John Pye


Based on subsequent material, John Pye was born in England about 1752. He was known locally as "Pye the Englishman." We seek information on his origins and path to Albany. Perhaps he came here after 1790.

His wife was said to have been born Elizabeth Nutt.

In 1799, his lot in the South End (in conjunction with "John Hammer") was accorded a modest assessment. The next year, his household was configured on the first ward census with only an adult couple and one young girl in residence. However, subsequent surveys (including the first three city directories) have not yielded information on continued city residency.

In April 1800 and 1801, the City Records identified him as a "tavern owner." That establishment was said to have been along the river road in Watervliet and located halfway between Albany and Troy.

In December 1806, the newspaper reported that Robert Johnson attempted to rob Pye's house and was wounded in the neck. The incident and surrounding lore have been chronicled by Josiah Priest in The robber, or, A narrative of Pye and the highwayman, which was published in Albany in 1836. The book's subtitle: Being a detailed and particular account of an attempted robbery of the inn of John Pye, between the cities of Albany and Troy, N.Y. in 1808, and of the outlaws' final capture and end: as related by Mrs. Pye herself, and others who were most intimately acquainted with the whole tragical affair . . ., explains further. The embellishments of "Penny-post" William B. Winne have been credited with popularizing the incident. The story has been reproduced in a number of sources.

Schuyler family neighbor John Pye died in July 1817 and was buried at the Flatts. He had lived for more than 67 years. His widow re-married in 1818. Later, he was re-interred at Albany Rural Cemetery. The east gate of the cemetery is nearby the location of his landmark tavern.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of John Pye has not been assigned a CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

first posted: 2/10/12