Gravesend Town Plan

Creator: Lady Deborah Moody, ca. 1645

Context: Lady Moody left England for the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1639 in search of religious freedom. Instead, she encountered intolerance for her Anabaptist beliefs in New England.

Lady Deborah Moody created the town plan for Gravesend after receiving a town charter from the Dutch colonial Governor William Kieft in 1645.

Governor Kieft granted Lady Moody and her followers many rights to the land on Long Island including the right to practice any religion in peace, free from persecution.

Audience: The audience for this town plan was her Anabaptist followers who would be settling the town of Gravesend. Another audience was the colonial Dutch government based in New Amsterdam.

Purpose: The town plan for Gravesend was intended to organize the settlers into an organized community centered around social meeting areas. Each family or household would be in charge of their own parcel of land, intended to be used for agricultural sustenance for themselves and the community of Gravesend.

Historical Significance: Gravesend was the only permanent town in the early period of America's colonization to be settled, planned and directed by a woman. Gravesend was also the first British settlement in the Dutch colony of New Netherland. Eventually New Netherland would fall to the British in 1664 and be renamed New York.