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John Randolph Grymes
Portrait of Grymes by Theodore Sidney Moise, c. 1842
U.S. Attorney for Western District of Louisiana

In office
Appointed by James Madison
Preceded by Tully Robinson
Succeeded by Tully Robinson
Personal details
Born December 14, 1786
Orange County, Virginia, US
Died December 3, 1854(1854-12-03) (aged 67)
New Orleans, Louisiana, US
Spouse(s) Cayetana Susana Bosque y Fangui
(m. 1822)
Relations Christopher Robinson (uncle)
Sir John Robinson, Bt (cousin)
Medora de Vallombrosa, Marquise de Morès (granddaughter)
Children 4
Occupation Attorney, businessman, legislator

John Randolph Grymes (December 14, 1786 – December 3, 1854) was a New Orleans attorney, member of the Louisiana state legislature, U.S. attorney for Louisiana district, and aide-de-camp to General Andrew Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans.[1][2]

Early life

Grymes was born on December 14, 1786, in Orange County, Virginia into several of the First Families of Virginia.[3] He was a son of Benjamin Grymes (c. 1750–1805) and Sarah Robinson (1755–1831).[lower-alpha 1] Among his siblings were Philip Grymes, Thomas Grymes, Elizabeth Pope (née Grymes) Braxton and Peyton Grymes.[1][2]

His paternal grandparents were Mary (née Randolph) Grymes and Col. Philip Ludwell Grymes, a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses.[5] Like Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee, Grymes was a descendant of William Randolph and Mary Isham, through his maternal grandmother's father, Sir John Randolph, the youngest son of William and Mary. His uncle and namesake, John Randolph Grymes, was a loyalist during the American Revolution who joined the British Army under the former Royal Governor of Virginia Lord Dunmore.[6] His maternal grandparents were Sarah (née Lister) Robinson and Peter Robinson, who was educated at Oriel College, Oxford and was a member of the Virginia House Burgesses between 1758 and 1761. His uncle, Christopher Robinson, was a United Empire Loyalist and the father of Sir John Robinson, 1st Baronet, the Chief Justice of Upper Canada.[7] Their ancestor, also named Christopher Robinson, came to Virginia about 1666 as secretary to Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia. His grandfather was a brother of John Robinson, Speaker of the House of Burgesses, and Beverley Robinson, also a loyalist leader.[8]


In 1808, Grymes arrived in New Orleans.[1] On May 4, 1811, Grymes was appointed to replace his deceased brother Philip as the U.S. attorney for Louisiana district,[9] serving until December 1814, when he resigned his post to represent the pirate Jean Lafitte.[10] During the War of 1812, Grymes served as aide-de-camp to General Andrew Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans.[11]

As an attorney, he was law partners with Edward Livingston and was one of Jackson's lawyers in the case over the Second Bank of the United States,[6] he opposed Daniel Webster in court against Myra Clark Gaines,[6] and, reportedly, he earned $100,000 in the batture (or alluvial) land case against Edward Livingston.[12]

Grymes was a member of the "New Orleans Association" which included attorneys Edward Livingston and Abner L. Duncan, merchant John K. West, smuggler Pierre Laffite, and pirate Jean Laffite.[13][14] Grymes was also a founding member of The Boston Club, a private gentlemen's club in New Orleans.[15]

Personal life

Grymes' granddaughter Medora de Vallombrosa, Marquise de Morès.

On December 1, 1822, Grymes married Cayetana Susana "Suzette" (née Bosque) Claiborne, widow of the first Louisiana Governor William C. C. Claiborne, and daughter of Felicidad Fangui and Bartolomé Bosque, a wealthy Spanish merchant and ship owner.[1][2] From her first marriage, she was the mother of two: Sophronia Louise Claiborne (the wife of Antoine James de Marigny, the son of Bernard de Marigny) and Charles W. W. Claiborne, the Clerk of the U.S. Court in New Orleans.[6] Together, they lived at 612 Royal Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans,[lower-alpha 2][16] and were the parents of four children, including:[6]

