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Guide to the Duffie Family Papers
1834-1859 (Bulk 1851)
  MS 183

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Valerie Paley

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on October 21, 2011
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Duffy Family
Title: Duffie Family Papers
Dates: 1834-1859 (Bulk 1851)
Abstract: The Duffie Family Papers consist primarily of legal documents concerning the development and sale of property in New York City in the mid-19th century and include information regarding the last will and testament of John Duffie and his heirs.
Quantity: 0.3 Linear feet (1 box)
Location note: Manuscript Cage
Call Phrase: MS 183

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Historical Note

1780 At age 17, John Duffie begins work as a clerk in Isaac Clason's flour and grocery store at 14 Albany Pier.
[1784] Cornelius C. Roosevelt provides Duffie with the capital for his own flour and wholesale grocery business, John Duffie & Co. The business prospers, and Duffie becomes part of the new merchant aristocracy that develops following the British evacuation.
1786 Duffie marries Cornelius C. Roosevelt's sister, Maria (sometimes called Mary).
1805 In 1805, John Duffie buys part of the Kips Bay Farm from his wife's cousin, Elbert Kip, for $4500. The land extends the west from the Boston Post Road in the Murray Hill area to the East River, and from the south at 35th Street, and north to 40th Street.
1807 The family business becomes devoted exclusively to salt importing. William Whetten Todd, a salesman and partner in the business, marries John Duffie's daughter, Maria Caroline.
1808 John Duffie dies at his summer home in Greenwich Village at the age of 44. Duffie gives his son, Cornelius Roosevelt Duffie the option of partnership in the family company. Because Cornelius Roosevelt Duffie choses the salt company partnership as his share of his father's estate, neither he nor his children have rights to the Kips Bay Farm property. The family company name changes to Todd, Duffie and Todd.
1815 Cornelius Duffie no longer a partner in the salt importing company and establishes his own commission business. His agency closes in 1820.
1816 Cornelius Duffie marries Helena Bache Bleecker.
1821 Mary Duffie dies giving her unmarried daughters, Cornelia and Margaret, rights to the Kips Bay Farm property. Helena Bache Bleecker dies after the birth of her fifth child.
1824 Cornelius Duffie is ordained a priest of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and became the first pastor of St. Thomas Church at 621 Broadway. Cornelius, his children, and his unmarried sisters, Cornelia and Margaret, live in the plain 3-story brick rectory on Houston and Mercer Streets.
1827 Cornelius Roosevelt Duffie dies of typhoid fever at the age of 38. Cornelia and Margaret Duffie care for their brother's children and move to 155 Greene Street. The Duffie sisters hold on to the family property that was once part of the former Kips Bay farm.
[1850] As New York City develops northward, the family property becomes valuable. Cornelia and Margaret Duffie develop their property, dividing it into blocks of lots and selling them for high prices.
1855-1856 Cornelia and Margaret build an Episcopal church, Saint John the Baptist, on lots of their property at the northeast corner of Lexington Avenue and 35th Street. Cornelius Roosevelt Duffie II, organizes the new parish, along with the help of his uncle Anthony James Bleecker, and his mother's cousin, Samuel Jones. Cornelius Roosevelt Duffie II, is the rector of the new church. The Rectory becomes the home for Cornelia and Margaret, their nieces Helena and Maria, and Cornelius Roosevelt Duffie II.
1873 Cornelia Duffie dies.
1874 Margaret Duffie dies.

John (1763-1808) and Mary Duffie's (1760-1821) Children:

Maria Caroline, 1787-1857 (m. William W. Todd, b. April 7, 1781)
Cornelius Roosevelt Duffie, 1789-1827 (m. Helena Bache Bleecker, 1796-1821)
Margaret d. 1874 (unmarried)
(Eliza) Matilda, d. 1881 (m. Gerard DePeyster, widower)
Cornelia Ann d. 1873 (unmarried)
Jane Antoinette, born 1801-1889 (m. Capt. Miles Burke, 1832, died 1836, m. Isaac Gibson, 1842)
John Herring (died young, date unknown)

Cornelius Roosevelt Duffie (1789-1827) and Helena Bache Bleecker's (1796-1821) Children:

Charles William Duffie (1817-1824)
Helena Bleecker Duffie (1818-1886)
Maria Roosevelt Duffie (1819-1876)
Cornelius Roosevelt Duffie (II) (1821-1900)

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Scope and Content Note

The papers of the Duffie family consist primarily of legal documents concerning the development and sale of the Kips Bay Farm property in the Murray Hill area. Contained within these documents, the majority dated May 15, 1851, is information regarding the last will and testament of John Duffie, and his heirs. Also included are bills and receipts regarding the building of St. John the Baptist Church and its rectory. One item is a notice to the restoration workers of the church reminding them that their behavior should be reverent while they are working in a "House of God."

Folders 1 and 2 pertain to the sale of property on May 15, 1851, predominantly in the 18th Ward of NYC in the area bounded by Third and Lexington Avenues and 38th and 39th Streets; folder 3 consists of papers relating to the building of St. John the Baptist Church; folder 4 consists of correspondence and receipts relating to the house at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 35th Street (probably the Rectory); and folder 5 contains four miscellaneous items, including 2 photographic images of a young boy.


The collection is arranged by subject and then chronologically.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Duffie, Cornelia Ann, d. 1873
  • Duffie, Cornelius Roosevelt, 1821-1900
  • Duffie, John, 1763-1808
  • Duffie, Margaret, d. 1874

Document Type

  • Accounts
  • Agreements
  • Deeds
  • Mortgages
  • Photographic prints
  • Receipts
  • Releases
  • Tintypes

Subject Organizations

  • John Duffie & Company (New York, N.Y.)
  • St. John the Baptist (Church : New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Real property--New York (State)--New York
  • Women landowners--New York (State)--New York

Subject Places

  • Murray Hill (Manhattan, New York, N.Y.)

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Administrative Information


Donated by John A. Duffie and Patricia E. Duffie, 2001.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.) Researchers on site may print out unlimited copies from microfilm reader-printer machines at per-exposure rates. See guidelines in Reading Room for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote, to

Library Director
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the Duffie Family Papers, the New-York Historical Society.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Legal and real estate documents
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Legal drafts
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Papers relating to St. John the Baptist Church
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Papers relating to house at corner of Lexington Ave and 35th Street (Rectory)
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Other receipts/photos

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