Article Number 9 - The Catskill Patent No. 3- Silvester Salisbury

Originally published in the Catskill Examiner by Henry Brace between the years 1876 and 1879. Article 9 was published on May 13, 1876. Extracted from the microfilm copies of the Catskill Examiner located at the Vedder Research Library. Transcribed by Barbara Bartley.


Local Sketches.--No. 9. An Outline Of The History of the Town of Catskill, To The Year 1783. By Henry Brace 

The purchasers of the tracts which, in 1680 and in 1688, were included within the boundary of the Catskill Patent, it will be remembered, were Marte Gerritse Van Bergen and Silvester Salisbury. Of the former, I have already written: I propose in this article to record the few facts which are known in the life of the latter.

Salisbury was born in England or in Wales about the year 1629. Of his boyhood and of his early manhood nothing is now known. That he was a kinsman of the ancient family of the Salisburys in Denbigshire, in Wales, is proven by his coat of arms. That he was well brought up and carefully taught is shown by his letters; but the precise relationship he bore to the Knights of Llewenny, and the nature of his training, will probably never be discovered, until the records of his house in northern Wales--if they still exist--shall have been carefully examined.

In 1664, Salisbury, being an ensign in the British army, took part in the conquest of New Netherland. In July, 1670, he was sent, either as lieutenant or as captain, to take command of Fort Albany, and was almost immediately appointed schoutnscaal of Rensselaer’s Wyck. The next year he aided in negotiating a peace between the Mohawks and the Indians of New England. Soon afterward he was made one of the Justices of the Peace of Albany.

In 1673 he was forced to surrender his post to the Dutch, who sent him as a prisoner to Spain, at that time the constrained and unnatural ally of the United Provinces. During the next year, after the close of the war, he was released, returned to New York, and was put in command of his old post. In 1675, probably in September, he was sent to England, as bearer of dispatches, and was graciously received by the Duke of York, to whom Salisbury had been commended by Sir Edmond Andros. The next spring he was ordered back, taking with him letters from the duke to the governor of the province. In one of these letters his Royal Highness wrote: “I send you this by the hand of Captain Salisbury; of him I have a good character, and therefore I would have you remember him upon any fit occasion for his advantage in my service.”

In 1677, as I have already related, he and Marte Gerritse Van Bergen became the purchasers of a lordly estate at Catskill. But, before a patent was obtained for the purchase, Salisbury died. The exact time of his death is unknown, but it was between the twenty-sixty of August 1679, the day on which his will is dated, and the twenty-fourth of March, 1680, the day on which his widow was confirmed as executrix of his estate.

This will is recorded in the office of the surrogate of the city and county of New York. It recites that the testator is sick, but of perfect memory, and appoints his loving and well-beloved wife, Elizabeth his sole executrix. I give the following extracts from the will, because they seem to me to show the high, thoughtful and affectionate character of the man:

“I give to my wife all my movables and Immovables,” that is, all of his estate both personal and real, “to keep in Possession and Enjoyment, with this reservation, that she is to breed up the three children, Francis Salisbury, aged nine years, and Silvester Salisbury, aged six years, and Mary Salisbury, aged about thirteen months, in good Education and Learning. And further to do what is fitting for good and Religious Parents to do to their children, and when any of the children shall come to age and marry (provided with friends’ consent) the mother is obliged to give the said child the just one-third of the half of the Estate, and if any of the children should die before they come of age, that child’s or children’s portion to be divided among the surviving Children or Child. But if the mother and children should all die, then the Estate to be divided amongst her Relations with the advice of Friends.”

“The whole Estate during her widowhood to Remain in her hands. But if it should happen that she should marry, then to give in sufficient Security for one moiety of the Estate, which is the Children’s portion. I do likewise nominate and appoint to be Executors and overseers of my will and children the Right Honorable Sir Edmond Andros, Governor General, my well beloved brother [in-law] Pieter Jacobse Marius, and my loving friend Jacob Teunisse. They to look after the Education of my children and the management of the estate.”

His wife was Elizabeth Beek, whom he married at least as early as 1669. By her he had the three children mentioned in his will, Francis, born in 1670, Silvester, born in 1674, and Mary, born in 1679. Soon after her husband’s death, Elizabeth Salisbury married Cornelius Van Dyck, a physician of Albany. He died in 1687, and four years after, his widow married George Bradshaw, a captain in the British army. He was a spendthrift, and after his death, his wife had to pay his debts. Two of the four letters written to him or received by him, which are still in the possession of the Salisbury family, refer to his creditors or his want of money.

Silvester Salisbury brought with him from the mother country a copy of the ensigns armorial of his ancestors, which is now in the possession of his great-great-grandson, William Salisbury, of Catskill. This coat of arms is carved in oak or in other hard wood, and except that the demi-lion in the crest does not hold a crescent or in its paws, is identical with the coat-of-arms of the family of the Welsh Salisburys. Two rapiers also, which belonged to Silvester Salisbury, are in the possession of the same descendant. They were once mounted in silver of dainty workmanship, but the ornaments have disappeared. On the blade of one sword is stamped the date 1616, on the blade of the other is stamped the date 1544, and in a hollow near the hilt the word Sachgum, which may be a corruption of Sahagun, a kind of rapier. “I pray,” says a dramatist of the seventeenth century, “tell me, sir, suppose that with a sahagun, or with a rapier of Toledo, I were pierced like a cullender.”

