George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 17 December 1789]

Thursday 17th. The following Company dined here—viz.—The Chief Justice of the U. States and his Lady; Mr. King, Colo. and Mrs. Lawrence—Mr. Gerry, Mr. Egbert Benson, Bishop Provost and Doctr. Lynn & his Lady.

John Laurance (1750–1810) was United States congressman from New York. A native of England, he had settled in New York City in 1767, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1772. During the Revolution he served as aide-de-camp to Brig. Gen. Alexander McDougall and as judge advocate general at the trial of Maj. John André. Laurance served in the Continental Congress 1785–87 and in the state legislature 1788–90. Shortly before the Revolution, he married Elizabeth McDougall (d. 1790), daughter of his wartime commander.

By 1789 Egbert Benson (1746–1833), a New York City attorney, had already had a distinguished political career, serving in the New York legislature 1777–81, 1788, as the state’s attorney general 1777–89, and as a delegate to the Continental Congress 1784–88. After his election to the House of Representatives in 1789, he became one of the administration’s staunchest supporters in Congress.

Samuel Provoost (1742–1815) a native New Yorker, was the first Protestant Episcopal bishop of New York. Educated at Cambridge, he was ordained by the bishop of London in 1766. Upon his return to America, he served as assistant minister at Trinity Church in New York City, but his Whig sympathies so incensed the Loyalist members of the parish that he was forced to resign in 1771. After the evacuation of New York by the British, the vestry invited him to return as rector. In 1786 he was elected bishop of New York and was consecrated in England in the chapel of Lambeth Palace in Feb. 1787. In addition he still acted as rector of Trinity Church and was chaplain of the Senate.

Rev. Dr. William Linn (1752–1808) was born in Shippensburg, Pa., graduated from Princeton in 1772, and was ordained a minister in the Collegiate Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in 1776. He had become pastor of the Collegiate Church in New York City in 1786 and at this time was also chaplain of the House of Representatives (SMITH [4] description begins Thomas E. V. Smith. The City of New York in the Year of Washington’s Inauguration, 1789. 1889. Reprint. Riverside, Conn., 1972. description ends , 133–34). His wife was Rebecca Blair Linn (c.1754-1794), a daughter of Rev. John Blair.

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