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W. J .KazcffmccTL Id^S. 

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English Crown Grants 








(A narrative of Colonial History) 










The Psychology of Crown Grants i 

The Evolution of Crown Grants 15 

Staten Island and Crown Grants 27 

The New World and Crown Grants 54 

English Common Law and Crown Grants. ... 60 

Royal Authority for Crown Grants 75 

The Indian and Crown Grants 90 

Riparian Rights and Crown Grants 104 

Public Bathing Places and Crown Grants 117 

Under Sea Lands and Crown Grants 129 

Fish, Oysters and Crown Grants 136 

The Grip of Crown Grants 151 

Title Guarantees and Crown Grants 170 

Analysis of One of the Crown Grants 182 

Quit-Rents and Crown Grants 203 

Manor of East Greenwich and Crown Grants. . 210 

Adverse Possessions under Crown Grants 217 

The Larger Vision under Crown Grants 228 

The Symes Foundation and Crown Grants. . . . 236 

Section i. Letter from Title Companies to 
Citizens and Friends of Staten 
Island 237 

Section 2. Certificate of Incorporation of 

The Symes Foundation 240 

Section 3. Contract between American 
Title and Trust Company and 
The Symes Foundation 244 



The American Bar Associations, Historical So- 
cieties, Colonial Organizations and all thoughtful 
citizens have a vital interest in the unique history 
and present-day dominating influence, in America, of 
the old English Crown Grants. 

Their virility is unimpaired despite the flight of 

The Royalty of the past frequently restricts and 
restrains the Democracy of to-day. 

It was the personal will and whim of the English 
Sovereigns, as expressed in the English Crown 
Grants, that prescribed the basis of Governmental, 
Commercial, Educational and Industrial Institutions, 
in the American Colonies, which Colonies subse- 
quently constituted "the Original Thirteen States." 

English Crown Grants are to-day powerfully ac- 
tive elements in our National Life. 

Great Universities, including Yale and Princeton, 
many ancient and wealthy churches, sit tight and 
smug under powers received by them, in their char- 
ters, from autocratic hands now long since crumbled 
into dust. 

Ferries are now operating in New York because 
English Kings, centuries ago granted the franchises 
so to do. Competition therewith is restrained be- 
cause the olden time and long since deceased mon- 
archs decreed that such Ferries should constitute a 


The most powerful title company in the world 
has recently announced that it will not guarantee its 
land title searches covering lands in one of the Bor- 
oughs of Greater New York, if required to make 
such searches back to the English Crown Grants. 

Every foot of land, in that designated Borough de- 
pends, for a complete chain of title, upon some one 
basic Grant from the English Crown. 

To ignore that fact is fatalistic, to defy it is reck- 
lessness, especially in the face of the indictment of the 
land titles of an entire Borough of Greater New 
York by the world's most powerful title company. 

Incredible disregard of the rights descending un- 
der English Crown Grants, confirmed by treaty be- 
tween Great Britain and the United States of Amer- 
ica, which treaties are " the supreme law of the land," 
has precipitated costly litigation involving vast areas 
of lands of immense values in the Borough of the 
Bronx, on Riverside Drive, at Coney Island, Rocka- 
way Beach, Oyster Bay, Northport, Lake Cham- 
plain, the Hudson River and many other places in 
New York State. 

Like controversies have involved land titles in 
Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and other States. 

The uniform and inflexible attitude of both Fed- 
eral and State Courts has been to sustain the legality 
and inviolability of the English Crown Grants as 
covering lands Granted by the English Crown in the 
American Colonies. 

The English Crown Grants of lands on Staten Isl- 
and have been selected by the author as the most di- 
versified, yet favorable grouping of Grants, to illus- 
trate the discussion of the problems involv^ed. 


Probably no locality in English Colonial America 
furnishes such an interesting, varied and yet com- 
plete group of Crown Grants as appears on the pub- 
lic records of Richmond County, New York, in which 
County Staten Island is situated. 


Montclair, N. J. 




WHAT IS LAW ? Many have been the responses 
to this query. It has been said that law is composed 
of three elements: — 

FIRST: — A command of the lawgiver, which 
command must prescribe, not a single 
act merely, but a series or class of 

SECOND : — An obligation imposed thereby on a 
citizen. ^ 

THIRD: — A sanction frtireatened in the event of 
disobedience. (Benth, Frag, on 

Blackstone defines law as : 

"A rule of civil conduct prescribed by the 
"Supreme Power in the State, commanding what 
"is right and prohibiting what Is wrong," (i 
B. La. Com. 44.) 

"The law of the land as used in the Magna 
"Charta and adopted in many of the earlier 
"constitutions of the original Thirteen States 
"means more than the Legislative will. It re- 
"quires the due and orderly proceeding of Jus- 


"tice, according to the established methods." 
(8 Gray 29.) 
In the United States, the organic law of a State 
is termed the Constitution, and the term "laws" gen- 
erally designate Statutes or Legislative Enactments 
in contradistinction to the Constitution. 

"Law, as distinguished from equity, denotes 
"the doctrine and procedure of the common law 
"of England and America, from which equity 
"is a departure." 

Human reason demanded the enunciation of the 
incontrovertible principles upon which the temple of 
justice might be reared. Constitutional authorities 
are in agreement that the true source of all law Irom 
which equity and justice flow is in the immutable, un- 
changeable and all-powerful will of God, permeat- 
ing and extending throughout all nature and dom- 
inating and controlling all life. 

We find, therefore, in its final analysis, or shorn 
of all confusing and complex definitions that law finds 
its true interpretation in the correct answer to that 
ever-recurring question, "What is Truth?" Truth 
is the rule of "Exact accordance with that which is, 
or has been, or shall be," as developed by that Su- 
preme Power which makes for Righteousness. Tn 
recognition of this generic principle, a Court of Jus- 
tice is designed to discover the truth. Witnesses are 
sworn in the presence of the Supreme Soverign to 
declare "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but 
the truth." The Divine Master, when he would 
cleanse Humanitv'^ from its corruption, put up the 
petition to the Almighty Father, "Sanctify them 


through Thy Truth, Thy Word is Truth." This 
was an invocation that the laws of Divine Justice 
might find ramification throughout all human rela- 
tions, the culmination of which would be "Peace on 
earth, good will to men." The highest consumma- 
tion of all law is the rule of the "law of love." "Law 
is beneficence acting by rule." "Love is the fulfill- 
ment of the Law." 

It is a trite saying that in the bosom of every 
acorn there lies dormant the form and pattern of a 
majestic oak. Stricken by the winter's cold, forced 
into action by the summer's heat, and drinking at the 
font of evening showers, the acorn hears the call of 
life and starts on its upward toilsome, yet unconscious 
climb for the fulfillment of the marvelous design of 
which it has been made the sacred shrine. Law an- 
ticipated its being, co-ordinated its elements and hav- 
ing charged its life with a design, which of necessity 
presupposes a dominating, directing and governing 
intelligence, sent if forth on its beneficent mission of 
tree building. Every tree represents a Super-Intelli- 
gence, directing and guiding a subservient force, 
working out an engineering design, embodying me- 
chanical construction and chemical processes, along 
lines of artistic skill and beauty; and all with special 
adaptation to human needs. Under its shade we may 
rest and contemplate but never duplicate it by our 

A tree is not a thesis in the school of human 
thought. It is an axiom. It is a bound volume in 
nature's law library, indexing, by its trunk, branches, 
lenves, blossoms and fruit, the intelligent purpose, 
organizing power and beneficent operation of an in- 


telligent law that works in nature's arena of human 

That masterful, dominating Intelligence "that was, 
is, and is to be," and which is the Creator and Di- 
rector of the forces of Nature, the royal sway of 
which tends to the highest good and greatest happi- 
ness, has not confined the implanting of His law 
within the bounds of unintelligent nature. We find 
in embryonic form in the minds of men everywhere 
an endowed tendency which when given its true op- 
portunity for development, works out the highest 
system of justice in human relations. 

"The Ancients said their laws came from the 
"gods. The Cretons attributed their laws, not 
"to Minos but to Jupiter. The Lacedaemonians 
"believed that their legislator was not Lucurgus, 
"but Apollo. The Romans believed that Numa 
"wrote under the direction of one of the most 
"powerful divinities of ancient Italy, — the god- 
"dess Egeria. The Etruscans had received their 
"laws from the god Tages. 

"There is truth in all these traditions. The 
"veritable legislator among the ancients was not 
"a man but the religious belief which men enter- 
"talned. The laws long remained sacred. 

"From this we can understand the respect and 
"attachments which the ancients long had for 
"their laws. In them they saw no human work, 
"but one whose origin is holy. It was no vain 
"word when Plato said, *To obey the laws is to 
"obey the gods.' 


"In principle, the laws were immutable, since 
"they were divine. 

"Man did not need to study his conscience 
"and say, 'This is just and this is unjust' An- 
"cient law was not produced in that way. But 
"man believed that the sacred hearth, in virtue 
"of the religious law, passed from father to son; 
"from this it followed that the house was hered- 
"itary property. The man who had buried his 
"father in his field believed that the spirit of the 
"dead one took possession of this field forever 
"and required a perpetual worship of his pos- 
"terity. As a result of this, the field, the domin- 
"ion of the dead and place of sacrifice, became 
"the inalienable property of the family. 

"Religion said 'the son continues the worship, 
"not the daughter; and the law said, with the 
"religion, 'the son inherits, the daughter does not 
"inherit, but not the nephew on the female side.' 

"This was the manner in which the laws were 
"made; they presented themselves without being 
"sought. They were the direct and necessary 
"consequence of the belief; they were religion it- 
"self applied to the relations of men among 
"themselves." (Primitive and Ancient Institu- 
tions, pages I06, I07.) 

The American Indian, in order to express Sover- 
eignty, used the word "Sachem," which being inter- 
preted, means "Power from above." The Peruvian 
aborigines declared that their Incas were the children 
of their divinity, the Sun. 

"The Laws of the Medes and Persians changeth 


not," they being as was then believed to be divine de- 
crees, which were "the same yesterday, to-day, and 

According to the Greeks, the sacred fire taught 
men to build houses. The house was always placed 
in the sacred enclosure. The walls were raised 
around the sacrificial hearth to isolate and defend 
it, and it was the religion of the family that influenced 
the erection of the house. The house was conse- 
crated by the perpetual presence of the gods. It was 
the temple idea which preserved them. 

"Here is his altar, here is his hearth, here are 
"his household gods; here all his sacred rights, 
"all his rehgious ceremonies are preserved." 

Family tombs, walled in, gradually gave rise to in- 
dividual title to lands. The dead were gods, the ob- 
ject of family worship, and their burial places, 
through religion, became family properties with title 
from the gods. 

The militant spirit conceived the house to be a 
man's "citadel." The religious instinct gave birth to 
the doctrine of the "sacred" rights of proprietorship 
in a homestead. 

We of this generation have inherited from our an- 
cestors the doctrine that the original and ultimate 
title to all property was and is vested in the King, 
Queen or other Sovereign power. This theory is 
explainable in several ways as it developed among 
our different ancestral tribes. They all hark back, 
however, to the principle implanted in the universal 
mind of man, that all property rights and titles orig- 
inally vested in and eminated from the Supreme 


Sovereign of all the Universe. That by the free and 
voluntary act of the Omnipotent Ruler, lands were 
apportioned among the children of men. "The Most 
High divided to the Nations their inheritance." (Ex. 
32:8.) Such lands, however, when so apportioned 
carried therewith "the obligation of fealty and ser- 
vice" to the Great King. Titles having been so con- 
veyed to His subjects, the obligation "followed with 
the land," so that the Grantees when called upon 
should appear, in feudal fashion, as loyal retainers 
and true soldiers of the King to do moral battle for 
Him. Such a Royal Grant from the Great Sovereign 
required that the King's Grantee should justly, by 
gift and bequest, apportion lands among others on 
like "conditions of fealty and service" to the King. 
Thus the King's realm would be safe and his sub- 
jects happy. To accept and serve under allegiance 
to such a divine government is to establish a well- 
ordered rule of righteousness. 

This doctrine of original proprietorship and ulti- 
mate ownership of all land as being vested in the 
Supreme Sovereign of all the earth is most clearly 
represented in its purest form in the History of the 
Hebrew Race. Their representative, Moses, went 
up into Mount Sinai and received their Laws for 
them, direct from the unseen and invisible Ruler of 
all the Universe. They receive their Grant to the 
land "beyond Jordan" from that same Imperial 
Source — "The land which the Lord thy God giveth 
thee." (Ex. 20:12.) They entered and took posses- 
sion thereof according to the terms of the Grant. By 
Imperial decree they evicted the prior owners be- 
cause the latter had not paid their proper quit rents 


of fealty and service to the Great King from whom 
they had received the land. Such land, however, 
so seized and possessed by the Hebrews was still 
charged with the obligation of fealty and service to 
Jehovah and was taken over by the twelve tribes of 
Israel with full knowledge of and consent to the con- 
ditions imposed thereon. 

The tithing tax appears in the well-known Hebraic 
code of laws. The Hebrews received and held the 
title to the divinely granted land, but the original and 
ultimate ownership was admittedly in their recog- 
nized but Unseen Sovereign, and their tenure thereof 
was a conditional one. They had a title subject to for- 
feiture, for the Sovereign did subsequently re-enter, 
taking possession thereof and evicted them from the 
land when they violated their oath of allegiance, or 
pledge of fealty to Him, and paid their tribute to 
other kings or deities. The true proprietor of the 
lands had, however, duly served advance notice upon 
them and upon their continued default he escheated 
the lands. The doctrine of Original Proprietorship 
and Ultimate Ownership of title by the Supreme Ruler 
was thereafter re-enunciated when the true Heir to 
the Throne subsequently appeared in the lands which 
were still possessed by Israel under the above men- 
tioned Grant. Meanwhile the Romans had levied 
upon the land in true sheriff fashion and eviction was 
then pending. 

Jesus Christ, the Crown Prince of Israel, came to 
restore, If possible, the original relationship between 
His Father, the Proprietor, and His about to be dis- 
possessed subjects. He patiently explained to the peo- 
ple His Father's right thereto by telling them that 


"All things were made by Him, and without Him was 
not anything made that was made." He further con- 
firmed to them the statement of their own beloved 
over-lord, King David, who had said that "The earth 
is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." In this way 
they were called upon to see that both real estate and 
personal property, as to ultimate ownership and origi- 
nal proprietorship were vested in the Great King, or 
Jehovah. In remarkable imagery, so dear to the 
heart of every Hebrew, this Prince explained to them 
how the lands had been apportioned out as if the soil 
was a great "vineyard," while "the owner went into 
a far country." He gave them to understand their 
possessory rights, in the well-known term, "occupy 
until I come." The Hebrews were given to under- 
stand that a renewed grant and continued possession 
were due to the "profitable servant" while disposses- 
sion would be justly meted out to the "unprofitable 
servant." He distinctly told them that upon the 
Great Sovereign's demand for an accounting the Sov- 
ereign had a right to expect that He was "to receive 
His own, with interest." The enunciation of this 
principle drew out of the rich yonnq; man the avowal, 
"I give tithes of all I possess." (Luke 18:12.) In 
American Colonial language. It might well have been 
stated, "I always pay my quit rents to the Great King 
of Heaven and Earth." 

This Royal Crown Prince further laid down an- 
other and very broad principle that Is wider than its 
application to the Hebrew race. In Its scope it Is as 
broad as humanity, and In point of time extends to 
the limits of human life. He made It plain that all 
properties, both real and personal, having originally 


issued forth from the Great Proprietor, will ulti- 
mately revert to that Great Proprietor, and that the 
ultimate dispossession of the entire human race from 
this planet will, as is now predicted by science, restore 
complete title and possession to the original, sole and 
true owner, "the King of all the Earth." God in his 
earthly solitude will then watch at the grave where 
the last human sleeps. He it was who held in one 
vast unbroken estate the solitudes of Earth before 
Eden heard the footfalls of human life. From him 
issued the Grants of land to the people whom He 
created and for whom the world was prepared. A 
great purpose inspired it and great moral obligations 
were imposed. 

The world's greatest law giver, Moses, said, 
"And all the tithes of land, whether the 
"seed of the land or the fruit of the trees, is the 
"Lord's; it is holy unto the Lord." (Lev. 27 : 
30.) That is to say, the "Quit Rents" are 
wholly His, and the obligations for the payment 
thereof "run with the land." 

This doctrine is basic in the realm of human 
thought. It has developed the legal maxim current 
in text books of law. "It is more serious to hurt di- 
vine than temporal majesty." (2 Cor. 29.) There- 
fore, we swear our witnesses in the presence of the 
Ever Living God, while they hold the Book of His 
Law in their hands. 

Among the races of men who originally accepted 
the theocratic form of government as fundamentally 
correct were some with materialistic tendencies. They 
revolted against straining their eyes towards an in- 


visible Sovereign. Their minds recoiled against an 
immaterial and invisible government. Mental, moral 
and spiritual forces were, to their sordid vision, as 
nothing in comparison with burnished steel and sharp- 
ened lances. A "Commission form of government" 
residing in a Board of Judges, when put to the test 
broke down among the Jews and the Hebrews cried 
out for a king. The spirit of militarism then ran 
high among them. Jehovah, they thought, was in 
another world. The prophets and the judges, they 
concluded, were wise old men, but somewhat passee 
and without force to back up their decrees. Hence 
they cried, "Give us a king." Then there promptly ap- 
peared among them the wily politician and ambitious 
soldiers, who were ready for political place and 

Had not Moses, the autocrat, delivered to the peo- 
pie the very laws of Heaven? The prophets and 
judges had seemed to the Jews quasi divine. Why 
then should not a human king of earth voice the de- 
crees of the King of Heaven and back them up with 
military, in place of spiritual forces? 

It is impossible in the short space of this state- 
ment to trace from its concept to its conclusion the 
amazing and now almost inconceivable doctrine of 
"the divine right of kings." "The King can do no 
wrong." (2 Rolle 304; Jenk Cent 9-3) ; Boom 
Max 52 ; Sharsw. Bla. Com. 246.) "The King never 
dies." (Boom Max 50; Branch Max 5th Ed. 197; 
Bla Com. 259.) "The King cannot deceive or be 
deceived." (Grounds and Rud. of Law 439.) 

This Idealized but false conception of the earthly 
king's perfection was sporadic. Infectious and became 


universal. To the earthly king as successor to the Di- 
vine Sovereign therefore fell the proprietorship of 
all "the vacant and unappropriated lands within the 
realm," To him fealty must be pledged. To him 
the revenue must be paid. Divinity dethroned. Hu- 
manity enthroned — "Long live the King." 

Among the prerogatives of sovereignty, conscrip- 
tion was a "Divine right." Even *n these modem 
days, when the tides of democracy are sweeping with 
tremendous force about the thrones of Imperial rul- 
ers, we hear enunciated, in royal proclamations under 
the seal of the Crown, such expressions as "My 
realm," "My kingdom," "My army," "My navy," 
and "My people." The doctrine of Original Proprie- 
torship and Ultimate Ownership in the human sov- 
ereign exists today with tremendous force and power. 
It is recognized to the fullest extent in international 
law and stands convicted at the bar of Public Opinion 
as the primal cause of the horrible tragedies being en- 
acted in the world war, the scourge of Europe, and 
the atheist of a heart-broken world. 

Divine Sovereignty, as revealed In a true Christian 
Socialism Is day by day steadily and gradually com- 
ing into its own. Mark the term, however. Christian 

. The tragic attempt on the part of humanity to de- 
pose Divine sovereignty and to impose in its place a 
human king, with Divine prerogatives and powers is 
pathetically illustrated In the prophetic narrative ( i 
Sam., Chap. 8), from which we make the following 
citations : 

"Then all the elders of Israel gathered them- 


"selves together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 
"and said unto him, Now make us a king to 
"judge us like all the nations. 

"But the thing displeased Samuel, when they 

"said Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel 
"prayed unto the Lord. 

"And the Lord said unto Samuel, hearken 
"unto the voice of the people in all that they say 
"unto thee, for they have not rejected thee, but 
"they have rejected me, that I should not reign 
"over them . . . Howbeit yet protest solemnly 
"unto them and show them the manner of the 
"king that shall reign over them. And Samuel 
"told all the words of the Lord unto the people 
"that asked of him a king. 

"Nevertheless the people refused to obey the 
"voice of Samuel and they said, Nay, but we will 
"have a king over us." 

Divine Majesty was dethroned ! Then human sov- 
erignty failed, dispossession of lands followed, and 
Israel wandered a scattered nation, without a coun- 
try. That most marvelous of all people, the He- 
brews, are now being restored to their own home land, 
such restitution having been made possible by the 
great World Powers under the spiritual leadership of 
that man of all men, that Jew of all Jews, Jesus the 
Son of David, the climax of all prophecy and the in- 
carnation of "the hope of Israel." 

Fealty and service will again be required by Je- 
hovah as a condition precedent to renewed possession 


of this "Holy Land," which was apportioned to the 
children of Israel when "the Most High divided to 
the Nation's their inheritance." (Ex. 32: 8.) 

Then shall "the wailing places of the Jews" be 
flooded with song as the erstwhile escheated land of 
sacred and sorrowful memories shall once again re- 
sound with the songs of Israel. He who asserts an 
absolute title in himself to any land whatsoever and 
claims that the same Is exempt from "the obligation 
of fealty and service" to the Great Sovereign will 
eventually be adjudged as in default. His land will 
be finally escheated and he himself will be at last 
evicted from the Crown Estate for general default, 
under the terms of the Original Crown Grant. To 
him who denies fealty to the Highest and evades his 
true obligations, "the tax dodger of two worlds," the 
record speaks : 

"But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night 
"thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose 
"shall those things be which thou hast provided? 

"So is he that layeth up treasures for himself 
and is not rich towards God." (Luke 12:20, 


"It is a mistake to think ourselves stewards 
in some of God's gifts and proprietors in others." 




It has well been said that in the early ages of the 
world the condition of the land was probably allodial; 
that is, it was not subject to any superior. Every man 
occupied as much land found unappropriated as his 
necessities required. Over this land he exercised an 
unqualified dominion. This condition reminds us 
of the original Adam in the Garden of Eden, who for 
a time did not even possess a wife to claim "a dower" 
in the lands beneath his feet, and a Robinson Crusoe 
"whose rights there was none to dispute." 

Blackstone did not accept the theory that in the 
earlier stages of the human race man wandered about 
alone and in vast solitudes. He believed that fear of 
the unknown and a sense of human need caused them 
to group themselves together in their wanderings. 

When the armies of Caesar were penetrating the 
forest vastnesses of northern Europe, the Teutonic 
people were being gradually transformed from no- 
madic tribes into settlers in small villages and hamlets, 
with fixed habitations. Nomadic groups of people, 
upon arriving at a river or seaside, favorable for fish- 
ing, acquired the habit of settling there at least for 
a time. Others, upon reaching a rich and luxurious 
vallev well adapted for herding or tilling would there 



erect crude huts and make permanent their stay. 
Human wanderers, perchance pursued by thievish and 
hostile foes, upon reaching land easily defended, 
would there form a simple but definite settlement. 

These villages or permanent encampments, were 
the first foundation stones, uncut, rough and un- 
symmetrical, which formed the original basis of mod- 
ern rights of land ownership among Teutonic peoples 
and their descendants. Out from such a crude and 
rugged source has flowed one of the gradual but 
ever widening streams of land titles, forming a part 
of the present day codified rights of ownership in 
real-estate in Teutonic countries. This theory was 
the antipode of the one according to which land was 
acquired in the original American Colonies. 

As civilization advanced from these primitive 
conditions society became more complex. Every up- 
ward step developed greater needs. Accumulated 
wealth and broader culture imperatively called for 
added security, comfort and civic order, until at the 
present time we are surrounded bv conditions, regu- 
lated and controlled by statutes and laws, protecting 
property rights, guarding human life, also defining 
and guaranteeing personal liberty. All these are the 
natural and logical developement of a system called 
into existence by human progress, and calculated from 
actual experience to safeguard human rights. 

The communities referred to were at first generally 
composed of kinsfolk in households, or a cluster of 
families. The bonds binding the members of the set- 
tlements were either those of kinship or a recognized 
need for mutual defense and protection. 


As these small, primitive colonies developed among 
the Teutonic tribes certain questions at once arose in 
each as to the rights of the respective householders 
to the soil on which they had pitched their tents, 
erected their camps, enclosed their flocks or herds, or 
upon which they were cultivating their needed vege- 
table or grain supplies. 

At first in all such primitive communities certain 
"land marks" or lines were drawn upon the ground 
through the settlements and a general understanding 
was arrived at by mutual and oral consent, that within 
the confines of the land so marked out the respective 
householders alone had sway. It was at first but a 
possessory right pending the period of occupancy. 

The theory appears to have been that he who oc- 
cupied such land had but the use of the land so plotted 
out and did not have any actual ownership in the land 
itself. As time passed on and families remained es- 
tablished at fixed points, houses replacing huts, the 
theory of "occupancy for use" gradually developed 
into a claim of ownership of the soil on which the 
domicil had been erected. This right of proprietor- 
ship being once established, there naturally developed 
the right of sale of such property so held. 

In this manner there were gradually established 
first villages and then townships in which the houses 
and what pertained thereto were distinguished as in- 
dividual properties. What had once been communal 
dwelling.^ were recognized as fixed habitations and 
became the abode of separate and distinct families, 
dwelling upon land representing individual proprietor- 

These local settlements were but oases in great 


expanses of forests, hills and dales, which were con- 
sidered to be "No Man's Land," and over which 
waste places no human sovereign ruled. Such wild 
and vacant lands were imagined to be largely pos- 
sessed by hybred and nondescript creatures, which 
were in fact born of human superstition and ignorant 
fear of the indefinite and unknown. Demonology 
and witchcraft held sway therein and the popular 
deities in those vast expanses were conjured up de- 

Under these primitive conditions, house property 
in villages and towns was generally regarded as hav- 
ing an absolutely independent and separate character 
from properties located in the agricultural and pas- 
toral outskirts of the villages. The latter were con- 
sidered to be the common lands of the community. 
From this communal theory of lands so held we in- 
herit what we now term "The Commons." 

At first little regard was had for individual rights 
of ownership in cultivatable soil, as agriculture being 
but crudely and carelessly developed, was of an uncer- 
tain and changeable nature. 

A piece of land selected by a householder for herd- 
ing his flocks in one season, might be, and very fre- 
quently was, abandoned for another piece or patch of 
ground the following season. Thus it came about that 
while definite bounds were fixed for village and town 
habitations, as of individual proprietorship, the doc- 
trine of lands-in-common, or "the commons" of later 
days became established. 

In this way there gradually developed two princi- 
ples of land ownership, known respectively as "folk- 
lands" or lands owned by individuals and common or 


communal lands which were owned by the people in 

As human intelligence increased and the importance 
and value of definite locations became more fixed and 
determined, a system or method of regulating and 
defining individual rights and establishing orderly 
control of the communal properties became neces- 

Thereupon the custom came into vogue of entering 
in a book a description of the properties individually 
claimed and recognized by the community to be folk- 
land and which had become subject to private owner- 

From that time on such lands were known as 
"Book-land." The entries so made in such books be- 
came the recognized proofs and established the fact of 
individual proprietorship in the lands so recorded. 
These simple books of entry subsequently developed 
into our elaborate system of county records, brought 
down to us as a heritage from our early ancestors. 

Upon frequent occasions members of these early 
communities desired the temporary use of certain of 
the commons or communal lands. These demands 
the communities were ready and willing to grant for 
a limited period of time, but subject to the reversion 
of such lands to the community and without altering 
the character of such lands. 

When such permission was so given, proper entries 
were made in the same book and a record of such per- 
mission was entered and defined therein, duly setting 
forth the right of the lessee to use such lands for a 
temporary period but in no wise parting with or con- 


veying to such individual or individuals the actual 
ownership of such communal soil. 

From this latter custom has gradually developed 
the theory of communal leases, now in vogue and con- 
trolled by our elaborate system of legal enactments. 

Generations came and went while wealth increased. 
Communities composed of various tribes differing in 
vocations and languages but equally charged with bar- 
baric impulses multiplied. These groups came into 
close contact with each other; the friction of which 
contact resulted in frequent and fatal clashes. A sense 
of constant fear of attack and the danger of destruc- 
tion pervaded communities which under more isolated 
conditions had rested in a reasonable sense of security. 

Leadership in each community had been generally 
established by the selection of the physically most 
powerful and agressive warrior as chief. Later, al- 
liances between weaker and neighboring communities 
as a common protection and defense against larger 
and more powerful neighbors became a necessity. 

Thereupon strong, brave and daring leaders for 
such communal alliances were called for by develop- 
ing conditions. This need, once realized and acted 
upon, rapidly transformed small states into king- 
doms and empires. 

Thus kings governing large states appeared in Teu- 
tonic history. They might not always supplant the 
local chieftains, whose authority through the vicissi- 
tudes of time and the expansion of territory was stead- 
ily magnified, but thev could co-ordinate and direct 
them. These formerly independent but lesser chief- 
tains qraduallv became the barons, lords and other 
petty rulers under great imperial sovereigns, called by 


the people to power or by warrior usurpers of the 

Whether this evolution from early to later con- 
ditions was generally due to the gradual development 
of national conditions or usually came through wars 
of conquest or internal strife is immaterial in this 
narrative of events. Such evolution or revolution has 
however much to do with the development of the 
rights of land ownership both by the people and the 

Vivified and fostered by these national develop- 
ments, the doctrine of the Crown ownership of lands 
evolved therefrom. 

We have referred to the doctrine of individual 
proprietorship of land, which was actually possessed, 
as a gradually developed right of the individual house- 

We have shown communal lands, held in common 
by the community for the public's benefit and subject 
to lease or sale by the public authorities. 

What of the vast area of vacant, unappropriated 
and waste land in the expanse of mountains, forests 
and valleys situated between the communities, but 
without ownership? 

How was the king or sovereign to be provided for 
and what compensation was to be paid to him for his 
guardianship and protection of the various communi- 
ties over which he had been called to rule? 

The landed proprietors were naturally warriors: 
but when their services were placed at the disposal of 
the King for war, it was at least, in theory, in defense 
of their own properties, their families, and for their 


own booty and glory which they to a degree divided 
with their king. 

Certain portions of private land, crops and other 
incomes and accumulated wealth, these land owners 
likewise pledged to their sovereign and king, but that 
was, in theory largely, to assist the sovereign in the 
support of armies which were enlisted for the de- 
fense of the confederated communities. 

Why therefore, should not the wild, vacant and 
unappropriated lands become the property of the 
king, to be held absolutely as Crown property and not 
as communal lands? No individual owned them. 
No community claimed them. The title had never 
passed from the Creator and the King claimed his 
throne by Divine right. 

From this theory of compensation to the sovereign 
who held to a large extent in his hands the safety of 
the community, grew to a degree the right of Crown 
ownership in and to all such lands so described. 

We therefore find in the course of time that the 
great forests were recognized as the property of the 
Crown, and that the Crown controlled therein "the 
hunting and the hawking." We also find the navi- 
gable rivers spoken of as the "royal rivers," because 
of the fact that the sovereign owned the river bottoms 
of navigable streams as a part of the vast area of "the 
vacant and unappropriated lands" of the realm. 
"And he was the only one who could defend the same, 
by his mighty army and mighty fleet." 

We also discover as a fully recognized fact of early 
English history and laws that the seas were "royal 
seas" and that the titles to the bottoms of the bays, 


seas and in fact the bottoms of all tidal waters in the 
realm were vested in the English Crown. 

The universal existence of some form of propri- 
etorship, law and government is a natural and funda- 
mental concept of the well organized and balanced 

It will be seen that under colonial conditions, at the 
period of the American colonization, the King of Eng- 
land, by the natural descent, growth and development 
of a primitive legal system, which was brought to 
England from continental Europe, owned all the un- 
granted lands under navigable waters in the Thirteen 
Original American Colonies. The doctrine included 
Crown ownership of the vacant and unappropriated 
uplands, together with the fishery rights and the un- 
granted hawking and hunting privileges of the Eng- 
lish realm. This Crown ownership in England was 
exclusive of folklands, communal lands and the pri- 
vate and communal rights there incident and pertain- 
ing thereto. The title to the communal lands in Eng- 
land was held by the Crown in trust for the people, 
but with power to grant the same. 

It is a fundamental principle that the ultimate 
title of all lands of every kind and nature is vested 
in the Sovereign power. In monarchical countries that 
ultimate right is vested in the King, while in demo- 
cratic countries it is vested in the legislative power, 
which represents the people. 

The original and ultimate title of all lands vested 
in the Sovereign, rests upon the theory that he or it 
represents the Divine source of power and that the 
sovereign's life and property will always be available 


in the defense of the lives and property of his loyal 

Blackstone enunciated this doctrine when he said, 
"The King is esteemed in the eyes of the law as the 
original proprietor of all the lands in the kingdom." 

That principle is set forth by another authority as 
follows : 

"Under common law principles, all lands with- 
"in the state are held directly or indirectly by the 
"King as Lord paramount or supreme proprie- 
"tor: to him every occupant of the land owes 
"fidelity and service of some kind as the neccs- 
"sary condition of his occupance." 

The above theory holds in the United States and 
is but the re-affirmation of principles which prevail in 
England and in fact in all countries with well estab- 
lished legal systems. In America, however, the doc- 
trine of the divine right of kings has been repudiated. 
The people have seized the seat and place of power. 
They enthroned, have held firmlv to that higher al- 
legiance typified by the national adage, "In God we 

It has been clearly stated by competent authorities 

"In this country the people in their corporate 
"capacity represent the state sovereignty. Every 
"man must bear true allegiance to the State and 
"pay his share of the taxes required for her sup- 
"port, as the condition upon which alone he may 
"hold land within her boundaries." 

This right of ultimate ownership in the sovereign 


is not simply a theory of political economy, but is 
most clearly, frequently and very drastically put into 
force and effect in all civilized countries, so that its 
practical character is now indisputable. 

A citizen who violates the supreme law of the land 
may not only be restrained of his personal liberty, but 
as a further penalty, his property, both real and per- 
sonal, may be forfeited to the State, as the supreme 

When a citizen is guilty of treason against the Gov- 
ernment under which he resides and to which he owes 
allegiance, his life may not only be forfeited but his 
lands and personal property may also be escheated to 
the State, 

If a man dies without making proper disposal, by 
will, of his real and personal property, and if at the 
same time such person has no blood relatives or nat- 
ural heirs, all of his property immediately reverts to 
the State as the ultimate owner or proprietor. 

In fact, a citizen's right to inherit and his right to 
bequeath are but ^J^juyj^ rights and privileges, which, 
if repealed would in one generation vest the title to all 
property in the Sovereign power. 

It has been stated as a fact of history and it has 
also been judicially determined by the American and 
English courts of last resort that, 

"The American Colonists brought with them 
"from England the English Common Law and 
"Code, in so far as the same were adapted to the 
"conditions on the American continent. (Grant 
"bv Charles II, King of England, to James, the 
"Duke of York and Albany, on March i2th, 


To what extent early American conditions might 
have modified the Common Law practice of England, 
when the same was applied in the Western Hemi- 
sphere, is readily ascertained by reference to the num- 
erous decisions of the English and Provincial Courts, 
during the American Colonial period prior to the 
Revolutionary War. Such decisions are remarkably 
in harmony with the very clear and lucid deliverances 
of the American State and Federal Courts, subsequent 
to the Revolution, when judicially passing upon ques- 
tions involving English and American Common law. 




The English Crown claimed the lands on the At- 
lantic coast covered by Sebastian Cabot's discovery. 
International law fully concedes this claim which 
vested jurisdiction over the lands In the English 
Crown by the right of discovery. 

There has been much discussion as to what extent 
the English Crown owned Colonial lands as its own 
private property and to what extent the English 
Crown held such land In trust for the people. 

There has been considerable flexibility in the judi- 
cial decisions as to where the Crown private owner- 
ship ended and the Crown Trusteeship commenced. 
No authority denies the right of private ownership 
by the Crown in Crown lands, or the fact of owner- 
ship of other lands In England by the Crown in trust 
for the people. Where is the line of demarkation to 
be drawn? 

Be that as It may, certain facts stands out clearly, 
distinctly and prominently In connection with Crown 
lands in the State of New York and particularly as 
to the Crown lands of Staten Island. No ambiguity 
or uncertainty can prevail as to the regularity and 
legality of the English Crown Grants made to lands 
in the State and especially on Staten Island. 



Using Staten Island as an illustration of the exer- 
cise of the English Sovereign Power in the making of 
Crown Grants, the facts and circumstances relating 
thereto furnish probably the best and most complete 
example of English Crown Grants which can be 
drawn from Colonial history. 

Staten Island was included in the Cabot Discovery 
which gave dominion to the English Crown by right 
of discovery. Staten Island was included in the con- 
quered territory obtained by the English in the war 
with the Dutch, which gave political sovereignty over 
Staten Island to the English Crown, by the right of 

Thereupon the English, as was their invariable 
custom in America, recognized the Indian inhabitants 
of Staten Island as, 

"The very true, sole and lawful Indian own- 
"ers of ye said island," and 
"as derived to them by their ancestors." 

The Duke of York, who subsequently became 
James II, King of England, by a fair bargain and for 
good and valuable considerations, purchased, on April 
13th, 1670, the soil of Staten Island from the Indian 
inhabitants. The terms of that fair and equitable 
bargain were fully explained and the same were well 
understood by the native Indians. That honorable 
and very business like transaction gave title to the 
Duke of York by the right of purchase. 

The ceremony carried out in connection with the 
said purchase is fully set forth in "THE MAJOR 
AND THE QUEEN", (page 12) and need not be 
referred to herein, excepting only to show that the 


Indians received full, complete and satisfactory pay- 
ment therefor, after which they vacated Staten Island 
without a murmer, giving to the English full and 
complete possession thereof (THE MAJOR AND 
THE QUEEN, page 16). 

It may be referred to as a further interesting fact 
that for many years thereafter and on or about the 
anniversary of the sale above mentioned, surviving 
representatives of the Indian tribes, which had deliv- 
ered possession of Staten Island to the English, called 
upon the Crown representatives in Manhattan and 
reaffirmed their satisfaction with the sale so made 
and their continued friendship for the English Crown. 

When James the Duke of York, succeeding his bro- 
ther, Charles II, became James II, King of England, 
Staten Island, which he had purchased of the Indians, 
became a portion of the private estate of the English 
Crown, or private Crown lands. 

It would be utterly impossible to frame a single 
possible objection to the perfect and complete private 
title to Staten Island received and held by the Duke 
of York and retained by him as personal Crown land 
when he ascended the throne of England. He owned 
Staten Island before he became King and his inherit- 
ance of the Crown from his brother could by no 
means work a forfeiture of title to lands which he 
had previously purchased, nor could It automatically 
mersfe the KIno['s personal title Into that of the State. 

After the purchase of Staten Island from the 
Indians and the accession of the Duke of York to 
the throne of England, English Crown land Grants 
v.-ere made In due form, to various individuals and 
covering every acre of land on Staten Island, "with- 


in the bounds and limits of the County of Richmond." 
The Grants were always made as of the Crown's pri- 
vate "Manor of East Greenwich, in the County of 
Kent, England," of which Manor Staten Island 
formed a part. 

