Edward Hyde, 3rd Earl of Clarendon

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Edward Hyde, 3rd Earl of Clarendon
1st Governor of New Jersey
in British North America
In office
Monarch Anne
Lieutenant Col. Richard Ingoldesby
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by John, 4th Baron Lovelace
14th colonial Governor of New York
In office
Monarch Anne
Preceded by John Nanfan
Succeeded by John, 4th Baron Lovelace
Personal details
Born The Hon. Edward Hyde
(1661-11-28)28 November 1661
Died 31 March 1723(1723-03-31) (aged 61)
Chelsea, London, England
Resting place Westminster Abbey
Political party Tory
Spouse(s) Katherine O'Brien, 8th Baroness Clifton
Children Edward, 9th Baron Clifton; Catherine; Mary; Flora; Theodosia; 10th Baroness Clifton
Profession Diplomat and Governor in British North America
Religion Anglican

Edward Hyde, 3rd Earl of Clarendon (28 November 1661 – 31 March 1723), styled Viscount Cornbury between 1674 and 1709, was propelled into the forefront of English politics when he and part of his army defected from the Catholic King James II to support the newly arrived Protestant contender, William III of Orange. His actions triggered the Glorious Revolution of 1688 , a bloodless change of governments. As a reward, he was later appointed Governor of New York and New Jersey between 1701 and 1708.

The new governor’s primary mission was to protect the colonies during the War of the Spanish Succession (known in the Americas as Queen Anne's War, or the 2nd French and Indian War; 1701 – 1714). His administration successfully prevented French incursions into the middle colonies. However, he soon became mired in the region’s many factional conflicts.

By 1708, war weariness led to a shift in the political tide in Great Britain. Governor Cornbury was recalled from the colonies, but was soon after installed as a member of Queen Anne’s privy council . Lord Cornbury’s fortunes changed again when George I was crowned King of Great Britain on 1 August 1714. Out of favor, Lord Cornbury died in Chelsea, London on 31 March 1723.


The Honourable Edward Hyde was the only child of Henry, Viscount Cornbury & 2nd Earl of Clarendon (1638–1709) and the former Theodosia Capell (1640–1660), daughter of Arthur Capell, 1st Baron Capell of Hadham, and sister of Arthur Capell.[1]

The Hyde family had close ties to the monarchy: Edward's grandfather, also named Edward and the 1st Earl of Clarendon (1609-1674), was born a commoner but became an important advisor to King Charles I (after 1641) and to Charles II (after 1651). He’s best known for negotiating the Restoration of the English Monarchy in 1660 through a series of provisions known as the Clarendon Code. The same year Charles II regained the throne, Clarendon’s daughter, Anne Hyde (1637-1671), married the new king’s younger brother & heir, James, Duke of York. Meanwhile, Clarendon's eldest son, Henry, married into the Capells of Hadham, one of the richest families in England.

Eleven months after their marriage, Henry and Theodosia gave birth to Edward -- the future royal governor and 3rd Earl of Clarendon. Unfortunately in March 1661 the young mother died of smallpox -- three months after the child's arrival.[2]

Baby Edward's aunt Anne, Duchess of York was the mother of two English Queens, Mary II and Anne.

At age 13, Edward matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford on 23 January 1675. Around the same time, he inherited the title Viscount Cornbury when his father succeeded as 2nd Earl of Clarendon. Oxford was followed by three years at l’Academie de Calvin in Geneva.[3]

In 1688, Lord Cornbury eloped with Lady Katherine O'Brien, the only surviving child of Henry O'Brien, Lord Ibrackan. Viscountess Cornbury succeeded her mother as 8th Baroness Clifton (1702). Lady Cornbury died in New York on 11 August 1706 and was buried at Trinity Church, New York.

Religious Wars

Template:Main Article Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury, lived in an age of intense religious turmoil. In 1534, King Henry VIII established the Church of England (Anglican) as the official state religion. Catholicism was outlawed. Mary I, his successor, tried to re-establish Catholicism – a process reversed by Elizabeth I and James I after 1558. Their successor, Charles I (1600 – 1649) was Anglican, but married the Catholic Princess Henrietta Maria of France. The “reformed”[4] Protestant sects, such as Calvinism, Puritanism & Presbyterianism, considered the king to have too many “Catholic” leanings. Meanwhile, the king tried to impose Anglicanism on his Scottish subjects (who were primarily Presbyterian.)

These religious conflicts were a major factor in the resulting English Civil Wars (1642-1651). The dissenters rebelled under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, executing Charles in the process (30 January 1649). Cromwell’s Commonwealth of England imposed strict Calvinism on the entire population – Catholicism was outlawed and Church property confiscated.

The death of Cromwell in 1658 led to a Restoration of the Monarchy (1660) with Charles II as king. Although the monarch was Catholic, the Church of England was once again recognized as the state religion. Other Protestant groups were outlawed; “nonconformist” ministers were forbidden to enter schools, churches or incorporated towns; and unauthorized gatherings of more than 5 persons were prohibited.[5] Oaths of Anglican orthodoxy were required for all public or military offices (The Test Act of 1673).

A crisis occurred when the brother of Charles II, James II, the Duke of York and heir to the throne, refused to take the oath required by the Test Act. Fears of a Catholic resurgence were further exacerbated in 1673 when James married Mary of Modena, a staunch Catholic. In response, James’ children by his first wife, Anne Hyde, were sent by Parliament to live in Protestant Holland. Later, Mary, James’ eldest daughter and eventual heir to the throne, was married to the Protestant William III, Prince of Orange (in 1677).

