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Though the Colony of which this is the His-
tory, is no longer a part of the British Empire, yet.
as that was once a British Province, and your Lord-
ship has signified your approbation of the present
work, I have resolved to publish it. I have been
the more readily induced so to do, as it aflfbrds me
an opportunity of expressing the high veneration
and esteem I entertain for your Lordship's exalted
character, and the grateful sense I shall ever feel
for your Lordship's kind friendship and regard.

wm. smith.

Quebec, August 10th, 1824.


In the preface to the first Volume of my Father's History
of New-York, he has stated the reasons which induced him
not to publish it, beyond a certain period ; however forcible
they might have been at that day, they no longer exist, and
I therefore have taken the resolution to offer to the public
the continuation of this history, written with his own hand. I
read it with the utmost attention before I resolved upon the
publication. I put the work into the hands of some of my
friends, (conceiving that it would have been presumption in
me to have trusted to my own partial decision,) and they
encouraged me to offer it to the public, as a curious and
interesting book. When I resolved to follow this advice, it
was a circumstance of great weight with me, that as it would
probably be published at some future day, and might fall into
the hands of an editor, who, not being actuated by the same
sacred regard for the reputation of the author which I feel,
might make alterations and additions, and obtrude the whole
on the public as a genuine and authentic book. The continu-
ation of the history is therefore published as it was left by the
author, with only a few verbal alterations and corrections.


Member of his Majesty'^s Council,
Quebec, August 4th, 1824.


The New-York Historical Society have the plea-
sure, in their present volume, to offer a Continuation
of the late Chief Justice Smith's History of New-
York, by the distinguished author himself. For
the means of so doing, they are indebted to the po-
liteness of liis son, William Smith, Esq. of Canada,
a gentleman of talents and respectability.

To tliose who are acquainted with the merits of
the first part of the work, so long before the public,
it is unnecessary to say, that in putting to press this
Continuation, they think they perform a most valua-
ble service as well to the cause of letters as to their
country. In the part now first published, the reader
will observe, that the author was a prominent actor
in the scenes he describes. A more valuable histori-
cal document, touching the affairs of this State, has
perhaps never yet appeared ; and the Society feli-
citate themselves that it is in their power to enrich
their collections with so precious a legacy to the
future historian.

New-York, July 4, l'J2ti.



From Colonel Cosby's appointment to his death ; and to the appointment
of Mr. Clarke as President of the Province, in 1736, - - 1 to 68


From Governor Clarke's return to England, to the appointment of Go-
vernor Clinton, 68 to 151


From the resignation of Governor Clinton, to the appointment of Sir
Dauvers Osborn as Governor, -151 to 162


From the death of Sir Danvers Osborn, to the accession of Lieutenant
GoFernor Delancey, - - -162 to 217


From the time of Lieutenant Governor Delancey's ceasing to administer
the government, to the arrival of Sir Charles Hardy as Governor,

21 7 to 245


From the absence of Sir Charles Hardy on an expedition against Mar-
tinico, to the second assumption of the administration by Lieutenant
Governor Delancey, - - - - 245 to 284


From Lieutenant Governor Delancey's death, to the appointment of
Lieutenant Governor Colden, during the absence of Sir Charles
Hardy, 284 to 308




From Colonel Coshy^s appointment to his death; and to the
appointment of Mt'. Clarke as President of the Province, in

Upon the death of Mr. Montgomorie, the province
was committed to the care of Colonel William Cosby :
he had formerly governed Minorca, and exposed him-
self to reproaches in that island, which followed him
across the Atlantic. It was by his order that the
effects of one Coppodoville, a Catalan merchant, then
residing at Lisbon, were seized at Port Mahon, in
1718, several months before the war of that year was
declared against Spain; and he was charged with
scandalous practices to secure the booty, by denying
the right of appeal, and secreting the papers tending
to detect the iniquity of the sentence, and enabling
the proprietor to procure its reversal. He arrived
here the 1st of August, 1732, and on the 1 0th spoke
to the Assembly, who had met several days before,
agreeably to an adjournment. After informing the
House, that the delay of his voyage was owing to his
desire of assisting the agents for defeating a bill
brought into Parliament, partial to the sugar islands,
he declared his confidence in their willingness to
provide for the support of government, by settling a
revenue as ample and permanent as in any former
instance; urged their attention to the Indian com-
merce, and promised his power and interest to ren-
der them a happy and flourishing people.


