The History of New York State
Book II, Chapter III
Part III

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam


Bayard sent an address to Cornbury, the new governor, declaring that Nanfan was an enemy, but Nanfan arrested Bayard and had him tried under the selfsame act under which Leisler had been indicted and executed Bayard was sentenced to death, but his enemies proved less implacable than he had been in the case of the unfortunate Leisler. A reprieve was granted pending the pleasure of the King. Before word could be got to England, Cornbury arrived. Bayard was promoted to a place of honor, and there was a scattering of the Leislerians, who were looked upon as the enemies of the government.

Edward Hyde, Viscount Cornbury, was a son of the Earl of Clarendon, brother-in-law of James II. He was educated in Geneva and married a daughter of Lord O'Brian. He was a young man, says Macaulay, "of abilities to slender as almost to verge on intellectual imbecility," of loose principles, and of an arrogant and violent temper. It was in reward for an act of treachery towards his royal kinsmen, James, when under the instructions of Churchill, afterwards Duke of Marlborough, he led into the camp of William of Orange on the latter's approach to Salisbury, three regiments of cavalry, that William appointed him, in September, 1701, Governor of New York. New York at the time was harassed by internal feuds, and a petition had been sent to the King that the new Governor should be a person who would use temper and moderation upon coming to us, and treat each party with like favor and respect. "By which means, after he hath run some course in such a management he will be able to clearly discern who are the true friends of his Majesty and his government here; and then it will not be difficult to determine how to steare himself for the future."

Cornbury began his administration with several acts that gave satisfaction. Thus his suite, the soldiers of the garrison and all citizens unable to purchase their liberty, were made freemen, with the rights of suffrage, trade and holding office. However, this was a mere preliminary flourish that belied the man's illiberal character. He took sides in a very short time with the Anti-Leislerian element. During a time of epidemic he dissolved the Assembly and moved to Jamaica, Long Island, where the Council followed him. At Jamaica he persuaded the Presbyterian minister, who lived in the best house in the village, to give him the loan of it--a service which he required in a remarkable manner. This was on July 4, 1704, when he ordered the sheriff to seize the parsonage house, meeting-house, and glebe, for the use of the members of the Church of England residing there, on the plea that the property belonged to the Anglican church at Jamaica, "since the Church and Parsonage having been built by Public Act, it would belong to none but the Church of England." This led to a good deal of trouble and fighting. Thus the Presbyterians endeavored one afternoon to maintain possession their church edifice, when a party of Episcopalians, encouraged by Cornbury, broke down the doors and drove the Presbyterians into an adjoining orchard. The Rev. Mr. Urquhart, a Church of England Clergyman, was at once put into possession, the Presbyterian pastor's salary being paid to him. The wrangling indeed continued until 1728, when the church edifice, parsonage and glebe were permanently restored to the Presbyterians, the colonial courts, after a vast amount of litigation, deciding in their favor.

Hostility to Cornbury--Cornbury also went to Albany to attend the Great Council with the Iroquois, in July, 1702, since the support of that powerful confederacy would evidently be of great value in the wart that had broken our between Queen Anne and France. On this occasion the superior knowledge of Peter Schuyler guided the Governor in dealing with the Indians. Gifts of guns, blankets, kettles, knives, powder, lead, hats, rum and tobacco, consolidated with amity between them. The Governor promised that if the Five Nations and their allies would remain firm in their pledge and constitute a barrier between the inroads of the French, to build two forts, one at Albany, the other at Schenectady, into which they might send their wives and children in case of danger. the council broke up with the assurance of the red men that they would comply with the wishes expressed, being desirous of continuing in the tranquillity they then enjoyed. The promises thus made were kept and during the Anglo-French War, which lasted for eleven yeas, or until the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, New York enjoyed immunity from either Indian or French attack. From Esopus, where Cornbury next tarried, he addressed a letter to the Lords of Trade, in which, after giving the results of the late conference at Albany, he outlined a plan for the conquest of Canada. The plan contemplated the sending from England of 1,500 troops to be augmented by 3,500 men raised in the colonies. The advantages which would accrue to England were lucidly set forth. These were: First, the securing of the peltry trade for England, the duties on which article would in a very short time reimburse the government for all the expense of the expedition; and, secondly, the attaching of the Indians permanently to the British crown. Before leaving Esopus, Cornbury received by express from New York a formal commission from the Lords of Trade to govern New jersey--the proprietors of that province having surrendered all their powers to Queen Anne. Henceforth, East and West jersey were united under one government, an Assembly being elected by the majority of freeholders, which was to sit, first at Perth Amboy, then at Burlington, and afterwards alternately at the two towns.

