Stephen Sayre (1736-1818)

Stephen Sayre was born in Long Island, graduated from Princeton University and served as a captain of militia in the last of the French and Indian Wars. At about thirty years of age, Sayre visited England and was part of the thousand-strong American community living in London during the outbreak of the War of Independence. He was chosen High Sheriff of the city of London, in 1774. His zeal for the independence of America was unmeasured. In October, 1775, he was arrested on a charge of high treason for attempting to seize the King on his way to Parliament and overturn the present government.

Sayre was committed to the Tower of London, from which he was released by Lord Mansfield who granted a writ of habeas corpus. Subsequently he was tried and acquitted. After leaving England, Sayre was employed by Benjamin Franklin upon several important missions, and for some time was his private secretary. In 1777 he accompanied Arthur Lee on his mission to the court of Frederick the Great. After leaving Berlin, at the time of the first suggestion of the League of Armed Neutrality, Mr. Sayre visited Copenhagen, Stockholm and St. Petersburg, and in each of these capitals procured ample supplies for the support of American independence.

After the peace of 1783, Mr. Sayre and his wife, Elizabeth, returned to this country and purchased the 211 acre Point Breeze estate, near Bordentown. They lived at Point Breeze until 1816, when they sold the property to Joseph Bonaparte and retired to their son’s estate in Virginia.

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