Johannes Lydius
Stefan Bielinski

Johannes Lydius was born in Maesden, South Holland, the eldest son of Reverend Hendricus Lydius. Following his father's profession, he entered the ministry. By 1692 he had become domine of the Reformed Church of Antwerp, Belgium. During that time, he married Isabella Rachels and the couple began a family. However, his tenure in Belgium proved stormy. By 1700, a deteriorated relationship with the Antwerp congregation led him to accept a call to become minister of the Dutch church in Albany.

The Lydiuses sailed to America - arriving at New York in July 1700. By late September, they had taken up residence and he had been installed as the minister in Albany. Over the next decade, the Lydius family continued to grow with the addition of three American-born children. Johannes Lydius's Albany career was characterized by dedication and diligence. This pious and scholarly man served well - endearing himself to a growing congregation, the city fathers, and to the royal government of New York which compensated him for instructing the Mohawks.

As the Albany hinterland became more settled and developed, Domine Lydius struggled to minister to a more diffused and more americanized flock. Concerned about the erosion of traditional Dutch piety, he has been credited with publishing an instructional catechism. Taking charge of church business, he expressed concern about the condition of the old blockhouse church and for the church pasture lands on the city's southern flats.

The minister's status and his dependable service made his family welcome across Albany society. They were given what became a landmark house on the corner of State and Pearl Streets and he also owned a share of an Albany brewery. He was a thoughful cleric and called "friend" by many contemporaries. His birthday poem for Mayor Johannes Abeel provides a sterling example of his good will.

Still only middle-aged, Domine Lydius became ill in 1709. His will, dated September 17, noted that he was "sick in body." But he was able to provide for Isabella, his "beloved spouse" and principal heir, and for their five living children. He died in Albany on March 1, 1710.

Johannes Lydius was mourned by his congregation, memorialized by Mohawk diplomats, and eulogized by several contemporaries including Anglican Reverend Thomas Barclay. This Dutch minister was the founder of the Lydius family in America!


the people of colonial Albany The life of Johannes Lydius is CAP biography number 4614. This profile is derived chiefly from community-based resources. See also Kenneth Scott, "Johannes Lydius's Birthday Ode to Johannes Abeel," De Halve Maen 38:3 (October 1963).

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first posted: 1/00; last revised 3/11/02