Jacob Janse Schermerhorn

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ChartsAncestors of Edward Ambrose Cooke
Jacob Janse Schermerhorn, whose ancestry is unknown (or not traced here), was born at Waterland, Holland, in 1622.1 He died at Schenectady, Schenectady Co., New York, in 1688.1,2

Jacob married Jannetie Cornelise, daughter of Cornelis Segerse Van Egmont and Brechie Jacobsen, say 1650.1,2

The Schermerhorn Genealogy suggests that one Jacob Janse of Amsterdam is the later Jacob Janse van Schermerhorn. Nothing is impossible of course, but this identification seems unlikely. Jacob Janse of Amsterdam was a carpenter, and the later Jacob Janse Schermerhorn was a fairly well-off business man. It’s something of a stretch to make the two to be the same man.

To be complete, the record of Jacob Janse from Amsterdam shows him among the colonists who sailed from Holland on the Rensselaerswvyck, leaving Texel, 8 October, 1636, and arriving at New Amsterdam, 4 March 1637. He was a carpenter, and was engaged for four years, beginning 2 April 1637, for 40f. per year. Part of this time he was employed by Albert Andriesz (Bratt), who had contracted with Patroon Van Rensselaer to build a mill at Rensselaerswyck. In the harvest of 1640, Jacob Janse served under Cornelis Teunisz, van Breucklin. On 1 May 1640, he received 32f. extra for "faithful service to the Patroon," and in 1641 he was employed by Van Curler to do some copying. From that date until 20 August 1643, when his account was closed by Van Curler, he was engaged with other carpenters, building houses and barns.3

Citing unidentified documents, the Schermerhorn Genealogy uses this logic to connect the two Jacob Janse’s, the carpenter first becoming a fur trader:
But in 1643 Jacob Janse had just reached the age of 21 years and perhaps had gathered together a little capital, sufficient to embark in enterprises of his own, and as the fur trade was of the most importance, he is next found following this vocation. At this time came the realization that his name must be used in full, as should become the position in affairs which he proposed to make for himself, and hereafter Schermerhorn was added. The appellation "van Amsterdam" had been used merely as designating the place of his former residence and to distinguish him from other Jacob Jansens. Jacob Janse Schermerhorn had at one time undoubtedly dwelt in Amsterdam, as his father is mentioned as living there in 1654. A certain document refers to "Jacob Janse Van Schermerhorn, formerly a citizen of Waterland, Holland." Waterland was the name of a large territory in North Holland, in which the town of Schermerhorn is located.4

Regardless of his origins, Jacob Janse, van Schermerhorn, is first of record when, on 29 May 1648, he and his partner, Jacob Ryntgens of New Amsterdam, were arrested for selling firearms to the Indians, a serious crime. They were tried, convicted, and sentenced (9 July 1648) to banishment and confiscation of all their goods and property. Ryntgens had purchased the weapons from employees of the West India Co., and delivered them to Schermerhorn in Albany, who then sold them to the Indians. Stuyvesant himself conducted this same business, and did so openly, but tried to maintain a monopoly over the trade. Being in a position of authority, he used it. However, the “Nine Men” of the colony intervened and suspended the banishment on 1 August 1648. This action of Stuyvesant later became part of the basis for serious complaints and charges forwarded by the Colony of New Netherland to the “Mighty Lords States General of the United Netherlands.”

Very few early traders of New Netherland did not experience the same kind of difficulty as Jacob Schermerhorn, but Stuyvesant decided to make an example of him. To sell or trade with the Indians, firearms and liquors had to be part of the bargain, not necessarily on account of greed, but because it was necessary for them to trade these goods in order to do any business at all. The Indians would demand their liquor and guns, and would invariably set apart a certain amount of their trade capital to acquire them.

Although the banishment of Ryntgens and Jacob Janse was remitted, their estates remained confiscated. This seems to have had little effect on his business activities and apparently neither he nor his partner suffered much damage to their reputation on account of this early setback. In 1660-1, Jacobus Reynst (Ryntgens) appears as one of the Deputies and Directors of the West India Co., at Amsterdam, and commissary to the General Privileged India Co., and Jacob Janse served as commissary or magistrate at Fort Orange (Albany) for many years (1652, 54, 56, 57, 58, 64, 71, 72, 74, 75, and probably other years). There were three magistrates and the office was one of the most important in the Colony.

In 1676 Jacob Janse is mentioned as constable of Albany. He was also a prominent member of the Reformed Dutch Church at Albany. He was a member of the Church Consistory, kept the records himself in 1666, and was one of the committee to audit the church accounts for the greater period between 1665 and 1686. His name is recorded as twelfth male member of the Church.

He made at least two return trips to Holland and perhaps more not shown in the records. The first was in 1654, when he acted as attorney for some Albany friends. The second was in 1668 when, with a party of other New Netherlanders, loaded the ship King Charles with "Goods and Cargoe fitted for their country." A recent order of the King prohibited more than one ship to sail yearly, where before three had been allowed. A petition, signed by Jacob Janse and his companions, requested a concession for them in this particular case, which was granted.

