The Vanderhorst family was established in South Carolina towards the end of the seventeenth century by Elias' grandfather, a subaltern officer from Rotterdam who followed William of Orange to England in 1688 before emigrating to Charleston where his son was born. Elias' mother Mary was also born in South Carolina where her family settled after leaving Paris for religious reasons.
Elias was born on 28 August 1738 and inherited a considerable fortune when his father died during his infancy. His brothers William and Arnoldus, whose son became Governor of South Carolina, and a sister Elizabeth, whose grandson was Washington Allston the artist, are mentioned in this collection.
In 1759 and 1760, Elias served in the wars against the Cherokees and then became a merchant. He married Elizabeth* Raven Cooper (or Cowper) in 1763. [*Corrected here from 'Mary', April 2008].
An unfortunate business venture led to the loss of his money and dependence on his mother-in-law's income. Health and financial problems probably prompted Elias' emigration in 1774 with his family and mother-in-law to Bristol, where once again he became a merchant. Records within this collection reflect the family's financial interests in the labour of enslaved Africans.
On 3 October 1787 Elias became a burgess of Bristol, but he does not appear to have exercised his right to vote. Ten children were born to Elias and his wife but only six survived infancy:
Eliza Cooper Vanderhorst
Mary Cooper Vanderhorst, married John Duncombe Taylor of Antigua
Harriett Cooper Vanderhorst, married Henry Thomas Shewen of Swansea
Thomas Cooper Vanderhorst, married Hannah Beale, niece of Mrs.Bull
Anne Catherine Vanderhorst, married John Rees of Carmarthen
Carolina Mary Vanderhorst, probably died between 1796 and 1815
On 4 May 1792 George Washington as President and Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State signed the appointment of Elias Vanderhorst as US consul for the Port of Bristol and its environs. For notes on Elias' despatches, see Ref InfoBox/19/78. Elias declined reappointment as consul in 1816 and died in May that year.
Many of his papers went to his daughter, Eliza Vanderhorst, who died unmarried in 1844. She left most of her possessions to Cordelia Duncombe Taylor, her niece. Cordelia married Alexander Moffat of Antigua who then took the name Duncombe. Thomas Cooper Vanderhorst also died without children and some of his papers passed to Cordelia.
Documents relating to the Vanderhorst and Duncombe families originally deposited, in Bristol City Art Gallery by Miss EIM Duncombe and subsequently transferred to Bristol Record Office in 1948, 1954, 1959, 1960 and 1975.
1-/35: Vanderhorst and Duncombe families
/36-/42: Land in par. Llandewy Velfrey, co. Pembs
/45-/48: Land in Clifton, Bristol
/49-/54: Enslaved people and estates in America and the West Indies
/55-/63: Vanderhorst's appointment as US Consul at Bristol
/64-/114: Personal papers and letters of the Vanderhorst and Duncombe families
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