Cornelia Prime's legacy doesn't end with Huntington Hospital. She and her family also helped finance the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building, which housed the first library in town; the clock tower on Old Town Hall; St. John's Episcopal Church on Main Street; Grace Chapel in Huntington Station (now Mt. Calvary Holy Church of Huntington); and the Trade School Building on Main Street." "Honoring Cornelia Prime" (

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