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Major-General Oliver De Lancey (1718–1785), also known as Oliver Delancey and Oliver de Lancey, was a merchant, a Loyalist politician and soldier during the American War of Independence.


De Lancey was the son of Etienne Delancey and Anne Van Cortland, born on September 17, 1718 in New York City. From 1754 to 1757 he served as a New York alderman for the Out Ward and was a member of the New York assembly from New York County from 1756 to 1761.[1] During the French and Indian War, he was selected by the New York Assembly, with the support from his brother James De Lancey, the acting Governor, to provide provisions for New York provincial units.[2] He commanded a provincial detachment in the Ticonderoga campaign of 1758. In 1766, he was one of the judges in the Pendergast case, where the alleged leader of the Dutchess County land rebels was convicted and sentenced to death.[3] In 1768, he allied himself with Isaac Sears and the Sons of Liberty. He spoke out against the Boston Port Bill, but did not support non-importation. He was one of the persons responsible for the creation of the Committee of Fifty. He was a member of Governor William Tryon's executive council from 1760 until the American War of Independence.

In 1773 he was appointed colonel in chief of the Southern Military District. De Lancey was a senior Loyalist officer in the American War of Independence. He joined General Howe on Staten Island in 1776, and raised and equipped the DeLancey's Brigade of three battalions consisting of 1,500 loyalist volunteers from the state of New York, and served as commanding officer on Long Island. His house was plundered in November 1777 and confiscated in October 1779. He left New York for England in 1783, and died on October 27, 1785, in Beverley, Yorkshire. He was buried in Beverley Minster, where his grave and memorial can be visited.


In the fall of 1742, Oliver De Lancey secretly married Phila Franks, daughter of a prominent and successful New York Jewish family. For six months they kept the match secret, but in the spring of 1743, Phila announced the union and went to live with her husband. The letters of Abigail Franks, Phila's mother, to her son Naphtali speak of her sense of betrayal and her pain, and she never spoke to Phila again.

Phila and Oliver de Lancey had at least two sons:

  • Stephen (1748–1798) who became clerk of the city and county of Albany in 1785, Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st New Jersey Loyal Volunteers in 1782, afterwards Chief Justice of the Bahamas, and in 1796 Governor of Tobago. He married Cornelia, daughter of the Rev. H. Barclay of Trinity Church, New York. They had several children, including William Howe De Lancey, a British staff officer mortally wounded at the Battle of Waterloo.[4]
  • Oliver (c. 1749–1822), who became a general in the British Army, [5] and who also had a son called Oliver (1803–1837) who served as a British Army officer and was killed in action while fighting for the British Legion during the First Carlist War.


  1. Bonomi 1971, p. 145.
  2. Bonomi 1971, p. 176.
  3. Bonomi 1971, p. 224.
  4. Chichester 1888, p. 304.
  5. Stephens 1888, p. 303.


Further reading

  • Ketchum, Richard, Divided Loyalties, How the American Revolution Came to New York, 2002, ISBN 0-8050-6120-7

External links

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