The Landlords Assert their Claims

In the early 1750’s the Philipse heirs had comprehensive surveys of the Highland Patent area conducted, divided the Patent in several third parts among themselves, and began a series of actions to expand and secure their land claims in the area. This assertion of land claims by the Hudson River landlords defined the next several decades, and ushered in a period of unrest and conflict with the New England Yankee settlers and migrants that extended through the Revolution.

One possibility for expanding the bounds of the Patent derived from changes in magnetic declination (the result of the gradual shifting of the magnetic poles). The 1691 deed of purchase from the Indians set the line of the northern boundary as “eastwards in the woods” and in one place the royal patent (1697) said the tract is “bounded Northerly and Southerly by East and West Lines.” The surveyor noted (1753) that adjusting for changes in compass direction in the intervening 68[?] years would result in a line E 3-degrees N of the due east line “Col. Beekman wants” which would result in a wedge of additional land about .8 of a mile wide at the eastern end. (No corresponding change in the southern boundary with Cortlandt’s Patent, which would have resulted in a loss of land to the Philipse heirs, seems to have been proposed.)

The northern boundary of the Highland Patent had been defined in one place in the royal patent (1697) as along Rombouts and Beekman’s Patents. On the other hand, the Rombout and Beekman’s purchases and Patents set their southern boundaries along the Fishkill and adjacent lowlands. The Highlands raising south and east of the Fishkill and north of an east line were then either: 1) unsold territory still belonging to the Indians (an argument not given credence by the Patent holders); 2) a gore of unclaimed land open to settlement (of which Connecticut families attempted to take possession and for which some of them secured titles from the Indians); or 3) part of the three Patents but with an unresolved boundary. The landlords quashed all other claims and in compromises defined the boundaries and divided the lands among themselves. As a result of the compromises, the northern line of the Philipse heirs’ properties was moved farther north: along a E 6-degrees N bearing between Rombout and Philipse Highland Patents (1771), and between theirs and the Beekman Patent (1758), into a block of territory that included much of present-day Pawling (in which the Philipse heirs held their third parts in common and to which they referred therefore as “The Undivided,” commonly also called The Gore).

In 1761 the Philipse heirs secured a Patent for the two pieces of land formerly parts of New Fairfield and Ridgefield, Connecticut “at the Distance of Twenty Miles from Hudson River and between the Lands formerly Granted to Adolph Phillipse Esq. Deceased and the Equivalent Lands surrendered by the Collony of Connecticut.”