The Fancher Family Origins

                        The Fancy/Fanshaw Family of Long Island, New York

For the sake of consistency, the “Fancy” spelling of the surname is used throughout this document.  Numerous spelling variations were found in the records cited. These variations included Fanshaw, ffanshaw, Fansey, Fansy, Fansie, Fancye, Fancey, Fancie, Fanc and Fanch. This document includes all references to Fancy found in Long Island, New York records prior to 1730 (See Attachment A). The search has been extensive and included the majority of old Town Halls, Historical Societies, and Libraries in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York.

              William Fancy

The first colonies, that would later become Connecticut, were established on the shores of Long Island Sound and the banks of the Housatonic and Connecticut Rivers.

William Fancy was an early settler in the New Haven Colony. Originally called Quinnipiac, the settlement was founded by a company of five hundred English Puritans in 1638 that hoped to create a Christian utopia; and with its large harbor, establish a commercial empire to control Long Island Sound. It was the first planned community in North America, based on a grid of nine square miles. Conforming to the old English custom, a central square, or Green, was laid out as a public common. By 1641, a complete government had been established and the settlement, renamed New Haven, had grown into a community of eight hundred.

The first records for William and Goodwife Fancy appear in the New Haven Colony in 1643.  On May 5, 1643 the New Haven records indicate that “Will Fancie his wife” was charged with stealing various things. Goodwife Fancy confessed that she had taken about 5,000 pins, diverse parcels of linens, and a jug valued at 17 shillings from Mrs. Lamberton.  From Mrs. Gilbert, she had taken two pillow bears and a shift when the family was at prayer. It was ordered that she be severely whipped and make restitution to the people involved.  

This same New Haven record also mentions that she had been previously whipped twice at “Conectecutt”, which would appear to indicate that William and/or his wife had been in the Connecticut Colony prior to the New Haven Colony. The given name and maiden name of Goodwife Fancy is not known, but the extant Connecticut Colony records do not include any references to Fancy. It is possible that Goodwife Fancy was in Connecticut Colony prior to her marriage.

The Connecticut Colony, along the Connecticut River, was another utopian experiment begun in 1636 as a change from the heavy-handed Puritanical authority of the Massachusetts Colony.  Winthrop, the Governor of the colony of Connecticut, was sent to England to obtain a charter when Charles II ascended the throne. Winthrop’s charter covered the territories of the colonies of Connecticut and New Haven, and laid claim to Long Island, as being one of the islands adjacent to the English Settlements. In 1662, New Haven and Connecticut, previously both independent Colonies, merged to form an entity that is roughly equal to the State of Connecticut today. 

There have been no hints found regarding William Fancy’s origins prior to the New Haven Colony, other than the fact that the majority of the population of this Colony was Puritans who had come from England.  

William Fancy took the Oath of Fidelity to New Haven on July 1, 1644. There is evidence that William Fancy and his wife had been living with Lt. Robert Seeley, probably around 1644. Later, they were living with Thomas Clark, and may also have been living with, and/or working for, Thomas Robinson and Stephen Metcalfe. 

In December 1645, Goodwife Fancy testified in a hearing involving Stephen Metcalfe, relating to the loss of an eye Metcalfe sustained from an accident with a gun.  It would appear Goodwife Fancy was nursing Metcalfe at the time. Later, on March 2, 1646, William Fancy testified regarding a debt due to John Sackett from Metcalfe. 

On April 7, 1646, there was a complaint against William Fancy and four other men for the disorderly drinking of strong liquor. William Fancy “owned it as his sin his oft drinking, being that at the first he felt it hott in his throate, but he was not distempred, howevr submits to ye court.” 

In April 1646, the Governor being informed of several lewd passages, ordered William Fancy and his wife to appear at court to answer for them. In the testimony, Goodwife Fancy related several incidents when townsmen accosted her and attempted to commit adultery with her.  William Fancy said he was aware of the matter, but advised his wife to keep silent because he thought no one would believe her. One of the accused, Thomas Robinson, had offered the Fancys a bribe to keep quiet, and then ran away from New Haven before the hearing. Another of the men Goodwife Fancy accused, Mark Meggs, was sentenced to be whipped. The Court sentenced “Goodie” Fancy to be severely whipped for concealing the “lustfull attempts” and William Fancy to also be severely whipped for neglecting to reveal the attempts in a timely manner, or allowing his wife to do so. 

