Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston's Poetry

To the memory of Sarah Livingston
who was born on the 7th of Novr. 1752
& died Sepr. 1st, 1783

BEYOND where billows roll or tempests vex
Is gone the gentlest of the gentle sex!
---Her brittle bark on life's wild ocean tost
Unequal to the conflict soon was lost.
Severe her sufferings! much, alas, she bore,
Then sunk beneath the storm & rose no more.

But when th' Archangel's awful trump shall sound
And vibrate life thro all the deep profound
Her renovated vessel will be seen,
Transcendant floating on the silver stream!
All beauteous to behold! serene she glides
Borne on by mildest & propitious tides;
While fanning zephyrs fill her snow white sails
And aid her passage with the friendliest gales
Till safe within the destin'd port of bliss
She furls her sails and moors in endless peace.

View in Manuscript Book

Henry Livingston Day Book
New York Historical Society Collection
May 23 1783
"NYPL: Survey of land of Freer"

Aug 11 1783
"Sent my daughter Catherine to board with Mrs Thorn at Latin town at 6 sh per week and taught at 8 sh the quarter."

Sep 1 1783
Wife Sarah died at her widowed mother's home in Stamford CT; Rev. Timothy Dwight gave the funeral sermon

Sep 10 1783
"I paid Peter Quintard of Stanford in full for making coffin (2 8)"

Sep 23 1783
"Paid Mrs. Ab. Thorn 40 sh in full for boarding & schooling Caty 6 weeks"

Oct 1 1783
"My daughter Catherine began boarding with Maj. John Davenport at Stanford at the rate of 4 sh NYork money a week - I am to pay for her schooling & cloathing."

Oct 17 1783
"Put my Woolsey mare to one W. Woolsey near Latin town to pasture -- paid him for it to his son Richd" at 6 sh per week and taught at 8 sh the quarter."

Nov 1783
General Pierre Van Cortlandt enters freed NYC with George Washington.

Jun 1 1784
"Paid sister Mary Davenport in cash for boarding my daughter Catherine (including a guinea I paid her last winter). I also paid for schooling shoes besides."

May 22 1784
"My son Harry began boarding at Mrs. Welles at Stanford at 4 sh per week."

Jul 6 1784
"On the first day of July I left my daughter Cornelia & girl Betsy with W. Cheney at the spring in Hancock at boarding"

Jul 17 1785
"Gave Maj. John Davenport 10 dollars to pay to Mrs. Welles in full for boarding Harry-- I gave him 6 dollars for Mr. Davenport to pay out in necessarys for Caty."

Jan 1787
"Mrs. Abigail Wells x to cash L2.9.0 Paid Daniel Seymour of Stamford in full for making clothes for my son Harry"

Feb 6 1787
"Settled with Mrs Welles & took my son home. Her amount for boarding Harry 1 year & 7 weeks was L17"14 & schooling Harry & Caty 47 weeks at 9x per week was L1x in all L19 9 I paid her 14.3.8 Due this day 5.5.4"

Historical Background

Sarah's illness must have been long

"Severe her sufferings! much, alas, she bore,"
that there was time to bring her to her mother's in Stamford CT before Sarah died. Sarah's oldest daughter Catharine was sent away to school almost a month before her mother's death. A month after Sarah's death, Catharine was brought to Stamford to stay with her mother's sister Mary and her husband, John Davenport.

After making arrangements for the other children, it was another three and a half years before Henry had his family back together again in Poughkeepsie. Because he was occasionally away on surveying work, it's likely that his mother, who lived next door, was involved with their care. Only after his mother Susannah dies, in May of 1793, does Henry marry again.

Henry later reused this same poem, with minor changes, in the Country Advertiser and Poughkeepsie Journal for the December 6, 1786 death of Gilbert Cortlandt, his 29 year old first cousin, the son of his aunt Joanna and uncle General Pierre Van Cortlandt, the first Lieutenant Governor of New York state. With the large families and huge spans of childbearing, Gilbert Cortlandt was actually 13 years younger than Henry.


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