To all to Whom these presents shall come…

We have lots and lots of deeds in the collections at CHS that do not regularly inspire great interest. Last week, however, we acquired two very important deeds that were signed by Native Americans in Branford.

Native American deed for land in Branford, 1686. CHS Ms 101753

Native American deed for land in Branford, 1686. CHS Ms 101753

In 1686, Wampum, Nawatockis, Sibbon Jonson, Geoffry and Manapollet all made their mark on this deed that provided clarification on land previously deeded to the English proprietors. Whether that first transfer was verbal or written is not specified or known, but the parties determined it was “not so formall as should be respecting the boundaryes of said land although the above-said English have had quiet possession for many years.” The previous agreement also did not state anything about Native Americans’ rights for hunting and fishing. The question is, who wanted more formality in that transfer? I assume it was the English, with their penchant for law and propriety.

The second document (below), dated 1716/17 and signed by only two of the previously named Natives, known as Richard Sr. and Richard Jr., seems to be another fine-tuning of the agreement and involves land on Indian Neck in the south central section of Branford.

Deed for land in Branford, 1716/17. CHS Ms 101753

Deed for land in Branford, 1716/17. CHS Ms 101753

We are delighted with this new acquisition because deeds signed by Native Americans are rare, and we do not have really strong holdings related to Branford. This was a double “win” for CHS.

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