Richard Varick Dey was a young divinity student from New York City, attending the Theological Seminary in New Brunswick, New Jersey, when he met Lavinia Agnes Scott. Dey was the son of prominent New York attorney Anthony Dey and Catharine Laidlie; Catherine's father, the Rev. Archibald Laidlie, was the first minister called to preach in English in the Dutch Church in New York City. Richard developed a reputation as a gifted orator, a skill shared by his grandfather.
Lavinia Agnes Scott, almost six years Richard's junior, lived in New Brunswick with her parents, Jane Griffiths and Colonel Joseph Warren Scott (1778-1871), an eminent New Jersey jurist and politician.
Richard and Lavinia became engaged on December 27, 1820. However, Lavinia's parents were opposed to Richard, and her father even asked Richard's theology professors at Rutgers, Philip Milledoler and John Henry Liningston, to try to discourage his pursuit of Lavinia. As a result, the couple spent much of their courtship trying to arrange for intermediaries to deliver their letters to one another or arrange opportunities to see one another. Eventually, their persistence (and love) won out, and they were married on September 11, 1822.
After graduating from the Seminary in 1822, Richard was licensed by the Congregationalists. The couple moved to Greenfield Hill, Conn., where he preached from 1822-1829. They relocated to New York City, and Richard preached at a number of churches there, as well as a brief stint at the Hugenot Church in Charleston, S.C. (1831-1832). He died in 1837, leaving his widow with four young children. Lavinia remained in New York, where she served as the manager of "The Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children" for over 25 years. She died in 1886.