But the heir-loom which, perhaps, is most prized by the descendants of Silvester Salisbury is a portrait of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry the Eighth, which is supposed to have been painted by Holbein. The picture is in excellent preservation, and the colors are still bright. The lady is represented as a rather pretty, insignificant and voluptuous woman of about twenty-five years. Her hair is brown and is dressed in short curls upon her forehead; her large eyes are hazel; her lips are closed and pouting. Her right arm rests on a pedestal, and her right hand lies upon her bosom, as if to hide the mole, which is said to have been one of the defects of her person. Anne Boleyn is described in the old chronicles as having a kind of supernumerary finger on her hand, and in this picture a stump of a finger, between the first and second finger of the left hand, is shown.

A number of Salisbury’s letters are in the possession of his family. They are in his hand-writing, and are written legibly and folded and indorsed[sic] neatly. Two of them may interest my readers. The first is addressed to Governor Andros, and is indorsed “A Copy of ye Letter conserning the thunder and Liteing being ye 17th of June, 1678.”

“Kynd Gr--
Since ye daiting of my Last upon ye 16th of this Instant, about a houer efter the Church was out in the Efternoon and had been at a Buriall; so going hoom wth Capt. [Peter] Schuyler, Mr. [Dirck] Wessels and Mr. Griffith, thar arysing from the North West a Great Tounade and was Just gott into the house as it began. So having nather Man nor Maid in the house, they being abrod and my Wyff big with child, which was so unwildly, I was forced myself with my Francis to goe into the Sellar, for to draw a bottle of wine and some Beare, ye Chyld standing by me and stooping down to Draw som wyne, it pleasee god for to strick ye end of ye new house in severall places with a mighte Clap of Thunder & Lighting, in so much yt it beat a great peice of the Chimney down and a window frame in peices and went from ye Top of ye house to the bottome, through three stories high, and Came into the Sellar, where myself and the Chyld was stricken down. But I have receaved Littell harme (blessed be god). But my chyld was -struck down and did not speak a pretty whyle, and myself in a maze and soe dark in the Sellar, and such a mighty stink of sulphur, yt I was almost out of breath and coulde not doe anything to helpe myself or my chyld, Hee crying out, so geting to him, I found yt ye Lightning had brok the seam of his doublet Just under his right arm and soe fell upon him and brunt his Side quyt downe to his Leggs, and had shrivelled the skine off in some places, and the lightening struck on the outsyde of his Left foot and brunt a great peice of ye uper Leather of his shoe away, and thanks be to god that he walks and I hoop will doe verie well. But to Tell you off myself, I am not able, only yt ye great Toe of my Left foot is hurt, and my shoe not brunt beeing a littell scorched with ye Lightning. It hath damnified ye house to the value of Thre or four beaver or thereabouts, & I do give god Thanks that it hath not falen out no worse. To Tell you all ye accidents in this Lightning, it is impossible, so god of his mercy keep us all from such suden accidents for it was very Terrible. I pray you present myn and my wyffe’s humble service to my Lady and communicat to hir and Capt. Brokholls and Lett them know yt I wold have written to him, but had not so much tym, the sloop Just agoing and Lykwyse my service to Mr. Delavall & Dayer with all friends. So taking Leave I remain yo’r very Loving friend and serv’t. For Albany, ye 17th June, 1678.”

The second letter is indorsed: “A Copy of a Let’r to Mr. Hugh Salisbury, of Porchmouth, consarning ye prisners in tourkey, Oct. ye 18th, 1678:

Deare Couzen--
I make boulde to truble you with these few Lines Consarning a case of beavers, marked as you may see in ye margent, and which haith bene here collected, upon charity for some people yt was taken by ye tourkes in a small pinke, belonging to this place, Called by ye name of ye Susanna of New York. They was taken ye Laste yeare in Octtober, 1677. This Case above mentioned is in parte towards there Redemtion. Therefor the minesters and Churchwardens of this place haith Desired me to writte to you, yt you will be pleased to assiste Capt. Martine, whoe is commander & master of the good shippe ye Blossom & soe ye chargese of the same Case of beavers, being charrity, to Do as Littell as possable may.

Sr, I am much ashamed to write to you consarning myselfe by Reason I have soe much neglected in not writeing toe you; ye Laste Let’r yt I writt to you was by the [Ship] called ye good Faime of New York, Mr. Fryer being master of herr. I feare you may forgett me. I went over with Coll. Nicolls out of England [in] 1664, but in Coll. Lovlase time was taken prissener by [the] Duch at Forte Albany, where I was then Commander --soe carryed away into Spayne and at my Retorne, his ryall hynesse haith Restored me to my same place againe. So hoopeing you will be pleased to doe this of Charity in helpeing what you cane, you will ever oblidge him, yt will be Redy to sarve you heere in what he may and Remayn your namesake, & if you please your very Loveing couzen and sarv. S. S. turn over. The Casse is marked per Margent as you may see & I hope Capt. Martin will Drinke a glas of wine with you for my sake as he haith promissed me.   Vally--”


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