Posts Tagged ‘Lord Cornbury’

Did New York have a cross-dressing governor?

June 13, 2008

Depends on who you ask. This portrait is supposedly of Edward Hyde—aka, Lord Cornbury, the man who was appointed “His High Mightiness the Governor of the Colony” in 1702. 

After arriving at the Battery from London to much fanfare, Lord Cornbury started exhibiting some erratic behavior. In All Around the Town, Herbert Asbury writes:

“Thereafter, two or three times a week, but always at night, His High Mightiness appeared on the streets of New York wearing Lady Cornbury’s clothing. He was invariably drunk and disorderly, but he was not molested, for the night watchman realized that to interfere with the Governor’s little outings would imperil his job, and probably his liberty as well.”

Some historians think that stories of Lord Cornbury dressing in his wife’s “best silks and satins” are just rumors spread by his enemies. He had many; he so appalled New Yorkers with his corrupt, loutish governing style that they demanding he be removed from office, which he was, in 1707. 

The Lord Cornbury Scandal, published in 2000, examines the facts. The portrait belongs to the New-York Historical Society.