Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CORNBURY, Edward Hyde, Lord, colonial governor of New York, died in London, England, 1 April, 1753. He was the eldest son of the second Earl of Clarendon, and was one of the first officers of the household troops to abandon the cause of his uncle by marriage, James II., in 1688, and join the standard of the Prince of Orange and the Princess Anne, his cousin; in reward for which service he was appointed governor of New York and New Jersey. He arrived in New York City, 3 May, 1702. The assembly, which was largely composed of Orange partisans, the followers of Leisler, welcomed the new governor, voted him £2,000 to pay the expenses of his voyage, and provided a revenue for the public service for seven years in advance. Although Cornbury had been educated at Geneva, he was a foe to Presbyterianism, and the colonists soon found that he was an arrogant and bigoted upholder of despotic power and more dishonest and rapacious than any of the governors that had preceded him. After £1,500, voted in April, 1703, for the specific purpose of fortifying the Narrows, had been misappropriated, the assembly in June petitioned for a treasurer of its own nomination. Lord Cornbury declared that the assembly had no rights but such as her majesty was pleased to allow them, yet the queen in 1703, acknowledged the right to make specific appropriations, and permitted the appointment of a treasurer to take charge of extraordinary grants. The governor denied the right of ministers or school-teachers to practice their professions without a special license from him. He even forged a standing instruction in order to favor the English church. In Jamaica, L. I., he gave to the Episcopalians the church that had been built by the towns-people; but the colonial courts reversed the decree. A Presbyterian clergyman, who was tried for preaching without a license, was acquitted by an Episcopalian jury. In New Jersey the assembly was as firm in resisting the governor's demands for money as the legislature of New York. In 1704 he excluded from the New Jersey assembly representatives that had been duly elected. After two assemblies had been angrily dissolved, the third, in April, 1707, sent Lewis Morris, the speaker, with a remonstrance to the governor. In New York the assembly was likewise twice dissolved. The third, which was convened in August, 1708, asserted with vigor the right of self-government in respect to taxation, the judiciary, and administration. One of his imbecile freaks was to attire himself like a woman, and in that disguise to patrol the fort in which he lived. In compliance with the protests of the colonists, Lord Cornbury was removed in that year. He was immediately arrested by his creditors and thrown into prison; but upon the death .of his father he discharged his debts and returned to England to take his seat in the house of lords as the third Earl Clarendon. He left the reputation of being the worst governor that New York had ever had; but his administration promoted harmony among the colonists of various races and religions, and advanced the principles of liberty.
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