Exploring Albany's inglorious past and dubious future

Jed’s Historical Fragments #282: Albany attempts to shore up its defenses following the Schenectady Massacre of 1690.

(This account – reproduced in the Argus of August 27, 1905, is from historical records circa 1690 and include many unfamiliar spellings, abbreviations, and random capitalizations. Rather than translate them into modern English, I’ve left them in their original state. They drove my spell-checker crazy!)

The last instalment of the proceedings of the “convention” described the visit of the Mohawk sachems, who came down to encourage the people of Albany, many of whom were on the point of deserting the place after the Schenectady massacre. The Indians begged thom not to leave, but to remain and fight the invaders from Canada. Their proffers of assistance raised the drooping spirits of the inhabitants, and the convention. as shown in the appended instalment, took measures to place the city in a good state of defence.

Removing Obstructions from the Stockades.

Att 2 meeting &c. albany February 26th 1689-90 Present as before, also, L: v. Shaik Ev. Banker M. gerritse Lt abt Schuyler R. Sanders gabriel Thompson & Capt Bull.

Whereas it is thougt Convenient yt all fences and Timber be removed 60 Paces from ye City Stockadoes, you are therefore hereby Required in there Majesties name to warn all people yt have there fences & Timber or oyr materials so have ye outside of ye fence whereby ye Sight Rounde ye Toune wall is hindered to Remove ye same in 24 hours time, else must oe Removed at there cost actum in albany ye 26th day of feb 1689-90

Pr order of ye Civil & Milltary officers

To R: Pretty Esqr high Sherriffe of ye Citty & County of Alb.

Agents to Be Sent to New York and New England.

Att a meeting &c. albany Feb 27th 1689-90

The Bussinesse being taken Into Consideration concerning Sending agents to N: Yorke & New England to acquaint them off affares here, and to Desyre assistance for ye Preservation of there Majesties Intrest in these parts it was putt to ye vote.

And these following vote for a Person to be sent to N: Yorke & one to N: England Pr Schuyler Mayor C. Jan Janse Bleeker Reynier Barents D. Wesselis C. Jochim Staets albt. Ryckman C. Sanders Glenn Claes Ripse gabriel Thomson Johannes Cuyler Liv van Shaik Evert Banker, abr: Shuyler Killaen van Renselaer Robt Sanders.

It is voted by 7 votes vt John Cuyler goe to N: Yorke 5 votes yt Reynier Barents goe & 2 yt Livinus van Shaik goe.

It is Resolved nemine Contradicente yt Robt Livingston goe with all Convenient Speed to Canetticut and Boston, & declare ye Condition of this County, & desyre yt all Endevors may be used to Rigg out vessells toward Quebek, & Prevent all succor comeing from france & and to Request ye assistance of fifty men and one hundred Barrells of Porke and Beefe, & if no men can be obtained then £400 in money & yt Commission & Instructions be given him accordingly.

It is thougt Convenient to write to ye gent of ye County of Ulster yt one of ye gent yt was lately here be desyred to goe to N. England with Robt Livingston our agent to moove ye gentlemen there in ye behalfe of yt County for ail Possible aid as above.

And yt by no means ye Companie of Capt Bull be draune off but stay here till a governor Comes or further order from there Majesties for our Releeffe.

Livingston Wanted Company.

Robt Livingston desyred to be Excused from goeing to N: England not judgeing himself cappable of mannageing a Bussinesse of yt moment: but if ye gent would not excuse him yt he might take Capt gerrit Teunise aiong with him, who knew most of ye gent of ye neighbouring Collony which was graunted.

