Cuyler Reynolds.

Genealogical and family history of southern New York and the Hudson River Valley : a record of the achievements of her people in the making of a commonwealth and the building of a nation (Volume 2) online

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of the founders, not only of the present city
library, but of King's College, also, of which
his stepfather, Dr. Samuel Johnson, of Strat-
ford, was the first president in 1754. Benja-
min Nicoll married Mary Magdalen, daughter
of Edward Holland, the eminent merchant of
New York. Children: i. Henry, mentioned
below. 2. Edward, who graduated at King's
College in 17 — , and died a bachelor. 3. Sam-
uel, a physician of talent, who practiced with
much reputation in the City of New York,
being a professor of chemistry in Columbia
College in 1792, but dying at an early age,
leaving two sons and one daughter. 4. Mat-
thias, who graduated at King's College, in
1776, and became an eminent merchant and
shipowner at Stratford, Connecticut, where
he died in 1827, leaving several daughters and
two sons.

(V) Henry, eldest son of Benjamin (2)
and Mary Magdalen (Holland) Nicoll. was
born December 13. 1756, died .•\pril 9, 1790.
He graduated from King's College in 1774,
and became a prominent New York merchant.
He married (first) Alice Willet. a niece of
Lieutenant-Governor Colden. and (second")
December 2, 1780, Elizabeth, only daughter of



448



SOUTHERN NEW YORK



General Nathaniel and Ruth (Eloyd) Wood-
hull. Children by second marriage: i. Ed-
ward Holland, mentioned below. 2. Eliza
Willet, married Richard Smith, Esq., of
Smithtown. 3. Henry Woodhull, died in 1829;
married Louisa, daughter of John Ireland.

(\Tj Edward Holland, son of Henry and
Elizabeth (Woodhull) Nicoll, was born No-
vember 21, 1784, died May 7, 1848. He was
of the firm of Smith & Nicoll, great tea mer-
chants of New York City. He married, Jan-
uary 17, 1810, Mary, daughter of Solomon
Townsend, of Albany. Children: i. Henry,
a lawyer of prominence in New York City and
a member of congress. 2. Solomon Town-
send, mentioned below.

(\T1) Solomon Townsend, son of Edward
Holland and Mary (Townsend) Nicoll, was
born November 13, 1813, died December 23,
1865. He became a successful merchant of
New York, and held various positions of
prominence. In 1855 he purchased the present
Nicoll estate at Bayside. He married, at Shel-
ter Island, November 20, 185 1, Charlotte Ann
Nicoll, his cousin, the second child of Samuel
Benjamin Nicoll, who died in 1866, and was
the son of Samuel Benjamin Nicoll, the head
of that branch of that family in the fourth
generation. Children: i. Anna Nicoll, mar
ried William M. Hoes. 2. De Lancey, men-
tioned below. 3. Benjamin, married Grace
Lord, daughter of James Couper Lord, and
granddaughter of the famous Daniel Lord.

4. Edward Holland, married Louisa Travers.

5. Alary Townsend, married (first) James
Brown Lord; (second) Cornelius C. Cuyler.

6. Charlotte, married (first) McKim Menton ;
(second) Willoughby Weston.

(VIII) De Lancey, eldest son of Solomon
Townsend and Charlotte Ann (Nicoll) Nicoll,
was born at Shelter Island, New York, in
1854. He was prepared for college at Flush-
ing Academy, Flushing, Long Island, and at
St. Paul's School, Concord. New Hampshire.
He then went to Princeton University, gradu-
ating in 1874. From the first he had chosen
the profession of law, and kept that aim in
view throughout his college career. ITpon
leaving Princeton he took a course at the
Columbia Law School, graduating with honor
in 1876. Mr, Nicnll was first associated with
the law office of Julien T. Davies, one of the
leading practitioners of the state. He then



connected himself with the law office of the
noted lawyer, Clarkson A. Potter, brother of
the late Bishop Henry C. Potter, of the Epis-
copal diocese of New York. Having been
admitted to the bar in 1876 and having ac-
quired a practical knowledge of legal pro-
cedure in the offices of the distinguished ad-
vocates already named, Mr. Nicoll, in 1877,
established his own law office. In 1879 he
entered into partnership with Walter D. Ed-
monds, and later joined in organizing the firm
of Eaton, Lewis & Nicoll. Subsequently Mr.
Nicoll became a member of the firm of Nicoll
& Anable, now Nicoll, Anable, Lindsay &
Fuller.

