Back to Lakes: 1st 6 Generations

 The following information was submitted to me by Genealogist Perry Streeter on May 19. 2009.  I wish to thank him here for helping me fill in more information about the Lakes at Gravesend and the wonderful addition of "flesh" to "dry bones" (meaning just names and dates).  Perry is a careful and authoritative genealogist and backs up his narrative  with research source foot notes at the end.  Perry has said that he is not qualified yet to be called a "Genealogist".    I would ask, when is the right time to cross over that line?    Marla                     


    In reference to this section of narrative on the former page…

(the writing in green is information from Annette Truesdell)

iii. MARGARET/METGE LAKE, b. May 1652, Gravesend, Long Island, NY, m. Wm. Goulding
Martha Lake,  Baptized 1652. McMillan and other authors cite "Metje" (above) as being the same child as  "Margaret" who later married Wm. Goulding.  Researcher, Harriet Stryker-Rodda names "Metje" as a separate daughter, "Martha". Dutch reference books cite "Metje" as a nickname for Margaret or Mathilda. It is not clear  at this time if Metje is the same person as Martha or Margaret but regardless, there appears to be two separate daughters.

About Martha's Marriage: Per Wm. H. Stillwell's handwritten history (which does contain errors), "Gravesend Residents, Their Ancestors and Descendants", "Martha Lake, daughter of John was born in Amersfort (Flatlands) baptized in New Amsterdam May 20, 1652, married Obadiah Wilkins of Gravesend, son of William and had issue Martha, who married John Griggs, and William". This record assumes she is the same child as Metje.  Researcher, Harriet Stryker-Rodda agreed with this assumption. (NOTE: a daughter "Martha" is not named in Obadiah Wilkins' will and Stillwell has probably confused her with Obadiah's wife, Martha who married 2nd) on 5 Dec 1684 to John  Griggs after the death of Wilkins.)


"…The following clarification is an excerpt from my article “The Griggs Family of Gravesend, (Kings County, New York) and New Jersey” as published in The New York Genealogical & Biographical Record from October 2005 through April 2006 (to which Annette Truesdell was an invaluable contributor!)."

              Perry Streeter

To read this complete article researched in full by Perry Streeter go to:  PDF  and use the PDF "find" text tool

at the top of the page to search for Lake


              Identifying Martha Lake, wife of (1) Obadiah Wilkins and (2) John Griggs,
                      as a Descendant of the Lake and Spicer Families of Gravesend

Based on the evidence provided above, there can be no doubt that John Griggs was married at Gravesend to Martha, the widow of Obadiah Wilkins, by a license dated 5 December 1684.  If Martha was not the daughter of Obadiah Wilkins but rather his widow, who then were her parents?  In his brief mention of Obadiah Wilkins, 1William H. Stillwell did not identify any wife for Obadiah but he repeated the erroneous claim that he had a daughter Martha who married John Griggs. However, in his account of the Lake family of Gravesend, Stillwell revealed Martha’s origins:

"Martha Lake, daughter of John Lake was born in Amersfort (Flatlands), baptized in New Amsterdam May 20 1652, married Obadiah Wilkins of Gravesend, son of William and had issue, Martha, who married John Griggs, and William."2

As demonstrated above, Stillwell was in error in stating that Martha, wife of John Griggs, was a daughter of Obadiah Wilkins, rather than his widow. However, was he accurate in identifying Martha as the daughter of John and Ann (Spicer) Lake of Gravesend?
On 20 May 1652, “Metje” was baptized in the New Amsterdam Dutch Reformed Church as the daughter of Jan Leeck3 [John Lake] with witnesses "Albert Albertszen", Jan Hutjesse [John Hutchinson],4 Susanna Bresers” [her maternal aunt, Susan (Spicer) (Wathens) Brasier], and "Engeltje Mans".5  In the primary published account of the Lake family, Metje’s baptism is mentioned yet she is omitted in the listing of John Lake’s children.6 Consequently, most researchers have simply assumed that this baptismal record pertains to Margaret, another daughter of John and Ann (Spicer) Lake. However, Metje is typically identified as a Dutch equivalent of Mattie (Martha) whereas Margrietje (or its diminutive, Grietje) is the Dutch equivalent of Margaret.

