Lancaster Symes


Lancaster Symes was a British army officer and official who arrived in New York in 1690. Based mostly in New York City, he died at Albany in 1729. Probably not an actual resident of the city of Albany, a number of his children are important to the early Albany story.

In November 1694, he married the widow "Catharina Larkens" at the Dutch church in New York. Over the next decade, they witnessed a number of baptisms there.

In 1701, he was made a freeman of New York.

His will dated March 30, 1723 (not located but see below) was supplemented by a codicil dated March 28, 1727. He was identified as late of New York [and] now of Albany. His wife Catherine was mentioned.

Loose notes on the Lancaster Symes family from various sources

At this point, the best compilation of biographical material appeared in Stephen Lyon Mershon's The Major and the Queen [or] A Royal Grant to a Gallant Soldier (New York, 1915). The chronology printed below is "commandeered" from that work, pp. 84-87. See also The Symmes Memorial; and a transformation of the will of Catharina De Hart Symes.


1690 -- Lancaster Symes arrives in New York on ship "Beaver."

1691 -- Symes and others demand the surrender of the New York Fort.

1692-3 -- Symes stationed with troops in Albany.

1692 -- Symes goes to the relief of Major Peter Schuyler, in a campaign against the French and the Indians.

1693 -- Symes returns to New York and is sent to Suffolk County to enlist its quota of troops.

1693 -- Symes is dispatched to England to recruit soldiers for Grenadier Guards stationed at New York and Albany.

1694 -- Symes marries Catherine De Haart in the New York Dutch Church.

1697 -- "The Parish of Trinity Church" incorporated and granted the partially completed Church and burying ground around it.

1698 -- Dongan's mortgage on "Whitehall" surrendered by Symes in exchange for a fourteen year lease of same at a rental of one pepper corn a year.

1698 -- Symes is relieved of command as lieutenant because of change of political party control of administration in the Province.

1699 -- Symes buys negro boy of Captain Kidd.

1699 -- Symes elected vestryman of Trinity Church.

1701 -- Symes is awarded the freedom of the City of New York.

1701 -- Symes, military commissioner at a conference with the Six Nations at Albany.

1702 -- Symes with Robert Walters, Cornelius De Peyster, Caleb Heathcote, Mathew Clarkson and others obtain a grant of land in Westchester County (West patent of North Castle).

1702. Symes returns to Albany in the suite of Edward Hyde, the newly appointed Governor and who later became the Earl of Clarendon.

1702. Queen Anne ascends the throne of England.

1703. Queen Anne Approves of Bellamont's plan to provide missionaries for the American Indians, and refers it to the Archbishop of Canterbury for execution.

1703. Symes becomes one of the grantees in the Minisinck Patent to lands in Orange County.

1704. Reverend John Vesey's report of state of religion on Staten Island made to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.

1704. First Preacher is sent to Staten Island.

1704. Symes becomes Public Appraiser for New York.

1704. Symes leaves vestry of Trinity Church.

1705. Symes again becomes vestryman of Trinity Church.

1705. Royal Grant of the "Queen's Farm" on Manhattan Island is made by Queen Anne to Trinity Church.

1705. Symes obtains a contract to furnish fire wood to the garrison at Fort Anne.

1706. Symes is commissioned to audit the accounts of H. M. S. Triton's Prize.

1707. Symes secures a grant of land in the town of Monroe, Orange County, N. Y.

1707. Symes supplies fire wood under long term contract, to the Fort of New York.

1708. Edward Hyde removed from office of Governor of New York but is detained in the City by his creditors until Symes pays Hyde's entire indebtedness. 1708. Symes secures a grant of land in Clarkson near Haverstraw, New York.

1708. The parish of St. Andrew's is founded on Staten Island.

1708. Symes receives from Queen Anne a Grant of all of the Crown lands on Staten Island.

1708. Symes records at Richmond, Staten Island, his deed from Queen Anne for all Crown lands on Staten Island.

1709. Symes is commissioned to take account of the provisions on board the several vessels in the harbor of New York.

1709. Symes is commissioned Ranger of Orange County.

1709. St. Andrew's Church on Staten Island, Construction commenced.

1711. Symes grants land to St. Andrew's Church Corporation for a Church on Staten Island. ("133 acres for a Church of England.") ("26 acres" for glebe lands.) This deed was delivered to St. Andrew's Church Corporation on the date and at the time of its issue but was not recorded by it until 1718.

1711. Tillyer, William, (and wife) gave to St. Andrew's Church "for a Church and graveyard" about half an acre of land. (This was given after Symes' gift of 159 acres.)

1711. Symes sends lumber for a military expedition against Canada.

1711. Symes contributes toward the completion of the Steeple of Trinity Church.

1712. Council orders that the Patent to Lancaster Symes be investigated.

1712. Queen Anne provides a mission among the Mohawk Indians and contributes a Silver Service and other gifts for their use.

