Pieter Schuyler

From People of Colonial Albany
Pieter Schuyler 61
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Pieter Schuyler was born in Beverwyck in 1657. He was the eldest son of New Netherland pioneer Philip Pieterse Schuyler and Margarita Van Slichtenhorst - daughter of the director of Rensselaerswyck.

Pieter Schuyler grew up in the family home on State Street. He followed his father to success in the fur trade and beyond to acquire extensive lands in and around Albany and elsewhere in New York province. Emergence as Albany's most prominent native son brought him into contact with future brother-in-law, Robert Livingston, and helped set the stage for his ascendancy at the provincial level.

In July 1686, he was appointed first mayor of the city of Albany under the Dongan Charter. At age twenty-nine, he was Albany's active leader who brought the city government through Leisler's Rebellion and served in the mayor's office until 1694. In 1692, he was the first Albany man appointed to the provincial governor's advisory Council.

By 1681, Pieter Schuyler had married Albany native Engeltie Van Schaick. She died following the birth of their fourth child in 1689. Their daughter, Margarita, further cemented ties to the Livingstons when she married Robert Livingston, Jr. in 1697. In 1691, Pieter Schuyler re-married. Maria Van Rensselaer - daughter of the patroonship and Van Cortlandt Manor as well, bore him five more children. These Schuylers settled into their own riverside home on Court Street near the Ruttenkill. Both were pillars of the nearby Dutch church where Pieter was a church officer.

As mayor of Albany, Pieter Schuyler headed the Albany Commissioners for Indian Affairs. The city charter had invested these city fathers with the exclusive right to negotiate with the Indians. Schuyler's trading background and facility with native dialect brought him to the front of frontier diplomacy. A long time active member, as colonel of the Albany militia, he led the attack on La Prarie in 1691. By the end of the century, he was a reknowned field leader who travelled to New England, New France, and New York. In 1710, he sailed across the Atlantic - accompanying the "Four Iroquois Kings" to the court of Queen Anne. Respected by neighbors, other colonials, and adversaries, he was known to native peoples as "Quidor" or "brother."

Returning from England to an Albany County about to begin three decades of peace and growth, Colonel Schuyler settled in as the dean of native Albanians - beyond an active role in city affairs, but managing still expanding real estate holdings, continuing to sit with the Albany Indian commissioners, serving on the Council and as a royal emmisary, and presiding over Albany's most important traditional family while transitioning his base of operations more to the family farm on the flats north of the Van Rensselaer manor house.

Maria Van Rensselaer Schuyler died in 1713. Surrounded by extended family, he died in February 1724 three months shy of his sixty-sixth birthday. He was buried in the church cemetery.