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George Lockhart Rives (May 1, 1849 – August 18, 1917),[1] was an American lawyer, politician, and author who served as United States Assistant Secretary of State from 1887 to 1889.[2]

George Lockhart Rives
N.M. Butler, G.L. Rives LCCN2014700687.tif
Rives (on the right), 1910
United States Assistant Secretary of State
In office
November 19, 1887 – March 5, 1889
PresidentGrover Cleveland
Preceded byJames D. Porter
Succeeded byWilliam F. Wharton
Personal details
Born(1849-05-01)May 1, 1849
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedAugust 18, 1917(1917-08-18) (aged 68)
Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.
Caroline Morris Kean
(m. 1873; her death 1887)

Sarah Swan Whiting Belmont
(m. 1889; his death 1917)
ParentsFrancis Robert Rives
Matilda Antonia Barclay
RelativesWilliam C. Rives (grandfather)
Alfred Rives (uncle)
Amélie Rives (cousin)
Alma materColumbia College
Trinity College, Cambridge
Columbia Law School


Early lifeEdit

Rives was born in New York City on May 1, 1849. He was the son of Francis Robert Rives (1821–1891) and Matilda Antonia (née Barclay) Rives (1829–1888).[3] Among his siblings was Ella Louise Rives King, Francis Robert Rives, Maud Antonia Rives Smith, Constance Evelyn Rives Borland, and Reginald William Rives.[a] His father was the secretary of the American legation at London under U.S. Minister to Great Britain Edward Everett during the William Henry Harrison administration.[3]

Rives was a descendant of the Schuyler, the Van Cortlandt and the Delancey families.[6] His paternal grandparents were Judith Page (née Walker) Rives, who inherited the Castle Hill plantation in Virginia from her father Francis Walker,[b] and William Cabell Rives, a U.S. Senator and Minister to France who studied law under Thomas Jefferson and was a friend of James Madison.[7][c] George's uncle was noted engineer Alfred Landon Rives and his first cousin was author Amélie Rives, who married John Armstrong Chanler (a descendant of John Jacob Astor) and, later, Russian Prince Pierre Troubetzkoy. His maternal grandparents were Louisa Anna Matilda (née Aufrére) Barclay and U.S. Civil War General George Barclay, owned Carnwath Manor in Wappinger, New York,[d] which was inherited by his father and eventually his brother Reginald.[6]

He graduated from Columbia College in 1868 with a B.A., and again in 1872 with an A.M. Also in 1872, he graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, and then from Columbia Law School in 1873.[3]


Following his graduation from Columbia Law School, he passed the bar and began practicing law in New York City.[2]

In 1887, Rives was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Latin Affairs by President Grover Cleveland to replace James Davis Porter, serving under U.S. Secretary of State Thomas F. Bayard.[8] Rives' term as Assistant Secretary of State ended in 1889 after Cleveland's defeat by Benjamin Harrison during the 1888 presidential election. Rives was succeeded by Boston lawyer William F. Wharton who served under Secretary James G. Blaine.[9]

Following his service in the State Department, he joined the firm of Ohr, Rives & Montgomery.[10] From 1896 until 1902, he was a member of the New York Rapid Transit Commission and in 1900, he was president of the Commission during its revision of the Greater New York Charter.[9]

From 1902 to 1903, during the administration of New York City Mayor Seth Low, Rives was Corporation Counsel of New York City.[9]

In 1913, he wrote and published the two volume book The United States and Mexico, 1821-1848: A History of the Relations between the Two Countries from the Independence of Mexico to the Close of the War with the United States.[2]


From 1882 until 1917, Rives was a trustee of his alma mater, Columbia University. From 1903 to 1917, he succeeded William C. Schermerhorn and served as chairman of the trustees. In 1917, he resigned as trustee and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.[9]

Rives also served as chairman of the Trustees of the New York Public Library and of the New York Hospital.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

Former home of George L. Rives in Manhattan, today the Greek Consulate General

On May 21, 1873, Rives was married to Caroline Morris Kean (1849–1887).[11] Caroline, a granddaughter of Peter Philip James Kean and great-granddaughter of Continental Congressman John Kean, was the sister of U.S. Senators John Kean[12] and Hamilton Fish Kean.[13]

