Thomas Sayre

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Thomas Sayre, son of Francis Sayre and Elizabeth Atkins, was born probably shortly before his baptism at Leighton Buzzard, Bedford, England, 20 July 1597.1 He died at Southampton, Suffolk Co., New York, before 10 June 1670, when his inventory was taken.2,1

Thomas Sayre is first of record at Lynn, Massachusetts in 1638 where he is shown as a proprietor and allotted 60 acres.3

He was one of eight "undertakers" who joined to resettle on Long Island. They first attempted to settle at Cow Bay (Schout's Bay to the Dutch), but the Dutch wouldn't allow it and drove them off. They then sailed through Long Island Sound around the east end of the island to Peconic Bay, landing at what is now the North Sea, about three miles from what would be Southampton.

Thomas built a house on a town lot in 1648, which stood until 1912 when it was condemned as a fire hazard and demolished. At that time it was thought to be the oldest wooden building on the continent and perhaps the world.

Thomas Sayre was a prominent man among the founders, as appears from the following extracts from the town records:
October 10, 1649: at a General Court he was one of three men chosen "to agitate town business, and they are to have the same authority that the five men had the last year." This is the first record extant of the choice of town rulers, and he may have held office earlier.

October 6, 1651, he was one of the five men chosen "for governing of town affairs" — "to act and order all town affairs whatsoever excepting matters of admitting of inhabitants or giving of lands."

October 6, 1654, he was chosen one of three "Townsmen."

March 6, 1657, he was chosen at a town meeting as one of six men " to act and conclude concerning a difference concerning land which east Hampton men make within our bounds."

At a court, May 2, 1657, he was one of seven men chosen "to have the man aging of the present affair of the town concerning the safety thereof and get all men to lay down themselves in respect of their persons and estates to be disposed of by the said seven men in a way of righteousness."

At a court, June 19, 1657, he was one of five men "chosen to lay out roads and view fences."

December 9, 1658, at a town meeting, he was chosen to be " overseer for mending the bridge."

October, 1648, he " was allowed for his basedrum the sum of thirteen shillings, and his year begins the said day." There being no church bells, a drummer was employed to go round the town and summon people to church and town meetings.

The meaning of the two following items is not quite clear :
At the general court, October 23, 1650, "it was ordered that Thomas Sayre shall duly train with the company of town soldiers at their days appointed, excepting his personal pursuing of the Indians in a hostile way, or to go forth against the common enemy."

October 6, 1653, " It is concluded that Thomas Sayre shall have paid unto him by the town ten shillings as an allowance unto him for some pitts that he emparted to the highway, for which he was to have allowance by order made for merly when Mr. Wells and Mr. Gibbons were here."

He was probably of a quick temper, and not slow to express his opinions even about those in authority, as is evidenced by the following:
November 18, 1644, "Thomas Sayre was censured for some contemptuous carriage to Mr. Gosmer, being Magistrate, to pay ten shillings and to make public acknowledgment of his offense, which if he shall refuse, then to be liable to pay forty shillings."

March, 1653, "Thomas Sayre and Joshua Barnes for speaking unseemly and unsavory words in the Court or concerning the Court were fined to pay ten shillings each. Note — ye fines remitted upon their acknowledgment March 6, 1654."

He was doubtless liberal of heart. The town records publish only one occasion where contributions were made for those in distress, and on that occasion it relates: "At a town meeting, February 4, 1656, a contribution was made for Goodman Gouldsmith, because of his loss by fire " (house burned by Indians) ; of the contributors (of wheat) one only gave more than Thomas Sayre.

His name appears as a juror nine times in the period from September, 1653, to September, 1658.

At the original settlement of the town each settler was allowed a " home lot " and certain other lands, and subsequently other lands were divided among the original settlers or those to whom they had disposed of their rights ; each lot was designated as a 150-pound lot, and there were forty-one allotments made at the several divisions.
February 2, 1653, there was a "division of lands called Sagaponack," and he drew lot No. 4, 150, and 50 of lot 13.

