Hugh J. Grant

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Hugh J. Grant
Hugh J. Grant.jpg
Born(1858-09-10)September 10, 1858
DiedNovember 4, 1910(1910-11-04) (aged 52)
Resting placeCalvary Cemetery
TitleMayor of New York (1889–1891)
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Julia M. Murphy

Hugh John Grant (September 10, 1858 – November 3, 1910) served as the 88th mayor of New York City for two terms from 1889 to 1892. He remains the youngest mayor in the city's history. He is also one of the youngest mayors of a major United States city and one of the earliest Roman Catholic mayors of New York City.


Hugh Grant, whose father John Grant had grown rich in politics and real estate, was born on West 27th Street in New York City,[1] on September 10, 1858.[2] He was orphaned young and raised by his guardian, a man named McAleer.[3] He attended both public and private schools, spent two years at Manhattan College, another year studying in Germany, and two more at Columbia Law School.[4] Though the earliest data, including the United States census of 1860 and 1870 and Grant's 1878 passport application, establish his birth year as 1858, early in his political career he began to present himself as born several years earlier in 1852 or 1853, perhaps to avoid calling attention to his youth.[2] A Tammany Hall Democrat, he began his political career as a city alderman from 1883–1884, where he was one of only two aldermen not caught up in a financial scandal related to the Broadway Surface Railroad. For the remainder of his public career, however, he was a compliant member of Tammany under the patronage and control of its leader Richard Croker.[1][5]

Grant lost the race for mayor as Tammany's candidate in 1885, but won the office of sheriff in 1886. He was Sheriff of New York County from 1887 to 1888. He was Mayor of New York City from 1889 to 1892, appointing Croker as New York City Chamberlain in 1889. His administrative accomplishments included the reorganization of city administration and the initial stages of placing the city's electrical system underground. He declined to run again at the end of his second term, but ran once more in 1894 and lost.[6]

The details of Croker's and Tammany's bribes and involvement in criminal activity came to light through the work of the Fassett Investigation of 1890. Grant's role included $25,000 in cash given to Croker's daughter Flossie—supposedly gifts he made as god-father to the little girl.[7][8] A grand jury described Grant's tenure as Sheriff as "tainted and corrupt".[9] In February 1892, crusading reformist Rev. Charles Parkhurst of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church denounced his administration: "every step that we take looking to the moral betterment of this city has to be taken directly into the teeth of the damnable pack of administrative blood-hounds that are fattening themselves on the ethical flesh and blood of our citizenship." He called Grant and his political colleagues "a lying, perjured, rum-soaked, and libidinous lot" of "polluted harpies."[10]

Grant's business interests ranged from serving as receiver of the St. Nicholas Bank to promoting the development of the Harlem River Speedway, later to become the Harlem River Drive, a track for horse racing, in association with Nathan Straus.[11] Straus named one of his sons Hugh Grant Straus.[12]

A resident of Oradell, New Jersey who spent most of his time at his home there, Grant died of a sudden heart attack or stroke at his home on East 72nd Street on November 3, 1910.[3] After a funeral at the church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue and 84th Street, he was buried in Calvary Cemetery.[13]


On April 30, 1895, Grant wed Julia M. Murphy, the daughter of U.S. Senator Edward Murphy. She had been born on March 11, 1873, the oldest of the Senator's eleven children. When her father went to Washington, D.C., to serve in the U.S. Senate, she accompanied him and acted as his hostess.[14]

Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore granted special dispensation for the wedding celebration to be held at the Murphy home at the corner of K and 17th Streets in Washington, D.C., rather than in a church. Archbishop Michael Corrigan of New York officiated, assisted by several priests.[15] Senator Murphy was a political ally of and financial adviser to Richard Croker.[16] After traveling for several months in Europe, the Grants lived and raised three children in their 20-room townhouse at 20 East 72nd Street in New York City.[17][6]

In 1914, Julia Grant provided a financial bequest, originally anonymous, that provided the funds for establishing Regis High School, a Jesuit high school in New York City that, following her instructions, provides a free education for Catholic boys with special consideration given to those who cannot afford a Catholic education.[18] She did not remarry after her husband's death in 1910 and died at home in May 1944.[19][20] She was buried alongside her husband in the family mausoleum. Her estate, based entirely on a trust established by her husband, was valued in 1944 at more than $13 million.[21] In 1948, Auxiliary Bishop Stephen J. Donahue dedicated the chapel of Archbishop Stepinac High School as a memorial to her.[22]

Her heirs donated the Grants' home in New York City, a five-story, 11,000-square-foot (1,000 m2) townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side in which the family had its own chapel, to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. It then became the residence of the Vatican's Permanent Observer to the United Nations and the temporary residence of popes who have visited the city.[23][24][25]


