De Lancey

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

De Lancey

De Lancey (də lăn´sē), family of political leaders, soldiers, and merchants prominent in colonial New York. Étienne De Lancey or Stephen De Lancey, 1663–1741, b. Caen, France, was among the more famous of the Huguenots exiled by the revocation (1685) of the Edict of Nantes. He became one of the wealthiest men in New York City through his activities as a merchant. He married into the Van Cortlandt family and was for 24 years a member of the colonial assembly. His town house, built in 1719, was later sold to Samuel Fraunces, who made it a notable tavern in the Revolutionary period. It still stands, probably the most famous of the old buildings on Manhattan island. His son, James De Lancey, 1703–60, b. New York City, educated in England, was a noted jurist and one of the most important figures in colonial New York politics. He was a justice (1731–33) and chief justice (1733–60) of the provincial supreme court and served (1753–55, 1757–60) as lieutenant governor. His political dexterity enabled him to control both the council and assembly, and after the suicide of the governor, Sir Danvers Osborne, he assumed control of that office also. He led the De Lancey faction against Gov. George Clinton in politics and against the Livingston faction when that family expressed its Presbyterian opposition to the chartering of King's College (now Columbia Univ.) as an Anglican institution. He was presiding judge at the trial of John Peter Zenger and was president of the Albany Congress (1754). His son, James De Lancey, 1732–1800, b. New York City, inherited the leadership of the De Lancey faction and, although he had opposed British colonial policies, was an important Loyalist officer in the American Revolution. He later received $160,000 for his estates, which were confiscated by the patriots. His cousin, James De Lancey, 1746–1804, b. New York City, was also a Loyalist during the Revolution. He commanded a cavalry troop in raids outside New York City before fleeing (1782) to Nova Scotia. Oliver De Lancey, 1718–85, son of Étienne, b. New York City, was a British officer who served in the last of the French and Indian Wars and in the American Revolution. His son, Oliver De Lancey, 1749–1822, b. New York City, was also a British officer in the Revolution, succeeding John André as adjutant general of the British forces in America.

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