Francis Muncy & William Muncy: Are They Related

Francis Muncy, married in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1659. His son John was born in Ipswich in October 1660. Sometime after that date, probably 1662 or 1663, he and his small family relocated to the community of Setauket (Brookhaven Township) on Long Island, New York. Francis Muncy led an active successful life as reflected in the town records, but he died a young man in 1674. His widow Hannah and two sons, John and Samuel, kept the property for a few years even after moving away after Hannah’s remarriage.

Just a few years later a William Muncy was recorded in a listing of drawings for town lots Patchogue (Brookhaven) – and in unusual circumstances.

Who was the William Muncy in Patchogue, Brookhaven, New York in 1678?

Patchogue is a village in the township of Brookhaven, and is located about 14 miles from Setauket on the south shore of Long Island. In the clerk’s records at Patchogue there is mention of a William Munsey on the records of a drawing for town lots in 1678. Respected genealogist D.O.S. Lowell, in his book “A Munsey-Hopkins Genealogy” (1920) described the circumstances under which William Muncy’s name appears:

In the record of a drawing for 50 town “lotts” we find the following list:

not william muncy    ould John

Mr. Woodhull1 blank

Zachary Hawkins1 blank

William Sallier1 blank

Andrew Miller2 blanks

Thomas Smith1 blank

etc. etc.

Evidently after “william muncy’ had been written, the word “not” was inserted before “william”; then both words (“not william”) were lined through rather clumsily with a pen, and “ould John” was written after “muncy.”

What should we infer from this?

First of all, that there was a William Munsey in the mind of the scribe, and probably in the vicinity; second, that he was not the man who drew for the lot; and third, that “old John” Somebody drew (a blank, doubtless), and “not william muncy.”

Lowell goes on to explain that “ould John” should not be attributed to an “ould John Muncy” but rather to “ould John” Thompson who is frquently referred to in Patchogue town records.

Mr. Lowell is incorrect in attributing “ould John” to John Thompson. Brookhaven records have frequent references in drawing for lots attributed to “Francis Muncy & Old John Thomas.” Evidently at some time both John Thomas and Francis Muncy received a one-half share as proprietors, and in future lot drawings they combined  Muncy and Thomas as a unit for drawing, assuming that each would get one-half of the share drawn. There are references in the records where it is listed as “Muncy & Old John Thomas.” (He was referred to as “ould John” to distinguish him from his son John Thomas, not because he was ancient. Referring to a father as “old John” in lieu of John Senior was common at the time. )

There is no further mention of William Muncy in the Brookhaven records. Interestingly of the list drawing for lots cited above, ALL  of the others were residents (proprietors) of Setauket.  They may have been drawing for lots to relocate, to add to their personal property, to provide a better location for the whale oil trade, or for resale.

Who was this William Munsey? He disappears from the Brookhaven records but he almost certainly is the William Munsey who appears as a witness on a deed in 1686 in Oyster River (now Durham) New Hampshire. At that time he lived in Kittery, Maine, but later moved to Dover, New Hampshire. He accidentally drowned in 1698. William Munsey married Margaret (Clements?) about 1675, three years before the drawing for lots in Patchogue. He had three children: William, Margaret and John. The genealogy of William Munsey is covered in “A Munsey-Hopkins Genealogy” by Daniel Ozro Smith Lowell, privately printed in Boston 1920. Online resources such as ANCESTRY.COM have numerous family trees that link to this William Muncy—unfortunately all of them wrong! A sad fact of such online resources is that once a mistake is made, it is repeated and compounded by subsequent links. Many of these errors are based on a misreading of the information contained in “New England Marriages Prior to 1700.”

Were William and Francis Muncy Related?

I believe that William Munsey may have been the younger brother of Francis Muncy. I base this on circumstantial evidence only and there is no proof. Much is based on “naming patterns” during the time period. It was extremely common to name a male (frequently the first male) child after the father of his father.  Francis Muncy’s father may have been named John. Francis Muncy named his first son John. William Munsey named his first son after himself, but he named his second son John. William Munsey married  Margaret Clement about 1675. In “New England Marriages Prior to 1700”  (pub. 1985/revised 1992) William Munsey is listed and noted as having lived in Dover, NH, Kittery, ME and Brookhaven, Long Island.

A William Muncy was born to John and Martha Muncy in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, England in 1644 and could have been a brother to Francis Muncy. It is interesting that someone with a surname as rare as Muncy would appear in the same township on Long Island just a few years after Francis’ death.

If William Munsey was the younger brother or cousin of Francis, he probably came to America in the late 1660’s or early 1670’s, and probably came under the same circumstances as Francis—as an indentured servant. After his indenture ended, he may have moved to Long Island seeking to establish his family in a growing community in which his older brother lived— perhaps even working for his brother Francis.

After his brother’s death, he may have attended the drawing for lots in Patchoguue. After the death of his brother and finding that land acquisition was more difficult, he relocated to Maine and New Hampshire near his wife’s family who was establishing a new community in that area.

As I have indicated, this is circumstantial evidence — but there appears too much coincidence in two Muncys being in Brookhaven to be unrelated.

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