History of JAY family in Manhattan

Part of our early JAY New York City history is the small area we lived in and how inter dependent we were of each other. It tracks the changes that happened on Manhattan Island as it grew from a small DUTCH colony to the huge American city of today. It also shows the relationships between the Jay, Styuvesant, Bayard, Clarkson, Van Courtlandt, Livingston, and de Peyster families and how marriages resulted in property changes.

AUGUSTUS JAY was the first Jay to come to this country, escaping Religious persecution in France. He first arrived in Charleston South Carolina and moved North settling in the DUTCH colony of what was then New Amsterdam. He was able to work under the wealthy Philipse family as a trader. In 1697 he married ANNA Maricka BAYARD. Her grandmother was Anna Styuvesant BAYARD, the sister of the then Governor Peter STYUVESANT. This was a very good marriage for Augustus!

In 1720 Auguste Jay obtained property in lower Manhatten on Broad St and Stone St. I believe from the BAYARD family. This was East of Broadway, below Wall St and South of Trinity Church. He lived there with his wife and children and I believe died there. His wife died a few years before him. I believe they both were buried in the Styuvesant Orchard near St Mark’s in the Bowery.

The name of Augustus occurs frequently in the city records, and some lots bought by him in 1712, on the northwest corner of Broad and Stone streets, are still held in the family. Here he erected a large two-story dwelling-house, with a front of Holland brick, with a courtyard paved with Bristol stones, and there he resided until his death, in 1780.

Peter Styuvesant who arrived as Dutch Governor in 1645 lived in the Governors Mansion near the tip of Manhattan. In 1651 he purchased the large tract of land above the Dutch colony for a farm that has become the Bowery of today. He built a house on what is now 11th Street between 2nd and 3rd Ave and built a chapel there. Under this he was buried and it was the start of the Styuvesant Vault. This became St Mark’s Church in the Bowerie, the oldest Episcopal Church in the City and still very active as part of the East Village.

Our connection to the Bowerie was through Peter Styuvesant’s sister ANNA who had come with her three children from Holland in 1647 to be near her brother after her first husband SAMUEL BAYARD had died in Holland. Her son Balthazar married Marietje Lookermans, also of a distinguished merchant family, and their daughter ANNA Maria married Augustus Jay.

This Bayard Styuvesant connection explains why the JAY Family vault was in the cemetery part of the Styuvesant Orchard, not at Trinity Church. ANNA Styuvesant BAYARD was buried with her brother and probably Baltahzar and Marietje BAYARD in the Styuvesant vault. ANNA Maria and AUGUSTUS Jay were probably the first to be buried in the Jay Vault.

AUGUSTUS and Ann Marie son PETER lived and worked in New York and was brought up in the house on Broad and Stone Street. He became a successful trader and married Mary Van COURTLANDT in 1728. This was also a very fortunate marriage. Mary Van COURTLANDT ‘s father was Mayor of the City, Jacobus Van CORTLANDT who was a descendant of Oloaf Van Courtland and the start of Van COURTLANDT Manor. His wife was Edie Philps DeVries, whose mother, Margaret Hardeboeck was the RICHEST woman in the colonies and a very active trader and purchaser of land.

From this marriage Van COURTLANDT land would add to the Jay property. Peter Jay was given the Dock Ward by the Van Courtlandt which is now 64 Pearl Street. Land in Bedford would later come to John Jay. (26 Pearl st would be owned by Gen Matthew Clarkson.)