Military Service & the Monmouth Revolution

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After graduation, Lord Cornbury joined the elite Royal Regiment of Dragoons under the command of John Churchill, the future Duke of Marlborough. King Charles II’s death on 6 February 1685 triggered a struggle for the throne: James II was the legitimate heir, but he was a staunch Catholic. His nephew, James Fitzroy, the Duke of Monmouth, was illegitimate but a Protestant. On 11 June 1685, Monmouth landed in England hoping to gather popular support for his claim to the throne.

King James II appointed John Churchill as second in command of the Royalist armies, while Lord Cornbury was promoted to command the Royal Dragoons. The rebellion was quickly crushed, with the Royal Dragoons playing a prominent role.[6] As a reward for his service, Cornbury was given a seat in “The Loyal Parliament of 1685”.[7]

Monmouth’s “rebellion” prompted the King to strengthen his grip on the country. Monmouth was beheaded, along with 320 of his more prominent supporters. Some of the women were burned alive. About 800 more were transported to the West Indies.[8] The king demanded that Parliament repeal the Anti-Catholic Test Act, and he began placing Catholics in important government offices. Cornbury’s father, Henry Hyde, was one casualty of the purge.[9] After Parliament refused to submit, the king dissolved it (2 July 1687) and moved to establish royal control over future elections.

The religious issue had triggered a power struggle between Parliament and the crown. But James’ cruelty, tyranny and the threat of impending religious war had turned popular opinion against him.

The Glorious Revolution of 1688

Template:Main Article On 18 June 1688, prominent English nobles[10] sent a letter to William III of Orange requesting his intervention in English politics on the Protestant side. In response, William arrived in Brixham, (SW England) on 5 November with over 450 ships, 15,000-18,000 men, and 3660 cavalry.[11] Cornbury’s Dragoons was the first royalist unit to make contact with the invasion force -- without engaging. A small skirmish was fought at Sherborne on 20 November, but shortly thereafter Lord Cornbury defected to William’s side, bringing many of his dragoons with him.[12] Four days later (24 November) Cornbury’s mentor, Lord Churchill, also switched sides.[13]

By late December James had disbanded his army and fled to France.[14]

With James gone, Parliament debated whether William would rule as King in his own right, or as Queen Mary’s consort. Lord Cornbury argued for placing his cousin Anne next in succession after Mary, bypassing William. In the end, Parliament favored William, who punished Cornbury by dismissing him from his regiment (17 July 1689) and from his ceremonial post as Master of Horse for the King of Denmark (May 1690).[15]

Queen Mary II died in 1694. After William III died in 1702, the crown went to Mary’s younger sister Anne. That same year found England involved in a war to prevent expansion of French influence (The War of the Spanish Succession 1701–1714, known in the colonies as “Queen Anne's War”.)

War and Governor of New York

The new queen’s closest friend was Sarah Jennings Churchill, wife of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. Lord Cornbury was Anne’s 1st cousin and John Churchill’s protégé. When war broke out, the Duke of Marlborough was placed in command of the allied armies on the Continent, while Cornbury was sent to New York to protect England’s American possessions from New France – France’s American holdings that stretched from eastern Canada, through the Great Lakes, to the Mississippi River valley. In August 1703, the newly formed Province of New Jersey was added to his responsibilities.

A Brief History of New York & New Jersey Colonies

Template:Main Article Template:Main Article First colonized by the Dutch in 1624, New Amsterdam[16] had evolved as a loose collection of independent groups. A lucrative fur trade transported pelts from French trappers in the Great Lakes area, down the Hudson River to New York, where they were loaded on Dutch & English ships bound for Europe. The Dutch patroon system had granted large independently ruled estates along the Hudson River. Fleeing religious persecution in the Old World, self-governing settlements of Puritans, Quakers, Presbyterians, French Huguenots (Calvinist) and Jews dotted the landscape.

All of this was surrendered to an English fleet that suddenly appeared in New York Harbor on 27 August 1664.[17] In the quickly negotiated Articles of Transfer, the English guaranteed freedom of religion and freedom of trade for all inhabitants – rights that were reconfirmed later in the Treaty of Westminster (November 1674).[18] The region was given to James, the Duke of York, and his wife, Anne Hyde as part of their personal patrimony – hence the new name, New York.

But the promises of tolerance weren’t kept. Officials and appointees soon arrived, commissioned to impose English government on the new possessions: that is, a central government under a royal governor and his advisory council, a unified legal code, and taxes to pay for it all. Most of these arriving bureaucrats were staunchly Anglican and brought with them the religious intolerance of the Old World. Ominously, Parliament had already enacted a series of Navigation Acts (1651 & 1660) to limit imports to goods carried by British vessels.

The Leisler Rebellion

Template:Main Article When King James II was deposed in 1688, the colonists saw an opportunity to reverse the English encroachments.[19] A German Calvinist merchant named Jacob Leisler took command of the local militias, ousted the royal appointees, and installed legislative assemblies (the Leisler Rebellion, 1689–1691).[20] These actions were portrayed as echoing the English Parliament’s victory over royal prerogative on the other side of the Atlantic.[21]

When the new king’s appointees finally arrived in March 1691, they didn’t approve of Leisler’s actions. They put down the rebellion, executed Leisler, and seized his property – making him a martyr. The colony split into pro-Leisler and anti-Leisler factions.

To confuse matters further, a bill was passed by Parliament in 1695 exonerating Leisler and restoring his family’s possessions.

