Stephen DeLancey


Stephen DeLancey

Stephen (Etienne) Delancey (Oct 24, 1663 - Nov 18, 1741) was a major figure in the life of colonial New York. His children continued to wield great influence until the American Revolution.

Background

Born in Caen, France on Oct 24, 1663Kenneth T. Jackson: "The Encyclopedia of New York City": The New York Historical Society; Yale University Press; 1995. P. 324.] as "Etienne" de Lancey, he was the only son of Jacques de Lancey and Margaret Bertrand. The de Lancey family were minor French nobility ("Noblesse de France Royale") and, despite being of the Huguenot faith, served the French Crown as administrators and bureaucrats for over two hundred years.

Dating back to the early 1400s, successive generations of the de Lancey family held the titles of Vicomte de Laval et de Nouvion, Vicomte de Laonnais, Baron de Raray, and Seigneur de Nery et de Faverolles, Verines, Ribencourt, et Arment.

In 1686, Etienne de Lancey was forced to flee bitter persecution by French Catholics following the Oct 18, 1685 revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV, in which some two hundred thousand Huguenots left their native land. Escaping first to Rotterdam with approximately 300 British Pounds' worth of family jewels sewn into his clothing, Etienne sailed to England, obtaining an "Act of Denization" (naturalization) from King James II on March 3, 1686.

New York

Soon afterwards, Etienne sailed for the English Colonies in America, landing in New York City on June 6th, 1686. Exactly one month later (July 7), he obtained additional letters of denization in New York from Governor Dongan, and on Sept 9th, 1687, took the Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown under the Colonial Act of 1683. It is at this time that he anglicized his name, becoming "Stephen Delancey."

On Jan 23rd, 1700, Delancey married Anne van Cortlandt. In the summer of 1700, Delancey began construction of a house at 54 Pearl Street in New York City, on land given to his wife by her father as a wedding gift to the young couple. In 1762 the house was sold at auction by Stephen's heirs to Samuel Fraunces, who converted it into the "Queen Charlotte Tavern." (The house still stands today, and is known as "Fraunces Tavern.")

Delancey was to become one of the most successful merchants in the colony of New York with his well-known granary, warehouse and retail store, known to all as "Delancey and Co." During Queen Anne's War, letters of marque against the French served as a cover for DeLancey to engage in trade with Red Sea Pirates. By the 1730s, he had become such a prosperous merchant that he was able to build a large mansion on Broadway, just above Trinity Church. The mansion was eventually demolished in 1792 to build the City Hotel, and the site is now occupied by the Boreil Building.

Stephen Delancey played an active role in the life of the city, serving as an Alderman for several years, and both a member of the Province of New York Provincial Assembly and State Senator. He is also credited with having presented as gifts to the city its first Town Clock and its first Fire Engine. At the time of his death on November 18, 1741, the erstwhile immigrant Etienne de Lancey left an estate valued in excess of £100,000 British Pounds (approximately $18,000,000 in US Dollars today).

Family

On Jan 23rd, 1700, Delancey married Anne van Cortlandt, third child of Chief Justice of the Province of New York Stephanus van Cortlandt, and his wife Gertrude Schuyler. They had ten children, only five of whom survived infancy. The three surviving sons (James (1703-1760), Peter (1705-1770), and Oliver (1708-1785)) and two daughters (Susannah and Anne) all married and had issue.

James became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for the Province of New York, in addition to serving as Lieutenant Governor of New York. Peter became a merchant, maintaining a large mill in what is now the Bronx, and served in the New York Provincial Assembly for many years. Oliver, also a merchant, became a Brigadier General in the British Army during the American Revolution.

Stephen and Anne also had two daughters: Susannah de Lancey (1707-1771), who married Admiral Sir Peter Warren, and Anne de Lancey (1713-?) who married John Watts, a prominent businessman of the day.

Footnotes

References

* D.A. Story, "The de Lancey's: Romance of a Great Family", Toronto: Nelson & Sons, 1931.
* George Lockhart Rives: Genealogical Notes (New York: Knickerbocker, 1914).


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