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Ambrose Spencer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ambrose Spencer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 10th district
In office
March 4, 1829 – March 3, 1831
Preceded byStephen Van Rensselaer
Succeeded byAlbert Gallup
Mayor of Albany, New York
In office
March 10, 1824 – January 1, 1826
Preceded byCharles E. Dudley
Succeeded byJames Stevenson
New York Attorney General
In office
GovernorGeorge Clinton
Preceded byJosiah Ogden Hoffman
Succeeded byJohn Woodworth
Personal details
Born(1765-12-13)December 13, 1765
Salisbury, Connecticut Colony, British America
DiedMarch 13, 1848(1848-03-13) (aged 82)
Lyons, New York, U.S.
Resting placeAlbany Rural Cemetery
Laura Canfield
(m. 1784; died 1807)

Mary Clinton
(m. 1808; died 1808)

Katherine Clinton
(m. 1810; died 1837)
Children6, including John Canfield
RelativesPhilip Spencer (grandson)
DeWitt Clinton (brother-in-law)
John Townsend (son-in-law)
Alma materYale College
Harvard University

Ambrose Spencer (December 13, 1765 – March 13, 1848) was an American lawyer and politician.[1]

Early life

Ambrose Spencer was born on December 13, 1765 in Salisbury in the Connecticut Colony. He was the son of Philip Spencer and Mary (née Moore) Spencer.[2] His brother was Philip Spencer.[3]

James B. Spencer (1781–1848), also a U.S Representative, was a distant cousin of his.[4]

He attended Yale College from 1779–82, and graduated from Harvard University in 1783. He studied law with John Canfield (ca.1740-1786) at Sharon, Connecticut, with John Bay at Claverack, New York, and with Ezekiel Gilbert at Hudson, New York.[1]


He was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Hudson, New York, where he was city clerk from 1786 until 1793. He was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1793–95, and of the New York State Senate from 1795 to 1804.[1]

From 1796 to 1801, he was Assistant Attorney General for the Third District, comprising Columbia and Rensselaer counties. He was New York Attorney General from 1802 to 1804. From 1804 to 1819, he was an associate justice of the New York Supreme Court, and Chief Justice from 1819 until the end of 1822.[2] He was legislated out of office by the State Constitution of 1821. Governor Joseph C. Yates nominated him to be re-appointed, but this was rejected by Bucktails majority in the State Senate, Spencer having been the longtime leader of the Clintonians.[1]

Spencer was a presidential elector in 1808 and a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1821. On March 8, 1824, he was elected Mayor of Albany, over John Lansing, Jr., taking office on March 10, 1824. He was reelected on January 1, 1825 and served until January 1, 1826.[2]

United States Congress

In 1825, he was the Clintonian candidate for U.S. Senator from New York, and received a majority in the State Assembly. The Bucktails majority in the State Senate did not nominate any candidate, thus preventing Spencer's election on joint ballot. The seat remained vacant until the election of Nathan Sanford in 1826. Afterwards Spencer resumed the practice of law in Albany.[5]

He was elected to the 21st United States Congress, serving from March 4, 1829, to March 3, 1831; during this Congress, he was a member of the Committee on Agriculture. He was one of the managers appointed by the House of Representatives in 1830 to conduct the impeachment proceedings against Judge James H. Peck of the U.S. District Court for the District of Missouri.[5]

Later life

In 1839, he moved to Lyons, New York, and engaged in agricultural pursuits. He presided over the 1844 Whig National Convention in Baltimore, Maryland.[5]

Personal life

On February 18, 1784, he married Laura Canfield (1768–1807),[2] the daughter of John Canfield (1740–1786) and Dorcas (née Buell) Canfield (1742–1812). Together, they were the parents of:[2][3]

After the death of Ambrose's first wife in 1807, in 1808 he married Mary Clinton (1773–1808), the daughter of James Clinton and sister of New York Governor DeWitt Clinton, who had previously been married to Robert Burrage Norton.[2] After Mary's early death, he married her sister Katherine Clinton (1778–1837), who had previously been married to Samuel Lake Norton.[10]

In 1848, he died in Lyons and was buried at the Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York.[5]


The University of Pennsylvania awarded him the degree of LL.D. in 1819, and Harvard the same in 1821. The town of Spencer in New York is named after him.


