Stefan Bielinski

Pomp was the servant of Matthew Visscher and a central figure in the conspiracy to fix blame for the fire that destroyed a core portion of the city of Albany in November 1793.

According to traditional sources, Pomp was probably born about 1777. It is supposed that he came from New York. In January 1788, he would have been eleven years old when he was purchased by Visscher, a young attorney and important Revolutionary operative. He was characterized as an "honest, trustworthy", and "faithful servant" but not considered a bright or even intelligent boy. As he grew to manhood, Pomp became "more independent but not impudent." His affinity for "negro wenches" made him less reliable and more indolent. He stole from his mistress in order to purchase fashionable or fopish clothing. More details regarding his life and exploits later appeared in an Albany newspaper article.

Matthew Visscher died in August of 1793 - leaving Pomp mostly on his own. Less than three months later, Pomp, then about sixteen years old, would be caught up in a series of actions that ultimately would cost him his life!

He was implicated in the conspiracy that lead to the burning of a core portion of the city in November 1793. Although exonerated by the actual arsonists, and after great efforts by many of Albany's leading citizens to have him spared, on April 11, 1794, the Albany paper reported that "Pomp, a negro convicted of arson, and several times respited, was hung; and his dying confessions were sold at No. 2 Pearl street."



the people of colonial Albany Sources: The short life of Pomp has not yet been assigned a CAP biography number! This sketch is derived chiefly from community-based resources and is very much in-progress! A detailed memoir of his life was printed in the newspaper.

Servant is a term enountered in sources that we take to mean "slave" - that is a person with no civil rights or legal standing except as the property of an owner. Mostly, the term means a slave-for-life of African ancestry.

Additional material" 45.WH Sat Feb. 8, 1794: Pomp a Negro, has been tried at Albany for setting fire to that city, and pronounced guilty. Bet and Deen, two wenches, plead guilty. Sentence was pronounced and they were to be executed on the 24th inst. Pomp has confessed, since his conviction, that he stole the mail of the United States, from the house of Mr. Elisha Crane, some months since, and that the ring for which Nan a negro wench is indicted and now in goal, was by him taken from a letter in the said mail and given to the said wench.

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first posted: 2/29/04