Biography of Thomas Darlington
Orange County, NY Biographies





THOMAS DARLINGTON was born at Salisbury Mills, Orange County, N. Y., August 29, 1826, the son of Peter and Maria Wilde Darlington. Through his mother many lines of colonial ancestry met in him. A descendant of Deputy Governor Bishop, of Connecticut, who was secretary of that colony from 1661 to 1665; of Daniel Rayneau, the first freeholder of the Huguenot colony of New Rochelle; of Richard Wilde, Esq., of Flushing, N. Y.; and from Edward Griffin, of the Virginia colony, on his father's side he was from the Darlingtons of Yorkshire, England, and Edinburgh, Scotland. His father, who was one of the first paper manufacturers in this country, died January 21, 1851, but his mother lived to be over one hundred years of age, until August 20, 1900. He acquired his education in the local schools near at hand, graduating with highest honors, and at seventeen, by his own choice, was principal of a school in a neighboring village. Resigning his school position he went to New York City and studied law in the office of Mr Taggart, reciting at the same time in the evenings to private tutors in Latin and philosophy. He was of a very religious temperament, being a constant attendant at church and having a Sunday School class, of which he was very fond.

Soon after becoming an attorney and counselor-at-law he started in business for himself, and achieved a most rapid success. The firm name was Darlington, Spring & Russell, and some most important cases were entrusted to their care. When Mr. Spring died, Mr. Russell went to Cornell University as dean, and a new firm was formed of Darlington, Irving & Hoffman.

His interest in all games and amusements was great, being the amateur editor of the chess column in a New York weekly paper for some years.

In politics he was a strong abolitionist, and took an active part in the antislavery movement. So pronounced was his position and so well known, that on July 13, 1863, during the draft riots in New York City, a mob broke into his law offices and smashed all the furniture. Mr. Darlington afterward sued the municipality for the damage wrought, and was the first to recover in an action of this sort, the case being referred to today as marking a new line of municipal responsibility. As the mob was killing returned Union soldiers and hanging colored people to the lamp posts, at his own expense he sent down a whole colored family that had been pursued, to his country home in Kingston, N. J., and kept them there some months until the danger was over.

At the time of the renomination of General Grant for a second term as President, one of the general's friends offered Mr. Darlington the appointment of chief justice of the then territory of Colorado, but he was most devoted and adhered to his friend of many years, Horace Greeley, who was the nominee of the liberal republican and democratic parties, and so the appointment was not made. He resolutely and consistently declined to engage in politics, but blamed himself for over leniency in the case of Guiteau, who afterward shot President Garfield. Having a criminal suit against Guiteau, he had him shut up in prison, but after being there some months Guiteau wrote a most pitiful letter, saying that longer confinement meant his death, and Mr. Darlington, thinking that he had been punished enough, signed a paper consenting to his discharge. It was only a month or two after his release that he murdered President Garfield, and Mr. Darlington appeared against him as a witness at his trial.

In his religious life Mr. Darlington always attended the Presbyterian Church, and was teacher of the Bible class in the Mulberry Street Mission of the South Park Church in Newark, N. J., for years.

On August I, 1850, he married Hannah Anne Goodliffe, daughter of James Yarrow Goodliffe, and the issue was eight children; two, Alfred Ernest and Alice, deceased, and six, James, now Protestant Episcopal bishop of Harrisburg, Pa.; Thomas, J., now president of the board of health of New York City; Charles Francis, counselor-at-law; Gustavus C., a physician; Marion Goodliffe, and Mrs. Margaret Darlington Wilde, living. His death came suddenly, on the 18th day of May, 1903, and he was buried from the same church in which he was married, the University Place Presbyterian Church, University place and Eleventh street, New York City, from which his wife was also buried about two years before.

From:
The History of Orange County New York
Edited by: Russel Headley
Van Deusen and Elms, Publishers
Middletown, N. Y. 1908


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