Province of New York

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Province of New York
Colony of England (1664–1707)
Colony of Great Britain (1707–76)
Seal of the Province of New York, 1767
Seal of the Province of New York, 1767
A map of the Province of New York.
Capital New York City
Languages English, Dutch, Iroquoian languages, Algonquian languages
Government Constitutional monarchy
 •  1664-1685 Charles II
 •  1769-1776 George III
Royal Governor
 •  1664-1783 List of colonial governors of New York
Legislature New York
 •  Upper house Executive Council[disambiguation needed]
 •  Lower house New York Assembly
 •  Capture of New Amsterdam August 28, 1664
 •  Treaty of Paris (1783) November 25, 1783
Currency Pound New York Currency
Preceded by
Succeeded by
New Netherland
New York
Vermont Republic
Today part of  United States

The Province of New York (1664–1783) was an English and later British crown territory that originally included all of the present U.S. states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Vermont, along with inland portions of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine, as well as eastern Pennsylvania. The majority of this land was soon reassigned by the Crown, leaving territory that included the valleys of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, and Vermont. The territory of western New York was Iroquois land, also disputed between the English colonies and New France, and that of Vermont was disputed with the Province of New Hampshire.

The province resulted from the Dutch Republic surrender of Provincie Nieuw-Nederland to the Kingdom of England in 1664. Immediately after, the province was renamed for James, Duke of York, brother of Charles II of England. The territory was one of the Middle Colonies, and ruled at first directly from England.

The New York Provincial Congress of local representatives declared itself the government on May 22, 1775, first referred to the "State of New York" in 1776, and ratified the New York State Constitution in 1777. While the British regained New York City during the American Revolutionary War using it as its military and political base of operations in North America,[1][2] and a British governor was technically in office, much of the remainder of the former colony was held by the Patriots. British claims on any part of New York ended with the Treaty of Paris of 1783.


This English province was established upon the former Dutch territory of New Netherland, with its core being York Shire, in what today is typically known as Downstate New York.


The Province of New York was divided into twelve counties on November 1, 1683, by New York Governor Thomas Dongan:

On March 24, 1772:


In 1617 officials of the Dutch West India Company in New Netherland created a settlement at present-day Albany, and in 1624 founded New Amsterdam, on Manhattan Island. New Amsterdam surrendered to Colonel Richard Nicholls on August 27, 1664; he renamed it New York. On September 24 Sir George Carteret accepted the capitulation of the garrison at Fort Orange, which he called Albany, after another of the Duke of York's titles.[3] The capture was confirmed by the Treaty of Breda in July 1667, in exchange for the Isle of Run in the East Indies.

Easing the transition to British rule, the Articles of Capitulation guaranteed certain rights to the Dutch; among these were: liberty of conscience in divine worship and church discipline, the continuation of their own customs concerning inheritances, and the application of Dutch law to bargains and contracts made prior to the capitulation.[4]

Proprietary government (1664–1685)

In 1664, the James, Duke of York was granted a Royal colony which included New Netherland and present-day Maine.The New Netherland claim included western parts of present-day Massachusetts (to an extent that varied depending on whether the reference was the States General claim of all lands as far east as Narragansett Bay or the Treaty of Hartford negotiated by the English and Dutch colonies in 1654 but not recognized by either the Dutch or English governments) putting the new province in conflict with the Massachusetts charter. In general terms, the charter was equivalent to a conveyance of land conferring on him the right of possession, control, and government, subject only to the limitation that the government must be consistent with the laws of England. The Duke of York never visited his colony and exercised little direct control of it. He elected to administer his government through governors, councils, and other officers appointed by himself. No provision was made for an elected assembly.

In 1665, the Province of New Jersey was created from a portion of New York, but the border was not finalized until 1765 (see New York-New Jersey Line War). In 1667, territories between the Byram River and Connecticut River were split off to become the western half of Connecticut.

The first governor Richard Nicolls was known for writing "The Duke's Laws" which served as the first compilation of English laws in colonial New York.[4] Nicholls returned to England after an administration of three years, much of which was taken up in confirming the ancient Dutch land grants. Francis Lovelace was next appointed Governor and held the position from May 1667 until the return of the Dutch in July 1673.[3] A Dutch fleet recaptured New York and held it until it was traded to the English by the Treaty of Westminster. A second grant was obtained by the Duke of York in July 1674 to perfect his title.