The boundaries of Staten Island and the boundar- 
ies of Richmond County in the State of New York 
have always been coextensive. 

These boundaries were originally established by 
the English Government and subsequently by the 
states of New York and New Jersey in co-operation 
with the Federal Government. 

There is not one square foot within those boundar- 
ies that was not the subject matter of and which was 
not clearly included in a good and valid English 
Crown Grant. 

The records of the State of New York, as herein 
before stated, disclose a large number of Crown 
Grants of Staten Island lands, issued to various 
parties. These Grants, exclusive of the last and final 
Grant, were originally intended to cover about one 
half of Staten Island. The last, final and inclusive 
Grant, issued to Lancaster Symes, covered all of the 
remaining lands on Staten Island, together with va- 
rious rights appertaining thereto and at that time be- 
longing to the English Crown and which had been 
purchased of the Indians by the Duke of York on 
April 13th, 1670. 

Each and every Grant by the English Crown, of 
lands on Staten Island, provided in effect by its terms 
that the lands so granted should be "Hold-in of us 
our heirs and successors in free and common soccage 


as of our Manor of East Greenwich, in the County of 
Kent, within our realme of England." 

This final Grant to Lancaster Symes, was issued 
by the Crown itself in the person of Queen Anne and 
was confirmed by the Council and by the Governor 
General of the Province of New York. It was after- 
wards ratified and confirmed by the State of New 
York. (1816). 

The Grant made to Lancaster Symes closed out to 
him all of the remaining rights of the English Crown 
in land both above and below the water on Staten 
Island and within the limits and bounds of Rich- 
mond County in the State of New York, except- 
ing only the ultimate ownership of the Crown in the 
lands as Sovereign and the right to receive quit- 
rents from and under the Crown Grants issued. 

It should be borne in mind that each and every 
Crown Grant made by the English Sovereign to 
lands on Staten Island was subject to the payment 
of annual quit-rents by the Grantee to the Crown. 

These quit-rents though payable, for convenience, 
in New York City, were in fact a part of the Crown's 
private income from its Manor of East Greenwich 
in the County of Kent in England. 

The officials of the English Government were 
originally the house servants of the English Crown. 
They gradually assumed the duties of public officials. 
Hence the Crown's personal accounts were kept In 
the books of State under the doctrine of "My 
Government," — "My people." 

These facts of history should satisfy any Inquirer 
as to the complete and perfect title originally vesting 
In the English Crown, and Its supreme right and 


power to retain, lease or sell any part or all of Statcn 
Island as fully and freely as it could any part or all 
of its Manor of East Greenwish in the County of 
Kent, England, of which it formed a part, or as any 
other property holder had the right to do with his 
own personal manorial property or real estate. 

Blackstone said, "The Third Right inherent in 
every Englishman is that of property, which consists 
in the free use, enjoyment and disposal of all his ac- 
quisitions, without any control or diminuition, save 
only the laws of the land." If the old proverb be 
true that "a serv^ant is not greater than his Lord," 
surely it must be true that a sovereign has at least 
equal rights with his servant in his own personal es- 

The consideration for the final Grant by the 
Crown to Lancaster Symes was ample. The com- 
bined power and authority of the Crown, the Pro- 
vinces and the Council were represented in the Grant 
to Lancaster Symes and to his heirs and assigns for- 
ever. It is conclusive on the theory that the English 
Crown held the lands as a part of its own personal 
estate as Crown lands; also on the false theory that it 
held the same as Crown lands in trust for the English 
People. The Grant to Lancaster Symes was issued by 
both Crown and people and its validity is incontesta- 
ble. It was subsequently ratified and confirmed by 
the State of New York upon the commutation of 
quit-rents thereunder by the State. (See Books of 
Quits-Rents, State Comptroller's office, Albany, 
Docket 48, page 106.) 

Furthermore the English Crown had most certainly 
the right to make the Grant to Lancaster Symes under 


the title which obtained by purchase from the Indian 
inhabitants, there having been paid therefor a large 
and mutually satisfactory purchase consideration. 
The personal purchase from the Indian owners by 
the Duke of York had added Staten Island to the per- 
sonal estate of the English Crown. It was at all times 
held thereafter as of the Crown Manor of East 
Greenwich, England. 

In fact each and every Grant made by the English 
Crown on Staten Island is based upon as solid founda- 
tions as were or could be laid to colonial titles. 

The issue of the Lancaster Symes Grant by the 
Crown, its confirmation under the Great Seal of the 
Province of New York and its reaffirmation through 
commutation of quit-rents by the State of New York 
renders the Grant incontestable. 

During several centuries prior to the American 
Revolution the precise relation of the Crown to 
various classes of what were then designated as 
Crown lands, varied in accordance with the supremacy' 
from time to time of the monarchical or democratic 
influences in governmental control of the affairs of 

It is, however, a singular fact that during the 
reigns of the various sovereigns from 1670 to 1776 
A. D., and notwithstanding the many changes of 
English dynasties, the attitude of Parliament and the 
decisions of the Higher courts of England relating 
to Colonial Crown lands, were in accord with the gen- 
eral principles of crown ownership of lands which 
prevailed at the time of the separation of the Ameri- 
can Colonies from Great Britain. 

It should be constantly borne in mind by the stu- 


dent of Crown Grants and by all persons interested in 
the descent of titles therefrom, that rights obtained 
under any Grant made by the English Crown to lands 
in America must be determined by the English com- 
mon law governing the same at the time of such issue. 

In other words, every Crown Grant must be read 
and construed under the customs prevailing at the 
time of its issue, and its verbiage must be interpreted 
and construed according to the then legal force and 
effect of the words and phrases used at the time of the 

This doctrine has been repeatedly enunciated by 
the American Courts, as judicial opinions have harked 
back to and have defined and determined the rights 
and privileges intended to be and actually conveyed by 
the Crown at the time of the issue by it of Colonial 
Crown Grants in America. 

In no case brought to bar in any of our American 
Courts relating to English Crown Grants has the fol- 
lowing state of facts been fully involved and pleaded, 
and which is true of Staten Island Grants. 

ist — That the English Crown (Charles II) made 
a Crown Grant to James, Duke of York, 
covering and including the lands in question, 
with the quit-rents payable to the Crown's 
private Manor of East Greenwich, in the 
County of Kent, England. 

2nd — That upon the death of Charles II, his bro- 
ther the said James, Duke of York, inherit- 
ted as his personal property the said Manor 
of East Greenwich, thereby merging the 


title thereto into his personal estate, with 
the quit-rents payable thereto. 

3rd — That prior to the Duke of York's ascension 
to his brother's throne, he had made a pur- 
chase of the lands in question from the In- 
dian owners thereof, so that a perfect title in 
fee by right of purchase vested in him before 
he became sovereign. Hence upon his ac- 
cession to the throne "the lands were the 
property of the King and not of the king- 

4th — That he, upon his accession to the throne as 
James II, king of England, and his succes- 
sors granted all of the lands on Staten Island 
to private individuals, thereby conveying to 
various grantees, 

(a) All of the personal Crown title 

(b) Any Imperial title therein. 

5 th — That the Province of New York attached to 
said Grants its Great Seal, thereby binding it. 

6th — That the State of New York, by the com- 
mutation of quit-rents confirmed and re- 
newed the final Grant and is thereby estop- 
ped from traversing it. 

7th — That the people had no rights therein, and 
had it been otherwise they were closed out 
by the act of the Province of the State of 
New York, and by the State of New York. 


In the period of approximately one-half century 
during which all of the Staten Island Crown Grants 
were issued by the English Sovereigns, there were no 
changes in Parliamentary law or Royal Practice af- 
fecting the integrity of Crown titles or their issue. 
No changed attitude of the English Crown, no ad- 
verse decision of the English Courts, nor any recorded 
protests on the part of the Province of New York, ap- 
pear of record affecting the title of any Staten Island 
lands Granted by the Crown. 

No event of history or legal enactment altered or 
changed the character or legal force and effect of any 
of the Staten Island English Crown Grants between 
the dates of the first Grant issued and the final Grant 
to Lancaster Symes. 

In other words, every one of such Crown Grants 
stands on a parity with the others as to the general 
authority under which it was issued, the legal con- 
struction to be put upon the terms, provisions and con- 
ditions specified therein and the legal effect of the 
language or verbiage used to limit and define the force 
and effect of each such instrument. 

The English Crown in issuing from time to time, 
Grants to land on Staten Island did, however, vary to 
some extent the terms, provisions and conditions of 
the Grants so made by it. 

This may be illustrated in the two English Crown 
Grants made by it to Christopher Billop in the years 
1676 and 1687 respectively. 

In the first one of these Grants, Christopher Billop 
was granted a large tract of upland on a part of which 
Tottenville is now situated. This Grant was clearly 
intended to be an upland Grant and extended to high- 


water mark. This latter limitation evidently proved 
unsatisfactory to Billop and for apparently a very 
good reason which grew out of his life's occupation. 

Christopher Billop was a sailor and as shown in 
the book entitled "THE MAJOR AND THE 
QUEEN" (and in other more elaborate and very ex- 
cellent histories of Staten Island, — by Ira K. Morris, 
R. M. Bayles and J. H. Clute) Billop saved Staten 
Island for the Province of New York from the claims 
which New Jersey made upon it when the latter as- 
serted that the Island geographically belonged to that 

This feat was accomplished when Billop demon- 
strated his ability to sail around Staten Island in 
twenty-four hours. The fact that Staten Island could 
be circumnavigated in that time brought Staten Island 
within the time limit of collections from the New 
York Custom House. 

Christopher Billop was a sailor; his home was on 
land, but he loved and roved the seas. When the 
English Governor General rewarded Billop for his 
services in securing the claims of the Province of New 
York, by granting him land on Staten Island, it was 
natural that Billop should desire and receive the point 
of land extending farthest out into the waters and 
which by its location and outlook would appeal most 
to a sailor's heart. 

When Billop received his first Grant, its limits and 
bounds on the waters were to high water mark. If 
BIllop's lands extended only to high water mark, and 
Billop had undertaken to land his boat at low tide, 
he would have been a tresspasser upon the land be- 
tween high and low water mark. Consequently at all 


times, excepting at high water, Billop would have been 
compelled to float his boat at sea waiting for the full- 
ness of the tide to lawfully bring himself and his 
cargoes to shore. Nor could he construct a dock that 
would not have been "left high and dry" at ebb tide. 

Such a situation practically placed an awkward 
barrier between the sailor's home and the sailor's 
ship. We learn, therefore, from the records that Bil- 
lop obtained a second Grant from the Crown, which 
Grant covered all the lands previously granted by the 
Crown to Billop, but added considerable acreage 
thereto. This increase included favorable coves for 
the landing of boats west of the southern point of 
the Island and also Billop's lands to low water mark. 

Under this latter arrangement Billop's Harbor 
facilities were greatly improved and his ability to 
bring to shore his boats on any and every tide was 

It is well to notice here that the English Crown 
changed the shore front lines for Billop because of 
the fact that there was a good and sufficient reason for 
it so to do. The change was one resulting from an 
expressed reason, was made upon due reflection and 
to meet an equitable demand based upon a commer- 
cial need. 

No "riparian right" accrued or inured to Billop by 
which he could accept a Grant of the Crown's uplands 
and then compel the Crown to grant him more land 
on the shore. No such "Riparian right" inured to 
Billop as against the Crown, or to any other citizen 
in the British realm. 

Especially is this indisputably true when it relates 
to lands privately purchased by the Duke of York of 


the Indians and added to the Crown's private lands 
against which no presumption of title could avail. 

This denominated Riparian Right is a later doc- 
trine applied to Staten Island by minds unacquainted 
with English Common Law in the Colonial period 
and the then rights of the English Crown. Staten 
Island was a part of the Crown's personal estate. It 
was property purchased. It was attached to a private 
Crown Manor. All Grants were construed favorably 
for the Crown and against the Grantee, excepting as 
shown herein in the "analysis of a Crown Grant." 

The Monarchical theory as to the sacred rights of 
the King precluded a subject from receiving and ac- 
cepting a Crown Grant of lands with fixed limitations 
and boundaries and then by implication asserting a 
lien or a "riparian right" to more of the Crown lands 
than were included in the description contained in the 
Grant. The lesser title, that of the subject, could not 
assert itself over the higher or greater title, that of 
the Sovereign. 

While the Crown was in a generous mood, it dealt 
even more liberally with Billop than appears alone 
by acres and shore privileges. In the second Grant 
to him, it authorized, in elaborate detail, the founding 
or establishment for him of the Bentley Manor. The 
Crown Grants to Billop are interesting instruments 
and were issued along the lines consistent with the 
establishment of Manors in England. 

While the founding of the Manor of Bentley was 
a departure as to jurisdiction from the ordinary 
Crown Grants issued on Staten Island, the authority 
to make the Grant, the interest given to Billop in the 


lands and the legal basis of the title to lands so 
granted to Billop, were the same as to all other lands 
granted on Staten Island. The authority given to 
Billop to exercise certain manorial rights and priv- 
ileges within the limits and bounds of his Grant had 
no bearing whatever on the rights granted by the 
Crown to the lands underlying the same. The two 
are separate and distinct. Manorial rights are those 
of jurisdiction only, while land Grants are rights of 

Manorial rights, privileges and authority were 
swept away by the triumphs of democracy in the 
American Revolution, but rights of property were not 
affected thereby. 

Under the indisputable rights acquired by purchase 
from the Indian proprietors, Staten Island was 
owned in fee as personal Crown property. 

Staten Island might have been held as a part of 
the private estate of the Crown, its title thereby de- 
scending from Sovereign to Sovereign, by right of 
personal inheritance in the same manner as the Crown 
descends. It might have been granted by the Crown 
to some one grantee of the Crown as a manor. This 
was done in the case of Gardiner's Island, at the East 
end of Long Island, by an English Crown Grant to 
Lyon Gardiner. This latter magnificent estate, so 
granted in its entirety, has descended from genera- 
tion to generation in the Gardiner family even unto 
this day. 

The English Crown, however, for the purpose of 
developing the Province of New York, as is clearly 
set forth by it in some of its Grants to lands on Staten 
Island, made Grants thereon to more than one hun- 


dred and fifty grantees, of which number the final 
and inclusive Grant was made to Lancaster Symes. 

There are certain prominent and conspicuous feat- 
ures displayed in the various Grants issued by the 
Crown to lands on Staten Island. The lands in each 
case are especially described by metes and bounds, and 
the Grants are in themselves proof positive that the 
English Crown at that time, or during the period in 
which the series of Grants were Issued, had a definite 
and accurate survey of Staten Island. 

The many references to varying and natural fea- 
tures on the surface of the lands so granted, as shown 
in the respective Grants, clearly prove the Crown's 
intimate knowledge of the topography and exact lo- 
cation of such features on the surface of Staten Isl- 

This is in strange contrast with the expressed pub- 
lic opinion, prevailing for several generations past, 
to the effect that no survey by the English Crown had 
ever been made of Staten Island. In this case may 
not "the wish have been father of the thought" on the 
part of some who occupied lands, their titles to which 
could not be traced back to any English Crown 

The theory that no survey of Staten Island was 
made in Colonial Days has been completely exploded 
by the investigation made through a long period of 
time and at large expense by the American Title and 
Trust Company, of Wilmington, Delaware, now so 
largely Interested in property holdings on Staten Is- 

This latter Company discovered In England and 
now has In Its possession among its large collection of 


Staten Island Maps, an English survey of Staten Is- 
land, made by the British Government prior to the 
American Independence showing the water fronts and 
uplands on Staten Island. It sets forth in varied and 
distinctive colors the then existing meadows, marshes, 
hills, highways, private roads, houses, lakes, ponds, 
bays, rivers and seas. The Map is drawn to scale 
and contains the compass and the then variation of 
the magnetic pole. It is a superb piece of workman- 
ship and displays a painstaking care as to details 
which might well challenge the admiration and envy 
of the employees of many modern surveyor's offices 
were they called upon to duplicate this map by an 
original survey- 
In addition to the important general survey re- 
ferred to, the American Title and Trust Company 
has also secured from official sources a map of Staten 
Island prepared by Government officials and which 
map locates each and every English Crown Grant 
issued for lands on Staten Island. 

Each Crown Grant is clearly defined thereon by 
metes and bounds. A compass and the variation of 
the magnetic needle is also clearly shown thereon. 

In addition to the foregoing maps, the American 
Title and Trust Company has also sought out, found 
and acquired a vast numbenof official surveys of the 
shores and the uplands of Staten Island. 

Through this wealth of accumulated and authori- 
tative data, commencing with a survey of the shore 
fronts of Staten Island in the year I728 and extend- 
ing at intervals down to the present time, together 
with field-notes and field-maps of almost inestimable 
value, the American Title and Trust Company is able 


to locate and map the Crown Grant underlying any 
single building lot on Staten Island. 

It may be thought by some that the English Crown 
did not in fact own Staten Island as a part of its pri- 
vate estate. They may even question Staten Island's 
vital connection with the Royal Manor of East Green- 
wich in the County of Kent, and may also insist that 
the Crown lands on Staten Island shall be treated as 
public Crown lands. They may urge that the char- 
acter of the lands shall determine which were held 
as personal property of the Crown and which were 
held in trust for the people. 

This is but a little longer route by which we will 
reach the same final conclusion as obtained by the 
shorter, more direct and correct theory of absolute 
private ownership by the English Crown of every 
square foot of land on Staten Island. This ownership 
includes uplands, meadows, marshes, streams, shore- 
fronts and lands between high and low water mark 
and submerged lands to the very last limit and bounds 
of Richmond County. 

Under such an incorrect theory of representative 
Crown ownership certain questions will naturally pre- 
sent themselves. What was then the character of 
the English Crown Grants as issued? What lands, 
if any, under such conditions could have been granted 
by the Crown in its own right, as the actual owner 
thereof, and what lands, if any, could have been 
granted by the Crown, the title to which it held in 
trust for the people? 

Furthermore, the natural inquiry might arise as to 
whether there is any question or doubt as to the ac- 
tual legal right and power of the Crown, when hold- 


ing title to land in trust for the people, to grant the 
same to private individuals with or without the con- 
sent of the people fully and formally expressed? 

In response to these very proper and pertinent 
questions, arising from a misconception of the com- 
plete title to and power over Staten Island lands 
vested in the Crown, the facts of history and the de- 
cisions of courts of proper jurisdiction completely 
meet the situation. 

We have clearly and repeatedly stated that the 
Enf^lish Crown held a perfect title to Staten Island 
by direct purchase, which fact legally settles once and 
for all the foregoing inquiries. Were that fact not 
established and if the basis of every title to lands on 
Staten Island depended upon the acquiescence of the 
people in any and all Grants thereof such objection is 
fully met upon examination of the original Grants 
made by the Crown to Staten Island lands. No 
Crown Grant to lands on Staten Island has ever been 
judicially voided and the people acquiesced in and 
recognized the binding force and effect of each such 
Sovereign Grant. 

As a proposition of law lands are considered and 
designated real property without regard to whether 
the same are uplands or submerged. The fact of the 
presence of water upon the surface of a tract of land 
does not in any wise legally alter its character as land. 

A Crown Grant to all the lands within the bounds 
and limits of a County covers all the soil within such 
County whether part of the same is lifted up in hills 
a hundred feet above sea-level or is sunk beneath the 
sea a hundred feet deep. In the eyes of the law, 
land is land regardless as to whether it carries on its 


surface soil, sand or sea. It is simply a question as 
to whether such land is included in the description 
contained in the deed and whether the Grantor has 
power to convey. 

The waters themselves independent of the land 
and composing the seas, bays and navigable rivers are 
not the subject of private ownership. It has been 
judicially settled for generations that the sea, bays 
and navigable rivers are highways of commerce, free 
to the use of all citizens of the country having juris- 
diction thereover. Commerce thereon may be regu- 
lated by and in the interest of the nation, but the sea 
itself, that is the waters thereof, can belong to no man 
as an individual proprietor. 

It has been clearly determined that the Sover- 
eign while owning the lands under navigable waters, 
as a part of the vacant and unappropriated lands of 
the realm, can have no private ownership of the navi- 
gable waters themselves. "The flow of water in the 
stream of a navigable river is in no sense private prop- 
erty." "Private right to running water in a great 
navigable stream is inconceivable." (Boviere Navi- 
gable Waters.) 

The former rights of the Crown to the uplands 
of Staten Island as a part of the vacant and unappro- 
priated lands of the realm was not and cannot now 
be successfully questioned. The facts thereof arc 
too patent and the judicial decisions are too clear and 
conclusive to even admit of argument in relation 
thereto. Were it otherwise overwhelming confusion 
and chaos would exist in relation to the basis of 
substantially all titles not only on Staten Island but 
in all of our Eastern States. 


Discussion has occasionally arisen in respect to the 
character of the title originally held by the English 
Crown to the lands between high and low water- 
mark on our Eastern tidal coast. 

We may state the proposition as follows : 

Man's domicil is on land, but he has an inherent 
natural right to navigate the seas. Public necessity, 
therefore, demands for him a right of approach to 
and egress from the waters of the Great Deep. To 
exercise that right he must traverse the shore between 
high and low water mark. 

Were it otherwise the inhabitants of an island sur- 
rounded by tidal waters, would be practically im- 
prisoned thereon because of the fact that surround- 
ing the island there would be a narrow belt of land 
between high and low water mark owned by the 
Crown. To impinge the keel of a boat thereon would 
be to violate the territorial integrity of the land held 
by the crown. 

Under such conditions the inhabitants of an island 
could only launch their boats or approach the shore 
at the moment of the high tides and then only in a 
boat of such shallow draft as to be almost unnavi- 

It has therefore been exaggeratingly claimed as one 
of the basic principles of human rights that the strip 
of land between high and low water mark belongs 
to the people. This rule does not apply to Crown 
lands or to land granted by the Crown. It is con- 
sidered by some as communal land and is claimed to 
be similar to what was earlier herein described as the 
"Commons," the title being held in the Crown as 
trustee for the people. This theory is contrary to 


the governing decisions and especially untrue as to 
Staten Island. 

A right of egress and ingress, however, is possessed 
by the people, but it must be and in the nature of 
things is a very restricted one. It is a right to go 
down to the sea in ships and to return therefrom. It 
was a right of "access to" and the right of "egress 
from" the waters of the Great Deep. No proprietor 
of said ribbon of land could take possession thereof s© 
as to interfere with the ingress and egress rights of 
individuals. The theory of "No Man's Land, apply- 
ing to such an important shore line, and when applied 
to any land is repugnant to law and contrary to good 
government, hence the title thereof was vested in the 
Crown as Chief Lord Proprietor. 

The argument is at times advanced that the land 
between high and low water mark is neither upland 
nor submerged land. It has been contended that 
the Crown had no right whatever to make any grants 
thereof without the direct and fullest authority ex- 
pressly given to it for such purpose by the people or 
by their duly authorized representatives. This 
peculiarly situated strip of land, under this theory, 
is compared by some to the "King's Highway," the 
title to which is in the Sovereign, but from which 
highway the public cannot be excluded or of which 
the public cannot be deprived by the Crown, except- 
ing in case of great public need or danger, or the 
substitution of another highway therefor. A high- 
way of travel and the right of ingress and egress are 

On the other hand, authorities have contended that 
the title to the land between high and low water mark, 


having been conceded by the people, to the Crown, 
it had a full and supreme right to make Grants there- 
of and that the grantees were under no obligation 
whatever to inquire into any arrangements or rela- 
tions between the people and the Crown relating 
thereto. This may be consistently based upon the 
theory that "the King can do no wrong." That is, the 
people having conceded the title as being in the 
hands of the Crown to possess and control the strip 
of land between high and low water mark, as trustee 
for the people, then they were bound by the acts of 
their Sovereign. This presumption agrees with the 
Monarchical doctrine of "My Kingdom." 

The above propositions have been at times 
advanced by parties who may have only superficially 
examined into the character and nature of the English 
Crown's title to and the English Crown Grants of 
lands on Staten Island. 

In the earlier periods, or "middle ages," when the 
then sovereigns were given or acquired control of 
or title to community lands (we do not here refer to 
the Crown's title to "vacant and unappropriated 
lands") it was customary for the sovereigns to make 
Grants thereof either by Lease or otherwise. All such 
Grants of communal lands were then made, however, 
upon consultation by the sovereign with his Woden 
or Wiseman. 

In no instances were tidal lands held as communal 
lands. They were always held to be waste lands 
of the realm with the title thereto In the Crown. 

In the combination of the Sovereign and the wise- 
man we have the crown representing itself and the 
Woden advising independently of the people. The 


Wiseman was soon thereafter associated with other 
wisemen and they, when so combined, became the 
King's Council, selected and appointed by the Sov- 
ereign, without consultation with or consent by the 

¥vom this first and simple relation of Crown and 
Woden, there developed later on a limited monarchy 
composed of the Crown and the King's Council of 
wise-men, selected from and representing the people. 
Then Parliments followed on an elective basis with a 
voice in the Government but not as to Crown Grants 
in the American Colonies. 

When civil government was organized in the Eng- 
lish-American Colonies the English system of com- 
mon law was transferred thereto and installed there- 
in. The distance and time consumed in crossing 
the sea and also in the return voyage, were so great 
that the direct government of the Province of New 
York by the Crown and direct legislation over it by 
Parliament in England, were found to be not only 
inexpedient but absolutely impracticable. 

Thereupon a Governor-General was appointed by 
the Crown for each American Province of Great 
Britain. These Govej:iu2r-Gener3ls were to represent 
and did represent the Crown itself and Councils were 
also appointed in the Province to advise the Gover- 

Later on as the Province developed, a Colonial 
Assembly was established, which Assembly more 
fully and satisfactorily represented the people. In 
the earlier Colonial Period in America, because of 
the wide seas that separated the Colonies from the 
niother country, it was ordained by Parliament that 


any laws enacted by a Colonial Assembly and 
approved by the Governor-General of the Province 
should immediately have the full force and effect of 
an act passed by the English Parliament and approved 
by the Crown. It became operative forthwith upon 
its enactment. In the event, however, that such action 
did not meet with the approval of the Imperial Gov- 
ernment at London, then the English Crown had the 
right to veto or annul such procedure and make void 
such act. 

This right of veto was conditioned, however, only 
and absolutely upon the legality of all proceedings 
under the law during the lapse of time between the 
passage of the act by the Colonial Assembly with 
its approval by the Governor-General and the date 
upon which the official Crown veto reached the 
authorities In the Province where the law was en- 

It was however the Council and not the Assembly 
which ratified the Crown Grant, to protect the 
Crown. It was done by the Crown's appointees and 
not by the people's representatives. 

This statement is here fully made in order to 
show that any Grants which may have been properly 
made by the Governor-General of the Province of 
New York In behalf of the English Crown and which 
Grants were approved by the Council in New York, 
conveyed to such grantees the rights specified therein. 

The people had no voice In the premises. Every 
property and political right possessed by a settler 
in the Province was founded upon a Crown Grant and 
he had no other title or right In the Crown lands in 
the Province. 


This forever estops any and all traversing of the 
right of the Governor-General and his Council to 
the making of the English Crown Grants so issued 
to lands on Staten Island and especially and particu- 
larly to those Grants relating to lands between high 
and low water mark on Staten Island, and also to 
lands under water, to the "bounds and limits of 
Richmond County." 

The Crown's right to make such Grants has not 
been traversed in two centuries. The rights there- 
under have been privately held and enjoyed while 
vast improvements rest now securely upon such rights 
fully exercised. 

After the Crown had made about one hundred and 
fifty Grants of land on Staten Island, largely through 
the acts of the Goyerriorj;GejiexaJ& and their Councils, 
the English Crown desired, for reasons fully set 
forth in "THE MAJOR AND THE QUEEN," to 
close out to Lancaster Symes all of its remaining 
titles to lands on Staten Island and within the bounds 
and limits of Richmond County. 

In order that no question might ever arise as to 
the regularity of issue and validity of the Grant to 
Lancaster Symes it was issued and sealed by and in 
the name of Good Queen Anne and under her Royal 
Seal. By direct and Imperial order that Great and 
Good Queen caused here Royal Grant to be issued 
to Lancaster Symes, closing out to him and to his 
heirs and assigns forever, as of her Manor of East 
Greenwich in the County of Kent, all the lands then 
remaining vacant and unappropriated on Staten 
Island, within the bounds and limits of Richmond 
County, together with the rights of fishing, oyster- 


ing and other privileges not necessary to relate herein 
but fully and clearly shown in the books of public 

To this Grant was attached the Imperial or Royal 
Seal, carved in wood with the Royal Arms repre- 
sented thereon. 

The boundaries of Richmond County as shown 
upon any standard map issued by the State of New 
York or by the State of New Jersey, or in fact issued 
by any responsible firm of map publishers are within 
the bounds and limits of the English Crown Grant 
to Lancaster Symes as made by the Sovereign Queen 
Anne under the Imperial Seal. No other Staten 
Island Crown Grant was made in which the lands 
under water conveyed by it touched at every point 
the limits and bounds of the County of Richmond. 
No other Crown Grant of lands on Staten Island 
extended at any point to such bounds and limits. 

This Grant was not only issued by the Queen but 
it was approved by the Imperial Council in England, 
It was approved and ratified by the Colonial Council 
and by the Governor-General in the Province of 
New York. Thereupon it was properly patented 
and recorded. It constituted the highest form of and 
was the most important Crown Grant of lands ever 
issued for lands on Staten Island. It was accepted 
and acted upon by the people during the entire sub- 
sequent Colonial period and has never been chal- 

Since the date of its issue to the present time, cov- 
ering a period of over two centuries, every generation 
has exercised the rights of land ownership thereunder 
through sales, possessions and improvements thereon. 


In all that period of time neither Federal, State nor 
City Government has in a single instance denied 
legality or regularity in the issue thereof. No citizen 
has denied the full force or effect of the said Grant, 
while multitudes have enjoyed its protection and 


AND ^ 


At the close of the fifteenth century the maritime 
nations of Christendom were all ecclesiastically domi- 
nated by the Roman Pontiff and acknowledged him 
as the spiritual representative of God on earth. 

The "known world" prior to the epochal discov- 
eries made by Columbus, had been largely divided 
up among the so called Christian nations. 

The waste, vacant and unappropriated lands in 
each realm, were universally recognized as the per- 
sonal property of the respective sovereigns. 

These rulers under the doctrine of the divine 
right of Kings and claiming to represent divine 
authority in political sovereignty, held title to all 
lands within their domains over which the Almighty 
alone held sway and which lands no human held by 
right of ownership. 

Suddenly the great navigator Cristoforo Colombo 
opened a door on the sea's western horizon and a 
"new world" loomed up out of the great unknown, 
as a gift from God. 

These newly discovered continents consisted en- 
tirely of vacant and unappropriated lands, for the 
heathen inhabitants thereof were adjudged to be 
pagans, who under the unchristian code of inter-na- 



tional law then prevailing, had no right whatever to 
life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness and much less 
any title to lands which the conqueror felt bound to 

The title to the virgin lands of the New World 
was admittedly and undeniably in God, for over 
them as yet no alleged Christian monarch by a so- 
called divine right held sovereignty. 

The Portuguese and Spanish mariners promptly re- 
ported their new discoveries to their respective Sov- 
ereigns and the latter hastened to renounce all claims 
thereto at the feet of the Holy See in Rome, each 
however seeking a Grant therefor from the Pontiff. 

Under the doctrine that the Pope at Rome was 
the visible head of the Church of God on Earth, 
there fell to him under international law the control 
of these virgin lands the title to which was conceded 
to be in God. 

It was consistent therefore with such a world 
accepted theory that on May 4th, 1493, Pope Alex- 
ander VI, just seven weeks after Columbus cast 
anchor in the harbor of Palos, issued his famous 
Bull dividing between Spain and Portugal the newly 
discovered world. 

The Papal Grant which was at that time issued to 
the King of Spain (Castile and Leon) on the one 
hand and the King of Portugal on the other, recited 
that it was "given with the liberality of Apostolic 
grace." Also that, 

"we at our own motion and not at your solici- 
"tation, nor upon petition presented to us upon 
"this subject, by other persons in your name, 


"but of our pure free will and certain knowl- 
"edge, by the authority of God Omnipotent 
"granted to us through blessed Peter and of the 
"vicarship of Jesus Christ, which we exercise 
"upon earth, by the tenor of these presents 
"given, concede and assign forever to you and 
"to the Kings of Castile and Leon your succes- 
"sors, all the islands and main lands discovered 
"and which may hereafter be discovered, to- 
"wards the West and South, with all other 
"dominions, cities, castles, palaces and towns 
"and with all their rights, jurisdictions and 
"appurtenances, * * * " 

This Bull, of Pope Alexander VI, of which the 
foregoing is but an extract, "did shape the destinies 
of both hemispheres for centuries, leaving vast traces 
even to-day." "It practically gave a monopoly of 
most of the World's seas to Spain and Portugal and 
for a century thereafter the ships of all nations but 
these voyaged at their peril in the South Atlantic, 
Indian and Pacific Oceans." 

Spain's Empire in South America, in Mexico, Cal- 
ifornia and Florida rested upon it. Portugal's sover- 
eignty over Brazil was under it and the title to the 
Philippines which the United States of America pur- 
chased from Spain eminated from it. 

Strange analogies run between the original Grant 
made by Pope Alexander VI covering the New 
World and the Grant made by the English Crown 
to Lancaster Symes and others, referred to herein 
(Chapter 13). 


The Pope alleges that his right to convey is 
"by the authority of God."" 

The English Crown says that its authority 
is "by the grace of God" 

The Pope says that his Grant is issued by 
him "of Apostolic Graced' 

While the English Crown Grant claims to 
be issued of "Especial Grace" for said the reli- 
gious authorities, "Ordination (of the Crown) 
is a sacrament and confers a special grace, which 
is permanent." 

The Pope further records that he grants by 
his "own motion," 

The English Crown Grant represents being 
isued by "meer motion." 

The Pope says that he makes the Grant of 
"our pure free will" 

And the English Crown Grant says "we being 

The Pope declares that he issues his Grant 
having "certain knowledge." 

The English Crown likewise claimed "cer- 
tain knowledge" or correct and sure informa- 

In both Pontifical and English Crown Grants 
"lands" and "islands" are granted but with no 
specific reference to lands under water. 


In no civilized country nor in any Court is it held 
that submerged lands were not included in the first 
great and original Grant issued by the Pope covering 
the virgin titles of the New World. On the con- 
trary, every nation claiming thereunder maintained 
its title to submerged lands, Under tidal waters, 
according to the universally accepted law of nations. 

The Pope's original American Grant was made 
to the Kings of Spain and Portugal and not to those 

The Grants made by the English Crown to its 
Grantees in America were in conformity with the 
same principle, made by the Kings and not by the 

It should be remembered that the English claims 
of Divine right as to kingship and Crown land titles 
in America are, in theory, drawn from the same 
eternal source as claimed by Pope Alexander VI; 
that is, direct from God and free from any inter- 
mediary ownership by a subject. 

The Anglican Church has direct descent from the 
Catholic Church at Rome. 

Pope Alexander VI occupied the pontifical chair 
prior to the seism between Rome and London. The 
English Crown therefore claimed its right by divine 
authority manifest in the Church and under the 
solemn benediction of the Bishop of the Church of 
God bestowed at the coronation of the Kings. 

If a written instrument is to be construed accord- 
ing to the intent of those who draw and execute it, 
then the English Crown Grants to lands in America 
are to be interpreted in the spirit of the royal minds 
issuing them. 


The English Crown recognized that it had re- 
ceived its rights in the New World from God Al- 
mighty, whether the discovery was made by the 
Cabots or Columbus. 

It then sought in carefully worded written instru- 
ments to convey to its Grantees unimpaired those 
sacred and solemn rights of property and privilege 
which it had received in its own solemn relation as 
a Divinely appointed and ordained Monarch. 

In harmony with such a concept, Lancaster Symes, 
upon his receipt of the Crown Grant issued to him 
by Queen Anne, "the good Queen of England," cov- 
ering lands on Staten Island and as an act of Fealty 
and Service to the Great Head and original Source 
of all titles, immediately endowed St. Andrew's 
Church at Richmond, Staten Island, the benefits of 
which endowment that church has enjoyed unto this 

He conveyed to it two large tracts of the same 
lands granted to him by the Crown, one tract for a 
church and burial site and another tract for glebe 

The doctrine involving the sacred rights of prop- 
erty under Crown Grants harks back to the solitudes 
of God and is prophetic of a world's restitution to 
its Divine Proprietor, when the last man shall sleep 
amidst its final silences. 




In Colonial days English Comon Law recognized 
the issue of English Crown Land Grants as a mon- 
archical prerogative entirely apart from the people. 

We, in these more modern days and in this re- 
public, look at English Crown Grants from the view 
point of democracy or of the dominance of the people. 

The view point shifted for us in 1776. At that 
time the people seized the Crown of Sovereignty and 
absorbed all Crown rights. Justice requires that we 
shall not color our present thinking with the prejudice 
born of our larger liberties, when we consider the 
basis of certain Grants of land made by the Crown 
to private owners and which land should in our judg- 
ment, have been retained by the Crown for the use of 
the public at large. Such self-interest will not justify 
the seizure and forfeiture of private property rights 
previously obtained from the Crown, if so obtained 
in strict conformity with the Common Law at that 
time prevailing with its full approval and support 
of both Sovereign and people. 

We should, in imagination, turn back the wheels 
of human progress and think out our mental prob- 
lems of Crown Land Grant investigation in the dim- 



mer, but correct and wholesome light of old English 
Common Law. 

To properly interpret the language used in the 
English Crown Land Grants iwhich were issued 
during the Colonial Period and which conveyed lands 
in the American Colonies, we must read them in the 
light of their times, and translate them in accord 
with the intent of the original Grantor and Grantee. 

We must interpret such Crown Grants with proper 
regard for the then exact legal meaning of the words 
used therein and as at that time understood by the 
Crown and its English speaking subjects. 

The language of a people changes as time pro- 
gresses, but property rights acquired do not in the 
slightest degree alter under a languages shifting 

Such changes are not limited to the style of chiro- 
graphy or to variations in the spelling of words, all 
of which are but trivial tokens of the deep and rest- 
less pulsations of mind waves, in the ceaseless tide 
of thought bearing words. Words may grow, ex- 
pand and deepen under the vitalizing influences of 
human progress, or they may wither and shrivel from 
non use and become obsolete, with its benumbing and 
deadening effect. 

Words in their evolution of meaning are flexible 
and absorbent. They take on new shades of thought, 
while l£^cflgcapJie£& show us that by their use in some 
connections they change their Import In popular defi* 

Legal definitions also take on new lights and shades 
as generations pass. He who would voice to us in 
modern language the thought of the past, or who 
would cloak the thought of the present in the phrase- 


ology of by-gone-days, must tread softly and feel his 
way with care and discernment along the pathway 
of human thinking. Otherwise his dictum will be 
inconsistent with the intent and expression of former 
thinkers and if followed may become subversive of 
the sacred rights of the present and future genera- 
tions. Justice would not falsify the past to the injury 
of the innocent in order to forfeit merited properties 
and privileges and to destroy vested rights. 

To us, many an old English word has lost from 
its bosom some rich gem of human emotion. Other 
words, through the polishing friction of use, under 
changing conditions, have taken on a new brilliance 
and luster. 

