Maria Jay Banyar


Maria Jay was born in February 1782. She was the middle daughter of Revolutionary leader John Jay and his wife, Sara Van Brugh Livingston Jay. She was born in Spain where here father was the American ambassador. For a time, she was jokingly called "the little spaniard." Her early years also were spent in Paris and London in the company of famous diplomats including Benjamin Franklin - who remembered her fondly.

Upon returning home to New York, Maria was sent to boarding school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. But mostly, she lived in luxury in New York City.

Her parents raised their family in Albany while her father was governor of New York State (1795-1801). In April 1801, she married Goldsbrow Banyar, Jr. at St. Peter's Anglican Church. Their son and daughter were born in 1804 and 1805. But both children were short-lived.

After a honeymoon trip to visit the Coopers (she was the long-time friend and correspondent of James Fenimore Cooper) in Cooperstown, the couple made their home in Albany. Their household at 62 North Pearl Street included Maria's elderly father-in-law and her sister Sarah Jay as well.

Goldsbrow Banyar, Jr. died in New York in June 1806. However, Maria remained in Albany - caring for the elder Goldsbrow until he died in 1815.

In 1813, "M. Banyar" was listed as one of the managers of the "Albany Ladies Society."

Afterwards, she returned to her family - probably living at Katonah from about 1818 until her father's death in 1829.

Maria Jay Banyar died in New York City in November 1856 at the age of seventy-five.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Maria Jay Banyar is CAP biography number 2592. This sketch intends to focus on her Albany life and is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

first posted: 3/5/08