Photo of the Week 

—– November 21 – 27 —–


“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck


Brinley Sylvester


Indenture: Brinley Sylvester of Shelter Island to George Remson of Green County, NY,  concerning a property located in Orange County, NY, 19 November 1728. (From the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)


Brinley Sylvester was the grandson of Nathaniel Sylvester, the first European settler and resident proprietor of the Manor of Shelter Island under grant of King Charles II. Nathaniel purchased Shelter Island in 1652 and set up a plantation with enslaved people.

Brinley was born in East Hampton but grew up in Rhode Island where he worked as a merchant. When his father (Nathaniel II) died, Brinley returned to Shelter Island in 1726, at age thirty-two, to reside at the estate he inherited. It’s very likely that Brinley assisted in the organization of the town of Shelter Island because after its organization he was very involved in its affairs, holding a town office every year from 1732 to 1752, the year of his death. He also served as an associate justice of the Court of General Sessions and as Surrogate of Suffolk County.

Brinley Sylvester occupied the manor house built by his grandfather, and in circa 1733-37 he replaced the old house with the structure we know today as Sylvester Manor House.

Suggested Reading: The History of Shelter Island, by Ralph G. Duvall.


Suffolk County Historical Society

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AAQ / Resource: 1708 House, Southampton / Bed & Breakfast