George Washington Schuyler.

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PI 9





EIGHT years ago the genealogy of my family first ar
rested my attention, and I began its study. Gradually
my researches took a wider range, and inspired the
hope that I might do something more than simply make
a catalogue of names. I found that members of the first
four generations had occupied more than ordinary posi
tions in the communities in which they lived, and had
rendered important services in the early history of
the colony and the State. In view of these facts, I re
solved to attempt brief biographical sketches of the more
prominent persons of the family, and of those connected
with it. But in doing so it would be necessary to write
portions of the history of their times, which would require
time and patience for the examination of the early rec
ords, and perhaps involve the necessity of an extended
course of reading. At my age this seemed difficult of ac
complishment,- but, as I was favorably situated for the
examination of the records contained in the public offices
of the State, and of the City and County of Albany, I re
solved to employ my leisure in procuring all the informa
tion possible, and, if need be, leave my notes to be di
gested by another.

After three years spent among the manuscript archives,
I turned to the printed documents procured by the State
from Holland, England, and France. After these were



thoroughly studied, I read the publications of the New
York Historical Society, the Massachusetts Historical Col
lections, the early records of Connecticut, the archives
of Pennsylvania, and of New Jersey, and the early stand
ard histories of New York, New Jersey, and the New
England States. I then arranged my notes, and, after
putting aside a large mass of them, I began to write, with
no expectation of doing more than enough for a thin
octavo volume ; the present volumes are the outcome of
my eight years work. Without any claim to be an his
torian, I have written some fragments of the history of
colonial times, which I have striven to make accurate and
trustworthy. Portions of it differ from the accepted ver
sions, but in all such instances the early records have
been studiously followed as authority. Having no theories
to establish, I have had no temptation to misinterpret facts.
I have rejected traditions and " old mens fables " as un
trustworthy and illusory, confining myself to the plain
meaning of the "written word." After all, I am conscious
that the work is far from perfect ; but it may be of ser
vice to some one, who may be inspired to do what has
not yet been done to write a full and faithful history of
New York during the colonial period.

Since I have drawn most of my material from the ar
chives of the State, it may not be uninteresting to glance at
their history. As the Dutch were always careful to record
their transactions, it is fair to presume that the early direc
tors of New Netherland kept records of their administra
tions, written, as in succeeding administrations, on unbound
sheets of paper, and filed in appropriate compartments
of their office. But if so, they are lost, except a few land-
patents. The records of the colony, as preserved by the
State, begin with the year 1638, when Director Kieft as
sumed control over the affairs of New Netherland. Dur-


ing his government, and that of Director Stuyvesant,
from 1638 to 1664, the records are apparently full and
minute, all written in Dutch. After 1664, for more than a
hundred years, the documents are voluminous, and full cf
interest to the student of history. We miss, however, the
letters of the English Government addressed to the colo
nial governors. Unlike Director Stuyvesant, these Eng
lish governors believed such communications to be their
own property, and did not place them in the archives.

In view of the danger of loss and destruction through
which these records have passed, it is remarkable that so
many of them have been preserved in sucli good con
dition. When Director-General Stuyvesant surrendered
to the English forces, in 1664, he made it one of the arti
cles of capitulation, that " all public writings and records
which concern inheritances of any people, or the regle-
ment of the church, or poor, or orphans, shall be care
fully kept."

Nine years afterward the Dutch recaptured the city.
Without doubt they were as careful to preserve the old
records, as well the new, when in their own hands, as they
were to provide for their safe-keeping when under the
control of their enemies. But more than thirty years sub
sequently Lieutenant-Governor Ingoldesby wrote, "When
the Dutch took this place (New York) several books of
patents and other things were lost."

In 1688, New York, New Jersey, and all New England
were consolidated into one government, with Boston as
the capital, to which place Governor Sir Edmund Andros
removed the provincial records of New York. The next
year, however, the democracy of Massachusetts deposed
and imprisoned him, and after a time shipped him off to
England. The consolidated dominion fell to pieces, each
colony resuming its former independent position. The


records of New York were not promptly returned, as they
should have been. Perhaps the Bostonians, being curi
ous, were holding them for examination with reference
to the vexed boundary questions. It is fair to presume
that those in Dutch did not give them much satisfaction.
Notwithstanding the repeated demands for the surrender
of the archives, they were held for about three years ;
nothing short of the king s command was effectual.
Governor Bradstreet, of Massachusetts, reported to Lord
Nottingham, in May, 1691 : "We have caused the records
to be delivered, according to his majesty s command."

In March, 1741, a fire occurred in the fort at New York,
which consumed the governor s house, in which the rec
ords were kept. A month afterward Lieutenant-Governor
Clarke reported, " Most of the records were saved, and I
hope very few were lost."