Meanwhile, a new Assembly was elected, which passed acts for the maintenance of the poor of the city and for establishing a free grammar school. The Assembly became pronounced in its opposition to the Governor, as it tool cognizance of the character of some of his acts. Thus on the appearance on July 26, 1706, of a French privateer of seventeen guns off Sandy Hook, it was found that no fortifications had been erected at The Narrows, the 1,500 pounds which had been appropriated for this purpose having been used the Governor to build a country-seat on Nutten, or Governor's Island. A panic ensued, and while able-bodied men threw up earthworks on the city front, ships were sent out to engage the Frenchmen. When the French threat had gone murmurs rose against the Govern, and the Assembly, representing him as unfit to handle public funds, insisted on appointing a treasurer of their own, and several of the members used the occasion to deny the Queen's right to make amendments to a money bill. Needless to say the reflection on his character infuriated Cornbury, and he wrote in strong terms tot he Lords of Trade, enlarging on the mischief that was being perpetrated against the Queen's prerogative. The Assembly of 1705 took its stand on the doctrine that they would vote salaries to the officers of the crown only with the annual supplies. This principle Cornbury resisted. The struggle was thus initiated that was to be intensified in later years and finally to be brought to a finish by the arguments of the Revolution.

A noteworthy incident during Cornbury's term was the bestowal upon the corporation of Trinity of the "King's Farm and Garden." ' the use of the farm had been granted by a lease, dated August 19, 1697, by Governor Fletcher. His action aroused criticism, which had an effect on the legislature, which vacated the lease by an act of Assembly in 1699. However, Cornbury, influenced by the Rev. William Vesey, exerted all his power with the Assembly to have an act passed which would pave the way for a permanent grant to Trinity church of the King's Farm; which comprised a large part of the Manhattan shore of the Hudson, and Queen Anne gave her consent to the gift and granted this entire property, by letters patent, under the great seal of the colony of New York "to the Rector and inhabitants of the City of New York in communion with the Church of England,." However, public sentiment against the grant became so strong as to make itself felt at Whitehall, and to induce the Queen, in 1708, to repeal the act of 1702.

Meanwhile the people had become very tired of having Cornbury among them and asked for his removal. A Committee of Grievances was appointed, and a series of resolutions against the Governor was drawn up and forwarded to the home government, supplemented by petitions accusing the Governor of peculations and misappropriations of public moneys as well as immoral private practices. Cornbury tried hard to nullify the effect of the petitions, but all to no purpose. He was recalled and at once arrested and thrown into the debtors' prison where he languished until the death of his father, the Earl of Clarendon, when he was able to meet some of his debts. So New York got rid of one of her worse Governors, a man who accepted bribes, plundered the public treasury, diverted government appropriation to sensual pleasures, involved himself in immense debts, and in fine used his official prerogative solely for selfish ends. "We never had a Governor so universally detested, nor one who so richly deserves the public abhorrence," writes William Smith. "In spite of his noble descent, his behavior was trifling, mean, and extravagant. The indignation of the people was kindled by his despotic rule, savage bigotry, insatiable avarice, and injustice, not only to the public, but even to his private creditors."

