William S. (William Smith) Pelletreau.

Historic homes and institutions and genealogical and family history of New York (Volume 1) online

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lluhiiitus (Ivohcrt) De I^a Kcid is iusciihcd ainoiiii the
owners of lands in the connty of Lancaster in the year 1()()9.
Doiilitless he was one of those who aeconipanied the fii'st \Vi!!-
iani to Enghnid or one of the lu)st of knights who swai'ined from
tlie nortliern part of France and from the Rhine counti'y in
search of adventure and hinds in the new eon(|uest. The de-
scendants of Hnl)nrtus De La Feld fionrislied and married well.
In the eentni'ies that followed the name is of freijuent occur-
rence in ancient writings — notahlx' in Bnckinghamsliire and in
the innnediately adjacent shires.

At the middle of the eighteenth centTiry. John Delatield was
the head of the linckingliamshii-e Delatields. At some time en-
gaged in business in London he is often styled as of London,
l)ut he was also a land owner in Buckinghamshire and in Ox-
fordshire. He was born in ITl'O, died March 9. 17(i.'', anil is bniied
))eneath the chancel of the church of Aylesbury. His wife
Martiia, l)orn March 9, 1718, died November l'(i, 17(n, daughter
of Jacob and Susannah Dell, lies buried beneath her i)ew in the
same chui'ch. Over the south entrance of the church a bronze
mural monument, surmounted by the Delatield Arms, bears
the following inscription:

To i>eri)etuate the memory of

John Delafield

Citizen of London,

and of

Martha Delafield

his wife

Daughter of Jacob Dell

of this Town
He died 9 ^farcb 17(53

Aged 48

She died 2(i Xov. 1 7(il

Aged 42.

.lohii and Martha Delatield had issue, two sons and three

John Delatit'hl.


(laughters. Two dauglitors. Elizalx'tli and Mai-y died unmar-
ried. Martha married AVilliain Arnold, ol' Slatswood, Isle of
AVig'ht, and with otlier cliildreii had the famous J)r. Thomas
Arnold, of Hugljy, and Lydia, who married Richard, Earl of

John Delafield, horn ]\lareh 16. 174S. of whom presently.

Josej)h Delafield, l>orn May 14, 174^), died Septemher, 1S2();
married, January 4, 17!)0, Prances, daughter of Harvey Chris-
tian Comhe, of Cohhannn Park, County Surrey, and had issue.
There now survive descendants of his in the female line, and of
the name in the male line the following only. Count William
Joseph Delafield, of Italy, horn Xajtles, 1855, married Cesaiina.
daughter of Louis, Mar(|uis Pizzardi : Xo issue.

Count Arthur John Lewis Delafield, of Italy, horn Naples,
1856, married Margaret !Marosca Donnorso, daughter of the
Duke di Serracapriola, and has eleven children, all living; the
eldest son is named Huhert.

John Delafield, the eldest son of John and Martha Delafield.
was liorn in England, March Ki. 1748. died in Xew ^'ork cit\'
(at X^o. 9 Pearl street), duly ;>, 1824, and was hurled in the
Trinity chureli hurial ground, at Hudson street, thence removed
to the vault of his son John at St. Thomas church, corner of
Broadway and Houston street, and in 1857 removed to tlie Dela-
field family vaidt at Greenwood; there rest the remains of his
wife, all of his children and their wives (with the cxceiition of
two childi'en who died in infancy and of the eldot son dohn
and his wife) and many of his grandchildren.

Mr. Delafield sailed from Europe on lioard the British Let-
ter of ^larque "Vigilant," Ca]»tain Barnewcll. ai-ri\-ed at Sandy
Hook on Friday, A])ril 4, 178;!, and with the captain (who after-
wards settled in Xew York) landed at 'i o'clock on the following
morning in the citv. He came with letters of introdiiction to the


liriii('i|i;il iniialiitaiits of the city and also to ri'siJt'iits of Phlla
(lelpliia and IJoston. Many of thr lettei's were i^iven liini hy
Bi'itish oflicers who had returned honi^ from tlie war in the
eohinies. ]\Ioreo\'er, in the city were otficei s whom le,^ had known
in Kn.u'land and who conid voucli tor his iilentitx'.

