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Guide to the Ray Family Papers
1794 - 1889
 MS 513

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

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Ashley Todd

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on December 13, 2011
Finding Aid is written in English

Biographical/Historical note

The Ray Family was a prominent New York City family in the nineteenth century. Family members include Cornelius Ray (1755-1827), Robert Ray (1794-1879), Richard Ray (1799-1836) and Robert Ray Hamilton (1851-1890), the great grandson of Alexander Hamilton and primary member of the family featured in this collection.

Robert Ray Hamilton was born in New York City on March 18, 1851 to Schuyler Hamilton and Cornelia Ray and attended Columbia College and Law School. He practiced law for a few years and then discovered an interest in politics. Hamilton was elected a member of Legislature from 1887-89 and served as the Republican Assemblyman in the eleventh district in 1881 and from 1886-88.

In the mid-1880s Hamilton began an unfortunate relationship with Evangeline (Eva) Mann, which resulted in a scandal that captivated public attention for months. Hamilton secretly married her in January 1889 after she convinced him that he had fathered a baby, Beatrice, who she had reportedly purchased from a midwife. In August of that year Hamilton discovered that not only had Eva lied to him about Beatrice, but that she was still reportedly married to her first husband, Joshua Mann. During an argument about Mann, Eva attempted to attack Hamilton with a knife; however, failing to hit him, she turned her attack on a maid, Mary Donnelly, who she suspected of telling Hamilton the truth about Beatrice and Mann. As punishment for stabbing and nearly killing Mary, Eva was sentenced in September 1889 to two years in the state prison in Trenton, NJ. By October Hamilton began the process of having his marriage with Eva annulled.

In May 1890 Hamilton left New York to take part in a hunting trip in the West. However, he soon made headlines again when he was found drowned in Yellowstone National Park's Snake River that September.