Alexander Hamilton Papers

John H. Livingston, Thomas Jones, Alexander Hamilton, and Brockholst Livingston to Richard Morris, 8 September 1788

John H. Livingston, Thomas Jones, Alexander
Hamilton, and Brockholst Livingston1 to
Richard Morris2

New York, September 8, 1788. Petition by the administrators of Philip Livingston’s estate to Morris, Chief Justice of the State of New York, to examine and to settle a claim made by Livingston’s estate against the estate of Philip Skene,3 a Tory whose lands had been confiscated by New York State.

DS, Columbia University Libraries.

1This document is listed as a “document not found” in PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , V, 215.

The two Livingstons, H, and Jones wrote this petition in their capacities as administrators of the estate of Philip Livingston, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a New York City merchant, and a member of the Continental Congress, who died in 1788.

John Henry Livingston, who had practiced law in Poughkeepsie, New York, from 1762 to 1764, received the degree of Doctor of Theology from the University of Utrecht in May, 1770. He became minister of the Dutch Reformed congregation in New York City after the American Revolution and in 1784 was elected professor of theology for the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church. In 1775 he married Sarah, the daughter of Philip Livingston.

Henry Brockholst Livingston was an aide-de-camp to General Philip Schuyler during the American Revolution. In 1779 he went to Spain as the private secretary of John Jay, the new Minister to the Court at Madrid. In 1783 he was admitted to the bar and began to practice law in New York City, using the name Brockholst Livingston. He was the son of William Livingston, one of Philip Livingston’s younger brothers.

Jones was a New York City physician who had married Margaret Livingston, the daughter of Philip Livingston.

When Philip Livingston died his estate was insufficient to meet his debts, and the executors whom he named in his will renounced the administration of the estate. An act passed by the New York legislature on February 25, 1785, entitled “An Act for vesting the Estate of Philip Livingston, late of the City of New-York, Esquire, deceased, in Trustees for the Payment of his Debts, and other Purposes therein mentioned” named Philip Philip Livingston, Philip Livingston’s son and heir, Isaac Roosevelt, and Robert C. Livingston trustees to administer Livingston’s property, pay all debts, and discharge the pecuniary legacies. Roosevelt, a New York City merchant, was president of the Bank of New York from 1786 to 1791. He was the husband of Cornelia Hoffman Roosevelt, whose father, Martin Hoffman of Red Hook, New York, married as his second wife Alida Livingston Hansen, widow of Henry Hansen and younger sister of Philip Livingston. Robert C. Livingston, a New York City merchant, was a son of Robert Livingston, Jr., third lord of the manor, and a nephew of Philip Livingston. The act of 1785 provided that in the case of Philip Philip Livingston’s death, which occurred in 1787, Roosevelt and Robert C. Livingston could grant “to such Person or Persons as may be nominated and appointed with the assents of” the surviving heirs power “to Administer the Goods and Chattels, Rights and Credits aforesaid” and the “Completion of the Trusts aforesaid,” and shall “stand in the Place of said Philip Philip Livingston, Isaac Roosevelt, and Robert C. Livingston” (New York Laws, 8th Sess., Ch. XXI). The trustees then appointed Jones, John H. Livingston, H, and Brockholst Livingston to administer the estate.

For the text of this petition and additional information concerning this action, 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 , I, 253–58.

2Morris, who was admitted to the bar in New York City in 1752, was appointed judge of the Vice Admiralty Court having jurisdiction over New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut in 1762. In 1778 he was named to the state Senate from the Southern District, and in 1779 he was appointed Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court.

3Philip Skene, founder of Skenesborough (now Whitehall), Vermont, was lieutenant-governor of Crown Point and Ticonderoga and surveyor of His Majesty’s woods near Lake Champlain before the American Revolution. In 1777 he volunteered for service with General Burgoyne’s expedition from Canada, and later in the same year he surrendered with the British army at Saratoga.

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