Sebastian Visscher


Sebastian Visscher was born in March 1773. He was the son of Albany stalwarts Matthew and Lydia Fryer Visscher. His father, a city political icon, died when Sebastian was not yet twenty leaving widow Lydia as head of the stately Pearl Street home until her death in 1840.

In November 1784, "Bastian" was willed a silver watch by his grandfather. However, he would be known in the community as "Sebastian" and sometimes "Colonel Sebastian Visscher."

In September 1791, he was confirmed "Bastian Fisher" in St. Peter's Episcopal church. His wife was a member of the Albany Presbyterian church. He appears to have been a member of St. Peter's.

In October 1797, he is said to have married Rosanna Shipboy - the daughter of a newcomer Scottish merchant. The marriage may have produced seven children. Only two daughters lived to maturity.

These Visschers made their home on upper State Street in the first ward. In 1799, his first ward property was valued on the assessment roll. In 1800, his household included two children.

After burying his forty-two-year-old father in August, in November 1793, this eldest son was faced with a catastrophic situation when their slave Pomp was implicated in an arson fire that destroyed a significant part of the old city.

Like his father, Sebastian Visscher was an attorney. He is said to have been admitted to practice in February 1795; made master of chancery in 1812; justice of the peace; clerk of the court of errors; and clerk of the NYS Senate. He was colonel of the Eighth militia regiment. He was an officer and member of a number of civic organizations.

Apparently, his father was the holder of many parcels within the less settled parts of the city. Immediately following Matthew Visscher's death, Sebastian liquidated many of those holdings. During the early 1800s, he "purchased a number of lots (ranging from 40 to 140 acres) at Schaghticoke from the city government.

In 1808, he was among those worthies invited to an Albany funeral.

Beginning in 1813, city directories identified his seat as 96 State Street.

In 1818, he was named assessor. In 1819, he was elected alderman for the first ward.

Sebastian Visscher, Esq. died in October 1824 at the age of fifty-two. He was buried from his home at 100 North Pearl Street.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Sebastian Visscher is CAP biography number 4172. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

first posted: 4/15/11