Mr. Nicoll made his way rapidly to the
front of his profession and built up a success-
ful and profitable practice. His clients from
the first were largely from the upper ranks
of the community, and he was called upon for
advice in many noted and difficidt cases. As
assistant district attorney he had charge of
the prosecution of the so-called "boodle alder-
men," who were accused of selling their votes
to the promoters of the Broadway surface
railway undertaking. The prosecution of
these notorious exponents of "graft"' was a
task calling for unyielding integrity, courage,
ability and energy, for the defendants were
backed by powerful influences and abundant
funds. They had the best counsel their money
could command, and they put up a determined
and resolute fight to the legal proceedings di-
rected against them. The Tweed Ring had
owed its exposure largely to the fact that the
stolen money was divided by check among the
guilty participants, and the checks were easily
traced in the books of the Ring bank. The
"boodle aldermen" did not take the checks.
They demanded and received cash, but the
cash was in the form of one-thousand-dollar
bills. Mr. Nicoll had the bills traced to the
bribed and bribe giver, and brought the proof
to the jury as effectively as if checks had
been given. Convictions were obtained, and
Mr. Nicoll became the terror of influential
evildoers who had supposed that their "pull"
and their cunning would shield them from
punishment.

The conviction of the "boodle aldermen" led
to a widespread demand for Mr. Nicoll for
district attorney and he was nominated for
that office in 1887 by a combination of law-



SOUTHERN NEW YORK



449



abiding Democrats and Republicans. The
campaign which followed was attended by
some of the worst outrages on the ballot-box
in the history of the city. All the forces of
evil were arrayed against Mr. NicoU, partly
from motives of revenge and partly prompted
by fear. Thugs repeated and' non-voters
thronged to the polls to vote against NicoU,
and money was expended freely to bring about
his defeat. Notwithstanding all this sinister
agitation, he almost gained the majority, the
plurality of his opponent being comparatively
small. It was a Pyrrhic victory for Mr
Nicoll's enemies, and when election time came
again they prudently withheld from a contest,
and he was carried into office by a large ma-
jority.

As district attorney, Mr. Nicoll proved suc-
cessful in some of the most difficult cases that
ever came before a public prosecutor. lie
was quick to detect the evidence of guilt, and
was resolute in bringing the guilty to justice.
At the same time he ever kept in mind the
duty of a public prosecutor to protect the in-
nocent as well as to punish the guilty, and he
was ever willing to temper justice with mercy
when the public interests would not suffer
thereby. Mr. Nicoll brought the district attor-
ney's office to a high degree of efficiency, his
aim being to dispose of all cases coming before
him as promptly as was consistent with a
salutary enforcement of law. He established
a thorough system throughout his office, and
the methods which he adopted' have been
maintained in a large degree by his successors.

Mr. Nicoll was elected to the constitutional
convention of 1894 which revised the state
constitution. He was assigned to the im-
portant committees of the judiciary and on
suffrage, and took a prominent share in fram-
ing the fundamental laws for the protection of
the ballot, and for the maintenance of an un-
sullied and efficient judiciary. Mr. Nicoll was
associated in that work with Senator and
former Secretary of State Elihu Root and
Hon. Joseph H. Choate, former ambassador
to Great Britain. The results of the labors of
that constitutional convention have, on the
whole, proved highly beneficial and satisfac-
tory to the people of New York state Thf
safeguards erected against excessive indebt-
edness have served to strengthen municipal
credit, and the secrecy and purity of the ballot



have been fostered and strengthened by the
provisions of the constitution bearing on the
suffrage.

