Margarita Van Slichtenhorst
Stefan Bielinski

Margarita Van Slichtenhorst was born at Nykerk in the Netherlands in 1628 - the daughter of Brant Van Slichtenhorst and Aeltje Van Wenkum. She came to New Netherland with her parents in 1647 and came of age in Rensselaerswyck where her father served as director of the colony.

In December 1650, she married Philip Pieterse Schuyler - an immigrant carpenter who, following the marriage, became one of the leading traders of Beverwyck/Albany. The marriage produced twelve children between 1652 and 1672. Eight of those offspring went on to establish the Schuyler family in Albany and beyond.

By the 1660s, these Schuylers were established in a new house on upper State Street. Before his death in 1683, Philip Pieterse had stretched the Schuyler family holdings by acquiring property around Albany and beyond.

A widow at age 55, by virtue of their joint will filed in 1683, Margarita Schuyler assumed control of her husband's extensive estate. From her Albany house and at the farm known as "the Flats," Margarita continued her husband's business and sat as the matriarch of early Albany's foremost family. Her children included Pieter Schuyler - first mayor of the city; Alida, the wife of Robert Livingston; and future mayor - Johannes Schuyler. Her other offspring established themselves in favored locations throughout the region.

Margarita Van Slichenhorst Schuyler lived until 1711. For much of that time, she was one of colonial Albany's most prominent residents. This active widow participated in business, landholding, and was an active member of theDutch Church. Surrounded by family and supported by a number of slaves, this able women's life was full and advantaged.

Her will, filed in 1707, identified her as a "sometime...Albany merchant" and mentioned the real and personal estate she had acquired since the death of her husband. This seventy-nine-year-old widow had the presence of mind to circumvent English inheritance laws when she divided the Schuyler estate equally among her eight surviving children and their heirs. She died at age eighty-two on January 11, 1711.

first posted: 2004; revised 7/20/12