Genevieve Masse Lydius


Genevieve Masse was born in New France (Canada) at the beginning of the eighteenth-century. Tradition holds that she was of French and Native American ancestry. By the late 1720s, she had become the wife of Albany trader John Henry Lydius who was then living in Quebec. At least two of her children were born there. But in 1730, she left with her husband who had been banished from New France for illegal trading and under suspicion of being a British agent.

The Lydiuses moved south - taking up winter residence in the family home at the corner of State and Pearl Streets in Albany and establishing a trading post on the upper Hudson at the site of today's Fort Edward. The couple raised at least eight children, the last six being baptized in the Albany Dutch Reformed Church.

Because her husband was absent often, French-speaking Genevieve often acted as the head of the Lydius family in Albany. John Henry Lydius went to England in 1764 to press his more questionable land claims. He never returned and Genevieve was left to manage his extensive holdings, provide for and monitor her still dependant children, and also to deal with those who came to Albany upset about her husband's business and real estate transactions. Unlike her devious and duplicitous spouse, Genevieve Lydius was known to travelers and townspeople as a charming and engaging woman.

All but one of her adult children remained at home where this now elderly functional widow continued as head of the Lydius family until her death during the decade following the War for Independence. By 1788, her bachelor son was identified as the head of their main street household.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Genevieve Masse Lydius is CAP biography number 1473. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

recast: 9/25/08