Some adventures of Samuel Dayton

Samuel Dayton’s life (1623/24-1690) is intriguing because it is so rich in drama and emotion, but beyond the challenges, his story is also quite inspiring. I’ve often thought that there is enough material on these first few generations of the Dayton family in America to make a terrific movie. Sam certainly would contribute his share to the effort.

Between Samuel’s birth in Ashford, Kent and his death on his farm at Dayton’s Neck, we get a glimpse of his venturesome spirit, his exploits replete with risk and some disappointment. But because so much of what is known about Samuel comes from official town and court records, we may get a lopsided view, based on the first half of his life.

One event that is particularly interesting is the Dutchman case, recorded in the 1659 Southampton Town Record and possibly continued at length in the East Hampton Town Record a few months later as it went to a Hartford court. I use the word possibly because I have never seen nor heard of anyone presenting the idea that they may be connected.

If you’re not familiar with the case, it begins with Sam and others accused of “taking” a Dutch vessel at North Sea, claiming it carried forbidden cargo, and the story just keeps getting more interesting and more revealing of Sam’s temperament as we learn more details.

It would be great to hear someone else’s perspective on this. Does anyone have an opinion on whether the 1659 East Hampton depositions involving Lion Gardiner and others are a continuation of the Southampton event? Both seem to involve the Dutchman and share other particulars. Since the story includes so many pages of information and deposition, it is too lengthy to cover here. Our ideas are presented, including possible influence of Captain John Underhill, in chapter 10 of our book.

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