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The Sands Family

Captain James Sands

Captain James Sands was a farmer; a leading citizen of Block Island, where he served as a constable; and a member of Rhode Island's General Assembly. He held slaves (probably Native American). His wife, Sarah Walker, was the sole midwife and doctor on Block Island. She, in turn, was related to William Hutchinson, the husband of the Massachusetts dissenter Ann Hutchinson who would be exiled to Westchester County and killed there by Native Americans. The couple had at least six children. Three of the boys, including Samuel Sands, settled on Long Island.

Samuel Sands

Samuel Sands married Dorothy Ray. Her family had come from England to Massachusetts, acquired large land holdings, and held high positions in the Plymouth Colony. Samuel and Dorothy had six children. They also had Native American slaves. One of their daughters, Mercy, married Richard Stillwell around 1708.

Mercy (Sands) Stillwell

Richard and Mercy (Sands) Stillwell had eight children girls and two boys between 1710 and 1726. She seems to have assisted her husband in his mercantile business; her letters indicate marked skill in writing. Their business dealings reached beyond New York City into New Jersey, and there are records of dealings between Richard and Peter Somans, one of the East Jersey Proprietors.

Richard and Mercy bought a large estate in Shrewsbury on the Navasink River. While Richard seems to have continued his business in New York City, the children were brought up primarily on the country estate. As a sign of affluence and status, the family acquired a number of African American slaves. When he died in 1743 at seventy-one, Richard left an estate worth more than 5,000 pounds, which included fine china, silver, silk, and paintings; more than 450 acres of land, with a new house, an orchard, barns, and livestock; cultivated farmland; and slaves. Mercy died three years later at fifty-three.

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