Henry Brockholst Livingston

Henry Brockholst Livingston (November 25, 1757 – March 18, 1823) was an American Revolutionary War officer, a justice of the New York Court of Appeals and eventually an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.[1]

H. Brockholst Livingston
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
In office
November 10, 1806  March 18, 1823
Nominated byThomas Jefferson
Preceded byWilliam Paterson
Succeeded bySmith Thompson
Personal details
Henry Brockholst Livingston

(1757-11-25)November 25, 1757
New York City, New York, British America
DiedMarch 18, 1823(1823-03-18) (aged 65)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
Catherine Keteltas
(m. 1784; her death 1804)

Ann Ludlow
Catherine Seaman
RelativesWilliam Livingston (Father)
John Jay (brother-in-law)
John Symmes (brother-in-law)
Maurice Power (son-in-law)
Robert Livingston (uncle)
Peter Van Brugh Livingston (uncle)
Philip Livingston (uncle)
Henry Ledyard (grandson)
EducationPrinceton University (BA)

Early life

Livingston was born in New York City in 1757 to Susanna French (d. 1789) and William Livingston (1723–1790).[2]

He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1774.


Livingston inherited the family estate in New Jersey, Liberty Hall (the modern-day site of Kean University), and retained it until 1798. During the American Revolutionary War, he was a lieutenant colonel of the New York Line, serving on the staff of General Philip Schuyler from 1775 to 1777 and as an aide-de-camp to then-Major General Benedict Arnold at the Battle of Saratoga. He was a private secretary to John Jay, then the U.S. Minister to Spain from 1779 to 1782. Livingston was briefly imprisoned by the British in New York in 1782.

After the war, Livingston read law and was admitted to the bar in 1783. He was in private practice in New York City from 1783 to 1802.

Livingston served as one of three defense attorneys, alongside Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, in the trial of Levi Weeks for the murder of Elma Sands.[3]

Judicial career

From 1802 to 1807, Livingston served as a justice of the Supreme Court of New York, where he authored a famous dissent in the 1805 case of Pierson v. Post.

Two years later, on November 10, 1806, Livingston received a recess appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States from Thomas Jefferson, to a seat vacated by William Paterson. Formally nominated on December 15, 1806 as Jefferson's second nominee, Livingston was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 17, 1806, and received his commission on January 16, 1807. He served on the Supreme Court from then until his death in 1823. During his Supreme Court tenure, Livingston's votes and opinions often followed the lead of Chief Justice John Marshall. In that era, Supreme Court Justices were required to ride a circuit; in Justice Livingston's case, he presided over cases in New York State.[4]

Virginia-New York Alliance

Prior to his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, Livingston served as a judge for the State Supreme Court of New York, a member of the New York State Assembly, and an immensely prominent political activist. Due to family ties, Livingston's allegiance to the Democratic-Republican party soon faded. Essentially, Livingston rebelled and goaded the Federalists to an enormous extent. With members consisting of Aaron Burr, Robert R. Livingston, and Edward Livingston (both cousins of Brockholst), Livingston became one of the few emerging from a compact political faction in New York to form an alliance with Jefferson's supporters in Virginia. This became known as the Virginia-New York alliance, which proved to be vital in Jefferson's 1800–1801 election.[5]

Later years and death

Livingston was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1814.[6]

Livingston died in Washington, D.C. His remains are interred at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.[7]


Livingston's paternal uncles were Robert Livingston (1708–1790), Peter Van Brugh Livingston (1710–1792), Philip Livingston (1716–1778), and his paternal grandparents were Philip Livingston (1686–1749), the 2nd Lord of Livingston Manor, and Catherine Van Brugh, the only child of Albany mayor Pieter Van Brugh (1666–1740).[1]

His sister, Sarah Van Brugh Livingston (1756–1802), married John Jay (1745–1829) who was a diplomat, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, signatory of the Treaty of Paris, the second Governor of New York, and the first Chief Justice of the United States, in 1774.

Another sister, Susannah Livingston (1748–1840), married John Cleves Symmes (1742–1814), who was a delegate to the Continental Congress from New Jersey, and later a pioneer in the Northwest Territory. Her stepdaughter Anna Symmes, Symmes' daughter from a previous marriage, married eventual President William Henry Harrison, and was the grandmother of President Benjamin Harrison.[8]

Marriages and children

Livingston married three times. He first married Catherine Keteltas (1761–1804), the daughter of Peter Keteltas and Elizabeth Van Zandt, on December 2, 1784.[1] He and Catherine were the parents of:

