Captain Lyon Gardiner

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Captain Lyon Gardiner, whose ancestry is unknown (or not traced here), was born at England, in 1599.1,2 He died at East Hampton, Suffolk Co., New York, before 12 April 1664.1,2

Lyon married Mary Duercant, daughter of Dirck Williemsz Duercant, before 1624.1,2,3

Captain Lyon Gardiner was native to England, but appears in Holland as "an engineer and master of works of fortification in the legers of the Prince of Orange in the Low Countires." England, often an ally of Holland, often had regiments garrisoned some dutch towns. About this time, 1635, some puritans of New England asked him to go there to build and command fortifications in the eastern frontier. Through the persuasion of Hugh Peters, pastor of English exiles at Rotterdam, John Davenport, a dissenting minister from London and some other well affected Englishmen of Rotterdam" he accepted their offer for £100 per annum for a term of four years. He and his family were to be furnished transportation and subsistence to their destination; and his task was to be limited to drawing, ordering, and making a city, towns and forts of defence under the immediate direction of John Winthrop, the younger.4

On the 10th of July, Gardiner and his wife left Woersdon, Holland with passage on the Batchelor, probably from Rotterdam for London. They are of record embarking at London, again on the Batchelor, Mr. Thomas Webb, master, as Lyon Gardner, 36, and his wife Mary, 34, and their maidservant Elizabeth Coles 23, and Wm Jope, 40, 11 August 1635, bound for New England having presented a "certificate of conformitie." On the 16th, Edward Hopkins, agent for forwarding ships and supplies bound to Connecticut, wrote Winthrop to inform him that he had just cleared the "North Sea Boatt", mentioning Gardiner, his wife, maid, and workmaster, itemizing the cargo, and crew. He also made an accounting, "They are all to be at the Companies charge for matter of diett. The Serieant hath receaved of me beforehand towards his first year's wages £30 sterlinge, & Wm. Job hath receaved £15, the master also of the barque hath receaved £8.

Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts noted in his journal dated at Boston, 28 November 1635, "Here arrived a small Norsey bark of twenty-five tons sent by Lords Say &c., with one Gardiner an expert engineer or work base and provisions of all sorts to begin a fort at the mouth of Connecticut. She came through many great tempests, yet, through the Lord's great providence, her passengers, twelve men and two women, and goods all safe."5,6

A particularly harsh winter kept Lion and his family in Boston for a while. The town took the opportunity "for ye raysing of a new worke of fortification upon ye fort hill, about that which is there alreaddy begune, the whole towne bestowe fourteene dayes worke" per man. Commissioners were chosen, and a treasurer and a clarke with the work to begin as soon as weather permitted, for "ye engineere, Mr. Yon Garner, who doth so freely offer his help thereunto, hath but a short time to stay."

The "Magistrates of the Bay" also asked him to visit Salem to evaluate it's readiness. He reported that the people were more in danger of starvation than any "foreign potent enemy."7

Saybrook Colony was originally planned as a refuge for some of the prominent Puritan Parliamentarians of England, but orders from King Charles I prevented their emmigration. The plans for the colony included a fort at the mouth of the Connecticut River, and it was Lion's task to build it.

Probably in March 1636, Lion and family arrived on the Batchelor, and although the company had promised 300 men were expected, Gardiner noted the great expectation came "to only two men, Fenwick and his man."

Among the freight the Batchelor carried were "Iron worke for 2 drawbridges, as follows: 62 stables, 40 staple hooks for portcullis, 4 chains, 10 boults, 4 plates, 8 chain clasps, 4 under hinges, 23 1/2 yards of redd flagg stuffe for Serieant Gardiner's use & some small lines that came from Holland & a wheelbarrow."

The fort was the first fortifcation in New England. It was on a steep point jutting out into the Connecticut River, connected to the mainland by a sandy beach, flanked by salt marshes. The land side was protected by a pallisade and could not be approached by any firm ground. Named Fort Saybrooke in honor of two of the sponsors of the enterprise, Lord Say and Sele, and Lord Brooke. It was destroyed by fire in 1647.

Gardiner was well known to the leadership of the Bay Colony and it's supporters as shown in some surviving letters or journals:
Sir Richard Saltonstall: "Pray you Commend me, after yourselfe, to your good wife and Sergieant Gardiner with his fellow soldier..."
Hugh Peters: "Salute honest Mr. Garddner and the rest."
William Pynchon: "I pray you remember my harty loue to Mr. Gardener and the rest with you."
John Winthrop Sr.: "...with salutations to all our friends, Mr. Gardiner, and his wife &c."
Adam Winthrop (Son of Winthrop Sr.): " love to my brother Steven and Mr. Gardner and his wife, and all the rest of my frindes."
John Winthrop Sr.: " I paid Mr. Garsford of Salem £5 for a buff-coat for Mr. Gardiner, which you must remember to put to his account."

