Mayor-Elect Thomas Hoyne Biography

Mayor-elect of Chicago, 1876

During 28 tumultuous days in 1876, Chicago had two men claiming to be mayor. Chicago adopted the Illinois Cities and Villages Act in 1875. The Act changed the date of the mayoral elections and extended the term of Harvey Colvin, the current mayor. Thomas Hoyne was nominated in a mass meeting and subsequently won an April 16, 1876 election. Colvin claimed the election was illegal and that he was entitled to serve for another year.

The City Council and most city departments accepted Hoyne as mayor. However, the Comptroller and the Police Department did not, and continued to support Colvin. During May and June, the Police Department guarded the Mayor’s office against Hoyne’s supporters. Hoyne with the support of the City Council fired Colvin’s supporters, and appointed his own. Both mayors offered to resign, but didn’t.

The impasse was resolved by the June 5 ruling of the Cook County Circuit Court that the April election was illegal--meaning that Thomas Hoyne had never legally been mayor. Monroe Heath was elected mayor July 12th, nearly bringing the saga to an end.

However, in August, after Heath took office, the city attorney was asked if Hoyne and the department heads he appointed should be paid. The city attorney issued an opinion stating that although Hoyne was never mayor de jure, he had been mayor de facto, and thus he and his appointees should be paid.


  • Born Feb. 11, 1817 in New York City of Irish immigrant parents
  • Moved to Chicago in 1837
  • Married September 17, 1840 to Leonora Temple. Many of their descendents were also prominent in Chicago politics.
  • Worked as a school teacher and lawyer
  • Served as City Clerk, Justice of the Peace, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshall
  • First president of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Public Library
  • Hoyne Street was named after him. (Hoyne Street became Hoyne Avenue in 1872.)
  • Killed in a rail crash July 27, 1883 in Carlyon, N.Y.
  • Buried in Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago


  • "Fearful Disaster." Chicago Daily Tribune, July 29, 1883, p. 1.
  • Gilbert, Paul T. Chicago and Its Makers. F. Mendelsohn, 1929.
  • "Hoyne's Appointees." Chicago Daily Tribune, August 5, 1876, p. 8.
  • Municipal Reference Library. The Mayors of the City of Chicago from March 4, 1837 to April 13, 1933 (Biography-History) Comp. by Frederick Rex. Chicago, 1934.
  • "Thomas Hoyne." Chicago Daily Tribune, July 29, 1883, p. 5.
Print this page