De Lancey, James
De Lancey, James
DE LANCEY, JAMES. (1747–1802). Loyalist. Born in West Farms, New York, on 6 September 1747, De Lancey was appointed to the family's traditional position of sheriff of Westchester County in 1770, holding it until 1775, when he took the Loyalist side in the Revolution. Confined to his home, De Lancey fled to the British on Long Island in the summer 1776. When the royalist governor, William Tryon, appointed De Lancey commander of the Loyalist Westchester County militia in March 1777, the latter seized the initiative and formed the Westchester Refugees, popularly known as "De Lancey's Cowboys" for their seizure of Patriot cattle. Though he did not officially become commander until 1780 when he was promoted to colonel, De Lancey led the Refugees on a long guerrilla campaign out of their base at King's Bridge, which is credited with keeping the British in New York City supplied with food. De Lancey was captured by a Patriot unit in December 1777, being held on parole in Hartford until exchanged in 1778. He claimed to have taken five hundred Patriots used in exchange for Loyalist captives. Westchester County was contested ground, with a number of atrocities committed by each side, most famously the Loyalists' shooting of Colonel Christopher Greene on 14 May 1781 after he had surrendered. New York confiscated De Lancey's property in October 1779, and he left the state shortly after resigning his commission on 3 April 1783. He settled in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, where he was elected to the assembly in 1790 and served on the council from 1794 to 1801. He died at home on 2 May 1804.
Ranlet, Philip. The New York Loyalists. 2nd ed. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2002.