Jacob Leisler (ca. 1640 – May 16, 1691) was a German-born colonist in the Province of New York. He gained wealth in New Amsterdam (later New York City) in the fur trade and tobacco business. In what became known as Leisler's Rebellion following the English Revolution of 1688, he took control of the city, and ultimately the entire province, from appointees of deposed King James II, in the name of the Protestant accession of William III and Mary II.
Beginning in 1689, Leisler led an insurrection and seized control of the city by taking over Fort James at the lower end of Manhattan. He took over control of the entire province, appointing himself as acting Lieutenant Governor of the Province of New York, which he retained until March 1691, refusing to yield power until the newly appointed governor himself finally arrived. While Leisler claimed to have acted to support the Protestant accession against Jacobite officeholders in New York, he was arrested by the newly appointed governor of New York in March 1691. With opponents active against him, he was condemned and executed in New York City for treason against the English monarchs William III and Mary II. His estate was forfeited to the Crown.
During his period of control, Leisler completed a major purchase of property from John Pell, lord of Pelham Manor, to set up a French Huguenot settlement north of Manhattan. This developed as the city of New Rochelle, New York.
Leisler's son and supporters found the trial and conviction most unjust; it was mounted by his enemies. They worked to clear the names of Leisler and Jacob Milborne (his son in law) and for the restoration of their estates to their heirs, which was achieved in 1695 by an act of Parliament. Remains of the two men were reinterred with honors at the Dutch Reformed Church in Manhattan.
|8th Colonial Governor of New York|
1689 – 1691 in rebellion
|Preceded by||Francis Nicholson|
|Succeeded by||Henry Sloughter|
|Died||May 16, 1691|
|Profession||Merchant, Lieutenant governor of New York|
Leisler was born in the village of Bockenheim, now a central part of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, in March 1640, the son of Calvinist French Reformed minister Jacob Victorian Leisler. After his father's death in 1651, Leisler was sent to military school.
He went to New Amsterdam (later New York) in 1660 as a soldier in the service of the Dutch West India Company. Leaving the company's employ soon after his arrival, Leisler engaged in the lucrative fur trade and tobacco trade, and became a wealthy man. New York tax records from 1676 list Leisler as the third wealthiest man in the city.
In 1674, Leisler was one of the administrators of a forced loan imposed by Anthony Colve. While residing in Albany in 1676, Leisler engaged in a theological dispute with the Rev. Nicholas van Rensselaer, who had been appointed to the Reformed pulpit by James, Duke of York (later King James II). His finances and reputation both suffered from this encounter, as he and a fellow dissenter Jacob Milborne were forced to pay all the costs of a lawsuit they had initiated in the dispute. While on a voyage to Europe in 1678, he was captured by Moorish pirates, and was compelled to pay a ransom of 2,050 pieces of eight to obtain his freedom.
Leisler had endeared himself to the common people by befriending a family of French Huguenots who had been landed on Manhattan island. They were so destitute that a public tribunal had decided they should be sold into slavery in order to pay their ship charges. Leisler prevented the sale by purchasing the freedom of the widowed mother and son before the sale could be held. French Huguenots were arriving in New York as refugees from religious persecution by Catholics in France. Under Thomas Dongan's administration in 1683, Leisler was appointed one of the judges, or "commissioners," of the court of admiralty in New York, a justice of the peace for New York City and County, and a militia captain.
The English Revolution of 1688 also played out in New York, where people of a wide variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds divided into two well-defined factions. In general, the small shopkeepers, small farmers, sailors, poor traders and artisans allied against the patroons (landholders), rich fur-traders, merchants, lawyers and crown officers. The former were led by Leisler (himself a wealthy man), the latter by Peter Schuyler, Nicholas Bayard, Stephen Van Cortlandt, William Nicolls and other representatives of the aristocratic Hudson Valley families. The Leislerians claimed greater loyalty to the Protestant accession.
