John Miller on Albany*

John Miller's New York Considered and Improved ranks among the essential resources for the history of the colony during the 1690s. During that time, Miller was stationed at Albany and shared his observations and impressions in the work published after his death. The excerpts printed below shed light on early Albany and its people!

very much IN PROGRESS

[37] . . . So Albany is of Principall consideration against those who come by land the French & Indians of Canida. it is distant from New Yorke 150 miles & lyes up Hudsons River on the west side on the descent of a hill from the West to the Eastward. It is in circumference about 6 furlongs & hath therein about 200 houses (a fourth part of what there is Reckoned to be in N. Yorke. The forme of it is sepangular & the longest line that which buts upon the River running from north to the south. On the West Angle is the fort quadrangular strongly stockaded & ditched round having in it 21 pieces of Ordinance mounted. On the Northwest side are [ 38 ] Blockhouses & on the south west as many on the south-east angle stands 1 blockhouse, in the middle of the line from thence Norward is a horned worke & on the North-east Angle a mount. The whole City is well stockaded round & in the severall fortifications named are about 30 Gune. Dependant on this City & about 20 miles distance to the northward from it is the Fort of Scanectade* quadrangular, with a treble stockade a new blockhouse at every angle & in each blockhouse 2 great Guns* Nestigayuna & the half moon places+ formerly of Som account [ 39 ] but now deserted. On this city also depends the Fort at ye Flats four miles from Albany belonging to the River Indians who are about sixty families . . .

[51-52] Explanatory keys to the diagrams of Albany and its fort which are printed as plates after page 47.

Appendix C [122]

Information furnished by the Reverend Mr. Miller Respecting New-York

Whitehall, September the 4th 1696

Mr. Miller late Chaplain to His Majesty's Forces in New Yorke, attending, shewed a Generall Order from Colonell Fletcher to Mr. Gilbert Heathcote for his Pay dated the 22d Aprill 1693. But a servant of Mr. Heathcote's accompanying him produced a letter of Colonell Fletcher's to Mr. Heathcote dated the 29th May 1695, in which the state of his Accounts is limited to the 1st of June 1695. And said that Mr. Heathcote had paid him all that he had order for: Wherewithall nevertheless Mr. Miller not being satisfied his complaint arising upon an account between him and Colonel Fletcher he was thereupon told that the decision of that matter did not belong to this Board.
Being then further enquired of about the state of that Province he gave these following Answers.

That there are about 3000 Families in New York and about 5000 in Families in Connecticut. That he was at Albany when the French came down that way in the year 1693. It was in the Mohacs Country, beyond Schenectidy. There of them about 2 or 300, and as many of their Indians. The Force sent against them was from Albany much about the same number (English and Indians) under Major Schuyler, who speaks the Indian Language. Other forces sent from New York came too late. Major Schuylers Order from Colonell Ingoldsby who commanded in Albany was that when he found he was near the Enemy he should fortify himself; He did so; And in the mean time while [sic] sent out detachments who in several attacks killed about 30 or 40 of the French party, whereupon the rest fled, and have not since returned. This was the only incursion of any moment that was ever made upon that Country before his coming away in June 1695.
That the Town of Albany is fortifyed only with stockado. There is but one Minister of the Church of England and one Schoolmaster [ 122 ] in the whole Colony of New York. A Dutch Minister there had instructed some Indian children. But the English in New York had not endeavoured it. There are many Interpreters.

That the Trade of Albany is chiefly Beaver. Formerly it may have been to the value of £10,000 a year but is now decay'd, by reason of the Warr between Our Indians and the French, not diverted to any other place. The burdens also of that Province have made 2 or 300 Families forsake it, and remove to Pensilvania and Maryland chiefly and some to New England.

That the Presents usually given to the Five Nations are not distributed to particular Men amongst them; But in general to the Whole. It is done in the Governor's name as by order from the King. Their returns are in Beaver and Otterskins to the value of 20 or 40£. These presents of theirs are made to the Governor: He is doubtfull if not sometimes mentioned for the King.


From New York Considered and Improved, 1695, by John Miller; published with an introduction by Victor Hugo Paltsits (Cleveland, 1903). Page references in brackets. The original punctuation and spellings are variable and have been retained! Most pages in the printed version include extensive footnotes - thus accounting for the small amount of text on each page.


Transformed by SB

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first posted: 11/10/02; last revised 1/27/03