Person:John Townsend (85)

Facts and Events
Name John Drake Townsend, Esq.
Gender Male
Birth[1] 1835 New York City, New York, United States
Marriage to Eliza A Delano Swan
Death[1] 25 Dec 1896 New York City, New York, United States
  1. 1.0 1.1 Family Recorded, in Tagliapietra, Margaret Townsend, and E. F Carne. Townsend-Townshend, 1066-1909: the history, genealogy and alliances of the English and American house of Townsend. (New York, New York: Broadway, 1909).

    pp 107-108 -
    John Drake [Townsend], born in N.Y.C, 183S, became better known in mature years as Hon. John D. Townsend. He was intended by his father to succeed him in the legal profession, as he very early exhibited brains of unusual power, passing rapidly and with honors through several preparatory schools, and leaving Dr. Harris's at White Plains, entered Columbia College before his fourteenth year. His father dying before his graduation, he immediately put into effect his great desire to follow the sea, visiting almost every quarter of the habitable globe. At twenty he was second officer of the historic "Flying Cloud," which made the record sailing trip from N. Y. round the Horn to San Francisco, in eighty-nine days. This visit to California made him what is recognized as one of the "Forty-niners." Upon attaining his majority he inherited a handsome fortune from his father, investing his entire capital in a mercantile house, which eventually failed, after his marriage to Eliza A. Delano Swan, of Boston, Mass., a "Mayflower" descendant.

    — Issue, Caroline Drake, Elizabeth Swan, Madeline and Margaret.

    After the business failure, Mr. Townsend, still a very young man, decided to follow his father's wish and study law, finally graduating in the Dane Law School of Harvard University. A Democrat, he represented Queen's County in the Legislature, and was the nominee for Dist. Atty. ; his party also wishing to send him to the State Senate, but withdrew, as an ever-increasing practice was now claiming his time. Throughout his legal career of thirty years he became the lawyer — generally the defendant — in almost all the noted cases of the time; a tower of strength to his clients and a most formidable opponent. He was recognized as difficult to defeat, and acquired the sobriquet of "New York's fighting lawyer." He was selected by Democrats and Republicans as counsel for the first Committee on Crime ; to investigate and report on every Department of New York City. His commanding intellect brought him respect and admiration as well as large remuneration, but money seemed the last consideration of his notable career. Although continuing in active practice, his health was failing, though not alarmingly. The end came suddenly at a large family dinner party, Christmas night, 1896, and before midnight the bulletin boards outside the newspaper offices throughout the city were announcing the fact that the great lawyer had passed away. ...