This article appeared in a series of articles pertaining to the early history of twenty two families of Westchester County, New York. They were published during the summer and fall of 1951 as part of a special feature in the Westchester Group Newspapers and Affiliates. The author was Maureen McKernan. The article on Griffen family was the 22nd of the series.
In 1711, when John Griffen was twenty-three and his brother Benjamin was twenty-one, they set themselves to build the long stone fence that divided the farms their father, John Griffen of Flushing and Mamaroneck, had chosen for them on the uplands above the little village of Mamaroneck.
Today that stone fence can still be seen. Strong as it ever was, it runs from Griffen Avenue, on the Scarsdale line, past the front door of the house which Benjamin built and is today owned by Robert M. Stopford. It crosses the Old White Plains Road at sharp angle at the back entrance of Winged Foot Golf Club, across Saxon Woods Park and comes out on Winfield Avenue, Mamaroneck near the little brook which spills from Gedney Pond.
The John Griffen who chose this land for his sons, was the son of Edward Griffen of Flushing, ancestor of the Westchester Griffens. Many of them now spell the name "Griffin". There is no larger nor older family of the original Quaker settlers in Westchester than the Griffens. Those who love Westchester deeply have a little extra sentiment for Edward Griffen, the first to come here. He came because he fell in love with the gentle hills that roll back from the Sound and with the sheltered little coves and bays between the points of land today known as Shore Acres and Oriental Point.
At any rate, Edward Griffen explored the coastline before 1661 and acted as John Richbell's interpreter in the purchase of Mamaroneck from the Indian Sachems, Wappaquewam and his brother Mahatahan in ceremonies that took place Sept. 21, 1661, at the mouth of the Mamaroneck River.
Edward Griffen was a Welchman, born in 1602 in Wales where the name was originally Pengruffwnd. He settled in Flushing about 1653 and records show that in 1657 he signed a protest to Governor Peter Stuyvesant against repressive laws passed against the Quakers.
His name appears in association with John Richbell in purchases of Oyster Bay land before 1661 and he is last mentioned in a Flushing census of 1698.
His sons Richard, who married Susannah Haight of Rye, Edward, who married Deborah Barnes in Mamaroneck, and John all lived in Mamaroneck and their descendants married into the original English families, particularly such families as Coles, Haviland, Gedney, Cornell and Palmer. Edward also had a son Edward, born in Flushing about 1655 who died in Mamaroneck in 1742.
An Architectural Gem
Benjamin, who built the smaller portion of the old house at the bend o Old Mamaroneck-White Plains Road married Mary Disbrow, daughter of a close friend and associate of John Richbell's. The two-story section of their house, was built after 1800, according to Selleck Coles of Mamaroneck, by Stephen Griffen, Benjamin's grandson. This house is one of the architectural gems of Westchester.
As beautiful but of a later date is the house built by Daniel Griffen on Old White Plains Road at Griffen Avenue, south of Hutchinson Parkway. Known now as the Hall Place, this house sheltered five generations of Griffens and here was born Miss Amy Griffen of Mamaroneck, last generation to be born there.
Joseph, a brother of John and Benjamin moved to Bedford.
Jacob, John's son, moved to Harrison before 1723 and his farm was part of today's Maplemoor Golf Club on North Avenue. He may have built all or part of the lovely house that stands on the west side of North Avenue, commanding a sweeping view of the valley of the Hutchinson. It is the home of his descendant, Chauncey B. Griffen, the realtor.
Others Moved Up-County
Adam (1702-1752) another son of John, moved to Cortland Manor while his brother Ezekiel (1706-1782) settled in Bedford. Edward, a son of Richard and grandson of the first Edward, (1708-1785) lived in today's Mount Pleasant town, was assessor in Philipsburgh Manor in 1757, died in Dutchess County in 1785.
John, a grandson of the first John, married Dorcas Quimby and their son John married Hannah Haviland. Hannah's son Joseph, born in 1738, married Jane Cornell of another great Quaker family. The present Supervisor of Scarsdale, George W. Cornell, is of this family.
Benjamin, who built the enduring house, had a son Henry, who lived in Rye and another son, Benjamin, who had nine children who married into such families as Hatfield, Horton, Purdy and Hart. William, Benjamin's third son, lived in Scarsdale. Caleb, his brother died in White Plains in 1790.
Capt. Jacob Griffen, who was a lieutenant colonel in the Revolutionary War died in Fishkill in 1800, was a grandson of John of the Old Road. Capt. Jacob's brother, John, lived in Yorktown. One of this John's seven children married Havilands. Ezekiel of Bedford, their father, is the ancestor of most of the Northern Westchester branches of the family.
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