1713. Queen Anne grants to St. Andrew's Parish her perpetual Royal Charter.

1713. St. Andrew's Church "formally presented to the Parish by Queen Anne as head of the realm and Church."

1713. Lancaster Symes petitions Council for a confirmation of title to a lot of land on Dock Street, New York City, purchased by him from Ebenezer Willson and Benjamin Ashe. The petition was granted.

1713. A confirmatory patent is granted to Symes by the Council after investigation ordered in 1712.

1714. Death of Queen Anne.

1714. King George gives Patent to St. Peter's Protestant Episcopal Church, Albany, N. Y. He seals it with Queen Anne's seal and adorns it with her vignette.

1715. St. Peter's Protestant Episcopal Church at Albany built.

1716. St. Peter's Church, the first English Church in Albany, is opened for worship.

1723. Symes is made Captain of the Fusileers stationed at Albany.

1723. Symes goes to England to receive commission of Captain of Fusileers and returns the same year.

1723. Symes resides in New York City, upon his return from England.

1724. Symes resides in New York City.

1725. A Petition is sent by Captain Henry Holland and Major Symes (wardens of St. Peter's Church at Albany) to the Society for the Propagation of Religion in Foreign Parts, requesting that a minister be sent to St. Peter's Church.

1726. Symes represents Orange County in the Assembly at Albany (continues to represent that County until his death in 1729).

1727. Symes collects funds for St. Peter's Church expenses.

1729. Lancaster Symes, Jr., marries Margaret Lydius, a daughter of Reverend Johannes Lydius of Albany.

1729. Death of Major Symes in Albany.


By E.B. O'Callaghan and printed in NYGBR (volume 5 for 1874) online version:

first notice of Lancaster Symes in tins country is that of his arrival at New York, in the ship Beaver, on the 28th of January, 1690-1, as ensign in the company of infantry commanded by his brother-in Richard Ingoldesby, part of the escort sent with Colonel Henry Sloughter when commissioned Governor of New York. His first public act was the demand made by him, in company with Counsellor Brooke and Lieutenant Shanks, for the surrender to Ingoldesby of the fort at New York for occu- pation by the forces under his command. Leisler's indignant and ai refusal to acquiesce in this demand was the commencement of the sad troubles which shortly followed.

A few months after these occurrences, and when Governor Sloughter had become securely fixed in his office (May 7, 1691), he writes thus of Ensign es to the Committee of Foreign Plantations : " Lieutenant Wildbore is dead. I have commissioned one Lancaster Sinims in his stead. He is one that came from England with us — a good soldier, and diligent in busi- ness ; therefore, pray he may be allowed." On the same day, writing to the Duke of Bolton, he adds: " Major Englesby and myself humbly beg grace's favor that Lancaster Simms may be confirmed lieutenant in- stead of Lieftennant Wildboare, who dyed at sea. Simms came over with the Major; he is a soldier, and qualified in every respect."

In the early part of the year 1692-3, he was stationed at Albany, whence he was detached with a supply of provisions for a party commanded by •)• Schuyler, who was then in pursuit of the French on their retreat after having invaded the Mohawk country. Returning to -New York, Lieutenant Symes was sent in May to Suffolk Co. to bring up the quota of that district ordered to Albany; but he returned and reported, on the 20th of that month, that his mission was unsuccessful.

His connection with the administrations of Sloughter and his successors •red him cut of favor with the Leislerian party, who came into power on the advent of the Earl of Bellomont; and this nobleman, on 22d De- cember;- 1698, suspended Symes as lieutenant of Major Ingoldesby's com- of fusileerSj ostensibly because he had been two years absent from his post at Albany, adding in his letter announcing the suspension: "He applied to me to be restored, and deserves for many reasons to be broke, which I hope the king will be pleased to consent to." In revenj Symes appears as one of the signers of the petition to the king, denouncing the administrations of Bellomont and Nanfan, in which he and others com- plained that they had been unjustly turned out of employment under the Government. Trinity Church at this, time was anti-Leisler also, and so elected Mr. Symes, after his suspension, one of their vestrymen, which office he filled until 1704, and again in 1705.

He appears to have been a man of hasty temper, for we find a complaint lodged against him in April, 1699, for a violent assault he and some of his friends committed on one John Marsh in King's Co., whom they also arrested, and, as it is alleged, falsely imprisoned. The matter was referred to the House of Assembly by the Earl of Bellomont, to whom the House presented an address on the 15th of May on the subject.

Upon ceasing to be connected with the military, Lieutenant Symes em- barked in trade, and turned his attention to acquiring a share in those lar^ r e tracts of land which were being Javishly distributed at that day. In the forepart of 1 701-2 he, with Robert Walters, Cornelius De Peyster, Caleb Heathcote, Mathew Clarkson, and others, obtained a grant of up- wards of 5,000 acres of land in Westchester Co., subsequently known as the West Patent of North Castle. In 1703 he became one of the grantees in the Minisinck Patent, Orange Co. In 1707 he secured a grant of land in the town of Monroe, Orange Co.; in 170S in Clarkstown, near Haverstraw, Rockland Co.; on the 27th October, 170S. all the unpatented lands on Staten Island; and, in 1709, one-eighth of 6.500 acres in Orange and Ulster Counties likewise fell to his share. In addition to these, he owned a house and lot in Dock (now Pearl) Street, New York, and he also held, by lease, the mansion and grounds at Whitehall, formerly the residence of Governor Dongan, and also the grounds called the Vine- yard, eastward of the present City Hall Park, which had been previ* mortgaged to him by the Governor to secure a debt of ^'200 that he, Governor Dongan, owed to James Larkin, the former husband of Mrs. Symes.