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Governor
Tryon, becoming nervous for his own personal safety, took
refuge on board the ship Duchess of Gordon, lying in the
harbor, and took the records with him. An effort was
made by the city authorities to recover them, but Tryon
refused to give them up, pledging his honor that " they
should be kept in perfect security." How well he kept
his word of honor we shall see presently.

Tryon s fears mastered his judgment, and, lest the rebels
should attack the Duchess of Gordon, a merchant-ship, he
placed the archives on board the Asia, a man-of-war. When
some months afterward she was about to sail for England,
he ordered them to be put on another man-of-war, the
Eagle. "Since which time," he wrote to Lord George
Germaine, three years after, " I have never heard what
was actually done with them." The truth is that they
were carried to England, and it became the duty of Lord
George Germaine to look them up. He succeeded in


finding them, and sent them back. At the close of the
war they were lodged with the secretary of State at Albany,
and deposited without much order or care in temporary
quarters. It was not until the present State House af
forded them room that they were safe from the elements.
It would not be singular, if, during these several removals,
some of them should have been lost.

For many years they were strangely neglected ; their
value was not appreciated, and they were left without
proper care. This, perhaps, was owing in part to the fre
quent changes of the State officers, a thing that could not
be avoided. It was not until the administration of Gov
ernor DeWitt Clinton that they began to be valued as
sources of history. By his appointment, Dr. Van der
Kemp, a learned Hollander, translated the Dutch docu
ments, which were bound into volumes and made acces
sible to English readers. But the interest awakened at
this time did not seem to be permanent.

The late Dr. O Callaghan informed me, that, when he
was appointed keeper of the document-room, he found
the records in great confusion ; some of them packed in
boxes and stored in inconvenient places, while others were
in heaps on the floor. He said, "that some papers had
been taken from the files and used by the clerks for pack
ing books and kindling fires." Perhaps it was in this way
that at some former time the records of Minuit s and Van
Twiller s administrations were lost. Written in " Black
Dutch," to use the words on the cover of a book of Dutch
records in the county clerk s office, the text seemed like
birds tracks to the learned clerks, and of no special use,
except as waste paper.

Dr. O Callaghan s learning enabled him to understand
the value of his trust. He began his work methodically,
assorting and arranging the documents by their dates.


placing the bound volumes on shelves, and pasting the
loose papers in books prepared for the purpose. Students
of our early history are infinitely indebted to him for his
appreciative care ; and to the various secretaries of state
for keeping him so many years in that department. After
his retirement, some others who had charge were riot so
watchful, and suffered autograph-hunters to abstract many
valuable papers.

The present custodian, Mr. Berthold Fernow, is admi
rably fitted by education and taste for his responsible of
fice. Fond of history and antiquarian lore, he soon formed
a high estimate of the records in his charge. Acquainted
with several languages, including the Dutch, he is well
fitted to render quick and sure assistance to those who visit
his rooms for information.

Two years ago the Legislature wisely transferred these
records from the State department to the State library ;
and the regents quite as wisely caused their keeper to
follow them. In fire-proof rooms, and in charge of com
petent men, there need be no fear hereafter of losses and

The early records of Albany City and County are writ
ten in Dutch, and contained in two distinct offices, the one
public and the other private. Those in the county clerk s
office are bound in volumes, and are in a fair state of pres
ervation. Besides deeds, mortgages, contracts, wills, and
notarial papers, there are the miscellaneous records of the
village of Fort Orange under the Dutch regime, and after
ward under the English. Although important in tracing
land-titles, and for other purposes, they have never been
translated by the city. The late Joel Munsell had many
of them, as also records of the Dutch Church, rendered
into English, and published them at his own expense.
These translations are chiefly contained in Munsell s


"Collections on the History of Albany," and Munsell s
"Annals of Albany." Because the Dutch language was in
common use for more than half a century after the Eng
lish occupation, these books contain many papers of date
subsequent to that period. Notwithstanding Mr. Mun
sell s efforts, there is a large mass of matter remaining in
a little known language.

When Dr. O Callaghan wrote his " History of New
Netherland," the papers and books belonging to the Manor
of Rensselaerwyck were freely offered for his inspection.
As these contained the earliest records of Albany, he found
them very useful. His history contains a large amount
of interesting matter found in those ancient archives.

The genealogical tables in these volumes were prepared
with care. Personal interviews, an extensive correspond
ence, family records contained chiefly in old Dutch Bi
bles, scores of old wills in % the public offices of Albany
and New York, the records of the Dutch churches of Al
bany and New York, the latter as published in the New
York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and deeds re
corded in the office of the secretary of state, are the chief
sources of authority. Professor Pearson s " Genealogies
of the First Settlers of Albany, and of Schenectady,"
although containing errors which were perhaps unavoid
able on account of the frequent recurrence of the same
names, have given much assistance ; as also Winfield s
" History of Hudson County, N. J.," Bolton s " History of
Westchester County, N. Y.," and Valentine s " Manual of
the Common Council of New York City." There are
doubtless some omissions and errors, but in the main the
tables may be relied upon as accurate.

