COFFIN23 was born
in 1609 in Brixton, Devonshire, England. He died on Oct 2, 1681 in
Nantucket Island, MA. TRISTRAM COFFIN1, HON., son of Peter and Joane,
was baptized March 11, 1610, at Brixton parish near Plymouth in Devonshire, England.
He was of the landed gentry and Owned estates in Dorset and Devon. His father's
will stated that he was to be provided for
"according to his degree and calling", this seeming to indicate that
he was well educated and had a profession. Circa 1630 he married Dionis Stevens,
the daughter of Robert Stevens, Esquire, of Brixton, and in 1640, he was a church
warden at Brixton, in 1641 a constable.
In 1642, at the age of 32, he left Devon and came to Massachusetts
with his wife and five small children, his mother then 58, and two sisters, settling
first at Salisbury, and a few months later at Haverhill where two more children
were born in the ensuing years. In 1642, Brixton was raising earthworks in prospect
of war between the Royalists and parliamentarians, and was the site of numerous
skirmishes in connection with the siege of Plymouth. Tristram's brother John
died during that siege. It is thought that Mr. Coffin may have come to America
with his friend Robert Clements in the latter's ship.
At Pentucket (later renamed Have hill), Tristram was one of five men
to sign the deed of purchase November 15, 1642, the first two names being Rev.
John Ward and Robert Clements. According to tradition he was the first to plough
land there, having made his own plough. There, too, he became a freeman in November
1645. In 1644 and again in 1647, he held the license "to keep an ordinary
and also a ferry" for the transportation of passengers from Newbury to Salisbury
across the Merrimac River. In 1653 Tristram still kept the ordinary, and his
wife was "presented for selling beer for 3 pence a quart". Samuel Moore
attested that six bushels of malt were put into the hogshead and the case was
dismissed. In 1652 and 1659, he was taxed in Salisbury where he served on the
trial jury in 1650, 1654 and 1659, and was the county commissioner in 1655.
He formed a company in 1659 for the purchase of land in Nantucket,
and Coffin, Macy and Associates paid 30 and two beaver hats for the island
property July 2, 1659. The following year, Tristram moved to Nantucket with his
wife, mother and four of his children, receiving first choice of the lots, July
15, 1661. He built and maintained a cornmill, employing many Indians by whom
he was regarded as a just and kindly friend. Tristram and his son Peter were
the wealthiest of the island settlers, and in 1671
Tristram became Governor of Nantucket, serving again in that office
from 1674 until 1680, the year before he died. He was described as "exhibiting
Christian character". His mother died there in May 1661 at 77, Tristram
died October 2, 1681, leaving a substantial estate, and his widow died after
1682. By 1728 their living descendants numbered 1,218.
FROM: A Genealogical History of the Clark and Worth Familes
Author: Carol Clark Johnson
Call Number: CS71.C6
Tristram was a farmer and therefore most likely took control of his fathers estate
near Plymouth. In 1640 Coffyn was selected as a Warden of Brixton Parish. Shortly
after in November 1640, he leased his farm that was located at Butlass. With
the civil war closing in on his family and the wounding and eventual death eight
days later of his brother John at Plymouth Fort, Tristram decided to take his
family, including his mother and two unwed sisters to safety in Colonial America.
Tristram's friend Robert Clement was leaving for America shortly, aboard a small
fleet of ships, some of which were owned by Clement. Tristram quickly put his
affairs in order and embarked on his journey with his family aboard Clement's
ship named "Hector Clement" in the spring of 1642.
The crossing of the Atlantic took between 60 and 90 days before they arrived
in Newburyport Massachusetts, during the summer of 1642.... Tristram secured
living quarters for his family and started exploring up the Merrimack River with
Robert Clement in search of a good location for a more permanent home. He arrived
in a soon to be called settlement named Pentucket, now known as Haverhill Massachusetts.
The book "The History of Haverhill" by George Chase states that Clements
son, Job Clements, had already settled in the area a year earlier, if so, this
could be the reason that Coffyn and Clements chose this area... In 1641 there
were only six homes built in Pentucket. Tristram's group of settlers negotiated
with the Indians for the property rights and secured a twenty square mile area
for the sum of three pounds ten shillings. A copy of this deed is still on record
and bares witness to the signatures of Robert Clement and Tristram Coffyn, dated
November 15, 1642. Not only is this the first record of the first Coffin immigrant
in America, but it also indicates how Tristram spelled his surname, Coffyn, with
a "y" instead of an "i". It was also during this period that
John, their youngest child fell ill and died. Dionis was also pregnant with their
sixth child who was later named Deborah...... It was noted that Coffyn was the
first white settler to plough land in the area, having made his own plough from
materials at hand. .... The History of Newbury states that in 1644 Tristram Coffin
Sr. is allowed to keep an Ordinary (Tavern) which consisted of selling wine and
keeping a ferry and Inn on the Newbury side of the Merrimack River. .....
According to the book"Ould Newbury" by John Currier, the Coffyns owned
forty acres across from Carr Island. In later years the road to the Inn was known
as Coffin Lane and was on the west side of present day Jefferson St. down by
the shore of the Merrimack River.
