STAMFORD

The original name of Stamford was Rippowam, that's what the original inhabitants called it and the first European settlers continued the tradition.

The name was later changed to Stamford after a town in Lincolnshire, England. In old English Stamford means stony ford and Lincolnshire furnished more than eighty percent of the original settlers in New England and a greater number of old English names to New England towns and counties than all the other sections of the mother country combined.

The native inhabitants had no concept of private land ownership. It never occurred to them that people would put up fences, record deeds, and presume that the land belonged to them in perpetuity.

On the first of July 1640 one Capt. Turner for the New Haven colony signed a parchment that is considered the deed to Stamford. Signing for the native inhabitants was Chief Ponus, in return for a tract of land that extended from the Mianus River on the west to Bedford and Pound Ridge on the North, Five Mile River on the East and Long Island Sound on the South. Payment for this land was to be twelve coats, twelve hoes, twelve hatchets, twelve glasses, twelve knives, four kettles, and four fathoms of white wampum.

Ponus appears to have been the overlord of the entire region. But it wasn't just Ponus who made the deal. Four family groups dwelt on the land and they all agreed to the terms of the land purchase. It is however very doubtful that they fully understood the terms of the deed that they were signing.

This deed was renegotiated a number of times and it wasn't until 1700 that Catoona and Coee, who are believed to be lineal descendants of Ponus and his family, confirmed all previous grants of territory to the settlers for considerable and valuable sums of money.

None of this stopped the native inhabitants from attacking the settlers, for it would appear that their the culture was quite different than that of the settlers and they truly believed that they had been swindled.

Captain John Underhill was the Miles Standish of the Stamford colony. Underhill was a broadminded thinker who was not afraid to adopt new ideas and opinions. He was also a bit of a wanderer and moved to Oyster Bay Long Island where he died in 1672. His eldest son John, by his first wife, Helena Kruger, who came with him from Holland, inherited the lands on the bay, and from him were descended the Underhills of Long Island.

One of the major businesses carried on in Stamford, besides agriculture and fishing, was that of merchandising by water. The proximity of Stamford to New York has always worked to its benefit.

The Earl of Bellmont, in a report to the English Lords of Trade, said of Stamford. "There is a town called Stamford in Connecticut colony, on the border of this province, where one Major Selleck lives. He has a warehouse close to the sea, that runs between the Mainland (Long Island). That man does great mischief with his warehouse, for he receives abundance of goods from our vessels, and the merchants afterwards take their opportunity of running them into this town. Major Selleck receives at least ten thousand pounds worth of treasure and East India goods, brought by one Clarke of this town from Kidd's sloop and lodged with Selleck". Stamford in the 18th century was an insular community, but no matter how insular a community was during that time, the crisis of the revolution intruded upon the consciousness of its citizens.

Between 1756 and 1790, France lost virtually all of her North American empire to Great Britain; and Britain lost a substantial portion of her empire to the upstart United States. The United States in turn transformed itself from a loose confederation into a sovereign nation.

Stamford made only a marginal contribution to the French and Indian War. Four area militia companies were called up in 1758. On the night of July 8,1758, some 500 recruits under the command of Captain David Waterbury of Stamford participated in an ill planned assault on Fort Ticonderoga. Seven men died during the raid and 400 disappeared from the ranks during the attack. By November the much reduced company returned home to Stamford.

From early 1774 to July 4, 1776, frictions between Patriots and Tories mounted in Stamford. The fiercest critics of Britain tended to be Congregationalists; the staunchest apologists, Anglicans. Patriots increasingly suspected a British plot to thwart Congregationalism, home rule, and colonial growth. The Patriot faction in Stamford and Connecticut argued that British dominion, once successful in Massachusetts, would stifle colonial expansion.

Colonial Towns of Connecticut Links

Bibliography