Clinton, Charles (1690-1773) (DNB00)

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CLINTON, CHARLES (1690–1773), colonel, American colonist, was born in co. Longford, Ireland, in 1690, his grandfather, on officer of Charles I's army, having settled in Ireland. In May 1729, Charles Clinton, who was an elder and influential member of a presbyterian congregation, chartered a ship to convey a party of relatives and friends to Philadelphia, but, according to American biographers, the captain, either with a view of acquiring their belongings or to deter further emigration, conceived a plan of starving his passengers to death, and only landed them at Cape Cod after accepting a heavy ransom. Clinton's journal, as printed in 'Magazine of American History,' i. (ii.) 620-2, makes no mention of this, but shows that although the ship sailed in May, the American continent was not sighted until 9 Oct. 1729, and that a terrible mortality occurred on board, the deaths including a son and daughter of Clinton. In the spring of 1731 Clinton removed to Ulster county, New York, where he purchased a tract of land about eight miles from the Hudson, amidst the rich pasture lands of what is now Orange County, N.Y. There he followed the occupation of a farmer and land-surveyor, and became a justice of the peace, county judge, and colonel of militia. On 24 March 1758 he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of De Lancy's Provincials and served in the expedition to Fort Frontenac under Bradstreet. He died in 1773, on the eve of the rupture with the mother-country, charging his sons with his latest breath 'to stand by the liberties of their country' (Bancroft, iv. 272). Of his four surviving sons, Alexander was a physician; Charles, a surgeon of the provincial troops which took part in the conquest of the Havannah in 1762; James, afterwards a major-general in the United States army, was father of De Witt Clinton, the originator of the Erie Canal; and the youngest, George, born in 1739, became a well-known soldier and statesman, and was vice-president of the United States from 1804 to his death in 1813.

[Drake's American Biography; Enc. Americana, 11; American Mag. of History, i. (ii.) 620-2; Bancroft's Hist. of America, vol. iv. Details of Fort Frontenac, on Lake Ontario, and of its capture by Bradstreet, will be found in F. Parkman's Wolfe and Montcalm (London, 1884).]

H. M. C.