Description

    Gilbert Tippett (Tory) Archive, consisting of five documents and two letters dating between 1759 and 1779, many concerning Tippett's loss of property incurred and abuses received as a loyalist to the British Crown during the Revolutionary War. Gilbert Tippett (ca. 1739-1828) lived at "Spiken Devil Creek" (modern Spuyten Duyvil, north of Manhattan) with his wife and four young sons. As General Washington's American forces fled New York in the wake of the British invasion, Tippett was arrested by the Americans for sedition and imprisoned in the main guardhouse at Kingsbridge in early September 1776. After Kingsbridge had changed into British hands, he, in one of the five documents dated April 27, 1777, brought his grievances against "the Rebels" to the British "Commander in Chief", likely British Governor William Tryon. In part: "Gilbert Tippet . . . begs leave to represent that he suffered great Persecution from the Rebels for his Loyalty & attachment to his Majesty & his government: That after the Kings Troops came to Westchester County, he had the misfortune of being robed & despoiled by them of every thing he had except a few Clothes belonging to himself, his wife, & children. That not a four footed animal of any kind had been left him, not a panel of fence, not a strip of wood to make any." Tippett then asks for remuneration: "he humbly hopes a Day may come, and that it may not be far distant when his great suffering may be considered, and that some adequate compensation may be made for him." Next, he requests permission from the commander in chief to "occupy the Farm adjoining to his own belonging to one Bennian [?] who deserted it on the approach of the Kings Troops." Below Tippett's request, British "Aid DeCamp C. Cuylor" has responded from "Head Quarters N. York" (dated April 27, 1777), "The Commander in Chief has given permission to Gilbert Tippet to cultivate the Lands belonging to Bennian[?] who is at present in Rebellion." (This letter bears some stains.)

    In another document dated later that year, Tippett, now directly serving the British cause against the rebel Americans, is directed "by Major General Tryon to take charge of the Scow that communicates with Spiken Devil, and to ferry over the Troops when wanted, but you are not to pass over any person that does not belong to the Army upon any consideration whatsoever [one page, "Kings Bridge, 23d November 1777"]." (Minor soiling exists on this letter with some fold separations.) Two months later, Tippett, referred to as "Ferryman/ at Spiken Devil", received very specific orders from "Andrew Durnford/ A:D. L: M. Gen." about precisely who to ferry across the river: "I have directions from Major General Jones to acquaint you, that no Person either Officer or Soldier is to be passed over by you to Spiken Devil in the night, between the Evening and Morning gun, except Detachments. You are strictly to observe these Orders and if any person whether Officer or Soldier treats you ill upon this account, you are to make your complaint to me ["Red house 20th January 1778"]." This letter bears minor stains.

    The next year, Tippett petitioned the British governor of New York, "His Excellency Major General [William] Tryon," for remuneration for supplying the British military with his horse: "That your Petitioner lately accommodated Mr. Bustard the Master of His Majesty's Crane Galley under the Command of Capt. Pars[?] with a Horse, which Mr. Bustard has left at the Bull's Head in the Bowry Lane since Tuesday Last. Your Petitioner looks upon this Treatment to be a great Grievance, not only as being deprived of his Service at this Season when so essentially necessary. But the heavy Expenses hereby incurred. Your petition [asks for] . . . such relief in the premisises [sic] as to Your Excellency may seem meet." Dated May 16, 1779, the document is headed with "The Petition of Gilbert Tippets on Spiting [sic] Devil" and has some dampstaining with some separation at folds to this document; taped at two corners.

    In addition to documents concerning Tippett's Royalist activities are three other documents, including two slave documents for Gilbert Tippett, both one page and dated January 11, 1764, and concerning "a certain Negroe Wench called Violet." One is bill of sale for "the sum of Fifty Pounds New York Currency . . . [for] one certain Negroe Wench about fourteen years of age called and named Violet." Also included is the will of Elizabeth Sands of Westchester County, New York (two and one-half pages, June 4, 1759). These documents contain some dampstaining and some fold separations.

    Tippett and his family were among a large group of loyalists who sailed from New York to Nova Scotia in 1783. (To add to his troubles, most of his furniture was thrown overboard to lighten the ship during a storm.) Unhappy in Canada, the hapless Tippett returned to New York by 1790, settling in Saratoga County for the remainder of his life, eventually overcoming the financial setbacks of the war.


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