Loveland Succeeds Cornbury--Lord Lovelace, the new Governor, arrived in New York in the closing months of 1708. The first meeting of the Council was held January 5, 1709, and the Assembly then elected met the next day addressed the Council and the Assembly, saying in part: #3

The large supplies of soldiers and stores of war for your support and defense, together with those necessary presents for your Indian neighbors, which her Majesty has now sent you at a time when the charge of the wear is so great at home, are evident proofs of her particular care for you, and I assure myself they will be received with those testimonies of loyalty and gratitude which such royal favors deserve from an obliged and grateful people. I am sorry to find that the public debt of the province is so great as it is, and that the government here hath so little credit, if any at all, left; a government under a queen as famous for her prudent and frugal management at home as for her warlike and glorious actions abroad. I can not in the least doubt, gentlemen, but that you will raise the same revenue for the same term of years, for the support of the government, as was raised by the Act of the Assembly in the eleventh year of reign of the late King William of glorious memory; and I hope you will also find out ways and means to discharge the debt that hath been contracted and allow the persons concerned a reasonable interest till the principal is discharged. o that end I desire you to examine hereafter that it was not contracted in my time. I must in particular desire you to provide for necessary repairs to the fortifications of the Province. The barracks are so small and so much our of repair, that I have been necessitated to billet the recruits that came over with me upon this city, which I am sensible hath been a burden to the inhabitants, but I hope you will soon ease them of that burden. The fitting out of a good sloop to attend her Majesty's men-at-war in their cruisings on this coast I take to be so necessary for the preserving of your navigation that I expect you will find out a proper method to defray the charge. I am willing that my salary should be taxed, that I may pay my quota to so useful a service. I think myself obliged to further to recommend to your consideration how to prevent the exportation of gold and silver coin out of the province, least in a short time your trade should suffer for want thereof.

The Question of Revenue--the chief question here turned on the raising of revenue for a term of years. That had been done by act of Assembly in 1702 for a term of seven years. The time was now about to expire. But Cornbury's conduct had taught the colonists a lesson, and they saw the advantage of voting a revue from year to year, and of accompanying the grant with specific appropriations to the purposes it should be used for. Thus was the battle ground set for the series of disputes which the American War for independence finally settled. Thus it has been written: #4 "The history of the English continent colonies during the fist half of the eighteenth century was largely made up of petty bickerings between the popular assemblies and the royal governors. The principle at stake was important; a fixed salary-grant would have been in the nature of a tax imposed by the crown. The acrimonious contention was greatly disturbing to all material interest, but I served as a most valuable constitutional training-school for the Revolution." The assembly decided not to accede to Lord Lovelace's request that the grant for a number of years made to Cornbury should be repeated in his case. And so, in the words of Bancroft, #5, began the contest that was never to cease but with the independence of the country.

During the short administration of Lord Lovelace, for he died five months after his arrival, Ebenezer Wilson was mayor, and the accomplishments of Wilson, who was mayor from 1707 to 1710, are usually regarded as more worthy of note than those of the Governor, who had little opportunity of showing what he could do. Apart from the beginning of the quarrel over revenue, the administration of Lovelace was distinguished by the further circumstance that it saw the beginning of the higher German immigration to New York. German had been found in New Amsterdam from its earliest settlement. The first director, Peter Minuit, was born in Wesel, Germany, and though the probability is that he was a Dutchmen, he has very likely a good deal of German blood in his veins. Director Stuyvesant had an opportunity to annoy a body of German Lutherans by ending back to Europe the pastor they had presumed to call. Jacob Leisler was a German, for this reason readily affiliating with and even bearing office in the Dutch Reformed Church. But not until the time of Lord Lovelace had there been any large body of German people coming over together. The movement is usually supposed to have begun under his successor. But the thousand that came over during the Hunter regime formed but a wave in the great tide of emigration which had already set in toward the shores of America.

