Alexander Hamilton Papers

Jacob Mark and Company to John B. Church, Alexander Hamilton, and John Laurance, 30 May 1797

Jacob Mark and Company to John B. Church,
Alexander Hamilton, and John Laurance1

New York 30 May 1797


We are sorry to find that owing to the embarrassed situation of the Land You purchased from us last Year2 so great an inconvenience and loss shou’d arise to You as well as ourselves in being retarded in the settlement; and as we are particularly anxious to remove the most distant hard thought from You towards us, we think it proper to make You such proposals as are not only founded on fair and honorable principals but which will certainly be for Your Particular interest to accept. Should You not think proper to come into the measures proposed, then be kind enough to set a price on Your Part of the Land at which You will sell, as the persons to whom we may Sell it, will not take short of the whole.

Do neither of the proposed measures meet Your ideas we then beg You will not take it amiss in us to act in Such manner as circumstances may require.

We propose

1. To sell You our one fourth undivided Interest in Townships No. 21 & 15 which according to the surveyors return (together 42314¼ acres) contains 10578 ½ acres at 2 dollars and 25 cents per acre.

2. The Amount thereof being Drs. 23801. 62/100 to be given in endorsed Notes payable on the

1st. July next D 8000
1st. October “ 8500
1st. December “ 7301.62

3. The two Notes which we hold Signed by Messrs. Laurance & Hamilton payable in December 1797 & 1798 to be made payable to J Mark & Co. or order.

4. The notes not to be delivered to us till a discharge of the mortgage on the two townships is fully produced.

You will oblige us by signifying to us Your decision on the above as speedily as possible.

We are with the greatest esteem   Gentlemen   Your most obedt. servts

J. Mark & Co.

Alexr. Hamilton } Esqrs
John Lawrance
J: B. Church

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Jacob Mark and Company was a firm of New York City merchants. Church was Elizabeth Hamilton’s brother-in-law. Laurance, a New York City attorney, had served as an aide-de-camp to George Washington during the American Revolution. He was a member of the House of Representatives from New York from 1789 to 1793 and United States judge for the District of New York from 1794 to 1796. He was a member of the first board of directors of the Bank of the United States and in 1796 became a director of the New York branch of the Bank of the United States. From 1796 to 1800 he was United States Senator from New York.

2The lands purchased by Church, Laurance, and H were located in Scriba’s patent in upstate New York. In 1794 George Scriba, a New York City merchant, purchased from John and Nicholas J. Roosevelt 490,136 acres in Oswego and Oneida counties for £77,917 6s (N.Y. Colonial Manuscripts description begins Calendar of N.Y. Colonial Manuscripts: Indorsed Land Papers; in the Office of the Secretary of State of New York. 1643–1803 (Albany, 1864). description ends , 980; see also Mix, Catalogue: Maps and Surveys description begins David E. E. Mix, ed., Catalogue: Maps and Surveys, in the Offices of the Secretary of State, State Engineer and Surveyor, and Comptroller, and the New York State Library (Albany, 1859). description ends , 19). On January 6, 1795, Scriba sold part of this tract to Jacob Mark and Company (“Mortgage by John Laurance, John B. Church, and Alexander Hamilton to Robert Gilchrist,” August 21, 1802). On January 8, 1795, Mark, who owed Robert Gilchrist and Theodosius Fowler $70,000, gave them a mortgage on Townships 21, 15, 9, 10, and a part of 17 (Bill in Chancery, Robert Gilchrist v Jacob Mark, John Laurance, and others, May 21, 1801 [Chancery Papers, Copied Libers, Vol. 128, 469-85, Hall of Records, New York City]; Fowler’s Account Book, Stevens Family Papers, New Jersey Historical Society, Newark). On January 15, 1796, Laurance purchased for H, Church, and himself Townships 21 and 15, in which Mark retained an undivided one-fourth interest to be held in trust (Conveyance, Mark and his wife to Laurance, January 15, 1796 [Chancery Papers, Copied Libers, Vol. 128, 507-10, Hall of Records, New York City]). On January 20, 1796, H made the following entry in his Cash Book, 1795-1804: “John Laurance Dr to Cash   for this sum dld John Laurance towards my share of two Townships of Land No. 21 & No. 15 in Rosevelts purchase, purchased of Mr. Mark   1000” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). H recorded additional payments for this land of $5,000 on January 21, 1796, $88.90 on March 30, 1796, and $5,326.65 on December 12, 1796 (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). H also paid $226 on June 24, 1796, and $150 on October 11, 1796, for surveying the land (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). By 1800 Mark was in serious financial difficulties and was declared a bankrupt. In 1801 Gilchrist began Chancery proceedings to foreclose on the mortgage he held, on which $41,000 in overdue payments was owed by Mark (Bill in Chancery, May 28, 1801; Joint and Several answers of Jacob Mark and others, May 17, 1802; Answer of John Lawrance, May 17, 1802 [Chancery Papers, Copied Libers, Vol. 128, 469-85, 486-97, 499-516, Hall of records, New York City]). In order to protect the investment which they had already made in Townships 21 and 15, H, Church, and Laurance redeemed the lands still subject to mortgage by purchasing for $43,530.33 the residue of Mark’s holdings (Townships 9, 10, a portion of 17, and his one-fourth share of 21 and 15) (Master’s Report, May 18, 1802; Decree, May 31, 1802 [Chancery Papers, Copied Libers, Vol. 420, 401-03, 404-06, Hall of Records, New York City]; Final Decree, March 7, 1803 [Chancery Papers, Copied Libers, Vol. 128, 522-33, Hall of records, New York City]). As security for payment to Fowler and Gilchrist, who were business partners, of one-half the purchase price, or $21,765, H, church, and Laurance executed on August 21, 1802, a bond and mortgage on an undivided half of the lands (“Mortgage by John Laurance, John B. Church, and Alexander Hamilton to Robert Gilchrist,” August 21, 1802; "Promissory Note to Theodosius Fowler," August 21, 1802). In his "Statement of my property and Debts July 1. 1802" H wrote: "My share of townships No. 9. 10. 15. 17 and 21 in Scribas Patent in connection with J B Church and John Laurence viz

“1/6 of the first purchase of the whole being 31528 acres & ¼ of an acre & one third of the residuary purchase upon the suit in chancery being together nearly 20000 acres which now stand me in about 33000.” (AD, New-York Historical Society, New York City.)

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