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The 77 Acres of prime Manhattan real estate is at the crux of the tale. This land includes much of the financial center of New York, including the ill-fated World Trade Centre, and had been valued at up to $680 Billion US (before Sept. 11th).

The source of the fortune, depending on which version you follow, is either Thomas HALL\HAEL (1611-1699), or his Great-grandson Robert EDWARDS (1716-1788). One version has it that Thomas HALL was given land by the Dutch of "New Amsterdam" (now New York) for warning them so that they could evacuate the women and children before he shelled the city with his British gunboat. This land supposedly passed to his wife, Anna MEDFORD and then to his daughter Elizabeth (1640-1703), who married Thomas EDWARDS (1639-1705). The problem is that there are no baptism records or marriage records that indicate there were any children of Thomas and Anna, and she sold some land (maybe all of it?) to William BEEKMAN in 1670. Some histories show Thomas had an earlier marriage to Mary Elizabeth DRURY and that Elizabeth was their daughter. Assuming that Elizabeth actually did inherit the land (or some of it), then it would have passed to her husband, and through him to his eldest son Robert EDWARDS (1662-ca1738). This Robert married Margaret CUELIN (1666-1738) and they had (apparently) 10 children, one being Thomas Nathaniel (1690-1781) who married Isabella Elizabeth DOWNING (1694-1785). There appears to be no information on the descendants of his siblings. How he would have ended up with inheriting the land is not clear, as some brothers were supposed to be born before him.

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Q: What did the name Robert Edwards have to do with New York in 1700's?
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