Robert Hunter as Governor--Robert Hunter, the next Governor, arrive don July 14, 1710, accompanied by several vessels carrying Germans from the Palatine. Three thousand had embarked with him, distributed over ten vessels. They all sailed together from the harbor of Plymouth, but they were soon scattered by a fierce storm, and they arrived at different date in New York Bay. Sickness of a contagious character broke out on several of the vessels, 330 people were ill one vessel at one time; 470 died before port was reached. Indeed, the mayor and common council were so apprehensive of disease breaking our in the city from the landing of these people, that they requested the Provincial Council to order them to be placed on Governor's Island. Carpenters were hastily set at work building huts for their accommodation, and for quite while the people from the Palatine were kept in a sort of quarantine in this convenient spot. A month later governor Hunter established courts there for their protection. A ship carrying tools, tents, and other supplies for these poor people was wrecked off Montauk Point and it indeed began to appear that disaster was to attack the enterprise from beginning to end. Ultimately the greater portion of this immigration was distributed among the river counties, Orange and Ulster and Dutchess. In course of time several forced their way into Schoharie County; but a great number also remained in and around New York. Sixty-eight girls and boys were apprenticed to trades in New York and on Long Island. The new accession of co-religionists also enabled the Lutheran element in the population to build another church in place of the edifice demolished by Captain Colve. It was erected almost under the shadow of Trinity, on the corner of Rector Street and Broadway, where afterwards Grace Church was built. When we reflect that the largest number of immigrants arriving at one time before this was 100 in one ship, and that during the years 1657 to 1664, a period of unusually brisk immigration, the whole number of arrivals reached only 1,132 we can easily imagine that this sudden advent of 3,000 persons at once must have created quite a sensation in the little town of 6,000 inhabitants.

Hunter, from the beginning, found his position difficult, but he displayed a tact and ability far removed from the dissolute futility of a Cornbury. Hunter was self-made man, something of the type of American public man that became prominent in later times. He was an apothecary's apprentice when the notion took him to enter the army. He did so without money or influence as a private and rose by merit and conduct and the charm of his address from the ranks, attaining the grade of brigadier-general. He had no mean literary aptitudes, and corresponded on terms of intimacy with some of the foremost wits of the day, Jonathan Swift among them. He was a decided accession to the social life of the city and added much to its intellectual atmosphere. His most important friendship was with Lewis Morris, who he afterwards appointed chief justice. This Morris was a son of Richard Morris, an officer in the army of Cromwell, who had come to the province, purchased a manor ten miles square near Harlem, and called it Morrisania, a name which it still retained.

In the year that followed the arrival of hunter, New York joined with New England in a plan to conquer New France, or Canada, and join it to the colonies under the aegis of the English government. Money was raised, troops were assembled, and ships and soldiers were sent for from England. An expedition was sent by way of the St. Lawrence, for the attack on Canada by way of lakes George and Champlain that had been elaborated by Leisler and others was found not feasible, but disaster overtook it. The ships ran into a fog, struck on the rocks and eight of them sank with 800 men. This for the time being put the quietus on any attempt to invade Canada. The soldiers and sailors who survived wended their way home again and the loss of so many lives and so much treasure cast a gloom over the country.

Hunted has not been long in the province before the old question of revenue came up, on which Lovelace had foundered. He began to urge the Assembly to grant him the permanent revenue that preceding governors had asked for and the Queen at home sent her orders to the effect that he was to have it, but the Assembly had made up its mind and stuck to its guns. The members had deliberated the matter very carefully ad formed a good idea of its implications. They had consequently made up their minds o the effect that they would grant revenue only for the year, and no longer, and this is what they did, despite the expostulations of the Queen and the Queen's officials. That was one matter that marked the administration of Hunter. Another rather important matter worth noting as dating from this administration was the establishment of a public market for the sale of Negro slaves at the foot of Wall Street. numerous slaves were brought into the city, and the laws were made of stricter force in keeping them in bondage. It had come to be the law that no more than four slaves should meet together at one time. The Negroes were not permitted to pass the city gates, nor to carry weapons of any sort. They were required to appear in the street during the hours of darkness with alighted lantern, and should one of them sally forth at night without attending to this formality, he was put in prison and his master fined. There was a great deal of cruelty, and occasionally the resentment of the salve for the better of him and occasionally the murder of a master by a slave is heard of. The punishment for this offense was burning at the stake and there was scarcely the pretense of a trial. Sometimes the guilty Negroes suspended from the branches of a tall tree and left there to die.