After his first wife's death, Rives married for the second time to Sarah Swan (née Whiting) Belmont (1861–1924),[15] the daughter of Augustus L. Whiting and Sarah (née Swan) Whiting, on March 20, 1889.[10] From her first marriage to banker and socialite Oliver Belmont,[16][e] she was the mother of Natica Caroline Belmont (1883–1908). After George's marriage to Sarah, he adopted Natica who took the surname Rives. In 1907, she married William Burden, brother of Arthur Scott Burden and James A. Burden II, although, tragically, she died of asphyxiation in 1908, a few months after the marriage.[20] Together, George and Sarah were the parents of two additional children:

  • Francis Bayard Rives (1890–1969),[21] who married Helen Leigh Hunt (1893–1996), daughter of real estate investor Leigh S. J. Hunt and sister of Henry Leigh Hunt, who was married to Louise Lévêque de Vilmorin.[22]
  • Mildred Sara Rives (1893–1927), who married architect Frederick Marquand Godwin (1889–1961) of Cedarmere in Roslyn, New York, in 1917.[23][24] Frederick was a cousin of Professor Allan Marquand.[24] Mildred died in December 1927 giving birth to their only child, Peter Bryant Godwin, who also died during birth.[25]

The Rives had a city residence at 67–69 East 79th Street (designed by Carrère and Hastings, 1907–08), a summer home in Newport, Rhode Island, and country home Tuxedo Park, New York.[15] His portrait was painted in 1915 by the Swiss-born American artist Adolfo Müller-Ury (1862–1947) and hangs in the University; another version by the artist belonged to the sitter's family.

Rives died at his summer home in Newport on August 18, 1917.[1] His widow died at her residence, 907 Fifth Avenue in New York, on May 29, 1924.[15]


Through his son George, he was the grandfather of Anthony Barclay Rives (1909–1964), George Barclay Rives Jr. (1910–1934), and Alexander Barclay Rives (1916–1986).[14]

Through his son Francis, he was the grandfather of George Lockhart Rives and Margaret Leigh Rives, who married Robert C. Kellam.[21][26]