In many of the old English Crown Grants we find 
that rich and grand old English word, "grace" in- 
scribed therein. 

That word was formerly full and fragrant with 
a meaning which expressed a wealth of unselfish love 
to one beloved and for love's sake. 

To-day, the word, "grace," in common parlance," 
practically represents symmetry and the artistic in 
form, carriage and poise, or it may suggest a suave 

Modern grace may be betokened by the handsome 
and stately feminine form and figure, while the old 
English word grace found its portrayal in the divine 
mental and spiritual endowments of the highest and 
noblest ty'pes of true and perfect womanhood. 

Modern grace may be exemplified in death, but 
the grace of our forefathers was immortal. It never 

Wc Americans with somewhat less of ceremony 


than bnisqueness denied the "divine right of kings," 
at the same time we accord to our judiciary "the 
- diviiTC right of final judgment" affecting human rela- 

To these our appointed dispensers of supreme jus- 
tice, ancient English Crown Grants are brought for 

These Grants written in the language of the past 
and under the English Common law are to be in- 
terpreted in the language of the present day, with the 
sacred rights of vested property depending upon 
the faithful and correct translation and interpreta- 
tion thereof. 

Prior to the American Revolutionary war the 
Common Law of England, in so far as it could be 
adapted to the western continent became the basic 
law of the American Colonies. It became funda- 
mental in America. 

It underlaid the whole superstructure of American 
Colonial Institutions. 

In pursuance of English Common Law the Colo- 
nies were developed. Under it the Governments 
therein were established, human liberties were therein 
guaranteed, and property rights were therein safe- 

Colonial institutions of almost every kind and 
nature existed by virtue of Royal Grants from the 
Crown, back of which was the old Common Law of 

Under Crown Grants great commercial and trading 
companies were organized in America. The English 
Crown was the source of Granted Charters for the 


Educational institutions and Ecclesiastical bodies 
founded in the Colonies. 

Crown Grants were the source of Colonial land 

It is very clear that the existance of Colonial in- 
stitutions, the preservation of human liberties in the 
Colonies and the protection of the rights of private 
property in the Provinces, all depended absolutely 
upon the integrity, inviolability and validity of the 
English Crown Grants which rested upon and 
acquired their force and effect from and under old 
English Common Law. 

The Crown Grants so issued, by their terms, gave 
in unequivocal language certain valuable rights and 
properties in exchange for certain revenues or Quit- 
Rents as the consideration therefor. 

The Crown under English Common Law had pos- 
sessed the rights and properties so parted with and in 
return for such conveyances the Sovereign received 
the consideration provided to be paid under the terms 
of the Grants. 

It was a fundamental proposition of law at 
that time as It also Is now, that where two parties 
entered into contract relations for a valuable consid- 
eration, one of the parties thereto parting with the 
subject matter of the contract and the other thereto 
faithfully paying the agreed consideration therefore, 
and mentioned therein, the contract so made Is Irre- 
vocably binding upon both parties thereto, unless 
voided by the free and voluntary consent of each. 

It was true that fraud might void a contract, but 
not where the Crown was a party thereto. "The 
King cannot deceive" and "the King cannot be de- 


ccived" were maxims of law then well understood and 
accepted by King and people. How then could the 
issue of fraud be raised? 

The people of the realm were fully and com- 
pletely bound by the Royal Grants covering rights 
and properties in the Colonies and also in England. 

Crown Grants were "open letters" or letters patent. 
They were not secret instruments but designedly and 
by established rule and practice Issued In full sight 
of and with the knowledge of the public. Black- 
stone and other authorities tell us of the great care, 
precaution and painstaking publicity with which they 
were considered, prepared and issued. 

The custom pursued by the successive Sovereigns 
in England, In this legal procedure with the full 
knowledge and tacit consent of the people, cannot 
now be successfully traversed on the theory that the 
King had no right to grant certain classes of land 
which he is alleged to have held In trust for the 

Such Grants, If they had been made by the State 
In these days of democracy might with a color of 
credulity be so called in question. 

In effect our statuary enactments restraining pub- 
lic officials from makihg Land Grants under cer- 
tain conditions, not prescribed In Colonial days, in 
themselves admit that such practices were consistent 
with the common law and usage and can only be now 
restrained by statuatory enactments. 

The argument based upon any theory of lack of 
Kingly power, if made, will not be sustained under 
our leading decisions. No such attitude was tenable 
under old English Common Law. It Is to be said 


to the lasting credit of the New York Judiciary that 
the Courts of the State of New York have never 
voided an English Crown Grant. England had no 
constitution. The Magna Charta did not limit the 
right of the King to make Grants of land in America. 
"Such is undeniably the doctrine upheld in the State 
of New York." (Court of Appeals of State of New 

The English Courts had for generations prior to 
the American Revolt fully and completely recog- 
nized the English Crown's right to make such Grants 
throughout the realm. Simultaneously with the issue 
of Royal Grants in the Colonies the English Crown 
freely and unrestrainedly issued multitudes of similar 
grants in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. 

The American Colonists accepted such Colonial 
Grant in good faith and paid their Quit-Rents. They 
then proceeded to lay thereon the foundations of an 
old civilization in a new world and under the pro- 
tection of English Common Law. 

All this was done with the full knowledge and con- 
sent by and of the English people. It was in har- 
mony with the latter's free, frequent and contem- 
poraneous indulgence and participation in like prac- 
tices and policy exercised toward them by the Crown 
in both England and America. What was sauce for 
the English goose, was a sauce for the American 

"The English Crown looked upon America 
"as but the extension of the soil of England." 

What was legally and morally right to an Eng- 
lishman in England, was likewise legally and morally 


right to him when he migrated to the Colonies. 
There was no double standard of justice and equity, 
under English Common Law. 

This statement is so fully made herein, in order to 
emphasize the fact that the English Crown Grants 
were no emergency inventions on the part of the 
Crown to meet conditions suddenly arising in con- 
sequence of the discovery and settlement of America. 

The English Crown had been making Crown 
Grants for centuries prior to the discovery of the 
New World. The Grants made in America com- 
prise but a chapter in the record of England's his- 
toric policy and practice. 

Suddenly a new English ministry facing a deficit 
created by vast European War Expenditures, sought 
to increase the Royal revenues by imposing a tax upon 
the American Colonists not prescribed in their Grants 
and demanded increased revenues from the American 

The British Government undertook to "read into 
the Crown Grants" already issued, the right to abro- 
gate, rescind, limit or amend the same without the 
consent of the Grantees. 

It undertook to deprive Connecticut of its pre- 
viously granted Charter and Plymouth Colony of its 
privileges. It attempted to enforce the same policy 
in other directions in America. ,^^ 

Yale College (1763) and other great XQOamfilicial. 
bodies vigorously protested against such attempted 
invasion of the rights enjoyed by them under Crown 

The Colonists asserted and pleaded the sacred 
rights of contract and the inviolability of personal 


and public rights which had been granted to and 
acquired by them under the Seal of their Sovereigns. 

The Crown had made the Grants and the 
Colonists had invoked the accepted rule of Old Eng- 
lish Common Law that "the King can do no wrong." 
They claimed that the Crown did right when it issued 
the Grants to them and it could not rescind the Grants 
for that would be a legal and moral wrong. Accord- 
ing to English thought, this was logic and not sophis- 

The Colonists flatly denied the Sovereign's right to 
demand by taxation any increase in revenues from 
those who held their properties and rights under well 
defined and clearly drawn Crown Grants, in which 
Grants their Quit-Rents were fully specified and their 
rights were clearly defined. 

"Staten Island is comprehended in the West 
"Riding of Long Island but payeth noe tax, be- 
ting enjoyned by their patents to pay a bushall 
"of good wheate for each lott consisting of 80 

(Report Commissioner John Lewin to 
Duke of York.) 

Taxation, then, without their consent would have 
been a flagrant violation of their granted rights and 
an arbitrary exercise of kingly power. 

On this issue was fought the battles of the Ameri- 
can Revolution. For the Colonist to have admitted 
the right of the Crown to alter, amend or rescind its 
Colonial Grants would have been the admission that 
all of their property rights, commercial privileges 
and personal liberties were held by Royal sufFrance 


and favor. This doctrine once admitted, then these 
privileges might have been withdrawn through Royal 
caprice and at the King's pleasure. Liberty could 
then have been replaced by servitude and property 
could have been displaced by poverty at the will and 
whim of their Sovereign. 

The Colonists well knew that English Courts and 
other legal authorities had uniformly maintained 
that the most dangerous power to be surrendered 
back to a government was the right to confiscate pri- 
vate property without adequate compensation there- 

"So great moreover is the regard of the law 
"for private property, that it will not authorize 
"the least violation of it; no not even for the 
"general good of the whole community. If a 
"new road, for instance, were to be made 
"through the ground of a private person, it 
"might perhaps be extensively beneficial to the 
"public; but the law permits no man, or set of 
"men, to do this without the consent of the 
"owner of the land. 

"In vain may it be urged, that the good of the 
"individual ought to yield to that of the com- 
"munlty; for it would be dangerous to allow 
"any private man, or even any public tribunal, to 
"be the judge of the common good, and to de- 
"cide whether it be expedient or no. 

"Besides the public good is in nothing more 
"essentially interested, than in the protection of 
"every Individual's private rights, as modelled 
"by the municipal law. In this and similar 


"cases the legislature alone can and indeed fre- 
"quently does, interpose and compel the indi- 
"vidual to acquiesce. 

"But how does it interpose and compel? Not 
"by absolutely stripping the subject of his prop- 
"erty in an arbitrary manner; but by giving him 
"a full indemnification and equivalent for the 
"injury thereby sustained." 

(Blackstone, Book i, Chap, i, p. I39). 

All the above questions and more set the Colonists 
aflame and civil war ensued. The Colonial Grants 
were resealed in the blood of the patriot and ratified 
and confirmed by victory. 

The issue referred to was eternally settled in 
America by the final decree of that Court of last re- 
sort, WAR. By that decision all English Crown 
Land Grants became inviolate. "They mean what 
they say, and they say what they mean." That decree 
settled forever that nothing can be "read into them," 
or emasculated from them. 

Crown Grants issued by the English Crown prior 
to 1778 and covering lands in America were there- 
after to stand, unquestioned, on any ground as to 
their merits, and should be interpreted under English 
Common Law with the full force and effect with 
which they were issued by the Crown and received by 
the Colonists. 

In harmony with this final arbitrament of war, the 
Governments of Great Britain and the United States 
of America by solemn treaty stipulations, recog- 
nized, affirmed and confirmed the validity of the 
Grants previously made by the English Crown. 


The State of New York has likewise in each con- 
stitution adopted by it, solemnly ratified the English 
Crown Grants, which had been consumated in good 
faith and thereafter sustained through the horrors 
of a Civil War. 

Hence the issued Crown Grants stand unimpeach- 
able under treaty and constitutional provisions, as to 
the kingly power to issue the Grants or as to any 
trespass upon the rights of the people. The people 
themselves denied this trespass by force of arms, 
compelled the Crown to ratify them and our Govern- 
ment affirmed that decision. 

Princes and People are alike bound by all treaties 
of peace made by their Sovereign Governments. 

To reach a correct understanding of the rights and 
privileges conveyed under an English Crown Grant 
we should. 

First Disregard every statute enacted since 
such Grant was patented. 

Second Disregard every judicial decision made 
since the English Crown Grant in 
question was patented and relating to 
old English Crown Grants In general; 

Excepting Only However 

The legal definitions and Interpretations con- 
tained in such decisions relating to the Common 
Law of England existing at the date of the issue 
\oi the Grant under consideration. 


We must go back to the "stuffy little old English 
Court room" of the Colonial period. We must there 


consult the decisions of the old Court of the King's 
Bench, together with the opinions of other old 
authorities who then determined the rights and pow- 
ers of both King and people, under old English Com- 
mon law. At that time monarchical influences were 
in the ascendancy and democratic principles were in 
dormant embryo. 

The accepted theory in those days was that all pri- 
vate title in and to lands came to the people through 
the condescension and benevolence of their Sover- 
eign, who had received such title by divine right 
from God. 

Therefore, according to that doctrine the title to 
all vacant and unappropriated lands in the realm 
had never passed througli^or from any member of 
the human family and no private rights attached 
thereto or were inherent therein. 

"Me und Gott" then as well as now (1918), pro- 
claimed by the ruling Sovereign bespoke a theory 
of "close corporation," i^rrn pated to itself by human 
Kingship; a complete monopoly of title by royalty 
in utter disregard of the comfort, happiness and wel- 
fare of the subjects in the realm. To dispute such 
a Royal right was considered treasonable to the 
King and blasphemous to God. 

To all this the people assented and cried out, "Long 
live the King." Consequently a Crown Grant when 
made was accordingly naked and void of any reserva- 
tions in behalf of the public, unless so expressed in 
the language of the Grant. 

The old instruments of conveyance cannot at this 
late date be stretched to accommodate "the expanding 
rights of the people," however desirable that might be 


from the standpoint of public policy. Confiscation 
of private property without adequate compensation is 
subversive of good government, attacks the very 
foundations of human liberty, is contrary to the funda- 
mentals of good law and defies conscience, for which 
perfidious proceedings our courts will not under any 
pretext or sophistry stand. 

The only legal effect which the American Revo- 
lution had upon the titles to Crown lands in the Amer- 
ican Colonies may be safely stated as follows : 

The Crown's absolute, undoubted and un- 
assailable title to the then vacant and unap- 
propriated lands in the Colonies was acquired 
by the people. Before the Revolution that title 
was in the Crown, in contradistinction from the 
people. They were "Crown Lands," utterly 
regardless as to whether they were uplands, 
lands between high and low water mark or sub- 
merged lands. 

The Crown could grant or lease to or with- 
hold these lands from the citizens. 

When the American people by Revolution 
acquired these sovereign rights, the King's rights 
and the people's rights became merged in the 
State's title. As it now exists it is a perfect 
title, "as an incident of Soverignty", hut it does 
not affect the title to any lands previously grant- 
ed by the Crown. 

The tranfer took place when Democracy was 
enthroned in America. 

Such newly acquired popular rights were not 
retroactive. The Courts, both State and Fed- 


cral, have settled that question for all time, as 
appears not only in uniform judicial decrees, 
but also in every constitution adopted by the 
State of New York, since its incorporation as 
a state. 

Every English Crown Grant properly issued 
has been sustained by the Courts of New York 
when challenged. 

Not one English Crown Grant has been 
voided by the Courts of New York. 




The English Crown took possession of Staten 
Island principally under two rights or claims of own- 
ership. Its first claim was that by right of discovery, 
under which the English Crown asserted title thereto 
and had obtained political sovereignty and jurisdic- 
tion thereover. It maintained that upon taking pos- 
session of the Island it was but entering into lands 
to which it was fully entitled by right of prior dis- 

This was England's bold and defiant attitude when 
confronting the land grabbing nations of Continen- 
tal Europe. 

This doctrine, as originally promulgated by all of 
the powers of Europe and stripped of all sentiment 
and finesse, carried with it the cold blooded right to 
disregard the Indians as having any fixed abode, or 
any real title In the lands they occupied. They 
were decreed to be pagans, infidel dogs, objects for 
missionary effort and pious plunder. To enslave a 
pagan to a pious master was to put a bad thing to a 
good use. What shocking perversity! 

England, however, in practice acted upon the more 
just and humane doctrine of purchasing from the 
Indians the lands in question. 



Modern Christian sentiment does not tolerate 
such a pagan conception even though heretofore its 
taint may have dimmed the lustre of some of our 
court decisions. 

Since the time of the conquest of England by 
William of Normandy, it has been maintained under 
English Common Law, that the titles to all lands 
in England must be traced back to an English Crown 
Grant, by either record or prescription. 

"He also that has a particular estate by 
"agreement of parties, must show, not only his 
"own conveyance, but the deeds paramount, for 
"there can be no title made to a thing lying in 
"agreement but by showing such agreement up 
"to the first original grant." (Introduction to 
the Law of England, relating to Real Property, 
Buler 1791 A. D., 6 Ed., p. 251.) 

It appears to be implied by some authorities and in 
some decisions, that greater flexibility, latitude and 
scope should be accorded to a Crown Grant made to 
a municipality than to a private individual. In other 
words, it seems to be implied in some cases that a 
Crown Grant to an individual should be more strictly 
construed than should the same Grant when made to 
a municipality. 

This theory did not exist under old English Com- 
mon Law. 

Such a dictum is seemingly inequitable, and has 
not appeared as a governing factor in any final New 
York decisions. If a sovereign state, with a popu- 
lation of ten millions (10,000,000) of citizens, by 
its properly constituted authorities, makes a Grant of 


a Bay or a Harbor to a municipality, where such a 
municipality has a population of ten thousand people, 
then nine million nine hundred and ninety thousand 
people are absolutely shorn of their title and inter- 
est in the land so granted, for the benefit of but ten 
thousand people. It Is of no interest to the people 
so divested of title whether the same went to an 
aggregation or monopoly of ten thousand citizens, 
or to but one individual. The theory that such 
municipality holds such title as a trust for the people 
is "fine spun" in face of the fact that it holds It for 
the municipality to the exclusion and utter disregard 
of the citizens of the State at large. He who parts 
with a title or with all his interests in a title has little 
concern whether it be to a corporation in the form 
of a municipality or to an individual citizen, provided 
no further benefits accrue to him and he Is divested of 
all rights therein. 

In a Crown Grant of land where by its terms tidal 
water is fixed as a boundary thereof, high water mark 
is intended. This has been conclusively held and 
cannot be now questioned. If, however, such Royal 
Grant is one of political jurisdiction only then the 
boundary is to low water mark. 

It has been further held, in the case of Baldwin vs. 
Brown (16 N. Y. 359) (and in 9 Johns 100) that 
natural boundaries are more to be regarded than 
artificial ones or those which are not permanent. 

"By the Royal commission to Governors, the 
"Governor with the advice of the Council was 
"authorized to make Grants of the public lands 
"on such terms as might be deemed proper; 


"which Grants, on being sealed with the 
"Colonial Seal, and recorded, were to be 
"effectual." (Town of Brookhaven vs. Strong, 
6oN. Y., 56). 

"It is well settled by authority that a State 
"has the right to dispose of the unappropriated 
"land within its own limits, and that when a 
"grant has been made the title becomes vested, 
"without any power in the State to rescind the 
"grant, for fraud or otherwise, when the land 
"granted has passed into the hands of the bona- 
"fide purchaser for value, without notice." 

"Nor unless fraudulent, can it be revoked tt 
"all, if its conditions are performed." 

"Nor can a State constitutionally confirm a 
"void patent, so as to divest a title legally ac- 
"quired before the attempted confirmation." 
(Girard on Titles to Real Estate.) 

It is a fully established principle of international 
law, well recognized by all legal authorities, that the 
title to all vacant and unappropriated lands in the 
realm is vested in the supreme sovereign. It has 
been elsewhere explained herein, that in monarchical 
countries such title rests in the Crown, while in demo- 
cratic countries it vests in the chief Legislative body, 
representing and voicing the mandates of the people. 

"The Statute of Westminster, the Second to 
"cover the case of persons claiming common of 
"pasture by express Grant, seems to have been 
"the foundation of the common law rule, that 
"the absence of proof to the contrary, the soil 


"of the Manorial Waste or Common is vested 
"in the Lord." (History of English Law, 
Jenks, 262.) 

In fact, the doctrine is larger than this statement. 
It is conceded that the title to all land was vested in 
the Sovereign and that the ultimate title to all land 
is now vested in the Sovereign, be it Crown or Legis- 
lature. It has become a legal maxim, "There is no 
land without a Lord." 

It has been to an extent and will be further herein 
set forth that the Sovereign had and has power to 
make Grants of any part or portions of the ungrant- 
cd, vacant and unappropriated lands within the realm. 
In certain circumstances a sovereign may make such 
Grants with or without the authority of the people, 
in accordance with the limitations and restrictions 
with which the kingly power may be hedged about in 
these days of constitutional or otherwise abridgement 
of Kingly powers. 

The original conception, and in fact the original 
exercise of kingly power, was without let or hinder- 
ance. All modifications thereof and all constitutional 
limitations placed thereon, have been extorted from 
the Crown by the irresistible assertion of the right 
of the people to supreme government in the affairs of 

An English Crown Grant to land In the English 
realm carries with it precisely those rights and privi- 
leges accorded thereto by English Common Law pre- 
vailing at the date of the issue thereof. 

In dealing with Staten Island titles to lands, no 
question can be successfully raised as to the com- 


plcte and perfect regularity thereof. The Crown 
Grants from which all true titles on Staten Island 
must descend, bear the full authority of the English 
Crown, consented to by the Council, which authority 
was recognized by the people. 

The absence therefrom of either the Royal con- 
sent or confirmation by the Colonial Council betok- 
ened an absolutely void Grant. Such authorization, 
however, by the Crown and Council renders such in- 
struments complete and effective. 

"Some, or at least one Grant has been made 

"without the advice of the Council, which is 

"conceived to be against the Queen's Commis- 

"sion or instructions." (Maladministration of 

affairs in New York, 1709.) 

This shows that the Council's approval of Crown 
Grants was by the Sovereign' s '' instructions" and not 
by any inherent right of any subject of the Crown to 
interfere in the matter. 

Fortunately all Grants made by the English Crown 
to land on Staten Island were made during a period 
of English History in which there was no increase 
or diminution of kingly authority, nor any variation 
whatever in the rights of the people in relation there- 
to. England has no constitution. Therefore, there 
were no constitutional changes, nor were there any 
variations in the English Common Law governing 
the rights of the Crown and the rights of the people 
in respect to these Colonial lands during the period 
covering their Issue. 


"From the passing of the Statute of Frauds 
"in 1677, to the assembling of the first Re- 
"formed parliament in 1832 we have, as has 
"been previously pointed out, hardly a single 
"statute of first class importance dealing with 
"land law." (History of English Law, Jenks, 
Page 236.) 

The discussion, therefore, of such Grants as were 
issued by the Crown becomes one of regularity in 
procedure by the Grantor, compliance by the Grantee 
and correct legal interpretation thereof. This study 
can be proceeded with under the light of definite 
knowledge, as to the Common Law of England at 
that time prevailing, as set forth in the decisions of 
her courts and the subsequent deliverances from the 
American bench. 

Foremost among these governing opinions are the 
decisions of the Court of Appeals of the State of 
New York. They are consistent, lucid and profound. 

In speaking of the vacant and unappropriated lands 
in the realm, Digby says in his History of the Law 
of Real Property, "there remained a very large pro- 
portion of the land of the country lying waste and 
uncultivated and used only for pasture of sheep and 
cattle, for feeding swine on the acorns and beech 
mast, or for supplying wood for building, repairs and 
fuel. It was primarily regarded as the common stock 
from which grants might be made." 

Bede, in the eighth century, speaks of it as lands 
which "ought to be granted to ecclesiastics or to 

Vacant and unappropriated land in early days 


was sometimes designated "folk land." The title to 
the same was held by the Crown. Digby again says : 
"Besides grants of folkland, to be held as book land 
or as private property, it seems also to have been 
common to allow individuals temporary or possessory 
rights over folk land without altering its character as 
public lands. The reversion (to use a later expres- 
sion) still remained in the community at large, or in 
the King as the representative of the community. 
There is evidence that in some cases various rents, 
dues or services, in money or time had to be rendered 
for the enjoyment of rights over folk land." 

Bede, in speaking of these vacant and unappro- 
priated lands said, "fVhen the country was brought 
under the government of a single King, this land 
seems to have been regarded as in an especial manner 
the property of the King, and is frequently spoken of 
as the King's folk land." 

He further states : "Besides the grant of whole dis- 
tricts of this land, to be held as 'Book land,' we fre- 
quently find that rights of pasture and other beneficial 
rights over it are granted away to individuals by the 
King in the usual form. There can be but little doubt 
that this unoccupied land came to be, more and more 
regarded as the land of the King — 'Terra Regis.' 
Hence grew in later time the conception that all the 
land was originally vested in the Crown; that the 
King is prima facia owner of all the unoccupied land, 
even of the shore of the sea below high water mark." 

In another reference thereto he says: "In early 
times these rights were probably regarded as rights 
of common or public lands which the King would 
share with others. Later the property was looked 


upon as vested in the King. The commoners having 
rights in alieno solo.'* 

"If it be no longer known of whom the lands 
"are immediately holden; then the King, as 
"Great and Chief Lord, shall have them by 
"escheat: for to him fealty belongs and of him 
"they are certainly holden by presumption of 
"law and without the necessity of proof." 
(Cruise's Digest of the Laws of England re- 
specting Real Property (1808) Vol. 2, title 

At the close of the Revolutionary War, the 
Billop lands on Staten Island were escheated by the 
State of New York, on the ground that the then 
owner, (not the original) Christopher Billop, "had 
given aid and comfort to the common enemy." 

Digby says, in his Law of Real Property, that if 
a grantee "incurred forfeiture for treason, the rights 
of the lessor would not be affected." In this case, 
however, the State of New York had stepped into 
the shoes of the English Crown and had become the 
ultimate owner of Billop's lands, subject only to any 
Grants therefrom. 

"A grant of land has been defined as a public 

"law standing on the statute books of the State 

"and is notice to every subsequent purchaser 

"under any conflicting sale made afterwards." 

(2 U. S. App. 581.) 

A patent is conclusive against all whose rights 
commence subsequent to its date (7 Wheat, 


212). It conveys the legal title and leaves the 
equities open. (15 Peters 93. ) 

A patent of land is the highest evidence of 
title and is conclusive as against the government 
and all claiming under junior patents or title 
until set aside or annulled, unless it is absolutely 
void on its face. (2 Wall 525; 23 Howard 
235; 104U. S. 635.) 

When the State has once made a valid grant 
to lands to one party, it cannot afterwards re- 
convey the same lands to a different person. 
(Van Home vs. Torrance, 2 Dall, 304 to 320.) 

It has been held that these provisions, by im- 
plication, confirm all patents and Grants of land 
by the Crown prior to October 4th, 1775. (Peo- 
ple vs. Clarke, 10, Barb. 120, Ajffirmed in New 
York, 349.) 

Property rights acquired before the American Rev- 
olution were also protected by provisions in the treat- 
ies of 1783 and 1794, between United States and 
Great Britain. Article 6 of the United States Con- 
stitution provides that all treaties made, or which 
shall be made under the authority of the United 
States shall be the Supreme Law of the land. 

The Federal Courts, therefore, have jurisdiction 
in cases involving English Crown Grants, which are 
protected by international treaties. 

The Thirty Sixth section of the Constitution of 
1777 (New York State) , declares that nothing there- 
in contained shall be construed to affect any Grants 
of land made by the authority of the King, prior to 
the 14th day of October, 1775. 


In the case of the People vs. Clark (9 N. Y. 349) 
the Court of Appeals of New York declared, 

"the learned Justice of the Supreme Court, 
"whose able opinion in this case we are review- 
"ing, a most respectable authority upon ques- 
"tions of titles to lands depending upon ancient 
"grants, has declared that this provision of the 
'^Constitution has always been regarded as con- 
'* firming the Royal patents granted before the 

In the work entitled, "Two Centuries Growth of 
American Law, by Members of the Faculty of the 
Yale Law School," the statement is made that, 

"Before the Revolution the People had ac- 
"customed themselves to the assertion that their 
"charters had made them certain irrevocable 
"Grants, one of which was that they were to 
"possess all the rights and privileges of Eng- 

The authors of that work further state, "An exe- 
cuted grant is inviolable, because it is a contract. The 
party who made it has lost certain rights. The party 
who received and accepted it has acquired them ; and 
each must stand by his bargain." 

"President Clap, in 1763, had set up successfully a 
similar claim as to the Charter of Yale College, when 
the General Assembly was threatening to amend it 
without the consent of the Corporation." (Dart- 
mouth College vs. Woodward 4 Wheat, 5 18.) 

"The laws which subsist at the time and making of 
the contract, and where it is to be performed enter 


into and form a part of it, as if they were expressly 
referred to, or incorporated in its terms." (White 
vs. HartU. B. 13, Wall 646.) 

The fundamental idea underlying the titles to lands 
in the United States is that the State, "if one of the 
old Thirteen," is seized of all the lands within her 
limits not granted; and as to the new States and Ter- 
ritories the seizen is in the United States to the like 
extent. (Clements vs. Anderson, 46 Miss. 581.) 

On the Independence of New York, the ungranted 
Crown lands vested in the State and continued to be 
granted by letters patent under the Great Seal. (N. 
Y. C. RR. Co. vs. Brockway Brick Company, 158 
N. Y. 470.) 

In New York, when by the Revolution the Colonies 
became separated from the Crown of Great Britain 
and a Republican Government was formed, the peo- 
ple succeeded the King in the ownership of lands 
within the State, which had not already been granted 
atuay; and the people thenceforth became the source 
of all private titles. 

People vs. Trinity Church, 22 N. Y. 44. 
Jackson vs. Hart, 12 Johns (N. Y. 77) 
Wendell vs. People, 8 Wend. (N. Y. 18 

Hart, 12 Johns (N. Y. 77). 
People, 8 Wend. (N. Y. 183). 

But with respect to land that before October 14th, 
1775, had been legally granted to individuals by the 
Crown, or to which the title had been legally acquired 
by individuals in any other way, neither the Revolu- 
tion nor the change in the form of Government, nor 
the declaration of the Sovereignty of the People 
worked any change of forfeiture in the ownership of 
such property." (Gerard on Title to Real Estate.) 


The Grant made by the English Crown to the 
Duke of York became vested in the English Sovereign 
when the Duke of York became King of England. 
The right of the King of Great Britain to make this 
Grant to the Duke of York, with all its prerogatives 
and powers of government, cannot at this day be 
questioned. "The rivers, bays and arms of the sea 
and all prerogative rights within the limits of the 
charter undoubtedly passed to the Duke of York, and 
were intended to pass, except those saved in the letters 
patent. The words used evidently show this inten- 
tion." (By Chief Justice, Martin vs. Waddell, 16 
Peters 367.) 

The Grants to the Duke of York contain: 
"Together with all the lands, island, soils, riv- 
"ers, harbors, mines, minerals, quarries, woods, 
"marshes, waters, lakes, fishings, hawking, hunt- 
"ing and fowlings." 

It will be observed that this description is even 
more restricted than the language in the Symes Staten 
Island Grant, to wit, 

"Together with all and singular the woods, un- 
"derwoods, trees, timber, feedings, meadows, 
"marshes, swamps, pools, ponds, waters, water 
"courses, rivers, rivuletts, runs and streams of 
"waters, brooks, fishing, fowling, hunting, 
"hawking, mines and minerals, standing, grow- 
"ing, lying or being or to be had, used or en- 
"joyed within the bounds and limits aforesaid; 
"and all other profits, benefits, advantages, 
"hereditaments and appurtenances whatsoever^ 


"unto the said pieces and parcels of land and 
"premises, belonging or in any way appertain- 
"ing (except and always reserved out of this 
"our present Grant all gold and silver mines)." 

The language of the Grant to Lancaster Symes 
carries with it all fullness, as far as the same could 
be applied to the vacant and unappropriated lands 
on Staten Island and to all vacant and unappropriated 
lands above and below water within the bounds and 
limits of Richmond County covering all of the rights 
received by the Duke of York under the original 
Grant to him. 

In the case of Martin vs. Waddell ( i6 Peters, 
367) the Supreme Court of the United States 
held, "According to the theory of the British 
"Constitution, all vacant lands are vested in the 
"Crown, as representing the nation, and ex- 
" elusive power to grant them is admitted to rC' 
"side in the Crown, as a branch of the royal 
"prerogative. It has been clearly shown that 
"this principle was as fully recognized in Amer- 
"ica as in the Island of Great Britain." 

The Dutch were completely divested of all lands 
claimed by the English under the Cabot discovery, 
and such title became revested in the English Crown. 
(Fowler's Real Property Law, 2nd Edition, Chap, i. 
Title 2.) This issue was settled in accordance with 
a treaty made between England and Holland. The 
Staten Island Indians had always protested that 
deeds made by them to the Dutch had been obtained 


by fraud, and that the true consideration and proper 
compensation had never been paid to them by the 

There was no change in tenure under Crown 
Grants in consequence of the passing of the statute 
of quia empores (18 Ed, i ; Delancey vs. Piepgras, 
N. Y. Rep.). 

"The power now possessed by the Govem- 
*'ment of the United States, to grant lands, re- 
"sided, while we were Colonies, in the Crown or 
"its Grantees. The validity of the title given by 
"either has never been questioned in our Courts. 
"It has been exercised uniformly over territory 
"in possession of the Indians. * ♦ * All 
"our institutions recognize the absolute title of 
"the Crown, subject only to the Indian right of 
"occupancy, and recognize the absolute title of 
"the Crown to extinguish that right." (Will- 
iam B. Hornblower, 14 Amer. Bar. Assn. Rept. 
264, 265.) 




It is a fully recognized fact of history that when 
the early European settlers landed upon the shores 
of Staten Island they then found it in full and com- 
plete possession of the American Indians. The 
Indians held undisputed sway over its villages, hunt- 
ing and fishing grounds, and stood prepared and 
ready- at any time to defend the same, as was clearly 
shown in their subsequent deeds of valor when re- 
sisting the unjust and offensive encroachments of the 
early settlers. 

Authorities have somewhat disagreed as to the pre- 
cise nature of the title held by the American Indians 
to the soil which they possessed. The continental 
chancellories of Europe, promptly upon the discovery 
of America, promulgated their decrees branding the 
American Indians as nomads. They laid down the 
proposition of international law that the European 
Government had an absolute right to each and every 
land on the American continents, which either they 
or their representative citizens should discover. 

Proprietorship by right of discovery was asserted, 
with utter disregard to what were the true and in- 
alienable rights of the American Indians. 

Modern historic research has disclosed the fact 



that the aborigines of America had their established 
and accepted forms of government; that the various 
tribes well understood and recognized the territorial 
bounds and limits of their respective domains. 

"That it is a difficult matter to discover the 
"true owner of any lands among the Indians is 
"a gross error, which must arise from ignorance 
"of the matter or from a cause which does not 
"require explanation. 

"Each nation is perfectly well acquainted with 
"its exact original bounds; the same is again 
"divided into due proportions for each tribe and 
"afterwards subdivided into shares to each fam- 
"ily, with all which they are most particularly 
"acquainted. Neither do they ever infringe 
"upon one another or invade their neighbors' 
"hunting grounds." (Sir William Johnson to 
the Lords of Trade, 1764 A. D.) 

In some cases single tribes were independent, self- 
reliant, and maintained their sovereignty and the in- 
tegrity of their soil against all comers. In other cases 
a powerful confederation was formed by treaty be- 
tween a group of tribes. In other instances weaker 
tribes came by special treaty under the protection of 
more powerful neighbors. 

To a large extent, peace and happiness prevailed 
among the tribes, each respecting the rights of the 
other in and to its own hunting and fishing grounds. 
Any invasion of these indispensable sources of food 
supply was always met by prompt defense and swift 
and fierce retribution. 


A sharp distinction should be drawn between the 
attitude of the English Government towards the 
Indians and the general practice of the Colonists 
towards the natives. 

The European settlers promptly appropriated the 
Indian's food supply from sea and land. The great 
pressure of a new advancing civilization forced the 
coastal tribes back upon the neighboring interior 
tribes, in utter disregard of tribal boundaries. An- 
tagonism and conflict immediately developed between 
the natives, superinduced by the white man's over- 
throw of the Indian's political, economic and tribal 

Tribes, evicted from the lands which they had in- 
herited from their forefathers, were driven by hunger 
to pirate upon the hunting and fishing grounds of 
other tribes which had heretofbre been their friends. 
The latter, unable to spare food from their naturally 
sparse and limited supply, arose in arms and fought 
their former friendly neighbors. 

This invasion by the white race upon the Indian 
civilization developed a period of intertribal wars 
that brought to the surface the fiercest elements in the 
Indian nature. These wars continued until the tribes 
became almost extinct or were driven far from their 
native soil. 

The Indian first fought the white man in defense 
of his own land, villages and food supply; then the 
various Indian tribes fought among themselves, as 
exiles and wanderers struggling together for an in- 
sufficient food supply. 

It is well understood that a majority of the first 
settlers were adventurers, pirates and freebooters of 


the sea. In many cases they were criminals, exiled 
from home, or were wild and dissipated sailors who 
were prepared to venture anything, and to commit 
almost any crime in order to repair their broken for- 
tunes. The "Mayflower" and other ships with their 
precious cargoes of religious and freedom-loving ex- 
iles were like doves amidst the hawkes and vultures 
of the sea. 

Information from the early Colonies passed slowly 
to the mother countries. Vivid and distorted ac- 
counts were given of the attitude of the natives and 
the acts of the settlers. The first impressions formed 
in England and on the continent of Europe regarding 
the aborigines were that they composed roving and 
cruel bands, better classed among the wild animals 
of the forest than to be considered a part of the hu- 
man family. 

Impressions formed and conclusions arrived at by 
European authorities based upon such erroneous in- 
formation developed the doctrine which became 
woven into international law, that the American 
Indians were nomads or wanderers; that they were 
pagans and had no real vested or true title to the soil 
they occupied, and that they were unworthy of or in 
fact did not possess any real national life or substan- 
tial political existence. 

History, however, shows that the English Govern- 
ment soon became better advised, and that the States 
General of Holland recognized to a degree the in- 
justice of this dictum of the white civilization as pro- 
nounced against the red man. 

Thoughtful historians and learned legal authori- 
ties have conceded that the Indians had somewhat 


more than a possessory right to the lands they occu- 
pied and have admitted that they had an inherent 
right in and to the title to the soil they occupied. The 
title so belonging to them, however, was vested in 
the tribe at large and not in the individual Indian. 
Justice gained a few points in the historic and judicial 
triumph for the Indian over the doctrine of nomad- 
ship; but even to this day, as appears in one of the 
decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, 
the impression still prevails in many authoritative 
quarters, false though it be, that the Indian had only 
a general possessory right to their lands. (Johnson 
vs. Mcintosh 8 Wheat O. M., Rep. 543.) 

In the above mentioned decision, emanating from 
the most profound and dignified judicial body in the 
world, the Court says, "The potentates of the Old 
World found no difficulty in convincing themselves 
that they made ample compensation to the inhabit- 
ants of the New by bestowing upon them civilization 
and Christianity in exchange for unlimited independ- 

The fact remains that, in a deed made and exe- 
cuted by and between the Dutch and the Staten Island 
Indians for the sale by the latter to the former of 
Staten Island, the Dutch fully recognized a complete 
title to the Island as vested in the Indians and as hav- 
ing descended to them from their forefathers. 

Later on, when the Staten Island Indians sold 
Staten Island to the Duke of York, the Dutch deed 
having proved abortive, the English fully recognized 
the title to the soil as being vested in the Indians and 
as having been derived by them from their ancestors. 

These two instruments, both quasi-official, repre- 


senting two European powers, in effect committed the 
civilized world to the doctrine that the Staten Island 
Indians were the "true and lawful owners" of the 
Island, as having descended to them as a heritage 
from time immemorial. 