Hon. De Lancey Nicoll was well known be-
fore, but his latest triumph in vindicating lib-
erty of the press and preventing the editor of
a great New York newspaper and his asso-
ciates from being seized and carried away
to the Baslile of Federal Administration and
there to be given a drumhead trial on the
charge of libelling the government, was a
crowning achievement that has meant inter-
national fame for Mr. Nicoll. His magnificent
protest against the proposed usurpation, his
plea in behalf of that freedom of speech and
of the press which the founders of the Nation
regarded as indispensable to the perpetuation
of the liberties for which they offered their
lives, rang like the shots at Lexington, from
one end of the Union to the other, and found
echo wherever civilized man aspires to the
enjoyment of life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness.

Taste and elegance are apparent in Mr.
Nicoll's home surroundings, and his private
library indicates the judgment of a connois-
seur in regard to literature of the past and
present. Mr. Nicoll has always shown a
wholesome realization of the fact that physical
exercise is necessary to maintain the best con-
ditions of mind and body. In earlier years
he was noted as one of the most expert lawn
tennis players, and won many games at that
delightful pastime. With the introduction of
golf into general favor, Mr. Nicoll became a
confirmed golf player, and it has continued to
be one of his regular recreations. He is a
member of the Tu.xedo Club, and also belongs
to the Metropolitan, Manhattan, Union, Law,
University, Democratic, Racquet and other
clubs, and the Downtown Association.

Mr. Nicoll was married in i8go to Maud
Churchill, of the old .American family of that
name, which includes soldiers, statesmen, law-
yers, artists and one well known author in
its past and present lineage. They have two
children, De Lancey and Josephine.



Of the many colonial
DE PEYSTER families of .\mcrica. none

gained more distinction
than the De Peyster family of New York.
The name was originally written de Payster



4.';o



SOUTHERN NEW YORK



or de Paster, and de Peyster. Tliis last form
was the one adopted by most of the family.
The first authentic record made of tlie family
was in 1148, when Archambaud de Paster
witnessed the deed of a gift by William d'
Ypres to the church of St. Winnoc de Ber-
gues, in Flanders, now embraced in the De-
partment du Nord, France. In 1328 Hugues
Peyster, of Bambeke, was killed in the battle
of Cassel.

The family was especially prominent in
Ghent. The first record made of the family in
this city was in 1322, when Henry de Payster
was mentioned as residing on Pensterwech
street. He became wealthy and served for
several years as captain in the militia. He
was survived by tRree sons: i. Henry, mar-
ried Marguerite Ondermaercx, and died in
1353; three sons, of whom one, Henry, served
as schepen of Parchons. 2. Jean, became a
prominent citizen of Ghent; he married a
daughter of Sir Francis Van der Hamme.
3. George, married a Miss Van Merlebeke.

During the fourteenth century several of
the family became prominent in Ghent. That
the family was one of the most influential in
the city was shown by its members holding
the office of "schepen," only held by persons
of the highest rank. Piara (Pierre) de Pey-
ster served as captain of the archers, and took
part in an expedition to Alost in 1345. Bald-
win de Peyster, son of William de Peyster,
held in 1352 a "feod"' of the abbey of St.
Pierre. In 1382, after the Flemings were de-
feated at Roosebeke. Jean de Peyster was one
of the five ambassadors sent ta Philip VI. of
France. Many of the family held high office
in the various guilds of the city. During
1558-59 Lievcn de Peyster served as royalty
of the .^rchers of St. George and in 1560 held
the office of emperor.

The family was among the first in Flanders
to embrace the Protestant faith. Its members
became prominent in that great religious move-
ment. Jacques de Peyster, of Bergues. son
of Francis de Peyster, was condemned for
being a Protestant and was banished and his
property confiscated. Cornelius de Peyster, of
Bergues, an active Protestant, was hanged in
April, 1568. Soon after the massacre of St.
Bartholomew, August 24. 1572. many of the
Huguenot families were expelled from France.
Among the unhappy exiles who found asylum



in Holland were members of the De Peyster
family.

