George Clinton Signature and Great Seal of New York State Collection
1781-1801

SC23299

Quantity: 1 box (10 folio documents; 0.25 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Collation of documents previously accessioned separately.
Processed By: Bryana Wachowicz, University at Albany, Student Intern, July 2014

View catalog record

Historical Note:

George Clinton served as the first governor of New York State from July 30, 1777, to June 30, 1795, and again from July 1, 1801 to June 30, 1804.

The first seal of New York State was the Great Seal of 1777, which was devised by a committee appointed April 15, 1777, “to be used for all the purposes for which the Crown Seal was used under the Colony.” On the front (obverse) is a rising sun with the motto “Excelsior” and the legend “The Great Seal of the State of New York.” On the reverse is a rock in the ocean, with the legend “Frustra.” For more information on the various seals of what is now New York State see: Werner, Edgar A. Civil List and Constitutional History of the Colony and State of New York (Albany: Weed, Parsons & Col, Publishers, 1889), pages 148+.

Seals were used to authenticate or validate documents, sometimes in place of signatures. They also were used to physically seal items of importance. Seals on documents usually were made of beeswax. To make a seal, a matrix was required; matrixes usually were cast in bronze. Seals were either applied directly to the documents or, in the case of pendant seals, were attached to documents with silk or hemp cords, or strips of parchment. Pendant seals were double-sided, consisting of the obverse (the face) and the reverse.

Scope and Content Note:

This collection of documents with pendant seals, issued by New York State Governor George Clinton between 1781 and 1801, illustrate some of the power held by the chief executive of the state during that time.

Six of the ten documents are patents granting land to individuals; three documents are appointments of individuals to public office: a master of chancery, a coroner in Rensselaer County, and an attorney solicitor and advocate general of New York State; and one document removes an individual from office in Otsego County.

Three of the documents are parchment (Folders 1, 3 and 9). The seal for the document in Folder 1 is attached to the document by a parchment tab; the seals for the other documents are attached to the documents by ribbons; the seal for the document in Folder 9 is no longer attached to the document.

Provenance Note:

The items in this collection originally had been cataloged separately and were brought together in July 2014 to preserve the documents and the seals attached to them.

Box and Folder List:


Box Folder Bibliographic Information
1 1 Commission of Gilbert Livingston, Esq. (of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) as Master of Chancery, June 28, 1781. D.S. 1p. 19.75 x 34 cm. (parchment); 28 x 34 cm. (parchment plus pendant seal). Original call number: 6522
1 2 Letters patent to Melancton Smith for “certain tract of land situate in the County of Montgomery between the Delaware and Susquehana [sic] rivers, May 5, 1788. D.S. 1p. 43 x 51.25 cm. (paper); 46 x 51.25 cm. (paper plus pendant seal). Original call number: 16909
1 3 Letters patent to Major General Alexander McDougall of land in Camillus, Scipio and Marcellus, Montgomery County [sic], July 3, 1790. D.S.  1p. 30 x 47 cm. (parchment); 40 x 47 cm (parchment plus pendant seal). Original call number: 13405

Concerns lots no. 55 in the township of Camillus; no. 44 in the township of Scipio; and no. 49 in the township of Marcellus. Countersigned: Lewis A. Scott, Secretary.

1 4 Patent to Benjamin Bevens for lot 94 in town of Brutus. New York, July 7, 1790.  D.S. (printed form). 1p. 29.5 x 47 cm. (paper); 39 x 47 cm. paper plus pendant seal). Original call number: 1343
1 5 Letters patent (deed) to Joseph Carman of land in the Township of Lysander, Montgomery County, July 8, 1790. D.S. (printed form). 1p. 28.5 x 46 cm. (paper); 39 x 46 cm. (paper plus pendant seal). Original call number: 7634
1 6 Letters patent (deed) to Israel Philps [Philips?] of land in the Township of Cato, Montgomery County, July 8, 1790. D.S. (printed form) 1p. 28.5 x 46 cm. (paper); 39 x 46 cm. (paper plus pendant seal). Original call number: 7635
1 7 Letters patent to Robert Welding of land in the Township of Junius, Montgomery County, January 29, 1791. D.S. 1p. 29 x 47.5 cm. (paper); 39 x 47.5 cm. (paper plus pendant seal). Original call number: 17024
1 8 Letters patent appointing James Smith one of the coroners in Rensselaer County, February 18, 1791. D.S. 1 (4)p. 17.5 x 33 cm. (paper); 27 x 33 cm. (paper plus pendant seal). Original call number: 9085

Signature of Robert Harper, secretary, on back.

1 9 Commission of Nathaniel Lawrence, Esq., as attorney solicitor and advocate general of New York State, December 24, 1792. D.S. 1p. 20.5 x 38 cm. (parchment); 18.75 cm. (diameter of detached pendant seal). Original call number: 1823

Lossing pt. 4, A995, 1913, #48

1 10 Manuscript document that “amove[s] [sic] and discharge[s]” Jacob Morris from the office of clerk of the court of common pleas and from the office of clerk of the peace and of the court of sessions in Otsego County. Albany, August 14, 1801. D.S. 1p. 29.5 x 41.25 cm. (paper); 36.25 x 41.25 cm. (paper plus pendant seal). Original call number: 1010

Also signed by Thomas Tillotson, secretary of state.

Last Updated: October 2, 2014