William Fancy left New Haven after 1646 and by 1652 had purchased a house and 2-1/2 acre lot in Southold, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. Robert Smith originally owned the house, and then sold the house to John Budd, who in turn sold it to William Fancy.  

Whitaker’s Southold includes William Fancy in the list of Southold’s early settlers. Southold also makes reference to William Fancy leaving Southold for Brookhaven – “Of the full-grown men who lived here and left their record in the annals of this Town… not a few removed to other places and became important factors and elements in the settlement and life of other towns. John Tucker... became one of the early settlers of the Town of Brookhaven, Long Island, and so did William Fansey, John Budd, Arthur Smyth, Robert Akerly and John Frost.” Also see: Southold's Founding Fathers.

In December 1657 William Fancy witnessed a deed for William Salmon, which was recorded in Southold. William Fancy does not appear on the Southold List of Inhabitants in 1658, so it is probable that he left Southold by that time. 

In 1661, William Fancy appears on the list of land proprietors in Setauket and is credited with being one of the first settlers of that place.  

Setauket began as an English Puritan colony called Ashford, with the 1655 purchase of land from the Seatalcott Indians by six men acting as agents for the others. Fifty-five men, including William Fancy, then began the settlement of “the old town” which became Setauket. These families were all “strongly imbued with Puritan doctrines and zealously devoted to a strict observance of its tenants”, and were English immigrants who came primarily from the vicinity of Boston, Southold, and Southampton.  

Lots were laid out for each family around the Meeting House green. Each man paid for a home lot, called an “accommodation” and a right of commonage. Town meetings were the only method of government. No one was permitted to sell his land to a stranger, and outsiders could not become residents unless they were admitted by popular vote. Seating in the Meeting House was dictated by law. In Setauket’s New England type of government, church and state were very firmly united. 

Today, the unincorporated village of Setauket is located in the “Three Village” area in the northwest portion of Brookhaven Town. Brookhaven is the largest “town” on Long Island today. It occupies the entire width of central Long Island from the Long Island Sound to the Atlantic Ocean

Every acre of land in New York is located in one of the state’s 60+ counties.  Every county is subdivided into towns, which include every bit of land in the county. Within a town, there are cities, villages, and communities called towns that contain only a portion of the county/town in their area.  There is much land outside these communities, called rural land or farmland that is not included in any political subdivision. Setauket is a small village that was the original community in Brookhaven Town in Suffolk County.  The earliest records of Brookhaven are the records of “Old Town” or Setauket as it is known today.  

Records of William Fancy at Setauket begin in 1661 when he drew lot 13, a 6-acre lot in the “Old Field”, in the first land draw at Setauket. The settlers had banded together and pooled their money to buy a large tract of land from the Indians. A selected piece of this land was surveyed and laid out in lots. The number of lots created was equal to the number of the town’s proprietors. In the later draws, there were 55 lots laid out, which were numbered from 1 to 55. William Fancy is recorded as being entitled to one share. The lottery was to determine which lot a proprietor received, not whether he received a lot. Included in the lottery were those who had provided money in the first land draw in 1661.

 William Fancy’s land draws: 

1661 - Land in the Old Field, 6-acre lots (#13)
1667 - Lots in Newtown (East Setauket) (#6)
1667 - Land in the Old Field, Second Division (#11)
1667 - West Line (#4)
1674 - Old Purchase of Meadow at the South (#4)
1675 - New Purchase at the South (#28) 

In addition to his original Home Lot within the settlement, and the 1661 land in the Old Field, by 1675 there were five additional land draws from the original purchase in which William Fancy received a share. As the settlement grew, additional land purchases with names like Ould Mans and Fireplace, were made.
 Map of Setauket Proprietors' 1664 purchase of land at Fireplace from the Indian Tobaccus.