Johannes de Peyster, the founder of the
family in America, was a direct descendant of
Jesse de Peyster, born in Ghent in 1490, the
line of descent being as follows:

(.Ij Jesse de Peyster had three sons: i.
Jesse, of whom further. 2. Jean, became the
city goldsmith of Ghent ; was a Huguenot and
forced to leave the country ; he died previous
to 1584; he married the widow of a Mr. \'an
Reysschoot. 3. Jacques, became prominent in
his native city; he was a goldsmith and a
Huguenot ; he fled from the country, but re-
turned to his native city about 1584; two chil-
dren ; Jacques and Antoine.

(IIj Jesse (2), son of Jesse (i) de Peyster,
was born in Ghent about 15 15. He was a
prominent citizen of his native city. He was
one of the first to join the Huguenot move-
ment and was obliged to leave the country.
After 1584 he returned to Ghent. He owned
property on Champ street. He married (first)
Elizabeth Danckaerts. One child, Elizabeth.
He married (second) Miss Bruggheman. One
child. Jesse, mentioned below.

(III) Jesse (3), son of Jesse (2) and

(Bruggheman) de Peyster, was born in Ghent
about 1550, died there in 1607. He followed
the trade of a goldsmith and acquired a large
property. For some years he served as lieu-
tenant of the burgher guard. Owing to his
religious views he was obliged to leave his
native land. He returned in 1584. He mar-
ried, about 1580, Jeanne Vande Voorde. Six
children: Jesse, died about 1630, married
Francoise Gay; Jean (Johannes), mentioned
below ; Jacques, married Catharine de la \'oye,
died 1646; Licven. married in 1627, Jeanne
Slichers, widow of Arnaud Bressels : Jonas,
married Jcane \'andcr Cruycen, and lived in
London, England ; Marie, married Jacques de
Kay, of Ghent.

(IV) Jean (Johannes), son of Jesse (3'*
de Peyster. was born in Ghent, in 1586, died
in Haarlem, Holland, in 1648. He was edu-
cated in the schools of his city and studied
law in Leyden. He inherited a large property
and was one of the most prominent citizens
of his city. Owing to his religious views he
was forced to leave the country, and seek an
asylum in Holland. He resided for a time in
Amsterdam and later in Haarlem. He mar-



SOUTHERN NEW YORK



451



ried Josine Martins. Four children : Jean
(Johannes), founder of the American family,
mentioned below ; Abraham, died in 1656, no
children; Jeane, married a Mr. Bruynsteen ;
Isaac, married Gertrude \'an Mierop, of Rot-
terdam.

( I) The progenitor of the family in America
was Johannes (Jean) de Peyster, son of Jean
and Josine (Martins) de Peyster. He was
born in Haarlem, Holland, in 1628. He re-
ceived a liberal education. About 1645 h^
made a brief visit to New Amsterdam and
shortly returned for a permanent residence.
The exact date is not definitely known, but as
early as 1649 1^^ was a member of the Dutch
church. He possessed a large fortune, and
having a good education, he at once took a
prominent place in the civic, business and so-
cial life of the growing colony. He brought
with him from Holland many pieces of fur-
niture, valuable paintings and silverware, but
his most interesting possession was a family
carriage, said to be the first used in America.
He soon became a large holder of real estate
in New Amsterdam and was considered one of
the wealthiest citizens in the province. In
1653 he was assessed one hundred guilders,
only eleven persons paying more. In 1654 he
was the fourth person in the list of con-
tributors toward building the palisades for the
protection of the town, and in 1655 was one
of the most generous contributors to the fund
for general defence of the colony. At an
early date he became identified with the militia
of the colony, his first commission being an
"adelforst" or cadet in one of the companies.
He was prominent in the civil affairs of the
city and was one of Governor Stuyvesant's
most loyal supporters. In 1665 he was one
of six burghers to draft the first city charter
of New Amsterdam. In i6!;5 he was ap-
pointed "schepen," an office involving both the
duties of a magistrate and sheriff. This office
he held in 1657-58-62. During the first Eng-
lish regime, 1664-73. ^^ took an active part in
forcing Governor Nichols to give the Dutch
inhabitants more freedom. He again served
as schepen in 1665, and was alderman during
1666-69-73. ^^'hen New .Amsterdam was re-
taken by the Dutch commanders. Admirals
Evertsen and Beucke. July 30, 1673, Mr. de
Peyster was one of the prominent citizens con-
sulted by these officers as to the conduct of



