Thursday, October 2, 2008

Certificate of Appointment for Collector of the Port of New York, 1718

A new addition to our manuscript collection and one of our earliest pieces is a certificate issued to Thomas Byerly as Collector of the Port of New York. It is signed by four of the royal customs commissioners at the Customs House in London: John Stanley, Thomas Walker, John Pulteney, and Charles Peers. There are three blue tax stamps along the left-hand side of the document, an elaborate pen and ink depiction of the royal seal is located in the top left corner, the royal seal in red wax is present but partially removed, a revenue stamp and early owner's inscriptions are on the back of the document.

Thomas Byerly was chosen by Queen Ann to serve as the Collector and Receiver-General of New York. Byerly was suspended in 1702 from his post as Receiver-General by Lord Cornbury, governor of New York and New Jersey at the time, for "ill-behavior, constant disobedience to orders, and countenance of Illegal Trade." However, it is more likely Byerly was suspended because he clashed with Lord Cornbury and it was later decided that Byerly had been "illegally" suspended. Byerly was restored by Queen Ann following his first suspension and by Lord Lovelace, Conbury's successor, in 1707 after his second suspension. He was assigned to the Assembly of New York by Queen Ann in 1712, replacing more rebelious members of the group. Then, on August 20, 1716 Byerly was again replaced as Receiver-General by James Gohier. In 1718 he was assigned to serve as the Collector of the Port of New York. In 1724 or 1725 he sold his land holdings in New Jersey and returned to London, England.

The certificate can be viewed at

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