David Gelston

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David Gelston
David Gelston, 1744 - 1828.jpg
Gelston, by John Wesley Jarvis, c. 1810-1815
Collector of the Port of New York
In office
Appointed byThomas Jefferson
Preceded byJoshua Sands
Succeeded byJonathan Thompson
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
In office
Preceded byJohn Hathorn
Succeeded byJohn Lansing Jr.
Personal details
Born(1744-07-04)July 4, 1744
Bridgehampton, Province of New York, British America
DiedAugust 21, 1828(1828-08-21) (aged 84)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
Spouse(s)Pheobe Mitchell
ChildrenPheobe Gelston Floyd

David Gelston (July 4, 1744 – August 21, 1828) was an American merchant and politician.


As the American Revolution approached, Gelston became politically active. He signed the articles of association in 1774, agreeing to avoid British imports, even though this hurt his own business. He represented Suffolk County in the New York Provincial Congress of 1775 to 1777, as well as the 1777 New York State Constitutional Convention that debated and enacted the first constitution of the State of New York. He was a Democratic-Republican and he worked closely with Aaron Burr.[1][2]

He was a member from Suffolk County of the New York State Assembly from 1777 to 1785. During his last term, he was Speaker. As speaker, he took a leading role in reconciling the differences between Tory and Whig factions. He oversaw the repeal of all the laws that had imposed civil and legal penalties on Tories.[1]

In 1787, he removed to New York City, and from 1787 to 1801, was Surrogate of New York County. In 1789, the State Assembly appointed him a delegate to the last session of the Continental Congress. He was a member of the New York State Senate from 1791 to 1794, and from 1798 to 1802.[1]

In 1801, Gelston was appointed Collector of the Port of New York by President Thomas Jefferson, and held that post until 1821 when he retired.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Gelston was married to Pheobe Mitchell. Together, they were the parents of:

  • Pheobe Gelston (1771–1836), who married Nicoll Floyd, the son of William Floyd.

It was during 1792, that Charles Willson Peale was commissioned by Gelston, a notable American during the time, to paint a "head size" portrait of Gelston as well as a companion piece of his wife and daughter.[3] This painting is currently displayed at the La Salle Art Museum.[4][5]

Gelston died on August 21, 1828 in New York City. He was buried in the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery in New York.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Hough, Franklin Benjamin (1858). The New York Civil List: Containing the names and origin of the civil divisions, and the names and dates of election or appointment of the principal state and county officers from the Revolution to the present time. Weed, Parsons and Co. pp. 114f, 117f, 141, 275 and 415. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  2. ^ Jefferson, Thomas; Oberg, Barbara B. (1950). The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: 1 July to 12 November 1802. Princeton University Press. p. 677. ISBN 9780691153230. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  3. ^ Sellers, Charles (1962). . Portraits and Miniatures by Charles Willson Peale. Barnes Foundation. pp. 85, 264.
  4. ^ "David Gelston (1744-1828)". www.nyhistory.org. New-York Historical Society. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  5. ^ Scarborough, Klare; Dixon, Susan (2015). Art and Social Change. p. 80. ISBN 9780988999961. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  6. ^ "GELSTON, David - Biographical Information". bioguide.congress.gov. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 28 August 2019.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John Hathorn
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Succeeded by
John Lansing Jr.
Government offices
Preceded by
Joshua Sands
Collector of the Port of New York
Succeeded by
Jonathan Thompson