Monthly Archives: February 2020

Peter Jay Dependent Family

PETER JAY and his Dependent Family


PETER JAY(2/4), born in 1704, was the only son and fourth child of Auguste, the first Huguenot Jay and his wife Anna Marie Bayard. At age 18 he was sent to Bristol, England to live with his aunt, Francois Jay Peloquin, where he was educated. Following return to New York, in 1728, he married Mary Van Cortlandt. Mary Van Cortlandt was the daughter of Stephanus Van Cortlandt, one of the wealthiest families in the Province. Peter Jay lived as a successful merchant in New York City before moving in 1745 to the farm he purchased in Rye, NY. A reason they moved out of New York City to the Rye countryside in 1745 was because of the city threat of another small pox epidemic. Two of his children, Peter and Anna Marika had been blinded by small pox and one had died.

The family at the time of the move to Rye included their oldest daughter, Eve, born 1728, who had hysterics, son Augustus born 1730 who had a severe learning disability, son James born 1732 who became a physician, son Peter born 1734 who was blinded by small pox and daughter Anna Marika born 1737 and also blinded by Small pox. Two other children had died in infancy, one from small pox. Peter Jay on moving to Rye retired from his business life and spent his life in improving the farm. He became a scientific horticulturalist, a heritage that was passed on to his sons.

The family probably moved into an existing house and added to it. Care of his family was a primary concern for Peter Jay. Of the five children only one, James, would be independent and care for himself. Help was needed and in step with the times slaves were obtained to care for the house. House slaves remained with the family until about 1824. Also he was very dependent on the farm to provide food. Again he obtained slaves to work in the fields. At the time of his death the care of four house slaves was in his will.

Three children were born after the move. These were John in 1745, Frederick “Faddy” in 1747, and Mary in 1748. She died in 1752. Their education and care were all centered around the Rye house.

In 1776 he was not involved with the political changes of the times. Two of his sons were. James and John were very much involved in the revolution and not living at home. Their oldest son, now Sir James, having been knighted for support for Kings College in New York was of the generation that hoped for a return to English rule, and was caught between being a loyalist and a patriot. This lead to great friction with his younger brother. Of course their younger son John, now a young lawyer, became very involved with the need of the colonies for total separation from England. He became a leader in this movement and was sent first to Spain and then to Paris to negotiate a peace with England. He spent the war either in Spain or in France concerned about but well away from the family.

At the time of the Revolutionary War, Rye became “no man’s land”, New York was in British control, and the family were forced to move. This was not easy and their youngest son Frederick became in charge of this. He arranged for them to move to Fishkill, N.Y. to a house owned by Theodorus Van Wyck. This must have been an extraordinarily difficult time. The Rye house had become a comfortable place for all the family with an active farm. Mary was in declining health. Eva (who had “hysterics”) had married Henry Munro a loyalist minister who lived in Albany and they had one child, Peter Jay Munro. During the Revolution she moved back to the family while her husband had to escape and return to Scotland. Augustus, “Blind” Peter and blind Anna Maria were dependent children that needed care. The farm needed to be moved. There were several slaves and servants as part of the family that they needed for the care they could give. There was property that needed to be moved or protected. And with the revolutionary turmoil, finding transportation for all this was extremely difficult. Fishkill was a good days journey.

Mary died soon after the move in 1777. Then the family was robbed in Fishkill and a second move to safer Poughkeepsie was made. There was also a plan to move them all to Kent where much of their goods had been sent. This never happened. Peter died after the second move in 1783. Both were interred in the vault of Gysbert Schenck, Esq. at Fishkill, and were probably moved to the Rye cemetery in 1804 with the other family from the Family Vault in the orchard of Peter Stuyvesant in the Bowerie.

His concerns were expressed by father Peter to son John in the following letter written in 1777.

Fish Kill, 29 July, 1777.

Dear Johnny,

I have received your letter of the 21 Inst:—The evacuation of Ticonderoga is very alarming; I wish it may soon be made to appear in a less gloomy light.

