Marriage of Jacob Milborne and Mary Leisler 1691 Part I

MARRIED_February 3, 1691, Jacob Milborne to Mary Leisler.

The event thus indicated was of a character more interesting in its attendant circumstances than any other of the kind in the history of New York.

The bridegroom was a bachelor, aged about forty years, of English birth, though his father resided at Boston, where one of his brothers was a dissenting clergyman; altogether the family was eminently of a Puritan character. Jacob Milborne had, in the early years of his manhood, been a resident of the city of New York. In 1668 (being then about twenty years of age he entered the service of Thomas Delavall, who, at that period, was the leading English merchant in the city, as clerk and book-keeper, and
was so employed for many subsequent years, but afterward conducted business on his own account, which occasioned his residence from time to time in other parts. While in New York his extreme Puritan principles had been strongly manifested, and had brought him prominently forward as a champion of the party with which he was thus identified. At the present day we can hardly appreciate the intense jealousies which then existed in church matters, and we must refer the reader to general English history for a more particular elucidation of the state of the public mind on that subject. Mr. Milborne showed in the course of these controversies that he possessed a character of great vigor. His eloquence was considered of a high order, though the matter of his orations was criticized by his opponents as being too diffuse and mystical for ready comprehension. In the most conspicuous of these disputes he was so unfortunate as to have Governor Andros interpose against him, who, in his official character, visited Milborne with heavy fines and imprisonment. The indomitable Puritan, however, went to England, where he sued the governor for false imprisonment, and recovered a large amount in damages. In course of time these ancient controversies had become quieted, and the political party to which Milborne belonged was for some time overshadowed by the power of King James, and so remained until the revolution, which resulted in the night of that monarch, and the accession of William and Mary to the throne, at which period the interesting events to be narrated were first introduced.

Mary Leisler, the bride in the matrimonial alliance with Milborne, was at the time of her marriage a girl of twenty summers, a daughter of Jacob Leisler, an enterprising merchant of New York. She was born in this city, her father's residence and place of business being in the present Whitehall street, south of Pearl street, which locality was then called the " Strand." The accompanying view of Leisler's premises is copied from a drawing made in 1679, a period when the young lady now spoken of was in her girlhood.

Jacob Leisler, the father of Mary, was a notable character in every respect. A man of domestic dispositions, strict in his church duties, and rearing his family with all moral restraint, he nevertheless was an adventurous trader on the seas, and carried his vessel, commonly known as " Jacob Leisler's barque," in all parts of the ocean; now searching the depths of the sea for treasure from the wreck of plate ships ; now trading for the commodities of the American coast and the West Indies ; now captured
by Algerine pirates and enslaved in Barbary until ransomed ; now engaged in the more peaceful navigation of the Hudson river, trading for furs. Indeed, a thoroughly busy man, whose industry had resulted in affording him a position of wealth only exceeded by that of one or two persons throughout the province.

By birth a German, Mr. Leisler arrived in this city in 1660, in the capacity of a common soldier. After the term of his enlistment, he engaged in business and married a worthy lady, the widow of Mr. Vanderveen, a merchant of reputation, who is entitled to a name in our local history as the builder of the first brick house erected in our city, and also as joint owner of the first ship built at this port, a vessel called the " New Love."

The political life of Mr. Leisler was in no wise distinguished. He apparently took no part in local matters of government, his only public positions, so far as we have observed, having been that of justice of the peace for a short period, and that of captain of one of the militia companies in the town. But he had to some extent been marked as a leader in the great question of the day, by having been associated with Jacob Milborne in the struggle with Governor Andros and his party on the church dispute to which reference has been made. Leisler and Milborne alone stood the brunt of that controversy, and were the sole victims of the exacting fines and imprisonment which the imperious governor visited upon the dissenting party. In the events which afterward arose, it was found that in many respects both these persons were deficient in qualities suited to the occasion. Leisler's knowledge of the English language was imperfect, a circumstance which to some extent detracted from his influence with the New England people, whose principles were ostensibly in sympathy with the dissenters, and whose co-operation was highly needful under the circumstances.

The domestic life of Leisler seems to have been peculiarly happy. He had one son, just growing into manhood, and several daughters, one of whom was married to Mr. Walters, an English merchant, afterward mayor of the city. He himself was at the period now referred to about fifty years of age. His education, in his native language, seems to have been very good, though he never mastered the English orthography, nor, apparently, the pronunciation of that language beyond an imperfect ability to make himself understood in both writing and speaking. His personal characteristics, which chiefly marked him as a leader, were his sincerity of mind and vigor of action. He had, however, too little government of his passions and subtilty of intellect to meet the emergencies which were from time to time presented by the various phases of events.

The leaders of the opposite faction were Col. Nicholas Bayard and Mayor Stephauus Van Cortland, both members of the council of the former administration. They were accomplished gentlemen, so far as the facilities of education were afforded by the schools of that day, and ranked from wealth and social connections with the leading families in the province. They were both of Dutch extraction, but seem to have entertained a very disparaging opinion of their fellow-countrymen, as their correspondence teems with abuse of them as a " rabble," " the lowest and meanest of the population," and other similar epithets, from which we can not but inter that these gentlemen had imbibed some elevated notions of aristocracy by their contact with the English cavaliers.

Readers of history are familiar with that great event in British history, which changed the line of succession to the throne, finally established the Protestant interests in that government, and which is generally known as the Revolution of 1688.

Great excitement ensued in all the colonies, and in New England the consequences were an immediate overturning of the constituted authority. The governor with all his court of officials and followers were lodged in the fort at Boston, while a new system of government was established without bloodshed and with general unanimity.


Website: The History
Article Name: Marriage of Jacob Milborne and Mary Leisler 1691 Part I
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From My Collection of Books: Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York; Joseph Shannon 1869
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