The Recorder of New York City was a municipal officer of New York City from 1683 until 1907. He was at times a judge of the Court of General Sessions, of the Court of Special Sessions, and the New York Court of Common Pleas; Vice-President of the Board of Supervisors of New York County; Vice-President of the Board of Aldermen of New York City; Deputy Mayor of New York City; a director of the Bank of the Manhattan Company; a commissioner of the city's Sinking fund; a commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Board; and sat on the boards of many charitable organizations. The Recorder was not a recorder of deeds, these were kept by the Register of New York City.
The first recorders were appointed by the colonial governor, and held the office "during the Governor's pleasure", meaning that there was no defined term of office.
From 1787 to 1875, the recorder was also a member of the Board of Supervisors of the County of New York, which consisted of the mayor, the recorder and the aldermen of New York City. In the absence of the mayor, the recorder presided over the Board.
On December 15, 1847, the City Charter was amended, providing for the election of the recorder by popular ballot at the same time of the general elections (the Tuesday after the first Monday in November), to take office on January 1 next for a term of three years.
In 1857, when the New York Metropolitan Police was created, the recorder became one of the commissioners of the Police Board.
The recorder's term was extended to six years during John K. Hackett's first term. After the adoption of the "Judicial Article" in 1869, the Recorder was not considered a municipal officer any more, but a judicial officer. He ceased to be a member of the Board of Supervisors, and his term was extended to 14 years, to match the term length of the other judges and justices of the New York courts.
The recorder remained one of the judges of the Court of General Sessions (the New York City court of general jurisdiction in criminal cases) until the office was abolished in 1907.
List of Recorders
|Recorder||Took office||Left office||Party||Notes|
|James Graham||1683||1689?||Attorney General of Province of New York, 1685|
|William Pinhorne ||1691||1693||New York Supreme Court judge, 1691. New Jersey Supreme Court judge, c.1698. C-in-C New Jersey, 1709.|
|James Graham||1693||1701||Attorney General of Province of New York, 1685|
|Sampson Shelton Broughton||1703||1705||Attorney General of Province of New York, 1701|
|May Bickley||1709||1712||also acting Attorney General of Province of New York, 1708–12|
|David Jamison||1712||1725||acting Attorney General of Province of New York, 1712|
|Daniel Horsmanden||1736||1747||also Supreme Court judge, 1737–1747. Chief Justice, 1763.|
|Thomas Jones||November 19, 1769||October 13, 1773|
|Robert R. Livingston||October 13, 1773||1774||Supreme Court judge, 1763|
|John Watts||1774||February 20, 1784||last recorder appointed by the colonial governor, remained in office until the capture of New York City by the revolutionary forces|
|Richard Varick||February 20, 1784||September 29, 1789||in 1787 and 1788 also Speaker of the New York State Assembly, and from April 1788 to September 1789 also New York State Attorney General; left both offices upon appointment as Mayor of New York City|
|Samuel Jones||September 29, 1789||March 28, 1797||Federalist||appointed New York State Comptroller|
|James Kent||March 28, 1797||February 15, 1798||Federalist||appointed to the New York Supreme Court|
|Richard Harison||February 15, 1798||August 25, 1801||Federalist||also United States Attorney for the District of New York from 1789 to 1801|
|John B. Prevost||August 25, 1801||November 10, 1804||Dem.-Rep.||appointed to the Superior Court of the Territory of Orleans|
|Maturin Livingston||November 10, 1804||March 26, 1806||Dem.-Rep./Lewisite|
|Pierre C. Van Wyck||March 26, 1806||February 16, 1807||Dem.-Rep./Clintonian|
|Maturin Livingston||February 16, 1807||February 8, 1808||Dem.-Rep./Lewisite||second tenure|
|Pierre C. Van Wyck||February 8, 1808||February 13, 1810||Dem.-Rep./Clintonian||second tenure|
|Josiah Ogden Hoffman||February 13, 1810||February 19, 1811||Federalist|
|Pierre C. Van Wyck||February 19, 1811||February 8, 1813||Dem.-Rep./Clintonian||third tenure|
|Josiah Ogden Hoffman||February 8, 1813||March 6, 1815||Federalist||second tenure|
|Richard Riker||March 6, 1815||April 6, 1819||Dem.-Rep./Clintonian;
|Peter A. Jay||April 6, 1819||March 6, 1821||Federalist|
|Richard Riker||March 6, 1821||1823||Dem.-Rep./Bucktail||second tenure|
|Samuel Jones||1823||1824||son of the previous Recorder of the same name|
|Robert H. Morris||1838||1841||Democrat||removed from office by Gov. William H. Seward, but elected Mayor of New York City|
|Frederick Augustus Tallmadge||1841||1846||Whig|
|John B. Scott||1846||December 31, 1848||Democrat|
|Frederick Augustus Tallmadge||January 1, 1849||December 31, 1851||Whig||second tenure; first recorder elected by popular ballot|
|Francis R. Tillou||January 1, 1852||December 31, 1854||Democrat|
|James M. Smith, Jr.||January 1, 1855||December 31, 1857||Democrat|
|George G. Barnard||January 1, 1858||December 31, 1860||Democrat|
|John T. Hoffman||January 1, 1861||December 31, 1865||Democrat||elected Mayor of New York City during his second term|
|John K. Hackett||March 6, 1866||December 26, 1879||Democrat||elected by the Board of Supervisors to fill vacancy; then elected as a Democrat to two terms (1867–69 and 1870–75); in 1875 elected on Republican and Anti-Tammany tickets; died in office|
|Frederick Smyth||December 31, 1879||1894||Democrat||elected by the Board of Supervisors to fill vacancy; in 1880 elected to full 14-year term|
|John W. Goff||January 1, 1895||December 31, 1906||Goff was an Anti-Tammany Democrat, elected on a fusion ticket nominated by numerous organizations, including the Republicans||elected to the New York Supreme Court|
|Francis S. McAvoy||January 22, 1907||December 31, 1907||Democrat||elected by the Board of Aldermen, to fill vacancy; office abolished|
- Dunlap, William, History of the New Netherlands, province of New York, and state of New York, to the adoption of the federal Constitution, New York : Carter & Thorp, 1839. Cf, p.215
- Riker hoped to be appointed to the New York Supreme Court in 1814, but was angry when he was passed over by a Clintonian Council of Appointment in favor of Federalist Jonas Platt, and later changed sides.
- The New York Civil List compiled by Franklin Benjamin Hough (page 428; Weed, Parsons and Co., 1858)
- Courts and Lawyers of New York: A History, 1609-1925 by Alden Chester & E. Melvin Williams (Vol. II, page 896)
- Historical Ssketch of the Board of Supervisors of the County of New York (pages 11ff)
- THE RECORDERSHIP in NYT on January 12, 1866