His grandson, Philip Spencer (1823–1842), was executed for mutiny in 1842.[11] He was the grandfather of Lorrilard Spencer (1827–1888), great-grandfather of Lorrilard Spencer (1860–1912), who was married to Caroline Berryman Spencer,[12] and 2x great-grandfather of Lorillard Spencer (1883–1939), who was president of Atlantic Aircraft and was married to Katherine Emmons Force (1891–1956), both of whom were prominent in Newport, Rhode Island society.[13][14]


  1. ^ a b c d Raymond, William (1851). Biographical Sketches of the Distinguished Men of Columbia County: Including an Account of the Most Important Offices They Have Filled, in the State and General Governments, and in the Army and Navy. Weed, Parsons and Company. pp. 62–65. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Reynolds, Cuyler (1906). Albany Chronicles: A History of the City Arranged Chronologically, from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time; Illustrated with Many Historical Pictures of Rarity and Reproductions of the Robert C. Pruyn Collection of the Mayors of Albany, Owned by the Albany Institute and Historical and Art Society. J. B. Lyon Company, printers. p. 448. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h History of the Buell Family in England: From the Remotest Times Ascertainable from Our Ancient Histories, and in America, from Town, Parish, Church and Family Records. Illustrated with Portraits and Coat Armorial. Society Library. 1881. pp. 216–217. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Lansing/Townsend/Spencer Family Papers 1717-1903" (PDF). Albany Institute of History & Art Library. January 2000. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d "SPENCER, Ambrose - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Raymond, William (1851). Biographical Sketches of the Distinguished Men of Columbia County: Including an Account of the Most Important Offices They Have Filled, in the State and General Governments, and in the Army and Navy. Weed, Parsons and Company. pp. 66–69. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  7. ^ Storke, Elliot G.; Smith, Jas. H. (1879). History of Cayuga County. D. Mason & Co. p. 95. ISBN 9785878134804. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  8. ^ Collier, Edward Augustus (1914). A History of Old Kinderhook from Aboriginal Days to the Present Time: Including the Story of the Early Settlers, Their Homesteads, Their Traditions, and Their Descendants; with an Account of Their Civic, Social, Political, Educational, and Religious Life. G. P. Putnam's Sons. p. 384. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  9. ^ Goodwin, Nathaniel (2012). Genealogical Notes Or Contributions to the Family History of Some of the First Settlers of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Genealogical Publishing Com. p. 322. ISBN 9780806301594. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  10. ^ Bergen, Tunis Garret (1915). Genealogies of the State of New York: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation. Lewis Historical Publishing Company. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  11. ^ "Col. Spencer's Murder.; His Life And Family History. Interesting Reminiscences Of The Murdered Man The Son Of President Tyler's Secretary Of War His Brother Hanged At The Yard-Arm Of A Brig In 1842". The New York Times. April 24, 1876. p. 5. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  12. ^ "Lorillard Spencer Is Dead. Prominent In Society and Clubs Here and in Newport" (PDF). The New York Times. March 15, 1912. Retrieved August 14, 2017. Lorillard Spencer, prominent in New York society, died yesterday from Bright's disease at his home, 7 East Eighty-sixth Street. He had been ill since Feb. 28. ...
  13. ^ "Mrs. Lorillard Spencer. Widow of New York Banker, a Resident of Newport, Dies". The New York Times. September 9, 1956. Retrieved August 14, 2017. Mrs. Katherine Force Spencer of Chasteullux, Newport, died at her home this morning of a heart attack. She was 63 years old....
  14. ^ "Miss Katherine Force To Wed Major Spencer. Their Marriage to Take Place Tomorrow at the Home of Her Sister, Mrs. William K. Dick". The New York Times. December 5, 1922. Retrieved August 14, 2017. Although the engagement of Miss Katherine E. Force, daughter of Mrs. William H. Force, to Major Lorillard Spencer has never been formally announced, it has been rumored for some time, and their wedding will take place tomorrow at the home of Mrs. William K. Dick, 7 East Eighty-fourth Street. Mrs. Dick, who was formerly Mrs. John Jacob Astor, is Miss Force's sister.

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Josiah Ogden Hoffman
New York Attorney General
Succeeded by
John Woodworth
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Stephen Van Rensselaer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 10th congressional district

Succeeded by
Gerrit Lansing
This page was last edited on 30 August 2021, at 10:00
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