Leisler supporters tended to be Dutch artisans, religious “dissenters” and small traders committed to local rule through elected assemblies. They were allied with the Whig party in England. Advocating local government and colonists' rights, future historians would credit them as the forerunners of the American Revolution. Opposed to them were the wealthy landowners, large mercantile companies, and British aristocrats. Most of the latter were staunch Anglican royalists who were members of the Tory party.[22]

Richard Coote, 1st Earl of Bellomont, served as the royal governor of New York 1695 – 1701. As a Whig, he favored the pro-Leisler faction and appointed them to key positions throughout the colony.[23] His policies triggered a flurry of complaints from the aristocrats and Anglican officials. Bellomont died in 1701 and was replaced by Lord Cornbury, who was arrogantly aristocratic, a staunch “High Church” Anglican, and a Tory.[24]

Shipping & Piracy

Great wealth flowed down the Hudson River: furs from New France, lumber from the Albany area, and produce from the large plantations.[25] Shipping was the economic lifeblood of the Colony, producing a large, wealthy middle class in New York City.

During the previous century, smuggling had turned a greater profit than legitimate trade. Coastal cities like New York served as havens for pirates. For example, the notorious pirate Captain Kidd owned a large home on Pearl Street near the waterfront and helped finance the construction of New York's Trinity Church (Anglican). In fact, Governor Bellomont had been Captain Kidd's principal financial sponsor, legitimizing his activities by providing a license for privateering (1695).[26]

But piracy was a double-edged sword: legitimate shippers of New York—and the crown—lost valuable cargo in those pirate-infested seas. As the 17th century closed, English governors put increasing pressure on black market shipping—to the relief of the Anglican merchants.

Governor Bellomont arrested Captain Kidd upon his return to New York in July 1699.[27] The pirate was eventually extradited to London and hanged on 23 May 1701.[28]

The British Navigation Acts of the 1690s, which further restricted all shipping to British ships and ports, cut off the Leister Party’s Dutch merchants from their usual shipping agents in Holland. Their financial survival depended on lax enforcement of the Acts in the colonies. Ex-Governor Bellomont had been happy to oblige.

Balance of Power in the Colonies

The War of the Spanish Succession was fought primarily on the Continent. The warring nations were committed to protecting their overseas possessions and commerce, but they allocated few resources for any offensive actions. New York in particular needed to continue their pre-war trade relationships. When war broke out, the New York City assembly made an agreement of neutrality with the French Canadians (1701).[29]

Sandwiched between the French and English possessions stood the great Iroquois Nation — a powerful democratic federation of 5 native nations. The Iroquois were more powerful and had a larger population than either of the two European colonial rivals. A military alliance between the Iroquois and either colonial power could easily crush the outsider. Likewise, any military campaign would be doomed to failure without Iroquois support.

For almost a century, the frontiers of New York and New England had been subject to raids by the surrounding native tribes, often provoked by the French.[30] A mutual-defense pact with the Iroquois was key to preventing these attacks. That pact was based on the strength of English arms and defensive positions. Unfortunately, the prior royal governors had neglected those defenses – a fact quickly pointed out by the French. In 1701, the Iroquois signed the Great Peace of Montreal, guaranteeing their neutrality in any Anglo-French conflict.

Governor Cornbury Arrives in New York (May 1702)

Upon arrival, the new governor inspected the colony's ring of defensive forts and found them in total disrepair. The key defensive fort at Albany was described thus: “The fort is in a miserable condition. It is a stockaded fort about one hundred twenty feet long and seventy feet wide. The stockadoes are almost all rotten. There is but 23 guns in the fort, most of them unserviceable.[31][32][33][34]

The governor immediately dismissed Colonel Wolfgang William Römer, the imperial engineer who had responsibility for maintaining the forts. He then assumed direct oversight over a vast project to construct a large fortress ringed with stone ramparts (later named Fort Frederick). Two months later he reported to the English Lords of Trade: "I've accomplished more in a few weeks than [Römer] has done in a year and a half."[35]

In August 1702, Governor Cornbury toured the site with representatives of the Five Nations. In a report to the Lords of Trade dated 18 June 1703, Imperial Inspector Colonel Robert Quary wrote:

"My Lord Cornbury hath laid the foundation of a stone fort at Albany, and hath carried it on a great way. It will be very regular and answer the end. … [The fortifications give] great satisfaction to our Indians, who lay the great stress of their security on the defense of those forts."

No French or native incursions into New York Colony occurred throughout the 11-year war.[36]

Invasion by sea was the other threat to New York. The approaches to New York harbor were fortified by a rebuilt Fort William Henry on the tip of Manhattan Island, in addition to a line of forts and stockades on the both banks of the Hudson River[37] as far as the East River. A breastwork with cannon lined the island’s riverbanks. Some of the cannon had been commandeered from ships in the harbor.[38]

Fears of attack from the sea were realized on 26 July 1706, when the French 16-gun brig Queen Anne suddenly appeared off Sandy Hook at the harbor entrance. Rumors quickly spread that 10 more ships were on the way from the Virginia Capes.

