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Richard Coote Bellomont, Or Bellamont

BELLOMONT, or BELLAMONT, Richard Coote, earl of, colonial governor of New York and Massachusetts, born in 1636; died in New York, 5 March 1701. His father was raised to the Irish peerage, as Baron Coote, for services at the restoration of Charles II. Richard, the eldest son, was a member of parliament in 1688, and one of the first adherents of the prince of Orange. In 1689 he was attainted by the parliament held by James II. in Dublin, but in the same year made earl of Bellomont by William III., and appointed treasurer and receiver-general to Queen Mary. He was appointed governor of New York in May 1695, and, shortly afterward, of Massachusetts. Piracy and unlawful trade had been on the increase, and New York was "remarkably infected with those two dangerous diseases," so that a man of strong will and great honesty was required for the place. In notifying Bellomont of his appointment, the king said that "he thought him a man of resolution and integrity, and with those qualifications more likely than any other he could think of to put a stop to that illegal trade and to the growth of piracy; for which reason he made choice of him for that government, and for the same reason intended to put the government of New England into his hands." The new governor did not reach this country until May 1698. Party disputes detained him for a year in the province of New York, after which he went to Boston, where he arrived on 26 May 1699, and was received with great enthusiasm. As Bellomont had been specially appointed to suppress piracy, and as none of the king's ships could then be placed at his disposal, the governor, before leaving England, had determined to accomplish the matter by private enterprise, and, with the king's sanction, formed a company and sent out a sloop under the command of William Kidd, an adventurer. Bellomont had not been long in this country when the news came that Kidd had himself turned pirate, and the governor was even accused of complicity with him. Kidd was finally captured, sent to England for trial, and executed there in 1701. Soon after the May session of the general court in 1700, Bellomont returned to New York, where he attacked the illegal traders with such vigor that a petition against him was sent to England. The annoyance thus caused hastened his death. He was buried at the Battery, and now lies in St. Paul's Church-yard, New York. Macaulay says he was a man " of eminently fair character, upright, courageous, and independent." Though his fearless course in New York made him enemies there, in Massachusetts he was very popular, His stay there lasted but fourteen months, yet he was granted a larger sum than had been given to any previous governor, receiving altogether £1,875. He seems to have done all in his power to ingratiate himself with the people of Boston. Though a Churchman, he attended the weekly lecture regularly with the general court, and professed great regard for the preachers, and, on this account, he has been charged by Hutchinson with hypocrisy. See "The Life and Administration of Richard, Earl of Bellomont," by Frederic De Peyster (New York, 1879).

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