A Blupete Biography Page

James DeLancey

DeLancey's grandfather was Stephen (Etienne) DeLancey (1663-1741) who is well known to the early history of New York. Stephen DeLancey was a Huguenot, who after having fled France to Holland was to eventually settle down at New York in 1686. He was to become a successful merchant, and was, at his death, one of the wealthiest men in America. He sat in the New York Assembly for 27 years. James, the grandson was born in 1747 at New York (Westchester County); his father was Peter, one of the sons of the patriarch, and who was to turn out to be a successful member of the DeLancey family; Peter operated a flower mill and was also a member of the assembly for many years.1 When the American Revolution came along, James determined to stay neutral; but the story is, that in 1776 while at home one day a group of patriots paid him a visit and one of the officers set about stealing one of James' best horses and two sets of harness; well, that apparently swung James DeLancey over to the British side. James joined up with his uncle, Oliver DeLancey who held a high rank in a colonial regiment that was raised to fight for the British against the rebels; it was to become known as the "DeLancey's Brigade." The brigade was to have a "Troop of Light Horse," called the Westchester Chasseurs, the members of which came from Westchester County and was headed up by James DeLancey. Governor Tryon of New York was to write, "This troop is truely Elite of the Militia of Westchester County, and their Capt'n Mr. James DeLancey, who is also Colonel of the Militia of Westchester County; I have much confidence in them for their spirited behavior."2

The Westchester Chasseurs became quite active in the business of trying to put down the revolution; they became hated by the patriots and referred to as "DeLancey's Cowboys," who, apparently had no problem of riding into a small village and cry havoc. A typical raid was reported in the New York Gazette on the 16th of October, 1777, I dare say at that point a Tory paper supporting the British cause: "Last Sunday Colonel James DeLancey, with sixty of his Westchester Light Horse went from Kingsbridge to the White Plains, where they took from the rebels, 44 barrels of flour, and two ox teams, near 100 head of black cattle, and 300 fat sheep and hogs." Even General George Washington knew of James DeLancey and his mounted troop. He was to report to Congress on May 17th, 1781: "Surprise near Croton River by 60 Horse and 200 Foot under Colonel James DeLancey ... 44 killed, wounded and missing ... attempted to cut him off but he got away."3

With the hostilities coming to an end, James DeLancey knew that he had to leave New York, the place of his birth. He sailed for England on June the 8th, 1783, and there he remained for a year while pressing his claims against the British government for compensation. In the fall of 1784, he sailed for Halifax and from there proceeded to Annapolis Royal.

"James DeLancey was accompanied to Annapolis Royal by his wife and baby; his brother Stephen with his wife and three children; and his sister Susan, with her husband, Thomas Barclay, and their three children. These with a number of servants made a company of twenty. Many of those who came with them had lost everything and were completely destitute. The DeLanceys however, were by no means indigent. They had lost their lands, but they had considerable personal property."4
DeLancey determined to settle along the Annapolis River where he found land much to his liking "in the bend just opposite the Belleisle marsh." Owned by David Bent, DeLancey bought it for 850£. It contained 650 acres and stretched four and a quarter miles along the river and a mile inland from the river. It was here that James DeLancey built his house "with a wide verandah" known as Round Hill. He lived out the balance of his life at Round Hill. There too, nine of his ten children were born, the youngest of which, Ann, was born in 1804, a month after James DeLancey's death.5

His older brother, the eldest of the numerous children that Peter DeLancey was to have, Stephen (1738-1809), was to also make his way to Nova Scotia and to settle at Annapolis.

In addition to being a successful farmer6 at Round Hill, James DeLancey was also a leading citizen of the area. In 1790, he took a seat in the provincial legislature, and, in 1793, was appointed by Wentworth to the governing Council.

James DeLancey died on the 2nd of May, 1804 at Round Hill. He was to be buried there in the family plot which today bears a historical marker in honour of James DeLancey, near Tupperville, in Annapolis County.


[1] Admiral Peter Warren (1703-1752) married, in 1731, Susannah (1707-71), eldest daughter of Stephen DeLancey (1663-1741), a Huguenot, and sister of James (1703-60), Chief Justice and Lieutenant Governor of New York.

[2] As quoted in "The Life of Loyalist Colonel James DeLancey" by George DeLancey Hanger, NSHR#3:2(1983), p.40; also see "The DeLancey Brothers, Loyalists of Annapolis County"; by Dr. R. S. Longley; NSHS, Vol #32 (1959) pp. 55-77.

[3] As quoted in "The Life of Loyalist Colonel James DeLancey" by George DeLancey Hanger, NSHR#3:2(1983), p.42.

[4] "The DeLancey Brothers, Loyalists of Annapolis County"; by Dr. R. S. Longley; NSHS, Vol #32 (1959) p. 68.

[5] James DeLancey married Martha Tippett who was considerably younger than James. The couple lived a long; productive; and, by all appearances, happy lives with ten children to their credit.

[6] The older brother, Stephen DeLancey was not to be a farmer but preferred to live in the town at Annapolis Royal and was to become, having first started in his uncle's office back in New York, one of Annapolis' first practising lawyers. "As early as 1784 he was appointed to the Quarter Sessions, and became a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas." He was also to become an elected member of the assembly and held his seat until 1789, then, in the election of 1790, to be succeeded by James DeLancey, who, in turn held it to 1794 at which time Governor Wentworth appointed James to the governing Council. (Longley, "The DeLancey Brothers, Loyalists of Annapolis County," NSHS, Vol #32 (1959) pp. 71-6.)


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Peter Landry
2012 (2020)