A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.


Archibald Kennedy

c. 1723 - 1794

Archibald Kennedy, Jr. was born circa 1723 in New York. He joined the Royal Navy at age 14 as a captain's servant and became a captain himself at age 34. He amassed a fortune in prize money during the French and Indian War, and became one of New York's largest landowners by the 1760s. He served as Royal Navy Commander of the British blockade of New York Harbor during the Stamp Act riots of November 1765. He was temporarily removed of his command, however, after refusing the governor's request to relocate the British stamps held at Fort George to one of the ships under his command. As a result, the stamps were seized by a colonial mob on 5 November and destroyed. His reluctance to follow orders was likely prompted by a fear that colonists would seize his valuable New York property in an effort to obtain the stamps. Kennedy was later cleared of wrongdoing by a Royal Navy investigation; he moved to Britain in 1781 and became the eleventh Earl of Cassillis.