Early East Islip

On November 29, 1683, William Nicoll purchased from Winnequaheagh, Sachem of Connetquot, his first patent which was confirmed by Governor Dongan, December 5, 1684. The quit rent specified that each year on the 25th of March, Nicoll must pay to the government five bushels of good winter wheat or twenty-five shillings in money. Altogether William Nicoll acquired four patents for land-the last purchased on 20 September 1697, issued by Governor Fletcher. He built his estate, Islip Grange, named for the Nicoll ancestral home in Northampshire, England, when he was denied a seat as a non-resident representative of Suffolk County to the Colonial Assembly in 1701. From October 20, 1702, until his death about 1722, he represented Suffolk County in the Colonial Assembly, serving as speaker of the house for many years. It is probable that the earliest Nicoll residence stood on the point of land known as Nicolls Neck on the grounds of Heckscher State Park. The original Nicoll grant was about 51,000 acres and was larger than any of the patents on Long Island. It was situated on the south side of Long Island between Islip and Patchogue and extended inland to the center of the Island embracing Lake Ronkonkoma and the present hamlets of Bayport, Sayville, Oakdale, Great River and East Islip, but not the village of Islip. Andrew Gibb, a gentleman and originally a tenant farmer and friend of William Nicoll became patentee of the present village of Islip on March 26, 1692. Perhaps their friendship developed when Andrew Gibb succeeded William Nicoll as Clerk of Queens County-Nicoll was Clerk in 1683. On February 17, 1701 William Nicoll and Andrew Gibb drew up an agreement concerning their equal ownership and expense in a grist mill and fulling mill (a fulling mill shrinks and cleanses wool for cloth) that they had built on the Winganhappauge River (on Gibb's side) each being entitled to buy out the other for 200 pounds. Benjamin Nicoll, second owner of Islip Grange, survived his father William Nicoll by only a year. He was, however, Supervisor of the first town meeting in Islip in 1710. His wife was Charity Floyd, a first cousin. After Benjamin's death she married Dr. Samuel Johnson, the first president of Kings College (now Columbia University). Dr. Johnson sent his stepsons, William, third owner of Islip Grange, and Benjamin Nicoll, to Yale. They both studied law and William lived in Brookhaven before moving to Islip Grange. He was known as Lawyer Nicoll, and it was he who erected St. John's Episcopal Church in Oakdale. He served as Clerk of Suffolk County from 1749 until his death in 1780. In the troubled days of the Revolution, Lawyer Nicoll must have "straddled the fence" as one who tried to prevent the break with England, yet finally espoused the American cause. His lands were not confiscated as were those of other Loyalists, but raids were made upon his property and reported in the Loyalist newspapers. In 1776 he owned fifteen slaves, so we presume that he was wealthy. William Nicoll, the fourth owner of Islip Grange lived only thirty-nine years. During his lifetime the estate dwindled to forty thousand acres. No doubt post war inflation caused him to petition the state legislature for legal relief, at least we know that the trustees of the Nicoll estate made numerous sales. Two more generations of Nicolls lived at Islip Grange, then William Nicoll seventh, and his sister Frances Louisa Nicoll, wife of General William Ludlow, divided the remaining land between them. The Connetquot River formed the line of division. Several homes had replaced the original mansion, but all the Nicoll residences were built close to the original site of Islip Grange. William Nicoll, the seventh and last owner of Islip Grange, served as Warden of Emmanuel Church in Great River for twenty-two years and ministered to the small Cemetery there in which he is buried. For many years he was School Commissioner of East Islip and donated part of the land on which the present East Islip Junior High School now stands. He gave potatoes and vegetables to the needy, filled the ice house at Trinity Seaside Home for children in Great River, and carted coal to fill the coal bins at Emmanuel Church in Great River. In the winter he had his men scatter bushels of grain for the birds. He lived almost eighty years and when he died the Rector of St. Marks said in his memorial sermon "The Community is infinitely the poorer for his passing'