Neither party to an executed and fulfilled contract, 
under which both parties have received and approved 
the benefits thereof, is in a legal position to deny its 

In the drafting of the foregoing deed, which in 
fact conveyed to the English the villages, together 
with the hunting and fishing grounds of the Staten 
Island Indians, neither party thereto deemed it essen- 
tial that the said deed should set forth In detailed 
description the conveyance thereunder of uplands, 
beach, shore and lands under water. 

The English Crown well understood that under 
English common law the presence of water on any 
portion of lands conveyed need not be set forth in 
the Instrument of conveyance. 

The Indians fully realized, as did the English, that 
the conveyance of Staten Island to the English Crown 
carried with it the Indian's hunting and fishing 
grounds as well as the latter's unfailing source of 
food supply, the natural oyster beds connected there- 

Staten Island historians, as well as many of the 
patriarchs of the villages In Richmond County, tell 
us that over against many of the old sites of the 
Indian villages on Staten Island were to be found 
until recent times enormous mounds of oyster shells 
that had required the industry of many generations 
to accumulate. 


Modern etymology has opened up the secret of the 
Indian languages, and lo ! it is found that their rivers, 
bays, seas and lands possessed names with descriptive 
meanings, which names had become traditional 
among the descending generations and were well and 
fully understood by their tribes. 

These names now properly interpreted are con- 
clusive proof that the Indians occupied fixed habita- 
tions, generation after generation, "for a period of 
time wherein the memory of their oldest men ran 
not to the contrary." 

At the present time we find a pathetic remnant of 
the Shinnecock Indians living upon the site of one of 
their ancient Long Island villages. From time im- 
memorial down to the present they have maintained 
their right in and to a portion of Shinnecock Bay. In 
those waters, without failure for centuries, they have 
planted and grown the almost unequalled Shinnecoct 
oysters and clams. 

It is an interesting fact, and worthy of note, that 
in many respects the Indian common larv was 
strangely analogous to the English common law. 

The Indian well understood that he was the owner 
of the beach, with all that the same implied. Hence, 
we find a certificate given on January 1 5th, 1662, by 
the Shinnecock Indians living on Long Island, to one 
Captain Topping. In this certificate they acknowl- 
edge the conveyance of a certain beach to him. 

The Indians did not in anywise limit their titles to 
the beach. This we discover in an Indian deed to a 
shore front In King's Countv, New York. The deed 
wns dated Mav T3th, 1664. The conveyance was 
for "both of upland and marshes anvway belonging 


thereto." We find also, in the same deed of convey- 
ance, "beach or beaches, as namely that running out 
more westerly." In addition thereto we read, ''with 
the island adjoining and is at the same time by the 
ocean sea wholly enclosed." It is well to consider the 
legal force and effect of the words "with" and "ad- 
joining" as used by the Indians. 

We have in the foregoing deed by the Indians a 
conveyance of upland, beaches "with the island ad- 
joining" thereto. All these were in close proximity 
and extending to and under tidal water. This deed 
made no reference to "riparian rights" or "lands be- 
low high water mark," or "submerged lands." The 
language was different, but equally clear and in- 

The Indian, as under English common law, deeded 
his land and did not consider water on the land as 
property to be included in a deed or mentioned in the 
description thereof. 

That the Indians' and the English Crown's views 
as to deeds of conveyance for an island coincided 
most harmoniously is happily illustrated in the case of 
Gardiner's Island, in Suffolk County, New York. 

On May 3rd, 1639, the Indians executed a deed of 
conveyance thereto to Lyon Gardiner. The latter 
took possession thereof. The Gardiner family has, 
ever since that date, maintained possession thereof 
through the lineal descendants of the original grantee. 
They have held against the world a well recognized 
and perfect title to uplands, the land between high 
and low water mark, and the land extending out into 
and under the great deep below low water mark. 

We find, however, in the colonial records that the 


English Crown also made a grant to the said Gar- 
diner, conveying under the grant the same island with- 
out any detailed description contained therein cover- 
ing uplands, beach and shore with the submerged 

The Province of New York joined in this same 
Grant by the Crown to Lyon Gardiner. Both the 
English Crown and the Province of New York have 
always recognized the full and complete title of the 
said Gardiner in the beach, shores and the land below 
low water mark. 

After the Revolutionary War, and the incorpora- 
tion of the State of New York, the policy of the State 
towards Gardiner's Island was and still is in com- 
plete harmony with the policy of the old Indian, the 
English Crown and the Province of New York. It 
has never asserted or claimed any shore front rights 
about Gardiner's Island. 

On the other hand, the Gardiner family has never 
tolerated any trespass thereon by private citizen or 
body politic. 

The rights granted to Lyon Gardiner and the 
rights granted to Lancaster Symes, by the English 
Crown, the Province of New York and the State of 
New York "are on all fours" with each other, ex- 
cepting only, however, that from a legal viewpoint 
the description of lands conveyed under the Symes 
Grant is far more comprehensive than in the Grant 
to Gardiner. 

The narrow constructionist might imply from this 
statement relating to Gardiner's Island that possibly 
the Indian's part in the transaction was but a sale of 


the upland, they quitting the Island with no particu- 
lar thought as to the lands under water. 

Such a conclusion is but a misapprehension and 
misconception of the Indians' claim and right of title. 

On March 14th, 1648, the Indians made a deed of 
a certain tract of land to Theophilus Eaton and 
Stephen Goodyear. The deed covered a tract of land 
at what was known as Acquabauck, Long Island. 
The deed recites "together with the land and meadow 
lying in the other side of the water southward. 

Here is a deed given by the Indians for land on 
both sides of and in the waterway, or stream. The 
English and the American common law both admit 
that the Indians must have owned from each shore to 
the center or thread of the stream. The tribe held 
proprietorship below low water mark. The doctrine 
of Christendom is that "there is no land without a 

Unless we strip the poor Indian of the commonest 
rights accorded to the meanest citizen in England or 
America under similar circumstances, this latter con- 
veyance by the Indians was a proper exercise of the 
rights of proprietorship, as the waters of the stream 
were tidal waters and involved every class of land 
from upland to submerged land below low water 
mark. Most assuredly both parties to the transac- 
tion so understood it and acted upon it. 

To make clear, however, that the Indians really 
understood what the term submerged lands meant, 
when making deeds, the Massachusetts colonial rec- 
ords disclose a deed made by the native Indians in 
which the name used, "Aupauk," in itself, when 
translated, means, "the flooded or overflowed land.'* 


The Indian's clear, clean and comprehensive 
knowledge of his rights to lands under water are also 
disclosed in an agreement bearing date 1665, which 
reads as follows: 

"The bounds agreed upon between the Shinnecock 
and the Unchechauke Indians before the Governor 
Nicoll are, "That the Shinnecock bounds to the west- 
ward are to Apaucock Creek. That the Unchechauke 
bounds to the east are Apaucock Creek ; that the mid- 
dle of the river is the utmost bounds to each, but that 
either nation may cut flaggs for their use on either 
side of the river without molestacon or breach of the 
Limetts agreed I" (Book of Deeds, Vol. II, p. 125, 
Office of Secretary of State, Albany, N. Y. ) 

This agreement clearly shows that two neighbor- 
ing Indian tribes claimed and each recognized in the 
other title to lands under water. The agreement also 
contains a reciprocity clause that would have done 
credit to the Hon. James G. Blaine or to the Hon, 
John Hay. 

In the year 1667 the inhabitants of South Hamp- 
ton, in New York Province, brought an action against 
the inhabitants of Southold in the New York Provin- 
cial Court of Assize to determine the boundary be- 
tween the two towns based upon the purchase of lands 
from the different Indian tribes, A witness by the 
name of Edmund Shaw testified that the Chief of the 
Montauk Indians had shown him that one tribe 
owned the land to high water mark on the opposite 
side of the river, and to prove It took him to the op- 
posite bank and showed him a tree marked by the 
Indians, Two Indians were called to rebut that tes- 
timony. They testified that each of the two tribes 


on the opposite sides of the river owned to the center 
or thread of the stream. To prove this they related 
how a dead bear was found floating in the stream and 
its carcass was divided between the two tribes, one 
tribe taking the flesh and the other tribe the skin and 
the grease. The Court decided that each tribe's title 
extended to the middle of the stream. This was a 
tidal river. 

Important and incontrovertible evidence is at hand 
revealing the fact that the Indians held proprietor- 
ship to their fishing grounds on the Atlantic Coast as 
an absolutely necessary and vital source of food sup- 
ply and that it was their custom to resort thereto in 
time of famine as well as in time of plenty. 

We quote from a letter written by Roger Williams 
to Governor Vane in 1637 : "The Pequots are scarce 
of provision and therefore (as usual, so now espe- 
cially) they are in some numbers come down to the 
seaside (and to islands by name Munnawtawkit and 
Manattuwond especially) to take sturgeon and other 
fish, as also to make new fields of corn in case the 
English should destroy their fields at home." 

It is a well-known fact that the early settlers found 
the Indian with his fishing weirs established in the 
tidal streams. The Colonists quickly imitated him in 
this practice, and in instances secured Grants for the 
establishment of the same, by them, in navigable 
waters. We have in point Governor Andrus's Grant 
made in 1676 to John Cooper, giving to the latter the 
right to establish fishing weirs in two tidal streams on 
Long Island. 

In order to throw additional light on this subject, 
it may be stated that there were many places along 



the Atlantic Coast referred to and described in deeds 
by the Indians, which, when interpreted, mean "fish- 
ing places." As fishing is not for the uplands, it is 
fair and logical to presume that such places so re- 
ferred to in deeds made by the Indians comprehended 
lands under water. 

The wardship thrown about the American Indians 
by the English Government in Colonial times was not 
an impairment or in derogation of the proprietor- 
ship rights of the American Indians, either tribal or 
as individuals. 

So keen was the commercial instinct in the white 
race and so innocent and unsophisticated were the 
American Indians in the matter of bargain and sale, 
that had the English Government not thrown about 
the Indian tribes its paternalistic protection in the 
matter of the title to their villages, fishing and hunt- 
ing grounds, the deceit and treachery of many of the 
early settlers would have precipitated many addi- 
tional frontier conflicts. 

Pursuant to such benign policy, the English Gov- 
ernment, when having political jurisdiction over lands 
owned and possessed by the Indians, would not per- 
mit the native tribes to sell their lands to the settlers 
without the sanction of the Crown. Apparently this 
power asserted by the English Government was 
never used arbitrarily against the natives. 

It was not in essence the denial of a title in and to 
the right on the part of the Indian to sell the land in 
question. It was but a regulation under the police 
power pertaining to political sovereignty and solely 
exercised for the protection of the natives against un- 
scrupulous traders. 


Until the year 1 87 1 the policy of the Federal Gov- 
ernment of the United States was strictly correct in 
its professed attitude toward the respective Indian 
tribes as independent sovereignties. It conceded to 
them the right of treaty with the United States Gov- 
ernment upon terms of national equality. Many 
treaties were made between the Federal Government 
and the respective tribes, in reference to lands owned 
by the Indians, as well as matters of trade and other 

International law does not admit wandering tribes 
and roving bands into the sisterhood of nations. 
Where great Sovereign powers, like the Federal Gov- 
ernment of the United States enters into treaty rela- 
tions with political organizations on a plane of equal- 
ity and mutual respect, it is in itself an admission of 
nationality, which carries with it not only independ- 
ent political sovereignty but fixed habitation on lands 
of independent proprietorship. 

It is true that the Federal Government prohibited 
the Indian tribes in the United States from making 
or entering into treaties with political powers other 
than the Federal Government. This had nothing 
to do with the sovereignty or proprietorship rights 
of the Indians, excepting only that the necessity of 
defense of its national life compelled such an attitude 
on the part of the Federal Government. 

"Necessity is paramount to law." 




It is an interesting fact that when the Duke of 
York purchased Staten Island of the American In- 
dians, the same became a part of the Crown's private 
Manor of East Greenwich in the County of Kent in 
England. It was to that manorial office that Queen 
Anne required ultimate accounting to be made, by 
her American representatives, of the quit-rents col- 
lected by them from this portion of her East Green- 
wich estate. In other words, the English Crown 
made leases to its subjects of properties in East 
Greenwich, England, connected with the estate there. 
Simultaneously and in like manner and form it made 
leases or grants to portions of the same estate on 
Staten Island. The Crown's tenure of land on Staten 
Island was the same as its tenure in East Greenwich, 

As Staten Island was strictly manorial property 
of the English Crown, or at least property owned 
by the Crown through private purchase, the Island 
had in no wise a quasi-public character. All the lands 
above and below water and between high and low 
water mark on Staten Island were in the Crown's 
private proprietorship. The public had no right or 
title in the uplands, in the lands between high and 



low water mark, or in the lands beyond and below 
low water mark in the County of Richmond. The 
title to the entire Island was vested in the English 
Crown, without let or hindrance. Therefore the 
public did not then have, nor has the public since that 
time, ever had, by implication or otherwise, any right, 
title or interest, except by escheat or purchase, in any 
lands on Staten Island. 

The State of New York inherited or succeeded to 
no title to any lands on Staten Island, hence its true 
and correct disavowment of any such ownership, as 
made by the office of the Secretary of State at Albany, 
the Land office and the State Surveyor and Engineer. 

The doctrine of riparian rights, as commonly 
understood, does not apply and never has applied to 
Staten Island lands. It is indisputably true that 
each and every Grant made by the English Crown 
to lands, regardless of where or how situated, is 
limited to the express terms of the said Grant. Such 
a Grant cannot and never has been construed as im- 
plying, as against the Crown, any more rights and 
privillges than clearly stated therein. The lesser 
title (the subjects title) can never presume as against 
the greater title (the Crown's title), unless the hab- 
endum to the Grant by proper qualifications shifts 
such presumption, as it does in the Grant to Lan- 
caster Symes covering lands on Staten Island. 

Judge Mason, in the case of Furman vs. the Mayor 
of New York (Superior Court 1851), In passing 
upon a question of a claim by riparian owners to 
rights against the Crown covering lands below high 
water mark, brushed it aside by stating: 


"There cannot be two owners to the same 
"piece of land, under the conditions set forth." 

He further added: ^ 

"If the owner has the estate in fee it follows 
"that it can be granted. There is no such quali- 
"fication in the books that the soil be granted to 
"any person But the riparian proprietor." 

Lord Hale quoted two leading decisions (De Por- 
tubus P. 13) in which it was held that the riparian 
proprietors, owners of the upland or river hank, had 
no legal claim as against the King to any land below 
high water mark. 

In other words, the owner of the bank of a tidal 
stream or navigable water had under English Com- 
mon Law, no legal claim to what we now term to be 
"riparian rights" as against the Crown title to lands 
below high water mark. 

"No reason suggests itself why the defend- 
"ants should have a higher right against the 
"Grantees of the King than they would have 
"held against the Sovereign of Great Britain, 
"had he continued the owner of the soil." 

(Trustee of Town of Brookhaven vs. Smith, 
188, N. Y., 74.) 

This doctrine is uniformly held by our courts. The 
riparian rights are recent and statutory and relate to 
lands not previously granted and now owned by the 

"Gore was the owner of the uplands adjoin- 
"ing the lands under water embraced in the 


"Grant. The ownership of the adjacent up- 
"lands, however, gave him no title to or interest 
"in the lands under water in front of his prem- 
"ises. The titles to lands under water within 
"the realm of England were by common law 
"deemed to be vested in the King as a public 
"trust, to subserve and protect the public right 
"to use them as common highways for com- 
"merce, trade and intercourse." 

"The King by virtue of his proprietary inter- 
"est could grant the soil so that it should be- 
"come private property, but his grant was sub- 
"ject to the paramount right of public use of 
"navigable waters, which he could neither de- 
"stroy nor abridge." 

(People vs. The Staten Island Ferry Co., 
68N. Y. 71.) 

The use of navigable waters for commercial pur- 
poses and the title to the land under such waters are 
an entirely separate and different proposition. 

Upon the termination of monarchical sovereignty 
in New York, the State acquired all of the rights of 
the English Crown in and to lands wherever situ- 
ated but subject, nevertheless to any and all rights 
previously granted by the English Crown. The 
Grants so made by the English Crown prior to the 
American Revolution were guaranteed by the Ameri- 
can Government in its treaties with Great Britain and 
are also guaranteed by the various constitutions 
adopted by the State of New York. 

Therefore, neither the Federal Government at 
Washington, nor the State Government at Albany, 


nor the City Government of Greater New York, nor 
the people at large have any right, title or interest 
in or to any lands properly granted to private parties 
by the English Crown, regardless of whether such 
lands are above or below water, or between high and 
low water mark. 

The present theory of riparian rights, as held in 
the popular mind, developed largely from the habit 
of the people sailing upon the sea to find at all times 
and under all conditions a harbor, a haven of refuge, 
or a landing on the shore without let, hindrance or 
trespass. It also arose from the theory that the land 
owner on the shore was the only one excepting the 
King, who could protect the same against those who 
would otherwise trespass and take possession of land 
under water immediately adjacent to his upland on 
shore. He could best guard the shores against 
poachers, pirates and smugglers. He could shoot his 
arrows, throw his lances, or discharge his firearms 
from his shore at an enemy seeking to land or to 
anchor his boat near the beach. 

"The right of jurisdiction and the right of 
"property must not be confounded." (Delancy 
vs. Piepgras.) 

This riparian right of jurisdiction recognized as 
pertaining to land between high and low water mark 
and in favor of the littoral proprietor was secondary 
or subservient to the King's title to all lands under 
the tidal seas and was exercised by a servant of the 

The Freedom of navigation is admitted. The use 
of the waters for commercial purposes is recognized. 


but on the contrary New York has penalized trespass 
upon lands granted under tidal waters. 

The Crown might have delegated jurisdiction to 
the owner of the upland for military purposes, that 
the latter might aid his sovereign in defense of the 
sea. The littoral owner might have stood guard over 
the shore for his sovereign, against hostile trespass 
by the King's enemies. "The King maintained pos- 
session of the lands under the great deep through his 
mighty navy." The King's subjects settled along the 
shore and sustained a watch for him over the land- 
ing places where the tide ebbed and flowed, but this 
loyal attitude gave such subjects no implied right to 
confiscate from the Crown the lands so guarded by 

The same principle was adopted by the world pow- 
ers in according political sovereignty to a nation over 
what is known as the "three mile shore limit." At 
the time of the adoption of this principle the utmost 
reach of the cannon efFectively used by the nations 
was a distance not exceeding three miles from the 

Exponents of international law are now agitating 
the extension of this limit to 20 miles, in consequence 
of the greater range of modern guns. 

In the Act settling the boundary between New 
York and New Jersey, enacted by the Legislature 
of the State of New York on February 5, 1834, in 
Article V, Sec. 2 it is provided that, 

"The State of New York shall have the ex- 
"clusive jurisdiction over the wharves, docks and 
"improvements made and to be made on the 


"shore of Staten Island and of and over all ves- 
"sels aground on said shore, or fastened to any 
"such wharf or dock, except that the said ves- 
"sels shall be subject to quarantine or health 
"laws and laws relating to passengers of the 
"State of New Jersey which now exist or may 
"hereafter be passed." 

Here we have an express declaration on the part 
of the Legislature of the State of New York that 
Staten Island has "shores." There can be no distor- 
tion of language or straining of the true intent of the 
words used when we say that the Legislature stands 
committed of record that such shores belong to Staten 
Island. It further recognizes that certain wharves, 
docks and improvements have been made and are to 
be made on said shores, etc. Neither the Federal 
nor the State Courts differ as to the fact that "the 
shore is that piece or tract of land between high and 
low water mark." 

No citations are necessary to support this 
thoroughly known and understood proposition of 

The legal conclusion has, however, been summar- 
ized as follows : 

"The shore is that space of land on the bor- 
"der of the sea which is alternately covered and 
"left dry by the rising and falling of the tide, 
"or in other words, the space between high and 
"low water mark." 

(Amer. & Eng. Encyl. of Law "Shore.") 
"The State having granted in fee a strip of 
"land under water extending from high water 


"mark cannot thereafter give another the right 
"to erect a public dock thereon." 

(DeLancey vs. Wellbrock, 113 Fed. 103.) 

The argument as to the non-ownership by either 
the City of New York or the State of New York 
in and to any land on Staten Island between high 
and low water mark is a simple and plain one. The 
Indians owned the title in fee to Staten Island. This 
was admitted by Holland and England in deeds 
drawn by them with the Staten Island Indians, which 
deeds were ratified, confirmed and are matters of 
public record. These deeds admitted the descent of 
title in all lands on Staten Island to the Indians, and 
that such descent was by inheritance from their fore- 
fathers. Thereupon the English took title and pos- 
session of all lands on Staten Island by purchase from 
the Indian owners. 

Later the English made Grants of certain lands on 
Staten Island and then made a final and inclusive 
Grant to Lancaster Symes covering all the vacant and 
unappropriated lands on Staten Island within the 
bounds and limits of Richmond County. 

The State of New York, for a valuable cash con- 
sideration subsequently confirmed and ratified the 
title in Lancaster Symes. It recognizes, as all 
authorities do, that all waters about Staten Island in- 
cluding the Fresh Kills are tidal waters. The Legis- 
lature admits that Staten Island has a "shore." It 
is very trite to say that the shore is land between 
high and low water mark, is on the Island and a 
part of it. 


Nearly all Staten Island Grants were limited to 
high water mark. 

The Crown Grant to Ellis Duxbury (March 19th, 
1691 ) and the second Crown Grant to Ellis Duxbury 
(August 26th, 1708) both include and Grant to him 
a shore front of great extent and value, "to low 
water mark thence by low water mark rounding as 
it runs." 

If the English Crown could and did properly and 
legally grant miles of land on Staten Island between 
high and low water mark, it is conclusive proof that 
land between high and low water mark on Staten 
Island was a part of the Crown's estate. When the 
Crown granted to Lancaster Symes (October 27th, 
1708) all of its unappropriated lands, he unques- 
tionably obtained title to the then ungranted lands 
between high and low water mark. 

The final grant to Lancaster Symes covered and 
included all vacant and unappropriated lands on 
Staten Island to "the bounds and limits of Richmond 


^ ■ I ■■■ - 

The human mind is helpless in any attempt to con- 
ceive any theory upon which these admittedly "vacant 
and unappropriated lands," between high and low 
water mark, constituting the "shore" of Staten Island, 
can possibly be excluded from the scope of the Grant 
made by Queen Anne to Lancaster Symes. 

The Courts hold that when the State has once 
made a valid grant of lands to one party it cannot 
afterwards reconvey the same lands to a different 


Under modern statuatory enactments the Courts 
consistently hold that, 

"A grant by the State of New York of land 
"under water between high and low water mark 
"Is absolutely void If made to any other than 
"to the owner of the upland adjacent thereto." 

(The Champ. & St. Law. R. R. Co. vs. Val- 
entine Barb. 19, 484.) 

As a corollary thereto, Courts are bound to and 
do decree that any Grant made by the State of New 
York to lands under water, which lands had been 
previously granted by the Crown, is void. 

The United States Federal decisions are very clear 
on this point. 

"A statute which purports to convey only 
"such right of title as the State may have, be it 
"valid or Invalid, Is not unconstitutional as im- 
"palrlng the contract or vested rights of persons 
"holding under valid, prior Independent titles." 

(Devlne vs. Los Angeles, 202 U. S. 313, 


It has been held that, 

"The doctrine that private property shall not 
"be taken without due process of law, nor wlth- 
"out compensation being made therefor applies 
"to private property devoted to public use. 
"Confiscation without compensation is repug- 
"nant to the due processes and equal protec- 
"tlon clauses of the 14th Amendment in the 
"United States Constitution." 


The Court has also by decree duly warned the 
public that, 

"Where money is voluntarily paid to a re- 
"ceiver of the land office after a party's atten- 
"tion has been called to a legal risk attending 
"such an act, the payment must be regarded as 
"made in mistake of law and not in mistake of 
"fact and an action will not lie to recover it 
"back." (Encyl. of the U. S. Supreme Court 

Reports "Public Lands.") 

"When the land between high and low water 

"mark has been granted to another, the upland 

"proprietor has no right to land below low 

"water mark." (Sage vs. the Mayor of New 

York, 154 N. Y. 154.) 

At the present time it is and for many years it 
has been unlawful in the State of New York for the 
Land Office to issue any grant to land between high 
and low water mark, excepting to the owner of the 
uplands. This is, however, by special enactment. "It 
was not always thus." It was not so in Colonial 
days, during which period every Staten Island Grant 
was made. 

It has been very pertinently held that "a right to 
the soil is very different and distinct from a mere 
right to have the first offer when the owner is 
obliged to sell. Yet even the latter is inconsistent 
with the entire power over a perfect, absolute estate 
in fee." 

In the case, however, of (Beach vs. the Mayor) 
the Grant of land under water made by the State of 
New York, to one Ward and others, jointly, cover- 


ing lands about Ward's Island in the East River, the 
Court held such Grant valid. This was so held, not- 
withstanding the fact that there were certain upland 
owners who were not included among the Grantees. 
The Court took the same position in the case involv- 
ing the Grant made by the State of New York to 
land under water about City Island, where other 
upland owners were not included among the 

These two Grants were made by the State prior to 
the enactment of the present statute prohibiting 
Grants of riparian rights to parties other than up- 
land proprietors. 

"The owner of land bordering on high water 
"mark on the tide waters of the State who has 
"not obtained the State titles to the lands lying 
"in front of his property and below high water 
"mark, has no power to charge the latter with 
"any easement which will be forceful against a 
"subsequent grant by the State of its title on 
"those lands." 

(Atlantic City vs. New And Pier Co. 63 N. 
J. 644.) 

"The Andros patent, dated September 29th, 
"1677, includes the lands between high and low 
"water mark and substantially all of the waters 
"of Oyster Bay Harbor." 

(Condert vs. Underbill, 167 App. Div. 


"Under the Common Law as it existed in 
"1693 a littoral proprietor had no right to main- 


"tain a wharf or other structure on land between 
"high and low water mark." 

(Trustees Town of Brookhaven vs. Smith, 
188N. Y. 74.) 

(Reversed on other grounds but this prin- 
ciple held.) 

"The mere fact that in the iQtH century the 
"Crown was a mere trustee for the benefit of 
"the public should not be utilized to deprive 
"individuals of rights which they had acquired 
"from it at a time when it had unquestioned 
"authority to grant the right." (Water and 
Water Rights, Famham, Vol. i, P. 191.) 

It certainly had the right to make such Grant in 
the 1 8th century from its personal Crown estate. 




The English Common Law doctrine that the peo- 
ple have the right to pass to and fro between high 
and low water mark on tidal and navigable water is 
part of the outgrowth of the humanitarian principle 
that inhabitants of uplands have an inalienable right 
of exit from and ingress to the sea for commercial 
and fishing purposes, as well as for the privilege of 

Such egress and ingress are based upon the simple 
right of direct passage between upland and water. 
The people at the present time, however, seek to 
establish the right of passage at their will, and to 
meander to any distance along the shore between 
high and low water mark, thereby seeking to give to 
such strip of land the characteristics of a public high- 
way. This claimed right on the part of the public 
appears to be coming into qualified favor with the 
Courts. In some cases it has been held that if ad- 
mitted the said usage must be one of continuous pas- 
sage, and not of delay, detention or obstruction. 

The Courts clearly and consistently hold that this 
right pertains exclusively to ungranted lands and 
never to lands previously granted. 

It is judicially settled that in no event can the pub- 



lie erect thereon any structure or in anywise conduct 
themselves in a manner that will interfere with the 
freest use thereof, by the sovereign owner. A Crown 
Grantee thereof has admittedly in himself the exclu- 
sive rights theretofore possessed by the Crown and 

It is settled that the owner of the upland must not 
interfere with the free and unrestrained movement 
of the public along the strip of land between high 
and law water mark if the same has not been previ- 
ously granted. Such use by the public is founded 
upon custom and usage and obtains while the title 
thereto remains vested in the Crown or State, but 
ceases when by Grant the shore becomes private prop- 
erty. Such use by the public, however, may be for- 
bidden by the Crown. 

This free and unlimited range of movement 
claimed by the public along the shores of navigable 
streams, but confined and restricted between high and 
low water mark had a unique genesis. It was 
founded upon a custom based upon a commercial 
necessity, but which custom is now extinct. 

In the earlier days of English navigation, vessels 
that sailed the high seas of commerce and which 
found their motive power in wind and canvass and 
not in the galley slave, impressed seamen, or steam, 
were somewhat unwieldy in narrow waters and were 
difficult to navigate on small winding English rivers. 
Frequently these commercial vessels appeared at the 
mouth of a navigable stream and sought to steer their 
way to commercial towns and villages, situated there- 
on at a distance in from the sea. At times it became 


necessary to tow these vessels, by horse power, to 
such interior ports or destinations. 

Under primitive conditions now prevailing in pres- 
ent day Alaska, we find packs of Eskimo dogs dash- 
ing along the shores of its rapid streams and towing 
the native canoes, against the swift currents of the 
rivers. No one, however, has presumed to assert 
the claim that this practice dedicated those shores to 
pleasure strolling and other public uses in defiance 
of Government Grants. 

The right of free passage along the shore of Eng- 
lish streams, between high and low water mark, for 
the horses used in towing the vessels to their ultimate 
landing places was contended for by navigators in 
early days under the plea of commercial necessity. 

This claim so made by the mariners, was contested 
by the land owners. The necessity of the seamen 
was the basis of a plea which was challenged from 
the view point of injury to the owners of the uplands. 
The right was judicially accorded as a temporary 
privilege in some cases and refused in others. On 
occasions the Courts permitted the necessitous tres- 
pass on one shore of a stream while it denied the 
right on the opposite shore of the same stream. In 
certain cases the mariners were allowed by the Eng- 
lish Courts to travel a distance along one shore, then 
compelled to halt their vessels and transfer their 
teams to the opposite bank, such transfer causing con- 
siderable loss of time, expense and labor, to the 
master of the ship. This was ordered done that the 
least possible injury from trespass, should occur upon 
land situated on the banks of the stream. In one 
case, decided by the King's bench, it was observed 


that such passage along certain banks of the Thames 
River, between the sea and London on which vast 
and valuable estates had been developed, was not to 
be entertained by the Court. The Court would not 
permit substantial injury to the proprietors of the 

In that instance, to have permitted such passage 
along the shore above high water mark would have 
greatly injured cultivated lands, improved lawns and 
beautiful gardens. Such travel along the Thames be- 
low low water mark was impracticable while the land 
between high and low water mark along the river was 
then Crown land. In general, however, the land 
between high and low water mark, was not adapted 
for agricultural purposes nor for any cultivatable use. 

This ribbon of land between high and low water 
mark was owned by the Crown. Burden bearing 
animals in case of necessity could travel it, without 
making it a public highway. Humans, in case of 
need, could traverse it, though its sands were wet 
and its soil heavy. It was not adapted for a public 
highway for travel, excepting under the pressure of a 
special and peculiar emergency. 

No flight of imagination in those practical times 
pictured it as a pleasure promenade. It was the pro- 
pelling power of a great need and not the allurements 
of pleasure that gave force and effect to the doctrine 
of temporary use, by the public, of a strip of land, 
the title to which was vested in the Crown. From 
this state of facts was developed, in part, the theory 
that the land between high and low water mark was 
held by the Crown in some peculiar way in trust for 
the people. 


In no event could such temporary use constitute 
a restraint or bar upon any improvements thereof by 
the Crown or its Grantee, which improvements, when 
made, would make such use impossible. 

English Courts denied to the public the right to 
trespass thereon for pleasure purposes, and in cases 
even held as trespassers those who claimed and appro- 
priated it for bathing uses, and even held that pushing 
a baby carriage on a beach constituted a trespass upon 
private rights. 

Public travel thereon was a right developed from 
a commercial necessity which is now obsolete and 
rested upon a custom long since terminated. How- 
ever, some Courts in their decisions and counsel in 
their pleadings appear to lean toward and favor this 
as a present inherent public right. The ancient com- 
mercial but restricted access to and egress from the 
sea, by those who were domiciled upon the uplands 
and who desired to sail the deep was conceded and 
provided for but cannot now be successfully demand- 
ed by the public for beach loitering, sea bathing and 
board walk strolling. 

Rights that have emanated from and rest upon cus- 
toms that have subsequently become obsolete are 
deemed at law to have become in themselves, void. 
"Necessity makes that lawful, which otherwise is 
unlawful." (10 Co, 61) When necessity ceases, 
such rights created thereby and founded thereon 
automatically terminate. 

It has been shown that the so called "right of the 
public" to move along the shore of navigable waters 
is based upon an obsolete commercial necessity, which 
In the past could only be exercised by the public when 


and where that commercial necessity existed. "Rea- 
son is the soul of law, the reason of the law being 
changed the law is also changed." (Leg. Max.) 

The public could exercise the right on Crown lands 
below high water mark, but only so as not to inter- 
fere with or trespass on the rights of the true owner 
of the uplands above that mark. It was impractic- 
able for the public to exercise such right of travel 
below low water mark. It was, however, by Royal 
clemency and favor that the public use of such Crown 
land was permitted and not by inherent right of the 
people thereto. The many Crown Grants of Ferry 
privileges, in the Province of New York, and 
especially on the Hudson River show the arbitrary 
exercise of Royal authority over shore fronts and 
beaches, giving exclusive rights Hy Grants thereto 
excluding the public therefrom in utter disregard of 
the upland owners. These Grants covered in in- 
stances many miles of shore fronting many upland 
owners and in total disregard thereof. 

This exercise of authority by the Crown was with- 
out any confirmation by the Provincial Assembly, it 
being well understood and admitted that it was an 
indisputable prerogative of the Crown. The present 
ferry between Newburg and Fishkill-on-the-Hudson 
is operated under such a Royal Grant. 

The English Courts denied to the public the right 
of free passage along the Crown's shore front where 
commercial needs did not exist. Nothing could be 
erected by the public upon this strip of land, nor 
could any obstruction be placed upon it by the public 
in the exercise of any such limited and exceptional 
rights as hereinbefore described. 


The King had the right to condemn such obstruc- 
tions if erected, as perprestures, and to seize and de- 
stroy the same or he might retain and operate the 
same as his own property, provided they did not 
interfere with the public rights of commerce on the 

Hence the King's Bench sustained the validity of 
the Crown Grants to shore fronts and the punishment 
of those attempting to use without a Grant the land 
between high and low water mark for bathing pur- 
poses. The very nature and character of this excep- 
tional and temporary right of passage along the 
shore between high and low water mark explains its 

"The intent of the lawmakers is the essence 
"of the law." (Lex. Max.) 

The right of the public to use the foreshore in 
England, was and is, very restricted, as is shown in 
the following decisions: 

"The public's common law right with respect 
"to the sea, independently of usage, are rights 
"upon the water not upon the land; of passage 
"and fishing on the sea and on the sea shore, 
"when covered with water, and although as 
"incident thereto, the public must have the means 
"of getting to and upon the water for those pur- 
"poses, yet it appears that by and from such 
"places only as necessity or usage have approp- 
"riated to those places, and not a general right of 
"lading or unlading, landing or embarking 
"where they pleased upon the seashore or the 


"land adjoining thereto except in case of peril 
"or necessity." 

(Blundell vs. Catterall 5B and Aid, 268.) 
Lord's Court of England. 

"In this country the right of the public to use 
"the foreshore when not granted in fee is much 
"more liberal." 

(State of New York, Steeple Chase Co., N. 
Y., July nth, 19 16.) 

"The English case of Blundell vs. Catterail 
"(5B and Aid 268) settled that there was no 
"common right of bathing in front of a shore, 
"where the shore the locus in quo had been 
"actually granted to the Lord of the Manor. 
"Justice Holrayd states this to be the question." 
(Estates and Rights of the Corp. N. Y., 
B. III.) 

The pleasure seeking public may not exercise a 
right that overrides private vested interests, where 
they demand for pleasure a privilege extended under 
the pressure of a commercial necessity. They cannot 
expand the doctrine of necessitous public use of 
Crown land, accorded by Royal clemency and favor, 
into a right to trespass upon private land along a 
pathway that by no Inference or Implication can be 
presumed to be "a highway of pleasure." 

The strand of land above high water mark Is the 
bank on and in which it Is admitted the public has no 
common right. The shore or beach Is the narrow 
strip of land between high and low water mark which 
is always, excepting for the moment of ebb tide, par- 


tially or entirely flooded. It is always wet, disagree- 
able, and liable to be overflowed by the surf, dis- 
qualifying it for pleasure purposes, unless artificially 
reclaimed. This reclamation may only be done by 
the Crown, or by the State, or, if such shore has 
been previously granted then by such grantee. 

With the removal of the original commercial nec- 
essity for the exercise of the right of travel along the 
shore by a limited portion of the public on excep- 
tional occasions, the demand by the general public for 
the exercise of the same right, "when on pleasure 
bent," is untenable. 

In brief, the rights claimed at the present time by 
the people to the land between high and low water 
mark may be explained as follows : 

The Crown originally owned (a) ; the upland 
(b) the land between high and low water mark; 
and (c) the land below low water mark. It 
alone had power to grant any portion of the 
three mentioned classes of land. The Crown 
did frequently and unhesitatingly exercise such 

When the King granted upland extending to 
tide water the Grant was limited to high water 
mark, unless by the language of the grant it 
specifically included land between high and low 
water mark or submerged lands. When 
by some great volcanic upheaval the level of 
the sea bottom changed and from large 
areas of submerged lands, water receded, 
then the ungranted land theretofore under water 


became upland, the title thereto still remaining 
in the Sovereign. 

The right of the people, which were rights 
of commerce and travel on the water, then went 
to sea with the water. No special popular 
rights then adhered to or attached to the land 
so released from the water. It was Crown land 
whether submerged or upland and the people's 
rights pertained to the use of the water alone. 

There were no mysterious popular rights ad- 
hering to the shore fronts, or to the lands under 
water. "Ignorance doth cloak our thoughts in 
Mystery and is the mother of ghosts and phan- 

The popular right of access to the sea, "the 
highway of commerce," is substantially the same 
right which goes with the sale of a land-locked 
lot. A reasonable and proper way, lane or road 
must be provided by the Grantor to the Grantee, 
so that the owner of the land-locked plot of 
land may have ingress and egress between it and 
"the King's highway," or the public highway on 

The owner of such a plot must accept and be 
satisfied with such a reasonable and proper route 
as may be designated by the surrounding prop- 
erty holders or holder. The two cases are 

A gradual accretion or erosion of a shore 
front continuing imperceptibly through a period 
of years, likewise shifts with it the title to the 
land between high and low water mark. This 
is not true, however, when a sudden, vio- 


lent and radical change occurs. In the latter 
event the boundaries are readily determined and 
easily marked. 

In the case of Staten Island, every Crown Grant 
now legally accepted ivas approved by the Crown and 
the Council. Staten Island passed completely into 
or under private ownerships, "to the bounds and 
limits of Richmond County." The Grants issued by 
the Crown and failing of confirmation by the Coun- 
cil are admittedly void. The Crown represented 
imperialism, the Council consisted of the Crown's 
advisors. The Crown consented to each Grant sub- 
ject to its approval by its appointed council. 

