Cornelis Switts was born in April 1738. He was the son of Albany skipper and businessman Isaac Switts and his wife Maria Vrooman Switts. He grew up along the Albany waterfront and on the Hudson River - ultimately taking command of his father's sloop.
Cornelis followed the calling of his forebears and was known as "Captain Swits" - carrying cargoes for Sir William Johnson and other merchants. He was also an Albany mainliner - settling his family in a house in the third ward where he served as firemaster and, during the 1770s and 80s, was elected assistant alderman. During the 1760s and 70s, his home was taxed more moderately than many householders in his position. He was identified as a member of the Albany County militia in 1767.
In 1766, he signed the constitution of the Albany Sons of Liberty. At the outbreat of hostilities, he served the Revolutionary cause by apprehending and transporting prisoners and supplies. He also was appointed to seize maritime assets from Tory ships. After the war, he was accorded a bounty right in conjunction with the Albany militia regiment.
In January 1762, he married New York resident Catharina Schuyler at the Manhattan Dutch church. But by 1776, seven of their children had been baptized at the Albany Dutch church where he was a member and pewholder.
By 1790, he had moved away from the river to a residence in the second ward where the first Federal census configured his household.
Cornelis Switts died in March 1791 and was buried in the Dutch church cemetery. He was a few weeks shy of his fifty-third birthday!
first posted: 10/30/04