In a Greenwich Village guidebook written in the 1880’s, the author decried the row of ugly new brownstone townhouses on Charles and Perry and the tearing down of Sir Peter Warren’s mansion. Indeed, if you look at a map of the Village before 1866 you will discover the last square block of green between West Fourth and Bleecker and Charles to Perry but who was Sir Peter? Why was he so famous that he was buried in Westminster Abbey?
Social graces endure under Sir Peter Warren’s centuries old honey suckle tree. Designed by Roemer Designs LLC. @roemerdesigns
Born in Ireland on the 10th of March 1703, Peter Warren entered the Royal Navy when he was 13 years of age. Rising rapidly through the ranks, he was appointed captain of his own ship in 1727. His ship patrolled the water off the American colonials, protecting British interests from the French. He commanded His Majesty’s naval forces during the attack on the French fortress at Louisbourg, Nova Scotia in 1745.
Peter Warren’s adventures on the high seas made him a rich man. It was common practice in the 18th century for the victorious navy to keep the spoils of the defeated one. With his wealth Sir Peter bought thousands of acres of land near present-day Schenectady, New York. He also bought 300 acres in Greenwich Village. He built a manor house on his Village estate; it had a direct sightline to the Hudson River. I have it on good authority that behind Number 69 Charles Street a tree still stands that had been in Sir Peter’s front yard!
Sir Peter married well. In 1731, Susanna Delancey became his wife. She brought two trust funds to the marriage, as well as later inheritances from her father and her mother, who was a Van Cortlandt. Susanna’s brother James had a farm on land that would become Manhattan’s Lower East Side, whose main thoroughfare would be named for the family.
Susannah gave birth to six children; two died in 1744 during an outbreak of smallpox in New York. Sir Peter, his wife and their four surviving daughters moved to England in 1747. One of those daughters, Charlotte would marry Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon. For a wedding gift, Sir Peter gave the couple some of the land on his Greenwich Village estate. That land was in the vicinity of the Village’s Abingdon Square Park. When New York City officials were seeking to purge the town of its British-associated names in 1797 it was decided that Abingdon Square should be retained because the earl and countess were supporters of the colonists’ drive for independence.
There are more stories connected with Sir Peter and his land. Discover what they are on Walk About New York’s Greenwich Village Walking Tour. ( http://www.walkaboutny.com ).