The resulting panic was magnified by the fact that fortifications at the Verrazano narrows were as yet incomplete.[39] In 1703, the New York Assembly had assigned Mayor William Peartree[40] to raise £1500 to complete the project.[41] However, blame was quickly shifted to the Royal Governor with accusations of embezzlement. The charge prompted the New York Assembly to cut off funding to the governor and manage the colonial budget directly.[42]

In the event, the local populace rushed to the site and quickly dug defensive embankments.[43] The French ship sailed away without attacking, and the approaching fleet turned out to be 10 ships that had been captured from the French.[44]

“Dissenters” & Reverend Francis Makemie

In spite of an Anglican minority, Governor Cornbury was determined to secure the Church of England as the state religion in the colonies. He was shocked to discover that public funds had been used to build and maintain a Presbyterian church in the village of Jamaica on Long Island. On 4 July 1704, the church, parsonage, and associated buildings were confiscated for use by the Anglican Church.[45]

Cornbury’s most notorious religious scandal involved Reverend Francis Makemie (1658-1708), the "Father of American Presbyterianism". During 1683-1706, the minister established the first Presbyterian congregations in America, primarily in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. While passing through New York in January 1707, Reverend Makemie led a worship service in a private home. During the service he performed an infant baptism. In doing so, he violated a number of English laws prohibiting the practice of “dissenter” religions.[46]

It was a time of increased tension: the Acts of Union (1706 & 1707) had just united England and Scotland under a single government. Most Scots vehemently disapproved of the change, Presbyterians in particular. Rumors circulated about dissenter groups plotting subversion, riot or revolution. High Tories like Cornbury rallied to the cry of “The Church in Danger” – the supposed threat posed by Whigs and Nonconformists. Governor Cornbury duly arrested the visiting minister for preaching without a license.[47] Seven weeks later Makemie faced trial by the Supreme Court of New York and was acquitted.[48][49] Furious, the governor ordered the minister to pay all expenses for the trial.

Meanwhile, the Anglican Church prospered. Trinity Church, the first meetinghouse in New York, had opened for worship on 3 Mar 1698. In 1705, Governor Cornbury and Lewis Morris (1671-1746), a rich landowner, arranged to add 215 acres known as “The Queen’s Farm” to the Trinity Church holdings.[50] The site was earmarked for a new college, which was finally founded in 1754 as King’s College.[51] On 1 May 1784 the name was changed to Columbia University.[52][53]

The first street was paved and sidewalks install in 1648 by Anneke Lockermans Van Cortland.[54] This set the tone for the English to follow, during the second half of Cornbury’s term, the streets and sidewalks were paved with cobblestone (in the area around Trinity Church), fire-buckets were positioned throughout the town, and a fledgling fire department was created with two hooks and eight ladders.[55]

Deerfield and the Vetch Invasion of 1709

When Lord Cornbury was appointed Governor, he was also made “captain-general of all forces by sea and land” for all colonies north of Virginia.[56] He could assess the colonies for manpower and financial support. He was responsible for preparing the defenses and repelling enemy attacks. At first, war efforts were defensive and enjoyed broad popular support. Offensive actions were another matter: most colonists believed England should finance England’s wars. Besides, war was bad for business.

Early in the morning of 29 February 1704, an army of 48 French soldiers and about 250 natives attacked the frontier village of Deerfield, Massachusetts, killing 44 and kidnapping 109 – about half the number of inhabitants. Since the war’s beginning, minor raids on the New England border had been a constant nuisance, answered by retaliatory raids on Native American villages. But the Deerfield attack involved a large invasion force, and the New England governors demanded a similar response from England. Massachusetts Governor Dudley wrote to the Lords of Trade: “the destruction of Quebeck and Port Royal [would] forever make an end of an indian war.[57]

Samuel Vetch (1668-1732) was an Albany merchant who had made his fortune through privateering and black market trade with the French. When Governor Cornbury arrived in 1702, Vetch moved his base of operations to Boston. After the Deerfield raid (1704), he offered to use his French Canadian contacts to ransom the captives. He succeeded in returning a few of the villagers,[58] while filling his purse by selling arms and supplies to the French forces. When word of his duplicity reached Boston, he was tried and convicted of trading with the enemy. He successfully appealed the verdict to the London Board of Trade, after explaining that he was actually spying on the French defenses in preparation for an English invasion.[59]

His invasion plan was originally submitted to the Board of Trade in 1706.[60] At that time, Tories dominated the government with a Europe-first policy that seemed to be on the verge of triumph. A series of stunning victories at Ramillies (23 May 1706) and Turin (7 September 1706) prompted Marlborough to write: “If our friends could but be persuaded to carry on the war with vigour one year longer, we cannot fail, with the blessing of God, to have such a peace as will give us quiet for all our days.” There was no need for a Canadian adventure.

But the new year brought a reversal of fortunes. Great Britain and her allies suffered disastrous defeats at Almansa (Spain -- 25 April 1707), Stollhofen (Swabia -- 22 May 1707) and Toulon (Southern France -- 29 July-21 August 1707). Despair and war weariness swept over Great Britain.

It was time for a change. The general election of April, 1708, put a solid Whig majority in the Commons. Meanwhile, Abigail Masham had replaced Sarah Churchill as Queen Anne’s closest friend & confidante. By summer, most of the Tory members of the Privy Council were gone.

Led by Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland (1674-1722),[61] the “Whig Junto” hoped to break the stalemate in Europe by attacking France elsewhere. A Canadian expedition would have the additional advantage of clearing the North Atlantic of French privateers who caused crippling losses in North Atlantic trade and fishing.[62]

On 27 July 1708, Samuel Vetch re-submitted his invasion plan, which consisted of a land-based attack on Montreal launched from Albany,[63] combined with a seaborne assault on Quebec via the St Lawrence Seaway. By late November, the Whig ex-governor of Maryland & Virginia, Francis Nicholson (1655-1727), added his support. This time the plan was approved. Vetch and Nicholson hurried back to the colonies to begin preparations.

Meanwhile, in New York, Tory Governor Cornbury had become another casualty of the Whig revolution (he was recalled in June 1708).[64] The cabinet believed that he had been too passive militarily. It also seemed unlikely that he would be able to procure the necessary funding from the contentious colonial assembly.

