John Alsop

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John Alsop
John Alsop (1724–1794).jpg
John Alsop
Member of the 2nd Continental Congress from New York
In office
May 10, 1775 – March 1, 1781
Member of the 1st Continental Congress from New York
In office
September 14, 1774 – October 26, 1774
Personal details
New Windsor, Province of New York
DiedNovember 22, 1794
Newtown, Queens County, New York, United States
Resting placeTrinity Church Cemetery, New York City
Mary Frogat
(m. 1766; her death 1772)
ChildrenMary Alsop
ParentsJohn Alsop, Sr.
Abigail Sackett
RelativesRufus King (son-in-law)
John Alsop King (grandson)
Charles King (grandson)
James Gore King (grandson)
Edward King (grandson)
Richard Alsop (nephew)
ProfessionPolitician, Merchant

John Alsop, Jr. (1724 – November 22, 1794) was an American merchant and politician from New York City during the American Revolution. He was a delegate for New York to the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1776.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Lithograph of Alsop by Max Rosenthal, ca. 1885

Alsop was born in 1724 in New Windsor, Orange County in the then British Province of New York. He was the son of John Alsop, Sr. and Abigail Sackett (1695–1752).[3] His father was a lawyer in New Windsor, and later New York City, where he was largely interested in real estate. His parents married in 1718 and were the parents of four children, including his younger brother, Richard Alsop (1726–1776).

His paternal grandparents were Capt. Richard Alsop and Hannah Underhill (1666–1757), who first settled in New York during the 1650s and served as a major in Oliver Cromwell's army, but after a disagreement with the Lord Protector, he fled to the obscurity of colonial life.[4] His great-grandparents were Captain John Underhill (1597–1672) and Elizabeth Feake, who was the daughter of Lt. Robert Feake and Elizabeth Fones (1610–c. 1673), a descendant of Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.[3][4]

His maternal grandparents were Captain Joseph Sackett and Elizabeth Betts.[3][5] His great-grandparents were Capt. Richard Betts and Joanna Chamberlayne.[6]


As a young man he moved to New York City and entered the mercantile world with his brother Richard. The brothers became importers and merchants in cloth and dry goods.[7][8] Their enterprise prospered, and the Alsops, for several generations, became one of the great merchant houses of the city.[9][10]

With the business secure, John became interested in civic and political activities. He was elected by New York County to serve in the Province of New York Assembly.[11] He was one of the civic leaders that incorporated the New York Hospital Association, and served as its first governor from 1770 to 1784. In 1757, his brother Richard retired from business and removed to Middletown, Connecticut[9]

American Revolution[edit]

During the first phases of the American Revolution, the Province of New York Assembly could not reach a conclusion about the Continental Congress. As a result, delegates were selected by the revolutionary committees in each county. In 1774, John Alsop, along with James Duane, John Jay, Philip Livingston, and Isaac Low were named by several counties, extending from Long Island to Albany.[12] When the Congress convened on September 5, John Jay presented their credentials and the Congress accepted. Alsop didn't arrive in Philadelphia until September 14.[13]

As the revolution escalated in 1775, Alsop was one of the leaders of the Committee of Sixty which became the provisional government in New York City. He actively supported the non-importation agreements that he had signed the previous October in the Congress, despite the costs to his business. He was active in recruiting militia and in efforts to equip and arm them. As the Assembly continued to refuse to recognize the national Congress, he was elected to the alternative revolutionary New York Provincial Congress, and they in turn returned him to the second Continental Congress.[14][15] Alsop favoured reconciliation with Great Britain and so resigned as a delegate to the Congress rather than sign the Declaration of Independence.