Thus, John and Ann (Spicer) Lake did have a daughter named Martha. Was she identical with the wife of Obadiah Wilkins and John Griggs? A court record pertaining to both families probably provides the confirmation. In 1675, John Griggs sued William and Obadiah Wilkins for crop damage caused by their cattle in the past:
        Jo Grigs pl agt wm wilk deft for cattle damidges . . . done 7: yeares agoe and apprized by P. Symson.


  Peeter Symson testifies . . . hee . . . apprized ye Dammidg . . . in ye yeare 68

        Jo Griggs pl agt Obdiah for dammidges in his Corne att ye springe by cattle yt have beene putt in to ye ffield and  yt  ye sd damidg was prised & Judged to 3 Skiples of wheate & hee pduced Carson Johnson a wittness.
           Carson Johnson testifies yt in mrch last hee see 7:Cowes uppon his Corne (all Cowes) & yt Jo Lakes daughter fetcht ym off wch was more Cows yn ye deft had further ye deft testifies yt hee did not knowe whose Cows any of ym was


From the excerpt above, note the key phrase, “Jo Lakes daughter fetcht ym [them] off.” John Lake Jr.’s only known daughter was born well after 1675, so it was certainly a daughter of John and Ann (Spicer) Lake who “fetcht” the cows of Obadiah Wilkins. Who else would have had the opportunity and the motivation to prevent Obadiah’s cows from causing more damage other than his wife Martha?

In 1682, as detailed above, Obadiah Wilkins added a codicil to his will in which he “appointed these my friends whom I repose confidence in namely Samuel Spicer William Williamson William Golding and John Tilton junr . . .” to watch over his children.  Samuel Spicer was a brother of Ann (Spicer) Lake; William Goulding was the husband of the Margaret Lake (Martha's sister); and John Tilton Jr. was the brother-in-law of Samuel Spicer. If Martha was the daughter of John and Ann (Spicer) Lake, then Obadiah’s friends, Spicer and Goulding were also the uncle and brother-in-law of young widow Martha.
In 1683, Martha Wilkins resided next to John Lake Jr. and two doors away from John Lake Sr.8 and, as shown above, the household of John Griggs Jr. was listed as two doors away from that of Ann Lake in the 1698 census. On 25 May 1700, J. Griggs” shared lots 38 and 39 on Hugh Garretson’s Neck or Gelder Neck with John Lake.9

Despite Stillwell’s other errors, it is logical to conclude that Metje Leeck” survived to marry both Obadiah Wilkins and John Griggs. Like John Griggs, Martha’s father, John Lake, was not one of the original settlers of Gravesend and—despite claims to the contrary—his origins remain unknown. However, the descendants of Martha (Lake) (Wilkins) Griggs can claim a line of descent from an original Gravesend patentee—Martha’s maternal grandfather was Thomas Spicer.

Arent Van Curler had obtained a patent for one of the plains on Long Island and in the present town of Flatlands . . . he leased the whole to Thomas Spicer. Here Spicer lived when the committee of settlers of the future town of Gravesend were looking for a site and here they met and decided on the location.10
Martha may have been named in honor of Thomas Spicer’s mother, Martha (Grant) Spicer,
11 or an intermediary namesake descendant. In his will of 29 September 1658, Thomas Spicer left “to [his daughter] Ann Lake, wife of John Lake, 60 gilders [sic] for the benefit of her three children,”12 one of whom would have been Martha.   Martha (Lake) Wilkens Griggs died before Nov. 27,1715.



