Transcribed by Gary Carroll, firstname.lastname@example.org and Edward Sissons
Verbatim transcript of letter authored 26 April 1770 by Philip Livingston (1740-1810) from London to his father Peter Van Brugh Livingston (1710-1792):
Peter V.B. Livingston, Esq., at New York London April 26, 1770
My Dear Sir:
Give me leave to introduce to your acquaintance the bearer hereof, John Patterson Esq. a friend for whom I have the highest value & esteem from a knowledge of his virtues and principles. He is the Son of a Country Gentleman in Ireland, his eldest brother Governor of St. John’s [Island, later renamed Prince Edward Island, Canada] & his younger brother lately gone out a [?Writer?] in the East India Company’s service. This gentleman has served in North America all the late war & is now appointed Surveyor of the Woods for the district of New York having quitted the Army. His interest & connections in this Country are powerful – his private Character amiable, & from my personal acquaintance with him during my stay here, having been much together, can assure you that he is an exceeding good & honest man. I should not have been so minute in these particulars but when I tell you that he is my Relation & married to Cousin Kitty of the Manor, I think it my duty in justice to him, & to stop the mouth of Slander or any Calumny, to be this explicit – you will doubtless as a Father condemn them both for this measure without having obtained a previous consent which I wish had been the case, however you must consider it the effect of passions common to all young Folks & as he is now our relation, & a worthy one, let me beg that if any storm should arise, & Uncle Robert be irreconcilable (which I hope will not be the case) that you will represent him in that point of light which he deserves. It is due to my Uncle, to Kitty, to the Gentleman himself & to the whole family. Every act of friendship that you will be pleased to shew him & the young married Lady upon the occasion, shall be considered always adding to the many obligations that you have conferred on your ever affectionate Son
Ph. Livingston, Jun
Notes on attribution: this letter is held in the New York Public Library, Thomas Addis Emmet Collection, as part of a collection of documents authored by signers of the Declaration of Independence – specifically, signer Philip Livingston (1716 – 1778) (Emmet document #EM 2637). However, the collector of the letter was in error – the author is not the signer. The author here calls himself the son of Peter Van Brugh Livingston, and one of Peter Van Brugh Livingston’s children was named Philip, born in 1740. Moreover, the letter speaks of John Patterson as a friend, which is natural of a man born in 1740 (John Patterson, born in 1742, was a contemporary) but would be odd for a man born in 1716. Philip Peter Livingston, author of this letter, married Cornelia Van Horne (b. 1759). A Tory who spent the Revolution in London, he returned, settled in Dobbs Ferry on a farm called Livingston House, and served in the New York State Senate, Southern District, 1789-93, 1795-98. "Cousin Kitty" can only be Catherine Livingston, daughter of Robert Livingston 3rd Lord of the Manor of Livingston (who is the "Uncle Robert" mentioned). Peter V.B. Livingston was a brother of this Robert, meaning that Robert really was the Uncle of Philip the author of the letter, and also meaning that "Kitty of the Manor" (Catherine) really was Philip's first cousin.