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daughter Mary Grymes Sayre shall receive an equal portion or part of the principal money placed in the stock as the children then living of my son Samuel Wm. by his present wife Virginia.
(Signed) ELIZABETH SAYRE. March 5th, 1818.
Stephen Sayre was educated at Princeton College, and was graduated therefrom in 1757, receiving the degree of A. M. in 1760, and a like honor from Harvard in the same year.
He was commissioned as Captain of the Suffolk County Company in the French war in 1759. He removed to London, where he became a banker. He was conspicuous for personal elegance and accomplishments, and was said to be the handsomest man in England. He moved in the best society of the kingdom, and was in the confidence of Chatham and other Liberal statesmen of England. He was chosen High Sheriff of London in 1773, and delivered an able speech before the Livery of London on the occasion, from which we quote (Thompson's “ History of Long Island,” I, 360):
Gentlemen of the Livery: It is impossible for me to express the feelings of gratitude which predominate in my breast upon the present occasion. The honor you have done me calls for a return which a life entirely devoted to your services only can make. I deem myself more highly favored because I am well convinced that nothing under heaven could have induced you to elect me into the office of Sheriff but an opinion of my independence and sincere attachment to the public cause.
I am independent: I will continue so. Upon public grounds only I presumed to solicit your favor: upon public grounds only I will study to deserve it.
It shall be the labor of my life to convince you that in vesting me with your gracious choice I will strain every nerve in combating our common foe; I will labor assiduously to stop the progress of despotism; at least I will, by a vigorous exertion of those powers with which you have entrusted me, prevent its making any inroads into this great, this opulent, this free and independent city.
But his advocacy of the American cause and consequent opposition to the arbitrary measures of the Administration drew upon him the displeasure of the Government. In 1774 a petition of native Americans residing in London was presented to George II. There were thirty signers in all, and the first name on the list was Stephen Sayre. (“N. E. General Register,” XXX, 134.)
In 1775, in a gay and unguarded moment, he let fall some expressions which were seized upon by an officer of the Guards, a native American also, Richardson by name, who charged him with having asserted that he and others intended to seize the King on his way to Parliament, take possession of the city, and overthrow the Government.
He was thereupon arrested and committed to the Tower upon a charge of high treason. He remained a prisoner five days, but being brought before Lord Mansfield, the Chief Justice saw the inconsistency of the charge, and admitted him to bail in £ 500, with two sureties of £250 each. No prosecution was attempted, and the bail was thereupon discharged.
Mr. Sayre then sued Lord Rochford (who had committed him), the Under Secretaries of State, and the King's Messengers for illegal imprisonment, and recovered £1000 damages, subject to decision of the Court on certain points of law relative to the evidence. This decision was handed down on November 25, 1776, adversely to Sayre, and Sayre suffered heavily in costs. His bankinghouse, Stephen Sayre and Barth-Coote-Purdon, Oxford Street, failed, and he lost everything.
The following is from the London “ Public Ledger” of October 25, 1775:
Between the hours of nine and ten on Monday morning Mr. Slavely, of Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, and Mr. Mann, of Queen Anne Street, Westminster, (King's Messengers), attended by a constable, repaired to the house of Stephen Sayre, Esquire, in Oxford Street.
As an excuse to obtain an erview with him they pretended a forged draft for £200 had been issued by the bank of which Mr. Sayre is a proprietor. He no sooner appeared than they acquainted him that they had an order, signed by Lord Rochford, one of the Secretaries of State, to take him into custody on a charge of high treason, and to search for, take, and carry with them such of his papers as they might deem effectual for their purposes.
Mr. Sayre heard the summons with composure, and obeyed its dictates with manly dignity; conscious of his innocence, he smiled at the malignity of the charge, and in perfect reliance upon his own integrity permitted the officers to search his tables and rifle his bureau.
They conducted him to Lord Rochford, where they also found Sir John Fielding
The charge in the information was that Mr. Sayre had expressed an intention of seizing the King's person as he went to the Parliament house, and of taking possession of the Tower, etc.
The advice of Mr. Sayre's counsel was that he should not answet any interrogations which Lord Rochford or Sir John Fielding might put, nor sign any paper whatever.
Mr. Sayre was then ordered into an adjoining apartment, and afterwards committed a close prisoner to the Tower.
He was released October 28th on bail.
On the 13th of December, 1775, he appeared at the Old Bailey, and his counsel, Mr. Arthur Lee, moved to discharge the recognizance entered into on the 28th of October last, on Mr. Sayre's being brought before Lord Mansfield upon a writ of habeas corpus.
Mr. Baron Burland, who, with the Lord Mayor, presided at the court, accordingly discharged the recognizance, and Mr. Sayre immediately gave orders to commence actions against Lord Rochford, the Under Secretaries of State, and the King's Messengers.
In Gorden's “ History" it is also stated that “in 1775 many suspicions were entertained of combinations in favor of America, and upon certain hints thrown out, Mr. Sayre, an American and a banker in London, was secured; and being examined before the Secretary of State, Lord Rochford, and confronted by his accuser, was committed to the Tower for high treason, on the ridiculous charge of designing to seize His Majesty at noonday in his passage to the House of Peers, of conveying him a prisoner to the Tower, and afterwards out of the kingdom, and of overturning the whole form of government by bribing a few sergeants of the Guards."
