Mary Gardiner, our 9th and 10th great-grandmother in the Mulford line, was born on 30 August 1638 in Old Saybrook, CT, to Lion Gardiner, 1st Lord of the Manor on Gardiner’s Island, and his wife Marielven Willemson Deurcant, quite obviously of Dutch descent.
It is safe to assume that Mary and her two siblings, her older brother David and her younger sister Elisabeth, grew up on Gardiner’s Island. Lion Gardiner purchased the island the year after Mary’s birth, in 1639, and gained the “right to possess the land forever” from the King of England.
Mary was named after her mother, whose Dutch name quite plainly translates to ‘Mary’, and we do not know much about her life until in 1658. In that year Mary’s sister Elizabeth died (in February), and Mary married Jeremiah Conkling, most likely in East Hampton on Long Island, NY, where they then lived and raised their family.
Their first child was a daughter and they named her Mary Gardiner Conkling, thus giving her her mother’s maiden name as a middle name. This was not altogether uncommon, it seems: It happened in the same way to Elizabeth Wise Speer and Sally Wise Felton in the Denney line of our family tree. Mary Gardiner Conkling went on to marry into the Mulford line, and there you have three prominent names of the 17th century Suffolk County together: Gardiner, Conkling, Mulford.
Altogether, Jeremiah and Mary had five or six children, accounts vary, and they appear to have stayed in East Hampton where Jeremiah was an upstanding member of the community. He passed on 16 years before Mary, in 1711, and she followed him on 15 June 1727 when she was 88. She was laid to rest with Jeremiah in South End Cemetery in East Hampton. The inscription on her tombstone reads:
Requiescat in Pace, Great-Grandma Conkling. To have lived to the ripe old age of 88 in 17th and 18th century colonial America is quite the achievement!