1776 was a critical year in the struggle for New York. Alsop began the year at Philadelphia, in a session of Congress. He made several trips between there and New York, acting as an agent of congress through his business to acquire supplies, and particularly powder for the Continental Army. After General Washington visited Congress in late May, Alsop returned with him to New York in early June.[16] He added efforts to find housing for 8,000 Continental Army troops to his earlier and continuing work on the supply problems. When his home in Newtown was captured by the British in August, he kept working from Manhattan. By September the British had occupied Manhattan as well, ending his effective contributions to the revolution. He escaped to Middletown, Connecticut and remained until the British occupation ended in 1783.[17]

Later years[edit]

After the war he worked to help rebuild the family business, and again became active as a civic leader. He was president of New York City's Chamber of Commerce in 1784 and 1785.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Alsop's daughter, Mary Alsop who married Rufus King

On June 6, 1766, he married Mary Frogat (1744–1772) in New York City.[19] They were the parents of one daughter who was born in New York on October 17, 1769 and died in Jamaica, New York on June 5, 1819.

Alsop died at his home in Newtown, Queens County, New York on November 22, 1794 and is buried in Trinity Church Cemetery on Manhattan.[22] His considerable fortune was passed to his daughter and son-in-law after his death.[10]


His nephew, Richard Alsop (1761–1815), was an author who wrote the National and Civil History of Chili, in two volumes, and was one of The Hartford Wits, also known as the Connecticut Wits, who were a group of American writers centered around Yale University and flourished in the 1780s and 1790s. In 1800, Alsop wrote a monody, in heroic verse, on the death of Washington.[23][24] His son, also Richard Alsop (1790–1842), a partner of W. S. Wetmore, founded the house of Alsop & Co., in Valparaíso, Chile, and Lima, Peru.[25]

Another nephew, Joseph W. Alsop (1772–1844), had a daughter Lucy Alsop, who married Henry Chauncey, of the firm of Alsop & Chauncey, of New York City, who founded the Pacific Mail Steamship Company in 1848.[26]:13 [27] His son, Joseph Wright Alsop, Jr. (1804–1878), was the father of Joseph Wright Alsop III (1838–1891), who was the father of Joseph Wright Alsop IV (1876–1953) who married Corinne Douglas Robinson (1886–1971), a niece of Theodore Roosevelt, and were the parents of Joseph Wright Alsop V (1910–1989) and Stewart Alsop (1914–1974), both American newspaper journalists and political analysts.[28]

Some of Alsop's notable descendants include:[29][30][3][4][31]