This late 19th century engraving depicts a view of Broadway next to Bowling Green (on the right) as they might have appeared in 1802.
John Jay’s father, Peter Jay, was one of 3 men responsible for managing New York City’s first official park. One of the other men was John Jay’s uncle, Judge John Chambers of the Supreme Court who had married Mrs. Peter Jay’s sister, Ann Van Cortlandt.
“Bowling Green Park, the first official park in New York, was established and named by a resolution of the Common Council on March 12, 1733. It was leased at an annual rent of one peppercorn to John Chambers, Peter Bayard, and Peter Jay, who were responsible for improving the park with grass, trees, and a wooden fence ‘for the Beauty and Ornament of the Said Street as well as for the Recreation & Delight of the Inhabitants of this City.’
Walkways were added to this piece of land located at the lower end of Broadway The park was also known as “The Plaine” or “The Parade.” Of course the Dutch game of nine-pins as forever immortalized in Washington Irving’s tale of Rip Van Winkle would have been one of the games played on the Bowling Green lawn.
After moving out of NYC to Rye in 1746, Peter Jay beautified his own family’s estate of 400 park like acres, planting numerous trees and gardens. His son, young John Jay undoubtedly grew up playing games of “bowls” there too.
Today both Bowling Green and the Jay Property, two landscapes that still retain the imprints of father and son, Peter Jay and John Jay, are open to the public as parks.
Jay Heritage Center
210 Boston Post Road

Mary Van COURTLANDT sister was Margareta who married Abraham de Peyster. The de Peyster’s had large land holdings before the Revolution. This family was Loyalist, opposed to the Revolution, and lost most of their holdings after the war.

In New York Peter and Mary lived at 64 Pearl St. just below Worth St. and had land holdings on lower Manhattan. They left New York and purchased the Rye land in 1745 and did not return to live in New York City. Both died during the Revolution, Anna in Fishkill and Peter in Poughkeepsie. They had had to escape Rye during the Revolution and needed to live in a safer place.

.–“In the name of God, Amen. I, PETER JAY, late of Rye, in Westchester County, but now of Rombout Precinct, in Duchess County, Esquire. I leave to my executors œ500, to be put at interest for my son Augustus during his life, and then to my four sons, James, Peter, John, and Frederick. I leave to my executors œ1,800, to be put at interest for the support of my daughter, Eve Munro, during her life, and to my grandson, Peter Jay Munro, after my daughter’s decease, and when he is 21 years old. I leave to my daughter, Anna Maricha, œ1,800. All the rest of my estate real and personal I leave to my sons, James, Peter, John, and Frederick. My executors may choose men to divide my estate, but they are not instructed to do so. But it is my will that my son Peter shall have my farm at Rye at its true value. And my son John to have the choice of any one of my farms at Bedford. And that my son Frederick shall have, if he choose it, all that lot of ground and water lot late in his possession, and on which he built a storehouse, in Dock Ward, bounded north by Dock wharf, and opposite to the house late in occupation of Evert Bancker, east by Augustus and Frederick Van I Cortlandt, west by John W. Vreedenbergh, and south by the river. As granted to me by the Mayor and Commonalty. I leave to all my children the house and lot in occupation of Evert Bancker, and my children are to release to my son Frederick all the privilege granted by the Mayor and Commonalty as regards water lot opposite. And whereas it is probable that my son-in-law, Rev. Harry Munro, may object, the will makes arrangements in that case. I release all my children from any indebtedness to me, but I do not release my son James from a ballance due me. My two negro women, Zilpha and Mary, in consideration of long service, are to have their choice of masters among my sons. I make my sons, James, John, and Frederick, executors.”

[NOTE.–The testator was the progenitor of a most distinguished family. The son John was in later
years Governor of the State and Chief Justice of the United States. The house and lot of Peter Jay
in “Dock Ward” is now No. 64 Pearl street. This was given by Jacobus Van Cortlandt, in his will,
to his daughter Mary, who married Peter Jay. This was a water lot, which was extended by later
grants from the city. The part left to Frederick Jay was south of Front street. –W. S. P.]

Prior to the Revolution New York was changing. In 1665 England took over control from the Dutch, Peter Styuvesant surrendered and New Amsterdam became New York. The land below Wall Street was the center of housing. New homes were being built by those who had been successful and social life was starting. Purchase of property was a sign of prosperity. New York was a center of trading and much wealth was made from this. Tracts of land had been purchased by Styuvesant, De PEYSTER, and Bayard families. A WALL to protect the colony was built. (now called WALL St! )

Trinity Church, which was first built in 1698 was on Broadway. There were four generations of Jays who were Wardens or Vestry there. Augustus, Peter, John, Peter Augustus.