By June 1709, General Nicholson, 1500 colonial militia and 600 Iroquois waited near Albany for the arrival of the British fleet. As it turned out, the ships and infantry promised by Britain were diverted elsewhere,[65] leaving Nicholson out on a limb. Without any hope for success, the force melted away due to sickness and desertion.

House Arrest

The moment Cornbury set foot out of the governor’s mansion, he was arrested by the (pro-Leisler) sheriff of New York City for outstanding debts.[66] As a result, the ex-governor was still in town to welcome his successor, John Lovelace, Baron of Hurley (who arrived on 18 December 1708.)[67] Unfortunately, the new governor died five months later.

Administration of the colony then fell to Richard Ingoldsby, who had been Cornbury's Lieutenant Governor and avid supporter. Thus colonial policy continued unchanged. In fact, colonists continued to beg for Cornbury’s intervention in local affairs for at least another decade.[68]

In England, the Earl of Sunderland's government lasted only 2 years.[69] The Duke of Marlborough had salvaged the allied position with another stunning British victory at the Battle of Oudenarde (11 July 1708). When informed of Marlborough's victory, the Queen replied, "Oh Lord, when will all this bloodshed cease!

In the general election of October 1710, the pro-war Whigs lost control of parliament, replaced by Tory Robert Harley on a peace platform.

Meanwhile, Cornbury’s fortunes had improved. His father’s death elevated him to the Peerage, and with it, Parliamentary immunity against civil actions (31 Oct 1709). Upon his return to England, the queen awarded him a pension and lodging at Somerset House, one of the royal palaces. He joined the Harley Ministry as First Lord of the Admiralty (13 December 1711).[70]

Although a member of Harley’s cabinet, Cornbury was able to remain untainted by the series of scandals that rocked the Tory leadership during this period: His old mentor, the Duke of Marlborough was removed from his place as Captain-General (29 December 1711), charged with bribery and embezzlement. Several “High Tories” were implicated in the (Catholic) Jacobite rising of 1715, which supported James Francis Edward Stuart as the successor to the dying queen.[71] And finally, he was not linked to Harley’s South Seas Bubble, which caused the ruin and bankruptcy of many aristocrats and office holders in 1720-1721.[72]

Special Emissary to Hanover

In the midst of such political turmoil, Queen Anne sent Cornbury as a replacement for Harley’s emissary to her successor, George, Elector of Hannover (1660-1727; King 1714-1727). From his arrival in August 1714 until the Queen’s death in November, Cornbury dined and spent his evenings with the royal family. “My Lord Clarendon is very much approved of at Court,” wrote his secretary, John Gay.[73]

Once King George I assumed the British throne, his animosity toward the Tories became apparent. Harley was sent to the Tower of London, Marlborough was reinstated as Captain-General, and the government went to the Whigs under Robert Walpole 1st Earl of Orford (1676-1745). A half-century passed before a Tory held office in the British government.

Cornbury continued to be active in the House of Lords until about 1720.[74] He died on 31 March 1724 at Chelsea, London.


A degenerate and pervert who is said to have spent half of his time dressed in women's clothes.[75]

Virtually every reference written about Lord Cornbury has described him in disparaging terms. The criticisms can be traced back to a spring 1706 complaint written to the newly appointed Whig ministry by Lewis Morris (1671-1746), and Samuel Jennings (about 1660-1708) in behalf of the New Jersey Assembly.[76] In 1708, the New York Assembly followed suit with their own letter.[77] Specific accusations included:

  • Asserting royal prerogative over locally elected assemblies
  • Accepting bribes
  • Persecution of the Presbyterians by confiscating church property and imprisoning their ministers
  • Embezzlement of defense funds
  • Fiscal mismanagement, leading to a large amount of public & personal debt

Such complaints were commonplace during that era. Similar allegations were made about the royal governors who preceded and succeeded Cornbury -- both in New York & New Jersey, and in the other colonies.[78] What was unique about Governor Cornbury was the allegation of wearing women's clothes.

A generation later, the story was told of a conversation about Lord Cornbury between the famous Whig minister & author Horace Walpole (1717-1797)[79] and author George James Williams (1719-1805) :

Walpole: "[Lord Cornbury] was a clever man. His great insanity was dressing himself as a woman. When Governor in America he opened the Assembly dressed in that fashion. When some of those about him remonstrated, his reply was, 'You are very stupid not to see the propriety of it. In this place and particularly on this occasion I represent a woman (Queen Anne) and ought in all respects to represent her as faithfully as I can.'"

Williams: "My father did business with Cornbury in woman's clothes. He used to sit at the open window so dressed, to the great amusement of the neighbors. He employed always the most fashionable milliner, shoemaker, stay maker, etc. I saw a picture of him at Sir Herbert Packington's in Worcestershire, in a gown, stays, tucker, long ruffles, and cap...." [80]

However Columbia University denies having ties to the former governor: “Edward Hyde, Viscount Cornbury (1661-1723), could very well have been known as the pre-founder of King's College. He was an advocate for the placement of a college in New York City, but somehow his suggestions were overshadowed by Colonel Lewis Morris' statements on the matter, as Morris is more famously known as the college's pre-founder. Although documents lead to evidence of Cornbury's support of the college, his involvement with the college's founding has been ignored because of his damaged reputation over the years.[81][82]

Professor Patricia U. Bonomi (New York University) tried to rehabilitate the governor by concluding that he was not transgender: “That a royal governor could have publicly displayed himself in women’s clothes, as Cornbury is alleged to have done, and escaped severe censure seems doubtful.[83] As the 18th century unfolded, Britain experienced the rise of moral reform societies determined to purge “sodomy” & “transvestism” from society.[84] Cornbury’s reputation suffered as these groups gained increasing influence in British society.

