Leaves From the Ferris Family Tree

The lineage of Jeffrey Ferris in America

Colonel Benjamin Clinton Ferris

I don’t have a great deal of information about this notable descendent of Jeffrey Ferris. As the great-great-great grandson of Jeffrey, he was born to Benjamin and Anna Maria Ferris in 1817 and, apparently, died in the Crimean War about 1854. He was intimately involved with the Irish rebels that congregated in New York City in the 1840s, and was a key player in the creation of the the First Irish Regiment of the New York State militia that would latter become the fabled 69th Regiment.

New York City, essentially Manhattan, was crammed full of Irish immigrants in the late 1840s. They had fled the potato famine and the failure of the Young Ireland Rebellion of 1848. Many of the principals in that revolt who escaped the British came to America. In New York, they formed armed companies that would drill regularly. They would also serve as “protectors” of the Irish community from gang activity.

The city fathers and politicians at the state level recognized that these groups were not contributing to the peace and sought to bring them under control. In December 1849, the first Irish Regiment was recognized and less than a year later it became the the 9th Regiment of the New York State Militia with Colonel Benjamin Clinton Ferris, Commander.

History of the Sixty-Ninth Regiment, New York

There is almost a complete lack of information concerning these negotiations, which seem to have been of a complex nature, involving Colonel Ebenezar Jesup, Lt. Col. Benjamin Clinton Ferris, Adjutant Charles Sweeny and Paymaster Charles E. Shea of the Ninth Regiment, and James Huston, Michael Phalen, Michael Doheny, and Richard O’Gorman. All were lawyers, except Michael Phalen and James Huston. Michael Doheny, James Huston and O’Gorman had been leaders of the Young Ireland Party in Ireland in 1848. Major General Charles W. Sandford, commanding the First Division, was also a lawyer.

The Colonel’s father had been a noted politician in the city, serving in the New York State Assembly and as Sheriff of New York County. It is unclear what sort of education and occupation the Colonel had, though the New York City directory for 1846-47 has a Benjamin C. Ferris practicing law at 20 Chambers St. He may have lived at 111 Bleecker St., now buried under NYU student housing.

The British were involved in the Crimean War from 1853 to 1856. Many in New York felt that the opportunity was at hand to raise the flag of revolt in the old country, but others, equally patriotic, opposed it. It’s clear that the Ninth was formed to provide a cadre of trained soldiers for a future Irish rebellion that never happened.

The Bombs & Bones website has this to say

(1.1.3.4.6) BENJAMIN CLINTON FERRIS born 1817 and died in the Crimean War; unmarried

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