Cornwall County, New York Genealogy

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Cornwall County was created by New York in present-day Maine and the Cornwall name was re-used until the last time it was attached to Massachusetts. Cornwall began in 1665 on land granted to the Duke of York mostly in today's Maine. The original New York county reached from the St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean between the Kennebec and St. Croix rivers. This area today is most of Aroostook, Piscataquis, Washington, Hancock, Penobscot, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, Kennebec, Somerset, and Sagadahoc counties, and part of Quebec.[1] The Cornwall County name was extinguished in 1692 when Massachusetts renamed it Yorkshire.

In 1667 the French claimed the Quebec part of Cornwall County by the Treaty of Breda. As part of the Third Dutch-Anglo War in 1673 Massachusetts claimed Cornwall County and in 1674 created the new Devonshire County from the southwest part of Cornwall.[2][3][4] However, both counties were lost in war to the Abenaki Tribe in 1675.[5] In 1683 Cornwall was reconstituted to its full size again as part of New York.[6] In 1687 New York's claim finally ended when Cornwall was transferred to the Dominion of New England Genealogy.[7] When New England transferred it to Massachusetts in 1692, its name was changed to Yorkshire, and Cornwall ceased to be used in Massachusetts or Maine. Most of the land of the old Cornwall County was included as part of Maine when it was separated from Massachusetts and Maine became a state in 1820.

Records. Depending on the years involved, researchers should search for records of Cornwall County in New York state repositories, Massachusetts state repositories, Maine state repositories, or York County, Maine repositories.

History[edit | edit source]

  • Formed in 1664 from the Colonial Lands.
  • A Gazetteer of the State of Maine, by George J. Varney:
    • York County formed the south-western portion of the State, grew into its present name and form by degrees, and during a long period. Its beginning may be considered to have been the establishment of the government of the Province of Maine in 1640, by the proprietor, Sir Ferdinando Gorges.
    • The limits of this province extended from the Piscataqua River to the Kennebec. The province soon came to be considered as two districts, first spoken of as the East and West districts, or counties, of which the Kennebunk River was regarded as the dividing line.
    • The town of York being the shire town of the western section, that portion gradually came to be called York district, or county, the other being called Somerset or New Somerset.
    • The Kennebunk River also proved to be the western boundary of the temporary Province of Lygonia.
    • In 1652, Maine came under the control of Massachusetts, and the Isles of Shoals and all the territory northward of Piscataqua River to the White Mountains, and thence eastward to Penobscot Bay, were included in the re-named and extended jurisdiction of Yorkshire. All this was overturned by the King's commissioners in 1664, who revived the divisions as established by Georges and formed the territory east of the Kennebec into the county of Cornwall.
    • In 1667, however Massachusetts purchased the Province of Maine of Georges' heirs; and again Yorkshire was extended westward as far as the Kennebec.
    • In 1716, the General Court ordered the extension of Yorkshire, as to include all the settlements eastward; and accordingly Penobscot Bay became again the eastern boundary.
    • In 1735, courts were ordered to be held at York and Falmouth, and the county received its present name.
    • The establishment in 1760 of the new county of Cumberland, gave York County its present boundary on that side.
    • In 1805, Oxford was formed when York County assumed its present limits.
  • Under the Treaty of Breda, half of Cornwall went to France and half went to Massachusetts, according to Maine History, Louis Clinton Hatch, Ph.D., 1919, The American Historical Society, page 16.

Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. Williamson, William D. History of the State of Maine, from its First Discovery, A.D. 1602, to the Separation, A.D. 1820, Inclusive. 2 vols.; Hallowell, Maine; 1832. Vol 1; P.421.
  2. Williamson, William D. History of the State of Maine, from its First Discovery, A.D. 1602, to the Separation, A.D. 1820, Inclusive. 2 vols.; Hallowell, Maine; 1832. Vol. 1; P.443.
  3. Reid, John G; Maine, Charles II and Massachusetts: Governmental Relationships in Early Northern New England.; Portland, Maine: Maine Historical Society Research Series Number 1; 1977; Page. 138.
  4. Massachusetts. Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England.; Vol. 5; Page16.
  5. Williamson, William D. History of the State of Maine, from its First Discovery, A.D. 1602, to the Separation, A.D. 1820, Inclusive. 2 vols.; Hallowell, Maine; 1832. Vol. 1; P.446.
  6. New York: Commissioners of Statutory Revision:Colonial Laws of New York from the year 1664 to the Revolution, including the Charters of the Duke of York, the Commissions and instructions to Colonial Governors, the Duke's Laws, the Laws of the Dongan and Leisler Assemblies, the Charters of Albany and New York, and the acts of the Colonial Legislatures from 1691 to 1775, inclusive. Report to the Assembly #107, 1894. five Volumes. Albany, New York; 1894 - 1896.Chapter 4; Volume 1; Page 122.
  7. Barnes, 69-70; New Hampshire. Laws of New Hampshire, Including Public and Private Acts and Resolves, 1680–1835, 1:166, 171.