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Scarsdale Manor
And Its First Lord,
Colonel Caleb Heathcote

Address Written for the Tenth Annual Meeting of the The New York Branch of
The Order of Colonial Lords of Manors in America
Held in the City of New York, April 27, 1922
by Hon. Charles B. Wheeler of the New York Supreme Court
[Baltimore: Williams & Wilkens Company, 1923]


This page was last updated: Thursday, 05-Apr-2012 09:43:29 MDT

The Manor of Scarsdale is inseparably connected with the life and personality of Colonel Caleb Heathcote, its founder and first Lord of the Manor, for although at his death he left a son to inherit the title, the son was a minor at the time and did not live to reach his majority, and the title became extinct with the son's death for lack of an heir male to succeed.

Gilbert Heathcote (1625-1690)

Colonel Caleb Heathcote was descended from a family well known in England, and still better known by the careers of his brothers and their descendants. Their lineage traces back to the time of Edward the Fourth, but the immediate family from which Colonel Caleb Heathcote came, were residents of Chesterfield in Derbyshire, where his father, Gilbert Heathcote was for three terms the Lord Mayor of that City. Chesterfield is an interesting old place. It was here that George Stevenson, the inventor and builder of the first steam locomotive, lived. In the heart of the city stands the famous old church with its twisted spire, said to have been caused by his Satanic Majesty passing over it shortly after its erection. The ancestors of Caleb Heathcote are said to have been well known bell founders in Chesterfield, and the makers of many church bells hung in church edifices throughout England, bearing the trade mark of these makers. At this business they prospered and acquired substantial fortunes. At any rate, Gilbert Heathcote, the father of Caleb, seems to have been a man of prominence and distinction in his native city, as evidenced by his choice three times as its Mayor. He was the owner of lead mines and of other interests, and took an active part in the affairs of his time.

During the English Revolution under Cromwell he was a Colonel in the army of Parliament, and is said to have borne himself with great bravery in several engagements of the Civil War during the reign of Charles the First. The house in which he lived is still standing facing the old church above referred to, and the writer in company with his wife, a lineal descendant of this Gilbert, visited it on the occasion of a trip to Europe in 1910. It is owned by the Earl of Ancaster, another descendant who traces his descent through Gilbert Heathcote, an older brother of Caleb, who became Lord Mayor of London.

The elder Gilbert was the father of eight sons and one daughter. Seven of these sons, to wit: Gilbert, John, Samuel, Josiah, William, Caleb and George lived to reach maturity, and all became successful merchant adventurers in England or in foreign parts. In this old church of All Saints, in Chesterfield, are buried the remains of the father, and a monument erected to his memory by his sons, bears this inscription:

"At the foot
of this here lieth
in hopes of a blessed resurrection
the body of Gilbert Heathcote
late of this town, gentleman,
who departed this life the 24th April, 1690,
in the 65th year of his age.

By his wife Ann,
daughter of Mr. George Dickons of this town
he bad eight sons and one daughter, viz:
Gilbert, John, Samuel
Elizabeth, Josiah, William,
Caleb, George and Thomas,
of which Elizabeth and
Thomas died in their infancy.
But he had the particular blessing to
see all the rest merchant
adventurers, either in
England or in foreign parts.
This was erected by his sons,
As well to testify their gratitude,
As to perpetuate the memory
of the best of fathers.
Here also lieth interred
the body of Ann, his said wife
who departed this life
tbe 29th day of March, 1705,
in the 76th year of her age."

It is interest to follow the life history of this band of brothers.

Gilbert, the oldest of all settled in London and became a prosperous merchant engaged in trade with Spain and Russia. He was a member of four Parliaments, was made Lord High Sheriff of London and became Lord Mayor of the city in 1711, and was Knighted by Queen Anne. It is interesting to note at the very time Gilbert was serving as Lord Mayor of London, his younger brother Caleb, was Mayor of the city of New York. Gilbert was one of the founders and first Governor of the Bank of England. He amassed a large fortune and being Knighted, his descendant Gilbert Heathcote is the present Earl of Ancaster and Aveland, one of the richest of the nobility of England.

Another brother, Samuel, likewise became a merchant adventurer, was a director of the East India Company and acquired a large estate near Winchester, called Hursley Park, formerly owned by Richard Cromwell, the son of the Lord Protector. His son was Knighted and became the first Baronet of Hursley. His descendant, Sir William Heathcote represented the University of Oxford for many years in Parliament, and was the friend and patron of Keble, the poet, to whom he presented the living of Hursley, and where Keble wrote "The Christian Year."

All the other brothers won wealth and distinction and their children and descendants have been prominent in English Army, Navy, and civil life for many generations

This brings us to the consideration of the career of Colonel Caleb Heathcote, the subject of this sketch, and the founder of the Manor of Scarsdale in Westchester County in this State.

He was born in 1666, and emigrated to America in 1691; then a young man of twenty-five years of age.

In this connection the story goes that Caleb was engaged to a beautiful and charming young lady, and taking his brother Samuel to call on her, the young woman transferred her affections from Caleb to Samuel, whose wife she afterwards became. This so offended Caleb that he left England and established himself in New York. Like his brothers, he became a merchant adventurer, and sent his vessels to trade in various parts of the world and thereby acquired large wealth for himself.

About this time his uncle, George Heathcote (some say his cousin), who had preceded his coming to America died, leaving his fortune to Caleb. The estate left by George Heathcote appears to have been largely invested in shipping engaged in foreign trade, which business Caleb continued. The Colonia1 Governor at that time was Benjamin Fletcher. It was the day of pirates who operated in the Indian Ocean, and off the coast of Madagascar, and who brought or sent their seizures into the port of New York for disposition. It was charged that Governor Fletcher favored these pirates in their operations, and among other things had received from them a vessel which he afterwards sold to Caleb Heathcote for the sum of 8000. These charges Fletcher denied, but they resulted in his recall as Governor of the Province. They, however, are here stated to show the extent of the operations of Caleb Heathcote as a merchant adventurer.

Caleb Heathcote (1666-1721)

Shortly after his arrival in America, young Heathcote became a member of the Governor's Council, a position he held for many years. About this time he became intimate in the family of Chief Justice William C. Smith, commonly known as "Tangier" Smith, from the fact that before coming to America, Smith had been Governor of Tangier in Africa.

Smith was Lord of the Manor of St. George on Long Island. He was born at Weld Hall in England, in 1654. His mother was a maid of honor to the Queen, and Smith a page in the royal service. Standing high in royal favor, Smith had been sent as agent of the British Government, and as Governor of Tangier, opposite Gibraltar, with the design of making Tangier a City of military importance, and thereby commanding the gates to the Mediterranean. The developments of Tangier as a seaport were not realized and the subject was abandoned. Thereupon Smith came to New York, but while living in Tangier a daughter, Martha, was born, and it was this young lady who proved the attraction which drew young Heathcote toward the family of Chief Justice Smith. This lady, Caleb Heathcote subsequently married.

Heathcote possessed a town house where he lived for a time, but the natural longing of an Englishman for country life and to possess an estate asserted itself with Caleb Heathcote. The estates acquired by his brothers in England may have also influenced him. At all events, he began laying the foundation for the manor afterwards known as Scarsdale Manor. He purchased from Anne Richbell a large tract of land left her by her husband, located in Westchester County and fronting on Long Island Sound. To these holdings he added lands acquired by purchase from the native Indian proprietors.

These tracts of land were later erected into a manor upon the petition of Caleb Heathcote under the name of the Manor of Scarsdale. The letters patent establishing the Manor, bear date March 21, 1701.

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