Gardiner's skills and abilities were soon to be put to the test.8

In the summer of 1636, Bay authorities reqested a "solemn meeting of conference" with the Chief Sachem of the Pequots, and to demand of him the murderers of Capt. Stone and others, and in case of refusal, to return the present, a token of amity, which the Chief had sent the Bay authorities on a former occasion when the same demand was made. The demand was refused, the present returned, and war was inevitable.

A succinct description of the Pequot War may be found at:

Gardiner recognized that retaliation between the settlers and the Indians would only escalate, and made some attempts at reasoning with the Bay authorities, to no avail.

In the fall and winter, 1636-7, Fort Saybrook was under seige, and at least one, a trader named Tilley, ventured out against Lion's advice, and was tortured and killed. 22 Feb 1636/7, Lion took 10 men to burn the reeds and leaves on a neck near the marsh and were suddenly attacked by a large group of Indians. The fighting was close quarters, described as being pursued "on to the very muzzles of their pieces," and the settlers defending themselves with "their naked swords." He was hit by many arrows, "but my buff-coat preserved me, and only one hurt me."

The town of Weathersfield was attacked, 23 April 1637 and two young girls, daughters of Abraham Swain, were taken captive. At his own expense, Lion hired some Dutch traders to lure the Indians into an ambush near Saybrook Fort. In something of a lucky shot, the Fort's cannon hit the canoe carrying the girls, but they were unhurt, rescued, and later returned home.

The Pequot war would come an end with the Mystic Massacre in May 1636 and the Great Swamp Fight in June. However, the sponsors of the Colony had decided to remain in England (or were prevented from emmigrating by the King). The situation no longer required a warlike vigilance, and Gardiner was able to parley with the Indians without the need for "sword, pistols, and carbine." But, he also recognized that the need for his services was waning. In a letter to John Winthrop, Jr, he wrote, " seemes wee have neather masters nor owners...there shall be noe cause to complayne of our fidelitie and endeavours to you ward...," yet if not provided for, "then must I be forced to shift as the Lord may direct."9,10

He remained at his post, fulfilling his four-year contract. 3 May 1639, he secured from the Indians of Long Island, an entire island at the eastern end of Long Island, known by them as Manchonac ("a place where may had died"), by the Gardiners as the Isle of Wight, and today called Gardiner's Island. Later, 10 Mar 1639/40, Lion received a grant from an agent of the Earl of Stirling, the grantee of the King, confirming the Indian deed, though Lion was obligated to pay the Earl £5 per year.

In 1649 he was one of the original purchasers for land for East Hampton, and in 1650 was influential in procuring the first minister of the town, Thomas James. In a letter to John Winthrop, Jr., he mentioned the books he had that the minister could use, "he is but a young man, happily he hath not many books, therefore let him know what I have. First, the 3 Books of Martyrs, Erasmus, most of Perkins, Wilson's Dictionary, a large Concordance, Mayor on the New Testament; some of these, with other that I have, may be useful to him."

In 1654, he helped his friend and Montauk Indian Chief Wyandance retrieve his daughter from captivity, captured in a raid by the Narragansetts. The chief gave Lion the land now the principle part of Smithtown, Long Island. The text of the deed shows the depth of feelings and respect each had for the other:
...that I Wayandance Sachame, of Pamanack, with my wife and sonn Wiankanbone, my only sonn and heire, havinge delyberately considered how this twentie-foure years wee have bene not only acquainted with Lion: Gardiner, but from time to time have reseived much kindnes of him and from him, not onlely by counsell and advice in our prosperitie, but in our great extremytie, when wee were almost swallowed upp of our enemies, then wee say he apeared to us not onlely as a friend, but as a father, in giveinge us his monie and goods, wherby wee defended our ourselves, and ransomd my daughter and friends, and wee say and know that by his meanes we had great comfort and reliefe from the most honarable of the English nation heree about us; soe that seinge wee yet live, and both of us beinge now ould, and not that wee at any time have given him any thinge to gratifie his father love, care and charge, we haveinge nothing left that is worth his acceptance but a small tract of land which we desire him to Accept of for himselfe, his heires, executors and assignes forever. . . .