The Revolution was a bad time for New York. Our Army had almost been defeated in Brooklyn and with great luck had escaped to the North. New York City during the war was under the control of the British. After the Revolution lower Manhattan again became the center of power. It served as the Capitol of the New Country and the Capitol of New York State. Washington was inaugurated President in 1789 at Federal Hall on 26 Wall Street. This was the center of our Government and is where Jay served as Supreme Court Justice. It has been rebuilt but now serves as a Museum. John and Sarah Jay lived in the Governors mansion in 1795 during his first term as Governor.

John and Sarah Jay after returning from Spain and France decided to build a new house in lower Manhatten. They had inherited from the DePeyster family property on #8 Broadway backing onto New Street. In 1786 a large stone house was erected with large rooms for entertainment which became their center for their very active social life. Sarah Jay loved to entertain and their guest lists included all of the important people they were involved with. New York at this time was the Capitol of the new United States. Jay had several appointments including being named by George Washington as the first Chief Justice of the new Supreme Court.

Jay was a strong Federalist and ratification of the new Constitution was very important to him. He along with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were the authors of the Federalist Papers published to give strong support for the new Constitution. He was only able to write four of the papers because he suffered a head injury when he went to investigate a student riot and was hit in the head with a stone. He suffered from post concussion syndrome.

In 1795 he was elected Governor of the State of New York in part to obtain approval of the new Constitution. This was a difficult political task and approval was only won by a few votes. He first worked in Government House overlooking Bowling Green in lower Manhatten. In his second term the Capitol of New York was moved to Albany. Jay rented a house there and then In 1801 he retired to his new home in Bedford where he lived until he died.

The NY Government House was originally built in 1790 – 92 in lower New York on the site of a 17th century Dutch fortification, Fort Amsterdam (of which John Jay’s father served as Treasurer when it was called Fort George.) Reusing stones from the fort’s foundation, the brick structure was first intended to be a residence for President George Washington after the Revolutionary War but it was never used for that purpose as the capitol moved to Philadelphia. Instead it became the home of NY’s first and second governors, George Clinton and John Jay.
Jay lived and worked in downtown New York from 1795-1799 and his offices at the Government House looked out over Manhattan’s first official park, Bowling Green. Jay had to have loved the view – the oasis at the end of Broadway was first created and landscaped by none other than Jay’s own father, Peter Jay, and two others. Peter Jay and his colleagues leased the land from the government for the annual cost of a peppercorn in exchange for their efforts to improve the property once known alternately as “The Plaine” or “The Parade” ‘for the Beauty and Ornament of the Said Street as well as for the Recreation & Delight of the Inhabitants of this City.’
Jay and the seat of the NY Governor moved to Albany in 1799 and the Government House was used for a time as the US Customs House, and subsequently as the site of the New York Historical Society before being replaced with a string of houses in 1815.
(Engraving – JHC Archives)

After 1800 major changes occurred in New York. New York was growing. In 1825 the Eire Canal opened increasing traffic up the Hudson to the canal and then to the Great Lakes. The population of New York City was doubling and the move to the North was on. In the 1800’s, the city became the financial and shipping capitol of the East Coast. Part of this was the demand for more development. The old city had lost its purpose and buildings were torn down and replaced with larger taller buildings, a trend that has continued to this day. Areas that were residential became commercial. Wealthy areas became poor and poor areas became wealthy as the city evolved.

In 1811 a new grid system to plan the city’s street growth was passed. This impacted the Cemetery in Mr Stuyvesant’s Orchard. It put 11th Street over the cemetery. This is one of the reasons the Jay Vault was moved. Before 1806 three children of Peter Jay were interred in the St Mark’s Vault (Frederick, Augustus, Anna Marika), as well as in 1804 the wife of John Jay, Sarah Livingston Jay. In 1806 it was decided to move the vault to a new family plot in Rye.