  1. ^ McKenney, Janice E. (2012). Women of the Constitution: Wives of the Signers. Lanham: Rrowman & Littlefield. p. 98.
  2. ^ "John Alsop, 1724-1794, bust portrait, facing left". Library of Congress. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d The Family Record: Devoted for 1897 to the Sackett, the Weygant and the Mapes Families, and to Ancestors of Their Intersecting Lines. C. H. Weygant. 1897.
  4. ^ a b c Wright, C. (1915). Genealogical and biographical notices of descendants of Sir John Wright of Kelvedon Hall, Essex, England: in America, Thomas Wright, of Wethersfield, Conn., Dea. Samuel Wright, of Northampton, Mass., 1610–1670, 1614–1665. Higginson Book Co.
  5. ^ Elizabeth Betts and Joseph Sackett left a large notable progeny. Two children married Alsops and a daughter married a Moore of Newtown. Joseph Sackett, Jr., and Hannah Alsop were great-grandparents of Hamilton Fish, Seward's successor as Secretary of State. Hamilton's son was railroad executive Stuyvesant Fish, whose wife "Mamie" was a leader of Newport society. Hamilton's sister, Susan Elizabeth Fish, married Daniel Le Roy, brother of Mrs. Daniel Webster, and left granddaughters who married George Washington Vanderbilt II of Biltmore and John Nicholas Brown of Providence, head of the family for whom Brown University is named and grandfather of J. Carter Brown, director of the National Gallery of Art. Anne Sackett and Benjamin Moore were the grandparents and great-grandparents of presidents of Columbia and great-grandparents also of Clement Clarke Moore, Hebrew scholar and author of "The Night Before Christmas." Abigail Sackett and John Alsop were ancestors of political columnist Joseph and Stewart Alsop.
  6. ^ John Cameron Swayze and the actor Patrick Swayze were 6th cousins once removed. Both John and Patrick's father are descendants by 7 generations of Judge Samuel Swayze (March 20, 1688/1689 – May 11, 1759) and his wife Penelope Horton (1689/1690–1746). Judge Swayze was the son of Joseph Swasey and his wife Mary Betts. Mary Betts was the daughter of Captain Richard Betts and his wife Joanna Chamberlayne. Other noteworthy relations descending from the Betts lines are actors William Holden and Tom Hulce, and Evgenia Citkowitz, wife of actor Julian Sands.
  7. ^ "The Olde Merchants NYC 1863". Archived from the original on May 16, 2004. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  8. ^ "Alsop & Hicks letters". Georgia Historical Society. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Laurens, Henry (April 1, 1979). The Papers of Henry Laurens: Aug. 1, 1769 - Oct. 9, 1771. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 9780872493728. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c McKenney, Janice E.; The District of Columbia Daughters of the American Revolution (2013). Women of the Constitution: Wives of the Signers. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 97–103. ISBN 9780810884984. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  11. ^ Montgomery, James Mortimer (1910). Year Book of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York. New York: Sons of the Revolution. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  12. ^ Chase, editor, Philander D.; Revolutionary War Series Vol. 3, University Press of Virginia (1988). "To George Washington from John Hancock, 6-21 January 1776". Charlottesville: Founders Online, National Archives, The Papers of George Washington. pp. 42–46. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  13. ^ Bartlett, Josiah; Mevers, Frank C. (1979). The Papers of Josiah Bartlett. N. H. Historical Society. ISBN 9780874511680. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  14. ^ Kestenbaum, Lawrence. "The Political Graveyard: King family of New York City, New York". Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  15. ^ Shaw, Erin (2011). "Guide to the King Family Papers 1754-1908 MS 350". New York, NY: New-York Historical Society. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  16. ^ Bellesiles, Michael (2006). "Alsop, John". Encyclopedia of the American Revolution: Library of Military History. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved February 2, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ Marcus, Maeva (1985). The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789-1800: The justices on circuit, 1795-1800. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231088701. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  19. ^ New York (State); New York (State). Secretary's Office; New York (State) Names of persons for whom marriage licenses were issued by the Secretary of the Province of New York, previous to 1784; New York (State) Supplementary list of marriage licenses; New York (State) New York marriage licenses (1968). New York Marriages Previous to 1784. Genealogical Publishing Company. ISBN 9780806302591.
  20. ^ Adams, John (July 4, 2016). Papers of John Adams, Volume 18: December 1785 - January 1787. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674545076. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  21. ^ York, Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New (1905). The Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York: History, Customs, Record of Events, Constitution, Certain Genealogies, and Other Matters of Interest. V. 1-. The Saint Nicholas Society. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  22. ^ John Alsop at Find a Grave
  23. ^ "Alsop, Richard". American National Biography. Oxford University Press. (subscription required)
  24. ^ Brown Jr., William E. (July 2001). "Guide to the Alsop Family Papers, 1734–1986". New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  25. ^ Barrett, Walter (1863). The Olde Merchants of New York City, Second Series. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  26. ^ Scott, Erving M. and Others, Evolution of Shipping and Ship-Building in California, Part I, Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine, Volume 25, January 1895, pp.5-16; from accessed March 10, 2015
  27. ^ Nancy J. Olmsted, Vanished Waters: A History of San Francisco's Mission Bay", Mission Creek Conservancy, 1986, Chapter 7, Steamboat Point, 1851-1864 from accessed February 19, 2015
  28. ^ Robert W. Merry (1997). Taking on the World: Joseph and Stewart Alsop, Guardians of the American Century. Penguin Group. p. 4. ISBN 9780140149845.
  29. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (April 17, 2000). "John Alsop, 84, G.O.P. Figure In Connecticut". The New York Times. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  30. ^ Dwight, Benjamin Woodbridge (1874). The History of the Descendants of John Dwight of Dedham, Mass. J.F. Trow & Son, printers. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  31. ^ Lamb, Martha Joanna; Harrison, Mrs Burton (November 1, 2005). History of the City of New York: Its Origin, Rise, and Progress. Cosimo, Inc. ISBN 9781596052840. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  32. ^ Halsey Minor Read the Hook November 27, 2008


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