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Chief Justice Daniel HORSMANDEN, Jr.

Male 1694 - 1778  (84 years)


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  • Name Daniel HORSMANDEN 
    Title Chief Justice 
    Suffix Jr. 
    Born 4 Jun 1694  Purleigh, Essex, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Will 5 Feb 1777  New York City, New York County, NY Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 23 Sep 1778  Flatbush [now Brooklyn], Kings County, NY Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Probate 3 May 1779  New York City, New York County, NY Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 

    • (1) Source: Alexander Street Press, L.L.C. <http://www.alexanderstreet2.com/EENALive/bios/A11508BIO.html>:

      Daniel Horsmanden, chief justice of colonial New York, was born to Reverend Daniel Horsmanden and Susanna Boyer in Purleigh, Essex, England, June 4, 1694. In his early twenties, Daniel Horsmanden moved to London, where he studied law. In 1721, he was admitted to the Middle Temple, and in 1724 he was admitted to the Inner Temple. He practiced law in London and engaged unsuccessfully in some high-stakes business dealings, acquiring substantial debt by 1729. That year Horsmanden moved to Virginia, likely to escape creditors, staying first in Williamsburg with his cousin, William Byrd of Westover, who had lived much of his youth in the Horsmanden household.

      Some time after 1730, Daniel Horsmanden moved to New York. Through Byrd, He received introductions extending to Thomas Pelham Holles, Lord Newcastle; Newcastle recommended Horsmanden to William Cosby, the newly appointed Governor of New York. Admitted to the Bar in 1732, Horsmanden took a seat in the New York city council the following year.

      Emerging during a period of factious strife in New York politics, Horsmanden traveled between leading parties, allying eventually with William Cosby's ruling party. For his services on the committee charged with identifying seditious statements in John Peter Zenger's New York Weekly Journal, Cosby granted the struggling Horsmanden a license to purchase a substantial estate near Albany. From Cosby's successor, William Clarke, he received appointment as judge in the Vice Admiralty Court of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut; by 1737, he achieved the rank of the third judge in New York's Supreme Court of the Judiciary.

      While rising through the ranks of the judiciary, Daniel Horsmanden maintained his post on the city council, as well. Serving as legal counsel and as city recorder, he initiated investigation into a series of robberies and fires in the winter of 1741, promoting the theory that the fires stemmed from a plot raze the city of New York. Horsmanden accepted the suspect accusations made by sixteen year-old Mary Burton, an indentured servant promised her freedom and starting cash for unveiling the plot. He prosecuted the cases as they spiraled from an innkeeper and the slaves to whom he illegally sold liquor, to free blacks, to Catholic radicals. He sentenced four white men and seventeen slaves to hangings; thirteen other slaves were burned at the stake. Hundreds of accusations, which were provided in lieu of facing execution, stirred the city in to a frenzied state, and Horsmanden rose in social and political prominence for his handling of this so-called "Negro Plot." Defending his actions he published in 1744 A Journal of the Proceedings in The Detection of the Conspiracy formed by Some White People, in Conjunction with Negro and other Slaves, for burning the city of New-York in America, and Murdering the Inhabitants. When George Clinton ascended to the gubernatorial seat, Daniel Horsmanden again allied himself with whomever he saw as the colony's most powerful of politicians: his fellow supreme court justice, James De Lancey. As De Lancey and Clinton reached political loggerheads, Horsmanden became the focus of Clinton's ire. The governor removed Horsmanden from his post on the Supreme Court and from his role as city recorder; however, Horsmanden retained his seat on the city council. Shortly before leaving office in 1753, George Clinton returned Horsmanden to the Supreme Court. He remained there until his death, serving as justice until James De Lancey's demise in 1760, and as chief justice thence forward. Remaining a malleable politician throughout his career, the judge shifted his allegiance to William Livingston's party in the mid-fifties. In 1755 he received appointment to the governor's council under Thomas Hardy.

