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Charles Clinton (1690 – 19 November 1773) was a French and Indian War Colonel, the father of American Revolutionary War general James Clinton and Vice President of the United States George Clinton, and the grandfather of New York Governor DeWitt Clinton.
Charles Clinton was born in Corbay, County Longford, Ireland to James Clinton a soldier in Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army who fought during the battle of Drogheda killing many Irish and was rewarded with land in Ireland and Elizabeth Smith, the daughter of a captain in Cromwell's Army.
In May 1729, the Clinton family (Charles, wife Elizabeth, two daughters, and one son) chartered a ship from Dublin called the George and Anne and sailed for Philadelphia with a group of neighbors and friends intending to settle in Pennsylvania. According to his papers, he paid for ninety four of the passengers. The captain of the ship intentionally starved the passengers, possibly as a way to steal their belongings. Ninety-six of the passengers died, including a son and a daughter of Charles Clinton. In October 1729 they arrived at Cape Cod, and after paying a large ransom for their lives, the survivors were allowed to disembark.
In the spring of 1731, the group moved to Ulster County, New York (now Orange County), where they settled in an area called Little Britain about eight miles from the Hudson River and sixty miles north of New York City. His life there is well described in this selection from DeWitt Clinton's Memoir:
- "... these hardy pioneers were at that period so exposed to the incursions of the Indians, then inhabiting the vicinity of their residence, that it was found necessary to erect a palisade work around his house, for the security of himself and his neighbours. In this retreat Mr. Clinton spent his time in the improvement of his farm, in the cultivation of literature, in the enjoyment of his library, the education of his children, and occasionally acting as a surveyor of land, for which he was well qualified by his education, and particularly his mathematical knowledge, in which he eminently excelled. Possessed of a well selected library, and endowed with extraordinary talents, he made continual accessions to his store of useful knowledge.
- "The character he uniformly sustained, was that of pure morals, a strong and cultivated understanding, great respectability, and dignity of deportment, and extensive influence. Having been well educated, he soon attained to notice and distinction. His first appointment was that of a Justice of the peace; he was afterwards promoted to the station of a Judge of the Common Pleas for the county of Ulster. In 1756 he was appointed by colonial governor Sir Charles Hardy, a Lt. Colonel of the militia of the province, and commanded a regiment at the capture of Fort Frontenac, now Kingston, by Colonel Bradstreet."
He died on his farm on 19 November 1773 at the age of 83, just before the revolution in which his sons would play a part. He left four sons; Alexander, Charles, James and George. His wife Elizabeth died at the residence of their son James in 1779.
- Campbell, William W. (1849), The Life and Writings of De Witt Clinton, Baker and Scribner, pp. x–xiv, retrieved 9 February 2008