Resolved Since Johannes Cuyler Refuses yt Reynier Barents with all Convenient Speed goe to Sopus & there in our name Request Capt Garten or one of ye gentlemen yt were Last here to goe to Boston along with Capt Livingston & Capt gerrit Teunise agents to Procure ye assistance of 50 men and Provisions, and if no men can be Procured, to Procure some money, and use all Pressures Imaginable yt Shipping may be Equipd to goe to invade Canida, & yt ye sd Person may be at Catskill on Munday night in order to proceed on ye journey, ye sd Mr Barents is to us all Endeavors with ye gent of Sopus to Procure 50 men with Provisions for our assistance as also 500 skepels of Indian Corn for there Majesties account for ye Indians yt goe out to warr against ye french, & Comeing to N: Yorke ye sd Barents is to inform them of affares there & insist with ye authority there for ye assistance of men provisions & money. according to instructions which shall be given him.

Resolved that for ye easier management of ye Present affares in this juncture yt 6 persones out of ye Convention be appointed to order matters who are Dirk Wessells Recorder L: van Shaik Capt Jan Bleeker Capt Marte gerritse Reynier Barents Evert Banker which sd Persones are for ye future to take ye Charge of doeing all Publike Bissinesse in this County.

Orderd yt ye following Instructions be given to Mr. Reynier Barents bounde to N: Yorke who not understanding English desyre yt they might be in Dutch.

Instructions for the New York Agent

Instructions given by the Civil & Military officers of the City and County of Albanv to Reynier Barents one of the Common Council of this city, who is sent to N: York as their Agent.

  1. You shall go with all Convenient Speed to the Sopus and there in our name instantly require Capt. Garten or one of the gentlemen who were recently here, to accompany Robt Livingston our Agent to N. England, and there procure if possible the assistance of 50 men with Provisions, and if no people can be spared, to request money to aid in assisting the King and Queens cause in this County and that all means be used to persuade them to equip ships to invade Canada, and to the End that the said journey may be most speedily prosecuted he will please notify said agent from the Esopus to be next Monday at Catskill with Capt Gert Teunise where our Agent shall be to proceed together by Tachkanick to Harford, Conveying the horses over from Cattskill.
  2. You are to use all means to perswade the gentlemen of the Sopus to send 50 men to our assistance with provision, and if 50 cannot be obtained, then 30.
  3. You will acquaint the gentlemen in the Sopus with all the circumstances here and how necessary it is that we have 500 Skepels of Maize for Supplying tne Indians, requesting that they be pleased to send hither together a like quantity for their Majesties acct There shall be no doubt but such shall be thankfully paid for at the first settling.
  4. When arrived at N. York you will have to wait on the Governor if he be arrived, otherwise on the authority there, and inform them pertinently of all the circumstances that have occurred especially here since our last letters of the 15th inst that the Indians and Christians who pursued the French, could not bring them back.
  5. That they bring all their sea force together to unite with our neighbors of Boston to attack Canada.
  6. That we require people here to defend this place; also some young Frieslanders (frissemaets) to accompany the Indians as these Complain that no Christians go with them & that they shall act in like manner by our young men.
  7. That we here cannot subsist without supplies to wit of Meat & Pork with Corn if things are to prosper here – that provision be therefore sent up with the people.
  8. That you do also inform them how badly off this city is for money to defray the publick expenses which are daily so onerous that they cannot be met, and that £- – – be sent us for the King’s Service.
  9. That you do Set all this fully before them according to the merits of the case, and beseech them to lay aside all animosities and divisions and that every one exert his power to crush the Common
  10. That you keep an exact account of your expenses during this journey which will be allowed you by the public.

Reyvnier Barents Appointed Agent.

By the Convention of the Civill & military officers of ye Citty & County of Albany

Whereas it is thougt convenient yt a fit Person be Commissionated to goe to N: Yorke to Communicate to ye authority there ye State & Condition of this Place and Confideing in ye Integrity and fidelity of Reynier Barents one of ye assistants of this Citty & a member of our Convention, have Desyred and authorized him with all Convenient Speed to goe to N: Yorke & to hasten there aid of men provisions & money for ye Preservation of there Majesties Intrest in these parts & to use all Pressing Endevors that they may joyn with our neighbours of N: England to fitt out vessels to annoy ye french at Canida Earrnestly Desyreing yt ye sd Reynier Barents may de Reputed and Esteemed as our agent in that Behalfe, Ratefyeing & Confirming whatever he shall act or doe about ye p’mises, given under our hands & Sealls in albany ye 20th day of february 1689-90 and in ye first year of ye Reign of our Souvreign Lord & Lady William & Mary King and Queen of England &a – 1689-90.

