Tisbury Manor Chapter DAR
    Monson, Maine

Letter About Tisbury Manor” — Dated 10 October 1952

“The Manor of Tisbury, granted during the reign of Charles II of England, through Lord Sterling, was the only manorial grant, within limits of the present New England states, which was fully established.  There were some  manors established in Maryland, a few in Pennsylvania, and New York.  Thomas Matthew from Tisbury, England, was the first ‘Lord of the Manor of Tisbury.’  The grant included Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, the Elizabeth Islands, and other small nearby islands.

"Thomas Mayhew was not to be called “Lord Mayhew” of Tisbury, as being the Lord of the Manor carried no title with it.  Only the obligations and privileges were his.  But such was his life of service and dedication to the welfare of all the people who came under his jurisdiction, and he is known for all time as one of the best Colonial governors of any British colony.

"He was a friend and co-worker with Governor John Winthrop, Major General Daniel Gookin, the Reverend John Elliott (Apostle to the Indians), and many others, famous in the early Colonial history.  However, these were not the only ones who cherished friendship.  He did so much to Christianize and improve the conditions of the Indians on the islands that he earned the title “Patriarch to the Indians.”

"The first Tisbury Lord, Thomas Mayhew, was the ancestor of many famous Americans including:

Thomas Mayhew, Lord of the Manor of Tisbury

                 *   Major General Williams, Jenkins North, hero of the Mexican war.

                 *   Lucretia Mott, founder of the woman’s movement.

                 *   Madame Lily and Nora Dickey, a, singer.

                 *   “Campmeeting” John Allen, popular minister of his day.

                 *   Reverend Charles F. Allen, first president of the University of Maine

"The last Lord of the Manor of Tisbury was his descendent, Captain Matthew Mayhew, commander of the Company of Dukes County militia on the side of the Commies in 1776. ”

Submitted by chapter member, Gertrude Wyman.  Letter was sent to Mrs. Ada (Bates) Wyman from Mrs. Lena Quillan, sister of charter member Genevieve Beckwith.


Source: Tisbury Manor Chapter DAR Yearbook 2005-2006.


Thomas Mayhew, Lord of the Manor of Tisbury
Thomas Mayhew, Lord of the Manor of Tisbury

A Short History of Chilmark
Dr. Charles E. Banks' History of Martha's Vineyard (Originally Published 1911)

It was not until 1714 that Chilmark, by petition to the General Court of Massachusetts, was incorporated as a town. For forty years prior to that time, it had the unusual legal status of a "manor" in the ownership of Thomas Mayhew and his grandson Matthew. Thomas Mayhew, a merchant of Watertown, Massachusetts, had purchased Martha's Vineyard, along with the Elizabeth Islands and Nantucket, from grantees of the King of England in 1641. The following year his son Thomas, with a small group, established the first English Settlement on the Island at Edgartown. Sometime prior to 1680 John Mayhew, a grandson of the elder Thomas, built his house at Quenames and became the first English settler of what is now Chilmark.

The Mayhew family were ardent missionaries. Several spoke the Indian language, and they had excellent relationships with the Indian population. Although Thomas Mayhew owned the English rights to the land, he also purchased the Indian rights from the presiding sachem of the different sections. It was three purchases of Indian rights that comprised the "Manor of Tisbury" (later Chilmark) which was granted to Mayhew in 1671 by the English governor of New York, at the same time that he allowed incorporation of the towns of Edgartown and Tisbury (now West Tisbury).

The Mayhews subsequently sold lots in the "Manor" to settlers and, according to Banks' History of Martha's Vineyard, a few land speculators. By 1700 there were 73 persons in Chilmark, and in 1776 the population was 769.

An indication of the prosperity of Chilmark at the time or the American Revolution is reflected in the number of sheep taken by British General Grey, who commandeered livestock for British troops. Chilmark lost 5,000 of the 10,000 sheep taken from the Island during Grey's Raid.