James and Mary Jauncey and the Sons of Liberty

James Jauncey, warden of the Port of New York, merchant ship owner, and founder of the New York Chamber of Commerce, married Mary Smith in 1773. They had four children William, James Jr, John (Jane Mary’s father), and Mary. Being Royalists during the revolution, their life was plagued with fear and politics.

In 1776, the entire family was targeted by the Liberty Boys aka Sons of Liberty, an extreme wing within the Revolutionary War ranks. They spent six months imprisoned in Connecticut and James Jr and Eleanor had their property seized.

James Jr had married Eleanor Elliot, and it appears that Eleanor’s father, Andrew Elliot, pleaded with George Washington to watch out for his daughter, as the Loyalists were being shipped back to England. George Washington actually called on Eleanor to reassure her that all would be well.

Here is a second account of it:

In New York City, as the British prepared to evacuate the city, George Washington received a request from Andrew Elliot, a wellknown Loyalist. Elliot asked the American General if he would call upon his daughter, Eleanor Jauncey. Washington granted the request and after reporting on the well-being of Elliot’s daughter, Washington assured the former New York judge that he “shall be happy in occasions of rendering her any service which may be in my power.”

The Jauncey’s story was not to end happily, with James Jauncey senior dying in England in exile, unable to return to New York and see his family.

In 1779, George Washington expelled James Jauncey from New York because of his continued support for British Sovereignty. James’ sons William and John wrote petitioned in 1790, to allow James Jauncey to return to New York. Sadly, James Jauncey died on February 6th 1790, before he could return to join his family.

A report on forfeited estate in New York City which were then sold between 1784-1789 includes 29 June 1784 property in Montgomery Ward of James Jauncey Esq. to William Malcom; a house and lot in North Ward sold to John Carrow and numerous other properties to other named persons.

Interestingly Eleanor, the wife of James Jr, later married Admiral Robert Digby.

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