  • Eliza Livingston (1786–1860), who married Jasper Hall Livingston (1780–1835), the son of Philip Philip Livingston (1741–1787)[9]
  • Susan French Livingston (1789–1864), who married Benjamin Ledyard (1779–1812).[10]
  • Catherine Augusta Livingston (b. c. 1790), who married Archibald McVicker (1785–1849)[11]
  • Robert C. Livingston (b. c. 1793)

After his first wife's death in 1804, he married Ann N. Ludlow (1775–1815), the daughter of Gabriel Henry Ludlow and Ann Williams.[12] Together, they were the parents of:

After his second wife's death in 1815, he married Catherine Seaman (1775–1859), the daughter of Edward Seaman and the widow of Capt. John Kortright.[16] Together, Henry and Catherine were the parents of:[1]


Through his daughter Eliza, he was the great-grandfather of Edwin Brockholst Livingston (1852–1929), a historian.

Through his daughter, Susan, he was the grandfather of Henry Brockholst Ledyard (1812–1880) and great-grandfather of Lewis Cass Ledyard (1851–1932).[10]

Through his daughter, Catherine McVicker, he was the grandfather of Brockholst McVicker (1810–1883)[23] and Archibald McVicker (1816–1904).[11]

Through his daughter, Catherine Power, he was the grandfather of: Brockholst Livingston Power, John Livingston Power, and Alice Livingston Power (who married her cousin, Edwin).

Through his son, Henry, he was the grandfather of Oscar Enrico Federico Livingston (1875–1945).[22]

Through his son Anson, he was the grandfather of Ludlow Livingston (1838–1873), Mary Allen Livingston Harrison (1830–1921) and Ann Ludlow Livingston (1832–1913).[15]

See also


  1. Livingston, Edwin Brockholst (1910). The Livingstons of Livingston Manor: Being the History of that Branch of the Scottish House of Callendar which Settled in the English Province of New York During the Reign of Charles the Second; and Also Including an Account of Robert Livingston of Albany, "The Nephew," a Settler in the Same Province and His Principal Descendants. New York: The Knickerbocker Press. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  2. Nelson, William (1876). Biographical Sketch of William Colfax, Captain of Washington's Body Guard.
  3. James, Bill (2012). Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence. Simon and Schuster. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-4165-5274-1.
  4. "Livingston, Henry Brockholst". www.fjc.gov. Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  5. Abraham, Henry J. (2006). "President Jefferson's Three Appointments to the Supreme Court of the United States: 1804, 1807, and 1807". Journal of Supreme Court History. 31 (2): 141–154.
  6. American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  7. Green-Wood Cemetery
  8. Kamuf, Betty (July 20, 2016). "The Life of John Cleves Symmes". Cincinnati.com. USA Today. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  9. "The Livingstons of Livingston Manor". HathiTrust digital library. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  10. Farmer, Silas (1889), The History of Detroit and Michigan, pp. 1041–1043
  11. Andreas, Alfred Theodore (1885). History of Chicago | From the Earliest Period to the Present Time | Vol. II – From 1857 until the Fire of 1871. Chicago: The A. T. Andreas Company. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  12. Gordon, William Seton (1919). Gabriel Ludlow and His Descendants. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  13. Ferreri, James G. (April 26, 2013). "The Underground Railroad wound through Staten Island's Livingston". SILive.com. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  14. Fioravante, Janice (November 24, 2002). "If You're Thinking of Living In/Livingston, Staten Island; Filmgoers May Find the Streets Familiar". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  15. Hall, Henry (1895). America's Successful Men of Affairs: The City of New York | Vol. I. New York: New York Tribune. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  16. The Letters of Moore Furman, Deputy Quarter-Master General of New Jersey in the Revolution. New York: F.H. Hitchcock. 1912. p. 9. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  17. Lodge, Edmund (1890). The Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage & Companionage of the British Empire. London: Hurst and Blackett, Limited. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  18. Urban, Sylvanus (1855). The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Review, Vol. XLIII. London: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  19. "Legal Notices". New York Daily Tribune. January 20, 1860. p. 2.
  20. De Burgh, Hussey (1878). The Landowners of Ireland. Hodges, Foster, and Figgis.
  21. "Death of Henry Livingston". The New York Times. July 21, 1892. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  22. di Magistrati (1877). Annali della giurisprudenza italiana: raccolta generale di decisioni in materia civile e commerciale, di diritto pubblico e amministrativo e di procedura civile (in Italian). Firenze. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  23. Society, Chicago Medical (1922). History of medicine and surgery and physicians and surgeons of Chicago, endorsed by and published under the supervision of the council of the Chicago Medical Society. The Biographical Publishing Corporation. Retrieved April 26, 2017.


Further reading

Legal offices
Preceded by
William Paterson
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Succeeded by
Smith Thompson

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