[1] Stillwell, “Gravesend Settlers,” 65.
[2] Ibid.(from the same place as above), 100.
[3] Record 5 (1874):98.
[4] “In the Records of the Orphan’s Court (Holland Society Year Book, 1900) it is stated that Jan Jutsitson (Hutchison) died at the house of Henry Brasar [sic, Brasier, husband of Susan (Spicer) (Wathens) Brasier]. . . . By his will, dated Oct. 4, 1658, Jan Hutsitson willed to Jan, son of Joris Hom [George Holmes], 100 guilders; to Susanna, daughter of Henry Breser, his god-daughter, 120 guilders, and the balance of his estate to Mary, Rebecca, Susanna and Martje, children of Henry Bresar, . . .” (J.E. Stillwell, Stillwell Genealogy, 1:137).
[5] Probably identical with the Engeltje Mans, “j.d. Van Coinxste, in Sweden,” who married Borger Joriszen, “j.m. Van Hershberg, in Silesien” in the New Amsterdam Reformed Dutch Church on 18 Dec. 1639 (Record 6 [1875]:33). “Engeltje appears to have been a vigorous old lady of somewhat masculine disposition. She was frequently, as a witness or litigant, before the Court at Stady Huys, where she was much dreaded on account of her loquacity. . . .” (J.H. Innes, New Amsterdam and Its People, 1626-1902 [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1902], 234).
[6] Arthur Adams and Sarah A. Risley, A Genealogy of the Lake Family of Great Egg Harbour in Old Gloucester County in New Jersey, Descended from John Lake of Gravesend, Long Island: With Notes on the Gravesend and Staten Island branches of the family (privately printed, 1915), 9.
[7] Gravesend Town Records; Book 4: Court Minutes 1662-1669, Town Records of Kings County Transla­tions/Transliterations, 56; image from the library of The Holland Society of New York, courtesy of David M. Riker.
[8] DHNY, 2: 508-11. That the 1683 Rate List was recorded in approximate order of residence is an assumption but the order observed is consistent with that found in the 1698 census.
[9] Truesdell, citing Gravesend Town Records, 3:91.
[10] Stillwell, “Gravesend Settlers, 46.
[11] Susan Billings Meech, "A Supplement to the Descendants of Peter Spicer" (Groton, Conn., 1923), 25-28.
[12] David McQueen, “Kings County, N.Y., Wills,” Record 47 (1916):327-28, citing Gravesend Town Records 3:112.

Perry also sent me other great internet links that round-out knowledge of the Lake family.  All the information about the maps shown below and the historical commentary are from this website:
Below is a map of the New York City area as it was seen and drawn in 1639 by
Johannes Vingboon who was the cartographer for the Prince of Nassau, and prepared a number of maps of portions of the east coast of North America.  A zoomable version of this map is available at American Memory.  Vingboon's map, based on his personal recognizance of the area, is a reasonably accurate depiction of the lay of the land, but its value for us is the fact that it shows the location of settlements, both Dutch and Native American. Apart from a few homes hugging the shoreline along the East River, and an isolated homestead deeper into the Island, Vingboon's map shows the forest wilderness broken only by the occasional Indian villages.  I have placed the numbers on the map fairly accurately depicting the actual locations according to present day maps of the area  It is a beautiful map and I am happy to be able to show it here.        
            Below the full map you will find and an enlargement of the center area where Gravesend was located.

A detail from Vingboon's map below shows the immediate area surrounding what would become Gravesend. Clearly shown is "Conyne Eyland", usually translated as "Island of Rabbits". Today the location of Gravesend and Flatlands is only about 1½ miles from each other "as the crow flies".  As can be seen from Vingboon's map, in 1643 the settlers of Long Island were living in close proximity to various native American peoples. The relationships between the Dutch and the Native Americans were complex, and can not be described simplistically. But in late 1641 and early 1642, those relationships deteriorated rapidly, culminating in "Kieft's War" after the then Governor of New Amsterdam, William Kieft, or as it is sometimes known, the "Wappinger War", after one of the tribes involved. "Kieft's War" is probably the better title, since it is fairly clear that its cause, or perhaps blame, lies with William Kieft.
You can also see where Fort Amsterdam was located, very near what is Battery Park today at the left tip of Manhattan