In January of 1654/55, East Hampton landowners Ralph Dayton and Thomas Baker were listed in the Charge of the Meetinge House, among all those with taxable acreage. The names were arranged in tabular form with columns for prepaid tax, acreage, assessment, and balance owed to either the town or landowner.
Examining the disproportional figures assigned to Ralph and Thomas suggests the possibility of underlying arrangements. After correcting transcription errors in the Records of the Town of East Hampton Vol 1, it is concluded that Ralph Dayton’s 26 taxable acres was the largest in East Hampton at the time, as corroborated by Pelletreau in his History of Long Island. At the same time, Thomas owned 21, the third greatest amount of assessed acreage, equaling that of Chatfield.
But Thomas appears to have contributed the greatest amount of prepaid taxes—more than double due, according to his acreage. On the other hand, Ralph’s contribution of prepaid tax appears to be relatively little.
(The following paragraph was edited after first posting it on April 7).
Much to our surprise, Ralph was reported to possess the most commonage at this time, even more than his son-in-law. How is it that Ralph Dayton came to possess two shares when it was Thomas who is recorded purchasing Captain Howe’s primary holding?