Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Benjamin Walker, 3 September 1803

From Benjamin Walker1

Utica [New York], September 3, 1803. “It unfortunately falls to my Lot to have the principal charge of the Estate of the late Mrs. Francis Bainbridge who in right of her Mother, Agatha Evans, was entitled to ⅔ of the Bradstreet Estate. From some of the papers and from some information I have reced it would appear that you have in your hands some Deeds or property belonging to this Estate.2 If I rightly comprehend the matter Genl Schuyler Conveyed some Lands to you for the Heirs & you have to convey it to them on their paying their proportion of the cost of obtaining them.…”

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Walker, a native of London, had emigrated to America before the American Revolution and settled in New York City. During the war he was an aide-de-camp to Baron von Steuben. In 1786 he was appointed commissioner to settle the accounts of the hospital, marine, and clothing departments. He was a director of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures and from 1789 to 1797 was naval officer for New York. In May, 1795, he became a representative of the Pulteney Associates, an organization which speculated in lands in the Genesee country in western New York. See Walker to H, September 15, 1793. In 1797 he moved to Utica, and in 1801 he was elected to the House of Representatives as a Republican.

This letter concerns the case of Matthew Codd and Martha his wife v Edward Goold and Samuel Bradstreet, which involved a dispute over shares of land in Cosby Manor between the heirs of General John Bradstreet and his wife, Mary Aldrich, and her descendants by her first marriage to Colonel John Bradstreet (no relation to General John Bradstreet).

Before the American Revolution General John Bradstreet was the deputy quartermaster general of the British forces in New York. In the winter of 1755–1756 Philip Schuyler became Bradstreet’s deputy, a position he held until Bradstreet’s death in 1774. Schuyler’s responsibilities and activities were extensive, for he not only purchased supplies for the British army in New York in Bradstreet’s name, but he also bought land jointly with Bradstreet, looked after Bradstreet’s personal and official accounts, and dealt with his debtors and creditors. A measure of Bradstreet’s confidence in his deputy is revealed by the fact that in 1761 he sent Schuyler to England to settle his accounts in that country. In addition, Schuyler was named an executor in Bradstreet’s final will in 1774.

In his will, Bradstreet divided his Cosby Manor lands equally between his daughters Martha and Agatha. When Martha died in 1782, she left one-third of her share to her sister Agatha, one-third to her stepsister, Elizabeth Livius, who was the daughter of Mary Aldrich Bradstreet and Colonel John Bradstreet, and divided the remaining one-third equally between Samuel and Martha Bradstreet, the children of Major Samuel Bradstreet and grandchildren of Mary Aldrich Bradstreet and Colonel John Bradstreet. Agatha Bradstreet married Charles John Evans, and on May 3, 1788, they filed a bill in Chancery calling for an accounting from Schuyler of General John Bradstreet’s estate and a conveyance of her lands to them (Bill, New York Chancery Decrees Before 1800, E-29C [Historical Documents Collection, on deposit at Queens College, City University of New York]). The land in question consisted of 21,900 acres in Cosby Manor, which was located in the present Oneida and Herkimer counties and which Schuyler and Bradstreet had purchased in 1772. Schuyler’s answer to the bill, which was sworn to on March 3, 1789, states that he had already paid some amounts of money to Agatha Evans, that the estate was well on its way toward settlement, and that he would deliver the remainder owed, including her share of the land, in the near future (Answer, filed March 10, 1789, New York Chancery Decrees Before 1800, E-29G [Historical Documents Collection, on deposit at Queens College, City University of New York]). A draft of Schuyler’s answer, entitled “The answer of Philip Schuyler of the city of Albany in the County of Albany Defendant to the bill of Complaint of John Evans of the City & state of New York Gentleman and Agatha his wife” is in the handwriting of H and is located in the MS Division, New York Public Library. Schuyler’s counsel were H and Robert Troup. Richard Harison was counsel for Charles and Agatha Evans. No decree in this case has been found. See Philip Schuyler to H, September 2, 1788, a letter which became available after the publication of PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , III, and is printed in this volume.

In 1794, after Charles John Evans had died, Schuyler, by deed, transferred two-thirds of General John Bradstreet’s estate to Agatha Evans and the remaining one-third to Edward Goold, a New York City merchant who held the land in trust for the heirs of Martha Bradstreet, Agatha Evans’s sister. Goold was acting under a power of attorney from his father, Charles Goold, an Englishman who was the executor of Martha Bradstreet’s estate.

Charles and Agatha Evans left their two-thirds of General John Bradstreet’s holdings in Cosby Manor to their daughter Frances, whose second husband was Dr. Edmund Bainbridge of Utica. The Bainbridges brought suit against Richard Harison, Charles Wilkes, and Edward Goold, who were executors of Agatha Evans’s estate, to have Frances Bainbridge’s share of her mother’s estate transferred to her. Both Bainbridges had died by 1803. See MS Minutes of the New York Court of Chancery under the date of April 4, 1801, 1801–1804 (Hall of Records, New York City), and Bill, filed June 23, 1800, Chancery Papers, BM-1582-B (Hall of Records, New York City).

In 1801 Martha Bradstreet Codd, who was Mary Aldrich Bradstreet’s granddaughter, became twenty-one, and with her husband, Matthew Codd, she brought suit against Edward Goold and Samuel Bradstreet, her brother, to receive the lands Goold was holding in trust for her (MS Minutes, New York Court of Chancery, under the dates of November 24, 1801, January 12, 1802, March 1, May 17, 1803, 1801–1804 [Hall of Records, New York City]). After the deaths of Frances and Edmund Bainbridge, the Codds also brought suit against Harison, Goold, and Wilkes, the executors of Agatha Evans’s estate, and against Benjamin Walker, Nathan Williams, Jonas Platt, and Samuel Bradstreet, the executors of Frances Bainbridge and the guardians of her children (MS Minutes of the New York Supreme Court, under the dates of May 6, 1805, May 5, 1806, 1801–1805, 1806–1810 [Hall of Records, New York City]; MS Minutes of the New York Court of Chancery, under the date of August 5, 1805 [Historical Documents Collection, on deposit at Queens College, City University of New York]).

For additional information on these cases, see Don R. Gerlach, Philip Schuyler and the American Revolution in New York, 1733–1777 (Lincoln, Nebraska, 1964), 21–33; Daniel E. Wager, ed., Our Country and Its People: A Descriptive Work on Oneida County, New York (Boston, 1896), 100–03; Pomroy Jones, Annals and Recollections of Oneida County (Rome, New York, 1851), 528–38; Samuel W. Durant, ed., History of Oneida County … (Philadelphia, 1878), 55–59.

H made the following entry in his Law Register, 1795–1804:

“Codd } Evertson decree for Comp.

(D, partially in H’s handwriting, New York Law Institute, New York City). Nicholas Evertson was a New York City attorney. For additional information on this case, see Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., and Joseph H. Smith, eds., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ). description ends , forthcoming volumes.

2When Schuyler died on November 18, 1804, he left part of his lands in Cosby Manor to Elizabeth Hamilton.

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