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History of the St Andrew's Society of the State of New York
Biographies: William Butler Duncan

Fortieth President

The present head of the ancient and honorable Saint Andrew’s Society is William Butler Duncan.

Mr. Duncan is the eldest son of Alexander Duncan and Sarah Butler, of Providence, Rhode Island, and was born on the 17th March, 1830, at No. 3 Heriot Row, Edinburgh, Scotland.

His father, who was the third son of Alexander Duncan, of Parkhill, Arbroath, Forfarshire, Scotland, came to the United States in 1821, graduated at Yale University in 1827, was married in that year, and entered upon the practice of law in Canandaigua, in Western New York, from whence in 1839 he removed to Providence, Rhode Island, where he maintained his residence until the time of his death in 1889.

The subject of this sketch was brought to this country by his parents in June, 1830, at the early age of three months. At the age of fourteen he was sent to Scotland to be educated, and after passing three years at the Edinburgh Academy and one year at the University of Edinburgh, he returned again to the United States in 1849, and, entering Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, graduated in 1850.

In 1851 he removed to the City of New York, where he has since resided.

One of the eldest members of the New York Chamber of Commerce, he is a Vice-President of that august body and an active participant in all its meetings and actions.

At the present time he is the second oldest member of the Union Club, and the oldest member of the New York Yacht Club; a founder and member of the Racquet Club; also a founder and member of the Manhattan Club; President of the Whist Club; Vice-President of “The Pilgrims,” and a member of the Players’ and Lawyers’ Clubs.

Mr. Duncan was elected a member of Saint Andrew’s Society on the 1st December, 1854, and became a life member in 1896. He served as a Manager from 1899-1900; and as First Vice-President from 1900-1902. Unanimously elected President in 1902, he still continues to hold that office. He also served on the Committee of Accounts from 1894-1899.

Mr. Duncan is universally esteemed in business and social circles and greatly beloved by his friends and intimates. Great charm of manner, joined with uniform courtesy and consideration for others, marks him as one of the best examples of a generation of gentlefolk. His home at No. 1 Fifth Avenue has always been a centre of hospitality which keeps up the traditions of a family old in the history of his native land.

Mr. Duncan married on the 22d November, 1853, at Christ Church, New Orleans, Jane Percy Sargent, daughter of George Washington Sargent and Margaret Percy, by whom he had issue: (1) Jessie Percy (Mrs. Wilton Phipps, London), born 9th February, 1855; (2) Alexander, born 6th June, 1858; (3) Mary (Mrs. Paul Dana, New York), born 26th May, 1861.

His portrait is reproduced from a photograph now in the possession of the Society.

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