Attorney General of New York, 1701
Sampson Shelton Broughton, a barrister at the Middle Temple, London, was appointed Attorney General of the Province of New York in June 1700. He sailed from Gravesend with his wife and six children and landed at New York on July 24th, 1701. Broughton brought with him a law library of 35 legal treatises.
Although the first Attorney General commissioned by letters patent from the Crown, Broughton nevertheless served at the pleasure of the sovereign rather than during good behavior. Broughton was sworn in as Advocate General of the Court of Admiralty on August 4, 1701 and on the following day was sworn in as Attorney General of the Province of New York. Almost immediately, tensions arose between Broughton and Chief Justice William Atwood over Atwood’s decision to prosecute those who opposed him. When Broughton refused to proceed in the Nicholas Bayard Treason Trial, on the ground that Bayard’s actions were not treasonous, Thomas Weaver was commissioned as Solicitor-General, an office unknown in the Province, to pursue the case against Bayard.
Six weeks later, both Atwood and Weaver were forced to flee the Province in disgrace. Although technically Broughton had not been suspended from office, but was merely prevented from acting, the Crown sent an order “restoring” him to office and stating that it was “not fit that any person should be punished for giving his opinion in matters referred to him.” From May 20, 1702, onward Broughton also performed the duties of the Recorder of the City of New York. He was appointed to the Governor’s Council in 1703.
Sampson Shelton Broughton died in New York in February 1705.
Paul Mahlon Hamlin, Charles Edwin Baker. Supreme Court of Judicature of the Province of New York, 1691-1704 (1959)