  • Marie Angeline "Medora" Grymes (1824–1867),[17] who married Samuel Ward in 1843.[18][19] He was widowed from Emily Astor, eldest daughter of William Backhouse Astor Sr.[20][21] Both of their sons died in the 1860s.[22]
  • John Randolph Grymes III (b. 1826)[6]
  • Charles Alfred Grymes (1829–1905),[23] a physician who married Emma Stebbins (1837–1865), a daughter of U.S. Representative Henry George Stebbins, in 1858.[24] After her death, he married Mary Helen James (1840–1881), a daughter of John Barber James and Mary Helen (née Vanderburgh) James (a daughter of Federal Vanderburgh), in 1868.[25] Mary, a niece of Henry James Sr., was a cousin of psychologist William James, author Henry James, and diarist Alice James.[26]
  • Athenais Grymes (1832–1897),[27] who married New York banker, Louis A. von Hoffman, one of the founders of the Knickerbocker Club.[6][28]

Grymes died in New Orleans on December 3, 1854.[6] His widow survived him by over a quarter century before her death in Paris August 6, 1881.[29]


Through his son Alfred, he was a grandfather of John Randolph Grymes (1859–1929), who married his half first cousin once removed, Sophronie Coale Thomas,[lower-alpha 3] and Mabel Grymes Heneberger (1861–1883), who married Lucien Guy Heneberger, a U.S. Naval Surgeon who served as head of the Naval Hospital at Annapolis. Mabel died after giving birth to their first child, and Heneberger built the Mabel Memorial Chapel and Mabel Memorial Schoolhouse in Harrisonburg, Virginia in her honor.[32]

Through his daughter Athenais, he was a grandfather of Medora von Hoffmann (1856–1921), who married Marquis de Mores, a French-born nobleman who was a frontier ranchman in the Badlands of Dakota Territory; he was assassinated in Algeria in 1896.[33] He was also the grandfather of Pauline Grymes (1858–1950), who married the wealthy German industrialist Baron Ferdinand von Stumm whose family owned the Neunkirchen Iron and Steelworks[6] in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1878.[34]


Grymes Hill, Staten Island, is named after Suzette Grymes, who settled there in 1836 with her children. She built a mansion on the hill there known as "Capo di Monte" ("Top of the Mountain").[35][36]