2 [Chap. I.

Tlie Assembly were more liberal in the address
with their lluiuks lliaii their promises ; for they merely
en^.iiied in general to contribute to the ease of his
administration, and therefore he repeats his request
when they come before him to present it.

From their dread of the success of the sugar act,
they did not hesitate about a revenue to support the
governmeat for six years ; nor to secure out of it, the
payment of a salary of fifteen hundred and sixty
pounds to tlie Governor, with the emoluments of four
hundred pounds per annum in fuel and candles for
the fort, and one hundred and fif\y pounds for his
voyage to Albany, besides a sum for presents to the
Indians. But it was late in the session before they
voted any compensation for his assistance to the
agents, and not till after the support bill had been
passed. They then agreed only to present him with
the sum of seven hundred and fifty pounds. The Go-
vernor, who had intelligence of it, intimated his dis-
gust, but in terms which, though it procured him an
augmentation of two hundred and fifty pounds more,
lost him their esteem. He accosted Mr. Morris, one
of the members, on this occasion, in terms expressing
a contempt of the vote. "■ Damn them," said he,
*■' why did they not add, shillings and pence ? Do they
think I came from England for money ? Til make
them know better."

This year m as the iirst of our public attention to
the education of youth : provision was then made for
the first time to support a Free Sc1k)o1, for teaching
the Latin and Greek tongues, and the practical
branches of the mathematics, under the care of Mr.
Alexander Malcolm of Aberdeen, the author of a
Treatise upon Book-keeping. The measure was pa-
tronised by the Morris family, Mr. Alexander, and
Mr. Smith, who presented a petition to the Assembly
for that objet^t . such was the negligence of tlie day,
that an instructor could not find bread, from the vo-
luntary contributions of the inhabitants, though our
eastern neighbours had set us an example of erect-
ing and eiidowinff colleijes earlv in the last cenfurv.

1732.] 3

The bill for this school, drafted by IMr. Philipse the
speaker, and brought in by Mr. Dclancey, adminis-
tered to some merriment. It had this singular pre-
amble : " Whereas the youth of this colony are found,
by manifold experience, to be not inferior in their
natural geniuses to the youth of any other country in
the world, therefore, be it enacted," kc.

The opposition to the sugar act, which now en-
grossed so much the public attention, was unsuccess-
ful. Mr. President Van Dam, the Council, and the
Assembly, had all concurred in a petition against it
to the King, while Mr. Cosby was in England. They
represented the islands as aiming at a monopoly in-
jurious both to the colony and the mother country :
asserted that this colony took off more British wool-
lens than all the islands together, except what was
imported by Jamaica for the Spaniards; that the act
would reduce them to raise their own clothing; that
the provisions, horses, and lumber exported from this,
and the colonies of Nevv -Jersey and Pennsylvania,
brought returns from the foreign as well as British
islands, in money, rum, sugar, molasses, cocoa, indigo,
cotton, all which, except the rum and molasses, were
either consumed here, or furnished remittances to
Great Britain for her balance agiinst us; and the
specie sent from this colony alone, they conceived to
be more than from all the British islands together,
Jamaica only excepted : they denied that the British
sugar islands could take off half the provisions raised
by the three northern colonies aforementioned, or
supply us with rum without lessening the exports of
sugar. Nothing could be more importunate than
their supplications tor the King's protection against
the West India project : and now the Assembly de-
voted one hundred and fifty pounds per annum, with
fifty pounds more for disbursements, to any person
whom certain merchants of London should nominate
as their agent, to assist this colony in what they con-
ceived to be threatening them with ruin ; for they
apprehended that all purchasers from the foreign

4 [Chap I.

islands for our products, were to be totally prohibited
— a design, however, not countenanced by the act.