As he was ahont to sail from England, an official in tlie
P)iiti^h ser\ici' gave Mr. Delafield a mannscript copy of the text
of the treaty of i)eace — tlie original had heen i)i'evionsly for-
warded to the American authorities hy another vessel, hnt the
"Vigilant" was the first to ari'ive. Although the import of
the ti'eaty was generally known, the exact terms of the docu-
ment wei-e read with eager interest l)y those to whom it was
shown in New York and co])ies are said to have heen sent to
other cities.

He was most kindly received and v\'as gratified with an in-
vitation to make his home, until he had found ];,'rmanent (juai'-
ters, at the house of a gentleman, whose family have ever since
been among the intimate friends of his descendants, Mr. De
Peyster, who, informed of ^Nfr. Delafield's arrival, met him at
the landing and took him to his house. Mr. Delafield at once
commenced a career of great success as a merchant and later
as a marine underwriter. To tlie annoyance and against the
remonstrance of his fannly abroad, he determined to become a
citizen of the United States and was admitted to civil rights l)y
an act of the legislature ^lay 4, 1 7S4, and a freeman of the city
dune Ki, 17S4.

From papers liefore the writei", the following miinitiae of
his Inisiness life are selected: June 15, 17S7, was one ni' the
founders and a director of the ^lutual Insurance Company, of
New Vork. January 12, 1792, ap])ointed one of the dii-ectors of
the Xew York branch of the United States Bank, then first es-
tablished in Xew York. In 17i»4 one of the foundei's and Hi'st


tiustees of the Tdiitine Coffee House. Feluiiary 1. ITlHi. one
of the founders with thirty-nine otliers. eacli suhsi'rihinu' $1<\
000, and a director of the United Insurance l'oni])any. After-
wards he was for many years the president of the company.

Prior to ITix; Mr. Delatield had retired from active com-
mercial pursuits, and, interestiuij,' himself more ami more in
marine underwriting, became the head of the [)rivate under-
writers of the city. There was excitement and risk in the 1)usi-
ness and at tiiiies it was vei'\' piotitahle ; pi'est-ntly. however,
came f)ad times. The English and French at war with ea:di
other, each i)reyed u))on American shipping lest it should fur-
nish provisions and material to the adversary. American ves-
sels were almost driven from the open seas; Mr. Delatield paid
every loss, hut at the sacrifice of most of his fortune and the
mortgaging of nmch of his real estate. At that time tliei-e
were few opportunities to invest capital, men of wealth pur-
chased laiuls and man\', among them dohn Delatield. acquired
great possessions in real property, itotli in this state and else-
where. On two occasions at least the Dinner Cluh. a grouj) of
gentlemen who met to dine at the houses of the memhers, dis-
cussed and decided against the pro])riety of buying lands on
the Island of ^lanhattan, jilmost all of which, above what is now
Canal street, the exception chiefly country seats on the East
river, was for sale; farm lands, for which there was likely to be
a demand by actual settlers, were deemed a i)etter investment.
It was believed that the St. Lawrence river would become the
great artery of trade. On its banks Mr. Delatield ac(|uired the
half of two townshi])s. Hague and Cambray. both in llu> state
of Xew York, and having faith in their ultimate great value he
continued to hold them, although mortgaged for many \ears.

Besides lands in the country Mr. Delatield owned con-idi-r-
able real estate within the citv limits, including aini)ng otiier


parrels a large luimhei- of lots on tlie easterly side of Broad
street, (>.\teiidiiig from the East i-'iver and known as the Albany
l)ier property. Allnding to this the New York Diary newspajjer
for Decenil)er 15, 1796, states that "Attempts have been made
to set on fire tlie large and elegant range of stores l>elonging to
Ml-. i)"lafield, near the Exchange." After his death a ])art
of this pr()])erty fronting on Water street remained in his es-

(hi Division street he owned thirty lots and on the westerly
side of Broadway, a sliort distance al>ove Trinity chnrch, a
corner lot on wliicli he ])nrposed to build a residence to suit
his own taste; the ))roject was, however, abandoned, although
at one time ])lans were di'awn and the necessary hardware im-
]3orted from. England.

