Johannes Cuyler
by
Stefan Bielinski


Johannes Cuyler was born in New Amsterdam about 1661. He was the eldest son of New Netherland pioneers Hendrick and Anna Schepmoes Cuyler. He came to Albany with his family a few years later.

Johannes followed his father in the fur trade and helped establish the Cuyler family upriver. As early as 1680, the young man was leasing a bake house in Albany. In November 1684, he married Albany native Elsie Ten Broeck at the Albany Dutch church. Between 1685 and 1709, their twelve children were baptized in the church where both parents were prominent members.

Johannes Cuyler prospered and sought acceptance in the Albany community. His success was aided by family and marriage connections back to New York City and by his willingness to serve the Albany government and the Dutch church. By the 1690s, he had taken over for his recently deceased father in the Cuyler house on the east side of Pearl Street. At the same time, he also remained close to his mother who had returned to Manhattan.

Prior to the establishment of Albany's municipal government in 1686, Johannes Cuyler already had appeared before the Albany court as a witness, plaintiff, and as an attorney or representative for older family members. In 1687, he began a long association with the new city government when he was elected assistant alderman for the second ward. He served until 1698 when he was elected alderman and served until 1710. During his time on the city council, he was concerned particularly with Indian relations and the city's real estate - overseeing development in Albany and beyond. In 1710, he was appointed recorder of the city.

Johannes Cuyler also served on the provincial level. In 1705, he was elected to represent Albany in the New York General Assembly. With only two interruptions, he was elected to five terms from 1705 to 1727. In 1725, he was appointed mayor of Albany and served for a year. Over a forty-year career, Johannes held virtually every public office - some of them simultaneously.

Johannes Cuyler filed his will on November 1, 1736. It made Elsie his heir for her lifetime and then provided for his two sons and six daughters. His property included the house and lots on Pearl Street where he lived for fifty years. He died on July 20, 1740 - almost living to his eightieth birthday.

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notes

the people of colonial Albany The life of Johannes Cuyler is CAP biography number 546. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

Church membership: Johannes was a deacon and elder and involved with church finances. Between 1685 and 1735, he served as a witness or sponsor in at least thirty-five baptisms. He also contributed to the support of fledgling St. Peters Church.

Johannes Cuyler's father was a known Leislerian. In 1689, Johannes was appointed clerk of Albany by Jacob Leisler. Most successful Albany people managed to avoid Leisler.

As late as 1697, he qualified as a freeman of New York City.



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first posted: 1/15/02; last revised 5/21/08