Ordered yt ye following Instructions be Delivered to Robt Livingston & he Desyred to Proceed in his journey for N: England with all Expedition.

Livingston’s Instructions.

Instructions for Robert Livingston Gentlemen Sent by ye Corvention of ye Civill & Military officers of ye Citty & County of albany to be there agent in n: England.

  1. Yow are to goe with ye first Conveniency to Canetticut along with Captain Gerrit Teunise and such Person as ye Gent: of ye County of Ulster shall appoint to joyn with yu in this bussinesse, & if no such Person come to Catskill as is appointed then with ye sd Captain Gerrit Teunise & Communicate to ye Governor & Councill of Canetticut the state of affares here. & in what Danger this Part of there Majesties Territory is in, if not speedily assisted by our neighbors.
  2. Yow are to acquaint them how Requisite it is yt some sudden means be used to fitt out vessells to goe to Canida and Invade Quebek which is ye Easier and surer way then by Land, since Quebek is but meanly fortified, & few men there, ye strentch of Canida being Drawn up to mont Royall which ye french have fortified.
  3. Yow are to make ye addresse to ye sd Governor & Counciil of Canetticut for ye assistance of fifty Brisk young men or more fitt for traveling in ye woods to goe out upon occasion with our People and ye Indians to annoy ye Enemy.
  4. After yu have discoursed of ye mean Condition of this Place & how Scarce Provisions are like to be the farmers leaveing there habitations, since ye murther Committed at Shinnectady; where great store of all sorts of Provisons was Destroyed, then yu are to Desyre ye quantity of one hundred Barrells of Porke or Beefe Equivalent for there Majesties use to be Employed as occasion shall Require for there Majesties Troops that lye in garrison here for ye Defence of this part of ye Country.
  5. If ye governor & Counciil of Canetticut doe Decline to send any more men or no Provisions hither then yu are to insist yt ye Companie of Canptain Bull stay here till further order from there Majesties since it would be of Dangerous Consequence to draw off sd Companie at this juncture & Raise jealousies among ye Indians, while they are so Eager for more men to Pursue ye warr against ye french.
  6. Yow are to goe from Canetticut to Boston and apply yr Self to ye governor and Council there, & Inform them of all affares here, what dammage ye french have done & what Subtle Practices they use to draw of ye 5 nations of Indians from there Dependance on ye Imperiall Croune of England to side with ye french & how dangerous it would be to there Majesties Intrest if sd nations should hearken to ye Enemy,
  7. That ye only means to Secure there Countryes from ye Incursions of ye french and there Indians would be to Equipp & Rigg out some vessellis with men to Invade Quebek, & to p’vent all Supplyes comeing from france whereby ye french will be Discomfited and our Indians Incouraged to Pursue yo warr by Land.
  8. That we of this government are not able to Resist ye Power of Canida without ye assistance of our neighbors, & therefore Desyre yt fifty men or more may be Speedily sent hither for ye Defence of ye Place and to Pursue ye Enemy upon occasion and one hundred Barrells of Porke & Beefe for there subsistence, which with that dayly Expected from N: Yorke will much Contribute for ye Safety of ye Place, since ye People here are so much Impoverished & Provisions so Scarce by ye out plantations Being Deserted yt ye forces cannot be maintained without a Supply.
  9. Yow are to acquaint ye sd Governor & Councill what cost & Charge we have been att, with ye Indians, since these Revolutions to secure them to this government, & yt it is Impossible to Proceed without we assistance of £- – – – to be Employed yt way which shall be Exactly accompted for, what way Disposed & undoubtedly allowed by there Majesties.
  10. Yow are to strive to make them senceible how usefull ye 5 nations will be during ye warr with ye french of Canida & how Dangerous it would be to loose them at such a juncture & ye only means to induce them to be vigorous in ye Prosecution of ye warr will de by giving them a good example since they verry well know yt ye English here farr exceed them of Canida.
  11. Yow are to keep an Exact account of whatever Charges yw & ye Persones goeing with yw from this County are att in ye Prosecution of yr Journey out & home & whatever yw Disburse over and above ye money now given shall be allowed yw on acct of ye Publik which if not be allowed by there Majesties then shall be paid by ye County.
  12. Since it is unknowne to us what occurrences yw may meet withall in this Employ. Yow are to act & doe in our Behalfe with our ad neighbours whatever yw shall juge expedient & needful for ye secureing of there Majesties Intrest here in these parts and Safety of there Subjects, Ratefyeing & Confirming whatever yw shall act or Perform Concerning ye Premises.

