Charles Clinton

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Charles Clinton
Coat of Arms of George Clinton.svg
Coat of Arms of Charles Clinton
Died19 November 1773 (aged 83)
OccupationSoldier and Politician
Elizabeth Denniston
(m. 1720)
Children7 (including James Clinton and George Clinton)
Parent(s)James Clinton
Elizabeth Smith

Col. Charles Clinton (1690 – 19 November 1773) was an Anglo-Irish soldier and politician in colonial America. A colonel of the French and Indian War, he was the father of General James Clinton and George Clinton, and the grandfather of DeWitt Clinton.[1]

Early life[edit]

Charles Clinton was born in Corboy, County Longford, Ireland. He was the son of James Clinton (d. 1718) and Elizabeth (née Smith) Clinton (d. 1728).[2][1]

Life in America[edit]

In May 1729, Charles, his wife Elizabeth, with two daughters and one son, chartered a ship from Dublin called the George and Anne and sailed for Philadelphia with a group of neighbors and friends from County Longford intending to settle in Pennsylvania.[3] According to his papers, he paid for ninety four of the passengers.[4] The captain of the ship intentionally starved the passengers, possibly as a way to steal their belongings. Ninety-six of the passengers died, including Clinton's son and a daughter. In October 1729, they arrived at Cape Cod, and after paying a large ransom for their lives, the survivors were allowed to disembark.

In the spring of 1731, the group moved to Ulster County, New York (now Orange County), where they settled in an area called Little Britain about eight miles from the Hudson River and sixty miles north of New York City. The farm was a little more than 312 acres. Charles Clinton's life there is described in this selection from DeWitt Clinton's memoir:

... these hardy pioneers were at that period so exposed to the incursions of the Indians, then inhabiting the vicinity of their residence, that it was found necessary to erect a palisade work around his house, for the security of himself and his neighbours. In this retreat Mr. Clinton spent his time in the improvement of his farm, in the cultivation of literature, in the enjoyment of his library, the education of his children, and occasionally acting as a surveyor of land, for which he was well qualified by his education, and particularly his mathematical knowledge, in which he eminently excelled. Possessed of a well selected library, and endowed with extraordinary talents, he made continual accessions to his store of useful knowledge.[4]

His first appointment was that of a Justice of the peace; he was afterwards promoted to the station of a Judge of the Common Pleas for the county of Ulster.[5] In 1756 he was appointed by colonial governor Sir Charles Hardy, a Lt. Colonel of the militia of the province,[citation needed] and commanded a regiment at the capture of Fort Frontenac, now Kingston, by Colonel Bradstreet. His sons James and George served with him at Frontenac.

Personal life[edit]

Charles Clinton married Elizabeth Denniston. Together, they had seven children:[5]

  • Catherine Clinton (1723-1762) married Col. James McClaughry
  • James Clinon (1726-1729) died at sea
  • Mary Clinton (1728-1729) died at sea
  • Alexander Clinton (b. 1732) became a physician
  • Charles Clinton (1734-1791) became a surgeon
  • Major-General James Clinton (1736-1812)
  • Governor George Clinton (1739-1812), who served as the 4th Vice President of the United States.[6]

Clinton died on his farm on 19 November 1773 at the age of 83, just before the revolution in which his sons would play a part. His widow, Elizabeth, died at the residence of their son James in 1779.[2]


  1. ^ a b Moore, Charles B., "Introductory Sketch to the History of the Clinton Family", The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, (Richard Henry Greene at al, eds.), New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, 1880
  2. ^ a b Bergen, Tunis Garret (1915). Genealogies of the State of New York: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation. Lewis Historical Publishing Company.
  3. ^ Murphy, Victor (2015). A History of Corboy Presbyterian Church and School. Longford. pp. 13–28.
  4. ^ a b Campbell, William W. (1849), The Life and Writings of De Witt Clinton, Baker and Scribner, pp. x–xiv, retrieved 9 February 2008
  5. ^ a b Gorse, C.A., "Town of New Windsor", The History of Orange County, (Russel Headley, ed.), Van Deusen and Elms, Middletown, New York, 1908
  6. ^ George Clinton: Yeoman Politician of the New Republic by John P. Kaminski, New York State Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, University of Wisconsin--Madison Center for the Study of the American Constitution (Rowman & Littlefield, 1993, ISBN 0-945612-17-6, ISBN 978-0-945612-17-9, page 24)

External links[edit]