Peter Augustus Jay, the oldest son of John and Sarah Jay, after his marriage to Mary Rutherford Clarkson in 1807, started practice of law with Aaron Burr in New York. They were married at the home of her father on Pearl and Whitehall St. They first lived on #2 Vesey St in a house inherited from the estate of his wife’s mother, next to her cousin Rutherford Clarkson. This marriage brought together another strong family alliance. Mary Rutherford Clarkson was the only child of Gen. Matthew Clarkson and Mary Rutherford. They were Second Cousins. Their grandmothers, Suzanne French who married Gov. William Livingston and Elizabeth French who married David Clarkson were sisters. General Matthew Clarkson owned property in lower Manhattan and was an important figure in New York. His residency in 1801 was at 26 Pearl St.

John Jay’s son Peter Augustus Jay married Mary Rutherfurd Clarkson, Matthew Clarkson’s daughter at the Clarkson mansion on Whitehall Street in downtown Manhattan in 1807.

“The wedding took place at General Clarkson’s, on Wednesday, the 29th of July. The company assembled about hal-past seven, and were received in the drawing-room, which was on the north side of the house on the second floor, its three windows looking out upon Pearl Street….
The bridesmaids were the Misses Ann Jay, Helen Rutherfurd, Anna Maria Clarkson, Cornelia Le Roy, and Susan and Catherine Bayard. The groomsmen were Robert Watts, John Cox Morris, Dominick Lynch, George Wechman, Benjamin Ledyard and B. Woolsey Rogers. The bride was dressed in white silk, covered with white crepe or gauze. Pearls adorned her hair, encircled her neck, and were clasped around her arms. Her maids wore white muslin, made in the style of the Empire, and embroidered in front, and each carried a fan, a present from the bride.”
The young couple would eventually take up housekeeping in Rye at the Jay family estate.
[O]ne of America’s intrinsic sacred sites –‘specially special,’ if you like — because a great family’s great house and its great and sweeping surrounding landscape have, almost miraculously, both survived intact and are now a permanent part of the America the next centuries of Americans will build.” Tony Hiss, Author, Experience of Place.
Jay Heritage Center

They soon moved to 35 Bond St which is where his law office was. Eight years later they built a new house north of most of the existing homes at 398 Broadway on the corner of Walker Street, just below Canal St. This is in the heart of TriBeCa. This became the family home and he lived in it until he died. It was built of Philadelphia brick, 28 feet front, three stories and garret with stable in the rear. Cost $13,700. Fifteen years later in 1835 he inherited the Jay Property on Rye, tore down the old farm house and built the Greek Revival House that stands today and has been preserved. This was used by him as a summer house.

The Broadway TriBeCa house was torn down and replaced with a taller building. Peter Augustus’s will gives the Rye property to John Clarkson Jay. The lot on Broad Street and Stone Street his great grand father had purchased in 1720 was willed to son Peter Augustus Jay and I can find no documentation of when it left the family.

Between 1800 and 1850 New York City continued to grow. Its population grew from about 60,000 in 1790 to 500,000 in 1850. In 1835 there was a huge fire that destroyed a large area of lower Manhattan. By 1850 most of the area in lower Manhattan had been destroyed and replaced. The New York Stock Market was on Broad and Wall St. The Morgan Bank building was built across the street.

Peter Augustus sisters, Maria Banyer and Anna (Nancy) Jay came to live in New York in 1830. When their mother died in 1802, Ann quickly fulfilled the role of caretaker, and hostess and manager of daily life at Bedford. Like her mother, she was an extraordinary gardener. Maria also became very distraught. This tragedy was followed by the deaths of her son, Goldsborough, husband and daughter, Sarah (all within eight years). Her faith allowed her to carry on and care for her aging father-in-law. In 1819, she joined her father and Nancy in his retirement at Bedford, and upon his death in 1830 moved with sister Ann, (Nancy) to New York City and lived at 20 Bond Street next to nephew John Clarkson Jay. They were once again inseparable and together, were very dedicated to charities including the Episcopal Church, Sunday schools, family members and others less fortunate and in need. Remarkably, they died within eight days of each other in 1856.

