Attorney General of New York, 1788-1789
Richard Varick was born at Hackensack, New Jersey, on March 25, 1753. Privately educated, he studied law in the offices of John Morin Scott during the years 1771 to 1774 and was admitted to the bar in New York City on October 22, 1774. Scott invited Varick to join him in partnership but not long afterward, Varick, who shared Scott’s political views, enlisted in the New York City militia. In June 1775, Varick was appointed military secretary to General Philip Schuyler, from September 1776, he served as Deputy Commissary General of Musters for the Northern army, and on April 10, 1777, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Later Varick was the military secretary to General Schuyler, the recording secretary for George Washington and was responsible for organizing the 44 volumes of wartime papers.
When the British forces were evacuated from New York City in 1783, Richard Varick became Recorder of the City, a position he held until 1788 when he was appointed Attorney General of the State of New York. In 1789, Governor George Clinton appointed Varick Mayor of New York City, a position he held until 1801. During this time, he oversaw the City’s rapid growth, dealt with public health epidemics, and instituted penal reforms and relief for the poor.
Richard Varick and Samuel Jones were appointed by the Legislature to produce a revision of the Laws of New York and their work was published in 1789. Meanwhile, Varick became Speaker of the Assembly in 1787.
With fellow attorneys Dey and Radcliff, he founded Jersey City where he died on July 30, 1831. His funeral was held in New York City and Chancellor James Kent was among the pallbearers.
Charles Elliott Fitch. Encyclopedia of Biography of New York (1916)