Toward the mid 1650's the ferry crossings were replaced by a floating bridge
leaving Tristram little choice but to sell his holdings. He moved across the
river to Salisbury where records show his name on some documents as Commissioner
By the summer of 1661, records show that meetings were now being held on Nantucket
indicating that many of the settlers had made the move to the Island. The first
concerns of many were where their house lots would be located. At a town meeting
held July 15, 1661 it was agreed upon that each owner would have the freedom
to choose his lot within limits not previously occupied. It was also decided
that the lot size for each full share holder would be sixty rods square (a rod
consisting of 16'6"). It was also agreed that Tristram Coffyn would select
first, in which he selected a lot on the north western coastline of the Island
at a place known as Cappammet Harbour (today known as Capaum Pond).
The original Nantucket record states "Tristram Coffyn, Sr., had his
house lot laid out at Cappammet, by the aforesaid lot layers, at Cappamet Harbour
head, sixty rods square, or thereabouts, the east side line part of it bounded
by the highway; the south side by a rock southward of the pond; the north by
the harbour head; the west side bounded by the lot of Tristram Coffin Jr."
From the beginning Tristram Coffyn and Thomas Macy were the spokesmen for the
settlement. In 1671 they were selected by the group to go to New York and meet
with Governor Lovelace and secure their claim to the Island. Upon their return
the Islanders nominated Coffyn to be Chief Magistrate of Nantucket. The town
also selected all other officers except the Chief Military Officer who was to
be selected by Governor Lovelace from nominees chosen by the settlement. After
a few more years of harmony, or about the early 1670's the first signs of trouble
on the Island began to appear. The problems came through the evolution of the
two classes of settlers. On one hand they had the full share owners and their
partners, who by Nantucket law had two votes each. On the other hand the half
share owners only had one vote resulting in less of a say on Island affairs.
They viewed themselves just as important as the full share settlers. The only
thing missing for a revolt by the half share members was a leader. That changed
in 1673 when it was decided that the community needed to expand their fishing
interests by enlisting the services of a skilled tradesman by the name of John
Gardner of Salem, Massachusetts. Gardner was the brother of full share owner
Joseph Gardner. Right from the start John Gardner challenged the original owners
on most issues and from this began the feud between the Gardner's group and the
In 1676 Thomas Mayhew became Chief Magistrate on Nantucket with Peter Coffin,
a new resident on the Island becoming Assistant Magistrate. Peter and James Coffin
had returned to the Island as a result of the conflict on the mainland between
the Indians and the white settlers known as King Philip's War. This appointment
of Macy and the election of Peter Coffin infuriated the Gardner group. Not only
was Peter a "Coffin" he also held government positions back in Dover
and was not considered a full time resident of Nantucket. A few years later the
tension eased with the elections of James Coffin, John Gardner and Nathaniel
Starbuck who would all be elected as Assistant Magistrates. The feud continued
toward the late 1670's in a period that would result in Tristram Coffyn being
selected as Chief Magistrate by Governor Andros in the hopes of trying to pull
the community back together. Coffyn was regarded by most of the settlers as the
one person who could rectify Nantucket's struggle with growth. Unfortunately,
for everyone, a shipwreck on the Nantucket shoals diverted any plans that Tristram
had for the Islanders. In September 1678 a French ship ran aground during a storm,
forcing the crew to abandon ship. Shortly thereafter the cargo was salvaged by
certain parties and sold for profit. This action put Tristram, who was chief
magistrate, in violation with maritime law which stated that the cargo should
have been secured until claimed by the owner. In failing to do so, Tristram
subjected himself to be responsible for the lost cargo. The courts came down
hard on him with a stiff penalty which would ruin him financially. The action
cast a dark cloud over Coffyn, who was now in his early 70's. His family rallied
to his side but the strain of the penalty along with the feuding years had worn
him down. Later his son James made financial arrangements to pay the fine. In
the end, surprisingly, it was John Gardner, who had become the new Chief
Magistrate of Nantucket, who stood up to the courts with a touching appeal on
Coffyn's behalf. He convinced the courts to reduce the penalty substantially.
When all was said and done what remained was Coffyn's ill health. The year
was 1681, and autumn was closing in. Coffyn had made the arrangements that were
to follow his death back in 1678. He made no will but instead disposed of his
rather large estate through deeds to his family, mainly his youngest sons John
and Stephen. To his numerous grandchildren, 60 in all, he granted 10 acres of
land to each one upon the Coffyn's Island of Tuckernuck, off the west coast of
Nantucket. In 1681 Tristram owned two houses on his property, the first dwelling
house he deeded to Stephen and the new house upon the hill was to go to John.
His son Stephen was asked to care for their mother, Dionis up until her death.
On October 3, 1681 Tristram Coffyn died, he was 72 years old at the time
of his death. His funeral brought out all the Islanders including the Gardners
to mourn his passing. It has been recorded that his old friend Edward Starbuck
read from the bible and then Tristram's body was taken to a favourite location
on his property and buried. Through the years the exact site of his grave has
wandered from memory, however, the man himself lives on in each one of his descendants.
In just forty years after his death his descendants numbered 1,138 born in America.
In 1728 the number had increased to 1, 582. All of them descendants from one
couple, Tristram and Dionis Coffyn. Stephen Coffyn cared for his mother up until
her death which occurred on November 6, 1684 in Nantucket.
Tristram COFFIN and Dionis STEVENS were married in 1630.
Dionis STEVENS23 was born in 1609/10 in Brixton, Devonshire, England.
She died in 1682. Children were:
COFFIN23 was born in
1631 in England. He died on Mar 21, 1715 in Exter, NH.|