While Mr. Van Dam was in the chair, it became a
question in Council, on drawing the warrants for the
Governor's salary, whether the whole or only the moi-
ety should be received by the President. The Assem-
bly were consulted upon it. but declined an opinion.
The Council then advised warrants to Mr. Van Dam
for the whole salary, and he received the money.
Mr. Cosby came out with the King's order of the 31st
of May, 1732, for the equal partition between himself
and the President, of the salary and all perquisites
and emoluments of government during his own ab-
sence. Van Dam was contented, if the Governor
would also divide with him the sums which came to
his hands in England, for he confessed his own re-
ceipts to amount to no more than one thousand nine
hundred and seventy-five pounds, seven shillings and
ten-pence, and insisted that the Governor's were six
thousand four hundred and seven pounds, eighteen
shillings and ten-pence. Colonel Cosby would not
consent to this demand, and the President, who
thought him his debtor, refused to tender him a far-
thing, and demanded a balance. The Governor, to
compel the payment and prevent any discount, was
advised to proceed against Van Dam in the Exche-
quer, for in a suit at common law he dreaded a set-
oflT and the verdict of a jury, the President being a
popular and reputable merchant. In Chancery no
measures could be taken, for there the Governor pre-
sided, and could not be an unexceptionable judge in
his own cause.

The Supreme Court exercised the ample authori-
ties both of the King's Bench and Common Pleas,
and its sittings, or terms, had been fixed by ordinan-
ces of the Governor with the advice of the Council.
In certain instances, the Judges had proceeded ac-
cording to course of the Exchequer, their commis-
sions directing them '• to make such rules and orders
as may be found convenient and useful, as near as
inay be agreeable to the rules and orders of our

1732.] 5

Courts of King's Bench, Common Pleas, and Ex-

Hence the hint for proceeding in Equity before the
Judges of the Supreme Court, as Barons of the Ex-
chequer, the majority o^whom, Messrs. Delancey and
Phihpse, were the Governor's intimate friends. In
Mr. Morris, the Chief Justice, he had not equal con-

As soon as Bradley, the Attorney General, brought
a bill in this Court against Mr. Van Dam, the latter
resolved to file a declaration .at common law against
Mr. Cosby, before the same Judges, for his moiety as
money received by the Governor to his use, and re-
quired his Excellency, by a letter of the 27th August,
1733, to give orders for entering his appearance at
liis suit. The Governor slighted his request, and Van
Dam, by his counsel, moved the Judges in the subse-
quent term of October, for their letter to his Excel-
lency, similar to the practice of the Chancery w here
a peer of the realm is defendant. The Judges per-
mitted him to file his declaration, but refused the
letter, as unprecedented at law, and left him to choose
the ordinary process. A summons was then offered
to the Clerk of the Court for the seal, but he would
not affix it to the writ. The Attorney General had in
the mean time proceeded before the same Judges in
Equity, to a commission of rebellion, and Van Dam
found himself compelled to a defence.

It is natural to imagine that Van Dam's hard and
singular situation would excite pity, and that the po-
pulace might be induced to redeem him from oppres-
sion. He had early engaged Messrs. Alexander and
Smith, two lawyers in high reputation, for his coun-
sel. They took exception to the jurisdiction of the
Court, and boldly engaged in support of the plea.
But when judgment was given by the puisne Judges
for overruling it, the Chief Justice opposed his breth-
ren, in a very long argument in writing, in support of
his opinion ; at which the Governor was much offend-
ed, demanded a copy, and then the Judge, to prevent
misrepresentation, committed it to the press.

(5 [Chap. 1.

The exceptions were three : — That the Supreme
Court, which claimed this jurisdiction in Equity, was
estabhshed by an ordinance of the late King George
the First, and expired :it his demise, and had not been
re-established in the present reign: — That his pre-
sent Majesty, by his commission to Governor Montgo-
morie, under the Great Seal of Great Britain, having
commanded him to execute all things in due manner,
according to the powers granted by that commission,
and the instructions therewith given by the 39th ar-
ticle, of which he was required to grant commissions,
with the advice of the Council, to persons fit to be
Judgos, and that he had commissioned Mr. Delancey
and Mr. Philipse without such advice : — That they
had no jurisdiction or authority to compel the de-
fendant to appear upon oath, concerniiig the matters
in the bill ; and there is no prescription, act of Parli-
ament, nor act of Assembly, to establish any Supreme
Court, nor to empower any Court or persons to hold
cognizance of pleas in a Court of Equity, in or for this