N. B. ye alteration of Chargeing ye Expenses to ye Publike which if not be allowed by there Majesties then shall be pd by ye County was made before signing.

Albany 4th of March 1689-90
Pr Schuyler Mayor
DirkiWessells Recorder
Jan Janse Bleeker alderman
Johannes Wendel alderman
K. V. Rensselaer

The Agents’ Commission.

By the Convention of ye Civill and Military officers of ye City and County of albany

Whereas ye Exigency of affares here doth Require that some fitt Personnes be sent from hence to our neighbors of N: England to Inform ye authority there, in what condition we are in, & what apprehensions we have of ye french doeing more mischeffe in these Parts Especially iff they should get ye 5 nations of Indians westward to there devotion which they Indefaticably strive to accomplish, & Confideing and being sufficiently assured of ye Integrity & fidelity of our well beloved friendes Robert Livingston gentleman & Capt Gerrit Teunise, we have Desyred & authorized Impowered & Commissionated them to be our agents in yt affare to treat with & consult ye honorable Governor & Councill of there Majesties Respective Collonyes of Massachusetts and Canetticut such things as shall be Requisite for there Majesties King William & Queen Maryes Service & ye Safety of there subjects in these Parts laying before them ye necessity of joyning all forces that can be procured to Invade the french of Canida by Sea & Land & Put a Stopp to there wicked & cruell Designs & also to desyre such assistance & supply from them as this place doth stand in need off. Earnestly Desyreitng they would give Credence to ye sd Robt Livingston & Capt Gert Teunise, & yt they may be Reputed & Esteemed as our agents in yt Behalfe, given under our hands & sealls in albany ye 3d day of March in ye 2d year of there Majesties Reign anoq. Dom. 1690

Pr Schuyler Mayor
D Wessells Recorder
Joh: Wendel alderman.
Jan Bleeker alderman
K. V. Rensselaer

To Satisfy the “Meane Sort of People.”

The meaner sort of People of ye Toune were Extream Importune with ye Magistrates to Prohibite ye Exportation of goods who being verry Refractory & unruly ye Magistrates to satisfye them
Pubtished this following


By the Convention of the Civill & Military Officers of the Citty and County of Albany

Whereas there are great Complaints & murmurings among the Commonalty because the Traders export their goods, whereby many persons are so discouraged that they will quit the place leaving their Majesties interest here and their subjects a prey to the Enemy.

The Civil & Military Officers so as to prevent such mischiefs, hereby expressly forbid all persons whomsoever to export any Merchandize such as Indian Cargoes, shirts, linen, cloths, Kerseys, Sarges and other goods requisite for the clothing as well of Christians as Indians, on pain of Confiscation of said goods for their Majesties use.

But they are permitted to take away all Beavers, peltries, money, furniture & household articles, fine Silk stuffs, lace and such like fine articles and goods unnecessary for Clothing which cannot be used here – In order that all such may be regularly done, Johannes Beekman Jan Vinnagen & Jacobdus Turke are ordered to inspect the goods in the houses before they are embarked, and permit such to be put on board.

And all men are forbidden to depart this County pursuant to previous Proclamation dated 7th August 1689 which is now Confirmed. Done 4th of March 1690.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: