Wednesday, October 27, 2021

A decade before George Washington, a grander, newer form of monarchy was born

Why did the British aristocracy eventually break from the Capitol? Wealth and power from the American east coast spread westward. But America’s economic power helped spawn a different royal.

The British aristocracy once restricted its borders to a few aristocratic estates in Scotland, England and Ireland. A few pieces of land in the palaces nearby, very close to the capital. But quickly, American expats became a frequent visitor, and businesses began locating further west in the countryside. New settlements such as Richmond, Kentucky, Fallbrook, California, and even what was considered to be the lesser lands in the New Hampshire Granite State.

That wealth and power from the American east coast spread westward. But America’s economic power helped spawn a different royal.

Toby Coppel is a British historian living in Virginia. He wrote many books on the American colonies and English history, and is the founder of the State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College. In one of his books titled “A Year at the Point,” he describes the following interaction between the nobility and the American westward expansion, at least according to the “testimony” of the Princeton Club.

In February 1690, Robert Embley, the brother of James, Viscount St. Andrews, and the brother-in-law of Thomas Shippey, moved from Queens to the Old York Town and stayed there through the year and into the next year. Both brothers were active bankers, and the younger one had helped finance the building of what later became the Princeton Club, at the edge of the Pennsylvanian frontier town of York.

During the year, Countess Jennie Spillane, an aristocrat of varying property classes and her mother, accompanied the younger Countess to York to visit the other family in the town. The countess spent much of the year in York among friends and family and seen much of the frontier terrain.

On Christmas Eve, 1690, there was a company dinner, to be shared with friends and some of the other members. Embley called for attention of the company and declared: “I pass to enter this room with a moment’s profound regret; but I am happy for such company, through no conscious constancy, I have been with many of these people for many years, many years, in relation to our two families.”

“Quite though somewhat conceited, he did imply a deep friendship among these friends. That something real was going on there,” Coppel notes.

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