Elizabeth Schuyler Sanders
Stefan Bielinski

Elizabeth Schuyler was born on January 1, 1725. She was the daughter of Pieter and Catharina Groesbeck Schuyler. She grew up on the family farm at the Flats.

In January 1747, she married forty-one-year-old widower Robert Sanders. Seven months later, their first child was born in their home on Pearl Street. By 1761, seven more children had been baptized in the Albany Dutch church where both parents were members and pewholders.

Robert Sanders profitted greatly from his marriage to a daughter of Albany's foremost New Netherland family. He was appointed mayor of Albany in 1750 and served for six years.

The wife of one of Albany's most successful and resourceful merchants, Elizabeth also maintained her own business and accounts. Her account book for 1753-64 details several hundred transactions with free and slave clients from Albany and beyond. More than half of her customers were women. Bearing children throughout these business years, Elizabeth Sanders stood as an outstanding but not isolated participant in Albany's mid-eighteenth century commercial economy.

Inheriting real estate and other property from the Schuylers, Elizabeth was a fitting match for the pre-eminent Robert Sanders - who seems to have encouraged and monitored her business activities. However, she would not live to enjoy her wealth and status. With her last baby less than two years old, she contracted a fever and died on July 30, 1763. Elizabeth Schuyler Sanders was only thirty-eight years old.



the people of colonial Albany The life of Elizabeth Schuyler Sanders is CAP biography number 1274. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

The "Account Book of Mrs. Robert Sanders" is from the Robert Sanders papers in the collection of the New-York Historical Society. It is key resource and the subject of a core chapter in the doctoral dissertation of Aileen B. Agnew entitled "Elizabeth Sanders and the Limits of Entrepreneurship," pp. 33-79. Agnew provides substantial analysis of Sanders's enterprises and compares her business to that of male and female contemporaries. Robert Sanders made entries in her account book before and after Elizabeth's death. See also an earlier work: Agnew, Aileen B. "The Retail Trade of Elizabeth Sanders and the 'Other' Consumers of Colonial Albany," Hudson Valley Regional Review 14:2 (September, 1997), pp. 35-55.

Home | Site Index | Navigation | Email | New York State Museum

first posted: 2/10/02