Hitherto Fady has not been able to succeed in providing waggons to remove your Books to Kent.—My thoughts have been much imployed of late about removing from hence in case of need, but the more I consider of it the more I am perplexd., for my present state of health admits of my undergoing no fatigue. Besides I conceive my going to Kent will be attended with an immense expence, for there I can hire no Farm to raise necessarys for my numerous Family, but must lodge them in different Houses and buy daily food &c for them, I suppose at the same exorbitant rate that is extorted from the distressed in other parts of the Country; so that unless I can get a Farm in order to raise so much as will in some measure answer the expence of the Necessarys of life, I am very apprehensive it will have too great a tendency to our ruin, for we may long continue in our present distressed situation before a Peace takes place. I am indeed at a loss what steps to take and therefore I could wish you were nearer at hand to consult with you and Fady what to do. Hitherto my present abode appears to me as safe as elsewhere, and it may be most prudent to continue here till we know what rout the Regulars take & their success if any they have; but in the mean time it may be best to remove some of my most valuable things by way of precaution, which we’ll consider of when you come here. If we can purchase another Waggon it shall be done.

Johnny Strang was here about a fortnight or three weeks ago when we was expectg. the Regulars were about coming up the River; he then proposed to send a box or two he has of yours at his Father’s to Salem, and promised to remove them from there in case of need & said he would be very careful of them. Nancy is now unwell & Peggy is very sick with an intermitting fever ever since her return from Albany.

I am yr. affecte. Father

Peter Jay.

They had left Rye in 1777. Peter died in Poughkeepsie in 1783. Soon after that the family must have returned to Rye. By 1784 the British had left NY and peace had come. “Blind” Peter et al must have come back to Rye.

The Will of Peter Jay shows his concerns and leaves specific funds for the care of EVA, AUGUSTUS, and “blind” PETER and ANNA MARIA.

The will of Peter Jay was written in 1782, a year before his death. Three codiciles were added.

The main will, written 27 and 28 of May 1782, states that he was late of Rye, Westchester County, now of Rombout of Dutchess County, and discusses the disposal of his goods, chattels, and credits. The executers of his estate were Frederick Jay and Egbert Benson

500£ to be given to the executers for maintenance of son Augustus

. 1800£ to be given executers for maintainance of dgt Eva Munro to also include the education and support of her son Peter Jay Munro. The sum was to be given to PJM when he turned 21.

1800£ to be given executures for maintainance and support of blind Anna Marie

Remainder to be divided equally among sons James, Peter, John, Frederick

Farm in Rye given to blind Peter

Choice of Bedford property to John

NYC property, Dockward with store house given to Frederick. This required release of asset by the family. An existing problem was that Henry Munro, back in Scotland would be very reluctant to do this. A penalty was built into the will that if this happened, grandson PJM would get no funds.

Release of debt of the children except for James who needed to pay.

Two negro women could choose a new master. Zilpha and elder Mary.

Peter, John, and Frederick act as executures. Witnessed by three van Wycks


Use Spanish dollars not pounds

Purchase of land in Poughkeepsie to be sold as real estate holding.

Family portraits left to James.

Excuse JJ who is across the seas

Slave Plato to JJ

Slave Mary to any child. Money saved for her upkeep



Their oldest daughter Eve had “hysterics” and was not well. She lived with the family until her marriage in 1766, at age 38, to the Rev Henry Munro, a minister from Scotland. He was minister of a large church in Albany but was a loyalist and forced to leave Albany in 1778 and return to Scotland during the Revolution.

At the outbreak of hostilities, the Scottish-born Munro had been identified as a Tory. Within a year, he was imprisoned. In 1777, he escaped to the British in New York never to return. With the chapel closed and with most St. Peter’s parishioners under suspicion themselves, the fragile and aging Eva found little comfort in Albany and she moved back to the Jay family in Rye. Although there was some talk of her joining her exiled husband in Scotland, Eva and her son remained with the Jay family. Her marriage was a casualty of the war!

