Southold is one of ten towns in Suffolk County, New York, United States. It is located in the northeastern tip of the county, on the North Fork of Long Island. The population was 21,968 at the 2010 census. The town also contains a hamlet named Southold, which was settled in 1640.
Southold was settled in 1640 and in most histories is not reported as the first English settlement on Long Island in the future New York State although Lion Gardiner established a manor on Gardiners Island in East Hampton a year earlier in 1639. The Dutch had settled around Albany, New York in 1615 and at Manhattan in 1625.
English Puritans from New Haven Colony in Connecticut settled in Southold on October 21, 1640. Under the leadership of the Reverend John Youngs, with Peter Hallock, the settlement consisted of the families of Barnabas Horton, John Budd, John Conklin, William Wells, John Tuthill, Thomas Mapes, Richard Terry, Matthias Corwin, Robert Akerly, Zachariah Corey and Isaac Arnold. They had purchased the land in the summer of 1640 from the group of Lenape who lived in the territory they called Corchaug. Settlers spelled the Indian name of what became Southold as Yennicott.
New Haven supervised Southold until 1662, and it was under the Connecticut Colony until 1674. Both colonies sought to establish the town as a theocracy. New Haven did not permit other churches to operate at all, while Connecticut allowed freedom of religion.
When the Dutch took control of the colony of New York in 1673, the eastern towns, including Southold, East Hampton and Southampton, refused to submit; the Dutch attempted to force the matter by arms, and the colonists of the towns repelled them, with assistance from Connecticut. When New York became English again in 1674, these eastern towns preferred to stay part of Connecticut. Although Connecticut agreed, the government of James, Duke of York forced the matter. Governor Sir Edmund Andros threatened to eliminate the residents' rights to land if they did not yield, which they did by 1676. The Duke of York had a grudge against Connecticut. New Haven had hidden three of the judges who sentenced his father King Charles I to death in 1649.
The town installed as its second minister a Harvard graduate from Hingham, Massachusetts, Rev. Joshua Hobart, son of Rev. Peter Hobart, the founding minister of Old Ship Church, the nation's oldest church in continuous use. Rev. Joshua Hobart was installed in 1674 and served until his death in 1717, when he was 88 years old. Rev. Hobart's brother Josiah was one of the earliest settlers and initial trustees of East Hampton, Long Island, as well as High Sheriff of Suffolk County.
The name Southold is believed by some to be a misspelling of Southwold, which is a coastal town in the corresponding English county of Suffolk. John Youngs was born and brought up in Southwold, Suffolk, England. Youngs was a member of St. Margaret's Church in Reydon, where he likely assisted the vicar, who also ministered at St Edmunds Church in Southwold. Within the New York town's limits is an area known as Reydon Shores, perhaps a reference to Reydon, England, which is the adjoining village to Southwold in Suffolk County, England. It was the home of John Youngs' wife. An alternative explanation is that the town's name refers to a "holding" to the south [of New Haven]), from whence the original settlers hailed.
In 1650, the population of Southold was about 180, growing to 880 by 1698. The harbor at Greenport was important in trade, fishing, and whaling because it rarely froze over. In the 19th century the Long Island Railroad extended its line on the North Shore to Greenport, and summer vacationers would arrive in town by train. In November 1994, the village of Greenport voted to abolish its police department and turn responsibility for law and order over to the Southold Town Police.