Upon conclusion of the peace in 1674, the Duke of York appointed Sir Edmund Andros as Governor of his territories in America.[3] Governor Edmund Andros in 1674 said "permit all persons of what religion soever, quietly to inhabit within the precincts of your jurisdiction"[5] Nonetheless, he made the Quakers of West Jersey pay toll on the Delaware, but they applied to England and were redressed.[6] He was followed by Colonel Thomas Dongan in 1682. Dongan was empowered, on the advice of William Penn, to summon "...a general assembly of all the freeholders, by such persons they should choose to represent them to consult with you and said council what laws are fit and necessary to be made..."[4]

A colonial Assembly was created in October 1683. New York was the last of the English colonies to have an assembly. The assembly passed the Province of New York constitution on October 30, the first of its kind in the colonies. This constitution gave New Yorkers more rights than any other group of colonists including the protection from taxation without representation. On November 1, 1683, the government was reorganized, and the state was divided into twelve counties, each of which was subdivided into towns. Ten of those counties still exist (see above), but two (Cornwall and Dukes) were in territory purchased by the Duke of York from the Earl of Stirling, and are no longer within the territory of the State of New York, having been transferred by treaty to Massachusetts. While the number of counties has been increased to 62, the pattern still remains that a town in New York State is a subdivision of a county, similar to New England.

An act of the assembly in 1683 naturalized all those of foreign nations then in the colony professing Christianity. To encourage immigration, it also provided that foreigners professing Christianity may, after their arrival, be naturalized if they took the oath of allegiance as required.

The Duke's Laws established a non-denominational state church.[citation needed]

The British replaced the Dutch in their alliance with the Iroquois against New France, with an agreement called the Covenant Chain.

Royal province (1686–1775)

New York became a royal province in February 1685 when its proprietor, the Duke of York, was crowned King James II of England. James II did not approve the New York constitution and declared it void in October 1685. The charter assembly did not meet after 1685. In May 1688 the province was made part of the Dominion of New England. In April 1689, when news arrived that King James had been overthrown in the Glorious Revolution, Bostonians overthrew their government and imprisoned dominion Governor Edmund Andros. The province of New York rebelled in May in what is known as Leisler's Rebellion. King William's War with France began during which the French attacked Schenectady. In July, New York participated in an abortive attack on Montreal and Quebec. A new governor Henry Sloughter arrived in March 1691. He had Jacob Leisler arrested, tried, and executed.

New York's charter was re-enacted in 1691 and was the constitution of the province until the creation of the State of New York.

In the 1690s, New York City was the largest importer of the colonies of slaves and a supply port for pirates.

During Queen Anne's War with France from 1702 to 1713, the province had little involvement with the military operations, but benefited from being a supplier to the British fleet. New York militia participated in two abortive attacks on Quebec in 1709 and 1711.

Nearly 2800 Palatine German emigrants were transported to New York by Queen Anne's government in ten ships in 1710, the largest single group of immigrants before the Revolutionary War. By comparison, Manhattan then had only 6,000 people. Initially the Germans were employed in the production of naval stores along the Hudson River near Peekskill. In 1723 they were allowed to settle in the central Mohawk Valley west of Schenectady as a buffer against the Native Americans and the French. They also settled in areas such as Schoharie and Cherry Valley.

The first newspaper was started in 1725.

With its shipping and trades, New York slaveholders used skilled Africans as artisans and domestic servants. Two notable slave revolts occurred in New York City in 1712 and 1741. The numbers of slaves imported to New York increased dramatically from the 1720s through 1740s. By the 17th century, they established the African Burial Ground National Monument in Lower Manhattan, which was used through 1812. It was discovered nearly two centuries later during excavation before the construction of the Foley Square Courthouse. Historians estimated 15,000-20,000 Africans and African Americans had been buried there. Because of the extraordinary find, the government commissioned a memorial at the site, where the National Park Service has an interpretive center. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark and National Monument. Excavation and study of the remains has been described as the "most important historic urban archaeological project undertaken in the United States."[7]

