Saturday, June 15, 2013

Leffert Lefferts (1774-1847)

Leffert Lefferts, portrait by Henry Inman (1801-1846).

  This imaginatively named political figure is one Leffert Lefferts of Brooklyn, New York. The scion of a family long prominent in the history of King County, Mr. Lefferts served as the judge for Kings County, New York and was later an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1813.
  Born in Kings County on April 12, 1774, Leffert Lefferts was the fifth child born to Squire Leffert Lefferts and Dorothy Cowenhoven (also spelled Kouwenhouven). Our subject studied at Columbia University and graduated from this institution in May 1794. He soon became acquainted with Judge Egbert Benson (1746-1833), who had earlier served as a Continental Congressman, New York State Attorney General and U.S. Representative from New York. Lefferts studied law under Judge Benson and in 1798 was admitted to practice as an attorney. Two years later Lefferts was named as clerk for Kings County and served in this post for sixteen years.
  In 1805 Lefferts was named as a commissioner in chancery and in 1813 became the Federalist candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, running against his cousin, John Lefferts (1785-1829). On election day 1813 John Lefferts claimed victory, and despite losing to his cousin, Leffert Lefferts continued to be a prominent figure in New York public affairs for the remainder of his life.  He married in April 1823 to Maria Robert Benson (1793-1875), with whom he would have two children, Elizabeth Dorthea (born 1824) and Leffert (died aged one in 1827).
  Leffert Lefferts was named as judge of Kings County Court of Common Pleas in 1823, succeeding outgoing Judge William Furman. Lefferts' tenure in this post lasted until 1827, when he resigned. Both before and after his time on the bench Judge Lefferts was active in the construction of the Long Island Bank, the first of its kind in Brooklyn. He was a leading figure in the development of the bank's charter and in 1824 became its President. He served in this capacity until 1846, when "his increasing infirmities constrained him to resign the position and responsibilities." 
  Impaired by feeble health during the last year of his life, Judge Leffert Lefferts died in Brooklyn on March 22, 1847 shortly before his 73rd birthday. Over twenty years following his death, Lefferts was memorialized by Henry Stiles Reed's History of the City of Brooklyn as having "uprightness, kind nature and pleasant gentlemanly manners are well remembered by all who knew him, and rendered him the representative man of the best Dutch Society in Brooklyn, at that day." A burial location for Lefferts is unknown at this time, but seeing that a good majority of his extended family are interred at the famed Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, it may not be a far-gone conclusion that he himself may be buried here!

A roster of Kings County Judges.

1 comment:

  1. The father of this Leffert Lefferts was my 6x grandfather...imagine my amusement to find these guys in what I thought was an all-Irish family tree!

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