      As a jurist in the pre-Revolutionary decades, Daniel Horsmanden struggled to maintain a fine line between his duties to the Crown and his place in colonial New York. During the Stamp Act Crisis, he kept the courts closed; however, called on to investigate the 1772 sinking of the revenue schooner Gaspee off the coast of Rhode Island, Horsmanden suggested combining Rhode Island and Connecticut under one Royal government. His final term as justice came in 1775, after which Royal courts in New York closed.

      In 1748, Daniel Horsmanden married Mary Reade Vesey, the widow of the rector of New York's Trinity Church. The couple had no children together. Mary Horsmanden died in 1760, and in 1764 the seventy year-old Horsmanden married Ann Jevon of New York. She, too, predeceased him, dying in 1777.

      Daniel Horsmanden died at his Flatbush, New York home, September 23, 1778. Dying without issue, he stipulated in his will that much of his estate be sold and the proceeds donated to St. Paul's Chapel, King's College and Trinity Church, where his body was laid to rest.

      (2) New York City Wills, 1777-1783, Orem, UT: Ancestry, Inc., 1999:

      Page 58.?"In the name of God, Amen. I, DANIEL HORSMANDEN, of New York, Chief Justice of said Province, being in good health. I direct all debts to be paid. Whereas my sister, Ursula Horsmanden, spinster, deceased, by her will left me ??2,500, which she had invested in the joint Stock of the South Sea Company, and made Lucretia, widow of my brother, Rev. Samuel Horsmanden, executor, and part of said legacy has been received. I leave to the Rector of St. Giles Cripplegate, London, ??1,000. I leave to Mr. Olive, of Goodhurst, Kent, England, who agreed with me for the purchase of my farm at Goodhurst in Kent, ??600. I leave to the said Lucretia Horsmanden ??400. To Elizabeth, wife of my worthy friend, Miles Sherbrook, of New York, merchant, my chariot and horses. My executors are to sell all my estate. I leave to my Goddaughter, Maria Horsmanden Bayard, daughter of Col. William Bayard, of Virginia, ??500 Stirling. I leave to the Rector and Inhabitants of New York, in Communion with the Church of England, ??1,500 New York money, ??1,000 to be laid out in rebuilding the Rector's house, lately destroyed by fire, and ??200 for rebuilding the Charity School House, and ??100 for a bell for St. Paul's Chapel, and ??200 for building a Pulpit and Desk in Trinity Church when the said church shall be rebuilt. I leave to the Governors of Kings College ??500. I leave all the rest to my executors, to be divided between them. I make Miles Sherbrook, and Thomas Hayes, of Bristol, England, executors."

      Dated February 5, 1777. Witnesses, James Desbrosses, Jr., Samuel Jones, Jacob Rhinelander. Proved, May 3, 1779.
    Person ID I11315  Frost, Gilchrist and Related Families
    Last Modified 10 Sep 2018 

    Family 1 Mary READE,   d. Bef 6 Dec 1763, New York City, New York County, NY Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 8 May 1748  Trinity Church, New York City, New York County, NY Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 

    • (1) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, International Genealogical Index ®, Copyright © 1980, 2002, data as of December 29, 2005, Batch No.: M510591, Dates: 1746 - 1861, Source Call No.: 974.7 B2N V. 69-72, Type: Book, Printout Call No.: 0882993, Type: Film, Sheet: 00
    Last Modified 10 Sep 2018 10:37:02 
    Family ID F5228  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Ann JEVON,   d. 1777 
    Married 12 Jul 1763  Trinity Church, New York City, New York County, NY Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 

    • (1) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, International Genealogical Index ®, Copyright © 1980, 2002, data as of December 29, 2005, Batch No.: M510591, Dates: 1746 - 1861, Source Call No.: 974.7 B2N V. 69-72, Type: Book, Printout Call No.: 0882993, Type: Film, Sheet: 00
    Last Modified 10 Sep 2018 10:37:02 
    Family ID F5231  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart