Thomas Dongan, 2nd Earl of Limerick

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Thomas Dongan
Thomas Dongan, 2nd Earl of Limerick.jpg
5th Colonial Governor of New York
In office
August, 1683 – August 11, 1688
Preceded by Edmund Andros
Succeeded by Edmund Andros (as Governor-General of the Dominion of New England)
Personal details
Born 1634
Castletown Kildrought, Kingdom of Ireland
Died 14 December 1715(1715-12-14) (aged 81)
London, England
Religion Catholic

Thomas Dongan, 2nd Earl of Limerick (1634–14 December 1715) was a member of Irish Parliament, Royalist military officer during the English Civil War, and governor of the Province of New York. He is noted for having called the first representative legislature in New York, and for granting the province's Charter of Liberties.

He was born in 1634 in Castletown Kildrought (now Celbridge), County Kildare in the Kingdom of Ireland. He was the youngest son of Sir John Dongan, Baronet, Member of the Irish Parliament. As Catholics, his family faced persecution after the overthrow of Charles I and fled to France. While in France, he served in an Irish regiment with Turenne. He stayed in France after the Restoration and achieved the rank of colonel in 1674.

After the Treaty of Nijmegen ended the French-Dutch War in 1678, Dongan returned to England in obedience to the order that recalled all English subjects fighting in service to France. James, Duke of York, who had served as a fellow officer of Dongan's in French army, arranged to have him granted a pension and high-ranking commission in the army and designated for service in Flanders.[1] That same year, he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Tangiers. In September 1682, James, who had become the Lord Proprietor of the Province of New York after it was acquired from the Dutch, appointed Dongan as provincial governor (1683–1688)[2] and granted him an estate on Staten Island. The estate eventually became the town of Castleton; later, another section of the island was named Dongan Hills in honour of Dongan. Five years later, James consolidated the colonial government of New York, New Jersey and the United Colonies of New England into the Dominion of New England and appointed Edmund Andros, the former Governor-General of New York, as the single Governor-General of all six colonies. Dongan transferred his governorship back to Andros on August 11, 1688.[2]

Statue of Thomas Dongan in Dongan Park adjacent to Dongan Place, Poughkeepsie, NY, dedicated June, 1930 by NY Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt.

At the time of his appointment, the province was bankrupt and in a state of rebellion. Dongan was able to restore order and stability through tactful means. On October 14, 1683, he convened the first-ever representative assembly in New York history, which convened at Fort James.

Dongan was to execute land grants establishing several towns throughout New York State including the eastern Long Island communities of East Hampton and Southampton. These grants, called the Dongan Patents, set up Town Trustees as the governing bodies with a mission of managing common land for common good. The Dongan Patents still hold force of law and have been upheld by the US Supreme Court with the Trustees—rather than town boards, city councils or even the State Legislature—still managing much of the common land in the state.[dubious ]

In 1698, his brother William, Earl of Limerick, died without issue. Because of his service to the Crown as a military officer and as provincial governor, he was granted his brother's title and a portion of his brother's forfeited estates by a special Act of Parliament for his relief.

In 1709 he sold the family property at Castletown to William Conolly.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kenyon, J.P. The Popish Plot 2nd Edition 2000 Phoenix Press p. 117
  2. ^ a b The Memorial History of the City of New York, page 400 (appointment) and 453 (supersession)
  • Driscoll, J.T. (1909). Thomas Dongan. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 1 November 2008 from New Advent: [1]

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Anthony Brockholls (acting)
Governor of the Province of New York
Succeeded by
Francis Nicholson
as Lieutenant Governor of the Dominion of New England for New York and the Jerseys
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
William Dongan
Earl of Limerick Extinct