King George's War

This province, as a British colony, fought against the French during King George's War. The assembly was determined to control expenditures for this war and only weak support was given. When the call came for New York to help raise an expeditionary force against Louisburg, the New York assembly refused to raise troops and only appropriated a token three thousand pounds.[8] The assembly was opposed to a significant war effort because it would interrupt trade with Quebec and would result in higher taxes. The French raid on Saratoga in 1745 destroyed that settlement, killing and capturing more than one hundred people. After this attack the assembly was more generous and raised 1,600 men and forty thousand pounds.[9]

French and Indian War

Upstate New York was the scene of fighting during the French and Indian War, with British and French forces contesting control of Lake Champlain in association with Native American allies. Sir William Johnson, 1st Baronet, and other agents in upstate New York brought about the participation of the Iroquois.

One of the largest impressment operations occurred in New York City in the spring of 1757 when three thousand British troops cordoned off the city and impressed nearly eight hundred persons they found in taverns and other gathering places of sailors.[10] New York City was the centre for privateering. Forty New York ships were commissioned as privateers in 1756 and in the spring of 1757 it was estimated the value of French prizes brought into New York City was two hundred thousand pounds. By 1759, the seas had been cleaned of French vessels and the privateers were diverted into trading with the enemy. The ending of the war caused a severe recession in New York.

Sir William Johnson, 1st Baronet, negotiated an end to Pontiac's Rebellion. He promoted the Proclamation of 1763 and the Treaty of Fort Stanwix to protect the Indians from further English settlement in their lands. The treaty established a boundary line along the West Branch Delaware River and the Unadilla River, with Iroquois lands to the west and colonial lands to the east.

Political parties

During the middle years of the 18th century, politics in New York revolved around the rivalry of two great families, the Livingstons and the De Lanceys. Both of these families had amassed considerable fortunes. New York City had an inordinate influence on New York politics because several of the assembly members lived in New York City rather than in their district. In the 1752 election, De Lancey's relatives and close friends controlled 12 of the 27 seats in the assembly. The De Lanceys lost control of the assembly in the election of 1761. Governor Cadwallader Colden tried to organize a popular party to oppose the great families, thus earning the hatred of the city elite of both parties. The Livingstons looked to the imperial ties as a means of controlling the influence of James De Lancey. The De Lanceys regarded imperial ties to be a tool for personal advantage.

Stamp Act

Parliament passed the Stamp Act 1765 to raise money from the colonies. New York had previously passed its own stamp act from 1756 to 1760 to raise money for the French and Indian war. The extraordinary response to the Stamp Act can only be explained by the build-up of antagonisms on local issues.[11] New York was experiencing a severe recession from the effects of the end of the French and Indian war. The colonies were experiencing the effects of a very tight monetary policy caused by the trade deficit with Britain, a fiscal crisis in Britain restricting credit, and the Currency Act, which prevented the issuing of paper currency to provide liquidity.

From the outset, New York led the protests in the colonies. Both New York political factions opposed the Stamp Act of 1765. In October, on the site of what is now Federal Hall in New York City, representatives of several colonies met in the Stamp Act Congress to discuss their response. The New York assembly petitioned the British House of Commons on December 11, 1765, for the Americans' right of self taxation. In August, the intimidation and beating of stamp agents was widely reported. The New York stamp commissioner resigned his job.

The act went into effect on November 1. The day before, James De Lancey organized a meeting at Burns Tavern of New York City merchants, where they agreed to boycott all British imports until the Stamp Act was repealed. A leading moderate group opposing the Stamp Act were the local Sons of Liberty headed by Isaac Sears, John Lamb and Alexander McDougall. Historian Gary B. Nash wrote of what was called the “General Terror of November 1–4”:[12]

But New York’s plebeian element was not yet satisfied. Going beyond the respectable leaders of the Sons of Liberty, the lower orders rampaged through the town for four days. Some two thousand strong, they threatened the homes of suspected sympathizers of British policy, attacked the house of the famously wealthy governor Cadwallader Colden, paraded his effigy around town, and built a monstrous bonfire in the Bowling Green into which the shouting crowd hurled the governor’s luxurious two sleighs and horse-drawn coach.[13]

