Period Copy of 1742 Last Will and Testament of John Schuyler "bequeth...all the Negros, Negro Wenches...excepting my Negro Boy called Mink"

Period Copy of 1742 Last Will and Testament of John Schuyler
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Price: $500.00


Description: This is a period copy of the February 25, 1742 Last Will and Testament of John (Johannes) Schuyler, with a copy of John's February 25, 1747 Codicil following immediately thereafter.

John Schuyler needed to update his Will following the 1741 death of his son, John Jr. Here, he bequeathes to his surviving son, Philip, a home in Albany, a portion of the Saratoga Patent, a Saratoga gristmill, the farm at Saratoga that Philip was already occupying, half the sawmill on that property, and "all the negros and negro wenches" on the farm when Philip took possession of it, except for a boy named Mink. The Will does not explicitly state what should happen to Mink or to the other half of the sawmill, so they become part of John's residuary estate. John Jr.'s children receive two pieces of land. John's daughters each receive £525; Margaret also receives a portrait of her parents and Cathalyna gets a linen press. The rest of the household goods are divided equally between Philip, John Jr.'s children, Margaret, Cathalyna, and, intriguingly, John's step-daughter, Sarah. (None of his many step-children were included in his 1729 will.) John's residuary estate is divided just between Philip, John Jr.'s children, Margaret, and Cathalyna, however.  

Philip was killed during the "Saratoga Massacre" of November 1745, and the farm, sawmill, and gristmill were all destroyed in that raid. It is believed that all inhabitants of Saratoga at the time were either killed or brought to Canada, including all the slaves on Philip's farm. After this calamity, John again needed to restate his intentions. He signed the Codicil to ensure his Albany home and its land would pass intact to Margaret, and on Margaret's death to Cathalyna and her heirs. He makes no mention of any of the Saratoga land in his Codicil, and since Philip predeceased John with no heirs of his own, it became part of the residuary estate.

Written neatly on all four pages of a single sheet of white laid writing paper measuring approximately 14.5" x 18.5" when unfolded. The Will covers pages one and two, and most of page three. The Codicil begins on page three and covers three quarters of page four, leaving room for a description of the documents to be docketed on the blank bottom quarter. Item #AM00186 

A member of one of New York's more wealthy and influential families, John Schuyler was a fur trader, merchant, Militia officer, local politican, Deacon of the Albany Dutch Church, and envoy to the Iroquois, eventually leading to a position as Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Beginning in 1695, he was involved in the Albany City Council for thirty years. During that time, he also served as Mayor of Albany from 1703-1706, and as the Albany County Representative to the Provincial Assembly from 1710-1713.

Condition: Minimal chipping particularly along the upper half of the right edge with loss of a few letters of text. Creases at the folds with a few short separations, small scrape on page four, but no actual loss there. Generally in good condition and entirely legible; a fascinating look at not only the personal choices of an influential New Yorker, and the intimate effects of what are now "historical events" on a family, but also Colonial estate planning documents and the transfer of goods and property including the slaves.