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Burr Sub-Leases a Lot on Richmond Hill Estate Land he had Leased from Trinity Church
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AARON BURR. Partially Printed Indenture Signed “Aaron Burr,” to Mathew Goul, July 20, 1797, New York, with additional certification on verso, August 30, 1797, also signed “Aaron Burr.” 2 pp., 9¾ x 15¾ in.

Inventory #24953       Price: $2,000

In 1767, Major Abraham Mortier obtained a 99-year-lease from Trinity Church on a 26-acre parcel in Manhattan. Mortier, the Paymaster for the British Army in colonial New York, built the estate of Richmond Hill on the property. The main house, at what is now the intersection of Varick and Charlton Streets, was near the footpath and plank that connected the city of Manhattan with Greenwich Village. Sir Jeffrey Amherst used Mortier’s house as his headquarters at the end of the French and Indian War. In April to August 1776, it served as George Washington’s headquarters. It was later briefly the official residence of Vice President John Adams during the first presidency, before the capital temporarily moved to Philadelphia. Abigail Adams wrote of the estate:

“In natural beauty it might vie with the most delicious spot I ever saw. It is a mile and a half from the city of New York. The house stands upon an eminence: at an agreeable distance flows the noble Hudson, bearing upon its bosom innumerable small vessels laden with the fruitful productions of the adjacent country.”

In 1794, Aaron Burr purchased the property as a “country” home, a mile and a half north of the city. In the winters, people would ice skate on “Burr’s Pond.” One day in 1797, Burr’s fourteen-year-old daughter Theodosia received an unexpected visit from Joseph Brant, the Mohawk chieftain, carrying a letter of introduction from her father.

Burr soon sub-leased several parcels. This indenture leases a 25 by 100 feet lot on Brannon (now Spring) Street to tavern keeper Mathew Goul, for 66 years, for £60 per year. Goul signed the document in the lower margin along with Burr and two witnesses, John A. Winans and Isaac Vanvleck.

The lease ended in 1863, three years before the land reverted to Trinity Church, when Burr’s heirs would have had the right of renewal. In 1807, Burr’s plans for building three new streets of houses was approved by the City Council. He mortgaged approximately 240 building lots to the Bank of the Manhattan Company, for $38,000. His creditors eventually sold the estate to John Jacob Astor, for $32,000.


This Indenture made the twentieth day of July in the Year one thousand seven hundred and ninety seven Between Aaron Burr, of the City of New-York, of the one part, and Mathew Goul of the same City of the other part… To have and to hold the said Lot or piece of Ground with the appurtenances, unto the said Mathew Goul his Executors, Administrators or Assigns from the first day of May last past for the full end and term of sixty six years Yielding and Paying therefor yearly and every year during the said term of sixty six years unto the said Aaron Burr his Executors, Administrators or Assigns the rent or sum of fifteen Pounds current money of New York....

*This item is also being offered in part II of The Alexander Hamilton Collection

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