John Alsop

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John Alsop
John Alsop.jpg
John Alsop
Personal details
Born 1724
New Windsor, Orange County, New York
Died November 22, 1794
Newtown, Queens County, New York, United States
Resting place Trinity Church Cemetery, New York City
Spouse(s) Mary Frogat
Children Mary Alsop (married Rufus King)
Profession Politician, Merchant
Religion Episcopalian

John Alsop (1724 – November 22, 1794) was an American merchant and politician from New York City during the American Revolution. He was a delegate for New York to the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1776.

Early life and career

John Alsop,[1] born in 1724 in New Windsor, Orange County, New York. He was the son of John Alsop, Sr., a lawyer first of New Windsor, New York, where he was largely interested in real estate. A few years later he removed to New York City and there practiced his profession for many years. He was a son of Capt. Richard Alsop[2] and Hannah Underhill[3] (December 2, 1666 – August 23, 1757) the daughter of Captain John Underhill (c. 1609 – September 21, 1672) and Elizabeth Feake, who was the daughter of Lt. Robert Feake and Elizabeth Fones.

Captain Richard Alsop first settled in New York during the 1650s. He had served as a major in Oliver Cromwell's army, but after a disagreement with the Lord Protector, he fled to the obscurity of colonial life.

Alsop's mother was Abigail Sackett, 1695–1752, the daughter of Captain Joseph Sackett and Elizabeth Betts,[4] the daughter of Capt. Richard Betts and Joanna Chamberlayne[5] She married John Alsop, Sr. in 1718 and they were the parents of four children.

As a young man he moved to New York City and entered the mercantile world with his brother Richard.[6] The brothers became importers and merchants in cloth and dry goods.[7] Their enterprise prospered, and the Alsops, for several generations, became one of the great merchant houses of the city. With the business secure, John became interested in civic and political activities. He was elected by New York County to serve in the Province of New York Assembly. He was one of the civic leaders that incorporated the New York Hospital Association, and served as its first governor from 1770 to 1784.


He married[8] on June 6, 1766 at New York City, Mary Frogat (1744 – April 14, 1772).[9] They were the parents of one daughter, Mary who was born in New York on October 17, 1769 and died in Jamaica, New York on June 5, 1819. She was also a great niece of Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Their nephew was Richard Alsop, one of The Hartford Wits (also called the Connecticut Wits) who were a group of American writers centered around Yale University and flourished in the 1780s and 1790s.

Their grand nephews were the brothers, Joseph Alsop and Stewart Alsop, both American newspaper journalists and political analysts.

The American Revolution

During the first phases of the American Revolution, the Province of New York Assembly could not reach a conclusion about the Continental Congress. As a result, delegates were selected by the revolutionary committees in each county. In 1774, John Alsop, along with James Duane, John Jay, Philip Livingston, and Isaac Low were named by several counties, extending from Long Island to Albany. When the Congress convened on September 5, it accepted these credential when John Jay presented them. Alsop wasn't able to attend until he arrived in Philadelphia on September 14.

As the revolution escalated in 1775, Alsop was one of the leaders of the Committee of Sixty which became the provisional government in New York City. He actively supported the non-importation agreements that he had signed the previous October in the Congress, despite the costs to his business. He was active in recruiting militia and in efforts to equip and arm them. As the Assembly continued to refuse to recognize the national Congress, he was elected to the alternative revolutionary New York Provincial Congress, and they in turn returned him to the second Continental Congress.

