Benjamin Fletcher


Public life


NA/Mid-Atlantic region


Anglo-American Atlantic World (1641-1750)








Imperial commander in Ireland, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania

In 1691 [Sir Robert] Southwell put Major Fletcher's name before William Blathwayt, secretary at war and of plantations and state, for the command of New York. As Blathwayt recalled, "His Majesty Having of his own choice in considering of his Services during the whole war of Ireland" selected Fletcher for "New York as a person very fitt to manage the Warr in those Parts." Fletcher was brevetted colonel by the king on 9 March 1692. He crossed the Atlantic in company with Sir Edmund Andros, who was outbound to command Virginia, and landed from HMS Wolfe in New York� on 30 August 1692�

Raised in the rough school of Irish garrison government, Fletcher used his garrison companies and naval crews to control city elections in New York. He gave huge land grants to his political followers. He kept up the provincial army by drafts from the militia, officered it with Anglo-Irish cadets, supplied it poorly by corrupt commissaries, and paid for all with funds authorized by councillors and assemblymen, whom he rewarded with permission to connive at piracy and engage in illegal trade�

[The Board of Trade's] report of March 1699� admonished Fletcher for carelessness in dealing with pirates and criticized his excessive land grants. As King William himself was guilty on both fronts, for example, he patronized the New York pirate William Kidd and made huge land grants to Irish favorites such as Bellomont, he ordered Fletcher's bond discharged. The colonel retired to Dublin, where he died

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