February, 1654, at the "Seaponack Division," he drew lot No. 2 and 50 of lot 25.

1657, at the "Eastward allotment of meadows at the Beach," he drew lot 47 and part of 15.

March 5, 1651, the "little plains" allotment was made, and Thomas Sayre drew No. 25, and " is to have 50 out of No. 29."

A second "division of the little plains" took place shortly afterwards, and he drew as in the foregoing allotment.

He signed the call for the town meeting to arrange for the reception of Governor Lovelace in 1668.

He was a farmer and a tanner. In 1667 he gave five acres to each of his four sons.

Thomas left a will dated 16 September 1669, and proved 1 April 1671:
In ye name of God, Amen. I, Thomas Sayre of South Hampton on Long Island in the Com. Nov: Yorke, being in perfect strength of mind, blessed be the Lord for it, but weake of Bodye, not knowing the day of my appointed change doe make this last Will and Testament, in manner following:

Imprimis. I give and freely bequeath my Soule unto God that gave it and my Body unto earth from whence it was first taken.

2d. I give unto my sonne Francis Sayre 2 acres of land lyeing next unto his own in Copt Neck in the Great Playnes and 2 acres more of land lyeing in the Eight acres Lotts in the said Great Playnes, a pewter fflaggon, a Pewter Bowl, and great Pewter Platter.

3d. I give unto my sonne Daniell Sayre, 2 acres of land lyeing next unto the above said two acres in the said Eight acre Lotts, and three acres more of Land lyeing in the Ten acre Lotts, and one great Pewter Platter.

4th. I give unto my sonne Joseph Sayre, fourty pounds Sterling to be paid him by my Executor Ten pounds per annum to beginne wh in five years next after my decease, to be paid in good Merchant's Shoos or other pay that will procure Hides towards his setting up as a Tanner.

5th. I give unto my daughter Damaris Atwater fourty Shillings.

6th. I give unto my daughter Mary Price fourty Shillings.

7th. I give unto my daughter Hannah Sayre Twenty pounds to be paid at her day of marriage or when she shall be eighteen years of age which shall first happen and that my Executor doe keep her Cow and Calfe and their increase for her untill she shall be either married or in some other capable way to maintain them.

8th. I give my household goods to be equally divided between my sons Job and Joseph and Hannah, and that when they be divided, Hannah have her first choice of ye partes.

9th. Lastly. I by this last Will and Testament have made my son Job Sayre my sole Executor to receive all my Worldly estate, both of Housing, Lands, goods and Cattle and Debts due to me from any person or persons, and to pay all debts due from me and all Legacyes specified.

In witness whereof I have hereunto sett my hand and seale this 16th day of September, 1669.

     [signed]Thomas Sayre

Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of
Obadiah Rogers
John Laughton

John Howell, Henry Pierson, Tomas Cooper, and John Jenning took the inventory, which totaled £307 7s, 10 June 1670.2


  • Damaris Sayre+1 d. 1 Apr 1691
  • Francis Sayre1 d. 20 Jan 1698
  • Daniel Sayre1 d. Apr 1708
  • Joseph Sayre1
  • Job Sayre1 d. 1 Apr 1694
  • Mary Sayre1
  • Hannah Sayre1 b. 1650
This person was last edited on19 Jan 2016


  1. [S16] Mary L. Holman, Ancestry of Colonel John Harrington Stevens and His Wife Francis Helen Miller(Concord, New Hampshire: Rumsford Press, 1948), 473-478, further cited as Holman, Stevens-Miller Genealogy.
  2. [S2010] Theodore M. Banta, Sayre Family: Lineage of Thomas Sayre: A Founder of Southampton(New York: De Vinne Press, 1901), 21-23 citing New York Wills, liber I, folio 63-65, 279-280, further cited as Banta, Sayre Family.
  3. [S2010] Banta, Sayre Family, 16.