Tristram Coffin Homestead Site Marker History

Capaum Pond Road

Acquired 1981

In 1879, Owen Tristram Coffin of Peekskill, New York, and Charles G. Coffin of Nantucket funded the erection of a monument to mark the supposed site of the house of Tristram Coffin, one of the original proprietors and the progenitor of the Coffin family in America.

The monument comprised a granite post supporting a marble slab engraved  with the words, “Homestead of Tristram Coffin.” Local tradition said Coffin’s first dwelling on Nantucket was built “on a hill in a valley between two hills and between two ponds,” while old deeds said the house, erected about 1661, was “under the hill” near Capaum Harbor  The location selected for the monument was a guess based on these vague data points. The monument and the one-hundred-foot square of land around it were given to the NHA in 1981 by R. Draper Richards, a descendant of Tristram and Dionis Coffin.

Tristram Coffin (1609–1681) came to America from Devonshire, England, in 1642. In 1659, he joined eight other men from the Merrimack Valley towns in purchasing land rights to parts of Nantucket from Thomas Mayhew, who had secured rights to the island from the English crown in 1641. Coffin was appointed the first chief magistrate of Nantucket. He and his wife, Dionis, had five sons who perpetuated the Coffin family name. Their daughter, Mary, married Nathaniel Starbuck and became known as “Great Mary” for her leadership in the early community and her conversion to Quakerism.

Adapted from the Nantucket Historical Association Properties Guide, Tristram Coffin Homestead Site Marker by Betsy Tyler, 2015.

Banner image of Tristram Coffin Homestead Site Marker, ca. 1880s. (GPN3205)

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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