Philip Pieterse


Philipse Pieterse Schuyler was the first outstanding member of early Albany's most important New Netherland-era family.

He was born in Holland in 1628, the oldest child of German-born Amsterdam baker Pieter Diercks and Geertruy Philips van Schuyler. By 1650, he had emigrated to New Netherland with his younger brother, David Pieterse.

In December 1650, twenty-two-year-old Philip Pieterse was in Rensselaerswyck where he married Margarita Van Slichtenhorst - daughter of the director of the colony. That union admitted a newly arrived carpenter to the upper echelon of New Netherland society. It also produced a large family of twelve American-born children between 1652 and 1672. Eight of those offspring went on to establish the Schuyler family in Albany and beyond.

Taking the surname of their mother's family, the Schuylers' success followed the rapid rise of its founder. Settling in Beverwyck, Philip Pieterse was among its earliest householders when lots were first apportioned during the 1650s. Although nominally a carpenter or gunstockmaker, like many of his most successful neighbors, he entered the fur trade. By 1660, he stood with the principal traders of the community. He used those profits to begin a favored family practice of acquiring additional real estate. Those holdings began with the house he built on the corner of today's State and Pearl Streets. It remained a family fixture for most of the next hundred years. By 1672, he also had acquired land along the Hudson north of the Van Rensselaer manor house. That farm became a family summer home known as "the Flats". In addition, Philip Pieterse owned houses and lots in New Amsterdam/New York, several hundred acres east of the Hudson and below Rensselaerswyck, and lots in Wiltwyck and at the Halfmoon as well.

His marital connection to the New Netherland leadership set the stage for his appointment to the Beverwyck court. After the English take-over, he was appointed a magistrate of the Albany court - predecessor of the Albany Corporation. Although he retired from the court in 1671, he was considered among Albany's foremost inhabitants for the rest of his life. Sometimes referred to as "Captain Schuyler," he held military commissions under the Duke of York and also was appointed "commissary" at Albany in 1666. He was the first of many Schuylers to represent Albany in meetings with the Iroquois.

Born in Holland, Dutch-speaking Philip Pieterse was the first of several generations of independent but reasonable Albany leaders to be favored by the English and British with official appointments, access to land, and contracts.

On May 1, 1683, Philipse Pieterse Schuyler filed a joint will with his wife, Margarita. The document noted the ages of their eight living children. He died eight days later and was buried beneath the Albany Dutch Church. His widow continued to live in the family homes on State Street and at the Flats until her death in 1711. Dead before his time, Philip Pieterse did not see sons Pieter and Johannes serve as mayors of Albany. But from his Albany house came dozens of others who made the Schuyler family early Albany's foremost and one of the major families of colonial New York as well.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Philip Pieterse Schuyler is CAP biography number 1742. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

first posted: 1999; re-cast and last revised 7/21/12