The Portrait

The purported portrait of Lord Cornbury from the New-York Historical Society

A critical piece of evidence was an 18th-century portrait hanging in the New York Historical Society. The portrait was uncaptioned, but the subject has been commonly believed to be Governor Cornbury wearing a dress. Professor Bonomi suggested that the subject was not, in fact, Cornbury.[85] However, other art historians have remained unconvinced.[86]

The Dallas Museum of Art has a different portrait of unknown provenance also ascribed to be “Lord Cornbury in a Dress.[87]


Marriage: (10 July 1685) Eloped with Katherine O’Brien, the 8th Baroness Clifton (22 January 1663 – 11 August 1706).[88] She was the daughter of Henry O'Brien, Lord Ibrackan, 7th Earl of Thomond. She died in New York City and was buried at Trinity Church, New York.


  • Catherine Hyde. Died young.
  • Mary Hyde (-1697)
  • Edward Hyde, Viscount Cornbury & 9th Baron Clifton (1691-February 1713), Died unmarried at age 21 due to fever.
  • Theodosia Hyde, 10th Baroness Clifton (9 November 1695 – 30 July 1722) Married August 1713 to John Bligh, the 1st Earl of Darnley (1687-1728). Died of sepsis at age 26 shortly after the birth of her 6th child.

New York Governor

In the interim after Cornbury's time as Governor of New York, there were several acting governors:

In 1710, General Robert Hunter FRS arrived to fill the post.

Styles of address

  • 1661–1674: The Honourable Edward Hyde
  • 1674–1685: Viscount Cornbury
  • 1685–1701: Viscount Cornbury MP
  • 1701–1709: Viscount Cornbury
  • 1709–1723: The Right Honourable The Third Earl of Clarendon

In The Media

"Androboros" [“man-eater” in corrupted Greek] A play by Robert Hunter, Cornbury’s successor as Governor of New York (1710-1719) was a satire that ridiculed prominent New York citizens, including Lord Cornbury (as “Lord Oinobaros” [“heavy with wine”]). Crossdressing was a central theme in the play. It’s was one of the first plays written & published in Britain’s American colonies. It was recently revived by the Peculiar Works Project of New York City on 4–6 November 2016, under the direction of Ralph Lewis.[89]

Cornbury was the lead character in the play Cornbury: The Queen's Governor - first presented as a staged reading at The Public Theater on 12 April 1976, the play was written by William M. Hoffman and Anthony Holland. Joseph Papp produced and Holland directed, with Joseph Maher in the role of Cornbury.[90] The play was revived in 2009 at the Hudson Guild Theater under the direction of Tim Cusack. David Greenspan played Cornbury.[91]

He also made appearances in Edward Rutherfurd's historical saga novel New York, in Daniel Pinkwater's "The Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl", and in Robert McCammon's "Matthew Corbett" series of novels.


The only extant biography of Lord Cornbury is, The Lord Cornbury Scandal: The Politics of Reputation in British America, by Patricia Bonomi (University of North Carolina Press, 1998). The book offers a brief overview of Cornbury’s life and then discredits the many allegations that have been leveled at Cornbury over the years.

Substantial information about Cornbury can also be found in older accounts of the history of New York Colony, New York City, and New Jersey Colony, including:

Stone, Wiliam L (1892) Chapter II: The Administration of Lord Cornbury, 1702-1708 (pages 55-92), in The Memorial History of the City of New York, Vol II, ed James Wilson; New York: New York History Company available at: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/digital/collections/cul/texts/ldpd_6202415_002/index.html

Booth, Mary L (1859) History of the City of New York from its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, New York: Clark & Meeker, esp. Chapter IX. Available at: https://archive.org/details/historycitynewy03bootgoog

Reynolds, Cuyler Ed (1906) Albany Chronicles: A History of the City Arranged Chronologically from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Albany: Lyon Co Printers. Available at: https://archive.org/details/albanychronicles01reyn

Cody, Edward J. (1982) The Governors of New Jersey 1664-1974. Edited by Paul A. Stellham and Michael J. Birkner. Trenton, NJ: The Commission. Pages 36-39.