Mr. Cosby went to his government in Jersey very
.soon after the order for overruiifig the plea, which
was the 9th April, 1733, in the presence of a crowded
and exasperated audience; and upon his return in Au-
gust, presented Mr. Delancey, at the Council Board,
with a commission to be Chief Justice, and had
issued another advancing Mr. Philipse to the second
seat. The members present, besides Delancey, were
Clark, Harison, Cold en' and Kennedy, so that he
could not form a Board for this step, there wanting
the necessary quorum of five competent members.
He did not ask their opinion or advice on this un-
guarded measure, which added fresh oil to the flame,
already spread through the colony, and excited the
tears of the multitude.

The Assembly meeting soon after in autumn, Mr.
Morris was chosen to represent the county of West-
chester, in the place of a deceased member; but he
did not present the indenture of his return till the

1733.] « 7

last day of a short session, in which nothing of much
moment was transacted.

The Court (for all the province was already di-
vided into two parties) made an ineflfectual opposi-
tion to Mr. Morris's introducing his son Lewis into
the Assembly, as the Burgess of -the town of West-
chester. One Forster, a schoolmaster, and appointed
Clerk of the Court by Mr. Cosby, was set up agamst
Mr. Morris, and supported by Mr. Delancey and Mr.
Philipse, who canvassed against the old Judge, who
offered himself to the county. The Quakers were all
set aside by the Sheriff* Cowper, who insisted upon
an oath instead of the affirmation, to prove their
freeholds ; a violence, however, which laid the foun-
dation for a law in their favour, while it added, for
the present, to the general discontent, already risen
so high in the capitol, that their joy on Mr. Morris's
next arrival there, was announced by the explosion
of the cannon of the merchants' ships in the harbour,
and by the citizens meeting and conducting him,
with loud acclamations, to a public and splendid

The arts, common in such ferments, were played
off*by the leaders of the opposition. Zenger's Weekly
Journal was engaged in their service, and a great
part filled with extracts from the spirited papers of
Trenchard, Gordon, and other writers on the popu-
lar side; while Bradford's Gazette was employed to
defend the Governor and his party.

In the course of the winter of 1734, two vessels
arrived for provisions from Louisburgh, where such
strong fortifications were erecting as excited the jea-
lousy of all the northern colonies ; and the circum-
stance of their sounding the passage up from the
Hook being discovered, an advantage was taken of
it, and an affidavit taken to prove it, published in the
papers. The odium fell on the Governor, as counte-
nancing the design of exposing the port and colony
to the French ; and Mr. Van Dam made this one of
the articles of the charge of '^'^^ -administration.

8 [Chap. I.

which he transmitted against him, though there did
not appear the least ground for the imputation.

At the parting of some company from Mr. Alexan-
der's, late in the evening of the 1st February, an in-
cendiary letter was picked up in the hall. It had
been shoved under the outer door, and was instantly
pronounced by Mr. Alexander to be the handwriting
of Mr. Harison, then a member of the Council. It was
in these words : —

'• To Mr. Alexander :

" I am one who formerly was accounted a gen-
tleman, but am now reduced to poverty, and have no
victuals to eat ; and knowing you to be of a generous
temper, desire you would comply with my request,
which is, to let me have ten pistoles, to supply my ne-
cessaries and carry me to my native country. This
is a bold request, but I desire you would comply with
it, or you and your family shall feel the effects of my
displeasure. Unless you let me have them, Til de-
stroy you and your family by a stratagem which I
have contrived. If that don't take the desired effect,
I swear by God to poison all your tribe so surely,
that you shan't know the perpetrator of the tragedy.
I beg, for God's sake, that you would let me have the
money, and hinder me from committing such a black
deed. I know you can spare it, so desire you would
let me have it. Saturday night, about 7 o'clock, leave
it by the cellar door, Avrapped up in a rag, and about
an hour after, I will come and take it : put it on the
ground just where I put the stick. If you don't leave
it, I advise you not to drink your beer nor eat your
bread, if you value your life and healths, for by my
soul, I will do what I've mentioned. If I find any
w^atch to gunrd me in taking of it, I'll desist and not
take it, but follow my intended scheme, and hinder
you from acting any more on the stage of life. If you
comply, I'll never molest you more ; but if not, I'll
hazard my life iii destroying yours, and continue what
I am."