Mr. Sayre, it is said, subsequently served as private secretary to Franklin, though no proof can be found, and was employed in various matters by Arthur Lee, and went in his suite to Berlin at the time of the first suggestion of the project of armed neutrality.
He owned property in New York City, and lived there in 1784; for in the New York register's office, Liber III of mortgages, folio 383, we find the following:
Stephen Sayre, Esq., of N. Y. Mortgages for £1000 to Peter Stuyvesant, May 27, 1784, land bounded South-west by Wall St., South-east by Lot 6, formerly occupied by Lewis Pentard, North-east by James Nevens, and Northwest by Lot 8, formerly owned by Nicholas Bayard, being 25 X 122, being land granted to Nicholas W. Stuyvesant by John Cruger et al. in 1762 and 1773.
Subsequently he preferred claims for his services in Europe during the war, and for his expenses incurred; but though these claims were investigated by committees of several successive Congresses and were approved by officers of the Government, no appropriation was ever made to reimburse him.
In the possession of one of his descendants is an invitation addressed to him at Alexandria, Va., requesting him to dine with General Washington.
From the “ Richmond Enquirer," dated February 25, 1806, we quote the following:
We are informed that Stephen Sayre, Esq., is now in our city and lodges at the Bell (tavern); he has been on a visit to his son Capt. Sayre.
We hope he may be induced to reside here, as his only son has now a considerable property in the State.
It is well known that Mr. Sayre was Sheriff of London at the commencement of our Revolutionary War; and being too zealous in our cause, he was committed to the Tower, under a pretence of treason against the Government; that he quitted England, was employed by our Commissioners in Paris in 1777 to go to Berlin, that he first prevailed on the King of Prussia to enter into the Armed Neutrality; he then proceeded to Denmark and Sweden, united those two powers in the object, which was finally carried into effect in 1780 by the Empress of Russia, who fitted out 20 ships of the line to support it.
We have made the above remarks because, since his arrival, Mr. Sayre has made some communications to a friend here that must, when publicly known, not merely excite curiosity, but the wonder of every Citizen of America,
We are informed of a project by the Northern papers to be conducted by General but we had no idea before that his plan was the most extensive, and, above all things, most likely to change the state of affairs through the universe.
He bought an estate upon the Delaware River, near Bordentown, N. J., which he called Point Breeze. This beautiful estate, some years later, was sold to Joseph Bonaparte, ex-king of Spain, who expended large sums in its further embellishment.
The Massachusetts “Spy,” or Worcester“ Gazette,” of September 25, 1816, contains this paragraph relative to Joseph Bonaparte, which it had copied from “ The Baltimore American":
This man, it is known, has fixed his residence on a moderate property at Bor. dentown, N. J., worth sixteen or eighteen thousand dollars. He seems determined to conform to the manners and customs of our country. I saw old Mr. Sayre, of whom he purchased the farm. He said when Mr. Buonaparte came to take possession of that place he was called out from dinner, and found him busily engaged, with his own hands, unloading the furniture he had brought. Something was said about sending for other hands, but he said no-everybody worked in this country.
The city of Bordentown afterwards bought the estate for a public park, known now as the Bonaparte Park.
From the “ Richmond Enquirer of December 10, 1818, we quote:
Died. At the residence of his son in Brandon, Virginia, on the 27th of September last, Stephen Sayre, Esq., a native of Long Island, in the 85th year of his age; and on the next day his wife also died.
362* SAMUEL WILSON,6 m. Ist, Sept., 1804, Jane Grymes; 2d, Virginia Bassett.
LINE OF THOMAS, John, FRANCIS. 2 118 THOMAS 5 SAYRE. The account given below is based upon Shourd's “ History of Fenwick Colony." There is some reason for believing that this pedigree is erroneous, and that Thomas, the father of the children whose names follow, was Thomas 5 (207) of the line of David, 4 David,3 Daniel. But as this cannot be demonstrated, we have followed Shourd. Thomas Sayre married Rachel Dennis. He resided in Lower Alloway Creek, Salem County, N. J. He was a farmer and Justice of the Peace for many years.
His will is recorded in Trenton in Liber XXXV, folio 97. It is dated August 25, 1791, and probated January 8, 1794. His son Dennis was made executor. Abbott Sayre was a witness.
363 ABBOTT,6 b. 1743; m. Elizabeth Bacon (License) Oct. 16, 1780. During the
Revolution he was in Capt. Sheppard's company and was wounded at Hancock's Bridge, March 21, 1778. As he is not mentioned in his father's will he and his daughter are supposed to have died prior to August, 1791.
HANNAH,? probably died in childhood. 364 REUBEN,6 b. Nov. 5, 1746; m. Hannah Stretch, daughter of Bradway Stretch.
He was killed at Hancock's Bridge, N. J., March 17, 1778. His widow subsequently married James 6 Sayre (374). It is said that the British searched