  1. Several sources claim he was not a son of Benjamin Grymes but a son of Benjamin's brother, John Randolph Grymes (1747–1820) and, his wife (and cousin), Susannah Beverley (née Randolph) Grymes (1755–1791), sister of U.S. Secretary of State Edmund Randolph (both children of John Randolph).[1][4]
  2. The Grymes family home in New Orleans, located at 612 Royal Street, was built by Dr. Raymond Devèze around 1811. After Dr. Devèze died in Bordeaux in 1826, the Grymes acquired the residence, which they later sold to Judge Adolphe Pichot.[16]
  3. Sophronie Coale Thomas (1861–1957) was the great-granddaughter of Suzette Grymes (from her first marriage to Gov. Claiborne) through her granddaughter Marie Suzette de Marigny de Mandeville (1837–1924), who married Philip Evan Thomas, himself a son of Philip E. Thomas, President of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, in 1859.[30][31]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Dictionary of Louisiana Biography". 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Hemard
  3. Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John (1898) (in en). Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. D. Appleton & Company. p. 8. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  4. Rightor, Henry (1900) (in en). Standard History of New Orleans, Louisiana: Giving a Description of the Natural Advantages, Natural History, Settlement, Indians, Creoles, Municipal and Military History, Mercantile and Commercial Interests, Banking, Transportation, Struggles Against High Water, the Press, Educational .... Lewis Publishing Company. pp. 397–399. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  5. Wheeler, William Archie (1965) (in en). Alden-Shedd Families: Elwell, Grimes, Morse; a Contribution to a Knowledge of the Genealogy and Family History of the Families of Albert Martin Alden and His Wife, Maria Elizabeth Shedd, and the Families of Their Descendants. W.A. Wheeler. p. 157. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Hémard, Ned (2013). "A New York Hill with a New Orleans Pedigree". New Orleans Bar Association. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  7. "Biography – ROBINSON, CHRISTOPHER (1763-98) – Volume IV (1771-1800)". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  8. (in en) William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine. College of William and Mary. 1910. p. 186. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  9. "John Randolph Grymes (1786-1854)" (in en). Louisiana Digital Library. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  10. Davis, p. 85: "Philip Grymes died suddenly the previous year, leaving the office of district attorney to be filled on May 4, 1811, by his brother John R. Grymes."
  11. Davis, p. 225: "Grymes's term as district attorney had expired when the court adjourned in December..."
  12. Chisholm 1911, p. 812.
  13. Davis, pp. 261-64, 276-78, 303, 310-15, 232: "They found ardent support in what Morphy and others referred to as an "association" of men in New Orleans bent on gaining personal profit through encouraging assaults on Spanish property. Never a formal organization, the "association" had a fluid membership in which the constants were Livingston, Davezac, Grymes, Abner Duncan, Nolte, Lafon, merchant John K. West, and of course the Laffite brothers."
  14. Head, p. 135, The author identifies Abner L. Duncan, John R. Grymes and Edward Livingston as members of the New Orleans Association.
  15. "Boston Club - Old New Orleans". The Boston Club. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Arthur, Stanley (2007) (in en). Old New Orleans: A History of the Vieux Carré, Its Ancient and Historical Buildings. Heritage Books. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-7884-2722-0. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  17. "Medora Grymes Ward Death Notice". Memphis Daily Appeal. 25 June 1867. pp. 1. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  19. "Sam Ward's Bride | The Daughter of a Famous New Orleans Lawyer and of the Widow of Louisiana's First Governor--Lovely Medora Grymes". The Abingdon Virginian. 30 April 1875. pp. 1. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  21. "MEDORA GRYMES The Rare Beauty Who Broke Her Betrothals To Marry Sam Ward". The Morning Journal-Courier. 14 October 1885. pp. 1. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  22. "Samuel Ward papers 1647-1912". New York Public Library. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  23. "DIED". The New York Times. 24 September 1905. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  24. "DIED.". The New York Times. 17 November 1865. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  25. James, William; James, Henry; Skrupskelis, Ignas (1997) (in en). William and Henry James: Selected Letters. University of Virginia Press. p. 531. ISBN 978-0-8139-1694-1. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  26. James, Henry (2014) (in en). The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1878–1880: Volume 2. University of Nebraska Press. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-8032-6985-9. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  27. "MRS. L.A. VON HOFFMANN DEAD.; Was in Delicate Health and Lived Abroad for Years In the Hopes of Regaining It. (Published 1897)". The New York Times. 3 June 1897. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  28. "Louis A. Von Hoffmann, Athenais Von Hoffmann, Medora, Marquise de Mores and her children Louis and Athenais group portrait" (in en). State Historical Society of North Dakota. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  29. "A BEAUTY OF FORMER DAYS.". The New York Times. 11 August 1881. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  30. Thomas, Lawrence Buckley (1896) (in en). The Thomas Book: Giving the Genealogies of Sir Rhys Ap Thomas, K. G., the Thomas Family Descended from Him, and of Some Allied Families. H. T. Thomas Company. p. 68. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  31. Thomas, Lawrence Buckley (1888) (in en). Pedigrees of Thomas, Chew, and Lawrance, a West River Regester [!: And Genealogical Notes]. T. Whittaker. p. 99. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  32. Wayland, John Walter (1912) (in en). A History of Rockingham County, Virginia. Ruebush-Elkins Company. p. 268. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  33. Dawn Maddox (May 3, 1977). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Von Hoffman House". National Park Service.  and accompanying two photos from 1948 and 1977
  34. "MARRIAGE IN HIGH LIFE". The Baltimore Sun. 18 July 1879. pp. 3. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
  35. Wilson, Claire (July 9, 2006). "Developed Enough as It Is, Thanks". Retrieved August 22, 2009. 
  36. Fioravante, Janice (18 December 1994). "If You're Thinking of Living In/Grymes Hill; Respect for History And Great Views (Published 1994)". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 

Further reading

  • Dictionary of Louisiana Biography Courtesy of the Louisiana Historical Association.
  • Davis, William C. (2006). The pirates Laffite: the treacherous world of the corsairs of the Gulf. New York: Harcourt Publishing Co., First Harvest edition, 706 pages.
  • Head, David (2015). Privateers of the Americas: Spanish American privateering from the United States in the early republic. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 224 pages.
  • Hemard, Ned (2013). "A New York Hill with a New Orleans Pedigree". New Orleans Bar Association.
  • Rightor, Henry (1900). Standard history of New Orleans, Louisiana. New Orleans: Lewis Publishing Co., 743 pages. pp. 397–399.

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