1734.] 9

From the neglect to disguise the hand, which Mr.
Smith, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Lurting the Mayor, all pro-
nounced to be Mr. Harison's, it was conjectured that
his design was to provoke a criminal prosecution,
establish the precedent of convicting on the proof of
a similitude of hands, and then, by counterfeiting the
writing of one of the demagogues of the day, to bring
him to the gallows, while the Governor's friends were
to escape by pardon.

It was therefore with great earnestness that Mr.
Alexander, under the influence of that suspicion,
when called before the Grand Jury, contended against
their finding an indictment only upon such evidence,
and with caution and reserve that he mentioned Mr.
Harison's name, as the Grand Jurors themselves after-
wards certified. They contented themselves with an
address to the Governor, acquainting him that they
could not discover the author, being able to have the
evidence no higher than a resemblance between the
letter and his writing : that least a presentment or
indictment by them upon such evidence, should prove
a trap to ensnare some innocent person upon the oath
they had taken, they durst not accuse any individual.
They besought him, nevertheless, to issue a procla-
mation, with a promise of reward, for detecting the
author of the villany.

This matter was laid before the Council, and re-
ferred to Messrs. Harison, Van Horn, Kennedy, De-
lancey, Courtlandt, Lane, and Horsmanden, who, as
a committee, proceeded to make the necessary enqui-
ries preparatory to a report. As Mr. Alexander and
Mr. Smith, who were summoned to attend there, re-
fused to appear, while Harison, the suspected author,
Avas of the committee, and Mr. Alexander, a member
of the Board, left out, they proceeded only upon the
testimony of Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Lurting; and
though they advised a proclamation, offering fifty
pounds for a discovery, yet they reported it as their
t)pinion, that Mr. Harison was entirely innocent of the
infamous piece of villany laid to his charge ; that he
was incapable of being guilty of so foul a deed ; and

10 [Chap. I.

that the letter was a most wicked, scandalous, and
infamous counloifeit and forsjcry, calculated, by some
artlbl, malicious, and ctil-mindcd persons, to traduce
and vilify the character of an honourable member of
his Majesty's Council of this province, and thereby
render liim odious and infamous to mankind.

VV hether the Governor was let into the design of
the author of the letter, was never discovered; though
some stress was laid upon words dropped by a man
intimate in the family, who, coming home in his cups
late in the evening shortly before the letter was found,
said a scheme was executed to hang Alexander and
Smith ; and Mrs. Cosby frequently, and without re-
serve, had declared that " it was her highest wish to
see them on a gallows at the fort gate."

Harison was generally suspected, in spite of the
testimonial of the Council, of which he made all the
use in his power in an exculpatory address to the City
Corporation, whose Recorder he then was, suggest-
ing that Mr. Alexander and Mr. Smith had forged the
letter to ruin him. They published a refutation of
the scandal, which, by assigning proofs of his enmity,
strengthened the general suspicions then prevalent
against him.

Harison had been concerned with them and others
in the design of procuring a patent for part of the
great Oblong, surrendered to this colony on the set-
tlement w ith Connecticut.

The petitioners were in this way to be recom-
pensed lor two thousand pounds expended in effect-
ing the establishment of the eastern line of the colony.
While the business of the surrender was negotiating,
Harison had perfidiously revealed the design to Sir
Joseph Eyles, the Duke of Chandois, and others, and
prompted them to sue out a patent in England. It
issued there on the 1 5th May, 1731, upon erroneous
suggestions, and with a description, which did not
include the lands meant to be taken up, and which
were fortunately granted by Mr. Montgomorie before
the E iglish pate.u ir rived, or Mr. Harison had time
to correct the information, by which they had been

1734.] 11

deceived, and on which account he had justly ex-
posed himself to censure on both sides of tlie water.

Add to this, that at the very time of tiiiding the in-
cendiary letter, Mr. Harison was under a prosecution
tending to overwhelm him with disgrace : he had pro-
moted an action for two hundred pounds in the name
of Wheldon, against one Trusdel, who had been his

Online LibraryWilliam SmithContinuation of the history of New-York → online text (page 1 of 27)