Jacob Janse was always ready to help out his neighbors and friends, as is evidenced by the many times the records show he gave bond for various people. However, that he was also a hardnosed businessman is evidenced through the many records of lawsuits he brought against others, for slander, trespass, moneys due, and other matters.

He was a large property owner. Exactly what his possessions were previous to 1648, when his property was confiscated, is not known, but on 29 November 1652, he received a patent of a lot in Beverwyck (Albany) and on 25 October 1653, he received another patent for two lots in the same place. These may be the same lots, one of which is described as being in his name in 1664, 60 ft. x 240 ft., on the east side of North Pearl St., between Maiden Lane and State St., and the other held by him, in 1676-8, 26 ½ ft. x 49 ft., on the corner of an alley, on the north side of Pearl and Chapel Streets.

He also must have owned property in New York, as on 23 October 1656, he sued Paulus Schrick for non-payment of rent, which action is found among the "Records of New Amsterdam."

In his will, his property is described as follows: "My lot of ground lying at the river side at Albany where Cleyn de Goyer lived, which formerly belonged to Cornells Segers (his father-in-law).” “. . . my farm at Schotak, the Pasture over against Marte Garitsen's Eylandt, my two houses and lots in ye City of Albany, the one over against Isaak Sybanks and the other where my son Simon Schermerhorn lived, next to Johannes D. Wandelaer, my house and lot at Schenectady where I now dwell."

On Dec. 31, 1700, the administrators of the estate of Jacob Jansen Schermerhorn deeded to the Reformed Church of Albany, “. . .Pasture land, south of the city, west of the great pasture to the church, along wagon road toward the woods . . .” (patent of May 16, 1667), also a lot in the Great Pasture (patent to Jacob Schermerhorn, Nov. 9, 1652).

Just when Jacob Janse moved to Schenectady cannot be exactly determined. It was probably not long after its settlement in 1662. At least, he must have been a resident in 1673, when wife was called to give court testimony concerning a certain happening in Schenectady. His son Ryer was a freeholder in Schenectady before 1684, and at the time Jacob Janse made his will in 1688 he (Jacob), was residing there.

After his death, his wife received the income from his estate, which was valued at 56,882 guilders (about $23,000). This included the real estate mentioned and the moneys in Holland. After his wife's death in 1700, the estate was equally divided among the children.4

Jacob left a will dated 21 May 1688,
The one and Twentieth day of may, 1688, in the fourth year of ye Reign of our most Gracious Sovieraign Lord, James the Second, by ye grace of god of England, Scotland. France and Ireland, King: I, Jacob Janse Schermerhoorn of ye Towne of Schinnechttady in ye County of Albany, yoeman, although Some what weake and sickly in body, yett of good. Perfect, Sound Memory, Praised be Almighty god therefor, do make and ordain this my Present Will and Testament. Containing therin my Last Will in manner and form following; yt is to say:

first I commend my Self and al my whole estate to the Mercy and Protection of Almighty god, being fully Persuaded by his holy spirit through the Death and Passion of Jesus Christ, to obtain full Pardon and Remission of al my Sinns and to Inheritt Everlasting Life to which the holy Trinity, one Eternall Deity be al honour and glory, forever, amen, and touching Temporall Estate of goods, Chattells and Debts as the Lord hath been Pleased farr above my Deserts to bestow upon me, I doe order, give, Bequeath and Depose the Same in manner and form following:

Imp.-I give, grant, Devise and bequeath to Ryer Schermerhoorn, my Eldest Sonne, before any Division or Partition be made of my Estate, my lotte of grounde lying at the River Side at Albany, where Cleyn de goyer Lived, which formerly belong to Cornells Segerse, as itt Lyes Inclosed within fence,- To have and to hold the said Lotte of grounde to ye said Ryer Schermerhoorn, his heirs and assigns, forever.

2d. My will is that my well beloved wife, Jannetje Schermerhoorn shall Possess and Enjoy during her widowhood, all ye Rents and Profitts of all my Reall Estate, virt: of my farm at Schotak, the Pasture over against Marte Garitsen's Eylant, my two houses and Lotts in ye City of albany, the one over against Isaak Sybanks (?) and the other where my Sonne Symon Schermerhoorn lives next to Johannes D. Wandelaer, my house and Lott at Shinnechtady where I now Dwell.

3d. I do Likewise give and bequeath to my said Wife all my other Estate in this County, moveables and Immovables, goods and Chattells, Plate, Jewels, wares, Merchandise, &c. and Debts to me owing and Ready money, nothing whatever exempted and this all during her widowhood, and that neither my Eldest Sonne or any of the rest of my children shall Disturb my wife after my Decease so long as She Continues widow, leaving it wholly to her to give such Portion or Portions to my four children yett under age, virt. Cornelis, Jannetie, Neeltie, and Lucas Schermerhorn, as the other Children have had when they married, and as She in Conschicnce Shall See Convenient.