the affairs of the province. In August, 1673,
the name of the city was changed to New
Orange, and he was one of the three apiwintcd
by the council of war to rule the town. He
was also a member of the committee of five
to provide for defence against the English,
• who were again threatening the province.
When England again gained possession of the
province in 1674. Mr. de Peyster cheerfully
accepted the rule of the new government and
used his influence with its citizens to ])roniote
harmony in the conduct of the affairs of the
city. In 1677 he was made deputy mayor of
the city, and on October 15 of the same year
was appointed mayor, which office he declined
on the ground of insufficient knowledge of
the English language. Mr. de Peyster was
possessed of marked literary ability, and was
an able orator. Governor Dongan stated that
he could "make a better platform speech than
any other man outside of parliament." Mr.
de Peyster died in New York about 16S5

He married in New Amsterdam, December
17, 1 65 1, Cornelia Lubbertse, a native of Haar-
lem, Holland, died 1692. She was a beautiful
and accomplished woman. Nine children were
born of this marriage: i. Johannes, baptized
August 3, 1653, died young. 2. Johannes, bap-
tized October 7. 1654. died young. 3. Abra-
ham, mentioned below. 4. Maria, baptized
September 7, 1660: she married (first) about
1680, Paulus Schrick, of New Haven, Con-
necticut: no children: (second) about 16S9,
Tohn Spratt : four children, one son and three
daughters: (third) David Provost, mayor of
New York. 5. Isaac, baptized April 16. 1662;
he became a wealthy and influential merchant
of New York, and also held several public
offices: he married, December 27, 1687. Mary,
daughter of Jan Hendrickse Van Baal, or
Balen, of Albany: nine children. 6. Jacobus,
baptized December 23, 1663, died young. 7.
Tohannes. born September 21, t666, died about
1719: he was one of the wealthiest and most
respected citizens of New York ; he held
many public positions and served as captain in
the cavalry regiment, commanded by his
brother Abraham : he married. October 10,
1688, Anna, daughter of Gerret Bancker. of
Albany. 8. Cornelius, baptized October 4,
1673 : became an extensive owner of real estate
in New York; he held many offices of trust
and served as captain in the city regiment of



452



SOUTHERN NEW YORK



cavalry; he married (first) September 20,
1694, Mary Bancker; seven children; (sec-
ond) , by whom he had several children.

g. Cornelia, baptized December 4, 1678, died
young.

(11) Abraham, son of Johannes and Cor-
nelia (Lubbertse) de I'eyster, was baptized in
New York, July 8, 1657, died there, August 2,
1728. lie received a liberal education, and at
an early age he began a mercantile business in
which avocation he was very successful. He
inherited a large fortune from his father, and
with the profits of his extensive mercantile
business made him one of the richest men in
the province. He built a mansion on Queen
street, now Pearl, opposite Pine street, and
here he dispensed liberal hospitality. His
home was a center of culture and refinement
of the province. He had extensive acquaint-
ances throughout the colonies, and accounted
as his friends many of the noted men of the
time. He was especially intimate with Wil-
liam Penn, who referred to him in one of his
letters as "the fascination of Colonel de Pey-
ster's good humor." .At an early date he took
a prominent part in civil affairs of the city
He served as alderman in 1685 and as mayor
1691-93. On September 28, 1698, he became
a member of Governor Rellemont's council
and in the same year was appointed assistant
justice of the supreme court.. In 1701 he was
tendered the office of chief justice, which po-
sition he declined. From March 5 to May 15,
1701, he acted as governor of the province.
In 1709 he was deputy auditor-general of the
port of New York. On October 19. 1706, he
received the aiipointmcnt of treasurer of the
province of New York and New Jersey, which
office he held until June, 1721. He served for
many years- as orphan master, also served as
administrator of estates and guardian. He
took an active interest in the militia of the
province, serving as colonel of the New York
city regiment, consisting of one troop of cav-
alry and eight companies of infantry, about
seven hundred men.

