Jacob Leisler
by
Stefan Bielinski


German-born New Netherland emigré Jacob Leisler (1640-91) took charge of affairs in New York in 1689. He established a government to act in place of the existing provincial structure. Its activities included appointing local officials in Albany. Leisler's regime ended when he was arrested and then executed in 1691.

Led by Pieter Schuyler, Albany's established leaders were unmoved by Leisler's claim to de facto power. At that time, a number of Leisler's opponents in Manhattan had taken refuge in Albany among what was considered a majority of kindred spirits. Leisler sought acceptance in Albany and countered by appointing a slate of municipal officers to govern the new city. He also commissioned a number of militia officers. Under the pretense of rushing to Albany's defense against an impending French invasion, he sent his brother-in-law, Jacob Milbourne, upriver to foster Albany's compliance.

Leisler's appointees were: Johannes Wendell as mayor; Johannes Cuyler - clerk; aldermen - Johannes Becker, Jr. and Egbert Teunise. Leisler's appointees were mostly young and aspiring. Some were sons of Albany's more established leaders.

The Leisler-identified government structure occupied city hall while the locally elected "city fathers" met at the fort. The Albany corporation moved its operations back to city hall immediately after Leisler's fall from power.

Seeking advancement, German-born Jacob Leisler had emigrated to New Netherland in 1660. He married a wealthy widow and found success in business and trade. Although based primarily in Manhattan, in 1676, Leisler spent some time upriver and had appeared before the Albany court concerning the preachings of Dominie Nicholas Van Rensselaer.

This exposition is not a comprehensive biography but intends to provide access to Leisler's connection to Albany in the fifteen years that followed.

biography in-progress


notes

the people of colonial Albany Sources: Because he was not an Albany person, the life of Jacob Leisler has not been assigned a CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources and aims to characterize him as his career relates to the people of colonial Albany. A number of more extensive biographies appear online!

Sources: For resources, the Jacob Leisler Papers project is the best place to start. Family information online; Leisler has been an important character in a number of studies of seventeenth century New York. See in particular, Thomas E.Burke, Jr. "Leisler's Rebellion at Schenectady, New York, 1689-1710." New York History, 70 (October 1989), pp. 405-30, and the sources cited therin!
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privately posted: 7/20/04; updated 7/15/11