Fearing attacks from Indians crossing the Sound, the early Setauket settlers built their houses on their “Home Lots” further inland, and left their animals to graze on the common pastureland called “Old Field”. The name “Fireplace” came from the fires lit along the western edge of Carmans River to guide whaling ships safely to shore. Today Mt. Sinai occupies the place that was once called “Ould Mans”, or Old Mans. And in Brookhaven, in 1747, there is a reference to “water at ye place called Fancie’s Hole”. 

In addition to the lands he received in the drawings, in 1669 the Town voted to give William Fancy ten acres next to Robert Smith. 

William Fancy’s name also appears on the following land lot drawings, although, with the exception of the Meadows at ye Olde Mans Beach by William Fancy’s widow, in each case the name of the person who was actually exercising William Fancy’s Proprietor’s Rights is not recorded. 

Meadows at ye Olde Mans Beach (Widow Fancy #25)
Fireplace Meadows (#23)
Meadows on the East Side of “Conetecut” River, ye last division (#12)
Wading Rivers Meadows, the last division (#18)
Upland on the East Side of the “Conetticutt” River (#4)
Meadows laid out by Moses Burnet and William Helms, the last division (#26)
Southside, running between Smithtown line and Connecticut Hollow (#25)
South, between Winthrop Line and Connecticut River, East Division (Great Division) (#27)
South, between Winthrop Line and Connecticut River, West Division (Little Division) (#10)
Smithtown Line and Wading River, West Division (#51)
Skirst (Skirt) Division (#20)
Old Mans Sheep Pasture (#7)
West Meadow Neck Division (#10)
Pasture Division in Town (#2)
Long Swamp, south side of the country road near David Brewster Jr. (#7)
East Side of the head of Connecticut River (#53)
East Side of south path near Nasakique Swamp (#18)
South side of Mr. Phillips 100 acres near Nasakique (#52)
Meadow on South Beach, 3 Chain, 74 links wide (32)
Wading River Great Lots (31)
East Division of Long Lots (39)

The Brookhaven Land Lot Drawings

William Fancy signed papers with a Z mark, or with a ^ mark. From his arrival in Setauket until his death there about 1678 when his Will was proved, William Fancy’s name appears in the town records participating in many routine activities, such as agreeing to a Town Arbitration Board to settle land disputes, signing a petition for a corn-grinding mill in 1664, and pledging 7 shillings to encourage a blacksmith to settle there in 1667.  

It is estimated that William Fancy’s marriage to his second wife Katherine probably took place between 1652 and 1658. Town records relating to William Fancy’s son Samuel Fanshaw/Fancy, call Samuel Katherine’s son-in-law (meant as step-son). Katherine’s maiden name is unknown. Because of the interaction between the families, there is speculation that she may have been a Smith, sister to Arthur Smith “The Quaker” and Robert Smith. If that was the case, it seems likely that Katherine met and married William Fancy in Southold. (In 1659 Arthur Smith sold his house in Southold and was admitted as a townsman of Setauket in December 1659. In 1661 Arthur Smith and William Fancy were on the list of 22 men who received 6 acre lots at Old Field.) In 1674 Katherine Fancy made a deposition that said she was “aged about 48”, which places her birth sometime around 1626. 

In August 1661, Katherine Fancy had an action of slander entered against her.  George Woods, Jr. asked for 30 pounds damages. This is the first instance where William’s second wife’s given name is used.

William Fancy was fined 10 shillings for lying to the country in December of 1663, the following year ten acres were given to William Fancy by the town. About 1665, William appeared on a tax list. On July 14, 1669 it was recorded that William Fancy’s “eare mark is a swallows taiele”.  

William Fancy’s children are recorded in his June 17, 1675 Will as Samuel, Joseph, Hannah, Rachel, and William, Jr.  Based on the evidence in Brookhaven Town records, Samuel and Joseph are believed to be William Fancy’s sons by his first (unknown) wife. Samuel Fanshaw/Fancy died unmarried and childless in 1685. Other than the 20 shillings William Fancy bequeathed to his son in 1675, there is no other record of Joseph Fancy in Brookhaven Town records. 

