Peter Silvester
Stefan Bielinski

Peter Silvester was born about 1734. We believe he was the son of Nathaniel Sylvester of Shelter Island.

Peter Silvester

He followed the law and was licenced to practice in New York in January 1755. The following year, he was made a "free man" of Albany - enabling him to conduct business in the city.

He married Kinderhook native Jannetje Van Schaack in 1764. Their son Francis was born in 1767. By that time, he had opened a legal practice in Albany. His practice flourished and, within a few years, he was one of the wealthiest Albany residents. Among his clients was Sir William Johnson. He served the Albany government as a clerk and represented the city on several occasions. Although not the clerk of record, he was paid for performing clerical services. He also was a member and officer of St. Peter's Anglican church.

In 1771, he was elected alderman for the first ward. The following year he was appointed to revise the city's governing ordinances. Although he had done very well under the British system, in 1775 he was elected to and served on the Albany Committee of Correspondence. He also represented Albany in the New York Provincial Congress.

During the 1770s, Silvester moved his family to Kinderhook - although legal business continued to bring him to Albany. His wife had inherited land there from her father and the well-connected Silvester also would be in a better position to protect his "torified" in-laws, the Van Schaacks. He became a leader of the crusade for American liberties in Kinderhook. Afterwards, the Kinderhook mainstay was a judge, state senator, and congressman. In 1787, he was appointed to the New York State Board of Regents.

A notable attorney, mentor, and jurist, Peter Silvester died in November 1808 and was buried in the Kinderhook cemetery. A street and a number of Kinderhook babies were named for him!



the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Peter Silvester/Sylvester is CAP biography number 1064. This profile focusing on his Albany career is derived chiefly from community-based resources. The best window on his Albany business comes from the Johnson Papers. See if you must, Peyton F. Miller, A Group of Great Lawyers of Columbia County, New York (privately printed, 1904), 55-57. Substantial Kinderhook history is available online. We seek more defining information on his background.

Portrait: Copied from a painting at one time in the Catskill courthouse. Reproduced in the Johnson Papers 8:320.

We seek information on his formal education and on where he clerked!

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first posted: 7/25/02