The matter contained in the biographical and historical
sketches was procured mainly from the records and docu
ments in manuscript and print, retained in the office of


the secretary of the State of New York, and in the county
clerk s office of Albany, of which many original papers
were translated for my use. Besides these sources, I have
derived much valuable information from the publications
of the New York Historical Society, Munsell s " Collec
tions on the History of Albany," Munsell s " Annals of
Albany," the " Massachusetts Historical Collections,"
" Colonial Records of Connecticut," " Pennsylvania Ar
chives," Corwin s " Manual of the Reformed (Dutch)
Church," O Callaghan s " History of New Netherland,"
Brodhead s " History of New York," and Smith s "His
tory of New York."

Mr. Fernow, keeper of the historical records and docu
ments, rendered the most important assistance, without
which it would have been difficult for me to proceed with
my work. He procured and translated several sheets of
transcripts from the church t records, a large number of
legal papers from the county clerk s office, and many arti
cles from the records in his own office. I am deeply in
debted to him, not only for his helpfulness, but for his
sympathy and encouragement. For the sake of other del-
vers among the muniments of the olden time, it is to be
hoped he will long be retained as chief of the manuscript
department of the State library.


ITHACA, N. Y., February 2, 1885.


b. for born. d. y. died young.

bp. baptized. d. s. p. died without posterity, or childless.

m. married. g. grand, or great.

m. 1. marriage license. dau. daughter.

d. died.







The New Village at Esopus, . . . . . 120

The Half Moon, 152

The Flatts, 154

His Will, 162







THE VERPLANCK FAMILY, . , . . . . . 292

JOHN COLLINS, ......... 296




AFTER the discovery of America by Columbus in 1492,
England and France sent out exploring ships in charge of
experienced navigators to make further discoveries, but
for more than a hundred years neither country made any
systematic efforts to colonize the newly found countries.
Spain was left almost unmolested to pursue her conquests,
and to continue the subjugation of the West India Islands,
Mexico, and parts of South America. Near the middle of
the sixteenth century, the French made some attempts at
settlement in Canada and in Florida, but nothing effectual
was accomplished, on account of the rigor of the climate
on the one hand, and the interference of enemies on the
other. In 1603 Champlain made his first voyage to the
river St. Lawrence, and the next year, after his return to
France, organized a company for the purpose of settling
the countries he had explored. The adventurers were a
motley crowd, made up of noblemen, merchants, priests,
laborers, and good-for-nothings. They sailed in two ships,
which touched on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia,
rounded Cape Sable, penetrated the Bay of Fundy, and
finally moored at an island in the mouth of the river St.
Croix, where the emigrants landed and built their huts.
The next spring they abandoned this spot and removed to


Annapolis. The venture was not a great success, but it
was the beginning of a system of colonization which was
prosecuted under many adverse circumstances for a hun
dred and fifty years.

In 1497 England had sent an expedition in charge of the
Cabots Venetians by birth to discover a northwest pas
sage to the East Indies. Not succeeding in their search,
the Cabots sailed down along the coast from Newfound
land to Florida, and then returned to England. On this
voyage the English founded their claim to all North
America. It was held in abeyance for nearly a century.
No effort was made to effect a settlement or to plant a
colony until 1583, when Sir Humphrey Gilbert with a small
fleet took possession of Newfoundland for the British
crown ; but the colony he attempted to found was soon
abandoned. Two years later Sir Walter Raleigh, under a
patent of the queen, sent out some emigrants, who started
a settlement on the coast of North Carolina, which, how
ever, was broken up and dispersed the year after.

Captain Bartholomew Gosnal, with a company of adven
turers visited the coast of New England in 1602, and land
ing on one of the Elizabeth Islands, made some arrange
ments for permanent occupancy, which proved to be
useless, for when the ship was about to sail on her home
ward voyage, the embryo colonists were seized with home
sickness, and re-embarked with their companions.

In 1606 King James of England, like Pope Alexander
VI., who divided the New World between Spain and Por
tugal, gave the country which the Cabots had seen from
the decks of their ships, to two great commercial com
panies, the London and the Plymouth ; to the first, the
country south of the Potomac ; to the second, the territory
north of the Hudson, graciously leaving the lands betw r een
in possession of their native owners.


The next year the London Company commenced opera
tions, and sent out a colony of one hundred and five souls,
who established themselves on the James River in Vir
ginia. They succeeded, after many trials and vicissitudes,
in retaining their position, and laying the foundation of a
great State.

