*The Westenhook Patent
Stefan Bielinski

Although it was located across the Hudson and south of Albany, by the end of the colonial period, the Westenhook Patent was part of the wealth profiles and estates of a surprising number of early Albany people (and their heirs) for more than a half century afterwards.

In a patent dated March 6, 1705, New York Royal Governor Lord Cornbury awarded the lands between the Housitanic River (on the east) and Claverack (to the west) to Pieter Schuyler and eight other New York gentlemen. The other patentees were Albany leaders Dirck Wessels [Ten Broeck], Jan Janse Bleecker, John Abeel - whose family was living on his land four decades later; and New Yorkers Ebenezer Wilson, Peter Fauconier, Daniel Cox, Thomas Wenham, and Henry Smith.

Traditional sources tell us that Schuyler and his associates had begun to secure Indian deeds to the land in 1685, 1703, and 1704.

The land originally was sought to further the trading ambitions of Albany leaders. But during the latter part of the peace of 1713-44, actual settlers began to converge on the land from several incompatible directions.

The Westenhook Patent's boundaries were vague - even less definite on the north and south. As it encompassed land extending to the easternmost part of New York, it was the first occasion in title disputes with New England as a number of Connecticut patents were issued for those lands within Westenhook.

In August 1742, Edward Collins was representing the patentees in New York regarding alleged encroachments on the territory by Connecticut.

As the patent had only vaguely defined boundaries, several attempts were made to survey the tract which may have encompassed 18,000 acres. In 1773, the patent was surveyed for its then current owners by Albany attorney Robert Yates.


* This page focuses on the Westenhook Patent in the context of the holdings of early Albany people. The sources introduced below provide more on the patent itself.

Sources: Land Papers, volume, 4, p.54. The most coherent statement on the land is found in an old history of Great Barrington, Massachusetts and appears online. Sung Bok Kim's Landlord and Tenant, analyzes its part in the settlement of the New York-New England frontier. A map on p. 284 sketches out the arena of action.

Boundaries: The above-mentioned online resource has summarized its parameters: "reaching from a point below Canaan Falls many miles northward; in its southern part extending to the mountains on both sides of the river; in Sheffield bounding east on the river and running west on to Mount Washington; to the north of Sheffield including four miles east of the river arid stretching westward to Rensselaerwyck and Kinderhook. Its northern boundary, as described, the rift called Pack-wack-e (Pack-a-wack..ne - .where a stream runs between high rocks) is evidently the fall at Glendale, or the limestone gorge just above, and the intermediate fall "Sasigtonack" (Sah-seeg-ton-ock, - water splashing over rocks,) we have no doubt is the fall at the north end of Great Barrington village. But the fall at Glendale was not, in fact, the northern limit of Westenhook, nor was it so understood by the proprietors."

Home | Site Index | Navigation | Email | New York State Museum

posted: 3/30/05