[4]But if it should happen that my Said Wife should Remarry, then my will is that she give a full and Perfect Inventory of ye whole Estate, Reall and Personall, the Just half or moyety whereof, I do give, grant, Devise and Bequeath unto my Dear and well beloved wife, Jannetje Schermerhoorn, and the other half or moyety to my nine Children, Virt., Ryer, Symon, helena, the wife of Myndt. harmense, Jacob and Machtoll, ye wife of Johannes Beckman, Corneiis, Jannetie, neeltje and Luykas Schermerhoorn, to be Equally divided among them, Part & Part alike, or among their heirs upon their Decease and yt. the Law or Custome of Joynt Tennancy shall herein cease and each child whether they Survive or not may dispose of their Proportion and Share of ye Reall Estate as well as Personall. But if my said foure Children, Corneiis, Jannetje, Neeltje and Lucas be not come to age or married before my sd. wife happens to Remarry or Decease, my will is that they shall have the Same Portion Severally as the oy'r Children had when they married before any Division be made and then share alike with their Brethren and Sisters.

[5]And if my said wife shall Decease without remarrying, my will is that the whole Estate, Real and Personall be equally Divided among my Said nine Children for the behoof of them, their heirs and assigns, severally, forever, all Part and Part alike, and if any of my Sonnes or Daughters do Decease before ye age of one and Twenty years and before their marriage that then in Such Case, the Portion of every of them so Deceasing shall Remain and be to ye Survivours and Survivour of them. My will is yt. all my Cloaths, Linning and Wooling and other apparell belonging to me shall be Divided Equally among my Sonnes and all the wearing apparell and Stricken (trinkets) or Pendants Belonging to my wife shall be Equally Divided amongst my Daughters.

6th. Further it is my will that the hollands money that is in Amsterdam under ye hands of Mr. Sykirk (?) shall remain untouched during my wife's widowhood and natural Life and that she shall Receive ye Rents thereof as hitherto I have done.

7th. And whereas my Sonne in Law Myndt. Harmense has a Thousand gilders of said hollands money upon Intrest, my will is yt. he pay Interest for ye same to my wife and if he pays the Principail then he is to share alike with the oyr Children in ye Estate, else it is to be Deducted of his Proportion of ye money that is in holland under Mr. Sykirk (?).

8th. I do freely remitt and Discharge my Sonne Jacob Schermerhoorn that Livs upon my farm at Schotak of ye Rent which he is owing for ye same and which will be due to ye Day of my Decease, not willing that my Executrx. or Admx. shall any wise molest him, the said Jacob Schermerhoorn, Junr. or his heirs for ye same, but is nevertheless obliged to give an True and Just acct. of ye hah' of Increase of ye horses and Cattle.

9th. And Lastly I make, constitute, ordain and appoint my Dear and well beloved wife sole Executrix of this my last will and Testament and to her Care and Tuition also I leave all my Children that are undr. age and I will that my Said wife do maintain them and ye Education of my Said children during there minority and I do hereby nominate and appoint my said wife Tutrix to them and every of them until such time as they shall severally Come to age, and wille and appoint that my said wife to be administratrix and have ye administration of my goods and Chattells and that my Sonnes Ryer and Symon be assistants to their Moyr. in the administration of the Estate and in looking after the Education of there Bretheren and Sisters yt. are under age. In witness whereof I have hereunto Sett my hand and Seale In Albany at the house of Mynd. harmense, ye Day and year first above written.

Signed, Sealed & Delivered in the presence of
Gideon Schacts.
past. Jacob Staets.4


Jannetie Cornelise b. 1633, d. 1700
  • Ryer Schermerhorn1,2 b. 23 Jun 1652, d. 19 Feb 1719
  • Symon Schermerhorn1,2 b. 1658, d. 1696
  • Jacob Schermerhorn1,2 b. abt. 1661, d. 20 Jun 1743
  • Machtilt Schermerhorn1,2 b. 1663
  • Helena Schermerhorn1,2 b. say 1665
  • Cornelius Schermerhorn1,2 b. 1668
  • Jannetje Schermerhorn1,2 b. 1672
  • Nelletje Schermerhorn+2 b. abt. 1674
  • Lucas Schermerhorn1,2 b. 1676
This person was last edited on28 Jul 2015


  1. [S348] William C. Schermerhorn, "History of the Schermerhorn Family," The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 36 (Apr & Jul 1905): 141-147, 254-260, at 141-145, further cited as Schermerhorn, "Schermerhorn Family."
  2. [S386] Jonathan Pearson, Contributions for the Genealogies of the Descendants of the First Settlers of the Ancient County of Albany, from 1630 to 1800 (1872; reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1984), 96, further cited as Pearson, Genealogies of the First Settlers of Albany.
  3. [S1905] A. J. F. van Laer, Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts: Being the Letters of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, 1630-1643, and Other Documents Relating to the Colony of Rensselaerswyck (Albany, New York: University of the State of New York, 1908), 813, further cited as van Laer, Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts.
  4. [S1904] Richard Schermerhorn Jr., Schermerhorn Genealogy and Family Chronicles (New York: Tobias Wright, 1914), further cited as Schermerhorn, Schermerhorn Genealogy.