Oliver De Lancey (American loyalist)

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Oliver De Lancey
Nickname(s)Outlaw of the Bronx
BornSeptember 17, 1718
New York City, Province of New York, British North America, British Empire
DiedOctober 27, 1785 (aged 67)
Beverley, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
AllegianceKingdom of Great Britain Great Britain
Service/branchNew York Provincial Militia (1755-1763)
British Army (1776-1783)
Years of service1746-1748
RankLieutenant Colonel
UnitRogers' Rangers
DeLancey's Brigade
Queen's Rangers
King's Rangers
Battles/warsFrench and Indian War American Revolutionary War
RelationsJames DeLancey (brother)

Major-General Oliver De Lancey Sr. (September 17, 1718 – October 27, 1785) was a merchant and Loyalist politician and soldier during the American Revolutionary War. His surname is also sometimes written as de Lancey or Delancey.

Early life[edit]

The son of Etienne Delancey and Anne Van Cortland (Cortlandt), Oliver De Lancey was born on September 17, 1718, in New York City, Province of New York. Oliver was the uncle of James De Lancey, of the British Loyalist unit, De Lancey's Brigade, during the American Revolutionary War. The De Lancey family was of Huguenot descent.[1] From 1754-1757, De Lancey served as a New York alderman for the Out Ward and was a member of the New York assembly from New York County from 1756-1761.[2]

French and Indian War[edit]

During the French and Indian War, Oliver De Lancey was selected by the New York Assembly, with the support of his brother James De Lancey, the acting Governor, to provide provisions for New York provincial units. During the war, De Lancey commanded the New York Provincial Militia, 1755-1763, and commanded a provincial detachment in the Ticonderoga campaign of 1758. In 1766, De Lancey was one of the judges in the Pendergast case, where the alleged leader of the Dutchess County land rebels was convicted and sentenced to death.[3]

Colonial politics and military command[edit]

Oliver De Lancey was a member of the provincial executive council, from 1760, until the American Revolutionary War. In 1768, he allied himself with Isaac Sears and the Sons of Liberty. De Lancey spoke out against the Boston Port Act, of 1774, but did not support non-importation. He was one of the persons responsible, for the creation of the Committee of Fifty. In 1773, he was appointed colonel in chief, of the Southern Military District.

American Revolutionary War[edit]

Oliver De Lancey was a senior Loyalist officer, during the American Revolutionary War. De Lancey joined General Howe, on Staten Island, in 1776, and raised and equipped, the three battalions, with his brother, James, of DeLancey's Brigade, consisting of 1,500 loyalist volunteers from the Province of New York, and served as commanding officer on Long Island.

The house of Oliver De Lancey was plundered, by Patriots, in November, 1777 and confiscated in October, 1779.


In the fall of 1742, Oliver De Lancey secretly married Phila Franks, the daughter of a prominent and successful New York Jewish family. For six months, they kept the match secret, but in the spring of 1743, Phila announced the union and went to live with her husband. The letters of Abigail Franks, Phila's mother, to her son Naphtali in England speak of her sense of betrayal and her pain, and she never spoke to Phila again. Her husband, on the other hand, accepted the marriage.

Phila and Oliver de Lancey had at least two sons and a daughter:

Exile in England and death[edit]

He left New York for England in 1783, and died on October 27, 1785, in Beverley, Yorkshire. He was buried in Beverley Minster, where his grave and memorial can be visited.


  1. ^ History of Huguenot emigration to America, 1885, Charles Washington Baird
  2. ^ Bonomi 1971, p. 145.
  3. ^ Bonomi 1971, p. 224.
  4. ^ Chichester 1888, p. 304.
  5. ^ Stephens 1888, p. 303.


  • Bonomi, Patricia (1971). A Factious People, Politics and Society in Colonial New York. ISBN 0-231-03509-8.
  • Chichester, Henry Manners (1888). "De Lancey, William Howe". In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 14. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 304, 305.
  • Stephens, Henry Morse (1888). "De Lancey, Oliver (1749-1822)". In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 14. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 303, 304.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ketchum, Richard, Divided Loyalties, How the American Revolution Came to New York, 2002, ISBN 0-8050-6120-7

External links[edit]