In 1688, Governor Dongan was succeeded by Lieutenant-Governor Francis Nicholson. In 1689, the military force of the city of New York consisted of a regiment of five companies, with Leisler as one of the company captains. He was popular with the men and was probably the only wealthy resident in the province who sympathized with the Dutch lower classes. At that time, the latter were agitated owing to the attempts of the Jacobite office-holders to retain power in spite of the revolution in England and the accession of William III and Mary II to the throne. When news was received that Governor Sir Edmund Andros had been imprisoned in Boston by the opposition, the Leislerians took possession, on May 31, 1689, of Fort James at the southern end of Manhattan Island. They renamed it Fort William and announced their determination to hold it until the arrival of a governor commissioned by the new sovereigns.
On a report that supporters of King James II were about to seize the fort and massacre their Dutch fellow-citizens, an armed mob gathered on the evening of 2 June 1689 to overthrow the existing government. The cry of "Leisler" was raised, and the crowd rushed to his house. At first, he refused to lead the movement, but when the demand was reiterated he acceded, and within an hour received the keys of the fort, which had been seized. The revolutionaries took advantage of the fort containing all the public funds, which return Lieutenant Governor Nicholson demanded in vain.
Four hundred of the new party signed an agreement to hold the fort "for the present Protestant power that reigns in England," while a committee of safety of ten of the city freeholders assumed the powers of a provisional government, of which they declared Jacob Leisler to be the head. They commissioned him as "captain of the fort." In this capacity, he began to repair the fort, strengthening it with a battery of six guns beyond its walls. This was the origin of the public park known as the Battery in Lower Manhattan. Thus began Leisler's Rebellion.
The aristocrats also favored deposing James, but preferred to continue the provincial government established by his authority rather than risk the danger of an interregnum. Nicholson and the council of the province, with the authorities of the city, headed by Mayor Stephen van Cortlandt, attempted to prevent the uprising, but without effect. Finally, becoming alarmed for his own safety, Lieutenant-Governor Nicholson sailed for England on the 24th of June. The New York City mayor and other officials retired to Albany.
Albany held out against Leisler's authority for a time. In November, Leisler sent Jacob Milborne to Albany with an armed force to assist in its defense against any Indians. Milborne was directed to withhold aid unless Leisler's authority was recognized. This was refused, and Milborne returned unsuccessful. But after the destruction of Schenectady on February 19, 1690, by the French and their allied Indians, Christian Mohawk among them, Albany submitted to Leisler's authority.
Under authority of a letter from the home government addressed to Nicholson, "or in his absence, to such as for the time being takes care for preserving the peace and administering the laws in His Majesty's province of New York," Leisler had assumed the title of lieutenant-governor in December 1689. He dissolved the committee of safety, appointed a council, and took charge of the government of the entire province. He appointed Jacob Milborne as Clerk to the Council, Attorney-General, Advocate General and his Secretary. Milborne married Leisler's daughter Mary.
Leisler summoned the first Intercolonial Congress in America, which met in New York on May 1, 1690, to plan concerted action against the French and Native Americans in the ongoing conflict in North America. The congress planned an expedition against Canada. It equipped and dispatched against Quebec the first fleet of men-of-war ever sent from the Port of New York. However, the expedition was unsuccessful.
Acting on behalf of a group of Huguenots in New York, Leisler brokered the purchase of land upon which they could settle. In 1689 John Pell, Lord of Pelham Manor, officially deeded 6,100 acres (25 km²) to Leisler for the establishment of a Huguenot community north of Manhattan. On September 20, 1689, Leisler donated a third of this land to Huguenot refugees. In addition to the purchase money, Leisler and his heirs and assigns were to yield and pay unto John Pell and his heirs and assigns (Lords of the Pelham Manor) one "Fat Calf" yearly, as acknowledgment of their feudal obligation to the Manor. This settlement developed as the city of New Rochelle, New York.
On January 28, 1691, English Major Richard Ingoldesby, who had been commissioned Lieutenant Governor of the province, landed with two companies of soldiers in Manhattan and demanded possession of Fort James. Leisler refused to surrender the fort without an order from the king or the governor. After some controversy, Ingoldesby attacked the fort on 17 March, during which Leisler's forces killed two of his soldiers and wounded several.
