Jupiter Hammon was born on October 17, 1711 on Lloyd Neck. Jupiter’s father, Obadiah, was a slave belonging to Henry Lloyd and his wife, Rebecca. From the beginning Jupiter was close to the Lloyd family. He lived in the Manor house with the family, and went to school with the Lloyd children. This closeness is further evidenced by the fact that he is referred to as “brother Jupiter” in later correspondence between the Lloyd sons and their father.
Jupiter worked alongside Henry in Henry’s business, and he was often sent to New York City to negotiate trade deals. Henry credited Jupiter with being an astute negotiator, as well as being scrupulously honest. Henry’s reliance on him indicates that Jupiter’s education went far beyond the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.
It is clear from his writings that Jupiter Hammon was also a deeply religious man. His first published poem, which appeared in 1761, was entitled “An Evening Prayer”, and it trumpeted Jupiter’s belief in God and the Bible. When published the credits read: Composed by Jupiter Hammon, a Negro belonging to Mr. Lloyd of Queen’s Village, on Long Island, the 25th of December, 1760.
Henry Lloyd died in 1763, and Jupiter went to live with Henry’s son, Joseph. Joseph Lloyd was a patriot during the Revolutionary War, and when the British captured New York and confiscated his land he fled to Connecticut, taking Jupiter with him. When the war ended they returned to the Manor, where Jupiter continued to write poetry and prose.
Plaque presented to the Lloyd Harbor Historical Society by the Association of Afro-American Life and History
Title Page from one of the publications by Jupiter Hammon
Jupiter went on to become a leader in the African American community. In 1787 he delivered a speech to the African Society of New York City entitled “An Address to the Negroes in the State of New York”. In the speech he empathized with their disappointment at not having been emancipated by the new American government, but he cautioned them that it was extremely difficult for the lower classes to earn a living, and they should content themselves with obeying the will of God.
Jupiter Hammon’s death was unrecorded, but historians place it somewhere around 1806. He spent his final years living with John Nelson Lloyd, a great-grandson of Henry. He was buried on Lloyd land, in an unmarked grave.
Lloyd Harbor was a part of Henry’s manor. Fishing and duck hunting in Lloyd Harbor earned fees for Henry. So did hunting on the land, horse grazing, and trapping. The magnificent stands of oaks and chestnuts provided superb masts for the sailing ships of the British navy or colonial trading ships. Henry’s ability to import apple trees enabled him to turn his prolific crops into apple cider and to earn him a considerable sum from his extensive apple cider trading business in the other English colonies and in the Caribbean. The Manor also contained fecund salt and fresh water ponds and enough grazing land to support the large variety of animals needed to supply meat, hides, wool, candles, powder horns, bristles for brushes and plaster, etc., for the Manor and for trade. Together, the natural resources of Lloyd Neck, coupled with the ability to import/export goods, enabled the Manor to flourish under Henry’s guidance.
When Rebecca died, Henry married a widow with children of her own. When Henry died in 1763, he left the Manor to his four surviving sons, Henry II, Joseph, John and James. The sons received unequal portions of the Manor from their father. Henry had paid for James’ medical education in England, and James became the first obstetrician/pediatrician in the colonies. Noting the cost of James’ education, Henry justified his decision regarding the unequal property subdivision. Nathaniel, the son who had pre-deceased Henry, had left only a daughter as a survivor. Since women could not inherit land without it becoming the property of their husbands, Henry left his daughters and granddaughter a sum of money.