1776 was a critical year in the struggle for New York. Alsop began the year at Philadelphia, in a session of Congress. He made several trips between there and New York, acting as an agent of congress through his business to acquire supplies, and particularly powder for the Continental Army. After General Washington visited Congress in late May, Alsop returned with him to New York in early June. He added efforts to find housing for 8,000 Continental Army troops to his earlier and continuing work on the supply problems. When his home in Newtown was captured by the British in August, he kept working from Manhattan. By September the British had occupied Manhattan as well, ending his effective contributions to the revolution. He escaped to Middletown, Connecticut and remained until the British occupation ended in 1783.[10]

Later years

After the war he worked to help rebuild the family business, and again became active as a civic leader. He was president of New York City's Chamber of Commerce in 1784 and 1785. He died at his home in Newtown, Queens County, New York on November 22, 1794 and is buried in Trinity Church Cemetery on Manhattan.[11]


Some of Alsop's notable descendants include:


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  3. Hannah Underhill was also the granddaugher of Helena (Heylken) de Hooch and John Underhill (October 7, 1597 – July 21, 1672) an early English settler and soldier in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Province of New Hampshire, the New Haven Colony, New Netherland, and later the Province of New York.
  4. Elizabeth Betts and Joseph Sackett left a large notable progeny. Two children married Alsops and a daughter married a Moore of Newtown. Joseph Sackett, Jr., and Hannah Alsop were great-grandparents of Hamilton Fish, Seward's successor as Secretary of State. Hamilton's son was railroad executive Stuyvesant Fish, whose wife "Mamie" was a leader of Newport society. Hamilton's sister, Susan Elizabeth Fish, married Daniel Le Roy, brother of Mrs. Daniel Webster, and left granddaughters who married George Washington Vanderbilt of Biltmore and John Nicholas Brown of Providence, head of the family for whom Brown University is named and grandfather of J. Carter Brown, director of the National Gallery of Art. Anne Sackett and Benjamin Moore were the grandparents and great-grandparents of presidents of Columbia and great-grandparents also of Clement Clarke Moore, Hebrew scholar and author of "The Night Before Christmas." Abigail Sackett and John Alsop were ancestors of political columnist Joseph and Stewart Alsop.
  5. John Cameron Swayze and the actor Patrick Swayze were 6th cousins once removed. Both John and Patrick's father are descendants by 7 generations of Judge Samuel Swayze (March 20, 1688/1689 – May 11, 1759) and his wife Penelope Horton (1689/1690–1746). Judge Swayze was the son of Joseph Swasey and his wife Mary Betts. Mary Betts was the daughter of Captain Richard Betts and his wife Joanna Chamberlayne. Other noteworthy relations descending from the Betts lines are actors William Holden and Tom Hulce, and Evgenia Citkowitz, wife of actor Julian Sands.
  6. John Alsop, Sr., who died in 1761, left two sons, John and Richard. They were brought up as merchants in New York CIty, and did a heavy business in the cloth and dry good line. John also engaged in politics, and represented New York city in the Colonial Legislature, and was a delegate to the first Continental Congress, in 1774. He was a vestryman of Trinity church. He died in 1794. He left one child, Mary, who married Rufus King. The other brother and partner of John, the cloth merchant and legislator, was named Richard. He served his time with the extensive merchant, Philip Livingston. After he retired from business he removed to Middletown, Connecticut. He had a son Richard who was born in 1761, and was a merchant, but devoted himself chiefly to literature, for which he had an unusual fondness. He became very familiar not only with American literature but with that of Europe. He loved poetry, and was himself a poet. He wrote a book, the " National and Civil History of Chili", in two volumes. In 1800 he wrote a monody, in heroic verse, on the death of Washington. He died in 1815, leaving one son, who was the celebrated Richard Alsop, who founded the house of Alsop & Co., in Valparaíso, Chile, and Lima, Peru. He was partner of W. S. Wetmore. He died in 1842, without issue. He had a relative named Joseph W. Alsop, who died in 1844, and whose daughter Lucy married Henry Channcey, of the firm of Alsop & Chauncey, of New York City. Richard Alsop, when he died in 1812, left by will his one third interest in the house of Alsop & Co., to his relative, Joseph W. Alsop. This was a fortune of itself, for it was notorious for many years, that Alsop & Co., every five years, made a profit of over a million of dollars.
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  9. Mary Frogat Alsop at Find a Grave
  11. John Alsop at Find a Grave
  12. Halsey Minor Read the Hook November 27, 2008


External links