Ken Gottry - Cambridge NY History

On July 23, 1761 Cadwallader Colden's patent for the Cambridge settlement was signed. It is recorded in Volume 13 of Patents in the State Land Bureau at page 395. It begins


GEORGE THE THIRD by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King Defender of the Faith and so forth To all to whom Presents shall come Greeting WHEREAS our loving subjects (a list of 62 names follows) by their humble Petition presented to our trusty and well beloved Cadwallader Colden Esquire our President of our Council and Commander in Chief of our Province of New York and the Territories depending thereon in America in Council on the tenth day of June now last past have set forth . . .

There were four tracts of land granted by this patent: 

  • 1,150      acres which became the present Lansingburgh
  • 3,700      acres northerly from Tomhannock
  • 24.650      acres which, along with a northern section of the Hoosick Patent, became      the present Town of Pittstown
  • 31,500      acres for the Cambridge District, which today is the towns of Cambridge,      White Creek, and Jackson.      Some listed boundaries of this tract      include Patent of Saraghtage, Poghquampecack Creek, Wallumschack      tract, and Donondohowe Creek (Batten Kill which      was also called Ondawa)

The Patent also declared the name of our community.

... AND we do also of our especial Grace certain knowledge and meer Motion created erect and constitute the Tract or Parcel of Land hereby granted and distinguished as aforesaid by the name or Distinction of the fourth Tract and every part and parcel thereof a Township for ever hereafter to be continued and remain by the name of CAMBRIDGE for ever hereafter to be called and known.

Many of the grantees of this patent were residents of Hebron,  CT, who had made great plans for a settlement hereabouts. The continuance of the French and Indian War brought high prices, debt, and distress. Probably as a result of this many grantees transferred their rights into the hands of four original patentees (Isaac Sawyer, Edmund Wells, Joseph Wells, and Jacob Abraham Lansing) and three of the provincial government (Alexander Colden, William Smith, and Goldsbrow Banyar). Of these only one (Edmund Wells) settled in Cambridge, his homestead now the Wheel House on the Turnpike. The 31,500 acres were divided among the original 30 families that settled here.

Between 1761 and 1764 the first families settled in Cambridge, which was part of Albany County, a tract of land that extended north almost to Canada. Thomas Morrison owned lot number 9 which is the center of today's village. Morrison's son was likely the first child born in Cambridge.

As to why the name of Cambridge was chosen for this District there is no definite information. It was common to use the title of royal family, as William Pitt's name was chosen for Pittstown. But the dukedom of Cambridge, created by George II in 1706, had lapsed in 1727 and was not revived until 1801. Therefore the title of Cambridge had long been in abeyance when the Cambridge Patent was granted, never did belong to George III, and seems unlikely to have been in Cadwallader Colden's mind in 1761. No connection can be found with the English Cambridgeshire or Cambridge  University.

So, what's the official name of a 250th anniversary? Here are 3 commonly used words

  • Sestercentennial - To express 2 and one-half in      Latin it would be expressed as "half-three". The term relates to      being halfway [from the second] to the third integer. In Latin this is      "Sestertius" which is a contraction of      semis (halfway) tertius (third) - hence Sestercentennial.
  • Semiquincentennial Probably a modern      coined term: semi- (half) ╫ quin (5) times cen(t)- (100) times centennial (250 years)
  • Bicenquinquagenary Used by Princeton       University in 1996, Reading,       PA in 1998, and Washington      and Lee University      in 1999. It is a coined word for an anniversary of 250 years, but the      elements of the word literally refer to an anniversary of 10,000 years, as      follows: bi- (2) times cen(t)- (100) times quinquagenary (50 years)

Reference: Old Cambridge District by Amos DeLany Moscrip, written in 1941 for the Ondawa-Cambridge Chapter DAR on the 180th anniversary of the granting of the Cambridge Patent


Cambridge Patent Available for Download

The entire Cambridge Patent was photocopied by NYS Special Services from the archives of the N YS Land Bureau now part of the DEC. It's nine pages and 1.2MB. So be patient.  

Many old maps continued into the mid 1800s to show the patent lot boundaries and numbers. Old deeds often trace their boundaries back to the 1761 patent lines.