Historian Fred Anderson contrasted the mob actions in New York with those in Boston. In Boston, after the initial unrest, local leaders such as the Loyal Nine (a precursor to the Sons of Liberty) were able to take control of the mob. In New York, however, the "mob was largely made up of seamen, most of whom lacked deep community ties and felt little need to submit to the authority of the city's shorebound radical leaders." The New York Sons of Liberty did not take control of the opposition until after November 1.[14]

On November 1, the crowd destroyed a warehouse and the house of Thomas James, commander at Fort George. A few days later the stamps stored at Fort George were surrendered to the mob. Nash notes that, “whether the Sons of Liberty could control the mariners, lower artisans, and laborers remained in doubt,” and “they came to fear the awful power of the assembled lower-class artisans and their maritime compatriots.”[12]

On January 7, 1766, the merchant ship Polly carrying stamps for Connecticut was boarded in New York City harbour and the stamps destroyed. Up to the end of 1765 the Stamp Act disturbances had largely been confined to New York City, but in January the Sons of Liberty also stopped the distribution of stamps in Albany.

In May 1766, when news arrived of the repeal of the Stamp Act the Sons of Liberty celebrated by the erection of a Liberty Pole. It became a rallying point for mass meetings and an emblem of the American cause. In June, two regiments of British regulars arrived in New York City and were quartered in the upper barracks. These troops cut down the liberty pole on August 10. A second and third pole were erected and also cut down. A fourth pole was erected and encased in iron to prevent similar action.

In 1766, widespread tenant uprisings occurred in the countryside north of New York City centered on the Livingston estates. They marched on New York City expecting the Sons of Liberty to support them. Instead the Sons of Liberty blocked the roads and the leader of the tenants was convicted of treason.

Quartering Act

In the last years of the French and Indian War London approved a policy of keeping twenty regiments in the colonies to police and defend the back country. The enabling legislation took the form of the Quartering Act which required colonial legislatures to provide quarters and supplies for the troops. The Quartering Act stirred little controversy and New Yorkers were ambivalent about the presence of the troops. The assembly had provided barracks and provisions every year since 1761. The tenant riots of 1766 showed the need for a police force in the colony. The Livingston controlled New York assembly passed a quartering bill in 1766 to provide barracks and provisions in New York City and Albany which satisfied most, but not all of the requirements of the Quartering Act. London suspended the assembly for failure to comply fully, and Governor Moore dissolved the House of Assembly, February 6, 1768. The next month New Yorkers went to the polls for a new assembly. In this election, with the Sons of Liberty support, the De Lancey faction gained seats, but not enough for a majority.

The Assembly was also temporarily suspended for failure to comply with the Quartering Act in 1769.

Townshend Acts

In 1768, a letter voted by the Massachusetts assembly called for the universal boycott of British imports in opposition to the Townshend Acts. In October, the merchants of New York City agreed on the condition that the merchants of Boston and Philadelphia also agreed. In December, the assembly passed a resolution which stated the colonies were entitled to self-taxation. Governor Moore declared the resolution repugnant to the laws of England and dissolved the assembly. The De Lancey faction, again with Sons of Liberty support, won a majority in the assembly.

In the spring of 1769, New York was in a depression from the recall of paper boycott and the British boycott. By the Currency Act New York was required to recall all paper money. London allowed the issuance of additional paper money, but the attached conditions were unsatisfactory. While New York was boycotting British imports, other colonies including Boston and Philadelphia were not. The De Lanceys tried to reach a compromise by passing a bill which allowed for the issuing of paper currency, of which half was for provisioning of the troops. Alexander McDougall, signed a 'Son of Liberty', issued a broadside entitled To the Betrayed Inhabitants of the City and Colony of New York which was an excellent piece of political propaganda denouncing the De Lanceys for betraying the liberties of the people by acknowledging the British power of taxation. The Sons of Liberty switched their allegiance from the De Lanceys to the Livingstons. Alexander McDougall was arrested for libel.

Conflict between the Sons of Liberty and the troops in New York City erupted with the Battle of Golden Hill on January 19, 1770, where troops cut down the fourth Liberty Pole which had been erected in 1767.

