Jacob Janse Schermerhorn
Stefan Bielinski

Traditional sources tell us that Jacob Janse was born about 1622 in the province of Schermerhorn in North Holland. As late as 1654, his father, Jan, was still living in the Netherlands.

He emigrated to New Netherland. He may have been in Rensselaerswyck as early as 1637. He is said to have owned a house inside the walls of Fort Orange. He traveled to Holland on a number of occasions.

In 1648, he was arrested for selling firearms to the Indians - a right apparently reserved to the West India Company. He was imprisoned and his property was confiscated. Initially ordered to be banished from the colony, he was allowed to remain but appears to have lost some or all of his property.

Jacob Janse stayed and started over. By 1652, he had married Jannetje (Segers) Van Voorhout, the mother of his children and matriarch of the Schermerhorn family of colonial New York. In 1654, he took title to two lots in Beverwyck. He served as a commissary and later as a magistrate of the court. In 1660, he was identified as one of the principal traders in the community.

Jacob Janse was a Beverwyck/Albany fur trader, and Schenectady property holder. He was active on the Albany real estate market - owning a number of parcels in several locations. In 1679, he was identified as an Albany householder with a house on Pearl Street. However, by that time, he may have been living in Schenectady. His son, Ryer, was known in both communities and beyond!

Jacob Janse filed a will in May 1688. He is said to have died shortly thereafter or perhaps during the "Schenectady Massacre" on February 6, 1690. He left a large and extensive estate in Albany, Schenectady, and elsewhere. In 1700, his administrators deeded his land in the Albany pastures to the Albany Dutch church.



the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Jacob Janse Schermerhorn is CAP biography number 5448. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. His life is chronicled closely in Schermerhorn Genealogy.

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first posted 10/10/03; last revised 4/22/16