On 15th May, 1704, he was appointed Public Appraiser for the city, and on the 2 2d May of the following year, obtained a contract to furnish wood to the garrison in Fort Anne. He was commissioned Ranger of Orange Co., 19th September, 1719, and finally restored to his rank as lieutenant of one of the independent companies stationed in New York, commanded by Captain Weems. This officer dying. Governor Burnet, on 13th May, 1723, bestowed the vacant command of the company of fusi- leers on Symes, who immediately embarked for England in order to his appointment confirmed. In November following he returned with his commission to New York, where he continued to reside, having young George Ingoldesby, his nephew, as his lieutenant. He represented the county of Orange in the Assembly from 27th September, 1726, to the time of his death, which took place in the latter end of March or beginning of April, I 7 2 9-

Captain Symes' wife was Catharine, widow of James Larkin, and dan. of Matthias De Haart, whom he m. Nov. 4, 1694, she being then in her twenty-second year. Her mother was Jannetje, or Johanna, widow at the time of her marriage with De Haart (Oct. 1, 1670) of Johannes De Witt, and by the latter, her first husband, ancestress of the distinguished family of that name.

Captain Symes left four children, viz. :
1. Jchn Hendrick.,
2. Lancaster.
3. Richard.
4. Elizabeth.

He left also one grandchild, Richard Green, son of his deceased dau., Catharine, wife of Green.

Lancaster (2), m. January 15; 1729, Mrs. Mary Lydius. He appears to have resided for a while at Haverstraw, in Rockland (then part of Orange Co., where he was a justice of the peace in 1731, but subsequently returned to New York, where he was residing in 1741, at the time of the making of the will of which an abstract is given below. He had issue, three children :
1. Lancaster, bap. Nov. rg, 1729.
2. Susanna Caiharina.
3. 1

Of these .children, the first named lived a bachelor, following the sea as an occupation. He died in 1756, leaving a will, executed at New York, June 8, 175 1, in which he describes himself as a " mariner," and gives all his estate to his two sisters, Catharine and Elizabeth ( N. Y. Wills, lib. 21, p. 332). Catharine married Rev. John Ogilvie, subsequently assistant minister of Trinity Church, New York.


Will, dated March 30, 1723, gives his wife, Catharine, his wearing apparel, ring, jewels, all his ready money, plate, and household furniture, together with his two in gi 1 women, called Old Moll' and Annica, with her son, Ned, and Moll's son, Billy, and all the children they or either of them shall hereafter have ; also, the house in which he lives during her (-his wife's) life ; likewise two lots of ground near the Dutch Church, N. Y. ; to his eldest son; John Hendrick Symes, 500 acres of land near Haverstraw, Orange Co., N. Y. ; to his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, .£100 New York currency. The residue of his estate he divides into six equal parts, and leaves one to his wife in lieu of her dower ; one part to his son, above mentioned; one part to his daughter, Elizabeth ; one part to his son, Lancaster, when he attains the age of twenty-one years ; one part to his youngest son, Richard, when he arrives at majority ; and the remaining sixth he divides as follows : one- half to his grandson, Richard Green, the son of his deceased daughter, Catharine, and the other half to his three sons and daughter, share and share alike. In case his sons, or his grandson, or cither of them, die before coming to the age of twenty- one, or after twenty-one, and leave no issue, then his or their shares are t divided among such of his children as shall survive them, share and share alike. In case of dispute as to the division of his property, his dear friends, Adolph Philipse and Peter Fauconier, or any other two the major part of his heirs may select, are to divide the same. He appoints his wife, Adolph Philipse. and his oldest sons executrix and executors of his

By codicil, made March 23. 1727, describing himself as late of New York, [and] then living in Albany, he ratifies the above will, except that he revokes the bequest of 500 acres of land to his son, John Hendrick Symes, in consideration that he already received more than any of his other children, and directs that the said 500 acres shall be equally divided as his other land is directed to be divided in his will. And he declares everyone of his children, and his grandchild when of age, executors with diose already appointed.

Will and codicil proved in New York, 28th Nov., 1729. The originals are 0.1 file in the office of the Clerk of the Court of Appeals at Albany, N. Y.


Will, dated March 13, 1741, Abstract in AW This will does not appear to have been admitted to probate. It is on file in the Surrogate's office, New York.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of the first American Lancaster Symes has no CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

privately posted 4/16/14; last updated 1/10/15