Pieter Van Brugh
Stefan Bielinski

Pieter Van Brugh was born in 1666 the oldest son of Manhattan-based overseas trader Johannes Pieterse and Catharina Roeloffs Van Brugh. His father had prospered in New Netherland by exporting furs and other forest products consigned from upriver. Under the English, the elder Van Brugh became a civic leader and even improved his status with the marriages of four daughters and two sons to upwardly mobile commercial and landholding families.

In November 1688, Pieter married Sara Cuyler of Albany in the New York Dutch Reformed church. Their only child was born in 1689. Later that year, he was commissioned a lieutenant in a company of New York City militia. Shortly thereafter, these Van Brughs joined the Cuylers in Albany where Pieter had entered the family business.

Taking up residence in the Cuyler home on upper State Street, Pieter Van Brugh continued the family practice of collecting farm and forest products for shipment to New York. In 1692, he began public life as a constable, was made high constable in 1693, and served as assessor, collector, and contractor for many years after. By 1697, he had inherited the Cuyler property and had become an Albany regular. An officer of the Albany Dutch church, in 1707 his family grew when he was appointed guardian of the daughters of John Donaldson - a recently deceased brother-in-law.

Rising fortunes upriver and influential connections in New York led to his appointment as mayor of Albany in 1699. Although replaced after one year, he was named mayor again in 1721. During the first decades of the eighteenth-century, Pieter Van Brugh was among the wealthiest of Albany businessmen. He had inherited land in the Delaware valley from his father and acquired more land on his own in the city and in the countryside. He was elected to the provincial Assembly for a term in 1705, in 1713, and again in 1727. He also was an active member of the Albany Commissioners of Indian Affairs until the 1730s. By that time, Van Brugh's extensive interests were being managed by his son-in-law, Philip Livingston.

He died in July 1740 at the age of seventy-four. He was one of the last people to be buried beneath the Albany Dutch church. With no sons, the Van Brugh family name passed from Albany rolls with his death.


the people of colonial AlbanyThe life of Pieter Van Brugh is CAP biography number 5300. He was baptized in the New York City Dutch church on July 7, 1666. The basic genealogical source for the family is "The Van Brugh Family," by John Ross Delafield as printed in NYGBR vol 66 (1935), especially pp. 171-72. We know of no other narrative biography of him. His connection to the Livingston family is considered in Milton M. Klein, The American Whig: William Livingston of New York (revised edition: New York, 1993), 14-15. The best source for the development of the New York City business elite is Joyce D. Goodfriend, Before the Melting Pot: Society and Culture in Colonial New York City, 1664-1730 (Princeton, NJ, 1992).

Catharina Roeloffs was a daughter of the legendary Anneke Jans and her first husband. Johannes Pieterse may have met his future wife on one of his trading trips upriver to Beverwyck. See PFS, 142, where his family is called "Verbrugge."

Van Brugh was a partner in a land patent located along the Schoharie Creek in the Mohawks country called Huntersfield and in a tract located east of the Hoosick Patent.

Wealth: Assessment rolls for 1702 and 1709 place Van Brugh in the top five percent of the community. In 1707, Governor Cornbury's will named Van Brugh guardian of the Cornbury children.

A will for Pieter Van Brugh is said to exist in the Philip Livingston Papers at the New York Public Library. See Klein, The American Whig, 27, 37n. It awaits examination!

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