Captain Kidd And The East Hampton Witch

You might not know what has occurred here on the East End of Long Island once upon a time. An invasion!, but since the invasion is long over, there is nothing to worry about.

This invasion took place on Gardiner’s Island and involved pirates, war and…family issues. Family issues might not seem like a bog deal but this Island happens to be the only piece of real estate in the United States that is part of an original royal grant from the English Crown. [expand]

After obtaining a grant from King Charles I of England, Lion Gardiner settled on the Island in 1639. Gardiner received the title, “Lord of the Manor,” and was given the “right to posses the land forever.” In 1641, Gardiner’s wife gave birth to Elizabeth who would initiate the first witch-hunt in the American colony. Gardiner’s servant Goody Garlick was the accused. Elizabeth died while screaming some of her last words, “A witch!” She claims she saw something at the edge of her bed…Was there a witch in East Hampton? Maybe, but Goody Garlick was not convicted and she lived a long life.

Then there were pirates.

Captain William Kidd, arriving in 1699, was a privateer and pirate. Along with Kidd, many pirates came to the Island to trade goods. With the permission of Gardiner’s grandson, Captain Kidd buried $30,000 worth of treasure in a ravine between Bostwick’s Point and the Manor House. Kidd gave Gardiner a piece of gold cloth, which he captured from a Moorish ship of Madagascar. The cloth is on display at the East Hampton Library.

Kidd was arrested while in Boston and was sentenced to execution. The Governor of New York and Massachusetts, Richard Earl of Bellomont, ordered the Gardiners to give the court the treasure to serve as evidence, including gold dust, silver bars, gold Spanish coins, rubies, diamonds, candlesticks and porringers, which had been buried by Captain Kidd. Ironically, Kidd was executed for killing his rebellious deck hand William Moore with a wooden bucket, rather than for his flagrant piracy.

Kidd’s dead body was hung high for passing ships to see. It showed what would happen if more pirates were to “explore” the land.

According to the book, Three Mile Harbor by Sylvia Mendelman, “Pirates continued to be a problem in East Hampton.” Here, the pirates caused destruction to the townspeople’s properties; they raided the village, stole goods and disrespected authority – as pirates so often do. To help combat this situation, the white windmill on Gardiner’s Island was used as an alarm for the people of East Hampton. Signals such as “+” and “X” were used when pirates were on there way.

Over the years, about 80 pirates were seen on the Island causing, often doing damage. Mendelman explains, “opportunity seekers,” came to the Island and found nothing. As she writes, “…But all they got to take home was the sand in their shoes.”

Now that the pirate years were over the family could live in peace on the Island. The Manor house, originally built in 1774, was reconstructed in 1947 after a fire. Sarah Diodati Gardiner, David’s daughter, rebuilt the home and left it and the Island to her nephew Robert David Lion Gardiner and his sister Alexandra Gardiner Creel. “The 16th Lord of the Manor,” would became Robert ‘s title. This Gardiner died in 2004. The Creel’s daughter Alexandra Goelet, the last remaining heir in the Gardiner’s family, owns the Island today. [/expand]


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