Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Brevoort, Henry

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

BREVOORT, Henry, b. in 1791; d. in Rye, N. Y., 11 April, 1874. He was descended from the old Holland Dutch stock, and inherited a large landed estate on Manhattan island, which became extremely valuable as the city increased in population. He was a gentleman of literary taste and the life-long friend of Washington Irving, with whom he travelled in Europe and corresponded for half a century. He removed, in early life, to Yonkers, but returned to New York and was a member of the common council for many years. In 1852 he removed to Rye, where he resided until his death. One of his daughters married Charles Astor Bristed. — His son, James Carson, b. in New York city, 10 July, 1818; d. in Brooklyn, N. Y., 7 Dec., 1887, received his early education at home, in France, and at Hofwyl, near Berne, Switzerland. He then studied at the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in Paris, and was graduated with the diploma of a civil engineer. On returning to the United States, he accompanied his uncle, James Renwick, one of the commissioners on the northeastern boundary survey. In 1838 he went abroad as private secretary to Washington Irving, U. S. minister to Spain. After serving a year in this capacity, he spent several years in European travel, and returned home in 1843. Two years later he married the daughter of Judge Leffert Lefferts, of Brooklyn, where he has since resided, serving on the board of education, and as one of the constructing board of water commissioners. For ten years, beginning in 1863, he was president of the Long Island historical society, and for two years superintendent of the Astor library in New York city, of which he had been a trustee since 1852. He became a regent of the university of New York in 1861, and the same year received the degree of LL. D. from Williams. He is a member of the New York historical society, the academy of natural sciences, the American geographical society, the Massachusetts and Pennsylvania historical societies, and numerous other scientific, literary, and artistic associations, in which he has always taken active interest. As a collector of rare books and coins he has been very successful. From his father he inherited about 6,000 volumes, mostly Americana, which were collected in Europe during the turbulent years from 1810 till 1832. To this library Mr. Brevoort made large and valuable additions, until in 1875 it comprised about 10,000 volumes, many of them very rare and costly. He has also made valuable collections of medals and manuscripts. About 1875 he began wisely to anticipate the usual fate of such collections, and has bestowed many of his treasures upon institutions where they will be carefully preserved for the benefit of students and connoisseurs. His collections also embrace entomology and ichthyology (books and specimens), and for the preservation of these also he has judiciously provided. He contributed to the “American Journal of Numismatics” a series of illustrated papers on “Early Spanish and Portuguese Coinage in America.” In the “Historical Magazine” he published a paper on the discovery of the remains of Columbus, and in 1874 prepared a volume, printed privately, entitled “Verrazano the Navigator, or Notes on Giovanni de Verrazano, and on a Planisphere of 1529, illustrating his American Voyage in 1524,” this being a revision and expansion of a paper read before the American geographical society, 28 Nov., 1871.