Dr. Henry Van Dyck
Stefan Bielinski

Henry Van Dyck was the last in a long line of Albany physicians. He was born in October 1726, the third child and oldest surviving son of Albany residents Cornelis and Maria Bries Van Dyck.

He married Margarita Douw of Rensselaerswyck in 1752. By 1760, their six children had been baptized in the Albany Dutch church where both parents were pewholders.

Like most of his American forebears, Henry Van Dyck served the people of Albany and its hinterland as a traditional physician. Probably trained by his father and uncles, his practice was extensive if not distinguished. In 1756, he was one of two "doctors" listed on a census of Albany householders. His home and office were on east side of Court Street from where he served the people of his neighborhood and family members as well.

In 1763, his name appeared on a list of Albany freeholders. By the late 1760s, Dr. Van Dyck was an Albany mainstay whose practice was connected to the operations of city government where he served as its unofficial physician. He derived additional income from the sale of wines and other products. Earlier, he had inherited his father's estate. In 1766, his Albany holdings made him one of the city's wealthiest residents.

On the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, this talented Albany native was not fifty-years-old and figured to be called on to serve the American cause. However, it soon became apparent that his sympathies were not with the revolutionaries. In May 1777, he refused to take the oath of allegiance to New York State and was ordered confined. A year later, he was sent to the British in New York. On parole, he lived on Long Island and in New Jersey while unsuccessfully seeking to be re-instated in Albany.

In September 1779, a petition signed by sixty-three prominent Albany people asked Governor Clinton to send Dr. Van Dyck back to Albany where his skills were sorely missed. However, on the advice of other informants, Clinton was not persuaded that Van Dyck should be allowed to return home or even that his wife and her sister be permitted to visit him. Branded as a Tory, his name was on a list of those to be banished from Albany in March 1783!

Notwithstanding the banishment order, Dr. Van Dyck returned home with the end of the war. However, he did not regain his pre-war prominence. Henry Van Dyck died in January 1786 and was buried from the nearby Dutch church where he was longtime member. His will passed probate in January 1788. A detailed inventory articulates his extensive medical practice.


the people of colonial Albany The life of Dr. Henry Van Dyck is CAP biography number 832. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

Wealth: City assessment rolls available for 1766 and 1767 place him in the top five percent in assessed wealth.

American Revolution: This section is based on documents presented in the Clinton Papers, particularly in volumes four and five. See also, the minutes of the Albany Committee of Correspondence.

Estate Inventory: Henry Van Dyck died intestate. A detailed inventory of his estate and a list of his many creditors printed in EN pp. 141-145. His estate also included a portrait of King George III!

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first posted: 5/30/02