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Guide to the King Family Papers
1754-1908
 MS 350

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


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Erin Shaw

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on April 12, 2013
Finding Aid is written in English.
using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Historical note

This collection records the history of the King family from mid-eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. The papers concern the King family; other families descended directly from Richard King and Rufus King, and some collateral branches and connecting families are included.

Many of their descendents and relatives were prominent in politics, diplomacy, military service, law, business, banking and letters; particularly in Maine, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Great Britain. They were well-to-do, and connected by marriage with other distinguished and prominent New York families.

Rufus King (1755 – 1827) was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. He was born in Scarborough, Maine, then a section of Massachusetts, the eldest son of farmer-merchant Richard and Isabella King. He attended Harvard and briefly served in the military during the Revolutionary War. He was a delegate for Massachusetts to the Continental Congress. He also attended the Constitutional Convention and was one of the signers of the United States Constitution. He represented New York in the United States Senate, served as Minister to Britain, and was the Federalist candidate for Vice President two times and later Federalist candidate for President of the United States.

The lives of Rufus King's children and grandchildren are comparatively well documented in this collection. James Gore King (1791-1853), son of Rufus King, attended school in England and France while his father was ambassador to London. After graduating from Harvard and studying law, he became a banker, and in 1818 with his brother-in-law, Archibald Gracie, Jr. established in Liverpool the firm of King and Gracie.

John Alsop King (1788 – 1867), son of Rufus King, practiced law in New York City. John King's law career was interrupted by a stint as a cavalry lieutenant in the War of 1812. After the war, he ventured into politics. King was a member of the New York State Assembly and later the New York State Senate. King was elected as a Whig to the 31st United States Congress. He also served a short term as Governor of New York from 1837-1838.

Charles King (1789 – 1867), son of Rufus King, was a captain of a volunteer regiment in the early part of the War of 1812, and served in the 1814 New York Assembly. He was married to Eliza Gracie, the daughter of shipping magnate Archibald Gracie. He served as the ninth president of Columbia College (now Columbia University), holding the role from 1849 to 1864.

The King Family Papers also include those of John Alsop (1724 - 1794), Charles Ray King (1813 - 1901), Nancy Wharton King (1826 - 1905), Charles F. Lenning (1836 - d.) as well as additional family correspondence.

Genealogical information of the King family are located in Series II.