But in spite of the fact that the slaves were maltreated and restrained, their numbers continued to increase, partially by immigration, partially by the natural increase of birth rate. The large number of colored people in the city created a feeling of nervousness among the whites, and the spectre of a Negro rising, in which the whites might be murdered by the desperate victims of their oppression, as continually evoked. A riot did occur in the year that followed the setting up of the slave market, and in the course of it several white men were killed and a home was burned. But the punishment that was meted out only emphasized the futility of any enterprise of a desperate character on the part of the slave population. Large numbers of the colored people wee arrested and nineteen of the Negroes were executed under a charge of having been implicated in a plot to murder their masters.

Affairs moved along quietly after the suppression of the Negro riot. The next incident of interest in the affairs of the city was the putting up of the first public clock on the city hall in Wall Street. the clock was the gift of Stephen De Lancey. De. Lancey was a Huguenot, or Protestant Frenchman, whose family appears to have emigrated first to Holland and then to America. He lived in a large house at the corner of what are now Pearl Street and Broad Street. Portions of the house still stand on the site, built into the edifice that came to be known as Fraunces' Tavern, from the later owner who turned I into a public caranvanserai after De Lancey removed from it. These are some of the events that marked the administration of Governor Hunter. He has become quite popular with the people, but his health in course of time sees to have failed. So he surrendered the government into the hands of Peter Schuyler, who was the oldest member of the city council, and went to Europe. He had been Governor nine years, and during the thirteen months that followed Schuyler took charge, at the end of which time William Burnet, the new Governor, arrived in New York.

Burnet and Montgomerie--Burnet was the son of Bishop Burnet, who was regarded with much favor by William III. His early days had been spent at the court of William, so he had a valuable opportunity of observing a great deal and acquiring the sort of polish which intimacy with a court usually gives--so that he was quite marked for his manners and for his learning. His particular bent appears to have been in the theological line. He engaged in numerous disputes with theologians, promulgates in book form some theories as to the interpretation of Daniel's prophecies. And took it upon himself to judge of the fitness of the young men desiring a license to preach. He would give them a text and shut them up in a room to evolve a sermon out of it in a given time, and if they did not come up to the mark he could refuse to pass them. But his tastes were also scientific. He was the owner of a telescope and prepared papers on astronomical subjects, and by careful observation fixed the exact latitude and longitude of Fort George. While studious he was also fond of society, and the Governor's house became the scene of much social activity. He had come to New York, a young, unmarried man, soon after his arrival he met and fell in love with the daughter of one of the prominent and wealthy Dutch merchants, Miss Anna Marie Van Horne. The father was Abraham Van Horne, with residence and store located in Wall Street, and her mother was the daughter of David Provoost, who was mayor of the city in 1699, and who wife was a daughter of Johannes De Peyster. The union was not of long duration. At the birth of the second child in 1727 Mrs. Burnet died. Despite certain difficulties with prominent individuals and some arguing with the Assembly, Governor Burnet liked his post and wanted to retain it. But on the accession of George II he was removed to Massachusetts, and a favorite of the new king, who had been his groom of the bedchamber while Prince of Wales, was given the Governorship of New York.

The Governor succeeding Burnet was Col. John Montgomerie, a dull Scotchman, described as weak and lazy, though he had been bred a soldier. He was modestly conscious of his deficiencies and ingratiated himself with the refractory Assembly by making no claims for specific supplies, and by avoiding the exercise of the functions of chancellor, which Burnet was fond of exercising, but which the popular party regarded as an infringement upon their privileges and liberties. As a result Montgomerie had no controversies with the Legislature and they granted him supplies for a number of years at once, a thing they had persistently refused to do for Lovelace, Hunter and Burnet. But Montgomerie's administration was short, for he died suddenly on the morning of July 1, 1731. In spite of his short term as Governor, Montgomerie's name has become associated with one of the numerous charters of New York City. In 1708, or twenty-two years after the charter granted by Dongan, in 1686, one was granted under Cornbury, referring, however, exclusively to the matter of ferry privileges. Twenty-two years after that, or in 1730, a third charter of considerable importance, was submitted for approval to the Provincial Council. It was referred to a committee of which the chairman was the lawyer, James Alexander, the father of Gen. Lord Stirling, of Revolutionary fame, the hero of the battle of Long Island. The Council, on August 13, 1730, unanimously voted to grant the charter, and the Governor signed it. It needed now only what the Dongan charter never obtained, the sign and seal of the royal hand.