They had one child Peter Jay Munro, born 1767, who was adopted by his uncle John Jay in 1780. He became a well respected lawyer in New York.

At the time of their marriage in 1766, and move to Albany, the daughter of Rev Henry Munro’s first marriage lived with them. Elizabeth was born in 1759 and had a younger half brother. Her mother died soon after her birth in 1759. Her fathers second marriage also ended with his second wife’s death and soon after the death of their young son in 1764. Two years later he married Eva Jay. Elizabeth was about eight when this happened. Elizabeth wrote a biography of this early time in her life and the problems she had with her new step mother and later with her step brother Peter Jay Munro. According to her step mother Eve was angry, vindictive, and unfair and she was constantly being punished. After she moved back to Rye, John Jay, realized that she could not be a mother to Peter Jay Munro and John and Sarah adopted him in 1780. He spent the Revolution with them in Spain and then France and returned a young adult. I believe that Eve lived in an apartment in New York, not at the Jay house in Rye for most of this time. She apparently was angry and vindictive with her husband as well.

Step sister Elizabeth during the Revolution moved to Montreal. She married in 1776 Donald Fisher and had three children. Her two sons became involved in the fur trade and settled in what is now Wisconsin. She ended in jail for six years in New York for her involvement in a dispute with her half brother Peter Jay Munro over land their father owned.

Eva Jay Munro died in April 1810 at age 83 in Rye. She was buried in the Jay family plot in Rye, New York.


AUGUSTUS JAY(pj3/2) was the oldest son of Peter and Mary. He was born with a mental retardation syndrome, and by letters from Peter Jay was an early problem for the family. Despite attempts at schooling him he was able to learn to read or write minimally. He apparently spent his long life in apartments near the family farm in Rye and at his death in 1801, was interred in the family vault in the Garden in the Bowerie.


Sir JAMES JAY(pj3/4) was the third child of Peter and Mary Jay. He apparently was a bright young boy, and because of his father’s strong belief in an English education, was, like his father, sent to Bristol to his relatives, the Jay Peloquin family, for his education. He then enrolled in the University of Edinburgh and studied medicine. He was instrumental in obtaining the endowments for Benjamin Franklin’s projected college (now the University of Pennsylvania) in Philadelphia (with William Smith, 1755) and King’s (now Columbia) College, New York. For the purpose of soliciting contributions for the latter college, he visited England in 1762, where he was knighted by the king, George III, in 1763.

During the Revolutionary War, he invented a method for the Patriots to communicate with each other that could not be intercepted by the British. Washington called Jay’s invention “sympathetic stain” or “white ink.” We would call it invisible ink invented November 29, 1775.

Jay sat as a member of the New York legislature during the early years of the American War of Independence where he was a supporter of independence. He actively promoted the Bill of Attainder and Confiscation which the legislature passed on 22 October 1779 directed at 59 loyalists. This bill was an anathema to Jay’s brother John who saw it as persecuting people for their opinions.

In 1782, James connived to get himself arrested by the British so he could present a plan of reconciliation with Great Britain, as he was very suspicious of the French. He was treated as a spy, and imprisoned. Guy Carleton released him and allowed him to go to England. This led to suspicions about his loyalties among the


In a letter to Peter Van Schaak of 17 September 1782, John stated that “If after making so much bustle in and for America, he has, as it is surmised, improperly made his peace with Britain, I shall endeavor to forget that my father has such a son.” In 1813, James presented a “Narrative” to Congress which insisted that in Europe he worked to implement plans to attack British commerce and ports.

During the Revolutionary War, James became the wrong person at the wrong time. His Loyalist connections and attitude toward a peaceful coexistence with England were “vexing” to his brother John, who had given up any hope of union, and found his brother in the way of his political career. All correspondence between John and James was destroyed. After the war James did returned to the United States and lived with Anne Erwin in New Jersey. She was a strong believer and follower of the woman’s rights philosophy of Mary Wollstonecraft, and refused to take the oath of Marriage, of Love, Honor and Obedience! They had two children and he lived and practiced medicine in Springfield, New Jersey.