Tn the summer of 1791 Mr. Delafield ])urchased "Suns-
wick," a farm of about one hundred and forty acres on the
bank of the East river, oi)i)Osite the easterly end of Blaekwell's
Island, in after years known as the Village of Ravenswood, later
a part of Astoria, afterwards incorporated in Long Island City
and now included in the city of New York. The property had
formed a ]iart of the Blackwell estate and the old stone mansion
then, and for many years after, disjilayed on the front door,
Imrned deejily in the wood, the broad arrow, in ]iroof that tlr^
home of Colonel Jacob Blackwell, of the Revolutionary armv,
liad been confiscated by the British.. A large house for a sum-
mer residence was built u])on the ]n-o])erty, Avhich, undt'r tlie
>u];ervision of the architect, ^^Fr. Newton, was ready for occu-
pation the following s])ring. The house and land were beauti-
fully situated. A Itroad terrace extended to the shore of the
^wift i-nnning tunmltnous river; to the eastward extensive
stables and (luarters for the outdoor enii)loyees and slaves; to
tlie westward a high stone wall extended from near the house


to the old IJlackwcll Imryiiig groniul. After a few years grai)e
vines, jilinns and ];eai's trailed against the wall and almost :'n'i-
cealed it; a long tiower garden sepai'ated the wall from a broad
graveled walk, on the other si<U' of wliich came tlu' vegetable
garden interspersed witli icrennial Howei'ing bushes. The

Simswick. Residencu of John Dolafli'ki.

grmmd, luitnrnlly I'i.di. was witli care and intelligent super-
vision brouglit to a hiyh state of cultivation. I^lants and seeds
were ini) orted f i om Euro];e and generally with good re-^nlts.
The locality ha.il ]ireviously been noted for the excellencv ot its
ap]iles and ])eaches. the New Town pippin, oiu' of the best of


apitU'S, Honrisliiiii* there at its hest; other Irnits were found to
do as well. The Uiwns al)Out the house were trimmed with large
sliears made for the i)ur])ose and rolled with heavy stone rollers,
one of which is still in existence and in use on a tennis ground.
(lood care jirodnced a close fine sod and Mr. Delafield wrote tliat
he had a Itit of the In'ight green turf of Old England in America.
After a few years ''Sunswick" was esteemed as one of the
1)est, if not the l)est, cared for counti\' seat in the neighhorhood
of New York. The fruits and flowers, especially roses, were
noted for their jierfection. Lahor was almndant and wages o!'
employees were so low as to seem iiici-edible to us. but to com-
jiensate, most kinds of ])rovisi()ns were almndant and chea]);
curiously enough those things which were cheapest were the
least esteemed by the majority of the inhabitants of New York,
perhaps because perforce they had at times been too much de-
pendent upon them- -the neighboring waters suitplied in great
abundance a variety of fish and shell fish and yet the fish stalls,
9xce])t for lobsters, were but little ]iatroni/ed. Long Island
dui'ing the autnnm and spring, swarmed with wild fowl and great
flocks of many varieties of snii>e; so abundant were they, that it
was not considered sport to hunt them. The writer well re-
members the surprise of an old gentleman that any one wouici
take the trouble to shoot snijie. Why, he said, it is simply
slaughter, not sjiort; in my boyhood we only sought for wood-
cock and English sni]ie. (^)ueens and Suffolk counties were full
of deer, venison, oysters, clams, and soft shell crabs could be
had foi almost nothing.

