Francis Robert Rives (1821-1891)

Francis R. Rives, of "Carnwath" New York; Secretary to the U.S. Minister, London

Associated Houses


Wappingers Falls

He was born at "Castle Hill" in Albemarle Co., Virginia. He accompanied his parents to France in 1829 and was educated in Paris, Washington D.C., and at the University of Virginia. After graduating (1840) he studied law. Before he was called to the Bar he was appointed by President Tyler as Secretary to the Legation in London under Minister Edward Everett. He resigned in 1844 and established himself in New York the following year where he entered into practise with Alexander Hamilton Jr. specialising in real estate law. He was a trustee of the New York Life Insurance & Trust Company as well as many other businesses and charitable organizations.

On the outbreak of Civil War, he was torn by his native alliances and those of his new life in New York and all but retired from society until peace was declared. He was President of the Southern Society; Vice-President of the Knickerbocker Club; and, Vice-President of The Coaching Club, taking an active in the Annual New York Horse Show. He was President of the "New York Farmers" (an association of fifty of the city's wealthiest owners of country-seats) and in 1872 was invited to join "The Patriarchs," an exclusive group of 25-men who were deemed to be the most important members of society.

In 1848, he married Matilda, the only child of George Barclay from an old New York Tory family. They were the parents of seven children. He lived between two houses both of which he inherited from his father-in-law: 8 Washington Place in New York City, next door to Commodore Vanderbilt at 10 Washington Place; and, Carnwath, a 200-acre estate in Dutchess County, New York. His "singularly happy married life" was terminated by his wife's death in 1888 and he died three years later at Carnwath. 
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 28/10/2019 and last updated on 10/05/2022.