Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Herman LeRoy, 19 September 1802

To Herman LeRoy1

Grange [New York], September 19, 1802. Informs LeRoy of an arrangement he has concluded with Henry Sands2 to assign Sands’s mortgage on lots in Brooklyn to the Bank of New York, which, in turn, would sell the mortgaged property and use the proceeds to discharge Comfort Sands’s debts.3 States: “Going tomorrow morning to attend the W Chester Circuit4 which may occasion an absence of three or four days.”

ALS, Bank of New York, New York City.

1LeRoy, William Bayard, and James McEvers were partners in a New York City mercantile firm which represented the Holland Land Company in the United States. LeRoy was a director of the Bank of New York.

2Sands, the second son of Comfort Sands, a New York City merchant, was a lawyer in New York City.

3This letter concerns the case of The President, Directors, and Company of the Bank of New York v Comfort Sands, Henry Sands, and Isaac Kibbee, one of several cases that resulted from the bankruptcy of Comfort Sands. Kibbee, a New York City merchant, was chosen by a commission of bankruptcy in July, 1802, as assignee of Sands’s real property. Sands owned land in New York City, Brooklyn, upstate New York, the city of Washington, and Georgia. H acted as counsel for the complainants.

In 1797 Comfort Sands, who owed money to several prominent merchants in New York City, suffered financial misfortunes, stopped payments to his creditors, and refused to give them an account of his affairs. On June 15, 1797, he mortgaged his estate of one hundred and sixty acres in Brooklyn to the Bank of New York for a payment of fifty thousand dollars plus interest. In July, 1798, shortly after the first judgment was made against him by one of his many creditors, Sands conveyed the property in Brooklyn to his son, Henry, for sixty thousand dollars. From this sum, fifty-six thousand dollars was to be paid to the Bank of New York, which included the amount Comfort Sands owed the bank, and four thousand dollars was to be paid to Comfort Sands. Despite the sale of the land to his son, Comfort Sands continued to exercise his rights of ownership over the property in Brooklyn. Sands was imprisoned in Kings County for nonpayment of debts from August, 1798, to July, 1801. On June 22, 1801, according to provisions of the Uniform Bankruptcy Act (“An Act to establish an uniform System of Bankruptcy throughout the United States” [2 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, II (Boston, 1850). description ends 19–36 (April 4, 1800)]), he was declared a bankrupt.

On November 4, 1802, the Bank of New York filed a bill in the New York Chancery Court against Comfort Sands, Henry Sands, and Isaac Kibbee, requesting foreclosure of the mortgage on the estate in Brooklyn and sale of the property. On December 9, 1803, the land was sold at public auction in New York City to Lewis Sands, another son of Comfort Sands, who agreed to purchase it for ninety-four thousand dollars. When Abraham Bancker, master of the Chancery Court, tendered the deed for the land to Lewis Sands on May 22, 1804, Lewis Sands stated that he could not conform to the conditions of the sale. On June 4, 1804, the court ordered a second sale of the land. Between July 3, 1804, and November 5, 1806, Thomas Cooper, master of the Chancery Court, sold the land at public auction in several parcels to separate purchasers for a total price of $73,363.23. On July 29, 1808, Cooper filed a report in Chancery Court in which he stated that he had paid the Bank of New York $56,366.81 from the sale of the land. The remaining surplus was brought into court to be applied to Comfort Sands’s other creditors (Chancery Papers, Copied Libers, Vol. 106, 1–97, Hall of Records, New York City; William Johnson, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Judicature; and in the Court for the Trial of Impeachments and the Correction of Errors, in the State of New York, IV [New York, 1809], 536–43).

See H’s “Memorandum of what is understood to be the intention of the Bank of New York communicated by Mr. Hamilton their counsel to Mr. [Nathaniel] Pendleton the counsel of Mr. H Sands in relation to the mortgage on certain lots at Brooklyn…,” August 1, 1803 (ADS, Bank of New York, New York City).

An entry in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, under the date of January 31, 1799, reads: “Bank of New York for opinion concerning the Mortgage from Sands 20” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

4The Circuit Court of Westchester County, New York, met on September 20, 1802.

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