When the final Grant of land on Staten Island was 
made to Lancaster Symes in 1708, not one square 
foot in Richmond County remained vested in the 
English Crown. Consequently the State of New 
York upon its organization did not succeed to the 
ownership of any land thereon. Hence the candid 
admission by the State of New York (in 1873) that 
the State was not the owner of any land on Staten 

"So great, moreover, is the regard of the law 
"for private property, that it will not authorize 
"the least violation of it; no, not even for the 
"general good of the whole community. 

"If a new road for instance were to be made 
"through the grounds of a private person, it 
"might perhaps be extensively beneficial to the 
"public; but the law permits no man, or set of 
"men, to do this without the consent of the 
"owner of the land. 


"In vain may it be urged that the good of the 
individual ought to yield to that of the com- 
munity; for it would be dangerous to allow 
any private man or even any public tribunal to 
be the judge of the common good, and to 
decide whether it be expedient or no. 

"Besides, the public good is in nothing more 
essentially interested than in the protection of 
every individual's private rights, as modelled 
by the municipal law. In this and similar 
cases the Legislature alone can and indeed fre- 
quently does interpose and compel the indi- 
vidual to acquiesce." 

"But how does it interpose and compel? Not 
by absolutely stripping the subject of his pro- 
perty in an arbitrary manner; but by giving 
him a full indemnification and equivalent for 
the injury thereby sustained." (Blackstone, 
Bk. I, Chap. I, p. 139.) 




There can be no ambiguity or legal uncertainty as 
to what constituted originally the boundaries of Staten 
Island at the time the English Crown Grants were 
made to lands thereon. 

We find in the Colonial Law of New York (VoL 
I, 1664 to 17 19) that on November ist, 1683, the 
Colonial Assembly of the Province of New York 
passed "An act to divide this province and depend- 
encies into shires and counties." 

In that Act it was provided that "The County of 
Richmond to contain all of Staten Island, Shutters 
Island, and the Islands of Meadows on the west side 

It should here be observed that what is now some- 
times called "The Island of Meadows," situated at 
the mouth of Fresh Kills on Staten Island was not 
one of the "Islands of Meadows" referred to in the 
above statute. The present Island of Meadows was 
not an island, prior to the American Revolution, as 
Is clearly shown on the official survey by the officers 
of the English Crown. 

On October ist, 1683, as shown In Volume I of 
New York Colonial Laws, the Colonial Assembly 
again passed an act providing that the County of 



Richmond should contain all of Staten Island, Shut- 
ters Island and the Islands of Meadows on the west 
side thereof. In other words, Richmond County was 
to include no more and no less than the above. 

The Act does not read that Richmond County shall 
be composed as aforesaid, plus additional land be- 
longing to the Crown of England, extending tinder 
the water about Staten Island but not belonging 
thereto. It distinctly and clearly states that the 
County shall be composed of the Islands referred to. 
Immediately upon the passage of the said Act the 
boundaries of Staten Island were defined and 
mapped, as is clearly shown on the early maps of the 
County. These boundaries appear in the records of 
the contention between the State of New York and 
the State of New Jersey over the boundaries between 
the two States. This contention was inherited by the 
States from the Colonies of New York and New 

The County of Richmond only acquired political 
jurisdiction over and no proprietorship in the lands 
referred to. The statutes, however, together with 
the Crown's Surveyor, clearly show what lands were 
included in Staten Island, This conclusion is in strict 
harmony with the language of the final Grant to 
Lancaster Symes, which included : 

"All the before menconed Pieces and parcells 
of vacant & unappropriated Land and Premises 
"and all and singular the Heriditaments and 
"appurtenances thereunto belonging within the 
"bounds and limitts above in these Presents 
"menconed and expressed together with all and 


"singular, the woods, underwoods, trees, timber, 
"ffeedings, meadows, mashes, swamps, pooles, 
"ponds, waters, watercourses, rivers, rivulets, 
"runs and streams of water, brooks, ffishing and 
"ffowling, hunting, hawking, mines and miner- 
"alls, standing, growing, lyeing, or being or to 
"be had, used or enjoyed in them the bounds 
"and limitts aforesaid and all other profitts, 
"Benefitts, Advantages, Hereditaments and ap- 
"purtenances whatsoever unto the sd pieces and 
"parcells of lands and premises belonging or in 
"anywise appurtyying except and always re- 
"served out of this our present Grant all gold 
"and silver Mines." 

The Grant to Lancaster Symes was made after the 
organization of Richmond County and its terms com- 
prehended all the vacant and unappropriated land in 
"the County of Richmond, which comprehends the 
whole of Staten Island." 

The above deduction, that Staten Island lands ex- 
tended to the bounds and limits of Richmond County 
is in full and complete accord with Blackstone's 
authoritative statement : 

"A stream or watercourse is considered as 
"part of the land." (Blackstone.) 

"For land," says Edward Coke, "compre- 
"hendeth in its legal signification any ground, 
"soil or earth whatsoever; as arable meadows, 
"pastures, woods, moors, waters, marshes, 
"furzes and heath; it legally includeth also all 
"castles, houses and other buildings, for they 


"consist," said he, "of two things: land which 
"is the foundation and structure thereupon, so 
"that if I convey the land or ground, the struc- 
"ture or building passeth therewith. It is ob- 
"servable that water is here mentioned as a spe- 
"cies of land, which may seem a kind of sole- 
! "cism; but such is the language of the law; and 
"therefore I cannot bring an action to recover 
"possession of a pool or other piece of water, by 
"the name of water only; either by calculating 
"its capacity, as, for so many cubic yards; or by 
"superficial measure, for 20 acres of water; or 
"by general description, as for a pond, a water 
"course, or a rivulet ; but I must bring my action 
"for the land that lies at the bottom and must 
"call it 20 acres of land covered with water: for 
"water is a movable, wandering thing, and must 
"of necessity continue common by the law of 
"nature, so that I can only have a temporary, 
"transcient, usufructuary, property therein: 
"wherefore, if a body of water run out of the 
"pond into another man's, I have no right to 
"reclaim it, but the land, which that water cov- 
"ers, is permanent, fixed and immovable: and 
"therefore in this way I may have a certain sub- 
"stantial property of which the law will take 
"notice and not of the other." (Blackstone, 
Book 2, Chap. 2: 18.) 

"From the earliest times in England, the law 
"has vested the title to and control over the 
"navigable waters therein in the Crown and Par- 
"liament. A distinction was taken between the 
"mere ownership of the soil under the water and 


"the control over it for public purposes. The 
"ownership of the soil is analogous to the own- 
"ership of dry land and was regarded as jus 
''privatum and was vested in the Crown ; but the 
"right to use and control both the land and the 
"water was deemed a jus publicum and was 
"vested in Parliament. The Crown could con- 
"vey the land under water so as to give private 
"rights therein, but the dominion and control 
"over the waters in the interests of commerce 
"and navigation for the benefit of all the sub- 
"jects of the kingdom could be exercised only by 
"Parliament." (Commonwealth vs. Alger 7 
Cush. 53.) (People vs. N. Y. Staten Island 
Ferry Co. 68 N. Y. 71.) 

"As in England, the Crown and Parliament 
"can, without limitation, convey land under pub- 
"lic waters." (State of N. Y. vs. Steeplechase 
Park Co., N. Y., July 11, 19 16.) 

In 17 1 8, Lord Cornbury granted to the corpora- 
tion of the City of New York, 

"All that aforesaid vacant and unappropriated 
"ground lying and being on the said Nassau 
"Island.'' (Pg. 161, England 162.) 

This Grant was confirmed by the Montgomeric 
Charter of 1730. The language of this conveyance 
is significant as an illustration of the principle that 
there is no distinction in fact to be drawn between 
land covered by water and land above water. The 
grant of the whole bed of the East River for a con- 


siderable distance between the Manhattan and Brook- 
lyn shores was made without once referring to the 
land as being under water. 

These grants have been upheld by the Courts. 

As a legal proposition there is no difference be- 
tween land under water and land under air. 

The air is transitory. "We know not whence it 
cometh or whither it goeth." It is on the land now, 
but in a moment it has fled and other atmosphere 
takes its place. No deed can bind it, no property 
rights attach to it. 

The water Is migratory. The winds chase it, grav- 
ity dominates It and the tides composed of water 
sweep on In never ending restlessness. It is on the 
land for a few moments of time, then away it flows, 
while other and strange waters take its place, but only 
for a hand breath of time, when they too give place 
to other floods. 

Birds fly In the air and fish swim in the sea. Boats 
navigate the one while airplanes navigate the other. 
The hydro-airplane sails on them both. 

Docks extend out into the one while dwellings and 
skyscrapers pierce the other. 

The laws of navigation govern them both. The 
State dictates the length and construction of the docks 
while at the same time It has full power to limit the 
helghth of the buildings on land and the construction 

The public may sail the seas and navigate the air 
though the land owner holds title to the land under 
both. This Is pursuant to the public's right of travel 
and commerce. 

The land under each Is fixed, stationary, and is the 


object of proprietorship. The elements represented 
in the water and the air cannot be. 

Hence the law ignores both air and water in legal- 
izing a transfer of land and looks to land alone as the 
object of proprietorship. 

"A grant of land described by metes and 
"bounds carries with it lands under water within 
"the bounds." (Condert vs. Underbill, 95 
N. Y. S. 134, 107; App. Div. 335.) 

Therefore, Colonial Legislators did not err when 
they declared that Sand Bay was "on Staten Island," 
and again when they declared that it was "on the 
easter most part of Staten Island." Not East of, but 
"on Staten Island." 

The final Crown Grant to Lancaster Symes cov- 
ered by its description all vacant and unappropriated 
lands "to the bounds and limits of Richmond 
County." It did not specify land under air or land 
under water, but it did set the limits and bounds. It 
was a correct legal description based upon exact offi- 
cial surveys. To make it definite and certain it speci- 
fied rivers, runs and streams of water, with fishing 




It is fully and freely admitted by all authorities 
that the title to all lands under water originally vested 
and ultimately vest in the Crown. 

The presence of water on land has no bearing 
whatever upon the sovereign's right to grant the land. 

History shows that the American Indians made 
like claims to sovereignty over and title in submerged 
land. The Indians raised a limited supply of maize 
or Indian corn, which was to him an important article 
of food, but his crops, cultivated in a crude fashion, 
frequently failed or were limited far below his heeds. 
The Indian looked to the forest for game and pur- 
sued the chase ; but the winters in colonial times, far 
more severe than at present, oft times left him shorn 
of food from the hunt. 

The sea, however, never betrayed him; summer 
and winter and year succeeding year, it furnished him 
an unfailing supply of fish, while the oyster beds, in 
close proximity to his settlements on Staten Island, 
were an unceasing source and furnished an abundant 
supply of food oysters. 

This is clearly and remarkably shown in a very 
substantial way in the histories of Staten Island, 
which refer to the period of colonization. They tell 



us that adjacent to and over against the sites of the 
Indian villages on Staten Island great heaps of oyster 
and clam shells were found by the early settlers. 
These piles of shells were so extensive that the early 
settlers burned them for lime for use in the construc- 
tion of their houses, and generation after generation 
resorted to these deposits of shells as a source of sup- 
ply for furnishing the much needed lime for Staten 
Island lands, used for agricultural purposes. 

The lands under water, adjacent to the shores of 
Staten Island, were held by the native Indians. 

These lands constituted their most important 
source of food supply, and would have been fought 
for against all trespassers and invaders. 

To the Staten Island Indians, the oyster beds of 
Staten Island were as important as are the wheat 
fields of Minnesota and the Dakotas to the people 
of the United States. 

The Indians had the same conception of the own- 
ership of uplands, shores and lands under water as 
was entertained by European sovereigns. It was the 
natural development of that dormant but innate con- 
ception of the human mind hereinbefore referred to, 
that all titles descend from supreme sovereignty and 
that every good thing is a gift from the Great and 
Good Spirit. 

The South American Indians, under the sway of 
the Incas, looked upon their sovereign as represent- 
ing a dynasty which descended from the sun, or the 
supreme God of the heavens. They "out-Heroded 
Herod" in exalting the theory of the divine right of 
kings into a divinity of kingship. The Indians on the 
coast of North America, ruling in their several tribes 


the districts about New York, looked to their sove-: 
reigns or chiefs and to their councils as representing 
the title to lands occupied by the tribes. 

The Indians of Staten Island, in 1657, in a deed 
dated July loth of that year, certified: 

"We, the undersigned natives of North 
"America, hereditary owners of Staten Island, 
"certify and declare." (Col. Hist. N. Y., Vol. 
14, p. 393-) 

In 1658, Wyandance, the famous, peaceable and 
much beloved Chief of the Montauk Indians, then 
settled on the east end of Long Island, made a Grant 
to Lyon Gardiner of the right of herbage on a large 
tract of land adjoining Southampton. The assent of 
certain other chiefs or sachems was secured to this 

The chiefs, however, reserved in that Grant "the 
whales that shall be cast up." 

In the year following, the same sachem, Wyan- 
dance, granted to the said Gardiner "All whales that 
might come ashore," on a long extent of sea front. 

An interesting fact in connection with this Grant 
by the Indians to Gardiner is that all whales, with an 
occasional exception, when stranded or cast up by the 
sea, are stranded on the outer bar of sand which 
forms some distance from the shore or on land below 
low water mark, and on what is known as "land un- 
der the deep sea," or submerged lands. 

"Royal fish consist of whale and sturgeon, to which 
the king, or those who have a royal franchise are en- 
titled, when either thrown on the shore or caught 
near the coast." (Cruise's Digest of the Laws of 


England respecting Real Property, 1808, Vol. 2, 
Title 27.) 

In this, as in many other respects, there was per- 
fect harmony between English and American-Indian 
Common Law. 

At a meeting of the Legislative Council of New 
York held at Fort Henry, March 23rd, 1698, great 
indignation was there expressed over the fact that 
Richard Floyd, Jr., had dared to cut up and carry 
away a dead whale that had drifted ashore on Long 
Island. The Council declared it "a high contempt 
of his Majestie's authority and derogatory of his 
Majestie's right." The Council ordered that the 
whale be seized and Floyd arrested and prosecuted. 
It was a bad case of lese majestie. 

The minutes of the Council for many sessions 
thereafter show deep resentment over this poaching 
upon the Royal fishing preserves. 

A descendant of this man Floyd "got square" 
with the English Crown, by adding his signature to 
the historic "Declaration of Independence," in 1776. 

In 1726 the Legislative Council of New York ap- 
proved an act to grant one De Langloisere "the sole 
fishing of porpoises in the Province of New York 
during the term of Ten years." Porpoises never 
invaded the Harbor of New York, though Robbins 
(Robyns) reef was named after the seal that fre- 
quented it in colonial days. 

The Fishing Rights granted to Lancaster Symes 
(1708) were valid under English Common Law and 
consonant with the custom of the Crown in granting 
such rights. 

In Colonial days whales were exceedingly plentiful 


along the New England and Long Island shores, as 
is dearly shown in the autobiography of Rev. Lyman 
Beecher, D.D., pastor of the Presbyterian Church 
of Easthampton, Long Island. 

It frequently occurred that whales pursued their 
food close in to shore, and at high tide would pass 
in over the outer bar, which bar always forms on that 
coast beyond where the waves break on the shore. 
The whales remaining until low tide, would fre- 
quently become stranded in the shallow water on the 
outer bar, when seeking to find their way out into 
the deep sea. Thereupon the natives on shore would 
proceed in their canoes to dispatch them and convert 
them into commercial products. 

In fact, whales captured "along shore" by fisher- 
men are generally dispatched and cut up in the water, 
frequently below low water mark, because of their 
weight and the depth of water necessary for them in 
swimming or floating. 

With this state of facts clearly before us, we dis- 
cover that the English recognized in the Indians their 
rights to the lands under water below low water 
mark. The settlers seeking to acquire from the In- 
dians this then most fertile source of income and pro- 
fit on the Atlantic shore, to-wit, the whale fishery, 
applied to the Indian Chiefs for and received from 
them Grants to operate an industry which made neces- 
sary the occupancy and use of lands under water be- 
low low water mark. 

There can be no doubt of the fact that the Eng- 
lish recognized the Indians' claim of title to such 
land. The acceptance of such Grants by the settlers, 


and the English authorities, bound them to such a 
legal construction. 

In one of the foregoing mentioned Grants made by 
the Indians to the settlers (E. H. R., Vol. i, p. 148) 
a limitation is set by the use of a single word in the 
said Grant, to wit, "Enaughquamuck," which, trans- 
lated by the Algonkinist authority, William Wallace 
Tooker, means "as far as the fishing place goes." It 
is a reasonable deduction that as fishing places are 
not on dry land, they must extend out and involve 
the land under water. Here is a definite recognition 
of title to land under water claimed as belonging to 
and granted by the Indians. Further evidence. In 
support of the Indians' claim to the lands under 
water at their fishing places and elsewhere is the ever 
recurring expression in histories of colonial times, 
"the fishing grounds of the Indians." It Is a per- 
tinent Inquiry, Why did the natives, the colonists, and 
the colonial and imperial authorities constantly refer 
to the "Indians' fishing grounds" If they only meant 
the waters In which they fished? As conclusive 
proof of the Indians' claim, and maintenance of title, 
to lands under water below low water mark, we cite 
the case of Fisher's Island, situated at the Eastern 
end of Long Island Sound, the title to which Island, 
and the fishing grounds surrounding the Island, were 
claimed and held by the Rhode Island Indians as 
against all comers. 

There Is a small stream on the eastern end of Long 
Island by the name of Wading River. Its Indian 
name was "Pauquacumsuck," which signifies "the 
brook or outlet where we wade for clams." This is 
a tidal stream. It flows Into the sea or sound. It 


was planted by the Indians with clams. It was a 
source, and an important one, of the Indians' food 
supply and its name appears in grants and deeds. 

"What is planted in the soil belongs to the soil." 

The identification of the fishing grounds as an in- 
tegral part of Indian lands and lands of the early 
settlers is interestingly referred to in the recent de- 
cision of the New York Court of Appeals, in the case 
of Lillius Grace vs. Town of North Winsted (Feb. 
26th, 1916), in which the Court recites the attrac- 
tion possessed by Long Island for settlers, caused by 
the shell fish abounding in its tidal waters and which 
belonged to and were a part of Its submerged lands. 

It also referred to the Grants and to "the extrinsic 
facts as to the situation of the colony." It reached 
the conclusion that the patents embraced the lands 
under the bay. 

The subject of Crown Grants of lands under water 
is thoroughly and comprehensively discussed In the 
leading case of Rodgers vs. Jones (i John 237). 
This case has been uniformly followed and is recog- 
nized as controlling In New York State. Rodgers was 
sued by one Jones, a surveyor of the Town of Oyster 
Bay, for the recovery of a penalty created by the by- 
laws of the Town, which declared "that no person 
not being an Inhabitant of Oyster Bay shall be al- 
lowed to rake or take any oysters on the creeks or 
harbors of the Town of Oyster Bay, under the pen- 
alty of $12.50 for each offense." 

The Town claimed title under an English Crown 
Grant. The penalty was enforced by the trial court 
and the judgment was affirmed on an appeal. The 
description contained In the Grant under which the 


Town of Oyster Bay asserted its right is in nowise 
as comprehensive as the description contained in the 
final and inclusive Grant made by the English Crown 
closing out the Crown's estate on Staten Island to 
Lancaster Symes. 

"It has, however, been strenuously but mistakenly 
insisted that the right of alienation by the Crown 
was restricted by Magna Charta and other statutes, 
not only so as to prevent the King from making a 
Grant of a fishery in severalty but from making any 
absolute transfer of the soil under water." 

"What may be the law elsewhere on the strength 
of reasoning sustaining this view, it must be regarded 
as the law of New York that no such restraints were 
imposed by the Magna Charta or otherwise upon the 
kingly power." (Estates and Rights of the Corp. 
of the City of N. Y., Vol. i, p. 223.) 

Fisheries are of three kinds: 

First, Several. 
Second, Free. 
Third, Common. 

"The right of 'several' fisheries, as already shown, 
is founded on and annexed to the soil and is, by rea- 
son of, and concommittance with the ownership of 
the soil. When the soil of a navigable river is 
granted, the right of 'several' fisheries therein be- 
gins." (Words and Phrases Judicially Defined, 

"The right to fish and take fish is not an easement; 
it is a right of profit in lands." (Wickham vs. 
Hawker, 7M 7W 73.) 

"A fishery is in the river and is not the space be- 


tween high and low water mark, though the use of 
that space may be necessary in the use of it and may 
be included in the term." (Tinicum Fishing Co. vs. 
Carter, 6i Pa. 2i, 37.) 

"A fishing pool or place is defined by statute to be 
from the place or places where the seins or nets have 
been usually thrown into the water to the place or 
places where they have been usually taken out." 
(Tinicum Fishing Co. vs. Carter, 61 Pa. 21, 36.) 

"The term 'Royal Fishery' at common law was 
used to designate the right of fishery in a navigable 
river in which the sea ebbed and flowed, and was so 
called because the right was a part of the prerogative 
of the King." (Arnold vs. Mundy, 6 N. J. Law 
(i Halst) I, 86.) 

"A free fishery or exclusive right of fishing in a 
public river is a royal franchise, which is now fre- 
quently vested in private persons, either by Grant 
from the Crown or by prescription." (Cruise's Di- 
gest of the Laws of England Respecting Real Pro- 
perty (1808), Vol. 2, Tit. 27.) 

The theory of English Common Law, elucidated 
by Blackstone and other authorities, that in the 
granting of the land and the conveyance of same, the 
presence or nonpresence of water thereon is not 
taken into account is in strict harmony with the de- 
cisions of the English Courts, contemporaneous with 
and subsequent to the Crown Grants of land on 
Staten Island relating to fisheries, as made in 1708 to 
Lancaster Symes. 

On November 13th, 1799, the English Crown 
brought an action for the restoration of a certain M. 
Harm an to an office in a company from which it ap- 


pears he had been devolved. This is a case known 
as "the King vs. the Stewart, foreman, treasurer, 
bookkeeper, and freeman of the Company, of free 
fishermen, and dredgemen, of the manor and hundred 
of Faversham, in the County of Kent." In the 
course of the proofs, and as collateral evidence in 
sustaining the principal contentions in the case, it was 
shown that the Lord of the said Manor who had re- 
ceived his Manor by Grant of land from the Crown, 
held title to the Oyster beds, or Oyster Grounds un- 
der the tidal waters adjacent thereto. 

It was further disclosed in that case that the com- 
pany of free fishermen and dredgemen of the Manor, 
held of the Lord of the Manor, the said Oyster 
Grounds. It was also shown in that case, that in 
order to preclude any doubt as to the Oyster Grounds 
being subject to the Crown Grant of land and con- 
trolled thereby, and that the dredging of oysters 
thereon was not a common right of the people; 
"Every person admitted to the freedom (of the 
Manor) hath before his admission taken an oath that 
he would be a true tenant to the Lord for the fishing 

It appears that this right of oyster dredging which 
was claimed and held by the Lord of the manor was 
held by him under his land Grant, and that the com- 
pany of free fishermen and dredgemen "held of the 
lord of said Manor and hundred, certain oyster 
grounds within the said Manor and hundred, and 
during all that time have laid and kept oysters upon 
the said ground for the common use and benefit of 
the said company." The right of the Crown to have 
made the Grant and the right of the Lord of the 


Manor to have made a Grant to the company of fish- 
ermen and dredgemen under his land Grant was ad- 
mitted and not traversed by either party to the action. 
The three learned judges thereupon gave opinions as 
follows : 

"Upon this state of the case the Court will 
"consider that the fishery and the soil pass to- 
"gether." {Chief Justice Lord Mansfield.) 

"There is no doubt but that a fishery is a tene- 
"ment. Trespass will lie for an injury to it and 
"it may be recovered in ejectment." (Judge 

"The fact of letting a fishery is sufficient and 
"we must presume that the soil pass along with 
"it." {Judge Buller.) 

(King vs. Alresford (1786), Court of 
King's Bench, Durnford and East's Report, 
Vol. I, 360-1.) 

The above named three Judges constituted one, if 
not the ablest judicial triumvirate that ever held 
court in England sitting together on the same bench. 

The bounds of the Manor of Faversham in 
Kent, England, are thus given (Hasted, Vol. 
VI, page 335) : 

"The Town and parish of Faversham, the 
"boroughs of Harty, Ore, Ewell, Selgrave, Old- 
"gold, Scheld, Chetham, Brinnystone, Badles- 
"mere, Oldebonde Island, Roda Graveyney, 


"Bourdefield and the lands of Moukendans, in 
"the parish of Moukton." 

It will be noticed that Oldebonde Island is 
described simply as an Island. It should also he 
observed that the Court of the Kings Bench 
held in the case referred to above, that the oyster 
beds in the waters about the Island were in- 
cluded in and covered by the Grant of the land 
as on the Island even though the Grant con- 
tained no reference to submerged lands or lands 
under water. 

"The customs of Kent are a part of the old 
"Common Law." (Tenures of Kent, page 77.) 

The Court of Kings Bench was a royal Court, the 
Justices of which decided the King's causes, i. e., 
those affecting the King's Crown and dignity. This 
Court had no fixed place for holding its sessions, but 
held Court where the King happened to be. Orig- 
inally the King himself sat with the Court and passed 
upon the Issues involved. (Crab's History of Eng- 
lish Law.) 

In the case of the Trustees of Brookhaven vs. 
Strong (60 N. Y. 56-73), the New York Court of 
Appeals set forth at considerable length the right of 
fishery under an English Crown Grant. The issue 
raised was as to the right of the Town of Brook- 
haven In and to certain oyster beds in the Great South 
Bay, where such right was not precisely defined in 
the language of the Grant. The Court, near the con- 
clusion of its very comprehensive opinion, says: 


"Besides the language of the patents, 'all riv- 
"ers, waters, beaches, creeks, harbors, fishing 
"and all other franchises to said tracts apper- 
"taining' is significant of an intention to convey 
"this very right. There is no reason why these 
"terms should not be construed according to 
"their ordinary meaning, especially when ap- 
"plied to land under water included within the 

Nothing is more certain than a certainty. There- 
fore, how redundant is the description contained in 
the Crown Grant to Lancaster Symes and how com- 
prehensively it applies to the Staten Island Oyster 
Beds, in the light of the foregoing decisions. We 
read from the Svmes Grant, among many other 
rights conveyed, the following: 

"All meadows, marshes, swamps, pooles, 
"ponds, waters, brooks, fishing and fowling, 
"hunting and hawking," the same "lyeing or be- 
"ing or to be had, used or enjoyed in them, the 
"bounds and limitts aforesaid, and all other 
"profitts, benefitts, advantages, hereditaments 
"and appurtenances whatsoever unto the said 
"pieces and parcells of land and premises be« 
"longing or in anywise appurteying." 

"The bounds and limitts," referred to were 
the therein before expressed "bounds and lim- 
"itss of Richmond County." 

In the case of Robins vs. Ackerly (91 N. Y. 98) 
the language of the Grant as made to the Town of 


Huntington is much narrower in its application to 
fishing rights than is the language of the Symes Staten 
Island Grant. In that case, however, the Court con- 
strued the Grant as applying to Northport Harbor, 
with its oyster beds. 

In the case of the Town of Southampton vs. Me- 
cox Bay Oyster Co. (116 N. Y. i), the Court con- 
strued the Crown Grant to the Town of Southamp- 
ton as including the oyster beds under the waters of 
the Bay. In that Grant also, the language applied 
to fishing is far more limited in its scope than is the 
language contained in the Crown Grant to Lancaster 
Symes, under which all remaining Crown lands on 
Staten Island were conveyed to him. 

"A right to take fish, including shell fish in 
"the sea and in the arms and bays thereof and 
"in rivers where the tide ebbs and flows, below 
"high water mark is common to all citizens, un- 
"less restrained by some act on the part of the 
"Government or State having sovereignty over 
"the same." 

"An individual may acquire the right to fish 
"in a creek or river to the exclusion of the pub- 
"lic by the King's Grant J' (Washburne, on 
Easements and Servitudes, pp. 410, 412.) 

"The bed of all navigable rivers where the 
"tide flows and reflows and of all estuaries or 
"arms of the sea is by law vested in the Crown." 
(Gann vs. The Free Fishers of Whitstable, 
House of Lords 11, H. L. C. 192, Lord West- 


"The right of the Sovereign exists in every 
"navigable river where the sea ebbs and flows. 
"Every such river is a royal river and the fishing 
"of it is a royal fishery and belongs to the Queen 
"by her prerogatives." (Neill vs. Duke of Dev- 
onshire, 8 App. Cas. (135) 157 Lord 

"The private right of fishery ceases to exist 
"below the point where the right of the Crown 
"to the soil commences." (Doss on Law of Ri- 
parian Rights, 90.) 




It has been clearly established that the English 
Crown had a good and perfect title to all lands on 
and about Staten Island, in the State of New York. 

The Crown's title included all lands above water 
and all lands under water together with all lands be- 
tween high and low water mark in the County of 

This proposition is absolutely correct. 

It was a complete and perfect title as a proposi- 
tion of law. It covered every square foot of land 
from the highest point on the uplands to the most 
submerged soil in the rivers, bays and seas, to the 
utmost limits and bounds of Richmond County. 

Not one square foot of land within the present 
County of Richmond was exempt or escaped from 
the grasp and grip of that Royal Title. Not one foot 
of land within the County's boundaries but originally 
belonged to the Royal estate. Each and every title 
descends from and rests upon the Crown's purchase 
of Staten Island from the Indian inhabitants thereof 
as well as upon the right of discovery. 

The Crown held, through the Duke of York's pur- 
chase, all lands owned by the Indians of Staten Isl- 
and and closed out to its grantees all that it had so 



acquired. The language of the Symes Grant is con- 
clusive and thereafter the Crown never again exer- 
cised a single right or claim of ownership to lands in 
Richmond County in the State of New York. 

The Crown Lands on Staten Island constituted 
one solid and unbroken estate under one Imperial 
proprietorship. It was the personal estate of the 
English Crown. The Crown owned every right, title 
and use in and pertaining to the fee and was in com- 
plete possession thereof. 

The English Crown could have permitted its sub- 
jects to cultivate the lands; erect houses thereon, es- 
tablish ferries therefrom or thereto. It could have 
also granted the right to fish, hawk and hunt thereon, 
cultivate and dig oysters in the seas and bays thereof; 
or it could have refused or denied each and every 
such privilege. No English citizens would have ques- 
tioned such indulgence or forbearance by their Sover- 

The English Crown was the owner of the lands in 
fee, pure and simple as an individual proprietor. 
What is more, and it is a very important historical 
fact, it undertook to and did attach Staten Island to 
the Crown's personal Manor of East Greenwich in 
the County of Kent, England. Staten Island by such 
Royal act became an integral part of that Manor 
to which for a long time legal accountings were made 
of all revenues received therefrom by the Crown's 
agents pursuant to the terms of the Crown Grants 
issued for lands thereon. 

Individual and personal rights and privileges be- 
longing to the Crown as the personal owner of the 
Manor of East Greenwich in the County of Kent, 


England, also belonged to the Crown as the personal 
owner of Staten Island. If the Crown could sell the 
one it could sell the other. It could lease its country 
estate at East Greenwich, and it could lease its lands 
on Staten Island. While the Sovereign was King or 
Queen that same Sovereign was also Lord or Lady 
of the Manor of East Greenwich in the County of 
Kent. Staten Island, while under the political juris- 
diction of the Crown was the personal property of 
the Lord or Lady of the Manor of East Greenwich. 

The laws governing and protecting proprietorship 
of manorial lands in England, whether owned by 
prince or plebian, likewise threw their protection over 
title to lands in the province of New York, whether 
held by the Sovereign or the settler, as a part of a 
personal and individual estate. 

The above being true, we turn to an investigation 
of the various English Crown Grants made by the 
English crown to lands on Staten Island based upon 
the indisputable title vested in the English Crown, as 
Lord or Lady of the Manor. 

To understand the rights and privileges covered 
and included in the Crown Grants to lands on Staten 
Island three acts are desirable, yea. In fact are es- 
sential : 

First — Seal up or dismiss from all consideration 
every statute enacted since the year 1708, 
whether by Parliament, Province, State or 
Federal Government. 

Second — Use profound discrimination in reading 
the decisions of the English, State and Fed- 
eral Courts. 


Third — In so far as they interpret the common law 
of England from 1635 to 1708 they apply 
and govern. Vested rights acquired in that 
period cannot be adversely affected by any 
subsequent changes in statutory or common 
law rights in property. 

Remember that the facts must be similar if the 
decision is to control. 

All of the Grants made by the Crown of England 
to lands on Staten Island were apparently leases in 
form, but were deeds in fact. They were all subject 
to the payment of annual "quit-rents," representing 
a strict condition that the grantee should pay to the 
Crown a certain fixed sum each year or forfeit pos- 
session thereof at the will of the Crown. The fail- 
ure to pay the quit-rents entitled the Crown to re- 
enter and take possession of the land theretofore 

A Crown Grant did not become void upon failure 
to pay the quit-rents until notice of forfeiture was 
served by the Crown upon the Grantee and proper 
legal proceedings were completed, to vacate the Grant 
or nullify the same. 

It has been judicially decided that this rental con- 
dition "ran with the land." The Grant when prop- 
erly recorded, gave good and sufficient public notice 
that the Grantee's right of occupancy or pos- 
session under his title absolutely depended upon the 
payment by him of the stipulated quit-rents. Notice 
of a default in quit-rents and a notice of the cancel- 
lation of the Grant by the Crown was necessary to 
make the Grant void. Proceedings in court must 


then be undertaken by the Crown in order to re- 
obtain possession. 

The term "quit-rents" was simply another name 
for rents. When the Grantee paid the quit rent it 
"quit the rent" for the period covered by the pay- 

"Pay rent, keep possession; 
"Default in rent, lose possession." 

This is a maxim relating to leases which is too well 
understood by all generations to need any amplifi- 
cation here. The same rule applied to Grants of 
lands or deeds thereto which were subject to even 
nominal rental. 

Certain conditions were necessary to make a Grant 
complete, valid and not subject to forfeiture. 

(a) It must be dated. 

(b) It must be patented. 

(c) Its quit rents must be regularly paid, or Its 
quit rents must be commuted; that is paid 
in advance by one inclusive payment. 

There were over one hundred and fifty English 
Crown Grants issued by the Crown, to lands on 
Staten Island. These Grants may be classified in 
eight distinct groups or classes : 

(Class A) Grants under which rents were paid 
until further payments were com- 
muted under New York Statutes, by 
a cash payment in full. Titles in 
fee and clear. 


(Class B) Grants under which quit rents were 
paid for a time, but payments then 
ceased. They were not commuted. 
Rights of forfeiture of titles and 
repossession of lands thereby accrued 
under the terms of the original 

(Class C) Grants under which no quit rents 
were paid. Right of forfeiture of 
titles and repossession of lands 
thereby accrued under the terms of 
the original Grants. 

(Class D) Grants which were made but not 
confirmed by Council. No titles 
passed. No quit rents were paid. 
Confirmation of Grants was neces- 
sary to their legality and payment 
of quit rents was required under the 
terms of the original Grants. 

(Class E) Grants which were prepared but not 
dated and not patented. No quit 
rents were paid. No titles passed. 

(Class F) Grants which were prepared but not 
dated and not patented. No titles 
passed. Pending the uncertainty as 
to the issue of the patents, some 
small quit rents were paid. 

(Class G) Grants which were not recorded un- 
til after the Grant to Lancaster 
Symes had been made, issued and re- 
corded covering all vacant and un- 
appropriated lands within the limits 
and bounds of Richmond County. 


Class G Grants were as follows : 

1st To Adrlensen from a form- 
er Grantee of the Crown. 

2nd To Dusachoy, consented to 
by Lancaster Symes and con- 
firmed by the Crown. 

3rd To Jorissee from former 
grantee of the Crown. 
It was a common custom for 
a Grantee when holding land 
under a Crown Grant to file 
a request with the Crown to 
issue a Grant to his customer 
or sub-grantee. This gave 
such a sub-grantee a Royal 
Grant direct from the Sov- 
ereign and released the origi- 
nal Grantee. 

4th To Bellue and Dove. A 20 
year lease by Lancaster 
Symes of Shore front on 
Sand Bay for Ferry pur- 
poses, and a ferry franchise 
from the Crown. 

5th To Shotwell. This was a 
Royal confirmation of a title 
by adverse possession "up- 
ward of 35 years." 
As forty years adverse pos- 
session was necessary to ob- 
tain a title against the 
Crown, this Grant was made 


by directions from Symes or 
by his consent. 

(Class H) This class covers only the Crown 
Grant to Lancaster Symes. Quit 
rents were paid until commuted un- 
der the New York Statutes by a cash 
payment in full, which commutation 
was in effect under the law a new 
Grant to Lancaster Symes from the 
State of New York. The commuta- 
tion of quit rents has been judicially 
decided as being in legal effect, the 
issue of a New Grant. (Class H is 
the same in every respect as Class 

By a comparison of this schedule with the map of 
classified lands on Staten Island, due reference being 
had to the conditions set forth herein as necessary to 
make a Crown Grant legal and valid, the reader can 
readily understand where the legal title to any and 
every piece of land on Staten Island rested after the 
final and inclusive Grant was made by the English 
Crown to Lancaster Symes in 1708. This Grant to 
Lancaster Symes covered and included all lands not 
previously granted and patented. 

Whatever titles to lands in Richmond County were 
then (1708) vested in the English Crown and which 
it had the right to grant away, it did grant to Lan- 
caster Symes. 

It has been found that many Grants were applied 
for but were not issued by the Crown; many other 
Grants having been applied for were issued by the 


Crown, but were not patented by the Grantees. Many 
other Grants went through such formalities but the 
Grantee paid no quit rents thereunder. Other errors 
and omissions are clearly shown of record, which ren- 
dered nugatory and of no legal force or effect certain 
other Grants. 

It is now possible for the State of New York to 
cure these defects by exercising its right of forfeiture 
of and re-entry upon the lands affected by such errors 
and defaults. Thereupon it might regrant such lands 
to the present record owners thereof and every cloud 
would vanish from land titles on Staten Island where 
such defects are created by the difficulties enumerated 

Class A Grants — These Crown Grants were per- 
fect. They were duly issued, properly dated and pat- 
ented. The quit rents thereunder were paid up to the 
time when they were subsequently commuted. That 
is, all quit rents thereunder were paid for a time and 
then the State of New York, after the Revolutionary 
War, accepted one payment in full of all further de- 
mands whereupon all rents ceased. It has been judi- 
cially determined that the complete settlement of quit 
rents under a Crown Grant by a payment in advance, 
of an agreed sum, in full payment therefor converts 
such a title into a complete fee. It has been likewise 
determined that the acceptance of such a payment by 
the State is equivalent to and "constitutes a new Grant 
in fee, by the State." The acceptance of such a pay- 
ment by the State deprives the State of any right 
thereafter to challenge the validity and regularity of 
such Grant. 

There appears to be but two Crown Grants on 


Staten Island which can be properly included in 
Class A. One of the two Grants referred to is the 
Crown Grant to Lancaster Symes, but which Grants 
because of its extent, has been specially listed in 
Class H. 

Class B Grants — ^The Grantees in this classification 
received their Grants and patented the same. They 
paid their quit rents for a time, but subsequently de- 
faulted thereon and ceased to pay. As these Grants 
were issued conditional upon the payment by the 
Grantee of annual rentals and as the quit rents were 
not paid as required under the terms of the Grant, 
the Crown's right of forfeiture and re-entry accrued, 
which right is now vested in the State of New York. 