In July 1770, the merchants of New York City decided to resume trade with Britain when news arrived of Parliament's plan to repeal the Townshend Duties and to give permission for New York to issue some paper currency. The Sons of Liberty were strongly opposed to the resumption of trade. The merchants twice polled their members and went door to door polling residents of New York City and all polls were overwhelming in support of resumption of trade. This was perhaps the first public opinion poll in American history.[15]

Tea Act

New York was peaceful after the repeal of the Townshend Act, but the economy of New York was still in a slump. In May 1773 the Parliament passed the Tea Act cutting the duty on tea and enabling the East India company to sell tea in the colonies cheaper than the smugglers could. This act primarily hurt the New York merchants and smugglers. The Sons of Liberty were the organizers of the opposition and in November 1773 they published Association of the Sons of Liberty of New York in which anyone who assisted in support of the act would be a "enemy to the liberties of America". As a result, the New York East India agents resigned. The New York assembly took no action in regard to the Sons of Liberty assumption of extra-legal powers. The New York City Sons of Liberty learned of Boston's plan to stop the unloading of any tea and resolved to also follow this policy. Since the Association had not obtained the support they had expected, the Sons of Liberty were afraid that if the tea was landed the population would demand its distribution for retail.[16]

In December, news arrived of the Boston Tea Party strengthened opposition. In April 1774, The boat Nancy arrived in New York harbor for repairs. The captain admitted that he had 18 chests of tea on board and he agreed that he would not attempt to have the tea landed, but the Sons of Liberty boarded the ship regardless and destroyed the tea.

Intolerable Acts

In January 1774, the Assembly created a Committee of Correspondence to correspond with other colonies in regard to the Intolerable Acts.

In May 1774 news arrived of the Boston Port Act which closed the port of Boston. The Sons of Liberty were in favor of resumption of a trade boycott with Britain, but there was strong resistance from the large importers. In May, a meeting in New York City was called in which members were selected for a Committee of Correspondence. The Committee of Fifty was formed which was dominated with moderates, the Sons of Liberty only obtained 15 members. Isaac Low was the chairman. Francis Lewis was added to create the Committee of Fifty-One. The group adopted a resolution which said Boston was "suffering in the defence of the rights of America" and proposed the formation of a Continental Congress. In July, the committee select five of their members as delegates to this congress. Some of the other counties also sent delegates to the First Continental Congress which was held in September. The New York delegates were unable to stop the adoption at the congress of the Continental Association. The association was generally ignored in New York.

In January and February 1775, of the New York Assembly voted down successive resolutions approving the proceedings of the First Continental Congress and refused to send delegates to the Second Continental Congress. New York was the only colonial assembly which did not approve the proceeds of the First Continental Congress. Opposition to the Congress revolved around the opinion that the provincial houses of assembly were the proper agencies to solicit redress for grievances. In March, the Assembly broke with the rest of the colonies and wrote a petition to London, but London rejected the petition because it contained claims about a lack of authority of the "parent state" to tax colonists, "which made it impossible" to accept. The Assembly last met on April 3, 1775.

Provincial Congress

In April 1775, the rebels formed the New York Provincial Congress as a replacement for the New York Assembly. News of the battle of Lexington and Concord reached New York on April 23, which stunned the city since there was a widely believed rumor that Parliament was to grant the colonies self-taxation. The Sons of Liberty led by Marinus Willett broke into the Arsenal at City Hall and removed 1,000 stand of arms. The armed citizens formed a voluntary corps to govern the city with Isaac Sears's house the de facto seat of government and militia headquarters. The crown-appointed New York executive council meet on April 24 and concluded that "we were unanimously of the opinion that we had no power to do anything."[17] The British troops in New York City never left their barracks.

On October 19, 1775, Governor William Tryon was forced to leave New York City for a British warship offshore, ending any appearances of British rule of the colony as the Continental Congress ordered the arrest of anyone endangering the safety of the colony. In April 1776 Tryon officially dissolved the New York assembly.

New York was located in the Northern theatre of the American Revolutionary War. New York served as the launching point for the failed Invasion of Canada in 1775, the first major military operation of the newly formed Continental Army. General George Washington took the Continental Army from Boston after the British withdrew following the Fortification of Dorchester Heights, and brought it to New York City in 1776, correctly anticipating the British would return there.

