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Bedford Town


Bedford Town Hall is located at 321 Bedford Road, Bedford Hills NY 10507; phone: 914-666-4534.

Beginnings [1]

Bedford, as one of the ancient towns of the county, presents unique aspects. It is the only one of the first settlements having an inland location, and the only one whose original history stands quite apart from that of the remainder of the county, with no associations or relations binding it to other Westchester settlements of early origin and respectable importance. In common with Westchester, Eastchester, Pelham, and Rye, it was settled by Connecticut people; but, unlike these communities, it was by its isolation in the northern central portion of the county removed completely from New York environment and influence. Bedford, at least in later 19th century, was regarded as a purely New England village accidentally absorbed by New York.

What is now the Township of Bedford was a portion of the purchase made by Nathaniel Turner, for the New Haven colony, July 1, 1640, of a tract of land eight miles long on the Sound and extending sixteen miles into the wilderness to the northwest. Upon that tract the village of Stamford was begun in 1641; and in 1655 its interior extension was repurchased from the Indians by the people of Stamford. No attempt at settlement on the portion of the tract now known as Bedford town was made until 1680. In that year the Town of Stamford granted to twenty-two Stamford men, the lands known as the "Hop Grounds" lying "at the north end of Stamford bounds." Under this grant the beneficiaries, on the 23d of December, 1680, bought from Katonah, Rockaway, and several other Indians, the territory in question, 7,673 acres. The purchase thus made became known as "Bedford Three Miles Square." The whole of the southeastern portion of the present township—something more than one-third of the whole township in area—was included in it. Subsequent purchases were added at various times, the last being effected on the 23d of January, 1722. The various deeds of sale from the natives during the eighty-two years from 1640 to 1722 were signed, altogether, by thirty-five Indians.

According to Dr. Baird in his "History of the Bedford Church," the original settlers were nearly all the sons of English Puritans, founders of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, and there is no authority for the statement that they came from Bedfordshire, England, and from that circumstance gave the town its name. The name Bedford, says Dr. Baird, was probably bestowed by the general court of Connecticut, in accordance with the principle adopted many years before, intending, as they quaintly expressed it, "thereby to keep and leave to posterity the memorial of several places of note in our dear native country of England." In March, 1681, house lots were laid out, under a rule providing that each man's lot be "proportionable in quantity to what it lacks in quality." The other lands were divided on the same principle. The house lots adjoined one another on the village street, it being deemed advisable for the settlers to live close together as a precaution in case of Indian attack. May 12, 1681 the general court at Hartford officially recognized the settlement, and recommended that "there be a suitable lot laid out for ye first minister of ye place, and a lot for ye ministry to be and belong to ye ministry forever." This pious injunction was promptly obeyed, and as early as December, 1681, the town took steps to procure a minister. The general court, on May 16, 1682, issued an order to the effect that "Upon the petition of the people of the Hop Ground, this court doth grant them the privilege of a plantation, and does order that the name of the town shall henceforth be called Bedford." Joseph Theale was appointed as the "chief military officer for the training band," and Abram Ambler as magistrate. New proprietors were gradually admitted upon paying forty shillings each for shares in the undivided lands. About the end of the first year Joshua Webb was received as an inhabitant upon the understanding that he would erect and operate a mill. This arrangement was carried out, the mill being built on the Mianus River. All newcomers for very many years were New England people.

  1. Shonnard, Frederic and Spooner, W. W., History of Westchester County New York from Its Earliest Settlement to the Year 1900, New York History Company, New York, 1900.
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