To reach the city from "Sunswick" the family would I'ide
oi- drive to Brooklyn and ci'oss by the fen-y, which landed at
the foot of Wall street. When the tide served both for going
and returning, I'ow boats were often used, in the afternoon
there would often be (piite a Hotilla of boats belonging to gen-


tlenien letuniiiig to their conntry seats; they generally got
away })roini)tly at 3 o'ehick, scliool l)oys not quite so soon; Mr.
Delafield's sons, used to the I'iver. understood tlie tides and
!'a]»i;]s, knew how to take advantage of tlie eddies, and strong
yonng liands manned the oars. Washington Irving, whose
father liad for years hired from Mi-. Dehitield the old Blaekwell
lionse at "Sunswick," named tlie hoat of the ho> s the "En-
deavor," and had to admit that although the "Endeavor" was
the last to start it was far from being the last to get home.
Irving, in the fourth chapter of "Knickerbocker's History of
Xew York." alludes to the sunnner house of his boyhood as the
''pleasant coast of Sunswick" — Fennimore Cooj.er in one of his
novels also mentions the place.

Tn 1814 "Sunswick," which for two or three summers had
remained unoccuined, was sold to CV)lonel (ieorge Gibbs for
>|!31,r)()(). A letter written by one of his children mentions the
great interest that the colonel took in the place on which a great
deal of money was spent in embellishing it to the utmost. In
addition to the fruit ali'cady in cultivation, open air gra])es were
im]iorted fi'om Austria, which were cultivated, as in Europe,
on stakes. Mention is made of a])ricots. plums and cherries of
a ([uality and excellence such as were no longer to be found in
the vicinity of Xew ^'ork. A sloo)» yacht, the "Laura of Suns-
wick," besides row boats, added to the conveniences of communi-
cating with the city. In 1834, after the death of Colonel (libbs.
the ])roi)erty, subdivided into plots for sul)urban residences,
was sold.

In pel son Mr. Dclatield is described as tall, of a well-built
frame, regular featuies, a straight and p.rominent nose, dark
eyes, his own hair ])owdered and tied in a (piciie, and with a
deep and singularly pleasant voice (a (piality inherited by hi<
sons), without any of the guttural, hesitating tones common at


that time and not unknown now among Englislnnen. In speech
calm and collected and if somewhat decided always courteous;
neat and punctiliiius in his own dress, he expected tlie same at-
tention to their app.^arance among the mem])ers of his house-
lioUl. Airs. William Arnold, of Slatswood, Isle of Wight, his
sister, willing in 17S5, congratulating him on his recent mar-
riage, says: "Von are the exact image of our honored father,
you have also his sweetness of temi)er. study then my brother
to imitate his uol)le virtues, not a soul knew him hut respected
him and he has left a character heliind which his children may
glory in."

dohn l)elati?ld nuirried December 11, 1784, Ann, daughter
and co-heiress of Joseiih and Elizabeth (Hazard) Hallett.
Joseph and his sister Lydia, wife of Colonel Jacob Blackwell,
were the t)nly cliildi-en of Joseph and Lydia Hallett, Josei)h be-
ing the tlJdest male descendant of William Hallett, of Dorset-
shire, England, who settled on Long Island, was the grantee of
the patent of Hal left's Point, and at one time sheriff of Queens

Josei)h Hallett, the father of :\Irs. Delafield, of Xew York
and Hallett's Point, born January 2(i, 1781, at Hallett's Point,
died at his residence in Pearl street, Xew York City, August S),
17HJ). His wife, Elizal^etli. daughter of Xathaniel and Elizalteth
(Drummond) Hazard, was born at the residence of her I'.arents.
Hanover Square, X"ew York City, August 29, 17-13, and died at
the residence of her son-in-law, John Delafield, Greenwich street,
Xew Yoi'k City. Xovember i», 1S14. She was buried by the side
of her husband in the Hallett vault of the First Presbyterian
church. Wall street. On the removal of the church to Fifth
ax'einu' and Twelfth street, theii- remains and tho<e of many
Halletts and Blackwells were in 1S44 transferred to the new



vault of the I'aiiiily in the ,i>i()iiii(ls of tliv' iircseiit clmrcli. Mr.
Hallett was I'oi- iuaii>' yr\v< dih' of tiic ti-ustccs of tlu' cIiuitIi.