When Governor Sloughter finally arrived in New York the following March, he immediately demanded Leisler's surrender. Leisler refused to surrender the fort until he was convinced of Sloughter's identity and the governor had sworn in his council. As soon as the latter event occurred, he wrote the governor a letter resigning his command.
Sloughter responded by arresting Leisler and nine of his colleagues, including his son-in-law Jacob Milborne. All but Milborne were released after trial. Leisler was imprisoned, charged with treason and murder. Shortly afterward he was tried and condemned to death. His son-in-law and secretary, Milborne, was condemned on the same charges. Leisler's son and other supporters were outraged by the trials, as they were considered unjust. The judges were the personal and political enemies of the prisoners, and their acts were described as "gross." 
Governor Sloughter was said to have hesitated to sign the death-warrants, but was trying to stabilize politics in the colony and did not have sufficient influence among the elite of New York City. He was said to finally sign the warrants under the influence of wine.
On the 16 May 1691, Leisler and Milborne were executed. The court had sentenced them to be hanged "by the Neck and being Alive their bodyes be Cutt downe to Earth and Their Bowells to be taken out and they being Alive, burnt before their faces. . ." (In fact, the real villain [Robert Livingston] later bragged in writing that the pair were spared the disemboweling and were cut down before dead and decapitated by sword. The crowd then began fighting over their heads to acquire hair as a souvenir.) and by the English law of treason, their estates were forfeited to the Crown. Leisler's son and other supporters appealed for justice from the committee of the Privy Council; it reported that, although the trial was in conformity to the forms of law, they nevertheless recommended the restoration of the estates to their heirs.
In 1695, by an act of Parliament, achieved through the efforts of Leisler's son and supporters, the names of Jacob Leisler and Milborne were cleared. Leisler's estate was restored to his heirs. Three years later the Earl of Bellomont, who had been one of the most influential supporters of Leisler's son, was appointed as governor of New York. Through his influence the assembly voted an indemnity to Leisler's heirs.
He married Elsie Tymens, the widow of Pieter Cornelisz van der Veen in 1663.
As stated above, Leisler, along with Milborne were executed in New York on 16 May 1691.
as Governor and Lieutenant Governor of the Dominion of New England
| Governor of the Province of New York (in rebellion)
December 1689-January 28, 1691
was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar, the 1691st year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 691st year of the 2nd millennium, the 91st year of the 17th century, and the 2nd year of the 1690s decade. As of the start of 1691, the Gregorian calendar was
10 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.Abraham Gouverneur
Abraham Gouverneur (1671 – June 16, 1740) was a Dutch born colonial American merchant and Leislerian politician who served as the Speaker of the New York General Assembly.City Park Stadium
For the venue in New Orleans formerly known as "City Park Stadium", see: Tad Gormley StadiumCity Park Stadium is a soccer specific-stadium located in New Rochelle, New York. The official name is "Skidelsky Field at City Park Stadium". Its main tenant was the Westchester Flames FC soccer club. The capacity is 1,845. For the 2009 season the Flames moved to McKenna Field at New Rochelle High School. After playing one season at McKenna Field, the Flames will move back to City Park Stadium, with new lighting for night games.Crystal Lake (New Rochelle, New York)
Crystal Lake (also known Jefferd-Leisler Mill Pond and Ice Pond) was a former lake in the village of New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York. It originally supplied early colonial mills with water power, and was fed by Stephenson Brook which rises just north of Paine Lake and drains the large watershed adjacent to North Avenue from beyond Quaker Ridge Road.
The lake appears to have existed as a natural sheet of water near the end of the brook, having two outlets into Long Island Sound, one at the present Stephenson Boulevard, and the other at the east side of Lispenard Avenue. These outlets had an abrupt fall in the few yards between the lake's south edge and the Long Island Sound shore, of approximately twenty to twenty-five feet. This was the greatest natural fall of any stream emptying into the Sound between New York City and Connecticut, and, from very early, the value of it for water power was recognized.Davenport Neck
Davenport Neck is a peninsula in New Rochelle, New York, extending southwesterly from the mainland into Long Island Sound, and running parallel to the main shore. It divides the city's waterfront into two, with New Rochelle Harbor to the south and southwest, and Echo Bay, to the north and northeast. Glen Island and Neptune Island lie just to the west of the Neck, and Davids' and Huckleberry islands lie to the south.