As late as 1732 Governor Cosby is found writing to England, advising against the approval of the charter, and in the collection of colonial documents published by the State there is a letter from the Lords of Trade still later, asking for a copy of it. Nevertheless, after an interval of about six months, giving time enough for the transmission of the charter back and forth to and from England, there took place a public ceremony and formal presentation of the charter by the provincial council to the city authorities. This occurred on February 11, 1731. On that day Robert Lurting, mayor, Frederick Harrison, recorder, the aldermen and assistant aldermen, proceeded in a body from their room in the city hall to that occupied by the Governor and Council. The mayor stepped forward, received the instrument from the hands of Governor Montgomerie, and took the oath of office anew. He, thereupon, naming Alderman John Cruger for the new office of Deputy mayor, the governor appointed him and administered the oath of office. This done, the recorder came forward and read an address of thanks signed by all the members of the corporation, the main purport of which was that the goodness of the Governor had induced the corporation to select this time for petitioned for a charter. The Governor replied in the following words: "I am very glad that it has been in my power to promote the prosperity and interest of the City of New York, which I believe I have effectually done by now delivering to your Mayor the King's royal and most gracious charter. It gives me great satisfaction my being fully assured that the officers named in the charter are fit for their respective trusts and will do their duty with strict regard for his Majesty's service and the good of the city." this speech seems to make clear, if the Council minutes can be depended upon for accurate verbal reproduction, that the document had actually been signed by the King, thus making it a royal charter in fact.

In the document an attempt was made to secure the privilege of electing the appointive officers, the mayor, the recorder, the sheriff, the coroner, the town clerk; but this provision was struck out, and they remained appointive, as before. There was an addition of one ward to the six defined by the Dongan charter. It was carved out of the large Out Ward, running along the East River, and bounded by the old North Ward, which likewise extended beyond Wall Street. The jurisdiction of the city was extended not only over all the Manhattan Island, but was made to cover also all the opposite surrounding shores of Westchester and Long Island as far as low water mark. The officials of the corporation, besides the mayor and his deputy, wee enumerated as one recorder, seven aldermen, seven assistants, one high constable, sixteen assessors, seven collectors, sixteen constables, and one marshal. Wharves or dicks were to be forty feet wide, both for the convenience of trade and for the planting of cannon, in case of war. The quit-rent was made ten shillings higher than formerly. The mayor, recorder and aldermen were regarded as equivalent to justices of the peace for city and county. The mayor, recorder and three of the aldermen were to be a committee with power to administer oaths to citizens and to grant the freedom of the city, either as a compliment or a regulated price. A few years before this the price was placed at twenty shillings for a merchant or trader, and six shillings for a mechanic. A Court of Common Pleas was constituted by the mayor, or deputy, with two or more aldermen. The charter continued to be the basis of city government and municipal privileges for many years and through many political changes, with but few modifications. Chancellor Kent, in 1638, said concerning it: "It remains to this day with much of its original form and spirit, after having received by statute, such modifications and such a thorough enlargement in it legislative, judicial, and executive branches, as were adapted to the genius and wants of the people, and to the astonishing growth and still rapidly increasing wealth and magnitude of the city."

At the time of the granting of the charter the west side of the city was still largely an unoccupied shore. It was only about half a dozen years before that steps were taken looking toward the laying out of Greenwich Street and Washington Street, but not till several years after the period was the scheme carried out. On the East river side there was a great circular basin, out into which jutted a pier from the foot of Broad Street. Pearl Street began where it begins now, but it was called Dock Street, from Whitehall to Hanover Square, and beyond Wall Street, till it was lost in the country at Franklin Square, it went by the name of Queen Street. Maiden Lane and John Street were then as now, but John, east of William, was called Golden Hill, a name destined to become historic in the anti-Revolutionary agitations. Fulton Street was Fair Street then; Beekman and Frankfort streets were in their places, but beyond these, all was country, the road to Boston running along the line of Park Row. The fort and vicinity were in much the same condition as formerly. The price of lots in the heart of the city reached from an average of £260 each.

The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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