Sunday, December 10, 2017

Living(ston) History 2 On the Mother's Side: A Trip to Merrie Olde England

friend of the family
the young Theodore Roosevelt
As in the case of crime writer Rufus King, who through his mother, Amelia Sarony Lambert King, was related to the Saronys, including Napoleon Sarony, the renowned 19th-century celebrity photographer, some of the most interesting relations of crime writer Armstrong Livingston are found on his mother's side of the family. 

While Livingston's wealthy and socially prominent paternal relations were comparatively easy to locate, however, his maternal ancestors offered more of a tangle. Much has been untangled, however.

Armstrong Livingston's father, criminal defense attorney and assemblyman Robert Armstrong Livingston, wed Florence Olivia Scott at St. Bartholmew's Episcopal Church in Manhattan in 1882; and Armstrong, the couple's only child, was born three years later.  Along with two other weddings performed that day, the lavish Livingston-Scott nuptials were given a sizable write-up in the New York Times society pages, under the the rather flaunting headline, "Three Fashionable Weddings [couples named]--Costly Presents.

Guests at the Livingston affair included Livingston's fellow assemblymen Theodore Roosevelt and Hamilton Fish II, who politically went on the bigger the things (the Presidency of the United States and the US House of Representatives; Fish was also the political "boss" of Putnam County, New York, whence Livingston came), as well as Stuyvesant Fish, future president of the Illinois Central Railroad, and William Kissam Vanderbilt, a grandson of the late Cornelius Vanderbilt and then the wealthiest man in America. 

Gilded wedding guests: Stuyvesant Fish House
at East 78th Street and Madison Avenue
The presence of all these swells kind of makes me feel sorry for the two other couples who also had their weddings take place that day!  Good heavens, was there enough society to go around?

Concerning family antecedents, the Times article states merely that Robert Armstrong Livingston's bride was the stepdaughter of the distinguished Dr. EW Ranney, who gave away the bride. (There were no bridesmaids present.) 

Dr. Ranney was Evander Willard Ranney, one of 13 children of Vermont farmer and country doctor Waitstill Randolph
, a beloved figure in Vermont who had served in the state as lieutenant governor.  He had two other sons who became doctors in New York: Lafayette Ranney, who for many years was a city police surgeon, and James Ranney, who served several tears in the city as a coroner.

Evander Ranney was the second of three husbands of Armstrong Livingston's maternal grandmother, Olivia Griffith Hoyt (1835-1912).  More on Olivia in a bit; in the meantime, on to her first spouse!

The first husband of Olivia Griffith, as she was then known, was John Hanby Scott, a figure who remains rather nebulous, though I've sketched in quite a bit of his canvas. John Hanby Scott was born on September 23, 1828 in the Yorkshire (West Riding) city of Sheffield, England, and died prematurely at the age of 39 in Queens, New York on July 15, 1868. 

engraved handle of Sellers razor
John was the son of James Scott (1796-1870) and his first wife, Sarah Margaret Sellers (1798-1829). Sarah Sellers Scott having died when her only child was but a baby, James, I surmise, committed the boy to the care of relatives. 

These relatives possibly included John Sellers (1793-1855), a Sheffield manufacturer of pen-knife blades, surgical instruments, razors and engravers' plates and tools (see above).

Little more than a year after his first wife's death, James Scott wed Matilda Barton, who with her sister Mary, ran a "School for Educating Young Ladies" at imposing Highfield House in Wath-upon-Dearne, a town about 12 miles distant from Sheffield.  Mary Barton married at this time as well and left Highgate House, but Matilda, along with her husband James, a drawing master, maintained the establishment for the next four decades, until James' death. 

James Scott probably was the son of a wood carver and gilder from Grantham, Lincolnshire and he definitely was the nephew of Abraham Hanby of Bridgehoueses, Yorkshire (is this connected with the abandoned railway station in Sheffield?), for whom he partly named his son.  Not long before his own death in 1870 James erected in the cemetery as Wath-upon-Dearne a memorial stone in memory of both his uncle and his son, who of course had recently died abroad in New York.

Highfield House, Wath-upon-Dearne, Yorkshire, where
for four decades the maternal great-grandfather of
Armstrong Livingston and his second wife
ran a school for young ladies

In New York, John Hanby Scott was a merchant in Queens who with his family resided at 80 Jamaica Street, but beyond that I know nothing about the man's career.  Certainly his widow married well in her second husband, Dr. Ranney, as did his two daughters (at least monetarily), these being Armstrong Livingston's mother, Florence Olivia Scott (1862), and Armstrong's maternal aunt, Julia Hoyt Scott (1858-1936).

Two years before her sister, in 1880, Julia Hoyt Scott wed Captain Edward Arthur Johnson, of Thornhill House, Wath-upon-Dearne, the locale of Highfield House, her late Grandfather Scott's educational establishment for Victorian misses. 

Julia Hoyt Scott
(later Mrs.Edward Johnson
and later yet Countess Erdody)
Captain Johnson, "an officer in her Majesty's reserves," received a lavish write-up in the Times, which declared that he

is of an old English family, inheriting large wealth and a fine estate in Canisbrough, England [sic], upon which the pair will take up their residence after making a tour of the United States, and visiting Saratoga, Newport, and other Summer resorts.

The next year Julia and Edward were residing at the aforementioned Thornhill House, where Edward had followed in the professional path of his father, William Johnson: he was a wine and spirits merchant. 

Readers of the Times 1880 wedding account might have been forgiven for expecting the Johnsons to have been longtime quasi-feudal landowners, but such was the case!  Perhaps Florence's and Julia's merchant father, John Hanby Scott, had been a dealer in wine and spirits as well.

Unfortunately the marriage between Julia and Edward ended less than a decade later in divorce.  In 1892, however, Julia married into genuine nobility when she wed Jean Ladislas Louis Gilbert George, Count Erdody, of Gyepufuzes, Austria-Hungary (today Kohfidisch, in the state of Burgenland, Austria), where the Erdody family had long maintained "small palace," today called Schloss Kohfidisch.  Julia may not have found herself a prince, but she did catch a count, and she could finally say, without too much exaggeration, that she lived in a castle.

Which was appropriate enough, for her (and Armstrong Livingston's) ancestors were descended from French nobility, though admittedly of a rather quirky quality.  More on this soon.

schloss kohfidisch

No comments:

Post a Comment