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Clinton Family - Erie County

THE CLINTON FAMILY in America is descended from one of the most ancient families of Great Britain. Geoffrey de Clinton, the founder of the house, was Lord High Chamberlain and Treasurer to King Henry I., who reigned from 1100 to 1135, and received from that monarch immense grants of land. Geoffrey de Clinton built Kenilworth Castle, whose ruins are still to be seen near Warwick, and which became famous, not only through its historic association, but because it was chosen by Sir Walter Scott as the scene of one of his most celebrated romances.

From Osbert, the brother of Geoffrey de Clinton, descended Edward Clinton, first Earl of Lincoln, who became Lord High Admiral of England. His son Henry, second Earl of Lincoln, was the father of Sir Henry Clinton, who was born in 1587 and whose death occurred in 1641. Sir Henry's son was William Clinton, who in the struggle between King and Parliament espoused the Cavalier side and became an officer in Charles the First's army. His son, James Clinton, married Elizabeth Smith, a daughter of one of Cromwell's officers.

Charles Clinton, son of James, was the founder of the American branch of the family. He was born in the county of Longford, Ireland, in 1690. In May, 1729, he sailed from Dublin in a ship called the George and Anne, himself paying the passages of ninety-four persons, and settled in the Massachusetts Colony. Mr. Clinton remained in that colony till 1731, when he removed to Little Britain, Ulster County, New York. He took an active part in the wars with the Indians and the French, and in 1758 was Colonel of a regiment of provincial troops, and was present at the capture of Fort Frontenac. Col. Clinton was a man of mathematical attainments, and his services were much in demand in land surveys. He was judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Ulster County. Col. Clinton died November 19, 1773. At that time the Revolutionary conflict was distinctly foreshadowed, and Col. Clinton in his last moments told his sons to espouse the cause of liberty. Col. Clinton's wife, Elizabeth Denniston, whom he married in Ireland, was an accomplished woman who earnestly shared the patriotic spirit of her husband. She died December 25, 1779, being then in her 75th year. Of the four sons of this marriage, Alexander, Charles, James and George, all attained distinction. The two first-named were prominent physicians. George Clinton, the youngest, participated in the French and Indian War and the Revolution, was the first Governor of the State of New York and was continued in that office for twenty-one years. At the time of his death he was Vice President of the United States.

James Clinton, son of Col. Charles Clinton, was an ensign, first lieutenant, and captain in the provincial army. After the war he became Lieutenant Colonel of an Orange County regiment. Upon the outbreak of the Revolution he entered the Patriot service, in 1775 being appointed Colonel of the Third New York Regiment. In 1776 he was made Brigadier General and took part in the attack on Quebec. The next year he was stationed at Fort Montgomery, on the Hudson, and bravely resisted the British advance under Sir Henry Clinton. In 1778 Gen. Clinton was stationed at West Point. After the discovery of Arnold's treason, Washington ordered Gen. Clinton to assume command at Albany, at which important post he continued until August, 1781.

After the close of the Revolution, Gen. Clinton was a member of the convention called to ratify the Federal Constitution. He also served in the convention to revise the Constitution of New York, was chosen a commissioner to determine the New York and Pennsvlvania boundarv, and was elected State Senator.

The wife of Gen. Clinton was Mary De Witt. She was a daughter of Egbert De Witt, and came from an excellent family of Holland extraction. Four sons - Alexander, Charles, De Witt and George - were the issue of this marriage. Gen. Clinton died at Little Britain in 1812.

SOURCE:  Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York; Volume I