Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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KELLY, William, philanthropist, born in New York city, 4 February, 1807; died in Torquay, England, 14 January, 1872. His father, a political exile from Ireland, who had become a successful merchant, died in 1825, leaving three sons, John, William, and Robert, all of whom were under age. The business was continued by the two first mentioned, and after 1826 by the three together, who were known as the "boy merchants." After the death of John in 1836, the remaining brothers retired and devoted themselves to charitable and educational work. William bought the estate of Ellerslie, near Rhine-beck, New York (now the property of Levi P. Morton), and engaged in farming. He was president of the State agricultural society in 1854, one of the founders of the State agricultural college at Ovid, New York, and president of its board of trustees, he was also president of the board of trustees of Vassar college from its foundation till his death, and of that of Rochester university for many years, and was active in charitable enterprises, to all of which he contributed liberally. He was a state senator in 1855-'6, and the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor of New York in 1860.--His brother, Robert, philanthropist, born in New York city, 10 December, 1808; died 27 April, 1856, was graduated first in his class at Columbia in 1826, and in the same year became a member of the firm of J. and W. Kelly and Co. He was the founder of the Free academy (now College of the city of New York), president of the board of education, a regent of the State university, and a founder and president of the board of trustees of Rochester university. He was also president of the board of managers of the House of refuge, and was identified with numerous other benevolent associations. At the time of his death he held the office of city chamberlain.
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