Class C Grants — The Grantees in this class went 
through the proper forms of having their Grants is- 
sued, dated and patented, but no quit rents were ever 
paid thereunder. The consideration for the issue of 
these Class C Grants was the payment of quit rents 
and rentals thereunder were never paid. All of the 
Grants in this class became and in fact always were 
null and void and of no effect. "No title or interest 
in lands can pass under any instrument where a good 
and valid consideration is not paid." 

Class D Grants — The titles in this class are even 
more striking in their defects. The parties securing 
these Grants apparently not caring to pay the quit 
rents or perchance having changed their minds as to 
the desired locations did not patent their Grants. As 
a fundamental proposition of law, a Grant must be 
patented to be valid. The Grants in this class not 
having been patented no quit rents were paid there- 
under. Such being the case the Grants themselves 


were never completed. This vital and fundamental 
defect renders these so-called Grants as if never ap- 
plied for. 

Class E Grants — The Grants in this class were pre- 
pared by the Crown, but evidently awaiting some 
proper action by the Grantees, were not even dated. 
Not being dated, and no rents or consideration hav- 
ing been paid thereunder, they were clearly and 
plainly null and void, and of no effect from their very 

No date, no consideration, no patent means beyond 
cavil no Grant. 

Class F Grants — The Grants in this class, for 
some undisclosed reasons, were held up by the 
Crown. They were not dated nor patented. The 
Grantees made a few payments to the English Crown 
in anticipation of receiving a Grant, or as was fre- 
quently done in those days, they rented for one or a 
few seasons certain pasturage or tillable lands and 
then quit the use or occupancy thereof without the 
issue to them of a Grant. 

Not having been issued or patented and the rentals 
having ceased, no rights as Grantees ever accrued 

Class G Grants — As above explained, these Grants 
were recorded after the Crown Grant to Lancaster 
Symes was recorded. They were Grants made sub- 
ject to the rights and consent of Lancaster Symes, as 
previously explained in this chapter or of lands which 
had been granted by the Crown previous to its Grant 
to Lancaster Symes. 

Class H Grants — ^This is the Grant to Lancaster 


Symes and is on a parity with and is properly in- 
cluded in Class A Grants. 

In the light of the foregoing statement covering 
every English Crown Grant issued to lands on Staten 
Island we turn to a map of the Island on which there 
has been clearly outlined the above classified lands. 
This map of classified lands is based upon a map of 
Crown Grants prepared by oflicial surveyors on which 
map every English Crown Grant to lands on Staten 
Island is located, by metes and bounds. 

We have followed with great care the official rec- 
ords and the map prepared by the Government Sur- 
veyors in order that the information disclosed on this 
classified map might rest upon official documentary 
proof and be in no wise a conjecture, or the expres- 
sion of an individual judgment or opinion on the 
part of the author. 

We simply submit the historic proofs at hand for 
what they may be worth for use in clearing up the 
titles to lands on Staten Island. 

On the map of lands which we have classified ac- 
cording to information obtained by us from official 
sources we show the relation of all titles to lands on 
Staten Island at the close of the year 1708 as such 
titles appear related to the Original English Crown 
Grants from which they did or supposedly did 

It is a pertinent inquiry as to whether any of the 
Grantees referred to, who were in default in payment 
of their quit rents, continued to occupy and possess 
the lands which may have been taken over by them 
under their respective Grants. 

Adverse possession as against the Crown required 


forty years of continuous occupanqr under strict and 
arbitrary conditions difficult to perform and the per- 
formance of which is more difficult to prove. 

With this possibility in view, we examined with 
great care other proper public records and discovered 
that practically all of the Grantees, so in default, 
never gave a deed or lease to any other person or 
persons of the lands described in their respective 
Grants. Neither do we find the lands so referred to 
included as an asset in their respective estates at their 

It is a very proper conclusion that the Grantees 
(a) whose lands were not patented, and (b) who 
failed to pay any of their quit rents, and (c) who is- 
sued no leases or deeds therefor during their life- 
time, and (d) whose estates failed to include as an 
asset lands referred to, either never took physical pos- 
session of the lands included in such Grants, or then 
abandoned the land. In fact, failure to occupy, or 
abandonment, speak out from a vast majority of the 
Staten Island Crown Grants issued by the English 
Crown, under Class B Grants to Class G Grants in- 

This reasonable presumption is not only sustained 
by the public records, but is supported by historical 
authorities. Many of the early English settlers aban- 
doned their lands and moved to New Jersey and 
Pennsylvania, where they took up other lands. Many 
others, descendants of original Grantees, being loyal- 
ists, took the side of England in the Revolutionary 
War and fled when peace was made. Much land 
was thereby abandoned, while other land was 
escheated by the State of New York for treason. 


In 1708 the Crown closed out to Lancaster Symes 
all of the Crown lands within "the bounds and limits 
of Richmond County," New York. 

It is in no wise strange that after the treatment the 
English Crown had received from a large majority 
of its Staten Island Grantees, it should have closed 
out its title therein to "its loyal and faithful subject," 
Lancaster Symes. It is not intended by the foregoing 
statement to even imply that at the present time all 
of the lands so originally included under Class B 
Grants to Class G Grants, inclusive, descended to and 
are now possessed by the present owner of the Lan- 
caster Symes title. Such a theory would be contrary 
to the fact, unfair, unjust, and hurtful to many inno- 
cent and true owners of much of the lands so re- 
ferred to. 

There are two distinct ways by which lands orig- 
inally granted, and which we have included in Class 
H Grants, may have become the properties of parties 
in no wise interested in the original Crown Grants 
and who can now claim no direct descent of title 

The record title should, however, be tracable back 
to an original Crown Grant to avert danger of de- 
feat under even an apparently strong claim of ad- 
verse possession on the part of those now in posses- 
sion or from whom their claim of title may descend. 
Even to establish a title by adverse possession such a 
transcript of record is very desirable. 

Titles may have been obtained through the 
medium of tax sales. If any of the lands covered by 
and included in the original Crown Grants have been 
duly and properly assessed and the owners thereof 


have defaulted in the payment of taxes thereon, and 
if such properties have thereafter been properly ex- 
posed for sale and properly and legally sold for taxes 
in strict conformity with the statutes, then the title 
thereto may have passed by virtue of such tax sale to 
parties other than the original owners or their de- 
scendants in title of record. 

In matters of tax sales, "the State proceeds in 
"a summary way to seize and appropriate the 
"property of the citizen in invitum, and the sale 
"and conveyance are but steps in the proceeding 
"which must be shown to have been duly insti- 
"tuted and regularly prosecuted, or the at- 
"tempted confiscation will fail unless there is 
"some statute which makes the deed presumptive 
"or conclusive evidence of regularity." (Da- 
lancey vs. Piepgras 138, N. Y. 26.) 

In view," however, of the manner in which assess- 
ments and tax sales were conducted up to within a 
very short period on Staten Island the average tax 
title, acquired by virtue of a tax sale, is somewhat of 
the nature of "a snair and delusion," and is easily set 
aside by a proper procedure, if we correctly judge 
the record. 

Parties now in possession of lands included in and 
covered by any of the Original Crown Grants and 
who cannot in any wise trace their chain of titles back 
to the Crown Grants originally covering the lands 
they occupy, may be able to show a good and valid 
title to the lands referred to through adverse posses- 
sion on their part or from some one from whom their 
title descended who was able to and did clearly show 


such proof of adverse possession as permitted under 
the law. 

The statutes of the State clearly provide a method 
by which title to a property actually owned by another 
may be obtained by adverse possession under certain 
circumstances and conditions. 

The procedure under such legislation and the 
method to be pursued in order to obtain such a title 
are very clearly and distinctly prescribed in the Stat- 
utes, while the decisions of the courts are very con- 
sistent as to what is necessary to establish a title by 
adverse possession. 

It is obnoxious to the law and contrary to con- 
science or equity that a man shall knowingly and in a 
hostile manner seize upon, take possession of, and 
hold property that is not his own, and by such pro- 
cedure divest the lawful owner thereof of his rights 
therein, to the benefit and enrichment of the party 
who by legal force and violence obtained possession 

Judges shrink from decreeing that a moral 
wrong, from age and persistence therein, has be- 
come a legal right. 

The state of mind, however, which protests 
against a practice which in itself Is of the nature of 
larceny is mollified and altered to a degree by miti- 
gating and extenuating circumstances. In order that 
a member of society shall transform an act that was 
originally of the nature of a legal and moral wrong 
into an act that is to be tolerated, permitted and ap- 
proved by a Court of Justice or Equity, the party 
thereto Is sternly required to strictly comply with 


severe conditions laid down by the law. To main- 
tain a title based upon adverse possession is a difficult 
task and presents an issue which, though tolerated, 
is not welcomed in the Halls of Justice and Equity. 

It is therefore not strange that Title Companies in 
the majority of instances refuse to guarantee titles 
obtained by adverse possession or tax sales, and con- 
servative money lenders turn from such titles as too 
hazardous a security for loans. 

The American Title and Trust Company, the re- 
cent record owner of the titles to land on Staten 
Island descending from and through Lancaster 
Symes, had no purpose nor did it desire to deprive 
any one of the possession of lands on Staten Island 
if such an one had properly and lawfully obtained his 
title by adverse possession, legal tax sale, or in any 
other manner approved by the law of the land or the 
conscience of the community. 

The Title Company referred to, upon satisfying 
itself of such a state of facts in any particular in- 
stance, proposed to frankly and unhesitatingly admit 
and recognize the same, regardless of original wrong- 
ful trespass upon and violent assertion of a forcible 
possession of lands of which it had been so deprived. 

To illustrate this latter conclusion, we cite the fol- 
lowing instance : 

The American Title and Trust Company was 
called upon by a citizen of Staten Island whose chief 
and practically only estate is a comfortable house in 
which he lives and a few acres of land on Staten 
Island favorably situated and upon which his house is 

The elderly man informed the Title Company that 


he had suffered from many sleepless nights since the 
acquisition by the American Title and Trust Com- 
pany of the Symes title to lands on Staten Island. He 
said that he knew that the land he occupied had be- 
longed to Lancaster Symes. He further stated that 
he "wanted to be true and honest with all men and 
that he did not wish to die holding lands which were 
in fact not his own." He further remarked that he 
"wanted no trouble to occur after his decease over his 
small possession." With this statement he offered to 
surrender the title to his home and so "square his con- 
science" with the world. 

The American Title and Trust Company knew as 
a proposition of law that this honest old citizen had 
in fact acquired a good and perfect legal possessory 
right to his home, by adverse possession. It so in- 
formed him and explained to him the law. He was 
shown that in the first instance Lancaster Symes had 
a perfect title to the plot of ground referred to, but 
that now under the Statutes of the State of New 
York, such right of possession had ceased. There- 
fore, the American Title and Trust Company refused 
to accept the tender of the deed on the theory that it 
would be depriving the old gentleman of property 
that was lawfully possessed by him and to which the 
Title Company had no legal or equitable claim. "He 
who asks equity must do equity." The officers of the 
Title Company, somewhat like the old man, wanted 
their consciences "square with the world." 

Adverse possession cannot be obtained by the State 
or by the City, but only by such private citizens and 
corporations who for not less than twenty years in 
some instances and for not less than forty years in 


other circumstances have strictly complied with the 
very stringent law, under which definite and com- 
plete proof necessary to maintain adverse possession 
is difficult and trying to establish. While such ad- 
verse possession may be a fact, the proof thereof as 
prescribed by law and insisted upon by the courts is 
exceedingly difficult in the majority of instances. 




The Book entitled "THE MAJOR AND THE 
QUEEN" was written that it might rescue from al- 
most complete oblivion the name and reputation of 
Major Lancaster Symes, a prominent character in the 
Colonial History of the Province of New York. 

Major Lancaster Symes died possessed of an ex- 
tensive estate. He was the owner of more than one 
half of Staten Island. His property interests at the 
time of his decease were very widespread. They in- 
cluded possessions in Holland, hereditary rights in 
England and real estate in several counties in the 
Province of New York. 

No Crown Grant to Lancaster Symes covering 
lands in any other County in the State of New York 
has ever been voided, nor has his Richmond County 
Grant ever been traversed. 

During the past several years the author of this 
narrative has been making a successful international 
search for records and documents relating to Major 
Lancaster Symes. 

These efforts resulted in remarkable disclosures. 
The awe-inspiring mystery with which vivid imagina- 
tions had cloaked the name and fame of Major Symes 
has been completely dispelled. In the brighter light 



of recently revealed history there stands before the 
mind the historic picture of a gallant officer and a 
loyal and true citizen who was the owner of a valu- 
able estate, a portion of which was located on Staten 
Island. He died, having bequeathed his property to 
his family. 

He died fully trusting that the conscience and the 
laws of the public which he had so faithfully de- 
fended and served, would safeguard his posterity in 
their rightful inheritance. 

The generation in which he had lived remembered 
him with affection and the following generation hon- 
ored his memory. Then the stern resolve and defi- 
ance of the Colonists hurled at the English Crown 
precipitated the American Revolutionary War, in the 
wild excitement of which much that was English was 

The Colonists had little time or thought for the 
memory of the dead English soldier or for that of 
earlier generations, when fighting two of their battles 
in the very churchyard and Colonial burying ground 
given by this same Lancaster Symes to St. Andrew's 
Church and in which "God's Acre" slept many of 
their own sacred dead. 

The passions of war smothered the impulses of 

St. Andrew's Protestant Episcopal Church in 
Richmond, Staten Island, which Major Symes had 
generously aided by gifts of lands, became a war hos- 
pital, a battle ground and fuel for battle flames. 
Some of its English members were driven into exile 
for not espousing the cause of the Colonists. Others 
of its friends were banished under sentence of death 


for loyalty to their Mother Country. The rejuv- 
enated St. Andrew's Church, having been previously 
rent, torn and impoverished for a time by war de- 
spoilment and flames, forgot its benefactor. It even 
dreamed that he belonged to the myths. His memory 
so completely faded from its recollections that for 
generations it appears to have lost all thought of him 
in connection with a large acreage of land received 
by it as a gift from Major Lancaster Symes, notwith- 
standing the fact that the deed conveying such en- 
dowment was clearly recorded within two hundred 
feet of the parish house. 

If the Church, the receiver of his substantial bene- 
factions, could so forget its benefactor, is it at all 
strange that after the passions of Revolutionary War 
and the troubles of reconstructing social order at its 
close, the public should also have forgotten him, a 
faithful public servant? 

Many tracts of Staten Island lands were sold and 
transferred, immediately subsequent to the Grant 
made to Lancaster Symes in 1708. Such operations 
in real estate have continued on Staten Island down 
to the present time, a period of over two centuries. 

According to official records in the County Seat of 
Richmond County, not a map showing one single 
transfer of lands on Staten Island appears of record 
in the County Clerk's Office for one century follow- 
ing the Grant to Symes. Not a map of record in that 
County Seat showing the transfer of any Staten 
Island real estate for a period of over one hundred 
years ! 

For a time following that absolute void of one cen- 
tury in the map records in Richmond County, such 


maps as were filed covered but small plots of land and 
single farms. In many cases such maps did not even 
adequately or clearly represent the descriptions in the 
deeds to which they referred. 

One of the most respected, conservative and pro- 
gressive of Title Companies recently made public an 
announcement that it will not make guaranteed 
searches of titles to lands on Staten Island extending 
back to the original Crown Grants. 

This is seemingly a strange policy to be announced 
or pursued by such a representative Title Company, 
but as the author understands the situation, it is in 
harmony with a policy quite uniformly adopted by 
other Title Companies doing business on Staten 

The situation as to many of the titles to Staten 
Island real estate, however, demanded such an atti- 
tude. Title Company officers, directors and counsel 
acting as trustees for interests they represent must 
take notice of and be governed by conditions as they 
exist. The amazing attitude of public officialdom 
down to within a recent "handbreadth" of time has 
been based upon the incorrect theory that no official 
survey of Staten Island has been made in the past 
and that the Island has not been mapped. 

The records of Richmond County fail to show any 
complete official survey of Staten Island. We have 
stated that for a space of one century (1710-1810) 
not a map is there recorded covering any transfer of 
lands on Staten Island, though history and official 
books of record show a steady conveyance of real 

The deeds and mortgages recorded during that 


period fill book after book, but no maps are recorded 
accompanying the same. 

It is thought by many that there were some maps 
prepared and filed during that time in Richmond, the 
County Seat, but that in several fires which occurred 
there and which destroyed many valuable records, the 
maps representing that period of time were con- 

Be that as it may, the fact remains that no maps 
representing land transfers for over one century are 
now of record in the County Seat. 

An examination of Staten Island deeds recorded at 
the County Seat disclosed a very curious state of 
facts. The description in a deed may run from a 
"small pile of stones," now scattered, to an "elm 
tree," now destroyed. It then may take a turn to a 
"brook," the name of which is lost or was never gen- 
erally known or preserved of record. Then the de- 
scribed boundary wanders, perchance, to a "salt 
meadow," said on the record to belong to a person 
named therein but who, upon examination of Liber 
or Book of Deeds does not appear as an owner of 
record of any real estate on the Island. 

The description in a deed taken at random from 
the Richmond County Public Records runs as fol- 
lows : 

A certain party, "an Attorney at Law," purports 
to sell to another party, a "Doctor of Physic," a cer- 
tain piece of land "once owned by" a certain named 
and doubtlessly then highly respected female. No 
description by "metes and bounds" accompanies this 
last mentioned deed. No public record shows that 
the said "Attorney at Law" ever owned it or had any 


right to sell it. The nearest approach to a declared 
ownership in the property is the disingenuous state- 
ment that a certain female "once owned" it, but no 
public record shows such ownership on her part. 

The lawyer purported to sell it to a "Doctor of 
Physic" as eighty acres. The "Doctor of Physic" 
gave a deed the following day for one hundred acres. 
The plot kept expanding on the records by systematic 
"accretions" due to vivid imaginations or cumulative 
cupidity combined with "remarkable descriptive pow- 
ers," until it became a comely estate. First it ex- 
tended to a salt meadow ; at the next turn it extended 
to the beach. Following that it absorbed the land be- 
tween high and low water mark. The last heard of 
it was that it had extended out to sea, and submarine 
fashion was moving out along the bottom of the 
Great Deep. It is too deep for us to fathom. 

Present titles (?) to that property rest upon an 
erstwhile "lawyer" and a "doctor of physic," buying 
and selling lands said to have belonged to another, 
while the records fail to show either one of them ever 
owned any portion of the land in question. 

Is it strange that one of three title searchers re- 
cently conferring together in the County Seat, after 
looking up the record of still another piece of land on 
Staten Island, remarked in desperation, "Well, be- 
tween the three of us we ought to be able to 'dope' 
out some kind of a title to this piece of land." 

Why does such a situation exist? It Is Intolerable ! 
The excellent Title Companies represented In Rich- 
mond County have been a powerful Influence in help- 
ing to steady public confidence and have greatly aided 
real estate business in a multitude of cases. They 


have made possible sales and loans that otherwise 
would not have been realized. Every real estate 
operator and every Title Company conversant with 
all the facts, together with the legally constituted pub- 
lic officials in Richmond, fully realize the deplorable 
conditions existing as to the records of early titles on 
Staten Island. 

The English Crown owned Staten Island — every 
foot of it. It issued a series of Crown Grants thereof 
to private individuals and closed out all of the 
Crown's ownership in Staten Island — every foot of it. 

Instead of "no survey having been made of Staten 
Island," a complete survey of the Island was made 
by the English Crown and the official map thereof is 
in the possession of and is owned by the American 
Title and Trust Company. The same Company has 
also an official location of each and every English 
Crown Grant shown on a map of Staten Island, pre- 
pared by official surveyors. It has also an official 
record of each and every Grant, showing the dates of 
their issue and other essential facts affecting the 
descent or non-descent of titles therefrom. It has also 
certified copies of the Grants covering lands granted 
on Staten Island by the English Crown. 

These facts relate to every square foot of land on 
Staten Island to the utmost "bounds and limits of 
Richmond County." The information covers the 
seas, bays and rivers included by the United States 
Government, the State of New Jersey and the State 
of New York within the defined and fixed boundaries 
of Richmond County. In addition to the above, the 
American Title and Trust Company has many other 
official maps, field notes and historical proofs cover- 


ing Staten Island from the early dawn of English 
Colonial History in America down to the present 

Many of these archives have never seen the light 
of publicity. The identity, authenticity and official 
character of each, however, is apparent upon its face 
and can be promptly and effectively confirmed. 

These invaluable proofs settle once and for all the 
location of each and every English Crown Grant of 
lands on Staten Island. 

There is not now a single building lot on Staten 
Island that cannot be located on the original tract of 
land covered by the English Crown Grant to which 
as a proposition of law it must look as the original 
source of its title. 

These proofs cover upland, salt meadows, beaches, 
land between high and low water mark and lands un- 
der the sea, bays and rivers, to the bounds and limits 
of Richmond County. 

For the first time since the chaotic conditions fol- 
lowing the American Revolution, it should be possible 
to clear up all old titles to lands on Staten Isand and 
to properly support every good modem title by estab- 
lishing it upon the basis of the Original Crown Grant 
from which it descended. To this definite proposi- 
tion the American Title and Trust Company in the 
Dupont Building, Wilmington, Delaware, and the 
American Title and Security Company of Staten 
Island, are devoting their best resources. 

These two Title Companies are not interested in 
and devote no time or attention to the regular lines of 
title searching and guaranteeing done by the Title 
Guarantee and Trust Company, the Lawyers Title 


and Trust Company, and the New York Title and 
Mortgage Company of New York City, all so ably 
and efficiently represented on Staten Island. 

These two American Title Companies are, how- 
ever, preparing and are able to prove the Crown 
Grant basis to any and all titles to lands on Staten 
Island where the source of present titles cannot be 
traced by any Title Company to its original Crown 

This information will remedy the defects which 
for more than a century have harassed property hold- 
ers on Staten Island and caused title searching to fall 
short of perfecting complete chains of title extending 
back to their true and legitimate fountain head, the 
English Crown Grants. 

The well-informed public deplores the issuance of 
thousands of restricted and conditional policies of so- 
called title insurance to home seekers and house 
builders who may have taken defective titles for 
building lots under the delusion that they were receiv- 
ing a complete and perfect policy of title insurance. 

A policy of title insurance is adversely affected by 
each "exception" endorsed on its back and in a multi- 
tude of instances is rendered absolutely valueless 

Among the many "exceptions" noted on the back 
of policies of title insurance issued by the thousands 
on Staten Island is one which reads substantially as 
follows : 

"This title is not insured as against any facts 
"which may be disclosed upon an accurate or 
"correct survey," or words to that effect. 


Without intending to impugn any motives but giv- 
ing full credit to the caution which presumably directs 
the policy of conservative title companies, we ask one 
pertinent question: 

If a "correct survey" should disclose the 
"fact" that the land covered by the policy is on 
the Symes Grant, then under the terms of the 
policy the insurance would be void, would it not? 

A Title Guarantee Company is only justified in 
writing a policy consistent with the risk it assumes. It 
must In the very nature of things disavow liability 
against what to it is the absolutely unknown danger 
which clearly threatens it. The horror of it is, how- 
ever, that innocent purchasers are not informed by 
many sellers of real estate as to the limitations hidden 
away In the terms of such title Insurance policies. Se- 
rious risks are oft-times actually assumed and unques- 
tionably carried by the one who Innocently thinks that 
the title to his home Is fully and completely insured, 
and for which he pays his hard-earned wages. 

To what extent a Title Company Is bound In 
morals to explain to Its client the true meaning In the 
restrictions on the back of Its title Insurance policies 
Is not for us to determine. 

We have been furthermore creditably Informed by 
one who claims to have been a party to the conversa- 
tion, that thousands of dead are being burled on 
Staten Island lands the present title record to which 
lands is held by a corporation, one of the chief officers 
of which stated that the Company owning the same 
could not satisfactorily trace back Its title. 

It is a ghastly statement and worthy of a Ghoul ! 


To betray the poor and innocent and to mislead 
them into accepting defective titles and paying their 
money for the same is inhuman, but for private gain 
to knowingly, wilfully and deceitfully involve the 
burial place of the dead should place the guilty be- 
yond the pale of human association I 

"Such, if admitted, would of high heaven a 
"hades make." 

The American Title and Trust Company recently 
examined a deed given to a home seeker on Staten 
Island by a so-called Realty Company. The deed 
was drawn in such a manner as to be of absolutely no 
value to him in the form delivered. This was no act 
of a Title Company, but of an alleged Realty Com- 
pany which had accepted his money and left him in 
a desperate position as to the actual title to the lands 
which he had presumably purchased. 

The American Title and Trust Company exposed 
the fraud and offered to bring to Bar without costs to 
the victim the perpetrator thereof, if the transaction 
was not forthwith remedied, which was promptly 

But why do not Title Insurance Companies make a 
general business of unqualifiedly guaranteeing the title 
to and peaceable possession of dock properties In 
Manhattan, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Hoboken, Staten 
Island and elsewhere on tidal waters? 

The explanation If made In full would be beyond 
the scope and limits of this work. In brief, the State 
controls and regulates commerce and the waters of 
the harbors are free. 

The lands under water and between high and low 


water mark on tidal streams are subject to private 
ownership, but the State wisely and happily has the 
power to designate where docks may and may not be 
built, so as not to interfere with reasonable naviga- 
tion of the waters. It may regulate their length, 
width and form. It can prescribe of what they shall 
be constructed and their distance apart. 

These are rights inherent in the State for the regu- 
lation of commerce and for public safety. Harbor 
regulations may change from time to time as the in- 
terests of commerce may dictate. 

Hence to unqualifiedly warrant a quiet and peace- 
able possession of lands subject to a Governmental 
regulation which may and does limit and control the 
occupancy thereof and the use to which it may be put 
is impracticable. 

Notwithstanding this fact, among the most valu- 
able lands in a city, we find its shore fronts. Among 
the safest investments we find dock bonds. 

No clearer, cleaner or straighter descent of title to 
lands can be found than the dock fronts and shore 
fronts of Staten Island, the Governmental regulation 
of which is an unmixed blessing to all. 




English Crown Grant to Lancaster Symes 


Lands on Staten Island, New York City. 


"She was certainly one of the best and most 
"unblemished Sovereigns that ever sat upon the 
"throne of England and well deserved the ex- 
"pressive though simple epithet of 'Good 
"Queen Anne.'" (Smollett, History of Eng- 
land, Vol. 3, p. 311; The Major and The 
Queen, pp. 28, 29.) 




This was not only notice to her realm but to 
all the world at large. 


A Royal Grant when couched in strict legal 
language must always be construed favorably 
for the Crown and unfavorably for the subject, 
when uncertainty of language or expression ob- 
scures or renders doubtful its exact meaning. 

When the Grantor, the Crown, used the term 
"our loving subject" it was always intended to 
clearly indicate that the Crown knew that it was 
dealing with a true, faithful and affectionate 
subject and by the use of that term indicated 
that the consideration due such an one should at 
all times be accorded to him. The conditions of 
the Grant were to be interpreted in the terms of 
loving consideration for him who was so highly 
regarded by the Sovereign. 


Queen Anne and Lord Combury were cousins. 
Lancaster Symes was held in very high per- 


sonal regard by the Queen and was Lord Corn- 
bury's most intimate and truest personal friend. 
For particulars as to the happy relationship and 
friendship existing between this trio see "The 
Major and the Queen," pages 38, 39. 


"The vacant and unappropriated land" of 
the realm was distinctively and admittedly the 
property of the Crown and could be granted by 
it under English common law. Staten Island 
lands were also vested in the Crown as personal 
Crown lands, by right of private purchase from 
the Indians, by the Duke of York. 


In a legal sense, an island is never legally 
defined in the school book description as "a body 
of land surrounded by water." The law does 
not recognize any proprietorship in water. 
Water may or may not be present on the land. 
Staten Island extends by legal definition, to the 
bounds and limits of Richmond County. 

"Richmond (County) which comprehends 
the whole of Staten Island." (Gov. Tryons 
Report to the English Crown.) 


The Grant made of Manhattan Island was 
for the vacant and unappropriated land "on 
Manhattan Island," which carried with it much 
of the bed of the East River. No notice was 
taken therein of the latter being submerged land. 

In ejectment to recover submerged lands in 
the Great South Bay, the Bay was described as 
being "ON" the south side of the Island, form- 
erly called Long Island." 

The water was not referred to, but the bot- 
tom of the Bay was held to have been conveyed. 

The Grant of land ON Manhattan Island in- 
cluded land under water in the East River. 

The Grant of land ON the South side of 
Long Island included the lands under water in 
the Great South Bay. 

The Grant of land ON Staten Island included 
the lands under water "to the bounds and limits 
of Richmond County." 

Sand Bay was officially described in Colonial 
days as "ON Staten Island." (17 12.) Sand 
Bay was again officially described as "ON the 
Eastermost part of Staten Island." (17 13.) 
A Bay is not upland and yet it is ON Staten 

"Etymologically ON and UPON differ in 
meaning." (Webster.) 

This Grant does not limit its conveyance to 
lands UPON Staten Island, but to lands ON 
Staten Island. 

Your coat is ON you when it enwraps your 


The barnacles are ON the hull of the ship, 

whether attached to its sides or bottom. 

The ring is ON when it encircles the finger. 

"In a position, state or adherance. In such a 
position as to cover, surround or overspread." 


The term "especial grace" can only be com- 
prehended in the light of the true meaning of 
the English word "Grace." It carries "wealth 
of an exalted and noble love." Students of Eng- 
lish Common Law fully understand that a 
Crown Grant made out of the most exalted im- 
pulse of the soul, to a "loving subject" does not 
legally carry narrowness of interpretation but 
on the contrary a full, free and generous con- 

This is clearly stated in Blackstone's Com- 
mentaries and in the within chapter "The New 
World and Crown Grants." 


The expression "certain knowledge" is the 
Crown's voluntary and gracious way of relieving 
the applicant of all possible charge of having 
misrepresented the facts. It was as if the 
Sovereign said to the world, "I do not wish 
to hear a word about or against this application 


or applicant. I know all about it and him. I 
have positive and sure information." 


"Meer motion," in other words it would 
properly read, "off hand." It is as if the Crown 
had said, "Did my loving subject for whom I 
have such a deep and pure affection petition for 
these lands and rights ? I Grant them with the 
'wave of a hand.' " 


The Grant was made by the Crown to Lancaster 
Symes in behalf of, — 

First: The Crown. 

Second: The "heirs" of the Crown. The Duke 
of York had purchased Staten Island. 
It became annexed to the Crown's pri- 
vate Manor of East Greenwich in the 
County of Kent, England. The Crown 
had children who were heirs of the 
blood or body. Hence the Crown in 
view of its personal proprietorship of 
Staten Island bound its "heirs" to the 


Grant to Lancaster Symes. By this the 
Crown admitted its personal title. 
Third: The Crown bound its "successors" on 
the throne. This was notice to the 
world that no Royal successor on the 
throne of England should ever reassert 
a claim to the lands granted by the 
Queen of England, but especially by the 
Lady of the Monor of East Greenwich. 
This provision estoppes the State of 
New York. 

It was in effect a Grant by the Lady of the 
Manor of a part of her manorial estate, which 
Grant was confirmed by the Crown, the Sov- 
ereign acting in a dual capacity. The Great 
Seal of the Province was a ratification by the 

The State of New York subsequently con- 
firmed this Grant. 

The Grant was not simply a life tenure to 
Symes, but was a Grant of title to him and his 
"heirs and assigns forever." 


"The vacant and unappropriated lands" on 
Staten Island belonged to the Crown (Uplands, 
lands between high and low water mark, and 


lands under water to the bounds and limits of 
Richmond County). They were not only 
granted, but the hereditaments and appurte- 
nances also "belonging" thereto. 

First: "The hereditaments" — "Things 
capable of being inherited." 

Second: "The appurtenances" — "Every- 
thing passes which is necessary to 
the full enjoymeit thereof and 
which is in use as incident or 
appurtenant thereto." 


This is a clear reference to the hereinbefore 
set forth expression "in the County of Rich- 
mond." Legally there is no difference In force 
and effect between "on Staten Island" and "in 
the County of Richmond." The two are in- 
terchangeable terms, — the County of Rich- 
mond and Staten Island being legally co-exten- 
sive and with common boundaries. Staten Is- 
land represents the land, the County of Rich- 
mond the local governmental jurisdiction there- 
over. One is material the other is political and 
governmental. They are co-extensive. 




The Crown further granted "together with 
all and singular the 

"woods, underwoods," 

According to Lord Coke, "a grant to an- 
other of all his woods will pass not only 
all his trees but the land on which they 


Trees are a part of the real estate, while 
growing and before they are severed from 
the freehold. When they are cut down 
they become personal property, 


Timber trees are those used in building 
and in mechanical arts. Timber trees con- 
stitute a portion of the realty. 


These are pasturing lands where cattle and 


herds may graze and from which fodder 
may be cut and taken. 


These consist of low ground adjacent to 
streams, tracts of low or level land, produc- 
ing grass which is mowed for hay; culti- 
vated land, growing grass sowed thereon; 
tillable, mowing or grass land. The term 
is applied to the tracts which lie above the 
shore and are or may be overflowed by 
spring and extraordinary tides only and 
yield grasses which are good for hay. 


In this word the English Crown "dropped 
its r." Mashes are low and wet ground, 
much if not all of the time being overflow- 
ed by water. 


Low lying land covered more or less with 
water, — bogs. 


A small lake of standing water. "By the 
grant of a pool, both the land and the 
water will pass. Undoubtedly the right to 
fish will be acquired by such a grant." 


"ponds," "pools," "waters," 

A pool of water or a stream of water is 
considered as part of the land. A mere 
grant of water passes a fishery. 


This term is applied to the flow or move- 
ment of the water in rivers, creeks, and 
other streams. 

"In a legal sense property in a water course 
is comprehended under the general name of 
land." (Bouvier — "watercourse.") 


A natural stream of water flowing between 
banks. The only rivers within the "bounds 
and limits of Richmond County" are the 
Hudson, Kill von Kull, Arthur Kill and 
Raritan Bay, which is the confluent of the 
three rivers. 

"rivoletts," "runs and streams of water, 

This description comprehends every stream 
of running water "in the County of Rich- 


By the common law of England the fish- 
eries in all the navigable waters of the 


realm belonged to the Crown. "An indi- 
vidual claiming an exclusive fishery in such 
waters must show it by Grant or Prescrip- 

"fowling, hunting, hawking," 

These rights and privileges theretofore pos- 
sessed by the Crown as a Royal preroga- 
tive or as the private owner under manorial 
rights were conveyed by the Crown to Lan- 
caster Symes. 

"mines and minerals," 

Gold and silver mines (as later referred to 
herein) were held under the common law 
of England as Royal mines and belonged to 
the Crown. It was an open question where 
mines, producing minerals of the baser sort, 
contained mixed in such ore, gold or silver 
of a value equal to or exceeding the value 
of the baser metals, whether the same were 
not of Royal value and belonged to the 
Crown. To remedy this uncertainty laws 
were passed by Parliament (in the Statutes 
I William and Mary st I, c 30, and 8 w. 
and M., c. 6). Under these Statutes the 
usual gold bearing ores, — copper, tin, lead 
and iron, were exempt from all claims by 
the Crown as Royal mines and as its ex- 
clusive property on condition, however, 
that the King should have the right to pur- 
chase such products of the mines at prices 


stated in the act. This provision made by 
Parliament was accepted by Crown and 
people as just and equitable. 

The "mines and minerals" on Staten 
Island were owned by the Crown through 
the purchase thereof by the Duke of York. 
Under the Grant to Lancaster Symes the 
Crown conveyed to him all mining rights, 
excepting those of gold and silver, in the 
lands conveyed under the said Grant. Le- 
gend has it, though sharply testing human 
credulity, that some gold was at one time 
mined on Staten Island near Richmond. 
Considerable iron ore, large quantities of 
clay for making brick, and a certain grade 
of kaolin have been mined on Staten Island. 

"standing, growing, lyeing, or being or to be 

This term covered and included timber and 
trees together with any and all of the afore- 
said natural growths and earth deposits 
therein contained or existing thereon. 


This provision specifically grants all rights of 
use and enjoyment at the time possessed by the 
Crown within "the bounds and Hmitts" of Rich- 
mond County. The Crown had thereinbefore 
granted the title to the described lands and in 
this latter clause of the Grant gave to the 


Grantee the use and enjoyment thereof to the 
bounds and limits of Richmond County 

(a) of every class of timbered growth 

(b) of all agricultural soil thereon. 

(c) of all lands thereon of a marshy na- 
ture, towit: occasionly submerged lands, 
semi-submerged lands on which vegeta- 
tion grows and appears above the sur- 
face of the water 

(d) of all pools with unknown outlets, 
ponds of like character or with outlets. 
Lakes of every kind and character 
which are comprehended in the forego- 
ing, in brooks that run, rivolets that 
flow, rivers that course their way, 
water-courses, the characteristics of 
which are included in the name thereof. 
Then lacking descriptive power as to 
further details the comprehensive 
words are added "runs and streams of 
water." All such are to be "used and 
enjoyed" by the Grantee, his heirs and 
assigns forever. The sporting strain 
in the English blood is further evi- 
denced by the additional Grant of the 
fishing (which legally includes shell 
and swimming fish) rights, fowling 
rights and hunting rights, on all classes 
of land referred to and on and in the 
standing, running, flowing and tidal 
waters legally included in the Encyclo- 


pedically described waters. But where 
are all these rights and privileges to be 
enjoyed and to what bounds do the 
lands and waters extend? The Grant 
says "In them the bounds and limits 
aforesaid." The ultra-narrow con- 
structionist who, legally unadvised 
might say "on Staten Island" would 
overlook the words "in them the 
bounds and limits aforesaid." The 
possibility of such a construction abso- 
lutely disappears in face of the fact that 
the County of Richmond referred to 
therein had been delimited and its 
boundaries fixed by Statute. 

That the Grant was intended to cov- 
er all lands under water in Richmond 
County is clear when we remember that 
the bounds and limits of Staten Island 
at every point are in the Rivers and to 
reach the bounds and limits the lands 
must of necessity extend at every point 
under water. 

The word ON as it appears in the 
term "on Staten Island," has been ex- 
haustively commented on in this chap- 




It would appear that the rights and powers 
granted therein by the Crown, prior to this lat- 
ter clause were sufficiently couched in broadest 
language. It, however, adds "all other profits, 
benefits, advantages, hereditaments and appur- 
tenances whatsoever." The Crown fearing 
that even that term might lack sufficiency then 
added, "in any wise appurtaining." 

(We note the exception of "gold and silver 
mines therefrom.) 


This paragraph in the light of the preceding 
terms needs no additional comment, excepting 
however that a broad and generous construction 
is required to be placed upon this Grant, by the 


use of the words "or intended to be hereby 
granted." The Crown then suddenly puts a 
final and arbitrary restriction upon the exercise 
of the rights and privileges hereinbefore de- 
scribed, by absolutely limiting the same "to the 
only proper use and behoofe of the said Lan- 
caster Sjnnes his heirs and assigns forever." 