The Grants had three children, Julia M. Grant (1896–1962), Edna M. Grant (1898–1968),[26] and Major Hugh John Grant, Jr., (1904–1981).[23]

Hugh Grant is memorialized in the 1.11-acre (0.45 ha) Hugh J. Grant Circle park in the Bronx, on Westchester Avenue between Virginia Avenue and Metropolitan Avenue. A sign in the park reads:[27]

This park was named after former New York City Mayor Hugh J. Grant (1857-1910) on December 5, 1911 by the Board of Aldermen. A native New Yorker, Grant was educated in Catholic schools in the United States and Berlin before attending Columbia University Law School. His father, the owner of several west side taverns, helped Grant make connections with many local Irish-American organizations that aided his political career. Backed by Tammany Hall, Grant became a New York Alderman in 1882, sheriff of New York in 1885, and finally mayor in 1889. Inaugurated at only 31 years of age, Grant is remembered as New York City's youngest mayor.


  1. ^ a b Hamersly, p. 165.
  2. ^ a b Pollak, Michael (April 15, 2011). "Answers to Questions About New York". New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Ex-Mayor Grant Dies Suddenly - Falls on the Stairs of His Home on Returning from an Outing and Expires - Twice Mayor of the City - Formerly High in the Councils of Tammany Hall, He Lost His Prestige with Croker's Retirement" (PDF). New York Times. November 4, 1910. p. 1. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  4. ^ Who Was Who in America, IV, 1968.
  5. ^ Connable and Silberfard, p. 204ff.
  6. ^ a b Doyle News: "The Collection of Hugh J. Grant and Lucie Mackey Grant"
  7. ^ "Senator Fassett Smiles" (PDF). New York Times. April 27, 1890. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  8. ^ Allen, pp. 179-180; Werner, p. 320-323; Connable and Silberfarb, p. 209.
  9. ^ Werner, p. 323.
  10. ^ Peter Hartshorn, I Have Seen the Future: A Life of Lincoln Steffens (Counterpoint, 2011), p. 42.
  11. ^ Hamersly, p. 166.
  12. ^ Straus Historical Society: Strauss Family Newsletter, "Nathan Straus, 1848-1931," v. 6 no. 2 (August, 1998), 5, accessed April 6, 2010.
  13. ^ "Crowd at Grant Funeral" (PDF). New York Times. November 8, 1910. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  14. ^ Andreassi, Anthony D. (2014). Teach Me to Be Generous: The First Century of Regis High School in New York City. The Bronx, N.Y.: Fordham University Press. p. 23.
  15. ^ "Ex-Mayor Grant Married - Miss Julia M. Murphy, Daughter of Senator Murphy, the Bride - Archbishop Corrigan Officiates - The Ceremony Takes Place in Senator Murphy's Washington House - Elaborate Floral Decorations" (PDF). New York Times. May 1, 1895. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  16. ^ Stoddard, pp. 72, 127, 149, and 201-202.
  17. ^ Andreassi, pp. 25-26.
  18. ^ Andreassi, 26ff.
  19. ^ Andreassi, pp. 94-96.
  20. ^ "Mrs. Hugh J. Grant - Widow of Former Mayor of New York Dies in Home" (PDF). New York Times. May 8, 1944. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
  21. ^ "Grant Estate $13,110,296" (PDF). New York Times. February 9, 1945. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
  22. ^ "Dedicates School Sunday - Spellman to Name Institution for Stepinac of Yugoslavia" (PDF). New York Times. September 10, 1948. p. 25. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
  23. ^ a b "Hugh J. Grant, Lawyer And Philanthropist, 76". New York Times. March 25, 1981. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  24. ^ Andreassi, pp. 124-125.
  25. ^ Yee, Vivian (September 22, 2015). "Pope Francis, in New York, Will Live Like a Diplomat". New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  26. ^ "Deaths". New York Times. October 28, 1968. p. 47. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  27. ^ "Hugh Grant Circle". City of New York Parks and Recreation.


  • Oliver E. Allen, The Tiger: The Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall (Addison-Wesley, 1993)
  • Alfred Connable and Edward Silberfard, Tigers of Tammany: Nine Men who Ran New York (NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967)
  • Lewis Randolph Hamersly, First Citizens of the Republic: An Historical Work Giving Portraits and Sketches of the Most Eminent Citizens of the United States (NY: L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1906)
  • Lothrop Stoddard, Master of Manhattan: The Life of Richard Croker (NY: Longmans, Green and Co., 1931)
  • M.R. Werner, Tammany Hall (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1928)

External links[edit]

Hugh J. Grant at Find a Grave

Political offices
Preceded by
Abram Hewitt
Mayor of New York City
Succeeded by
Thomas Francis Gilroy