Hannah, Rachel and William, Jr. are named by William Fancy’s second wife Katherine, in her October 17, 1684 Will. Hannah Fancy married (1) Robert Goulsbury, who died 1683, and (2) David Jennings/Jenners about 1684. Rachel married Peter Whiteheare (Whitaker/Wittier) before October 25, 1684. 

June 17, 1675, Will of William Fancy (Attachment B) – “Very aged and a cripple”. Body to be buried in Brookhaven. “Sonne Samuel ffancy” to have half of ”my accommodation. That is one halfe of my home lott and Seaven ackers in the ould feild, and one halfe of all the ouot land Devided and undevided, and one half of all my meadow at the ould mans, and all my pt of medow and upland in ye ould purchase at the south”. Samuel is not to sell any of it, it is for his heirs forever. “Beloved wife Katherine ffancy” is to have the other half of the accommodation and the whole meadow at Conscience except 20 shillings, to my “sonne Joseph ffancy”. “My sonne William “ffancy” is to receive his portion after the death of wife Katherine. “Daughter “Hanah ffancy” is to receive two cows, or ten pounds, to be paid when she comes of age or marries. “Daughter Rechell” has already received her portion.  William Fancy instructs that his Will be kept by neighbor widow Martha Smith (wife of Arthur Smith) as long as he lives. The Will was witnessed by John Thomas and Martha Smith, widow. 

William Fancy probably died in early 1677, as his Will was proved in the Court of Sessions in Suffolk County on March 8, 1677. His name continues in Brookhaven records up to the last land draw in 1774 as his right is exercised by whomever it was transferred to by himself or his widow. Otherwise, 1677 is the last entry date for William Fancy in the Brookhaven Town records. 

Katherine (also spelled Catherine and Katteren in the records) Fancy’s name continues until 1684 when she executes her last land transfer and makes her Will. She is quite active in seeing that her step-son Samuel Fanshaw/Fancy receives care. Also, she transfers and receives land from Robert Goulsbury and wife Hannah, her daughter. She received a bounty for killing of a wolf that was probably killed by her son or son-in-law. 

Katherine Fancy’s Will, dated October 7, 1684, witnessed by Richard Smith and Richard Woodhull, was proved in the Court of Sessions March 22, 1687/8. Katherine Fancy left the meadow at Conscience she inherited from her husband to “daughter Rachells” youngest son “whom she hath or Shall have by Peter Whiteheare of Brookhaven”. The meadow is left to Whiteheare’s son on the condition that Whiteheare pay 5 pounds in cattle to William Fancy (Jr.) and 5 pounds to Hannah (Fancy) Jenners within one year after her death. Robert Goulsbury, the son of Hannah (Fancy) Goulsbury Jenners, is to receive a three year old heifer and calf by her side when he reaches 16 years of age from Peter Whiteheare. Hannah Jenners is to receive one cow, and Peter Whiteheare’s youngest children are to receive the rest of any remaining cattle. The land that was given to Katherine by the town is given to Peter Whiteheare. 

William Fancy was married twice. The name of his first wife is unknown, being referred to only as Goodwife, or Goodie, in the New Haven Colony records. She probably died after the April 14, 1646 punishment received at the hands of the New Haven authorities and before William Fancy purchased the house in Southold in 1652. Goodwife had at least one son, Samuel. William must have married his second wife Katherine shortly after the death of his first wife. The British occupation of Long Island during the Revolutionary War destroyed any early church records in this area that might have contained births and marriages for this family.

The birth mothers of William’s other children are unknown, but it is presumed that Hannah, William, Jr., and Rachel are the children by second wife Katherine, because they are named in her Will. 