John Clarkson Jay, the oldest son of Peter Augustus and Mary, after his marriage to Laura Prime purchased 22 Bond Street and lived there until he left New York and moved to the recently constructed house in Rye in 1843 after the death of his father Peter Augustus. Bond St which ran between Broadway and the Bowery was before 1850 a very fashionable area

Bond Street, extending from Broadway to the Bowery at 2nd St. at a point where those two thoroughfares are less than a thousand feet apart, is an unknown region to many present day denizens of New York, but eighty years ago, when Broadway ended at Union “Place” and the Astor House was new, when water was peddled in barrels at a cent a gallon and gas cost $7 per thousand feet, Bond Street was one of the best known streets in the city and none stood higher in favor as a place of residence. In its short stretch there dwelt at one time or another between 1820 and 1850,.the mayor of the city; the town’s most popular physician; the pastor of one of the largest and wealthiest churches; a senator of the United States; one of the city’s two representatives in Congress; an exsecretary of the treasury; a major general in the army who became one of our most distinguished soldiers and a candidate for the presidency; and two members of a firm of bankers who in the financial world of their time exercised an influence unequalled on this side of the Atlantic. The social history of Bond street begins about 1820, when Jonas Minturn built the marble-front house that still stands at No. 22. Architecturally Bond street was much the same as other residence streets of the period. Except for a few at each end of the street the houses were of the familiar three story-and-basement type with dormer-windowed attics. Some had marble fronts, but the most of them were brick. The Bond street trees were famous. There were two in front of each house, and in 1857 they were so tall and dense that from the roadway only the stoops of the houses could be seen.. Before 1850 Bond street showed unmistakable evidence of decline. By 1855 it had robbed Park place of its long held distinction as the favorite street for dentists’ offices. Two years later it was the scene of one of the most gruesome and sordid crimes in the annals of the city. In i860 a few of the old residents still lingered, but the glory if not the fame of Bond street had vanished forever. Today it is the habitat of cheap manufacturing, and the names on the doors have a sound that would have startled the owners of the names that embellished the same portals three-quarters of a century ago. (valentines Manuel of old New York)

The next children of Peter Augustus Jay, to live in New York would live in apartments further North. This would be Elizabeth Clarkson Jay a well known hostess who entertained many well known New Yorkers in her apartment in the late 1800’s. She lived in !ew York from 1860 until she died in 1891.

Elizabeth Clarkson Jay died unmarried. During her life she was one of the most celebrated hostesses in New York of her day. She gave luncheons at her home at 296 Madison Ave that became famous and included the wise and powerful of the City. She apparently would wear a black voluminous gown with a cameo brooch and sit from lunch to dinner and received anyone who came.

The youngest child of Peter Augustus and Mary Clarkson was Susan Matilda Jay. She married Matthew Clarkson and lived at 160 West 59th St. during the same period from 1850 to her death in 1910..

They were very active socially in their early marriage, however Matthew got tired of this social life, and made the pronouncement that “we will henceforth stay at home.”!! He was a great reader and chronicler of the times and while accepting no invitations had numbers of people visit them and discuss the world politics.

I have a scrap book that shows the hotels they stayed at during three trips to Europe. The first trip which starts in England goes to Scotland then France then Germany, etc has 63 hotels!! WOW!

The only child of the marriage, BANYER CLARKSON , married Helen Sheldon Smith. They lived in New York and built a summer estate in Tyringham, Mass.
Like his father, Banyer was a chronicler of the times. He kept endless scrap books and records. His wife, Helen, who had a lisp, raised phlox. To make the phlox bloom better she also raised sheep, since the sheep manure was the best fertilizer for her phlox. While his wife lisped, Banyer unfortunately stuttered, and has been known as B-B-B-B-Banyer by the family. Helen disliked small boys and dogs, which was perhaps why they had no children.

In the next generation there were more Jay descendants who would live in Manhattan. All the early houses in the lower Manhattan area have been destroyed and rebuilt at least once as those areas changed from being a residential area.

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