The Crown Grants to lands on Staten Island 
provided that the title to such lands should be 
held "in free and common soccage." Some 
authorities claim that this word is derived from 
the old Saxon word "soke," meaning a "Plough- 
share." If so, it signifies that the Grantee who 
received a Grant of land from the Crown ob- 
tained his title under the condition that he would 
perform certain (or sure) services; hence the 
legal maxim, "Soccage Is the same as service of 
the plough." 

Pel. Leg. Max. — also Coke Litt. 86a. 

Blackstone and others have held that the 
word "soccage" is derived from the word "soc," 
which meant "free" or "privileged." This con- 
clusion is consistent with the fact that any one 
who held "title In soccage" under a Crown 
Grant, while required to perform certain or 
definite services to the Crown as a consideration 
for holding such title, was not required under 


the terms of the Grant to perform military serv- 

The meaning of the term, therefore as used 
in the Staten Island Crown Grants is that the 
Grantees, as long as they held title to their 
lands, were required to perform the definite 
services provided for in the Grants, free from 
military duty. The failure of such performance 
permitted re-entry upon and re-possession of the 
land by the Crown. 

In the year 1 830, the State of New York, by 
special enactment, prohibited any further issue 
of any Grants of lands in the State of New 
York, the tenure of which was to be held on a 
soccage basis. 




We now find that while the Grant conveyed 
all the Crown's title, rights and privileges (ex- 
cepting gold and silver mining) , the Grant has 
a dual character. That is — the Crown acted 
in a dual capacity. The Queen made the Grant 
with all her Royal authority but the same per- 
son, Anne, Lady of the Manor of East Green- 
wich, to which Manor Staten Island was attach- 
ed, made the Grant as from that Manor and 
required that the accounting should be made 
through the New York Custom House to the 
Manor House in East Greenwich in the County 
of Kent, England. 

(See Chapter herein entitled "Manor of East 
Greenwich and Crown Grants.") 





The Royal Seal carved in hard wood was pend- 
ant from the Grant. 

The Seal of the Province of New York was 
also attached to the Grant. 

"Words are not to be looked at so much as 
"the cause and nature of the thing, since the 
"intention of the contracting parties may appear 
"from those rather than from words." 

(Calvinus Lex.) 

"It seems, however, the provisions of Colo- 
"nial charters are to be liberally construed, 
"whenever necessary to accomplish the pur- 
"pose of the Grant." 

(Delancey vs. Piepgras, 138 N. Y., 26.) 

"English political economy and English popu- 
"lar notions are very deeply and extensively 
"pervaded by the assumption that all property 
"has been acquired through an original trans- 
"action of purchase and that whatever be the 
"disadvantages of the form it takes they were 
"nal sale." 
"allowed for in the consideration for the origi- 


(Maine, Early Laws and Customs, page 

"By coming to the Crown they became grant- 
able in that way to the subject." 

(Burke, Dormant Claims of the Church.) 




The King's Grants were matters of public record. 
No freehold may be given to a King, nor derived 
from him but by matter of record. All Grants made 
by the King must first pass through the hands of 
several regular subordinate officers appointed for 
that purpose whose duty it was to transcribe and en- 
roll the same. The paramount duty of these subor- 
dinate officers is to closely examine and inspect the 
form, nature and character of such Grants and to 
inform the King if anything contained therein is 
improper or unlawful to be granted. Such Grants 
are contained in charters or letters patent, that is, 
open letters. They are so called, because they arc 
not sealed up, but are exposed to open view, with the 
Great Seal pending at the bottom, and are usually 
directed or addressed by the King to all his subjects 
at large. 

A Grant or letters patent must first pass by Bill, 
prepared by the Attorney General, pursuant to a war- 
rant from the Crown. It is then subscribed at the 
top, with the King's own sign manual and sealed with 
his privy-signet, which is always held in the custody 
of the principal Secretary of State. At times, Grants 
immediately pass under the Great Seal, in which case 



the patent is subscribed in the following words. "Per 
Ipsum Regem," by the King himself. Certain Grants 
of minor importance are issued with less ceremony, 
but always with care, caution and circumspection. 

A Crown Grant issued at the petition of the 
Grantee, is construed most favorably for the Crown 
and against the Grantee, whereas a Grant made by a 
subject to another citizen, is construed strongly 
against the Grantor. 

To overcome this legal presumption in favor of 
the Crown as against the Grantee, the Crown at 
times adopted a phrase asserting the exercise "of 
special Grace," "certain knowledge" and "mere mo- 
tion" on the part of the Crown. In making a Grant 
expressing clemency, generosity and good will on the 
part of the Crown toward the Grantee, the Crown 
imparted to the construction of the Grant a liberal 
and generous interpretation in behalf of the Grantee. 

(The foregoing paragraph condensed and 
adopted from Blackstone, Vol. 2, pages 346, 


The gracious attitude of Queen Anne towards Lan- 
caster Symes is evidenced in the final Grant of lands 
on Staten Island, made to him by the Crown, as in- 
dicated in the following expressions from the Crown 
Grant issued to him : 

"Our loving subject Lancaster Symes," — "Know 
"yee that of our Especial Grace certain knowl- 
"edge and meer motion wee have given granted 
"etc., unto the said Lancaster Symes his heirs 
"and assigns forever." 


This form of language used by the Crown in the 
Symes Grant gave to it the broadest construction 
under common law. 

Digby, in his History of the Law of Real Prop- 
erty, page 34, states that, 

"by the conquest, King William (of Nor- 
"mandy) succeeded to all of the rights of the 
"Anglo Saxon Kings. The rights over the 
"land which they had became his." 
"The great possessions held by them in their 
"private capacity devolved upon William, and 
"no distinction any longer existed between the 
"King's ownership of lands in his private capa- 
"city and his suzerainty over the folkland as 
"chief of the nation." 

"all alike became 'terra regis.' " (king's 

We find in Freeman's "Constitutional History," 
Vol. 5, page 787: 

"It was necessary at the time of Doomsday, to 
"a good title to any land, except that held by 
"ecclesiastical bodies, that the tenant should be 
"able to adduce evidence of a Grant, re-grant 
"or confirmation by William." 

This theory of tracing real estate back to English 
Crown Grants has been a recognized principle in 
English Common Law from the time of the "Dooms- 
day Book" and the same principle became funda- 


mental in America when English Common Law was 
brought to the Colonies upon the establishment there- 
in of English sovereignty. 

It is in accordance with this theory of Common 
Law, established in England and adopted in America, 
that all titles to land on Staten Island must find their 
source in an English Crown Grant. 

The Grants made by the English Crown for lands 
on Staten Island were in fact deeds which passed the 
title to the Grantee. They were issued subject to the 
annual payment of quit-rents (meaning quit-the- 
rents) . In the event of non-payment of such rentals, 
the right of re-entry upon and re-possession of such 
lands so conveyed was retained and possessed by the 
English sovereign. 

This form of deed is now substantially obsolete in 
this country. It has been proscribed by nearly all, 
if not all, of our states. 

The quit-rents provided to be paid under the terms 
of the Staten Island Grants were payable at the Cus- 
tom House in the City of New York and on account 
of the rent roll of the Manor of East Greenwich in 
the County of Kent, England. 

This arrangement for the collection of the quit- 
rents proved to be extremely unsatisfactory. His- 
torians disagree as to the proportion of the rentals 
collected from Staten Island, which eventually 
reached the Manor House of East Greenwich. Some 
authorities claim that "it was as much as twenty per 

In addition to the difficulties, incident to distance, 
connected with the collection of quit-rents, unbusi- 
nesslike methods on the part of the Grantees pre- 


dominated. Many of them defaulted in payments, 
much of the lands granted were abandoned by the 
Grantees without notice to the Crown. Others of the 
Grants were not recorded, while a number of them 
were not patented. 

The official records clearly show that many of the 
Grantees applied for their Grants, and upon secur- 
ing the issue thereof, failed to record the same. 
Others recorded their Grants but paid no quit-rents. 
There were other Grants applied for, issued, but were 
not confirmed. We even find at this day modern 
titles claiming unconfirmed Grants and unpatented 
lands as a source from which their so-called rights 

"In the absence of a statute, a ground rent is not 
within any statute of limitations nor is there any pre- 
sumption that it has ceased to exist from the mere 
lapse of time without payment of the rent or from 
mere delay of the owner of the ground rent in de- 
manding it." (20 Cyc. 1379.) 

It has been held that in the event of the non-pay- 
ment of quit-rents for a period of twenty years, and 
no demand having been made by the Grantor for 
such payment within said consecutive years the Court 
will presume that such quit-rents have been paid, 
but proof to the contrary is admissable. Such atti- 
tude of the Court will in no wise release the Grantee 
from the payment of prior quit-rents which remain 
unpaid. The non-payment of quit-rents for a period 
of twenty years does not give adverse possession to 
the title as against the Grantor. Any and all parties 
laying claim to title under a Grant conveying such 
title subject to a quit-rent (which runs with the land) 


cannot claim adverse possession against the Grantor 
nor be relieved from liability to pay such quit-rents 
except by act of the Grantor. Any Grants made sub- 
sequent to 1830 and subject to quit-rents are void in 
the State of New York, by special enactment of the 
State Legislature. Crown Grants made prior thereto 
are unaffected thereby. 

In the years from 1814 to 1816 inclusive there 
were several acts passed by the New York Legisla- 
ture contemplating and providing for the commuta- 
tion of quit-rents then due or to become payable to 
the State. Such commutation was to be conditioned 
upon election on the part of the Grantees to com- 
mute the same. Pursuant thereto, the quit-rents 
under the Crown Grant to Lancaster Symes were 
commuted and paid in full forever, as is shown in 
the records of the Comptroller's office at Albany. 

"The effect of the commutation of the quit- 
rents is the same upon the rights of the parties 
as if the people had made a new grant of the 
patent without reservation." 

(People vs. Renssellaer, 9 N. Y., 291, 328.) 

"People may not bring ejectment after com- 
muting quit-rents." 

(People vs. van Renssellaer, 9 N. Y., 292.) 

Under this and like decisions the State of New 
York representing the people, has no standing In the 
Courts upon which it could base an action for the 
nullification or cancellation of the English Crown 


Grant to Lancaster Symes. It has evidenced no dis- 
position so to do, and is barred from pleading that 
the Crown Grant to Lancaster Symes is null and void. 
On the contrary, the State of New York has ad- 
mitted the Grant and denied title to any land in it- 
self on Staten Island. 




Students of American Colonial History have been 
much interested in the fact that substantially all of 
the English Colonial charters have not been directly 
issued "as of" the English Crown. In nearly all such 
charters it is provided that while the land so granted 
is to be held as from the Crown of England it is, how- 
ever, to be held "as of the Manor of East Greenwich 
in the County of Kent, in free and common soccage 
and not in capite or of knight service?" It is a perti- 
nent inquiry, "Why should the land granted in the 
New World, by the English Sovereign be held from 
some Manor and not from the Crown direct?" Why 
was it to be held in free and common soccage and not 
by knight service ? Why should the Manor of East 
Greenwich have been nearly always selected in pref- 
erence to other Royal Manors?" Above all, the 
one inquiry is of paramount importance — why should 
Colonial Charters of various kinds and why should 
Colonial Grants to lands in America be held as of a 
Royal Manor or Manors of which the King was 
"the Lord of the Manor," rather than directly from 
the Sovereign of England? If there was no legal 
significance in this arrangement, why were not some 
of these Grants or Charters held as of Westminster, 

210 , 


one of the Crown residences, with its full, complete 
and efficient administrative force? The answer is: 

"Westminster was not a Manor." 

The Manor of East Greenwich and Hundred 
of Blackheath in the County of Kent, England, 
situated about four miles from London Bridge, em- 
braced among other lands what is now Greenwich, 
with its Royal Observatory and Naval Hospital. 
The old palace was known as the "Greenwich 
House," and was a favorite royal residence as early 
as 1300 A. D. 

The title to the Manor of East Greenwich, with 
its manorial rights and privileges, has been at times 
held by various English Sovereigns as a part or por- 
tion of their personal Crown lands and at other times 
by Grantees of the Crown outside of the line of royal 

Henry V granted it to Thomas Beauford, the 
Duke of Exeter, from whom it passed as a manorial 
estate to Humphrey the Duke of Gloucester. The 
latter greatly improved and beautified the property 
and named it "Placentia." At his death in 1447 it 
was acquired by the then reigning King and was 
again added to the Crown's private estate. 

In this palace was born Henry VIII. It was the 
birth place of both Queen Mary and Queen Eliza- 
beth and under its roof King Edward VI died. 

The Manor House was enlarged by Edward IV, 
also by Henry VIII, who made it one of his favorite 
residences. James I added to it and Charles I 
erected the "Queen House" adjacent to it for Hen- 
rietta Maria. 


At the time of the English Revolution the Pro- 
tector appropriated to his own use this Manor with 
other personal Crown estates and private palaces of 
the Crown, but it was returned upon the restoration 
of Charles II. 

Upon the acquisition of this Manor by Charles 
II, what was left of the historic Manor House with 
its improvements, was demolished by the King and a 
building which now constitutes the West wing of 
the Naval Hospital was erected as one unit of a very 
elaborate design contemplating a royal residence of 
great splendor. The plan was not carried out but 
the building so erected was occasionally used by that 
King as a residence. 

The building so constructed was granted by King 
William and Queen Mary at the suggestion of the 
latter, as a royal gift, for a home for disabled sailors 
of the Royal Navy. It was a personal endowment 
accompanied by a gift of two thousand pounds from 
the private purse of the Royal benefactors. 

"On the restoration of Charles II in 1660 the 
Manor (East Greenwich) and those demesnes, un- 
demised by the Crown returned to the Royal rev- 
enue, part of which the Manor itself, continues at 
this time." (1886.) 

It is now (19 17) a part of the personal estate of 
the English Sovereign from which Grants may even 
yet be made by the Crown without let or hinderance. 

England's great architects such as Inigo Jones, his 
son-in-law Webb and the immortal Sir Christopher 
Wren with others here displayed their genius In 
architecture. Sovereign after Sovereign and others 
of wealth have here poured out their gifts for the 


Men of the Sea. Englishmen here show with pride 
a wonderful group of buildings bearing the names of 
many English Sovereigns representing great bene- 
factions to the sea defenders of the realm. 

Not all of the old Manor of East Greenwich was 
included in the Hospital and Observatory Grants. 
One interesting prerogative still clings to the English 
Sovereigns under their East Greenwich manorial 
privileges still retained and held by each as Lord of 
this Manor of East Greenwich. It is the patronage 
of the living of St. Marys, the Greenwich Vicarage. 
St. Mary's Church is within the bounds of the old 
Manor of East Greenwich in the County of Kent. 
His English Majesty may be largely an ornamental 
Sovereign, useful at social and State functions, but 
as Lord of the Manor he yet has absolute power to 
appoint the Vicar of St. Mary's Parish. The Manor 
is the property of the King and not of the kingdom 
and its benefits inure to the private income of the 
English Crown. The House of Commons may vote 
the downfall of the Empire's Ministry, to which the 
Sovereign must bow, but the King as Lord of the 
Manor has the absolute power to retain or discharge 
the Vicar of St. Mary's Parish, before which the 
people must bow. 

We find that any Grant having been made by the 
English Crown covering lands in America, the cus- 
tom prevailed in England of making such Grants of 
Crown lands as of the Sovereign's Manor. 

The rights and powers possessed under the charter 
of the Manor of East Greenwich, and exercised by 
the Lord or Lady of the Manor, did not differ in any 
material or substantial way from the rights and pow- 


ers properly exercised by the Lord or Lady of other 
Manors. There is nothing, therefore, exceptional, 
unusual or specially significant in the selection of the 
Manor of East Greenwich in preference to the selec- 
tion of other Manors, of which the King was the 
Lord or the Queen was the Lady excepting however 
that the original Grant of the Duke of York and 
other basic American Grants were made as of the 
Manor of East Greenwich. 

The peculiar significance in such transactions was 
in the fact that the Crown in dealing with much of 
the Crown lands made such Grants "to be held as of 
the Manor" and not as of the Throne. 

"They were Grants by the King and not by the 
Kingdom." When land was granted it was of the 
personal Crown Estate while political authority when 
granted was by kindly prerogative. 

The three Charters of Virginia granted by James 
I were held as of the Manor of East Greenwich; 
so was also the New England Charter, issued in 
1620; all these were granted by James I, between 
1606 and the latter date. Charles I in his Grant of 
Massachusetts Bay Charter in 1629, and the Charter 
for the State of Maine in 1639, were held as of the 
said Manor of East Greenwich. Charles II then fol- 
lowed by issuing the two Charters of the Carolinas in 

1663 and 1665, respectively and with the Rhode 
Island and Providence plantations charter in 1663. 
The two famous Grants to the Duke of York cover- 
ing New England, New York and New Jersey, in 

1664 and 1674 respectively were likewise held from 
the King of England, "as of the Manor of East 


Greenwich in the County of Kent in free and common 
soccage and not in capite or by knight service." 

Among all the American Colonial Charters, the 
only departulre in such practice were the Grants of 
Maryland, in 1632, and Pennsylvania in 1681, in 
each of which it was provided that the same was to 
be held of the Manor of Windsor in the County of 
Berks, England. That of Georgia, granted in 1732, 
was granted as of the Manor of Hampton Court in 
the County of Surrey, England. 

The issue of Grants of lands to be held as of the 
King's Manor and not direct from the Crown, has 
profound legal significance. This is best expressed 
in the language of an eminent authority as follows : 

"It was simply an adaptation to land beyond 
"the sea, of a form originally used in the grant 
"of Crown lands in England. Its use may be 
"taken to represent the closeness of the legal 
"connection between the colony and the home 
"government — that America was, in the view 
"of the King, simply an extension of the soil 
"of England:' 

This declaration prepares us for the statement that 
the original title to waste, vacant, unappropriated and 
unpatented lands of the realm was vested in the 
Crown; that the English Sovereign by and with the 
assistance of its Council, which it appointed and 
could ignore, made Grants, therefore, to individuals 
and corporate bodies; that lands granted thereunder 
were held as of an English Manor, of which the 
English Sovereign was Lord or Lady. Therefore 
we must hark back to English Common Law pre- 


vailing at that time to properly interpret and under- 
stand the rights, conditions and stipulations expressed 
in the Crown Grants so issued. To understand the 
privileges enjoyed and the obligations incurred under 
English Crown Grants to lands on Staten Island, we 
must refer and defer to the Common Law of Eng- 
land then governing the land tenures of the Manor 
of East Greenwich in the County of Kent. 

"The tenures of Kent were conclusive to the 
"Court when judicially interpreting and defin- 
"ing the Common Law of England as relating 
"to land titles." 




If it be true that the original source of every good 
title was in the one Great Sovereign, and that it has 
descended from the Beneficent King, for the com- 
fort and well being of his subjects, certainly a title 
by adverse possession constitutes a complete reversal 
of that theory and must have emanated from the 
chief potentate of the nether world. 

The feudal system, with all that followed there- 
from was based upon military conquest. It con- 
stituted the reward of the victor. The victim, how- 
ever, in flight from his foe, explained to those upon 
whom his presence had been forced, that his adver- 
sary had violently seized his estate and now held it by 
adverse possession. 

Society of even a Christian civilization, appears 
at times to have found it necessary to accept the ob- 
noxious doctrine that "Might makes right" even 
though the Furies themselves overwhelm with cruel 
violence the weak and innocent. A de facto tyranni- 
cal government, though based on violence and blood- 
shed is recognized by the family of nations if it sus- 
tains itself for a reasonable period even at the ex- 
pense of human liberty and freedom. 

A nation seizing and holding territory by conquest 



in an unrighteous war, extends its jurisdiction and 
thereafter receives international approval and recog- 
nition of its sovereignty so unrighteously obtained 
if it but maintains possession and stamps into sub- 
mission its newly but murderously acquired province. 
Adverse possession is the child of this unholy doc- 
trine but is accorded recognition in the temple of 
Justice, but under rigid surveillance of the law. We 
are not, therefore, surprised to find it looked upon 
in our legal text-books as a foe of human society, and 
yet as deemed a "necessary evil." It quiets litiga- 
tion after maintaining a hostile grip upon properties 
not its own until such evil possession "ripens into a 
possessary title." 

"There are cases where title by Adverse Pos- 
"session may, and will, be upheld. // there is 
"no disputed question of fact, and the posses- 
"session has been clearly adverse and undis- 
"turbed for the required period, the title may he 
"sustained. But even in such a case that class 
"of titles is not looked upon with much favor 
"by persons who contemplate purchasing the 
"property or loaning their money thereon or by 
"the Courts/' 

(Harley vs. James, 50 N. Y., 38.) 
(Heller vs. Cohen, 154 N. Y., 299.) 

"There are five essential elements necessary to 
"constitute effective adverse possession:" 

"First: The possession must be hostile and 
under a claim of right. 


"Second: It must be actual. 

"Third: It must be open and notorious. 

"Fourth: It must be exclusive. 

"Fifth: It must be continuous. 

"If any of these constituants is wanting, the pos- 
"session will not effect a bar of the legal title." 
(Enc. of Law, 2nd Ed., 795.) 

"A claim to land, unaccompanied by actual pos- 
"session will not ripen into a title, however long and 
"persistently such claim is asserted." 

(Cyl. of Law & P., Vol. I, 983.) 

"A residence in the vicinity of the land, and a 
claim to it, though such claim is generally recognized 
and spoken of in the neighborhood and affirmed by 
the vicinage, unaccompanied by any of the acts and 
indltia of ownership, is insufficient to constitute own- 

(Wood vs. McGuire, 15 Ga., 202.) 

"The acts relied upon to establish adverse posses- 
"sion must always be as distinct as the character of 
"the land reasonably admits of, and must be exer- 
"cised with sufficient continuity to acquaint the owner, 
"should he visit the land, with the fact that a claim of 
"ownership adverse to his title is being asserted. 
"Trivial and disconnected acts, doubtful and equivo- 
"cal in their character, and which do not clearly 
"indicate the intention with which they are per- 
" formed, cannot be regarded as amounting to 
"possession. Otherwise a man might be disseized 


"without his knowledge and the statutes of limita- 
"tions might run against him while he had no ground 
"to believe that his seizen had been interrupted." 
(Cyl. of L. &P. Vol. 1,985.) 

"Where adverse possession is sought to be shown 
"by an enclosure of the land for the length of time 
"prescribed in the statutes, such an enclosure must be 
"a real and substantial one." 

"The land must be completely enclosed." 

"Land fenced only on two sides, one of the other 
"sides abutting upon an unfenced highway and in- 
"dicated only by marked trees, is not protected by 
"a substantial enclosure." (Pope vs. Hanmer, 59 
Am. Dec. 115.) 

"The fencing of three sides of an oblong or square 
"piece of land is not a sufficient enclosure to make an 
"adverse possession so as to vest title in a wrong- 
"doer as against the real owner, though such fences 
"exclude the latter from the use and enjoyment of 
"the land." (Armstrong vs. Risteau, 59 Am. Dec. 


"Placing a fence consisting of small posts with two 
"rails nailed on around a piece of land, without 
"actually occupying the land or any part of it, and 
"suffering the fence to go to decay in a year or two 
"so that it will not keep out cattle, is not sufficient to 
"constitute prima facia evidence of title to the land 
"by actual possession.' (Borel vs. Rollins 20 Cal. 

"A fence which the owner attempts to keep in re- 


"pair constitutes an actual enclosure for the purpose 
"of adverse possession, though a plank is sometimes 
"off or a plank down." (44 S. W. iii.) 

"The enclosure alone is not sufficient. It must be 
"attended by actual possession." 

"The payment of taxes upon land does not con- 
"stitute actual possession of it." (Ambrose Oreg. 
484, s6, Pac. 513.) 

"Surveying the land, maping the same, and issu- 
"ing a mortgage thereon, and occasionally entering 
"upon the land to look after it, employing an agent 
"so to do, or to occasionally cut and carry off fire- 
"wood and rails therefrom, does not constitute actual 
"possession." (Cyl. L. & P. Vol. I, 993.) 

"The fact that the claimant of land posts notices 
"upon it merely indicates an intention to hold the 
"land, and is not sufficient proof of adverse possess- 
"ion." (Lynde vs. Williams 68 Mo. 360.) 

"The fact that one claiming a large tract of land 
"under a deed, sold and conveyed many small tracts 
"within the boundary is insufficient to show actual 
"possession; so is the fact that the claimant offered 
"the whole tract for sale and listed it for taxation." 
(Fuller vs. Elizabeth City 23 S. E. 922.) 

In the case of Jackson vs. Bonnell (9 Johns 163) 
The Court held as to adverse possession, "The doc- 
"trine of the Court with respect to adverse posses- 
"sion is that it is to be taken strictly and not to be 
"made out by inference but by clear and positive 
"proof. Every presumption is in favor of possess- 


"ion in subordination to the title of the true owner." 

In the case of Robers vs. Baumgarten (no N. 
Y.) the Court held: "Proof of an occasional resort 
"to the lands in question in the cutting of salt meadow 
"grass would not be sufficient to establish occupancy 
"or possession in the absence of a deed describing and 
"including them." 

In the case of the Mission of the Immaculate Vir- 
gin vs. Cronin (143 N. Y. 524), the Court found 
that: "Where land is unenclosed, uncultivated and 
"unoccupied, the fact that a person has for twenty 
"years claimed title thereto, surveyed it, marked its 
"boundaries by monuments, cut trees thereon from 
"time to time, and for a few years has paid taxes 
"thereon, do not establish adverse possession; nor 
"do these facts, in the absence of constructive or ac- 
"tual possession authorize the presumption of a Grant 
"from the true owner." (Distinguishing Roe vs. 
Strong, 119 N. Y. 316.) (Williams vs. Rand 9 Tex. 
Civ. App. 651.) 

In the case of McRoberts vs. Bergman ( 132 N. Y. 
73) in which case Bergman relied upon adverse 
possession and refused to stand upon a deed which 
he claimed to have, showing title descending to him 
from Lancaster Symes, the Court held that the 
"plaintiff must recover upon the strength of his own 
title and not upon the weakness of that of the de- 
fendant. Where the former shows a title better in 
respect to his right of possession, he is entitled to 

Nowhere in the report of this case is the Lan- 


caster Symes Grant referred to or his name intro- 
duced by the Court or by the Counsel for either 
plaintiff or defendant. 

The Symes Grant was not at issue in this case 
despite the frequently and much quoted legal tra- 
dition that such was the case. 

*'A party cannot claim by adverse possession 
against the State if he took under a conveyance recog- 
nizing the public right." (Bridge vs. Wyckoff, 67 
N. Y. 130.) 

No one having accepted a Grant from the State 
can successfully claim thereunder as against the true 
owner where the title claimed by the State has failed. 

"A Crown patent is conclusive as against a title 
"founded on mere adverse occupancy or those wrong- 
" fully in possession." Gibson vs. Choteau 113 Wall 
92; Parmelee vs. Oswega S. Co. 6 N. Y. 74.) 

Constructive possession was sufficient under Eng- 
lish Common Law. 

"A party out of actual possession but who is in 
"constructive possession may bring action for tres- 
"pass." (Smith vs. Milles. Burnford & East Rep. 
Vol. I, 475, Court of Kings Bench, 1786.) 

"Silence is not a bar to a later assertion of title." 
(Thompson vs. Simpson 128 N. Y. 270.) 

"No title to land under water can be acquired as 
"against the State or its Grantee by planting oysters 
"thereon for any length of time without other title 


"than that so sought to be acquired." (People vs. 
Lowndes 5^ Hun., N. Y. 469 8 N. Y. Suppl. 908.) 

"From the nature of the property it is difficult to 
"show such a possession of land under water as is 
"required to support the presumption of a Grant; 
"as we fail to find any case where anything short of 
**a permanent and exclusive occupation of the soil has 
"been granted as sufficient." (Boswell on Lim. and 
Ad. Possessions.) 

"The permission or command of the State can give 
"no power to convey private rights even for a public 
"service without payment of compensation." (Muhl- 
ker vs. N. Y. & R. Co. 197 U. S. 544. Birrell vs. 
N. Y. & R. Co. 198 U. S. 390. Siegel vs. N. Y. & 
R. Co. 200 U. S. 615.) 

"One may not improve another's land without his 
"consent and charge him therefor." (Spruck vs. 
McRoberts 139 N. Y. 193.) 

''Docks and two marine railways were not sufi- 
"cient to establish adverse possession on the shore- 
" front." (Delancey vs. Piepgrass 138 N. Y. 26.) 

"The owner of the uplands had continued his 
"boundary fences to low water mark, to prevent cat- 
"tle passing around them, and had built a bulkhead 
"and filled in with earth a small portion of the land 
"between high and low water mark and had cut sedge 
"thereon; and it was held that this was not such an 
"occupation of the land as would support a defense 
'*of adverse possession." (McFarlane vs. Kerr, 10 
Bosw. 249.) 


"In order to make good a claim of title by ad- 
" verse holding, the true owner must have actual 
"knowledge of the hostile claim, or the possession 
"must be so open, visible and notorious as to raise 
"the presumption of notice to the world that the 
"right of the true owner is invaded intentionally and 
"with a purpose to assert a claim of title adversely 
"to his, so patent that the owner could not be de- 
"ceived and such that if he remains in ignorance it is 
"his own fault. A clandestine entry or possession 
"will not set the Statute in motion. The owner will 
"not be condemned to lose his land because he has 
"failed to sue for its recovery, when he had no no- 
"tice that it was held or claimed adversely." (Cyl. 
Vol. I, 997.) 

"There must therefore be a continuous oc- 
"cupation and possession of the premises in- 
"cluded in the instrument or some part thereof 
"for twenty years. 

"There must, however, be an occupant, not 
"necessarily of the entire tract, but of some part 
"of the land claimed to be held adversely." 

"The possession and occupation referred to 
"in the section of the Code is actual occupation 
"of the premises or of some part of them and 
"not the occasional going upon the premises for 
"the purpose of cutting wood, and drawing it off. 
"These acts do not constitute occupation and 
"possession of any part of the premises. They 
"partake rather of the nature of trespass on real 

"To constitute adverse possession the Legis- 


"lature contemplates an actual and continued oc- 
"cupation of at least some part of the premises 
"under a claim of title to it all and where there 
"has been no actual occupation of any part and 
"no inclosing, there can be no constructive ad- 
"verse possession." (Wiechers vs. McCormicIc, 
122N. Y. Ap. 860.) 

"Whatever was done upon it was to take value 
from it, not to put value into it. . . . Payment of 
taxes, surveying and assertion of right do not con- 
stitute possession. . . . Going upon land from 
time to time and cutting logs thereon, does not give 
possession. Such acts are merely trespasses upon 
the land against the true owner, whoever he may 
be. Any other intruder may commit similar tres- 
passes without liability to any other trespasser. 
Such acts do not constitute a disseizin of the true 
owner." (Thompson vs. Burhans, 79 N. Y. 93.) 

"A person cannot acquire title to an uninclosed, 
unoccupied, unimproved parcel of land by taking a 
deed thereof from one not the owner and then 
merely going upon the land and there asserting his 
ownership, nor can he acquire the title by taking 
such a deed and then making an occasional foray 
upon the land for grass or sand and thus com- 
mitting trespass against the real owner." (Miller 
vs. L. I. R. R. Co., 71 N. Y. 380.) 

He who takes record title in descent from one 
whom he believes acquired his title by adverse pos- 
session must be able to prove the hostile intent of his 
predecessor in possession. It will not be sufficient to 


show that such predecessor held possession for the 
period prescribed in the Statute. He may have held 
under a lease or other instrument not hostile to the 
true owner. 

It must be shown by actual proof that for each 
year during the whole term such possession was held 
in an open, notorious and hostile manner, adverse to 
the true owner and with all the conditions requisite 

Such proof is extremely difficult and rarely pos- 
sible to obtain even where the facts are consistent 
with such a theory. 

It is one thing to know a fact and another thing 
to prove the same without flaw and to the satisfac- 
tion of a Court, especially where the theory is re- 
pugnant to justice. In consequence thereof, the law 
is strictly construed. 




He who takes title to lands, takes it subject to 
all of the prior conditions and restrictions imposed 
of record thereon. 

"Assuming the King to be the source of 
"all titles both of dignity and property. Grants 
"of land from him to his chieftains were made 
"in consideration of military service to him- 
"self, i. e., the Crown, whenever required. 

"These direct Grantees of the Crown, ten- 
"ants in chief or in capite, as they were styled, 
"parceled out their Grants among their foUow- 
"ers or vassals, for like considerations of 
"Knight service to themselves as mesne lords 
"and these again to inferior persons in consid- 
"eration of various kinds of service. 

"Every land tenure of the kingdom was thus 
"linked with and dependent on its immediate 
"superior Grant, all culminating in the King 
"as the Lord paramount and military chief of 
"the State." 

It will therefore be observed that each and every 
sub-proprietor, through succeeding generations, who 
took title to and entered upon any portion of the 



lands covered and conveyed under an original 
Crown Grant, acquired possession thereof under the 
restrictions and limitations of the original foudation 
Grant from the Sovereign. 

In the opening chapter of this book we have 
undertaken to show how modern title searchers in 
tracing back through the records of the past gen- 
erations, the descent of titles as they have come 
down to us from generations now gone, have labor- 
iously found their way to human Sovereigns as the 
original source of all land titles. 

They have halted at the throne of worldly mon- 
archs and have noted as final and conclusive the 
conditions of title imposed by earthly kings. They 
have largely if not totally failed to discover and ap- 
ply the fundamentally controlling conditions clearly 
and emphatically recorded in the Great Book of 
Records of the original Crown Grant made by the 
King of all the Earth, i. e., the Book of all Books — 
the Bible — the Word of God. 

The basic conditions therein prescribed, if vio- 
lated, carried their own penalties. The divine right 
of reentry and confiscation are therein clearly re- 
served, as against all Grantees who lack fealty and 
service to the Great King. 

The Sub-Grants made thereunder, by human Sov- 
ereigns and all of the subsequent deeds and convey- 
ances by individuals to individuals, despite their 
"warranty's," admit of no possible unrestricted and 
unconditional titles as vested in any citizen, to any 
land in any portion of the habitable world. 

All lands which are claimed to be privately owned 
are in fact, consciously or unconsciously, held sub- 
ject to clearly defined conditions of fealty and serv- 


ice to the World's Great Sovereign, which condi- 
tions are fully recorded in the Record of the Orig- 
inal Crown Grant referred to above. 

Such obligations *'run with the land." 

Human kings recognize, (though in practice they 
may disregard) these original and governing condi- 
tions, when they assert the "divine right of Kings." 
They thereby claim special dignity and rights of 
property by Divine Charter. They therefore can- 
not logically deny the force and effect of the condi- 
tions imposed thereby. 

There are certain implied and expressed rights 
and privileges which attach to and descend with 
each and every Grant to land from such a bene- 
ficient and truly Royal source, even though such im- 
plied rights are not engrossed in the language of 
each of the conveyances. 

These rights are confirmed by the divinely in- 
spired Magna Charta of the Great King's Realm 
and are enjoyed by the worthy Grantees under the 
common law of Divine beneficience. Very solemn 
obligations also attach thereto. Human Judges 
have recognized such Divinely ordained rights of 
common humanity, while a Christian civilization has 
rediscovered the conditions imposed upon rights of 
ownership. The conditions prescribed are Fealty 
and Service, under the moral or common law of 

The right to the air we breathe, the waters we 
navigate, together with the sunshine we enjoy, are 
rights common to all humanity and are inalienable. 

One Grantee may not deprive another Grantee of 
either one or more of such rights. 


He who is at the source of a stream of water may 
not divert the same to his neighbor's hurt. 

He who chooses to operate a manufacturing plant 
must so conduct the same as not to pollute his neigh- 
bors' air or the water he drinks. 

The popular appreciation of certain equitable or 
moral rights is happily transforming human laws 
and the spirit of fraternity is coming forth, more 
and more, to full flower and fruitage. 

In the toilsome upward climb of human life, to- 
ward higher planes of thinking, so-called "property 
rights" are becoming more and more subject to the 
great moral principles or mandatory laws of the 
Divine Sovereign proclaimed by Him for controlling 
and governing all human relations. 

In distress, one human, though a stranger to the 
land owner, may trespass without penalty upon his 
neighbor's land. 

A man famishing with hunger, may rightfully de- 
mand bread from his next-of-kin and even of the 
community at large. 

The possession of power gives no right to the 
strong to oppress the weak, but on the contrary im- 
poses a peculiar moral responsibility to succor and 
defend the needy. 

This principle, public conscience now admits, 
holds good whether such power is represented by 
miiltary weapons, consists of physical strength or 
is inherent in the ownership of lands on which others 
depend for life, health and happiness. 

Science cannot isolate and exhibit in tangible form 
that which constitutes the law of gravitation, which 
law holds its sway in all organic matter. Neither 
can we disassociate and visualize the moral elements 


in human relations. 

These elements when codified in action repre- 
sent the great, though erstwhile dormant laws with 
which human society, from its very concept has been 

The human race is forging ahead to the accept- 
ance of the true theory of Divine Sovereignty and is 
catching anew, with increased light, the vision of 
original Divine proprietorship. Temporary but con- 
ditional human possession of land is to be followed 
by ultimate possession by the Creator of all things. 
His statutes are right. His laws are just. Having 
out of His marvelous beneficence, issued to us His 
Royal Grant, He doth require that we too shall be 
likewise benefactors. While powers of administra- 
tion are possessed, the true Grantee will not forget 
his final accountability for the use to which he puts 
that of which he has been made God's trustee for 
the benefit of his fellow man. 

A new conviction of moral right and obligation 
is being formed. This is especially true of the 
moral rights and obligations existing between fellow 
Grantees and also between those who may and those 
may not be able to trace back their land titles, with- 
out a break in the chain of record, to the Great Orig- 
inal Source of all titles, but whose genealogy extends 
hack to the same Father's House. 

This linking of property rights to the true and 
only Original Source of all titles and the full and 
complete recognition of the solemn conditions im- 
posed thereon by the Royal Grant, is transforming 
proprietorship into stewardship and is smoothing 
life's rough pathways to many weary feet, which in 


their toilsome wanderings have trespassed upon the 
rights in lands of others. 

The defiant cry of the original terror stricken 
Cain, "Am I my brother's keeper?" was but the 
unconscious outcry of a great moral protest within 
him which he sought to smother, but which burst 
forth to stir the consciences of men for all time to 

Wheeled vehicles, according to city ordinances, 
may not travel on public sidewalks, but the cripple 
may, with perfect impunity, roll his invalid's chair 
thereon, under the higher law which makes its appeal 
to manly strength and moral consciousness. 

All traffic, despite statute laws, must cease, while 
speed limits are disregarded, as the rushing ambu- 
lance carries its burden of suffering to the hospital 
built by strangers from revenues arbitrarily assessed 
as "quit-rents" or taxes on lands generally claimed 
by private individuals as owned by them in fee. 

He who but admits that original proprietorship 
and ultimate ownership of all land is vested in the 
Divine Sovereign, back and above human sovereigns 
(and who can deny it?) must then accept its carol- 
lary that human relations are those of brotherhood, 
and that stewardship is a true substitute for the 
false doctrine of personal, unconditional, unre- 
stricted and selfish ownership of land and other 

He who may have unwittingly trespassed upon 
another's land finds under this doctrine fraternity 
and not hostility in his efforts to amend the wrong. 

