Christopher Billopp (Royal Navy officer)

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"Bentley Manor", now known as "The Conference House"

Christopher Billopp (ca.1638 - 1726) was an English officer of the Royal Navy in the seventeenth century who commanded various ships of the line including HMS Greenwich in the Battle of Bantry Bay Billopp was given a crown grant by James, Duke of York in 1676 for according to sources either 932 acres (3.77 km2) or 1,167 acres (4.72 km2), on Staten Island in the colony of New York, where he built a stone manor house he named "Bentley Manor", after the name of a small ship he had commanded, the Bentley. He received a second crown grant in 1687.[1]

The house, inherited by his great grandson Colonel Christopher Billopp, a British Loyalist during the American Revolution, was the setting for a failed peace conference between Lord Howe and members of the Continental Congress. His house is now a United States National Historic Landmark known as the Conference House.[2]

Family[edit]

Billopp's father was named William Billopp from Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. His grandfather was Christopher Billopp (Mayor of Beverley) and great grandfather Johnis. He had a brother named Joseph, who resided in New York and London, England. He was married twice and had two daughters by his first wife, Mary and Anne, his second wife was Katherine Farmar. Anne married Thomas Farmar. One of Billopp's descendants was the actress Jane Wyatt. Other descendant are James Michael Billopp Willis and Kenneth Christopher Stratton Thompson

Naval career[edit]

HMS Victory, one of the ships captained by Christopher Billopp

Billopp served in a number of Royal Naval vessels:

In New York[edit]

In 1664, the Dutch colonies became English colonies, and all fell under the control of the Duke of York, who was the brother of King Charles II. By 1667, a territorial dispute raged over Staten Island between New York, namesake of the duke, and New Jersey, which had possession of Staten Island under Dutch rule. To settle the dispute, the duke came up with a novel solution: he declared that all islands in New York Harbor that could be circumnavigated in 24 hours would belong to New York, and if such a voyage took longer than that, they would belong to New Jersey.

At this time, Billopp was just across the waterway from Staten Island at Perth Amboy, New Jersey aboard a small two-gun vessel called the Bentley. Billopp was selected for the duke's challenge. While struggling to figure out how to complete the more than 35-mile (56 km) voyage within the duke's time frame of 24 hours, Billopp reasoned that if he packed the deck of his ship with empty barrels, the extra surface area could harness some more wind giving his ship a slight boost in speed. Thus equipped, Billopp completed the circumnavigation in just over 23 hours and secured Staten Island for New York. In recognition of his achievement, the duke awarded Billopp a total of 1,163 acres (4.71 km2) of land located in what is now the Tottenville section of Staten Island. On this land Billopp built his house, which he named the Manor of Bentley in honor of his ship.[4][5] He 1709 he gained the charter to operate the Perth Amboy Ferry, part of an important overland route between New York and Philadelphia.[6] Billopp served for a time as a lieutenant in command of an infantry detachment under colonial governor Edmund Andros.

References[edit]

  1. ^ English Crown Grants By S.L. Mershon NEW YORK THE LAW AND HISTORY CLUB: PUBLISHERS 39 CORTLANDT STREET 1918
  2. ^ History of Thomas and Anne Billopp Farmar, and Some of their Descendants in America by Charles Farmer Billopp (Hardcover - 22 September 2009) Publisher: BiblioLife Language: English ISBN 1-113-76577-1 ISBN 978-1113765772
  3. ^ The manuscripts of the Earl of Dartmouth, Volume 3 By Great Britain. Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts
  4. ^ Sarah Comstock, "Following Billopp's Route to Tottenville," The New York Times, 7 September 1913, p. X8.
  5. ^ Reynolds, Patrick M. The Big Apple Almanac: Volume One. The Town of Willow Street, Pennsylvania: The Red Rose Studio, 1989. Pp. 29-30. ISBN 0-932514-19-7.
  6. ^ Adams, Arthur G., The Hudson Through the Years, Fordham University Place, ISBN 978-0-8232-1676-5 

Bibliography[edit]

  • The Londons of the British fleet, how they faced the enemy on the day of battle and what their story means for us to-day, Edward Fraser (1908), J. Lane (London)