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WILLIAM ALEXANDER STIRLING (titular) ...

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 926 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WILLIAM ALEXANDER STIRLING (titular) EARL OF (1726—1783), American soldier, was born in New York City. He was the son of James Alexander (1690—1756), at one time surveyor-general of New York and New Jersey, a noted colonial lawyer who was disbarred for a year for his conduct of the defence in the famous trial of John Peter Zenger. William served first as commissary and then as aide-de-camp to Governor William Shirley at the beginning of the French and Indian War, and in 1756 he accompanied Shirley to England, where he was persuaded to claim the earldom of Stirling (see above). In 1759 an Edinburgh jury declared him to be the nearest heir to the last earl of Stirling, and in 1761 he returned to America and assumed the title, although the House of Lords in 1762 forbade him to use it until he had proved his legal right. Soon after his return to America he settled at Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and became a member of the New Jersey Provincial Council and surveyor-general of the colony. Warmly espousing the colonial cause at the outbreak of the War of Independence, he was appointed in November 1775 colonel of the first regiment of continental troops raised in New Jersey, and in the following January distinguished himself by the capture of an armed British transport in New York Bay. In March he became brigadier-general, and for some time was in command at New York and supervised the fortification of the city and harbour. At the battle of Long Island he was taken prisoner, but was soon afterward exchanged, and in February 1777 became a major-general. He participated in the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine and Germantown, and especially distinguished himself at Monmouth. He took an active part in ladies viewed the jousts in the Valley. Adjoining the cemetery exposing the Conway Cabal, presided over the court-martial on the south is Greyfriars, the parish church, also called, since of General Charles Lee, and enjoyed the confidence of Washing- the Reformation (1656), when it was divided into two places ton to an unusual degree. In October 1781 he took command of worship, the East and West churches. David I. is believed of the northern department at Albany to check an expected to have founded (about 1130) an earlier church on their site invasion from Canada. He died at Albany on the 15th of dedicated to the Holy Rood, or Cross, which was burned in January 1783. He was a member of the board of governors of 1406. The church was rebuilt soon afterwards and possibly King's College (now Columbia University) and was himself some portions of the preceding structure were incorporated in devoted to the study of mathematics and astronomy. the nave. The choir (the East church) was added in 1494 by See W. A. Duer, " Life of William Alexander, Earl of Stirling," James IV., and the apse a few years later by James Beaton, in vol. ii. of the Collections of the New Jersey Historical Society (New archbishop of St Andrews, or his nephew, Cardinal David Beaton. York, 1847). At the west stands the stately battlemented square tower,
End of Article: WILLIAM ALEXANDER STIRLING (titular) EARL OF (1726—1783)
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