The Fourth Provincial Congress convened in White Plains on July 9, 1776, and became known as the First Constitutional Convention. New York endorsed the Declaration of Independence the same day, and declared the independent state of New York.[18] New York City celebrated by tearing down the statue of George III in Bowling Green. On July 10, 1776, the Fourth Provincial Congress changed its name to the Convention of Representatives of the State of New York, and "acts as legislature without an executive." While adjourned it left a Committee of Safety in charge. The New York state constitution was framed by a convention which assembled at White Plains on July 10, 1776, and after repeated adjournments and changes of location, it concluded in Kingston, New York on Sunday evening, April 20, 1777, when the new constitution was adopted with one dissenting vote. It had been drafted by John Jay, and was not submitted to the people for ratification. Under its provisions, the governor would be elected not appointed, voting restrictions were reduced, secret ballots were introduced, and civil rights were guaranteed. On July 30, 1777, George Clinton was inaugurated as the first Governor of New York at Kingston. On July 9, 1778, the State of New York signed the Articles of Confederation and officially became a part of the government of the United States of America, though it had been a part of the nation since it was declared in 1776 with signatories from New York.

The province was the scene of the largest battle of the entire war, and the first after the Declaration of Independence was signed. The British recaptured the city in September 1776 in the New York and New Jersey campaign, and placed the province under martial law under the command of James Robertson, though his effective authority did not extend far beyond the southern tip of Manhattan (then the extent of New York City). Tryon retained his title of governor, but with little power. David Mathews was Mayor for the duration of British occupation of New York until Evacuation Day. After its reoccupation, New York City became the headquarters for the British army in America, and the British political center of operations in North America. The British cut down the Liberty Pole in the common. Loyalist refugees flooded into the city raising its population to 33,000. Prison ships in Wallabout Bay held a large proportion of American soldiers and sailors being held prisoner by the British, and was where more Americans died than in all of the battles of the war, combined. The British retained control of New York City until Evacuation Day in November 1783, which was commemorated long afterward.

Politics and government

The governor of New York was royally appointed. The governor selected his Executive Council which served as the upper house. The governor and king had veto power over the assembly's bills. However, all bills were effective until royal disapproval had occurred which could take up to a year. During King George's War, the governor approved two assembly initiatives; that the colony's revenue be approved annually rather than every five years and that the assembly must approve the purpose of each allocation. Elections to the house of assembly were initially held whenever the governor pleased, but eventually a law was passed requiring an election at least once every seven years. New York City was the seat of government and where the New York assembly met.

Between 1692 and 1694 the governor of New York was also the governor of Pennsylvania. From 1698 to 1701 the governor was also the governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. From 1702 to 1738 he was also the governor of New Jersey.

Representation in the assembly in 1683 was six for Long Island, four for New York City, two for Kingston, two for Albany, one for each of Staten Island, Schenectady, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and one for Pemequid on the Maine coast. In 1737, the assembly was expanded to 27 and in 1773 to 31.

Voters were required to have a £40 freehold, in addition to requirements related to age, sex, and religion. The £40 freehold requirement was often ignored. Jews were not allowed to vote between 1737 and 1747. In rural counties slightly more than half the males could vote. No secret ballot safeguarded the independence of the voters. The elections were held at the county town, under the supervision of the sheriff and sometimes at such short notice that many of the voting population could not get to the polls. The candidates were usually at the polls and the vote was taken by a show of hands unless this vote did not result in a clear winner.

List of Governors

See List of colonial governors of New York

List of Attorneys General[19]
Incumbent Tenure Notes
Took office Left office
Thomas Rudyard 1684 1685
James Graham 10 December 1685 1688 afterwards Attorney General of Dominion of New England, 1688
Member of Dominion of New England, May 1668-April 1689
Jacob Milborne 1690 1691 Hanged for treason, 1691
Thomas Newton 1691 1691 Removed from office by Governor
George Farewell 1691 ?1691 Removed from office by Governor
Sampson Shelton Broughton 5 April 1701 Died February 1705
John Rayner 12 July 1708 Absent in England. Died 1719.
May Bickley 1708 1712 Acting AG in Rayner's absence. Removed from office by Governor, 1712
David Jamison 10 June 1712 1721 Acting AG in Rayner's absence, 1712-1720
James Alexander 1721 1723
Richard Bradley 1723 28 August 1752
William Smith the elder August 1752
William Kempe November 1752 19 July 1759
John Tabor Kempe 1759 ?1783
James Duane 1767 Acting AG in Kempe's absence.