Children of William Fancy: 

1.       Samuel

2.       Joseph

3.       Hannah 

4.       William, Jr.

5.       Rachel

1. Samuel Fanshaw/Fancy, son of William Fancy and first wife “Goodie”  (Unknown) Fancy

Samuel was probably not married, as no wife or children were ever mentioned in Brookhaven records, or in his Will. In 1680 he exchanged his three-acre lot in Newtown for a piece of property from Robert Goulsbury and in October 5 1682, he witnessed a deed for Robert Smith. By 1682 Samuel “Fanshaw” had become severely disabled as the result of frozen feet from an unknown cause.  He could not care for himself and required someone to care for him as evidenced by several entries in Brookhaven records relating to this problem. Rachel and Katherine Fancy complained to the town and in February 1683 the town appointed Samuel’s “mother-in-law” (step-mother) Katherine Fancy to care for him until a doctor could be consulted. It was decided that John Biggs was to take care of Samuel. As payment for his care of Samuel, the town gave John Biggs two cattle and 100 acres of land. The arrangement with Biggs did not work out. The next month, Samuel gave land to Robert Goulsbury (husband of Hannah Fancy) in exchange for his care. Later records indicate the Town reclaimed the cattle and land originally paid to John Biggs for Samuel Fanshaw/Fancy’s care. 

Samuel “ffanshaw” made his Will June 29, 1682, leaving his worldly estate to Hannah (Fancy) and Robert Goulsbery, and all of his lands to their son, Samuel’s nephew, Robert Goulsbery. Samuel Fanshaw/Fancy signed his Will with his S mark. This Will may have been a condition for the Goulsberys’ continued care of Samuel, or may indicate Samuel was a blood relative of Hannah Fancy. Samuel Fanshaw/Fancy probably died 1684/5. His Will directed his burial to be in “the ussiall buering place of brookehaven”.

2.  Joseph Fancy, son of William Fancy 

Joseph Fancy is named in his father, William Fancy’s, Will in 1675 and received twenty shillings.  Nothing else is known of him. His name does not appear anywhere in other Brookhaven records, and he is not named in Katherine Fancy or Samuel Fanshaw/Fancy’s Wills.

3.  Hannah Fancy, daughter of William Fancy 

Hannah Fancy married Robert Goulsbury after 1675 when she is named in her father’s will as Hannah “ffancey”. She had one known son by Robert Goulsbury, named Robert. Robert Goulsbury, Sr. died around 1683, and she then married David Jenners (Genners, Jennings, Jennen) around 1684.  Hannah is believed to be the daughter of Katherine (Unknown) Fancy, William Fancy’s second wife, as Hannah is named in Katherine’s Will.

4.  William Fanshaw/Fancy, Jr., son of William Fancy/Fanshaw and Katherine (Unknown) Fancy 

William Fanshaw/Fancy, Jr. is first mentioned in his father’s Will of 1675 and appears to have been a minor at that time. The half of the estate he was to receive was entrusted to his mother Katherine, until her death.  

On September 11, 1678, John Budd forgives Katherine Fancy from all claims, demands and debts, and also forgives William Fanshaw/Fancy of a debt_____. (The page in the original record was torn.)  

The town proprietors voted and agreed to give William Fanshaw/Fancy, Jr. and Richard Clark 20 acres apiece of Upland with commonage for their cattle in December 1679, and the men said they were “nott expecking any more land of the towne.” William’s mother was still living in 1679.  It appears that William had no claim or ownership in his father’s proprietors right to town lands at that time.


In June of 1680 William, Jr. bought a bay horse from Thomas Biggs, Jr, for which he paid two barrels of merchantable oil. In November 1680 he swaps horses with Walter Jones, and in April 1681 he swaps the horse he got from Jones for a bay horse from John Hutton. 

On September 9, 1680 Katherine Fancy apparently begins giving her son William, Jr. part of his inheritance. Katherine gives William, Jr. her share of the Meadow at Conscience, the 6-acre lot in Old Field, 7 acres in the West Division, and her right in the Little Neck for him to “in Joy for ever after her desese.” 

It appears that William Fanshaw/Fancy, Jr. came into his majority between 1678 and 1680, which places his birth somewhere between 1655 and 1662. The records indicate that his trade was a weaver.  