He died in 1815 at the age of 83, and was interred in the Jay Cemetery.

JJames and Anne’s daughter Mary was a successful educator, who opened and ran a boarding school in New York. She married John Okill in 1807 and had one daughter, Mary. It was Mary who married West Point professor Dennis Hart Mehan.

“Blind” PETER

After the Revolution the dependent children would return to the Rye house. Blind Peter would inherit the House after his father’s death in 1782. He lived in the house with his “retarded” older brother Augustus, his sister Eve Munro and her small child, and his blind sister Anna Maricka. To help him with the care of this family a happy marriage was arranged with Mary Duyckinck in 1789, when he was 55 and she was 53 years old. She was descended from a noted portrait painter and apparently was the original of the “aunt” in the spy story written by George Fenimore Cooper. In fact she was referred to as “Aunt Jay” in Coopers letters.

“Blind” Peter, as farmer and landowner was well respected as a judge of horses. During his life he showed wonderful “ingenuity and sagacity”. He entertained often at the Rye house, and when entertaining the President of Yale solved a controversy over the construction of a table top by showing the joining of boards on a table top with his sensitive fingers.

“Blind” Peter Jay died at the Rye house in 1813, at the age of 79, and was buried in the Cemetery plot. While the Rye property was inherited by his brother, John Jay, Peter’s widow, Mary, continued to live in the house with her sister Euphane until her death in 1824. Both sisters were buried in the Cemetery.


ANNA MARICKA born 1737 was blinded by small pox when three years old. Her care was one of the reasons for Peter Jay’s move to Rye. She spent the rest of her life with the family on the Rye farm and died there in 1791. She was buried in the family vault in New York.

At the time of her death she was honored as a lady whose “excellent understanding and uniform beneficence and piety rendered her very estimable.” She bequeathed 100 pounds to Christ’s Church in Rye.


Their younger son, John Jay, born 1747, married a daughter of William Livingston, Sarah in 1774. He was the exception in the Peter Jay line of dependent children. During the Revolution William Livingston was the Governor of New Jersey. He had married Suzanna French, whose sister married David Clarkson another family tie. William and Suzanna had thirteen children, one for each colony!

Jay after attending Kings (Columbia) College and then Law School had a long and distinguished career first as ambassador during the Revolution to Spain and then a critical part of the team to negotiate peace with England. Then to return and become very active as a Federalist and see the revision of the constitution occur, to be our first Chief Justice and then Governor of New York. He retired to the house he built on Van Courtlandt property in Bedford. His interest in the Rye house continued all his life. He designated an area in the east meadow as a family burial site and arranged for the remains that included his wife to be moved from the Stuyvesant orchard in the Bowerie to Rye.

He and Sarah Livingston had five children that lived to maturity. Their oldest son, Peter Augustus, who is my relation, married his second cousin, Mary Rutherfurd Clarkson. Their grandmothers were sisters. Suzanna French married William Livingston and Elizabeth French married David Clarkson.


Frederick Jay (1747–1799), the younger brother of John Jay, served a mercantile apprenticeship to his cousin James Abraham De Peyster, a New York city merchant, including a stint as De Peyster’s agent in the Dutch East Indies. After further experience in trade in Curaçao, he opened a mercantile firm in New York in 1773. During the Revolution he was very involved with help and care for his mother and father and the rest of the family. He arranged for their move to Fishkill and then after his mother died moved the family to Poughkeepsie. At the time of his fathers death he was willed his father’s New York property. He married twice. The first was to Margaret “Polly” Barclay in 1773 and then secretly after her death he married in 1794 Euphame Dunscomb, a cousin of “Blind” Peters wife. He had no children with either wife. He died in 1799 and was buried in the family vault in the Stuyvesant garden.

Frederick Jay supported the Revolution, serving on both the committee of sixty in 1774 and the committee of one hundred in 1775 and in the New York legislature from 1777 to 1783. At this time he was a successful merchant and auctioneer in New York City.