Prior to the Hexolutioii Mr. Hallett was one of the promi-
nent shii)})ing nierehants of the city, trading- witli Great Britain
and the West Indies, making large shipments of tobacco and
having what is called a monopoly of tlie linseed l)nsiness with
Ireland. Besides a summer home at Hal left's Point, ^Ir. Hal-
left's residence was in Pearl street, near Wall street, the i)ri)p-

Joseph Hallett.

erty extending to the East river, improved with stores at Xos.
104 and 106 and also 108 and 105 Front street; also in Water
strt et with a wliarf on the river. As was generally the case with
the wealthy merchants of tlie ])eriod, he invested large sums
in country' ])i 0])erties. including among others extensive tracts
of land in the state of New Voi'k, in Harrison county, \"irginin.
adjoining lands of John Delatield. and in \"erinont.

He was an ardent patriot, was a member of all of the com-
mittees of safety, 1774-76, of the first three provincial congresses


of the state of Xew York, served ou the finance committees, and
on the special committee of safety appointed by the congress to
act dnring- the recess of that body. The important trusts im-
posed npon him and the frequent mention of liis name in the
l)ioceedings of these Ixxlies are evidence of his zeal for the
canse. The committee of safety of May, 1774, consisting of fifty
one members, was deemed too conservative, and eleven mem-
bers, including Hal let t, his fi'iends, Francis Jjcwis and Feter V,
1). Livingston, published an addi'ess to the peoi)le; they were,
however, not successful in securing the election by the conunit-
tee of Mr. McDougall, their candidate for the general Colonial

After the ])attle of Long Island a nmuber of gentlemen of
prominence left the city, in many instances of necessity leaving
their wives and children in their comfortable homes. PTarsh
measures were employed by the British to induce the return of
such absentees. The wife of Francis Lewis, "the signer," was
ari-ested at her country i)lace at Whitestone, some miles above
Hallett's Point, and was imprisoned, only to be released by a
Threat from General AVashington to retaliate in kind. The wife
and l)abies of Air. Hallett were permitted to occui)y their home
but under guard; fearing that they might find means of leaving
the city, they, with several other New York ladies, were taken
with the British army when it advanced into Xew Jersey, the
numlier of such ])risoners increased by the arrest in the .lerseys
of the wives or other ])i'ominent Americans. The house in wliicli
the helpless ca]ttives were confined was set on fire, and tlii'
ladies were only saved from a mob of riotous solditTs by l)ritisli
officers who, with drawn swords, dispersed the miscreants. The
following day the commander-in-chief ordered the return to
Xew York of all of the ladies — they had throughout l)een treated

\ o1. 1—17


with respect, Imt it was an experience of great anxiety an;l

For the i)rotection of his family Mr. Hallett retnrned to
New York, at times occupying his house in Pearl street, l)ut
making liis chief residence at Hallett's Point. .lust before the
evacuation of the city by the British, he removed from the coun-
try and received at his home Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge. who
had entered the city with his regiment some hours before the
advance of the main body of the American army to act in con-
junction with a British regiment whose departure was delayed,
the jmrpose being to protect the persons and the projierty of
those who might be obnoxious to eitlier the advancing or to the
retreating forces, it being feared that in the excitement of the
moment one party or the other might find occasion to retaliate
for real or supp)osed former wrongs.

After the war Mr. Hallett again engaged in business, l)ut
not on so large a scale as formerly. His wife, who survived him
for many years, retained her city house but passed the summer
at Petersfield on ^Manhattan Island, a farm leased from the
Stuyvesants at $1,250 per annum. The locality was especially
agreeable to Mrs. Hallett as being of easy access to Horn's
hook, where her liusband's sister, the widow of Colonel Jacob
Blackwell, had a country seat.