He was elected selectman of East Hampton, 3 Oct 1654, 3 Oct 1655, and 7 Oct 1656. 19 Mar 1656/7 he and others were appointed as a committee to "to go into Keniticut for to bring us under their government," and on a committee to resolve some dispute with Southampton, 29 Nov 1662.

In 1658, Wyandance voluntarily gave to Thomas James and Lion Gardner, each, "one half of all the whales cast upon the beach from Napeake to the end of Long Island;" that the first good whale they shall have freely and for nothing." Later that Gardiner testified on behalf of Wyandance in his suit against one Vaile for damage done to his "great cannow." The jury found for the plaintiff, though only awarding 10s plus costs. Wyandance died later that year, and Lion had been previously appointed guardian to his son. Lion remarked on his friend's death, "my friend and brother is gone, who will now do the like?"

Lion was sued before the magistrates of East Hampton, in 1659, for £500. It seems certain Englishmen had captured a Dutch vessel, but Lion had retaken it at his island. The case was referred to the general court at Hartford, but apparently never tried.

In 1662, he and others were chosen to "compound a difference...about Meantaquit." Finally, in 1663, he seems to be last of record when ye conveyed his lands in Smithtown to Richard Smith of Rhode Island.11,12

In 1660, he was asked to compile what he remembered of the Pequot War by Robert Chapman and Thomas Hurlburt. He was unimpressed with his product, desiring that they would find someone to edit, refine it, and add it to some larger work:
You know that when I came to you I was an engineer or architect, whereof carpentry is a little part, but you know I could never use all the tools, for although for my necessity, I was forced sometimes to use my shifting chissel, and my holdfast, yet you know I could never endure nor abide the smoothing plane; I have sent you a piece of timber scored and forehewed unfit to join to any handsome piece of work, but seeing I have done the hardest work, you must get somebody to chip it and so smooth it lest the splinters should prick some men's fingers...13

An undated inventory of his land was entered in the East Hampton records, apparently sometime after 1686: "The records of the allotment of Mr. Lyon Gardyner granted by the Town of Easthampton to him, his heirs and assigns forever containing twenty eight acres of upland, viz:
homelot and plains with all privileges and appurtenances beloing to such an allotment as followeth:
Imprimis, the homelot and the addition containing nine acres and a half...,
secondly, one parcel of land in the great plain containing twenty nine acres and a half... whereof eight acres of this parcel of land was made over by the foresaid Mr. Lion Gardyner unto Roger Smyth ...,
thirdly, one parcel of woodland lying eastward from the town containing fourteen acres ...,
and one parcel of meadow in Accobonock Neck containing five acres and a quarter more or less, whereof one acre and three-quarters was changed with Mr. James for meadow in the first division at Accabonok,
and one acre and three-quarters more or less in the second diviision at Accobonok which was exchanged with Mr. James for part of the five acres mentioned of the first division,
one parcel of meadow at Accobonok in the second divsion which he had of John Stratton in way of exchange for meadow at the northwest ...,
and once parcel of meadow more in Accobonok Neck which he also had of John Strtton in exchange for this meadow above mentioned at the northwest ...,
also one parcel of land that he exchanged with Richard Stretton being in the great plain containing five acres ...,
also one parcel of land more exchanged with George Myler in the great plain being an acres and a half ...,
also one parcel of land more by the great plain being seven acres more or less which was part of a third division of land ...,
also one parcel of land he hath more being the second homelots, being in all eighteen acres part whereof he had of George Myller by purchase and of John Osburn for meadow by Hooke Point ... whereof six acres more or less of the aforesaid eighteen acres of land ... he hath sold and made over unto Enock Fithyan ...,
also one parcel of land more granted to Jeremyah Conckling by the Town in consideration of land at Meantacut as elsewhere may appear containing sixty acres ..., and one parcel of land which he had of John Stretton in exchange between them two conaining four acres ...,
and one parcel of land being part of a fourth division lying at the northeast end of the town as men go to Accobonock, containing seven acres and a half ...,
also six acres and a half of land by the plain side as we go to Indian Well ...,
also eleven acres of land near Alewife Brook ...,
all which three last parcels of land are a part of a fifth division of land allotted out by the Town proprietors in the year 1686.14

Lyon left a will dated 13 August 1658, with the inventory presented 12 Apr 1664. Although the will was proved in the Southampton Court of Sessions, that date is lacking in Pierson's record of it:
Bee it known to all men that I Lyon Gardiner of East Hampton, doe bye these make my last will and testament.

First then I bequeath my soule to god yt gave it, my body to the earth from whence it came,

My estate as followeth.

