|Member of the New York State Senate from the 1st District|
January 1, 1884 – December 31, 1885
|Preceded by||James W. Covert|
|Succeeded by||Edward F. Fagan|
|Born||October 12, 1836|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||July 22, 1898 (aged 61)|
Bellport, New York, U.S.
(her death 1890)
|Relations||See Otis family|
|Parents||James William Otis|
Martha Church Otis
Otis was born in New York City on October 12, 1836, as a member of the prominent Boston Brahmin Otis family. He was the son of James William Otis (1800–1869) and Martha (née Church) Otis. His elder brother was William Church Otis, who married Margaret Sigourney (their daughter Violet was married to William Greenough Thayer).
He was the grandson of Harrison Gray Otis, a U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative from Massachusetts who was one of the wealthiest men of Boston during his time, and a great-grandson of Samuel Allyne Otis, a delegate from Massachusetts to the Second Continental Congress who served as the Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the 1st Secretary of the United States Senate. He was also the granduncle of Sigourney Thayer, the theatrical producer, and Robert Helyer Thayer, the U.S. Minister to Romania under Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In 1878, he was an unsuccessful candidate to represent New York's 1st District in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1883, he was elected as a Republican to represent New York's 1st Senate District (comprising Queens and Suffolk counties) in the New York State Senate during the 107th and 108th New York State Legislatures, which was during the second and third year of Grover Cleveland's governorship. During his time in the Legislature, he served alongside cousin Norton P. Otis, who represented Westchester County in the Assembly. Norton later represented New York's 19th congressional district in the House of Representatives.
In 1892, the widower Otis and several of his relatives, including his unmarried daughter Sarah and grand-nephew J. Wadsworth Ritchie, were included in Ward McAllister's "Four Hundred", purported to be an index of New York's best families, published in The New York Times. Conveniently, 400 was the number of people that could fit into Mrs. Astor's ballroom. Otis, who spent his summers in Newport, Rhode Island, was a member of the Union League and Seawanhaka Yacht Club, and was known for many years a famous cotillion leader, bon vivant and raconteur.
Otis was married to Mary Adelia Ludlum (d. 1890), daughter of Nicholas Ludlum. They had a large country home and estate in Bellport on Long Island known as "Near-the-Bay" and a home in New York City at 22 East 10th Street near Tompkins Square Park. Together, they were the parents of:
- Mary Ludlum "May" Otis (1866–1946), who married Robert R. Livingston Clarkson (1855–1924), the son of Levinus Clarkson and Mary (née Livingston) Clarkson (daughter of Lt. Gov. of New York Edward Philip Livingston), on November 6, 1886.
- James Otis Jr., who predeceased his father.
- Martha Otis, who married banker George Munroe, and lived in Paris and married in 1889.
- Sarah Birdsall Otis (1872–1940), an active campaigner for women's suffrage and the Girl Scouts of the USA (of which she served as president from 1930 until 1935). She married Frederick Edey, a member of the New York Stock Exchange, in 1893.
Otis died from congestion of the lungs on July 22, 1898, at his home in Bellport on Long Island. His funeral was held at Christ Chapel in Bellport and he was interred in the family vault in the Bellport Cemetery.
Through his daughter Mary, he was the grandfather of James Otis Clarkson (1888–1951), Mary Adelia Clarkson (1889–1976), Pauline Livingston Clarkson (1892–1983), and Elizabeth Clarkson (1896–1956).
- "DEATH LIST OF A DAY. | James Otis" (PDF). The New York Times. July 23, 1898. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. S.G. Drake. 1850. p. 143. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- Leach, Josiah Granville (1910). Some account of Capt. John Frazier and his descendants: with notes on the West and Checkley families. Printed for private circulation by J.B. Lippincott Co. pp. 48–49. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- Morison, Samuel Eliot (1913). The Life and Letters of Harrison Gray Otis, Federalist, 1765–1848. Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 238. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
- "THE LEGISLATURE OF 1884" (PDF). The New York Times. January 2, 1884. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- Hutchins, Stephen C.; Werner, Edgar Albert (1884). Civil List and Constitutional History of the Colony and State of New York. Weed, Parsons. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- McAllister, Ward (16 February 1892). "THE ONLY FOUR HUNDRED | WARD M'ALLISTER GIVES OUT THE OFFICIAL LIST. HERE ARE THE NAMES, DON'T YOU KNOW, ON THE AUTHORITY OF THEIR GREAT LEADER, YOU UNDER- STAND, AND THEREFORE GENUINE, YOU SEE" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
- Patterson, Jerry E. (2000). The First Four Hundred: Mrs. Astor's New York in the Gilded Age. Random House. p. 218. ISBN 9780847822089. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- Keister, Lisa A. (2005). Getting Rich: America's New Rich and How They Got That Way. Cambridge University Press. p. 36. ISBN 9780521536677. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
- Birmingham, Stephen (2015). Life at the Dakota: New York's Most Unusual Address. Open Road Media. p. 18. ISBN 9781504026314. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "DIED" (PDF). The New York Times. January 6, 1890. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- "Long Island Obituary Notes". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. January 5, 1890. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- Reynolds, Cuyler (1914). Genealogical and Family History of Southern New York and the Hudson River Valley: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Building of a Nation. Lewis Historical Publishing Company. p. 1334. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- "Obituary 6 -- No Title" (PDF). The New York Times. January 4, 1946. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- "Society". New York Amusement Gazette. F. T. Low.: 140 1889. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- "MRS. EDEY, LEADER IN THE GIRL SCOUTS; President of National Group, 1930–35, Dies--Succeeded as Head by Mrs. Hoover WORKED FOR SUFFRAGE Abandoned Politics to Devote Time to Girls--Was National Commissioner Since '35" (PDF). The New York Times. March 18, 1940. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- "Mrs. Frederick Edey (1872–1940)". www.nyhistory.org. New-York Historical Society. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- "Edey -- Otis" (PDF). The New York Times. September 15, 1893. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- "Funeral of ex-State Senator Otis" (PDF). The New York Times. July 26, 1898. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
|New York State Senate|
James W. Covert
| New York State Senate
Edward F. Fagan