Imlay, Gilbert(c. 1754–?1828) adventurer; probably born in Monmouth County, N.J. Significant gaps exist in his historical record. He was a lieutenant in the American Revolution and a deputy surveyor in Kentucky (1783–85), but he fled when his land dealings got him in trouble with the law. He next appeared in Europe, and he approached the leaders of Revolutionary France with plans of how to take Louisiana from Spain. He lived with Mary Wollstonecraft, the English feminist, and they had a daughter, Fanny. He disappeared again in 1798 and only resurfaced at the time of his death on the Island of Jersey. He is also known as the author of A Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America (1792) and a novel, The Emigrants (1793).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.