On May 26 of 1682 William, Jr. exchanges land with his mother Katherine. The same day he creates a mortgage on his property and possessions. He is described as a weaver who is indebted to John Inions (Inian) of New York City.   (Around 1680  John Inian had purchased 10,000 acres in New Brunswick, New Jersey and was one of the proprietors and founders of that place.) William Fancy, Jr.’s mortgage includes 10 acres, the share of land at the Meadows, his home lot, 20 acres given by the town, and his loom and associated tackle.  The debt is to be paid in the next year.  There is no indication that William, Jr. did not pay this debt.    

William Fanshaw/Fancy, Jr. witnessed a deed in 1688 for Richard Smith to Jonathan Luce, in Huntington. In 1693, he signed a letter from the townsmen to the proprietors asking for the town to call and provide for a minister. A record in the Brookhaven Town Historian’s office shows William Fanshaw/Fancy, Jr. witnessed a deed between Col. William “Tangier” Smith of St. George Manor and Richard Clark in June 1696. 

Abigail “Fanshaw”, who is believed to have been William Fancy’s wife, was also a witness to a deed for Col. William “Tangier” Smith of St. George Manor in 1703. An undated “Plan of the Manner of Groton Hall on Nassaw alias Long Island In ye Province of New Yorke” shows Wawcoruck or Tarmans Neck “Under ye Improvement of Abagail Fancy widdow Tenant”. Abigail’s maiden name remains unknown. (It should be noted that in Stamford, Connecticut, John Fancher named his first-born daughter Abigail and Richard Fancher, after naming his first daughter for his wife Martha, named his second daughter Abigail. Joseph Fancher, of Cape May Co. New Jersey also named a daughter Abigail. This could suggest that Abigail (Unknown) was the mother of the youngest Fanshaw/Fancher siblings, and may have been William Fancy/Fanshaw, Jr.'s second wife.) 

William Fancy, Jr. resigned his earmark in 1720 to Ephraim Rose, but the entry in the town records is crossed out. This 1720 entry is the last mention of William, Jr. in the Brookhaven Town records.  

In the Suffolk County Court of Common Pleas, there are five recorded court cases involving a William Fanshaw/Fancy. At this time in 2003, the papers, and the details of these cases, have not been found.  The cases are: 

March 31, 1726 - William Fancy versus Jonathan Bayley
September 29, 1726 - Sundry Indians versus William Fancy
March 13, 1727 - Sundry Indians versus William Fancy
September 26, 1728 - William Fancy versus Clement Morris
October 2, 1729 - Clement Morris versus William Fancy

On the same day March 13, 1727 when William was in court, there was a similar case of Sundry Indians versus Richard Fancy. This Richard Fancy had registered, in Islip Town, a cattle earmark that was identical to the earmark of William Fancy, Sr.

5. Rachel Fancy, daughter of William Fancy

Rachel Fancy was married in Brookhaven before October 27, 1684 to Peter Whiteheare (Whittier). Her mother is presumed to have been William Fanshaw/Fancey’s second wife Katherine (Unknown) because Rachel is named in Katherine’s Will.

                                                            Richard Fancy of Long Island 

Later Long Island records show a Richard Fancy living there 1726/1727. The Court of Common Pleas in Southold, Suffolk County records of March 13, 1727 indicate two cases on the same day for Sundry Indians versus Richard Fancy and Sundry Indians versus William Fancy.  

Richard Fancy is presumed to be a son of William Fancy, Jr.  In 1726 Richard Fancy entered an earmark in Islip Town, Long Island, New York (identical to William Fancy, Jr.’s earmark registered in Brookhaven) as follows: “Mark for his creatures, a swallow fork on the right ear”. The following year Richard Fancy was involved in the above-mentioned Sundry Indians case with a William Fancy on the same day. ( Richard Fancy is presumed to be the same man as Richard Fanshaw/Fancher of Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut, and Morris Co., New Jersey.)



NEXT CHAPTER - The Erroneous Relationship of David Faucher to the Fancher Family