Abraham Schuyler
Stefan Bielinski

Abraham Davidse Schuyler was born in August 1663. He was the eldest surviving son of Beverwyck pioneers Davidse Pieterse and Catharina Verplanck Schuyler. As a young man, he represented his father's trading interests in the Indian country. Living among the Senecas for extended periods, he also represented Albany as an agent and interpreter. But following the untimely death of David Pieterse in 1690, Abraham was called home to manage the Albany end of the family business. At that time, he settled in Albany and into the life of a merchant and civic leader.

Marriage represented a first step in setting down community roots. He wed Geertruy Ten Broeck in 1691 - the daughter of one of Albany's founders. Because only two children were born during the first decade of the marriage, their family of five children was much smaller than the early Albany average. Abraham was an active member of the Albany Dutch church, where, despite absences from Albany, he was a frequent baptism sponsor.

More and more an export merchant, in his younger days Abraham Schuyler had been master of a Hudson River sloop. Thus, he was experienced in the sales and transport phases of bartering furs, farm, and forest products for imported items in New York.

From about 1690 to 1701, Abraham Schuyler was a prominent Albany figure. Connected to the most important early Albany families, his landmark home near the north gate was a center of city-based business. Serving as assessor, assistant, alderman, and judge, over a twenty year period, he literally spoke for Albany in dealings with the Indians.

In 1709, he accompanied his cousin, Pieter Schuyler, and four Mohawk chiefs to England and an audience with Queen Anne. He acted as interpreter on their mission to obtain military and spiritual assistance for the Iroquois. He returned home in 1710 and resumed his multi-faceted career. One of the more visible Albany city fathers, Abraham Schuyler continued to go to Canada and into the Indian country on diplomatic missions for the Albany Commissioners of Indian Affairs. He held a provincial appointment as "Overseer of the Indian Trade," captained a company of Indian scouts, held a militia commission, and was called "Captain" and "Major."

Barely middle-aged, Abraham Schuyler had filed a will in 1709. It left an extensive estate to Geertruy during her widowhood. Even into his sixties, Schuyler continued to travel on diplomatic business. Seventeen years later, in July 1726, he died in the Seneca country following a brief illness. His widow lived in their house on Market Street for more than a dozen years.


the people of colonial Albany The life of Abraham Davidse Schuyler is CAP biography number 921. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. Because of his diplomatic career, much additional information has been derived from the New York Colonial Documents series.

The Verplanck (mother's family) connection gave him entre to Manhattan trading circles. His father-in-law was Dirck Wesselse. His younger brother, Myndert Schuyler, became mayor of Albany in 1719.

He lived in the house built by his father on the southeastern corner of Market and Steuben Streets. He shared that complex structure with his mother until her death in 1708. That home remained in the Schuyler family throughout the eighteenth century. He also owned another "little house on the street with a lot in the rear" either adjacent or located nearby. Perhaps the "little house" was owned by Jacobus Schuyler, a still-younger brother who died in 1707!

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first posted: 6/25/01