John and Ann (Hallett) Delafield had issue thirteen chil-
dren, nine sons and four daughters, some born in the city of
New York, others at the country seat at "Sunswick," all chris-
tened by the clergy of Trinity church, where Mr. Delafield owned
a large S(|uare ])ew. Two sons died in early youth; three daugh-
ters, Ann Eliza, Knnua and Caroline Augusta died unmarried;
Susan Maria, l)orn February 25, 1805, died June 1(), 18(il ; mar-
ried, October 7, 1829, Henry Parish, merchant of New York.
She had no children. Seven sons lived to old age and did their



sliai-e in d('V('l()i)iiii>- the resources and prosperity of their native

Jolin Delafield, .)i-., ))oi'n in the cit}- of Xew York, January
22, 1786, died at his fann "Oakhmds," near (ieneva, Seneea
county, New York, October 22, 1853, and was l)ni-ied at (Ieneva.
Immediately on being graduated at Columbia college, 1S()2, he
was given a i>osition in the commercial firm of Le Roy, I'>ayar.l
& McEvens, and, anxious to see the world, was nnich to liis
delight sent l\v them the following year as supercargo of a \es-
sel loaded with flour to Lisbon. Soon after he established him-
self as a merchant and made several voyages to Enrope and the
"West Indies, in one of which he was wrecked. In 1807 he loaded
the brig "Fame" on his own account with sugar at Havana tind
sailed for England; forced by stress of weather into Corunn:i,
Spain, he was ordered, January 17, 1808, to depart instantly, the
French opening fire ui)on the harbor. The ship's cal)les were
cut and he went to sea short of ]H'ovisions and the vessel leak-
ing, carrying, besides his own crew, a jiriest and a family of
noble S])anisli refugees, who had come to his vessel in the night
Ha])pi!y all arrived in safety in the Thames.

Settling in London he remained there from 1808 to 1820 as
a merchant and banker.- During the war of 1812-15 was held as
a in'isoner on t)aro!e; his l)(ninds, throngh the influence of his
uncle. Joseph Delafield. included the city of London and fifteen
miles ai'onnd Uxbridge, where he hired a conntry seat and in-
dulged his absorbing ])assion for agriculture. His business af-
fairs prospered to a marked degree, but in 1819 came heavy
losses. In reference to this ])art of Mr. I^elafield's life, Wash-
ington Irving wrote "The Wife," one of the chai)ters of the
Sketch Book. Early in 1820 Mr. Delafield returned to Xew Yoi-k
and in the following August was ap])ointe(l cashier of the
Phenix bank, retaining the office nntil 1838, when he was elected


l)resident of the l^ank, resigning the position the same year to
accept the presidency of the Xew York Banking Company. Din -
ing all of this period he interested himself in a small farm on
the East river at Hell Gate, which he brought to the highest
state of cultivation. ^Ir. Delafield revived and served as presi-
dent of the Philharmonic Society, which for many years had
]iractically ceased to exist.

In 1842 Mr. Delafield purchased "Oaklands." a large farm
on Lake Seneca, state of Xew York, and devoting the remainder
of his life to its im])rovement it became the model farm of the
state of Xew York. During his life he had occupied many posi-
tions of trust and of importance, but nothing pleased him more
than his election, in 1850, to the i)residency of the Xew York
State Agricultural Society.

John Delafield Jr., was twice married — first at Ht)llington
("hurch, Middlesex, England, to his cousin Mary, born Fel)runry
L'2, 178(i. died in London. March 19, 1818, and buried in Pen-
tonville Chapel, only child of .John and Mary Roberts, of Wbit-
chun-li, Buckinghamshire, the last of an ancient and honorable
family — they had issue 1 dolin Delafield. Md. born Englau<1.
()ctol)er 21, 1812, died England, December 12, 18(5(5; graduate!
C'olumbia College, 18^50. A lawyer by i)rofession. he was by
choice a student and linguist. Pul)lished in Xew York and

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Online LibraryWilliam S. (William Smith) PelletreauHistoric homes and institutions and genealogical and family history of New York (Volume 1) → online text (page 16 of 26)