Josiah Ogden Hoffman

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Hoffman's miniature from the New York Historical Society, Watercolor on ivory, ca. 1790.

Josiah Ogden Hoffman (April 14, 1766 – January 24, 1837 in New York City) was an American lawyer and politician. One of the most influential Federalists of his time, Hoffman tutored a generation of able law clerks, including Washington Irving. Hoffman died on January 24, 1837, in New York City.

Early life

Josiah Ogden Hoffman was born on April 14, 1766, in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Nicholas Hoffman (1736–1800) and Sarah Ogden Hoffman (1742–1821). He studied law, was admitted to the bar, and practiced in New York City, and entered politics as a Federalist.

  • Hoffman, Eugene Augustus, Genealogy of the Hoffman family, descendants of Martin Hoffman, with biographical notes. 1899.


Hoffman was a member of the New York State Assembly (New York Co.) in 1791, 1792, 1792–93, 1794, 1795. He was New York Attorney General from 1795 to 1802, and was also a member of the State Assembly in 1796–97.

From 1810 to 1811, he was Recorder of New York City; again a member of the State Assembly in 1812–13; and again Recorder of New York City from 1813 to 1815.

In 1828, he was appointed as one of the first justices (with Samuel Jones and Thomas J. Oakley) of the then established New York City Superior Court, and remained on the bench until his death in 1837.<ref>[1] History of the City Superior Court, in the New York Times on August 13, 1890</ref>

Personal life

On February 16, 1789, he married Maria/Mary Colden (1770–1797), and they had four children, including:

  • Alice Anna Hoffman (b. 1790)
  • Sarah Matilda Hoffman (1791–1809), who was engaged to Washington Irving (1783–1859), who studied law at Hoffman's office, but did not wed because she died before the marriage could take place.
  • Ogden Hoffman (1794–1856), a Congressman, Josiah Ogden - Biographical Directory of the United States Congress who married Emily Burrall and later Virginia Southard.
  • Mary Colden Hoffman (b. 1796)

Following his first wife's death in 1797, on August 7, 1802, he married Maria Fenno (1781–1823), daughter of John Fenno (1751–1798), the Federalist editor of the Gazette of the United States. Maria's sister, Mary Eliza Fenmo (d. 1817) married Gulian C. Verplanck. Together, Hoffman and Maria had three children, including:


His grandson was Ogden Hoffman, Jr. (1822–1891), a United States federal judge.