The founders of Hudson called themselves "the Proprietors," and it always seemed there was something unique to Hudson about that particular application of the term. That turns out not to be true.
A reader who is spending a few days in Nantucket, where many of Hudson's Proprietors came from, sent me this picture of the sign for a restaurant there.
As it happens, Nantucket had its own Proprietors, more than a century before Hudson came to be, and the role of the Proprietors there and here was quite similar. Here's story of Nantucket's founding as told on the Nantucket Historical Association website.
In 1659, Thomas Mayhew, a Puritan leader, purchased a portion of Nantucket directly from the Wampanoags who inhabited the island. Mayhew, in turn, sold the island to a group of nine English settlers from Massachusetts and New Hampshire who wanted to develop their own community outside the boundaries of Puritan control. Among the buyers were Thomas Macy, Mayhew's cousin, and Tristram Coffin, father of the Coffin family in America. This group of families became the "original proprietors" of Nantucket.
Compare the story of Hudson's beginnings. The land was purchased from the Mohicans in 1662 by Jan Frans Van Hoesen. More than a century later, Van Hoesen's descendants sold the land on which Hudson is situated to a group, primarily from Nantucket, who called themselves "the Proprietors." Among Hudson's Proprietors are two with the same surnames as some of the Nantucket Proprietors: Reuben Macy and Alexander Coffin.
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