In the same year (1607) the Plymouth Company at
tempted to establish a colony at the mouth of the Kenne-
bec River in Maine. Owing to the seventy of the cli
mate, the hostility of the savages, and their own want of
pluck, the colonists returned home the next year. Other
efforts were made in succeeding years with a similar result.
It remained for a handful of religious enthusiasts, without
money or patronage, to solve the problem of colonization
in New England. Driven from England by persecution
they had found a refuge in Holland. During their ten
years residence in that free country they had learned
many useful lessons, which were of infinite service to them
in after years. They were, however, not contented with
their situation there, and after mature deliberation re
solved to remove to America. Detained longer than they
had expected, having had to land in England to perfect
their arrangements, after a long and tedious passage over
the Atlantic they finally reached their destination, and
erected their altars at Plymouth, in December, 1620. They
had left their old homes for conscience sake in search of a
place where they could worship God unawed by popes and
bishops. They were the pioneers of thousands of their
co-religionists, many of whom, like themselves, had sought
refuge in Holland to escape the persecutions of their own
countrymen, and thence followed them to the western
wilderness. They were the fathers and mothers of New

The United Provinces of the Netherlands had thrown


off the Spanish yoke after a war of forty years, and had
taken their place as one of the nations of Europe. Their
territory was small, and their population did not exceed
two and a half millions. The situation of their country,
and the necessity of fighting their battles for freedom to a
large degree on the ocean, made them a maritime people,
fearless and enterprising. They had sailed on every sea,
and had fought their enemies in all quarters of the globe.
Their seamen had been in American waters, and had some
knowledge of that country. Their merchants traded in
China and other Eastern countries, and they desired a
shorter route than that around the southern cape of
Africa to transport their rich cargoes of spices and other
Eastern products. They believed, as did others, that
through or around the continent of North America such a
route existed and could be found.

Henry Hudson, an Englishman, who had made two
voyages, under the patronage of English merchants, in
search of the northwest passage, now offered his services
to the Dutch East India Company, convinced some of its
members that such a passage really existed, and persuaded
them to make another trial to find it.

Hudson in the ship Half-Moon arriving on the coast of
America in northern latitudes, and finding his progress im
peded by ice, turned to the south. When he reached the
Chesapeake Bay, he again turned to the north. Sailing
near the shore he discovered the Delaware Bay and
sounded its waters. Not satisfied with its indications he
again put to sea and entered the lower bay of New York,
September, 1609. Here he lingered several days while
his boats explored the inner bay and adjacent waters. He
then passed the Narrows and entered the mouth of the
great river which now bears his name. Hoping to find
the northwest passage he proceeded up the river to the


vicinity of Albany, when becoming convinced that the
channel he had followed was only a river, and not a water
course from ocean to ocean, he turned his prow to the
Atlantic. He was not altogether fortunate in his inter
course with the natives, which might have resulted in dis
aster to those who came after him, had they practised
less prudence and discretion. While lying in the lower
bay on his first arrival, a sailor on one of his boats return
ing from an exploring tour was shot in the throat with an
arrow and died. On his return down the river near
Manhattan Island, one of the natives was caught stealing
from the ship, and was shot while making his escape.
Others, who made hostile demonstrations, were shot on the
shore. The Indians above the Highlands were friendly,
visiting the ship, receiving visits in their cabins on the
land, and showing in various ways their kindly feelings
toward the strangers.

Hudson on his homeward voyage landed in England,
and sent the report of his discoveries to his principals in
Holland. 1

Holland was too much occupied with her own affairs to
avail herself for the time being of this important dis
covery. She had just secured an acknowledgment of her
independence, but had not effected a permanent peace,
merely a cessation of hostilities for the term of twelve years,

1 There are few historical facts better authenticated than this, yet there
are some writers, both English and American, who tell us, in an off-hand
manner, that Hudson made this voyage under an English commission, and
sold his discoveries to the Dutch. Their only authority is an anonymous
writer, who published his essay forty years after Hudson s voyage. Sir
Edward Ploeyden, an Englishman, having been refused a patent for land
in America by the king, procured one from the Viceroy of Ireland, which
was void on its face, as the Viceroy had no authority to grant lands in
America. His claim under the document was not recognized by the Dutch,
nor by his own government. He is supposed to be the author of this
essay, which is not recognized by respectable historians as good authority.


Spain reserving the right to renew the war at the expira
tion of the truce. The Dutch knew quite well that they
must be prepared for another struggle, unless it could be
averted by a prudent administration and a wise conduct
in regard to foreign affairs. As Spain claimed all North
America by right of discovery and the gift of the Pope,
she was sensitive to the interference of others, and above
all to the encroachments on the part of the revolted prov
inces. . The government of Holland, guided by the wise

Online LibraryGeorge Washington SchuylerColonial New York : Philip Schuyler and his family (Volume 01) → online text (page 1 of 40)