See also


  1. "Edward Hyde, 3rd Earl of Clarendon". The Peerage. Retrieved 7 October 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Bonomi (1998) page 31
  3. Bonomi, (1998), page 32
  4. Here the word “reformed” refers to a broad spectrum of protestant groups that tend to be Bible-focused rather than tradition-focused, devoted to simplicity in lifestyle & worship, and more authoritarian. The distinction here is between Anglicanism and other Protestant sects – known in 17th century England as “dissenters” or “”non-conformists.”
  5. The Clarendon Code(enacted 1661-1665) was a series of laws that re-established the Church of England as the state religion, while excluding both Catholicism & “nonconformist” (aka “dissenting”) Protestant religions (i.e. Presbyterianism, Calvinism, Puritanism, Dutch Reformed, etc.) See also http://www.britainexpress.com/History/stuart/clarendon-code.htm
  6. Bonomi (1998), page 33
  7. See Wiltshire County section of The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, (1983) and 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002 (Found at http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/ ) These accounts detail the political maneuvering that led to Cornbury’s election.
  8. Known as the “Bloody Assizes
  9. Bonomi (1998), page 38
  10. Later known as the “Immortal Seven.”
  11. Entry Glorious Revolution in the Titi Tudorancea Enclycopedia, https://www.tititudorancea.net/z/glorious_revolution.htm See also http://www.berkshirehistory.com/bios/hhyde_2eofc.html
  12. Bonomi (1998), pages 38-39; See also Stone (1892), pages 55-56.
  13. See University of Nottingham’s map of Wiliam’s invasion route at: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/manuscriptsandspecialcollections/documents/elearning/conflict/williamoforangeitinerary-illustration5.pdf
  14. However, the war continued in Ireland until the Battle of the Boyne on 1 July 1690.
  15. George, King of Denmark, had married Cornbury’s cousin Anne, soon to be Queen of England. The couple lived in London with little real political power until 1702.
  16. See Booth, Mary L (1859), Chapters I-III
  17. Wilson (1892) pages 150-154
  18. Reynolds (1906), pages 63-65
  19. Booth (1859), pages 220-239
  20. The first elected assembly in New York had met on 17 October 1683, under Governor Dongan. Booth (1859), pages 207-208. During Leisler’s government, the New York Assembly firmly established its authority. See Vermilye, Ashbel G (1892), The Earl of Bellomont and Suppression of Piracy, 1698-1701 in The Memorial History of the City of New York Volume II, ed James Wilson, New York History Company pages 15-16.
  21. Booth (1859), pages 239-240
  22. Stone (1892), page 58-60
  23. Booth (1859) page 260
  24. Stone (1892), page 57
  25. Peter Kalm, (1749), Travels into North America Vol 1 pages 253-258 and 243-245; reprinted in Stevens, Guy (1909), Selections from the Economic History of the United States, 1765-1860 Callender Ed, Boston: Ginn and Co. pages 16-20.
  26. Booth (1859) pages 254-256
  27. Reynolds (1906) page 163
  28. Vermilye (1892), page 33
  29. See entries on Louis-Hector de Calliere by Yves F Zoltvany, and on Teganissorens by WJ Eccles, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Volume II (1701-1740), University of Toronto, accessed 23 June 2017.
  30. For example, on 8 February 1690, a native attack eradicated the village of Corlaer (Now Schenectady, 19 miles northwest of Albany NY.) See also Beck, Sanderson (2016): New England 1664-1744 & New York to Pennsylvania 1664-1744 in Ethics of Civilization Vol 11, America to 1744, ISBN Q-9762210-7-1
  31. William Glidden, The English Stone Fortress: Fort Frederick, Lake Champlain Weekly (17 September 2003) Quoted at: http://dmna.ny.gov/forts/fortsE_L/frederickFort.htm
  32. See Reynolds (1906) page 157 for the previous governor’s (Earl of Bellomont) report of the conditions at Albany in 1700.
  33. Stone (1892) pages 60-61
  34. Cliff Lamere, Fort Albany & Fort Frederick at Albany NY at: http://www.genealogy.clifflamere.com/Aid/History/FortFrederick-Albany-working.htm
  35. Bonomi (1998), page 64
  36. Stone (1892), pages 65-66
  37. Known at the time as the North River.
  38. Stone (1892), page 69; Booth (1859), pages 276-278.
  39. The plan was to repair and fortify blockhouses originally built by the Dutch – One on Signal Hill on Staten Island (built 1653, later known as Flagstaff Fort [1776] and Fort Tompkins [1806]). Another blockhouse stood in the village of New Utrecht on the Brooklyn side (built 1657, later Fort Hamilton [1826]). England was supposed to supply cannon, but they never arrived. Bonomi (1998) page 83.
  40. Peartree had been appointed mayor because of his former experience as a privateer. See Booth (1859), page 281
  41. The Assembly’s subsequent inquiry discovered that tax collectors only raised £398 of the total. The money had been placed in the hands of the colonial receiver of revenues. Bonomi (1998), pages 82-85. In spite of these findings, historians have continued to cite the charge as proof of Cornbury’s incompetence. Compare Stone (1892) page 70 with page 73. See also, Booth (1859), pages 276-281.
  42. Stone (1892) page 73. In England, the Parliament House of Commons has the “power of the purse” – sole control over taxation and funding of major undertakings. A “Charter of Liberties” had been enacted by the New York Assembly in 1683 but they were annulled by Queen Mary II in 1691 (Booth [1859] p 207-208, 240)
  43. Stone (1892) page 70
  44. Stone (1892) pages 70-71
  45. Stone 1892, page 65
  46. Other ministers had warned Makemie about meeting the legal requirements, so the subject of Makemie’s sermon was “We ought to obey God, rather than Men.” (Acts 5:29) Wilson (1892) page 81
  47. Cornbury accused Makemie of being a “Disturber of Governments”. See David Hall, Francis Makemie and Freedom of Speech in The Aquila Report 25 January 2015; and Wilson (1892) p 82.
  48. The decision has been hailed as a landmark for American religious freedom. See Francis Makemie, Presbyterian Pioneer, by Kirk Mariner. http://francismakemiesociety.org/files/Download/Francis%20Makemie%20-%20Presbyterian%20Pioneer%20by%20Kirk%20Mariner.pdf
  49. Makemie's published account of the event can be found in Rev. Francis Makemie: A Narrative of a New and Unusual American Imprisonment of Two Presbyterian Ministers And Prosecution of Mr. Francis Makemie in William Henry Foote (1850), Foote's Sketches of Virginia (First Book) pages 65-84 http://www.roanetnhistory.org/foote-virginia.php?loc=Foote-Sketches-Virginia-First&pgid=92
