Richard Welstead Croker, Sr. (November 24, 1843 – April 29, 1922), known as “Boss Croker,” was an Irish-American politician, a leader of New York City’s Tammany Hall. Brought to the United States when he was 2 and was educated in the New York public school system. He joined one of the Volunteer Fire Departments in 1863, becoming an engineer of one of the engine companies. He entered public service through the fire departments, eventually serving as a fire commissioner, but not before also working as an alderman and coroner for the city.
Mr. Croker controlled Tammany Hall after the death of leader John Kelly and received bribe money from the owners of brothels, saloons and illegal gambling dens. He survived Charles Henry Parkhurst’s attacks on Tammany Hall’s corruption and became a wealthy man. Croker was proud of his ability to bring about the election of Robert Van Wyck as the first mayor after the five boroughs of NYC incorporated in 1898. This was his last large political success and after failing to seat another mayor and a failed support of a presidential candidate, he left the United States in 1905 and returning to Ireland. He was married twice and estranged from all but one of this several children.