Gen. Humphreys was a Revolutionary War colonel
and aide de camp to George Washington; American minister
to Portugal and then to Spain, an entrepreneur who brought
Merino sheep to America and a member of the Connecticut
state legislature. A poet and author, he was one of the
Humphreys was born on July 10, 1752 in
the First Congregational Church Parsonage, 37 Elm Street,
Derby, Connecticut. He was the youngest of five children
of the Rev. Daniel Humphreys and Sarah Riggs Bowers. As
a boy, Humphreys was passionately fond of books. His father
prepared both him and his brother, Daniel, for his own
alma mater, Yale College, and entered both of them there.
David was 15 years old when he entered the school and
19 when he graduated in 1771 with distinguished honors.
Among his college friends were Timothy Dwight IV, who
later became one of Yale's great presidents; John Trumbull,
poet and lawyer (not the artist); and Joel Barlow, poet
After graduation, Humphreys became principal
at the public school in Wethersfield, Connecticut for
two years. He then worked as a tutor for the youngest
of the 11 children of Col. Frederick Philipse at the Philipse
Manor house in what is now Yonkers, New York.
In July 1776, Humphreys enlisted in the
Continental Army as a volunteer adjutant in the 2nd Connecticut
Regiment, then stationed in New York. He later saw action
in the battle following the burning of Danbury, Connecticut
and in a later raid on Sag Harbor, New York. In that raid
the Americans captured 90 prisoners, destroyed 12 enemy
brigs and sloops, an armed vessel and an enormous quantity
of stores, and returned to Connecticut without the loss
of a single soldier. Humphreys was detailed to report
the success directly to General Washington in New Jersey.
In John Trumbull's painting "Washington
Resigning His Commission" hanging in the U.S. Capitol
rotunda, Humphreys is shown standing immediately behind
Humphreys died in his room at Butler's
Tavern in New Haven, CT on February 21, 1818 and was interred
at Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut.
NOTE: Death notice for Humphreys was published in The
Troy Post on March 3, 1818.