  50. Bonomi 1998, page 70. That same year, Governor Cornbury established the first free grammar school in New York City. Booth, (1859) page 273-274
  51. Not the current King’s College of New York, which was founded in 1938
  52. McCaughey, Robert (2003). Stand, Columbia : A History of Columbia University in the City of New York. New York, New York: Columbia University Press. p. 1. ISBN 0-231-13008-2.
  53. Matthews, Brander; John Pine; Harry Peck; Munroe Smith (1904). A History of Columbia University: 1754–1904. London, England: Macmillan Company. pp. 8–10.
  54. http://www.hollandsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/dHM-2011-Summer-Vol-LXXXIV-Nr-2-A.pdf
  55. Valentine, David Ed (1853) History of the City of New York McSperton & Baset Printers
  56. Bonomi (1998), pages 62-64.
  57. Haefeli, Evan; Sweeney, Kevin (2003): Captors and Captives: The 1704 French and Indian Raid on Deerfield. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. Page 191. ISBN 978-1-55849-503-6. OCLC 493973598.
  58. Williams, John (1853) The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion, Northampton: Hopkins, Bridgman & Co, p 51 (Originally published 1707).
  59. Waller, G M, (1960) Samuel Vetch: Colonial Enterpriser. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, for the Institute of Early American History and Culture at Williamsburg, Va pages x & 311.
  60. A complete account of the political climate and Vetch’s lobbying efforts can be found in: Alsop, James D, Samuel Vetch’s ‘Canada Survey’d’: The Formation of a Colonial Strategy 1706-1710 in Acadiensis Vol XII No 1, Autumn 1982. See especially p 57 https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/acadiensis
  61. On 3 December 1706, he was appointed Secretary of State for the Southern Department (Southern England, Wales, Ireland & the American colonies.)
  62. Alsop (1982) p. 45.
  63. Alsop (1982) p. 45.
  64. The selection of Lord Lovelace in March as governor of New York raised expectations that the colony would play a more active role in the war.” Alsop (1982) page 57.
  65. Marlborough’s victory at Oudenarde in July 1708 relieved the need for a Canadian expedition, which might have complicated peace negotiations underway during April & May of 1709.
  66. Since 1705, both the New York & New Jersey Assemblies had refused to appropriate funds for the governor’s salary and for support of the colonial garrison. Both were forced to survive on borrowed funds.
  67. The welcoming banquet cost £46 7s. 6d. which Cornbury borrowed from Henry Swift, a wealthy merchant. The New York Assembly refused to reimburse the sum, which only added to Cornbury’s debt burden. Wilson 1892, page 100.
  68. Wilson (1892), page 135
  69. Sunderland was dismissed as Secretary of State on 13 June 1710 with the arrival of the Tory Harley Cabinet on 11 August 1710.
  70. Bonomi (1998), page 51 His name has been replaced by John Leake in the Wikipedia First Admiralty entry. Compare Wikipedia John Leake entry.
  71. James Edward was the son of James II who had been deposed during the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and died in 1701.
  72. Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford, lived 1661-1724. As Queen Anne’s Lord High Treasurer (1711-1714), he was responsible for restructuring the national debt incurred during the war. His solution was the formation of a joint-stock company, the South Sea Company (1711). Due to fraud, insider trading, and bribery, the scheme collapsed after 1721. Shares were issued at £100, reached a high of £1000 in 1720, and fell to less than nominal value by 1721. Much of the aristocracy—including Harley--was ruined financially by the scheme. There's no evidence of Cornbury's involvement.
  73. Bonomi (1998), pages 52-55
  74. Bonomi (1998), pages 54-55.
  75. Quote from Shelly Ross (1988), Fall from Grace: Sex, Scandal and Corruption in American Politics from 1702 to Present, Random House, page 4
  76. Wilson (1892), page 77
  77. Wilson 1892, pages 84-85
  78. For example, Marlborough, Sunderland, Harley, and Governors Slaughter, Bellomont, Hunter et al. see Booth (1859) pages 232, 245, 285-286, & 292 and Wilson (1892), page 104
  79. Horace's father, Prime Minister Robert Walpole (Whig), served in the Sunderland ministry that recalled Cornbury from the colonies.
  80. Bonomi (1998) page 15. See also: Benson, Eric, “English King Appoints Drag Queen”, The Complete History of Scandals, New York Magazine News & Politics 2 April 2012
  81. Quote from Kristan Aiken (18 February 2002) Columbia University: A Social History http://cuhistory3057.tripod.com/hyde/id1.html
  82. Matthews, Brander; John Pine; Harry Peck; Munroe Smith (1904), A History of Columbia University: 1754–1904. London, England: Macmillan Company, pages 8–10.
  83. Quote from Bonomi (1998), page 141
  84. For more information, see Norton, Rictor, Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England. http://www.rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/molly2.html[permanent dead link]
  85. Bonomi, Patricia (Jan 1994) U. Lord Cornbury Redressed: The Governor and the Problem Portrait. William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Volume 51, Issue 1, pages 106-118.
  86. Eric Pace, “A Tempest in a Portrait: Was that Lady a Lord?” New York Times 30 May 1990 https://www.nytimes.com/1990/05/30/nyregion/a-tempest-in-a-portrait-was-that-lady-a-lord.html
  87. "Portrait of a Lady, Possibly Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury in a Dress - DMA Collection Online". Dma.org. Retrieved 7 October 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  88. "Person Page". Thepeerage.com. 2 December 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  89. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 April 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2017. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  90. Hoffman, William M. (ed) (1979). Gay Plays: The First Collection. New York, New York: Avon Books. pp. 413–14. ISBN 0380427885.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  91. Isherwood, Charles (30 January 2009). "The Man Who Would Be Queen". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 October 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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