  1. ^ Reginald William Rives married Mary Caroline Bulkeley (b. 1850), brother of Edward H. Bulkeley.[4][5]
  2. ^ Francis Walker (1764–1806), a U.S. Representative from Virginia, was a brother of John Walker (1744–1809), a U.S. Senator from Virginia, and son of physician and explorer Dr. Thomas Walker (1715–1794), considered to be the "first white man who entered Kentucky".[3]
  3. ^ William Cabell Rives (1793–1868), also a delegate from Virginia to the Provisional Confederate Congress and member of the Confederate Congress from Virginia, was the brother of Alexander Rives (1806–1885), a Judge of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and Judge of United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant.[2]
  4. ^ George Barclay (1790–1869) was the son of Susan DeLancey Barclay (1754–1837), a granddaughter of Stephen Delancey, Thomas Henry Barclay (1753–1830), an American lawyer who became one of the United Empire Loyalists serving as Speaker of the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia.[2] George's sister, Susannah Barclay (1785–1805), was married to Peter Gerard Stuyvesant (1777–1847).[6] Louisa Anna Matilda Aufrére (1792–1868) was the daughter of Anthony Aufrère (1757–1833), the antiquary and barrister who was descended from the Huguenot Antoine Aufrère, Marquis de Corville, who fled from France in 1685.[3]
  5. ^ Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont (1858–1908) was the son of banker August Belmont and Caroline (née Perry) Belmont, the grandson of Commodore Matthew Perry, and the brother of Perry Belmont and August Belmont, Jr. After his divorce from Sarah, he married Alva Erskine Smith Vanderbilt[17] (the former wife of William K. Vanderbilt and mother of Consuelo Vanderbilt, who married Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough, William Kissam Vanderbilt II, and Harold Stirling Vanderbilt)[18] and became a member of Congress representing New York.[19]
  1. ^ a b "George L. Rives, Noted Lawyer, Dies – Once Assistant Secretary of State Succumbs at His Summer Home in Newport – Chairman Columbia Board – Ex-Corporation Counsel of New York Was President of Commission Which Revised City's Charter" (PDF). The New York Times. August 19, 1917. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e "A Guide to the Rives-Barclay Family Papers, 1698-1941Rives-Barclay Family Papers, 1698-1941". The Library of Virginia. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Volume X. New York City: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. 1879. p. 75. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Reginald Rives Sues for Divorce – Accusing His Wife of Cruelty and Desertion, He Files a Complaint at Reno". The New York Times. 16 August 1912. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Rives Says He Was Treated Cruelly – Former Plumland Commissioner: Says His Wife Did Not Treat His Fellow Horse Show Judges Courteously". The Kingston Daily Freeman. 16 August 1912. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Moffat, R. Burnham (1904). The Barclays of New York: Who They Are And Who They Are Not,--And Some Other Barclays. R. G. Cooke. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Rives, William Cabell - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  8. ^ "George Lockhart Rives - People - Department History". Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs United States Department of State. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Rives Resigns As a University Trustee. Honored at Meeting Yesterday with Honorary Degree of Doctor of Law | Trustee Since | Appointments and Gifts Announced --Work on New Building Postponed". Columbia Daily Spectator. 9 January 1917. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Wedded Very Quietly". The New York Times. March 21, 1889. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Died. Rives". The New York Times. April 1, 1887. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Ex-Senator Kean of New Jersey Dead – Passed Away Last Night at Liberty Hall, Ursino, the House in Which He Was Born – Prominent As a Banker – Defeated for Governor on Republican Ticket He Was Later Elected to United States Senate". The New York Times. 5 November 1914. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Ex-Senator Kean of New Jersey Dies – Banker and Republican Leader of Century Served Term in Washington, 1928-34 – Defeated by A.H. Moore – Member National Committee, 1916-28, Aided Nomination of Charles Evans Hughes". The New York Times. 28 December 1941. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  14. ^ a b c "G. B. Rives is Dead; Former Diplomat – Special Assistant to Gerard in Berlin During Early Part of the World War – Honored by 3 Nations – Decorated Twice by Kaiser for His Work in Connection with Prisoners". The New York Times. May 6, 1935. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  15. ^ a b c "Mrs. Sarah Whiting Rives". The New York Times. May 30, 1924. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  16. ^ "Wedding of Oliver Belmont and Miss Sarah Swan Whiting". Memphis Daily Appeal. Memphis, Tennessee. December 28, 1882. p. 1.
  17. ^ "To Wed O. H. P. Belmont. She Is the Divorced Wife of William K. Vanderbilt and the Mother of the Duchess of Marlborough, Whose Recent Wedding Was at Great Social Event. Mr. Belmont Is the Son of the Late August Belmont and Is Himself a Divorced Man. Date of the Domestic Infelicity. Objected to Nights Ashore. Groom to Be Is Popular in Society". New York Times. January 3, 1896. Retrieved 2011-05-28. Mrs. Alva S. Vanderbilt announced to her friends today that she is engaged to be married to Oliver Belmont.
  18. ^ "Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont Dies at Paris Home". New York Times. January 26, 1933. Retrieved 2010-12-09. Shock Suffered Last Spring. Complicated by Bronchial and Heart Ailments. Society Leader was 80. Former Wife of W. K. Vanderbilt. Long Held Sway in New York and in Newport Colony
  19. ^ "O.H.P. Belmont Dead After Brave Fight. He Succumbs to Septic Poisoning, Following an Operation for Appendicitis. To be Held at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Garden City. Burial at Woodlawn". The New York Times. June 11, 1908. Retrieved 2011-05-27. The death of Oliver H.P. Belmont occurred soon after 6:30 o'clock this morning at Brookholt, his Long Island country seat. ...
  20. ^ "Natica Rives Burden Killed by Gas Leak – Accidentally Asphyxiated in Her Sleep by Outpouring from a Loose Fixture – Had Been Reading in Bed And Turned Off a Reading Lamp on Which the Tube Fitted Imperfectly -- Allied to Many Social Leaders". The New York Times. February 22, 1908. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  21. ^ a b "Died. Rives--Francis Bayard". The New York Times. September 30, 1969. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  22. ^ Times, Special To the New York (December 28, 1972). "Henry Leigh Hunt". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  23. ^ "Miss Rives Weds on April 11 – Her Marriage to F.M. Godwin to be Held in Cathedral of St. John". The New York Times. February 24, 1917. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  24. ^ a b "Miss Rives, Bride of Fred. M. Godwin – Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. L. Rives Weds in Cathedral of St. John the Divine – Bishop Greer Officiates – Ceremony in Whiting Chapel Built by Bride's Mother as a Memorial". The New York Times. April 12, 1917. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  25. ^ "Died. Godwin". The New York Times. December 24, 1927. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  26. ^ "Leigh Rand Wed To Yale Student; Two Attend Her". The New York Times. June 14, 1964. Retrieved 19 June 2018.

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