He was a public-spirited citizen and con-
tributed generously of his time and money for
the good of the city and province. His bene-
factions were many. When the provincial
government was pressed for money, he ad-
vanced the necessary amounts. He gave to
the city land at "Smit's Vlye," also the site of



the "Fly Market" on lower Maiden Lane. To
aid in the extending of the shipping facilities
of the city, he gave a large tract of land along
the river front. He was early impressed with
the necessity of having a city hall worthy of
the growing town, and generously presented
the valuable lot on Wall street now occupied
by the United States sub-treasury. It was
largely through his infiuence that the city first
began supporting the poor. He was especially
interested in educational matters, and gave
liberally of his wealth to aid teachers and stu-
dents. He offered rewards and prizes to
stimulate an interest in education. He pre-
sented a bell to the Middle Dutch Church on
Kip, now Nassau street. He was an active
member of the Dutch church and a generous
supporter of its benevolences. His statue now
stands in Bowling Green. It was presented by
General John Watts de Peyster.

He was married in Amsterdam, Holland,
April 5, 1684, to his cousin, Catharine de
Peyster, daughter of Isaac de Peyster. She
was born July 19, 1665. Thirteen children
were born of this marriage: i. Johannes,
born July 6, 1685, died September, 1686. 2.
Johannes, born October 30. 1686, died Jan-
uary 2, 1690. 3. Catharine, born September 7,
1688; married, December 7, 1710. Philip Van
Cortlandt. son of Stephanus Van Cortlandt. 4.
Abraham, born November 7. 1690, died De-
cember 4, 1693. 5. Johannes, born April 3,
1692, died young. 6 Elizabeth, born July z6,
1694; married Hon. John Hamilton, then gov-
ernor of New Jersey. 7. Abraham, mentioned
below. 8. Mary, born October 17. 1698: mar-
ried, but left no children. 9. Joanna, bom
July 13. 1701 : married her cousin. Isaac de
Peyster. 10. Maria, born August 25. 1703.
II. Johannes, born February 28, 1705. died
September 15. the same year. 12. Pierre Guil-
liaume. born January 15;. 1707; married. De-
cember 19, 1733. Catharine, daughter of .Arent
Schuyler ; seven children : Abraham ; .Arent,
born June 2y, 1736. died in Dumfries. Scot-
land, in 1822. was one of the most distin-
gui.shed members of the family, he entered the
English armv. rose to the rank of colonel and
was distinguished for bravery in many battles;
Pierre : Catharine Adriana ; Swantia ; Pierre,
a distinguished privateer; Arent Schuvler.
13. Johannes, born Mav 6. 1709.

(HI) .Abraham (2), son of .Abraham (i)



SOUTHERN NEW YORK



453



and Catharine (de Peyster) de Peyster, was
born on Queen, now Pearl street, New York
City, baptized August 26, 1696, and died Sep-
tember 17, 1767. He received a liberal educa-
tion, and at an early age took a prominent
part in the civil affairs of his native city. In
June, 1721, he was appointed treasurer of New
York, succeeding his father, who on account
of illness had been forced to resign the office.



Online LibraryCuyler ReynoldsGenealogical and family history of southern New York and the Hudson River Valley : a record of the achievements of her people in the making of a commonwealth and the building of a nation (Volume 2) → online text (page 85 of 95)