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To condense the life of a literary man so celebrated as our author, who attained the patriarchal age of seventy-six years, into a few pages, is a work of no common difficulty, and I must trust to the good feeling of my readers to pardon the omission of much that is interesting in conse quence of the limited space at my disposal.
Washington Irving, eighth son of William and Sarah Irving, was born in the city of New York, April 3rd, 1783. His father, who, during the latter part of the French war, was engaged on board an English armed packet-ship, married at Falmouth, Sarah Sanders, the granddaughter of a curate in the Church of England, on the 18th of May, 1761; and two years afterwards the young couple embarked for America, landing at New York, July 18th, 1763. Here he abandoned the sea and commenced business on his own account, and though only in a limited way, he was tolerably successful. But the revolutionary war (which ended in the United States achieving their independence) broke out, and William Irving's quiet dwelling being exposed to the fire of the English men-of-war, at the time when it was feared they would bombard the city, a general panic ensued, and Mr. Irving with his family fled to Rahway in New Jersey, but returned to New York after an absence of nearly two years, to find half the city burned down.
The original name, according to Dr. Christopher Irving (of the same family), was Erinveine, from which it was abbreviated to Eryvein, Erivine, and finally Irvine, while some of the foolish,” he adds, " spell it Irving."
The earliest known ancestor was William de Irwin or de Irwyn, secretary and armourbearer to Robert Bruce, who after the death of Alexander the Third, of Scotland, competed with Baliol for the crown. This William de Irwyn was the devoted follower of Bruce through all his varied fortunes, and was knighted by him. Bruce, to mark his appreciation of de Irwyn's faithful services, gave him for arms, the three holly leaves with the motto, “ sub sole sub umbra virens," which he had adopted as a private cognizance in remembrance of an escape from his pursuers. The member of the De Irwyn family from which the subject of this notice was immediately descended, was an inhabitant of Kirkwall, in the island of Pomona, one of the Orkneys, in 1369, and in the following year the name of his brother Sir Thomas de Irwyn, laird of Dunne, appears among the barons in parliament.