Philipse Manor Hall History

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Philipse Family History

On April 30, 1786, at the age of sixty-five, Frederick Philipse III died in St. Oswald’s Parish, Chester, England. After losing his New York holdings due to his loyalist stance during the American Revolution, Frederick III and his family relocated to the area, where he spent the remainder of his life. On May 2, 1786, he was buried in Chester Cathedral (most likely in the South transept, which was the parish church during that period). To see an image of his memorial plaque in Chester Cathedral, click here.

Philip Philipse, oldest son of Frederick Philipse I, and his wife, Mary, both passed away in Barbados in 1689 (on September 14 and October 18, respectively). Their death notices, signed by the rector of nearby St. James Church, list cause of death as "belly ake", aka dysentery, a frequent cause of death during that time period on the island.

Philipse Manor Hall Architecture:

The oldest part of Philipse Manor Hall is believed to date to the 1680s, making it the oldest building in Westchester.

In the late 17th century, the Philipse family owned a plantation called Spring Head in Barbados. Portions of the original building still stand. Click here for photos and more information.

Local Ties to Slave History:

Frederick Philipse I was a known trading partner of Madagascar pirate-merchant Adam Baldridge. In the 1690s, Baldridge supplied many of the slaves traded and owned by the Philipse family.

On March 1, 1741, Caesar became the first slave arrested in what became known as the “1741 New York Slave Conspiracy.” Eventually, 154 black conspirators and 20 white collaborators were arrested for suspected involvement. The justices overseeing the trials, including Frederick Philipse II, were responsible for sentencing 34 “plotters” to death and 91 others to transportation from the colony of New York. For more information, click here.

Local Ties to American History:

On March 14, 1757, Joseph Chew began writing a series of letters to George Washington, starting the legend of a Washington/Mary Philipse doomed love. The Washington half of the correspondence has not been found, so it is difficult to know how serious things may have been between Mary and George. What do you think based on the following quotes from Chew’s letters?

March 14, 1757:
“I am now at Mr. Robinson’s, he, Mrs. Robinson and his Dear Little Family are all well and they desire their Compliments to you. Pretty Miss Polly is in the same Condition & situation* as you saw her.”

* “Condition & situation” refer to Mary’s affections for Washington.

July 13, 1757:
“As to the Latter part of your Letter what shall I say? I often had the Pleasure of Breakfasting with the Charming Polly. Roger Morris* was there (don’t be startled) but not always; you know he is a Lady’s man…”

*Roger Morris ultimately marries Mary Philipse in January 1758.

July 13, 1757:
“I intend to set out to-morrow for New York where I will not be wanting to let Miss Polly know the sincere Regard a Friend* of mine has for her and I am sure if she had my Eyes to see thro she would Prefer him to all others”

* The “Friend” being George Washington.

Local Ties to New York History:

On April 6, 1733, Frederick Philipse II, as a committee member, helps to lay out the original Bowling Green in NYC. Later that year, he became one of the lessee's in charge of Bowling Green at the cost of 1 pepper corn/year.

On April 28, 1774, John Jay (founding father, coauthor of the Treaty of Paris, co-author of the Federalist Papers, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, & second American Governor of New York) married Sarah Van Brugh Livingston (daughter of first Governor of New Jersey.) John Jay was also Frederick Philipse III’s cousin: John Jay’s great-grandparents on his mother’s side were Frederick Philipse I and Margaret Hardenbroek (Frederick III’s great-grandparents on his father’s side)! You can tour the home where John Jay retired with his family: John Jay Homestead SHS in Bedford, NY.

On April 13, 1908, the Yonkers Common Council accepted a legislative bill to save Philipse Manor Hall from destruction, addition, or alteration. Later that month, NY Governor Hughes signed that bill into law, making Philipse Manor Hall a state historic site and museum. To see the text of the act which allowed the state to acquire the Manor Hall, click here and then go to page 199.

Local Ties to World History:

On April 15, 1912, the Titanic sank, taking many lives, including that of John Jacob Astor IV, whose great-grandfather, John Jacob Astor I, once owned rights to ex-Philipse lands.

In 1787, a British court decided that the inheritance rights of heirs to property that was confiscated by the Americans during the American Revolution was recoverable. Under this decision, John Jacob Astor I purchased the reversionary rights to the Philipse lands in 1809 from the heirs of Roger Morris (husband of Mary Philipse) for £20,000.

After Mary Philipse Morris passed away in 1825, Astor attempted to collect rents on the lands, but the new “owners,” who had purchased from the lands from the NY Commission of Forfeiture, refused to pay, and Astor tried to evict them. A compromise was reached in 1828 when NY State compensated Astor for the reversionary rights in the amount of $500,000.
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