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Hon. John Leighton Westcott

Hon. John Leighton Westcott, Mayor of Camden, was born June 10, 1850, in Cedarville, Cumberland County, son of Joel and Mary (Leighton) Westcott. The Westcotts are an old Cumberland County family. Of English extraction, they came to New Jersey from Long Island. Joel Westcott, who was born in Cumberland County, and resided there during the greater part of his life, was in business in Philadelphia for a number of years. He also lived for some time in Cedarville and later in Camden, where he died at the age of seventy-seven. He was quite a successful man, took a lively interest in town affairs, and he was honored with election to several local offices. His wife, who was born in Philadelphia, passed away in her sixty-third year. Both were members of the Presbyterian church. They were the parents of eight children, as follows: Ames, who was engaged in business in Philadelphia when a young man, and died at the age of forty-nine; Henry, a wheelwright in Media, Pa.; Robert, a graduate of Princeton College, and a clergyman of the Presbyterian church, settled at Clarinda, Ia., who recently died; George, who enlisted for service in the Civil War as a private in the Third New Jersey Regiment at the age of eighteen, was promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant, received in the neck a bullet that could not be found, and died of the effects in his thirtieth year; Mary, who died at the age of eighteen; Margaret and Anna, unmarried, who reside in California; and John L., the subject of this sketch, who is the youngest of the family.

John Leighton Westcott, having received his early education in the common schools, entered a printing-office in Philadelphia at the age of fifteen. He learned the printer's trade with his brother, and subsequently followed it until he was elected Mayor of Camden. He cane to Camden with his father when about fourteen years of age, and has since made his home here, winning general respect and popularity. A member of the Republican party, he has been active in local polities for a number of years. He represented the First Ward in the City Council for four years. He was first elected Mayor in 1892, and his administration throughout the ensuing term was such as to greatly increase his popularity. In 1895 he was re-elected after a hot contest. At that time the Republican party was divided, and the Democrats nominated a Republican candidate for the mayoralty in order to catch a part of the Republican vote.

However, Mr. Westcott's personal record was such that he was endorsed not only by the members of his own party, but also by a number of Democrats; and his re-election was hailed with enthusiasm.

Mr. Westcott was married in 1873 to Deborah J., daughter of Samuel Fortiner, of Camden, a member of one of the old families of this city. He has now three daughters, namely: Helen A., a teacher in Camden; Mary Elma and Mellie A., still beneath the parental roof-tree.

Source: Biographical review: containing life sketches of leading citizens of Camden and Burlington Counties, New Jersey, Biographical Review Publishing Co., Boston, 1897.

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