Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Brief Biography of Rev. Robert Bolton Jr. Published in 1886

In his 1886 History of Westchester County, J. Thomas Scharf included a brief biography of Rev. Robert Bolton, author of his own two-volume History of Westchester County first published in 1848. That biography appears immediately below, followed by a citation to its source.

"Rev. Robert Bolton, author of Bolton's 'History of Westchester County,' was born in the city of Bath, England, April 17,1814. He was the eldest of the fourteen children of the Rev. Robert Bolton and Anne, daughter of the distinguished Rev. William Jay, of Bath.

The Bolton family is of ancient British stock, their genealogy being traced up to the time of the Conquest; resident, anciently, at Bolton and Blackburn, in Lancashire, and Wales, in Yorkshire. In the long line of the Bolton ancestry the name of Robert is rarely without a bearer. A number of these were distinguished for their learning and piety. A Robert, born in 1572, was noted at Lincoln and Brazen Nose Colleges, Oxford, for his varied accomplishments, and afterward as a divine. A Robert, born in England in 1688, became a prominent merchant in Philadelphia. His son Robert, born in 1722, was a merchant in Savannah, Georgia. His son Robert, born in 1757, became a very prominent merchant of Savannah, and the owner of much valuable real estate. His son Robert, born in 1788, in Savannah, became a merchant in Liverpool, England, afterward the rector of Christ Church, Pelham, Westchester County, and subsequently chaplain to the Earl of Ducie, at Tortworth, in Gloucestershire. His son Robert is the subject of this sketch.

Mr. Bolton and his four brothers became clergymen in the Protestant Episcopal Church. He was ordained a deacon in October, 1868, and a presbyter in June, 1869. He was rector of St. John's Church, South Salem, at the time of his death.

His brother, William Jay, at the time of his death, was rector of St. James', Bath, England, and an author of note; John is rector of Trinity Church, Westchester, Pa.; Cornelius Winter is rector of the Church of the Redeemer, Pelhamville, Westchester County; and James was the incumbent of St. Paul's Chapel, Kilburn, London. All of Mr. Bolton's sisters who survived youth achieved distinction in teaching, in literature or in art.

Robert Bolton was educated in England, and studied medicine there, but never practiced it as a profession. He came to this country in 1836, and settled at Bronxville, in East Chester, becoming a farmer. From there he removed to New Rochelle and published his first book, "The Guide to New Rochelle." He then removed to Tarrytown and engaged in teaching, an occupation to which he gave attention for the remainder of his life. He there became principal of the Irving Institute, and enjoyed intimate relations with Washington Irving, who had long been a close friend of his father. He next removed to Bedford, taking charge of the Female Institute there, and afterward founded a school in Lewisboro.

While preparing the 'Guide to New Rochelle' he became interested in Westchester County history, and at once began the collection of the materials which he published in two volumes in 1848. The labor involved in this work, in the searching of collections of documents, the examination of papers and the personal visitation of every spot of interest and nearly every person of advanced age, was very great. His knowledge of the history of county localities was remarkable. He was actively engaged in the revision of his history at the time of his death. He was also the author of the 'History of the Protestant [Page 607 / Page 608] Episcopal Church in Westchester County,' and of the 'Memoirs of the Bolton Family.'

In 1838 he married Elizabeth Rebecca, daughter of James Brenton, of Newport, R. I.; she died in 1852. In 1854 he married Josephine, daughter of Brewster Woodhull, of Patchogue, L. I., by whom he had eleven children.

Mr. Bolton's father founded the celebrated Bolton Priory, at Pelham, with which the family name has been so prominently connected. He purchased this estate, charmingly situated upon the shore of Long Island Sound, in 1837, and erected thereon a handsome stone edifice for a residence, and laid out the grounds with surpassing taste. This was afterward used for a young ladies' school, and under the management of Miss Nanetta Bolton, became justly famous. Here Robert Bolton, the historian, died October 11, 1877.

Beside being a laborious, painstaking historian, a diligent teacher and an earnest minister, Mr. Bolton was accomplished in many ways. He was dexterous in wood-carving, apt with his pencil and skillful in painting. He had a passion for the antique, and was a man of peculiarly fine and cultivated tastes.

Rev. Cornelius Winter Bolton, brother of Robert Bolton, the historian, was born in Bath, England, June 3, 1819. He came to this country and studied divinity at the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary at Alexandria, Va.; was admitted to deacon's orders in 1847, and was ordained priest in 1848. In 1850 he became assistant minister of Christ Church, Baltimore, and in 1855 rector of Christ Church, Pelham. In 1858 he was rector of South Yonkers Church, and he then became minister of St. George's Chapel, in New York City. He became rector of St. Mark's Church, New Castle, in 1867, and then of St. Stephen's, North Castle, and at present is rector of the Church of the Redeemer, Pelhamville.

In 1856 he married Cornelia, daughter of Cornelius Glen Van Rensselaer, Esq., of Greenbush, Rensselaer County, N. Y.

Mr. C. W. Bolton is the author of 'The Shepherd's Call,' the 'Sunday-school Prayer-Book' and other publications. In 1854 he edited Jay's 'Female Scripture Characters' and Jay's 'Autobiography and Reminiscences.' In 1881 he edited and published his brother Robert's 'History of Westchester County.'"

Source: Scharf, J. Thomas, ed., History of Westchester County, New York Including Morrisania, Kings Bridge and West Farms Which Have Been Annexed to New York City, Vol. 1, Part 2, Chapter XX. Westchester Town by Fordham Morris, pp. 607-08 (Philadelphia, PA: L.E. Preston & Co. 1886).

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