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History of the St Andrew's Society of the State of New York
Biographies: Philip Livingston


First President,
1756-1757-

No family took higher rank for ability and patriotism during the early Colonial and Revolutionary periods of American history than that of the Livingstons.

The first traceable ancestor in Scotland was the Reverend Alexander Livingston, of Monyabroch (now the parish of Kilsyth, Sterlingshire), Scotland, who is said to have been “nearly related to the house of Callendar,” one of the ancient titled families of Scotland. His son, the Reverend William Livingston, was also minister of Monyabroch and was the father of the Reverend John Livingston, of Ancrum, Roxburghshire, Scotland, who was born on the 21st June, 1603. The Reverend John Livingston is said to have been a learned minister of the Gospel, and eventually was compelled to emigrate to Rotterdam in 1663 because of religious persecution. Robert Livingston, the youngest son of the Reverend John Livingston, sailed for Charlestown in New England in 1678 on the ship Catherine, commanded by Captain John Phillips, and was the first of his name in America, the original grantee of the Livingston Manor Patent and the founder of a long line of eminent descendents.

Philip Livingston, the First President of Saint Andrew’s Society, grandson of Robert Livingston, was a son of Philip Livingston and Catherine Van Brugh, and was born on the 15th January, 1716, at Albany, New York. He died 011 the 12th June, 1778, at York, Pennsylvania.

Little is known of his early life and education, but he graduated in 1737 from Yale College at New Haven, Connecticut, and in 1746 aided in founding the Livingston Professorship of Divinity in that College. He was at this time said to be one of the fifteen collegiate graduates in the colony.

Shortly after leaving college he engaged in the importing business in New York City, where he rapidly attained success and fortune in his mercantile career, and it was said of him by Sir Charles Hardy in 1755, that “among the considerable merchants in this City, no one is more esteemed for energy, promptness and public spirit than Philip Livingston.”

He early took an active and practical interest in politics and was elected one of the seven Aldermen of the City of New York in September, 1754, retaining the office for nine successive years. In l759> he was elected a member of the General Assembly of the Colony from the City of New York, and filled this position by reelection until the dissolution of this administrative body in January.

1769. Identifying himself with the young patriotic party in the struggle against the autocratic treatment of the Colony by the English government, he soon was counted among the leaders of the growing opposition to British rule. He thus incurred the hostility of Lieutenant Governor Cadwallader Colden, who repeatedly referred to him as a menace to the royalist control of the Colony. In September, 1764, he prepared an address to Governor Colden in which he vigorously opposed the system of taxation impressed on the Colony by the Mother Country, and in consequence was elected a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765.

During 1770, he was appointed a member of the Committee of Correspondence with Edmund Burke, the then agent for the Colony of New York, in England. He acted as speaker at the last session of the Provincial Assembly he attended and on his refusal of a reelection from the City, was returned from the Manor of Livingston. His seat was contested by the Tory majority, however, and he was unseated on the ground of non-residence. As soon as the Revolutionary War broke out he was chosen a member of the First Continental Congress, which met at Philadelphia in September, 1774, and was continued a member until his death. In Congress he was placed on a committee to draw an address to the people of Great Britain, and when the Declaration of Independence was passed by that body he was one of the signers as delegate from New York.

In his native city he became president of the Provincial Congress in April, 1775, and was chosen a member of the General Assembly in February, 1776. He became a State Senator in May, 1777, and in September he was present at the first meeting of the first Legislature of the newly created State of New York, by which body he- was elected one of the first delegates to the Congress of the newly confederated States.

His residence was on one of the highest points of Brooklyn Heights, where he owned about forty acres of land upon which he had erected a typical Colonial mansion, overlooking the harbor of New York, and furnished with all the luxury then attainable. It was in this house in August, 1776, that Washington held the council of war which decided on withdrawing the Revolutionary forces from Long Island. The British seized and occupied the house during the Revolutionary War, using it as a naval hospital, and, as Mr. Livingston never returned to it, the mansion rapidly fell into decay and was eventually destroyed by fire.

His position and wealth enabled him to advance the interests of New York City, and his name constantly appears in the civic records.

In 1756 he was a founder and the first President of Saint Andrew’s Society, and in the same year became a founder of the New York Society Library. In 1770 he was one of the founders of the Chamber of Commerce, and in 1771 acted as one of the first Governors of the New York Hospital, chartered in that year. He also was identified with the establishment of Kings (now Columbia) College.

By his early death the newly-created nation lost a sage counsellor and an able, conservative statesman, whose influence in the trying period of the dissolution of the royal and the organization of a republican form of government always was exerted for the welfare of his native land.

He married on the 14th April, 1740, Christina Ten Broeck, daughter of Colonel Dirck Ten Broeck and Margaret Cuyler, and had the following issue: (1) Philip Philip, born 28th May, 1741 at Albany, N. Y.; (2) Richard, who died unmarried; (3) Catherine, who married (1) Stephen Van Rennselaer, and (2) Rev. Eilardus Westerlo; (4) Margaret, who married Dr. Thomas Jones; (5) Peter Van Brugh, who died unmarried; (6) Sarah, born 7th December, 1752, in New York, who married Dr. John H. Livingston; (7) • Henry Philip, who died unmarried; (8) Abraham, who died unmarried; (9) Alida, who died unmarried.

His portrait is reproduced from an old painting by an unknown artist now in the possession of the Long Island Historical Society.


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