Rev. Benjamin Woolsey and Abigail Taylor

Long Island Forum
Rev. Benjamin Woolsey of Dosoris
Dr. Clarence Ashton Wood

Colonial Neighbors

After a twenty years pastorate at Southold, Rev. Benjamin Woolsey retired and without the responsibilities of a parish, whiling living with his wife Abigail from 1736 to 1756 at Dosoris, her 300 acre patrimony now lost within the precincts of the city of Glen Cove, continued at times to hear marital vows, console his afflicted neighbors, bury their dead and frequently preach at Hempstead, or more often at some private residence, without a collection.


What is more and most unusual, the Woolseys often provided a free dinner in their hospitable home to those who came from a distance to har the dominie's discourse. There is no record of like generosity during their earlier domicile of sixteen years, 1720 to 1736, at the East End village, where Rev. Woolsey served as the third pastor of its then Congregational Church.

The generous parson and good wife were of course differently circumstanced during their earlier years at Southold than later at old Musketa Cove. They had arrived at Southold with three small children, Melancthon, Sarah and Benjamin. Later additions to the family were daughters Mary, Abigail and Elizabeth.

Within a few years after the relocation of the family at Musketa Cove in close proximity to the shore of Long Island Sound, the two eldest Woolsey children married into the Lloyd family of Lloyd Neck.

Melancthon Taylor Woolsey married in 1742 Rebecca, daughter of Henry and Rebecca (Nelson) Lloyd, owners of the Neck. The young couple named their first child Theodosia which name thereafter occurs frequently in all branches of the Woolsey family.

Sarah Woolsey, the preacher's eldest daughter, in 1741 married John Lloyd, brother of Rebecca. John became a gentleman farmer like his father on the Neck. During the Revolution he was employed as commissary for the State of Connecticut.

Henry Lloyd, the father of John, wrote the following lettter Oct. 10, 1741 to his neighbor Rev. Woolsey at Dosoris relative to the romance approaching full bloom between John and Sarah:

"Sir: As my son John has sometime made suit to your daughter, Miss Sarah, I conclude it is with your and Mrs. Woolsey's approbation; and, at his request, I hereby signify mine, hoping if they come together, it may be to their mutual happiness and with the good liking of all concerned. His circumstances being such as to enable him to live comfortably without any immediate dependence on me, I think little need be said on that head, only thus far - as he is my son and has much of my affection, I have, in the disposition of what estate I possess, considered him as such, without being over-concerned to make an older son to the disinheriting of the younger children. And I shall trust that Mrs. Woolsey and you will provide for Miss Sarah, as your daughter. I pray our best regards may be acceptable to yourself and lady, not forgetting your young lady. I am, sir, your very humble servant."


Sarah's younger brother Benjamin Woolsey married Ann Muirson, daughter of Dr. George Muirson, physician at Setauket. Mary Muirson Woolsey, daughter of that couple married March 3, 1777, Timothy Dwight, president of Yale College, 1795 to 1817.

Rev. Benjamin Woolsey was the son of Capt. George Woolsey, born on western Long Island in 1652, and grandson of George Woolsey, born at Yarmouth, England, in 1610, who was a grandson of an earlier Rev. Benjamin Woolsey, minister at Rotterdam, Holland.

Captain George Woolsey of Yarmouth had become an early resident of New Amsterdam and in 1647 had purchased a plantation and house at Flushing for his recent bride Rebecca Cornell. In 1664 he acquired land at Jamaica from the town. There in 1673 he was chosen town clerk. He died 1698.

Benjamin, the future clergyman, was born at Jamaica in 1687 and graduated from Yale in 1709 at the age of 22. He and Abigail, daughter of John Taylor of Oyster Bay, were married 1714. Six years later he was installed in the Southold Church.

Two years after the settlement of the Woolseys at Southold, Rev. Woolsey bought for 300 pounds the land at Beaver Ponds, Jamaica, which his father had inherited. He also bought the old school house for twelve shillings.

In 1735 Abigail, the pastor's wife, inherited several hundred acres at Musketa Cove and the next year with their six children removed to that estate, which Abigail's father had bought from his father-in-law, Daniel Whitehead of Oyster Bay, for 300 pounds. Whitehead had acquired it for a like sum from Lewis Morris of Barbadoes.


The Woolseys named their new abode Dosoris, a contraction from dox uxoris, meaning wife's dowry. Capt. George Woolsey, Benjamin's father, soon came to live with them. Rev. Benjamin Woolsey died in 1756 while Abigail lived until 1771, dying at Stamford, Connecticut. Three fifths of Dosoris was devised to their son Melancthon and the remainder to his brother Benjamin. In 1760 Nathaniel Coles bought Dosoris, paying Melancthon 4,000 pounds for his shares and Benjamin 3,600 pounds. Thereafter the property was bequeathed to John Butler Coles and General Nathaniel Coles.

Rev. Woolsey was interred in a private burying ground located on a knoll about 200 rods northeast of the Dosoris residence where sixteen years earlier his father had been buried. Dr. Epher Whitaker a century or more later found the burying ground a grove of locust trees while Dr. Benjamin Woodbridge Dwight of Clinton, N.Y., a descendant, described Dosoris as being in a most "forlorn and forbidden state."

old buildings

In 1850 the property was acquired by George James Price. The mansion, which had been enlarged eight years before, was then a double two-story structure with a wide hall running through the center from south to north, the west end having been the home of Rev. Benjamin and Abigail (Taylor) Woolsey. The building has since been demolished.

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