The Supreme Court of Judicature of the Province of New York was established by the New York Assembly on 6 May 1691. Jurisdiction was based on the English Courts of King's Bench, Common Pleas and Exchequer but excluded cases of equity which were dealt with by the Court of Chancery. The Supreme Court continued in being under the Constitution of 1777, becoming the New York Supreme Court under the 1846 Constitution.

Chief Justices of the Supreme Court [19]
Incumbent Tenure Notes
Took office Left office
Joseph Dudley 6 May 1691 1692 Removed from office by Governor
William "Tangier" Smith 11 November 1692 21 January 1701
Abraham de Peyster 21 January 1701 5 August 1701
William Atwood 5 August 1701 November 1702 Removed from office by Governor
William "Tangier" Smith 9 June 1702 5 April 1703
John Bridges 5 April 1703 1704 Died 6 July 1704
Roger Mompesson 15 July 1704 1715 Died March 1715. Also Chief Justice of New Jersey (1704–1710) and Pennsylvania (1706)
Lewis Morris 15 March 1715 1733 Removed from office by Governor
James De Lancey 1733 1760 Died 30 July 1760
Benjamin Pratt October 1761 ?1763 Died 5 January 1763
Daniel Hormansden March 1763 1776 Died 28 September 1778


Upstate New York (as well as parts of present Ontario, Quebec, Pennsylvania and Ohio) were occupied by the Five Nations (after 1720 becoming Six Nations, when joined by Tuscarora) of the Iroquois Confederacy for at least a half millennium before the Europeans came.

  • In 1664, one quarter of the population of New York City was African American.
  • In 1690, the population of the province was 20,000, of which 6,000 were in New York City.
  • In 1698, the population of the province was 18,607. 14% of the population of New York City was black.
  • The slave population grew after Queen Anne's war. The percentage of blacks in New York City in 1731 and 1746 was 18% and 21% respectively.
  • In 1756, the population of the province was about 100,000 of which about 14,000 were blacks. Most of the blacks in New York at this time were slaves.
Year Population
1664 10,000
1688 20,000
1698 18,067
1715 31,000
1723 40,564
1731 50,289
1749 73,448
1756 96,775
1774 182,251



The fur trade established under Dutch rule continued to grow. As the merchant port of New York became more important, the economy expanded and diversified, and the agricultural areas of Long Island and the regions further up the Hudson River developed.

See also


  1. Schecter, Barnet. The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution. Walker & Company. New York. October 2002. ISBN 0-8027-1374-2.
  2. McCullough, David. 1776. Simon & Schuster. New York. May 24, 2005. ISBN 978-0-7432-2671-4.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Smith, William. The history of the province of New-York, 1757
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Lincoln. Charles Zebina, Johnson, William H., and Northrup, Ansel Judd. The Colonial Laws of New York from the Year 1664 to the Revolution, J.B. Lyon, 1894
  5. Kammen, p. 86.
  6. Dunlap, William. History of New Netherlands, Province of New York, and State of New York, Vol.1, Carter & Thorp, New York, 1839
  7. "African Burial Ground", General Services Administration. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
  8. Nash (1986), p. 109.
  9. Nash (1986), p. 110.
  10. Nash (1986) p. 151.
  11. Nash (1986), p. 184.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Nash (2005) p. 55.
  13. Nash (2005) p. 54. Nash (p. 58) also wrote, “In New York City ... the Stamp Act demonstrators were led at first by men higher up on the social order – ship captains, master craftsmen, and even lawyers, but then escaped their control.”
  14. Anderson pp. 678–679.
  15. Nash (1986), p. 234.
  16. Launitz-Schurer, p. 103.
  17. Launitz-Schurer, p. 158.
  18. "Declaration of Independence". Archived from the original on April 9, 2008. Retrieved April 10, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 "The Supreme Court of the Province of New York 1674-1776 -= Jacob Milborne". Historical Society of the New York Courts. Retrieved October 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Greene.

Further reading

  • Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War. 2000. ISBN 0-375-70636-4.
  • Bonomi, Patricia U. A Factious People: Politics and Society in Colonial New York. New York: Columbia University Press, 1971.
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