The great corporations, which through error may 
have extended their tracks and constructed their 
warehouses, factories and docks on lands not their 


own, may unhesitatingly make their appeal for right- 
ful consideration, at the bar of equity in the court 
of inner conscience where moral law reigns supreme. 

Where such trespass has resulted in the enhance- 
ment of values to remaining lands by virtue of such 
added improvements having been placed adjacent 
thereto, then equity should consider the values of 
such increment, in abatement of damages claimed 
for lands so taken in error of judgment or in con- 
sequence of faulty surveys. 

The moral law by divine mandate "runs with the 
land," and its demand for equity and justice may not 
be claimed by one and yet denied by him to another. 

"He who asks equity must do equity." 

It may not permit the ruthless tyrants of eviction 
to lay their cold and remorseless hands upon the 
gates of "God's acre" in which sleeps the silent 
forms of the beloved dead. 

Conscience, the arbiter of moral law, may decree 
that temples for divine worship erected by error 
upon plots of land erroneously supposed to be 
owned by the devotees at such sacred shrines, shall 
be exempt from invasion by land claimants. 

Other great eleemosynary institutions, which are 
but generous impulses of human hearts worked out 
in wood and mortar, may carry out their plans for 
humanity, unannoyed by processes of eviction. 

Equity is but the expression of Divine ideals ap- 
plied by men in human relations. 

This same moral law imposed by Divine benefi- 
cence, at the very cradle of the human race, may 
even insist that weary womanhood and innocent 
childhood shall find their way to sanded beaches 
and ocean waters. The gateways to such shores 


may be closeable under statute law, but may also 
be held open by those proprietors who hear, heed 
and obey the mandate of suffering as it speaks by 
its need to such owners who recognize the conditions 
of Fealty and Service upon which they but for a 
short period of time hold land titles in trust for the 
true Original Proprietor and Ultimate Owner of 
all things. 

They must thus think, who have discovered the 
governing and controlling conditions inserted by the 
Original Proprietor and Ultimate Owner of all 
lands, the-King-of-all-the-Earth, when He issued His 
Original Crown Grant to the Children of Men. 
"What doth the Lord require of thee, 
"but to do justly and to love mercy 
"and to walk humbly with thy God." 

"The Massachusetts Body of Liberties (Section 
i) seems to think that * * * jf there be no 
common law or statute for the case, it may be 'by 
the Word of God,' so Christianity is part of the 
Common Law." (Law of the Federal and State 
Constitution of the U. S., Chap. 6, page 2^-) 

"Christian Morality is the foundation of inter- 
national law." — (Cardinal Gasquet, Rome.) 




Consistent with the ethical and legal principles 
hereinbefore set forth and the larger view of true 
citizenship, which recognizes human interdepend- 
ence and mutual obligations, the owners of the Lan- 
caster Symes Estate on Staten Island incorporated 
The Symes Foundation and have transferred to it 
the lands on Staten Island included therein. 

We give in the following order a transcript of 
the record covering the dedication to the public weal 
of the Symes Estate, with its very large and increas- 
ing values descending under and from the English 
Crown Grant to Lancaster Symes. 

Section i. — Letter from the Title Companies to 

the citizens and friends of Staten 

Section 2. — Certificate of Incorporation of The 

Symes Foundation. 
Section 3. — Contract between the American 

Title and Trust Company and The 

Symes Foundation. 

These citations reveal the fact that after two cen- 
turies the Life and Character of Major Lancaster 
Symes has found full appreciation and the Estate on 
Staten Island which he gathered together as a loyal 



subject and Christian citizen has been set apart in 
a manner to make it a lasting blessing to Staten 
Island, of which he was a benefactor and to Amer- 
ica, to which he came from England and to which 
he devoted his life. 

Section i. 

American Title and Security 
Company, American Title 
AND Trust Company 


The Symes Foundation, 

"Staten Island for Staten Islanders." 

Richmond, Staten Island, N. Y. 
July 2nd, 19 1 7. 

To THE Citizens and friends of Staten Island : 
After years of costly and laborious research con- 
ducted by specialists in England and America, the 
undersigned title companies under the direction of 
their President, Mr. S. L. Mershon, have clearly 
defined and definitely located, from official maps 
and records, all of the lands on Staten Island orig- 
inally granted to Major Lancaster Symes under the 
English Crown Grant made to him in 1708 and 
duly recorded at Albany, New York. 


The regularity and binding force and effect of 
the said grant has never been called in question in 
any legal proceedings, but on the contrary it has 
been admitted, ratified and confirmed by the Prov- 
ince of New York, the State of New York, eminent 
railway and other corporate and private counsel. 
Upon it rests and from it descends the title to 
various lands of great value on Staten Island upon 
which costly ecclesiastical, residential and commer- 
cial improvements have been erected and for which 
many warranty deeds have been issued and ap- 
proved for generations and which have never been 
challenged by any title companies, mortgage com- 
panies or private counsel. The titles so referred to 
are acceptable to savings banks, building loan asso- 
ciations and other organizations for loans thereon. 

St. Andrews Protestant Episcopal Church at 
Richmond, Staten Island, received its endowment 
deed direct from Major Lancaster Symes, who re- 
ceived his title from Queen Anne, "The good 
Queen" of England. 

For generations, however, a cloud has rested upon 
large areas of land on Staten Island because of 
the uncertainty in the popular mind as well as in 
the legal mind as to what lands, other than those 
known to be, were covered by and included in the 
Symes title. 

To this problem the undersigned two title com- 
panies have successfully devoted their untiring ef- 
forts and financial resources with the result that such 
clouds of uncertainty and doubt have been com- 
pletely dispelled. 

From the commencement of this investigation by 
these two title companies they have at all times 


kept clearly in view the eventual free release of 
the homesteads of Staten Island from the shadow 
whether justly or unjustly cast upon such homes by 
the Symes Grant. They have at all times intended 
to free the religious and charitable institutions on 
Staten Island from the lien of this Grant and to 
open up under proper moral control, certain beaches 
on Staten Island for free use and enjoyment by 
Staten Islanders and their friends. These and other 
benefits should make the Symes Grant a blessing to 
Staten Island for all time to come. 

In fulfilment of this ambitious program the two 
title companies now voluntarily and with great pleas- 
ure pass over to The Symes Foundation, which they 
have established and endowed, a good, complete and 
perfect title to the lands now remaining of record 
in Richmond County in the name of the American 
Title and Trust Company. 

Such title cannot be successfully challenged or 
assailed and is good and sufficient in The Symes 
Foundation and to the defense of which the two 
undersigned title companies pledge their unqualified 
support at any time upon demand. 

The control of this entire estate now passes into 
the hands of the representatives of Staten Island 
through The Symes Foundation but charged with 
one supreme and sacred trust, that it will be used 
at all times for the highest and best good of Staten 
Island and its people as set forth in a contract, gov- 
erning such use and executed between the under- 
signed and The Symes Foundation. 

In addition thereto provision has been made by 
the two title companies for a large and increasing 
financial endowment for the Symes Foundation, 


which should result in unmeasurable benefits to the 


S. L. Mershon, President, 
American Title & Security Co. 
Richmond, Staten Island, 

American Title & Trust Co. 
Wilmington, Delaware. 

Section 2. 

The Symes Foundation, Inc. 

We, the undersigned, all being persons of full 
age and all or more than two-thirds of us being cit- 
izens of the United States and all or more than 
one, being residents of the State of New York, de- 
siring to form a corporation for benevolent and 
charitable work, do hereby and pursuant to sections 
40 and 41 of the Membership Corporations Law 
of the State of New York make, sign and acknowl- 
edge this certificate as follows: — 

First, the name of the proposed corporation is 
The Symes Foundation, Inc. 

Second, the purposes of the Corporation are (i) 
to take title to and ownership of certain lands, prem- 
ises, rights and privileges represented by and ex- 
istent under the "Lancaster Symes Grant," which 
rights and interests are now vested in and exercised 
by the American Title and Trust Company, a Dela- 
ware Corporation with its principal office in the 


Dupont Building, Wilmington, Delaware; (2) to 
hold the same in fee, to sell and convey any part 
or parts, to devote to public use any part or parts; 
(3) to use such proceeds as may be available from 
said sale or otherwise together with any portion 
of said properties reserved and held to promote and 
develop the physical, mental, moral and spiritual 
welfare of the people of Staten Island and else- 
where, {a) by furnishing to the people of Staten 
Island certain bathing beaches, (b) by erecting 
thereon, equipping and sustaining fresh-air camps 
and lodges, hospitals, rest cures, and hotels for the 
benefit and recuperation of those needing such, (c) 
by conducting what is commonly known as Chautau- 
qua courses ; by operating moving pictures and other 
proper and lawful pleasure-giving and instructive 
amusements ; by conducting and maintaining musical, 
literary, gospel, and evangelistic services, which 
shall in every case be without admission fee and 
free to the people (d) providing free pavilions and 
making all such other improvements as may be 
deemed necessary, desirable or convenient for carry- 
ing out the purposes and objects of this corporation, 
(e) to lay out, beautify and improve parks, drives, 
roadways, board-walks on the seashores and to do 
each and everything proper both expressed and im- 
plied in the foregoing which may be deemed desir- 
able to aid this corporation in promoting and de- 
veloping the benevolent work for which it is organ- 

Third, the County within which its operations are 
to be conducted is Richmond County, New York 

Fourth, the principal office is to be located in the 


Borough of Manhattan, in the County of New York 
and State of New York. 

Fifth, the number of its directors is five. 

Sixth, the names and places of residence of the 
persons to be its directors until its first annual meet- 
ing are as follows : 

Charles D. Durkee . . Rosebank, N. Y. 

John E. Fisher Rosebank, N. Y. 

S. L. Mershon Montclair, N. J. 

Frank Hamilton .... Richmond, N. Y. 
Robert G. Davey. .203 Broadway, N. Y. 

Seventh, the time for holding the annual meeting 
is on the first Monday of October in each year. 

In witness whereof, we have made, signed and 
acknowledged this certificate, dated this 12th day 
of June, 1 9 17. 

Charles D. Durkee. . .819 Fingerboard Road, S. I. 

John E. Fisher 71 Central Ave. 

S. L. Mershon 28 Forrest St. 

Frank Hamilton. . .Andrews Ave., Richmond, S. I. 
Robert G. Davey 404 E. 141st St., N. Y. C. 

State of New York, 
County of New York, ss. 

On this 1 2th day of June, 191 7, before me per- 
sonally came 


Charles D. Durkee 
John E. Fisher 
S. L. Mershon 
Frank Hamilton 
Robert G. Davey 

To me known and known to me to be the persons 
described in and who executed the foregoing cer- 
tificate and severally and duly acknowledged to me 
that they executed the same. 

(Signed) Peter F. Wiese 

Notary Public 

Kings County 

Kings County Clerks No. 121 

N. Y. Co. Clerks No. 382 

N. Y. Register's No. 8247 

Commission expires Mar, 30, 19 18. 

I, the undersigned, Justice of the Supreme Court 
of the State of New York, do hereby approve of 
the within certificate. Dated at the city of New York, 
County of Kings, this 22nd day of June, 1917. 

Charles H. Kelby 
Justice of the Supreme Court 
of the State of New York. 
State of New York, 
County of New York, ss. 

On this 1 2th day of June, 191 7, before me came 
John E. Fisher of New York, Charles D. Durkee 
of New York and Robert G. Davey of New York, 
personally known to me and known to be the par- 
ties whose names appear as directors of the fore- 
goingCertificate of Incorporation, and being duly 


sworn they severally declared that they were citizens 
of the United States of America. 

(Signed) Peter F. Wiese 

Notary Public 

Kings County 

Kings County Clerk's No, 121 

N. Y. Co. Clerks No. 382 

N. Y. Registers No. 8247 

Commission expires Mar. 30, 1918. 

Section 3. 


American Title and Trust Co. 


The Symes Foundation. 

This contract made and entered into this 30th day 
of June, 1 917, in the City of Wilmington, State of 
Delaware, by and between the American Title and 
Trust Company, a Delaware Corporation with its 
principal office in the Dupont Building in the afore- 
said city and state. Its successors and assigns party 
of the First Part and The Symes Foundation, Inc., 
a New York Corporation with Its principal office in 
the Borough of Manhattan in the City and State 
of New York, its successors and assigns, party of 
the Second Part. 



Whereas the party of the first part is the record 
owner of certain of the rights, title and interests 
now remaining unconveyed by it, in and to certain 
lands and premises commonly known as the English 
Crown Grant to Lancaster Symes; said lands and 
premises being situated in and extending to the 
bounds and limits of the County of Richmond in 
the State of New York and which said English 
Crown Grant appears of record in the office of the 
Secretary of State at Albany, New York, in the 
Book of Records of Patents, Volume 7, pages 411, 
412, and 413, and also appears of record in the 
office of the County Clerk of the said County of 
Richmond and to which records reference is hereby 
made for a more accurate description thereof and 
also as shown on a certain map of said English 
Crown Grants on Staten Island in said Richmond 
County and which map is to be recorded in the said 
County Clerk's office at Richmond, Staten Island, 
and is entitled "Symes Foundation map of English 
Crown Grants No. i." 

Whereas the State of New York did commute 
the quit rents payable under the aforesaid Lan- 
caster Symes Grant, as does appear of record in the 
Record Book of Quit Rents, Docket 48, page 106 
in the Comptroller's Office at Albany, in the State 
of New York, thereby ratifying, confirming and 
establishing forever and in effect issuing a new Grant 
and title in fee thereunder in the successors of Rec- 
ord Title to the said Lancaster Symes, and 

Whereas the State of New York did, on the 


twelfth day of September, 1877, disavow any title 
in and to the said Lancaster Symes Grant and Lands 
as appears of record in the correspondence book or 
letter file in the office of the Secretary of State at 
Albany, New York, and in the following language, 
to wit: — 

"We have no knowledge of any lands be- 
"longing to the State on Staten Island. In 1708 
"a Grant was made to Lancaster Symes, of all 
"and every piece and parcel of vacant and un- 
"appropriated land and meadow on Staten 
"Island. Many letters are received at this office 
'relative to the title of occupants on the Island 
'and lands supposed to be owned by the State, 
"but we can furnish no information except the 
"Grants which appear upon our records," and 

Whereas the map hereinbefore referred to is a 
correct tracing from a map made and prepared by 
direction of the Hon. Secretary of State at Albany, 
and which said map was ordered so made by, was 
drawn for, was submitted to and was filed with 
the said Hon. Secretary of State by the then State 
Engineer and the then State Surveyor under the 
official direction and command of the said Secre- 
tary of State. And a blueprint of the said map 
printed from the original of the said map so pre- 
pared by the said State Officers and employees was 
delivered at the office of the Secretary of State at 
Albany to the first party hereto, the said blueprint 
having been made in the State Engineer's office in 
Albany for First Party by direct order from the 
Secretary of State's office and delivered at the office 


of the Secretary of State to First Party and said 
blueprint shows the location of each and every por- 
tion of said English Crown Grant made to lands 
on Staten Island as aforesaid to Lancaster Symes, 
excepting only, however that the said map and blue- 
print thereof do not show the bounds and limits of 
Richmond County set forth in the said Grant as 
the bounds and limits thereof, and the said map 
furthermore shows and was expressly made intend- 
ing to show the vacant and unappropriated lands 
granted as aforesaid to Lancaster Symes, the said 
Grant covering and including among other things 
"meadows, marshes, swamps, pools, ponds, waters, 
water-courses, rivers, rivoletts, runs and streams of 
water" . . . within "the bounds and limits 
of Richmond County" as set forth in the aforesaid 
English Crown Grant to Lancaster Symes, and 

Whereas the First Party recognizes the fact that 
there are many rights belonging to the public which 
are not specifically comprehended in the statutes 
of the State of New York, and that such truly 
equitable rights frequently are not obtainable by 
the public through an action either at law or in 
equity but are only to be possessed and enjoyed 
by the people when the same are voluntarily ac- 
corded or surrendered by those from whom the same 
are morally due to the community under the higher 
law of righteousness, under which law of righteous- 
ness human needs both individual and communal 
dictate to the awakened conscience, the true rule of 
action, and 

Whereas the possessory rights of large areas of 
the landed estate included under the aforesaid Lan- 


caster Symes Grant, may have in fact passed from 
first party, by the possession of parties now hold- 
ing adversely to the original and record owners 
thereof, to the impairment of said estate, but the 
proofs of which adverse possession are difficult to 
establish and largely non-procurable by such par- 
ties in adverse possession and whereas a large num- 
ber of good and law-abiding citizens residing with 
their families on Staten Island, relying and depend- 
ing upon such adverse possession and lacking suffi- 
cient proofs thereof as required by law to sustain 
what has become and is now their lawful possession 
thereof, would be dprieved of their present actual 
legal rights thereto to their great loss and hurt by 
and in the event of first party's successfully invok- 
ing the law for their eviction, and 

Whereas many law-abiding and industrious citi- 
zens of Staten Island have innocently taken pos- 
session of lands included in, and which are now 
actually covered by, the Lancaster Symes title, have 
paid to supposedly the actual owners thereof, sub- 
stantially full value therefor and have thereby fully 
believed themselves to have become the actual own- 
ers thereof, and to whom a process of eviction would 
mean financial ruin and irreparable disaster, and 

Whereas the First Party believes that any such 
wholesale evictions though legal in character would 
be and constitute a public calamity, would entail 
great individual suffering and loss, and would ad- 
versely affect the entire community, and whereas 
First Party further believes that a happy, contented 
homelife is a community's largest asset and should 
be protected and safe-guarded at almost any cost 


of private interests and especially by corporations 
created by public permission, favor, and consent, 
and which are intended to operate for private gain 
consistent only with the public welfare, and 

Whereas the First Party believes that Philan- 
thropic Eleemosenary and Religious Institutions are 
the highest expressions of human activity in a Chris- 
tian Civilization and should be immune as far as 
possible from all controversy and claims which 
would impair their potency for the public weal espec- 
ially where such claims are possessed by parties who 
recognize the welfare of the public as paramount 
to extraordinary gain to those who "have enough 
and to spare" and especially where possessed by 
corporations whose property values and commercial 
prosperity are measurably dependent upon the ex- 
istence and maintenance of such institutions, and 

Whereas the First Party, moved by the consid- 
erations hereinbefore expressed, has inspired by its 
suggestion and has directed the organization and 
incorporation of Second Party hereto and Second 
Party hereto has become a corporate body under 
the laws of the State of New York with full powers 
for its complete performance hereunder and as pro- 
vided herein, and 

Whereas the parties hereto mutually and sever- 
ally desire that the property rights and privileges 
aforesaid which are situated within the bounds and 
limits of said Richmond County and which are 
owned and possessed by the first party hereto, shall 
be and become controlled, managed, leased or sold 
as herein provided and the proceeds thereof largely 
devoted and applied for the physical, mental, moral 


and spiritual betterment of Staten Island for all 
time to come 

Now THEREFORE, the parties hereto moved by 
such unity of purpose and harmony in conclusions 
hereinbefore expressed and further, in considera- 
tion of the circumspect and unselfish attitude of 
the people of Staten Island toward the First Party 
hereto pending First Party's assertion and develop- 
ment of proof of its right and title to the proper- 
ties covered by and included in the Lancaster 
Symes English Crown Grant and further in con- 
sideration of those higher and holier claims that 
rest upon each member of the social order in our 
Christian civilization to seek the highest happiness 
and greatest good of the individual and of the com- 
munity at large and for other valuable considera- 
tions, the adequacy and receipt of which the parties 
hereto, herein admit and declare, the First and Sec- 
ond parties hereto mutually and severally agree as 
follows, to wit: — 


The First Party hereto does hereby grant, assign, 
transfer, release and convey to the party of the 
Second Part all of first party's rights, title claims 
and interest now remaining in, to and under the 
aforementioned English Crown Grant to Lancaster 
Symes to lands and other values not heretofore con- 
veyed by First Party within the bounds and limits 
of Richmond County in the State of New York as 
said Grant is shown in the Records in the office 
of the Secretary of State at Albany and in the 


office of the County Clerk of Richmond County, 
New York, and as shown on the aforementioned and 
described map and as contained within the said 
bounds and limits of Richmond County as such 
bounds and limits are now constituted and defined 
and as they were constituted and defined at the 
time of the issue by the English Crown of the afore- 
mentioned English Crown Grant to Lancaster 
Symes. This transfer and conveyance is absolute 
and without reservation. The proceeds from the 
sale, leasing or operation of the properties herein 
referred to are subject only to the terms and con- 
ditions herein provided; the lands conveyed to Sec- 
ond Party as aforesaid are absolutely free of any 
lien upon or ownership therein reserved to first 


The Second Party hereto shall forthwith, or as 
soon hereafter as it may find the same to be reason- 
ably practicable, release by quit claim under the 
said Symes Grant upon satisfactory application be- 
ing made to it therefor, the following classes of 
lands or properties on Staten Island and within said 
Richmond County, to wit: — 

(a) Each and every Church property or place 
of worship that is devoted to the worship of Al- 
mighty God and the Record title to which is held 
by a duly accredited reliigous organization legally 
incorporated and conducting or sanctioning such 
worship with proper authority and right so to do. 

(b) Every piece of land on which is erected an 


institution devoted to human uplift, supported en- 
tirely or substantially so by philanthropy or charity. 
In this class shall be included: — 

( 1 ) Schools. 

(2) Children's homes, orphan asylums and 
homes for the aged and infirm. 

(3) Hospitals. 

(4) Asylums. 

excepting only however, that Second Party may at 
its discretion decline to consider as included herein 
or may from time to time elect to include herein 
institutions supported by public taxation. 

(c) Burial grounds or cemeteries which are un- 
der religious auspices and ownership and which are 
operated, controlled and possessed by corporations 
organized to be conducted without profit. 

All family burial places are to be included here- 
under unless in the judgment of Second Party, cer- 
tain burial places should be omitted because of in- 
definite or uncertain locations or for other reasons 
approved by the judgment and conscience of Second 

(d) The homes and homesteads of Staten Island 
shall be released by Second Party from the lien or 
claim of the Lancaster Symes Grant, to such an 
extent and in such instances as the judgment of 
the Second Party may dictate. It is the desire of 
First Party hereto that the homelife of Staten Island 
as now existing in its present homesteads shall be 
forever free of any and all claims or shadow of 
claims under the said Symes Grant. Which home- 
steads are and which are not entitled to such re- 


lease shall be determined, however, by Second 
Party. While Second Party is hereby clothed with 
discretionary power to decide and determine in each 
case the merits of each claim for releasement here- 
under, the first party hereto, hereby solemnly charges 
the second party at all times to consider well the 
First Party's wishes in this matter and to discrim- 
inate adversely only where such adverse discrim- 
ination, in Second Party's judgment is truly equitable 
and will not prove to be financially burdensome or 
which discrimination is otherwise fully justified un- 
der the spirit of this instrument. 


Certain beaches or shore fronts adapted for pub- 
lic bathing places shall be set apart at the judgment 
and discretion of Second Party for the benefits of 
the public at large. Such beaches shall be selected 
designated and so appropriated at times and loca- 
tions approved by the judgment of Second Party. 
Such beaches shall be under the management of 
Second Party or parties designated and appointed 
by Second Party and shall be free to the public 
subject only to such limitations and restrictions as 
may be from time to time considered desirable and 
best and which shall be prescribed by Second Party 
for the proper maintenance, improvement and de- 
velopment of the same. Second Party may keep 
and maintain such beaches in perpetuity for the 
welfare of the public or may change and remove 
such public privileges and facilities from one loca- 
tion to another location as in the judgment of the 
Second Party shall best serve the public, or it may 


from time to time regulate and restrict the same 
as in its judgment may best serve the highest good 
of the public. 

This provision is intended to restore to the citi- 
zens of Staten Island and to those who seek its 
shores adequate bathing beaches and beneficial 
pleasure resorts well regulated under strict moral 
control and management and where health and hap- 
piness shall be promoted by equipment and appli- 
ancees calculated for physical development, mental 
entertainment and spiritual instruction. 

It is intended hereby that God's free air and His 
ocean tides on Staten Island shores shall be the 
portion of the citizens as freely as the judgment 
and discretion of Second Party hereto may so supply 
the same under proper regulations substantially if 
not absolutely without money and without price and 
under pleasure producing and character building in- 
fluences consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ. 


First Party having been advised by counsel and 
citizens of Staten Island that certain parties have 
trespassed upon certain of the aforesaid lands sit- 
uated on what is commonly known as Lake Island 
(which Lake Island Is a portion of Staten Island), 
have established a garbage plant thereon and are 
treating or manipulating thereon garbage from 
other boroughs against the protests of an over- 
whelming majority of the people of Staten I«^land 
and also that certain prominent citizens of Staten 
Island have been sued at law by certain parties for 
damages which such parties claim to have suffered 


from and because of such citizens alleged attempts 
to restrain the manipulation of said garbage on 
Staten Island in defiance of the aforementioned pub- 
lic sentiment. 

Now THEREFORE, Second Party shall at Its dis- 
cretion, convey to some representative citizen of 
Staten Island as trustee to be selected by Second 
Party, preferably to the President of one of the 
Staten Island Savings Banks or to a President of 
a Staten Island Building & Loan Association, all 
of Second Party's right, title and interest in and to 
the said Lake Island and its waterfront including 
the land under water connected therewith extend- 
ing to the center or thread of Fresh Kill. The said 
land and water front on Lake Island if and when 
so conveyed may be sold by said trustee if deemed 
by him necessary to compensate or financially pro- 
tect said citizens, so sued as aforesaid, in the event 
of a decree against said citizens in the above men- 
tioned suit or to defray the expenses of the Second 
Party or of Second Party and said citizens in con- 
testing the right of said parties so to occupy and 
possess Lake Island or any part thereof as afore- 
said or to manufacture or treat garbage at any 
place on Staten Island, all however subject to such 
terms, conditions and restrictions as Second Party 
may deem proper to stipulate in the premises. Full 
discretion is hereby expressly given to Second Party 
under this Section. 


As the lands or properties hereinbefore referred 


to are of a varied nature or are of a diversified 
character and as it may prove difficult at all times 
to determine who may or who may not, be entitled 
to the benefits intended to be granted as aforesaid 
under Section II hereof or what property or prop- 
erties may or may not be included or intended to 
be included in any one or more of the foregoing 
classifications and as the right and power to make 
such determination should and must rest and abide 
somewhere; the Party of the Second Part is to have 
the final and exclusive right hereunder to settle and 
determine the same according to its best judgment 
if and as any uncertainty may, from time to time 
arise, or when and as any uncertainty or controversy 
relating thereto arises, anything contained herein to 
the contrary notwithstanding. Such decision or de- 
cisions made by Second Party from time to time 
shall be final, conclusive and binding upon all parties 
hereto or claiming hereunder. Such decisions may 
be reversed, rescinded, or modified at any time there- 
after by Second Party if it deems such reversal, 
decision or modification to be equitable and proper, 
but not where the titles subject to such decision have 
passed from Second Party to other parties in the 
meantime. ' 


Second Party may make such nominal charges 
as it may from time to time deem to be proper, 
proportionate, appropriate and sufficient, to cover 
Second Party's actual cost in releasing the prop- 
erties or lands referred to herein and may make 
such charges in each case or in any case, a condl- 


tion precedent to the making of such release or 
releases or Second Party may at its discretion waive 
any and all such charges and costs or may make 
any charges therefor as it may consider equitable 
or suited to the conditions of the applicant. It is 
not intended that any profits shall be made by Sec- 
ond Party from such charges but it is intended that 
Second Party may charge what it believes to be 
its fair average cost or its cost in the particular 
cases. The Second Party is to have absolute author- 
ity to fix such rates from time to time and such 
rates or schedule of rates shall be final until altered 
or changed by Second Party. 


No action shall be taken by Second Party in any 
matter relating to any release of property here- 
under in which property any director or officer of 
Second Party is personally interested as claimant 
unless such director or officer is absent or with- 
draws from the meeting at which such proposed 
action is taken and during the final discussion thereof 
at such meeting and at which meeting the ques- 
tion is fully discussed and is so reported on the 
minutes of such meeting as to have been finally dis- 
cussed and voted on in the absence of such claim- 
ant. No director shall vote on any matter par- 
ticularly relating to property in which he or his 
immediate family is known by him to be financially 
interested as an owner or claimant thereto. 



The First Party waives any and all right to re- 
ceive any further payment from Second Party from 
any properties or land granted or leased by Second 
Party for a nominal consideration only, under Sec- 
tion II hereof as specified in subdivisions a, b, c, d, 
e, f, of said Section II. All deeds granted by The 
Symes Foundation shall be Quit Claim, and shall 
be conditioned to prohibit forever the use of lands 
affected for the manufacture or sale of alcoholic 
beverages or liquors. 


Second Party is to account in detail and pay to 
First Party one-half of all money received by Sec- 
ond Party from the sale, leasing or other business 
done by Second Party with any of the lands, etc. 
herein mentioned which may be sold, leased, or op- 
erated by Second Party excepting as otherwise herein 
provided. Such accountings and payments are to 
be made by Second Party to First Party on the 
first day of each and every January, April, July and 
October of each and every year. Such payments 
shall be accompanied by proper credit vouchers duly 
audited, but Second Party shall not be required here- 
under to pay to First Party any of the nominal 
fees charged for properties released under Section 
II hereof. 

Any and all funds collected by Second Party here- 
to on or between the dates designated herein and 
which funds under the terms hereof are to be and 
become payable to First Party hereto are to be de- 


posited in Banks or Trust Companies designated 
from time to time by the party of the First Part 
and which Banks or Trust Companies shall be ap- 
proved by and be in good standing with the bank- 
ing department of the state in which the same is 
located. When such funds are so deposited in said 
banks or trust companies they shall be there so 
held until the proper date of payment thereof to 
First Party at the risk of First Party or all or a 
part thereof may be paid to First Party by Second 
Party prior to such date. 

The remaining one-half of such moneys so re- 
ceived by Second Party from the sale, leasing or 
operation of the aforesaid properties is to be used 
by Second Party on Staten Island for Second Party's 
operating expenses and for the establishment of in- 
stitutions and equipment intended by Second Party 
to secure the physical, mental, moral and spiritual 
betterment of the public. The form and manner 
of such expenditure and use shall be such as in the 
judgment of the Second Party will be consistent 
with the principles and teachings of Jesus Christ. 
Such expenditures may take the form of beach im- 
provements; educational and religious instruction, 
the erection and maintenance of a tabernacle for 
interdenominational religious services, conventions 
and other assemblies; the construction and main- 
tenance of hotels for self-supporting young women 
and others, the same to be operated at cost; the 
building of bungalows for rentals at so near cost 
as Second Party can determine; the equipment of 
tennis courts ; the supplying of bathing facilities and 
other proper comforts and conveniences for the hap- 
piness of and benefits to the public; the maintenance 


of what is known as fresh air work for women 
and children and said expenditures may take such 
other forms as Second Party may deem to be in 
accordance with, the true intent of this instrument. 
First Party shall have the right at any and all 
reasonable times to inspect the books of Second 
Party and to have the same at any time audited by 
auditors employed by First Party at its own ex- 
pense in order that First Party may be at all times 
satisfied with the system and methods employed by 
Second Party in keeping such accounts. Such ac- 
counts shall be at all times well and properly kept 
by Second Party. 


Nothing contained herein shall be construed as 
even implying that Second Party shall not use a 
proportion of its segregated income from the afore- 
said proceeds, for the payment of its general ex- 
penses incurred by it in the operation of its affairs 
other than those actually incurred on Staten Island. 
It is itnended, however, that all incomes accruing 
hereunder to Second Party as afore provided are 
to be used in the payment of Second Party's ex- 
penses of administration and are to be preferably 
invested and expended on tSaten Island as afore- 
said, according to the judgment and discretion of 
Second Party. In no event shall any such incomes 
to Second Party be construed to be or constitute 
a commercial profit or dividend payable to or to 
be distributed among any members or shareholders 
in Second Party or for any distribution other than 
herein provided. The amount to be paid to the 


officers, employees, and directors of Second Party 
as aforesaid is to be determined from time to time 
by the best judgment of the said directors as proper 
and fair compensation for actual personal services 
rendered therefor, entirely apart from and inde- 
pendent of any vested interest which any such party 
or parties may have in Second Party. 


Second Party shall only be liable hereunder for 
any expenditures and investments made according 
to the exercise from time to time by Second Party's 
officers and directors of their best judgment in the 
premises. The First Party hereto declines to hold 
Second Party's officers and trustees to personal liabil- 
ity hereunder for any errors or mistakes of judg- 
ment made by them while in the performance of 
services rendered under this sacred trust. 


Second Party may invest, preferably on Staten 
Island, any funds which it may be entitled to and 
does receive under its allotment of one-half of the 
incomes hereunder if it desires so to do and by 
such investment undertakes to create a reserve or 
interest bearing fund for the carrying out of the 
purposes hereof. In such events such investments 
so made shall be made in accordance with the best 
judgment of the directors and when so made, no 
further obligation or liability shall rest upon the 
directors for the safety of such investment. 

It is the desire of the first party, though not 


required hereby, that Second Party shall seek to 
so invest or loan from time to time portions of sue 
funds at low rates of interest as will enable the 
worthy laboring classes to erect their own homes 
on Staten Island according to plans approved by 
the Second Party. 


In order that the true intent of this instrument 
may be carried out in perpetuity, it is stipulated by 
the First Party, and accepted by Second Party; 

First, that the incorporating members of The 
Symes Foundation and the first or original Board 
of Directors thereof shall be five. 

Second, that the first or original Board of Direc- 
tors shall continue in office and shall have power 
to choose and elect a director to fill any vacancy 
or vacanies therein from whatever cause, for and 
during the period of two years from the date of 
the execution of this instrument and until their suc- 
cessors are duly elected and qualified. 

Third, that on or before the expiration of the 
said period of two years, according to the judgment 
so expressed by either party hereto the Board of 
Directors of Second Party shall be increased to 
seventeen members to be selected in the following 
manner, to wit: — 

The then existing Board of Directors shall choose 
and elect two laymen who shall be officials in the 
Reformed (Dutch) Church of Staten Island or 
members thereof approved by two of its pastors; 
two who shall be officials in the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church of Staten Island or members thereof 


approved by two of its pastors; one who shall be 
an official in the Protestant Episcopal Church of 
Staten Island or a member thereof approved by 
one of its Rectors; one who shall be an official in 
the Baptist Church of Staten Island or a member 
thereof approved by one of its pastors; and one 
who shall be an official in the Moravian Church of 
Staten Island or a member thereof approved by 
one of its pastors; and one who shall be a member 
of the Roman Catholic Church. And said existing 
Board of Directors shall also select nine others who 
shall be active members or ministers of the Presby- 
terian Church at least two-thirds of whom shall be 
laymen, preferably though not of necessity, active 
elders of the Presbytery of New York; and the 
Presbytery of New York shall have the right at 
its discretion to elect or substitute others In the 
place of all or some of the laymen so selected or 
to be selected. When the same have been elected 
and have signified their acceptance in proper form 
and manner, then these nine persons together with 
the eight elected as heretofore described, shall con- 
stitute the Board of Directors of The Symes Foun- 
dation for the ensuing year or until their successors 
are elected and qualified. This method shall be 
adopted annually thereafter for the election of Di- 
rectors. In case of failure on the part of the Pres- 
bytery of New York to elect or substitute as afore- 
said other directors for the position of Directors of 
The Symes Foundation, the nine directors named 
by the then existing Board of Directors shall act 
as directors for such vacancies for the year in which 
such failure occurs and for such service until their 
successors are elected and qualified. The designa- 


tlon of the Presbytery of New York as the organ- 
ization having power hereunder at any and all elec- 
tions to cause the election of the majority of the 
Board of Directors is in no wise intended to make 
The Symes Foundation a Presbyterian or Sectarian 
undertaking. The power to control the Foundation 
in the interest and for the furtherance of the high- 
est ideals in social and economic life must abide 
and rest under safe control and the Presbytery of 
New York is designated without prejudice to, but 
in the interest of and to conserve Christian Cath- 
olicity in an Evangelical undertaking operating with- 
out personal or private profit in behalf of the public 

Should the General Assembly of the Presbyterian 
Church in the United States of America by proper 
action and the appointment of a proper committee 
therefor decide to and does undertake to assume 
the duties and responsibilities herein set forth and 
provided to be done and performed by the Pres- 
bytery of New York and so notifies second party 
hereto then the said General Assembly of the Pres- 
byterian Church in the United States of America 
shall be from that date substituted for the said 
Presbytery of New York as fully and completely as 
if it had been so designated and provided in this 
instrument at its inception and at the time of the 
execution thereof. 


The First Party hereto disavows any and every 
desire on its part to impose any restrictions or bind- 
ing pledges upon the Directors of The Symes Foun- 
dation that would in any wise interfere with the ex- 


ercise by the said Directors of their unhampered 
and best judgment as Trustees in the election of its 
Executive officers. First Party would, however, 
herein express its opinion that because of special 
legal training. Christian education and experience 
together with a keen, close and sympathetic acquaint- 
ance on his part with the needs and future possibillti- 
ties of Staten Island, Robert G. Davey, is specially 
qualified to act as the President and managing Direc- 
tor of The Symes Foundation. First Party further 
expresses its opinion that qualification for duty, effi- 
cient service, together with health and strength make 
their own appeal for continuing re-election of a faith- 
ful officer. 


It is especially and particularly stipulated and 
agreed between the Parties hereto anything con- 
tained herein to the contrary notwithstanding that 
if in the course or progress of time any of the restric- 
tions or limitations hereinbefore imposed by First 
Party are deemed by Second Party to be impractical 
or in effect hamper and impair the carrying out of 
the true intent of this instrument then and in that 
event or at such time or times as such occasion may 
arise Second Party may make overture to the afore- 
said General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church 
in the United States of America for a modification 
or cancellation of such restrictions or a temporary 
suspension thereof and such action which may at 
such times or times be taken by the said General As- 
sembly, shall be binding and conclusive in the prem- 
ises and such action or actions is hereby ratified and 
confirmed in advance and shall have the same force 


and effect as if the same had been stipulated and in- 
cluded herein at the time of the executiion hereof, 
but in no such event shall the Evangelical and inter- 
denominational character or spirit of this instrument 
be impaired. 


The First Party hereto reiterates its solemn de- 
sire and intent that the Second Party shall have and 
Second Party does hereby receive the lands, claims, 
rights and properties herein specified, charged with 
a greaet moral responsibility to use its highest and 
best judgment in behalf of the health, happiness and 
welfare of the citizens of Staten Island and the 
proper and conscientious conservation of all the in- 
terests committed to it hereunder by the First Party. 
In witness whereof the parties hereto have 
caused this instrument to be duly executed by their 
respective Presidents, duly attested under their 
corporate seals on the day and year first above 

American Title & Trust Company. 
By S. L. Mershon, 


Walter Merritt Brokaw, 
The Symes Foundation, 

By Robert G. Davey, 


J. C. Fisher, Secretary. 

ifA/fi/CDCiTV nc cnffTU!rn»i r^\ \r:norn^ i foonDV 

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