First then I leave my wife Mary whole and sole Executor and Administrator of all that is or may bee called mine, only whereas my daughter Elizabeth hath had ten head of cattle, soe I will that my sonne David and my daughter Mary shall each of them have the like. As for my whole estate both ye Island and all that I have at East Hampton I give it to my wife that shee may dispose of it before her death as God shall put it into her mind, only this I put into her mind of, that whereas my son David after hee was at liberty to provide for himself, by his owne engagement hath forced me to part with a great part of my estate to save his credit, soe that at present I cannot give to my daughter and grandchild that which is fitting for them to have. But I leave it to my wife with the overseers of my will to give to each of them as God shall put into her mind what shee will and to dispose of all as she will.

And the cause yt moves me at present to make this will is not only the premises, but other causes known to me & my wife of whome, and for whome, I stand and am bound to provide, and take care for soe long as I live soe yt when I am dead, by willful neglect shee bee not brought to poverty which might bee a cause to her of great grief and sorrow.

The executor of this my will I desire to bee Mr Thomas James, ye Rev. minister of the word of God at East Hampton, with John Mulford and Robert Bond, whome I will that they shall have for every day spent about this my will, I say they shall have five shillings for every day, each of them, and their charges born. But in case yt three of the overseers of my will should not bee then here, then two or one with my wife may choose other. Witness my owne hand and seale this 13th of August 1668.

East Hampton

Witness Thomas James

The within written is a true copy of Mr Lyon Gardiner his will as it was produced unto and approved by the court here at Southampton, and by the said court ordered to be recorded by mee



Mary Duercant d. Apr 1665
  • David Gardiner+1,16 b. 29 Apr 1636, d. 10 Jul 1689
  • Mary Gardiner1,2 b. 29 Apr 1638, d. 15 Jun 1727
  • Elizabeth Gardiner1,2 b. 14 Sep 1641, d. Feb 1657/58
This person was last edited on11 Jan 2018


  1. [S2053] Robert Charles Anderson, George F. Sanborn Jr. and Melinde Lutz Sanborn, The Great Migration: Immigrants To New England, 1634-1635 (7 vols., Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1999-2011), 3:6-12, further cited as Anderson, et al., The Great Migration.
  2. [S331] Frank Nellis Parshall and Homer Leroy Parshall, To and From James and Catharine Parshall (Manhattan, Kansas: s.p., 1968), 23-26, further cited as Parshall and Parshall, Parshall Family.
  3. [S1872] Clarence Almon Torrey, New England Marriages Prior to 1700, 3 vols. (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011), 597, further cited as Torrey, New England Marriages (2011).
  4. [S1789] Curtiss C. Gardiner, Lion Gardiner, and his Descendants (1599-1890) (St. Louis, Missouri: A. Whipple, 1890), 46-47, further cited as Gardiner, Lion Gardiner.
  5. [S1789] Gardiner, Lion Gardiner, 48-49.
  6. [S1492] Peter Wilson Coldham, The Complete Book of Emigrants: 1607-1660: A Comprehensive Listing Compiled from English Public Records of Those Who Took Ship to the Americas for Political, Religious, and Economic Reasons; of Those Who Were Deported for Vagrancy, Roguery, or Non-Conformity; and of Those Who Were Sold to Labour in the New Colonies (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1987), 163, further cited as Coldham, Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1660.
  7. [S1789] Gardiner, Lion Gardiner, 49.
  8. [S1789] Gardiner, Lion Gardiner, 52-53.
  9. [S1789] Gardiner, Lion Gardiner, 15,54-57.
  10. [S1323] Wikipedia Contributors, "Pequot War," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,[:WEB] (accessed Nov 2011).
  11. [S1789] Gardiner, Lion Gardiner, 57-69.
  12. [S2053] Anderson, et al., The Great Migration, 3:6.
  13. [S1789] Gardiner, Lion Gardiner, 8-9.
  14. [S2053] Anderson, et al., The Great Migration, 3:8-9.
  15. [S968] Henry P. Hedges, William S. Pelletreau, Edward H. Foster, William J. Post and James A. Early, The First Book of Records of the Town of Southampton Long Island, N. Y., With Other Ancient Documents of Historic Value, Six Volumes (title varies). Southampton, New York: Town of Southampton, 1874-1915, 2:42-48. CD-ROM reprint, Genealogy and History of the Town of Southampton, New York (, 2007), further cited as Hedges et al., STR.
  16. [S331] Parshall and Parshall, Parshall Family, 33-37.