The Neck is one of the most important historical localities in the City of New Rochelle. Before white settlements, Siwanoy Indians encamped here, finding an abundant source of fish and wildlife. Until the early 19th century tidal mills produced flour and other goods for local use and for export. With the advent of steamboat, and the resorts and inns that sprang up along the waterfront as a result, New Rochelle became an enormously popular destination by the mid-1800s. Davenport Neck was the choice location for the "summer homes" of wealthy vacationers.Echo Bay (Long Island Sound)
Echo Bay is a embayment located off Long Island Sound in the city of New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York. It is an anchorage for small craft and is generally fully occupied during the summer. The depths at the anchorage range from 4 to 15 feet, and launches can anchor in the shallow cove on the northeast side of the harbor, entering between Harrison Islands and the rocky, grassy islet off the northwest side of Echo Island. Vessels frequently anchor between the entrance of Echo Bay and Hicks Ledge, in depths of 20 to 24 feet. On the northwest side of Echo Bay a dredged channel 100 feet wide and 15 feet deep, marked by buoys, leads to the New Rochelle Municipal Marina at Beaufort Point (Hudson Park).Goose Island (Long Island Sound)
Goose Island is a small, rocky island in Long Island Sound and a part of the city of New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York. The island is situated between Davids', Travers, and Glen Islands in New Rochelle's Lower Harbor area, just west of the New York City border. It is surrounded by a stone wall which shows above the water.Henry Sloughter
Henry Sloughter (died 1691) was briefly colonial governor of New York and Massachusetts in 1691. Sloughter was the governor who put down Leisler's Rebellion, which had installed Jacob Leisler as de facto governor in 1689. He was briefly appointed as governor of Massachusetts following the Massachusetts Charter of 1691. Lieutenant Governor Richard Ingoldesby, who had served against Leisler's rebels, took over after Sloughter's death until the arrival of Benjamin Fletcher.Holy Sepulchre Cemetery (New Rochelle, New York)
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery is a Catholic cemetery in New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York. The cemetery is maintained by the Blessed Sacrament Church, whose pastor, Father McLoughlin, established it in 1886.Holy Sepulchre Cemetery is the resting place of notables including Eddie Foy and his family of famous Vaudeville actors and actresses, memorialized in the 1955 film The Seven Little Foys.Huntington pear
The Huntington is a cultivar of the European Pear (Pyrus communis) and is a native of New Rochelle, New York in northeastern United States. The original pear tree was found in the woods by James P. Huntington when still small and was transplanted to his yard on Main Street in the center of town. In 1856, when the tree was about 20 years of age, it was introduced by Stephen P. Carpenter of the Huguenot Nurseries of New Rochelle.During its early years, New Rochelle was well known for the propagation of trees and shrubbery. The Huguenot settlers were especially skilled in the development of fruits and flowers. The 'Churchland' and 'Parsonage' pear varieties are also native to the community, as well as the Lawton blackberry, the first widely cultivated blackberry in the country.Jacob Milborne
Jacob Milborne (c. 1648-16 May 1691) was an American clerk living in the Province of New York who was an ally, secretary and son-in-law of the rebel Jacob Leisler, served briefly as Attorney General of the province, and was executed for his part in Leisler's Rebellion. Milborne worked as a clerk and bookkeeper for a leading New York merchant. As a fervent Puritan his religious and political views brought him into conflict with Edmund Andros, the Governor of the Province of New York, who fined and gaoled him. Milborne returned to England and successfully sued the Governor for false imprisonment.
He formed a close association with Jacob Leisler, a rich German-born businessman of rabidly anti-Catholic, staunchly Calvinist views and the leader of a populist political faction known as Leislerians. When Governor Andros, now Governor of the unpopular New England Dominion, was imprisoned in Boston in 1689 for maladministration, the Leislerians took possession of Fort James in south Manhattan. The lieutenant Governor left for England and some members of the provincial council fled to Albany. With Leisler now the de facto Governor of the province, Milborne was appointed Clerk to the Council, Attorney General and Advocate General, as well as being Leisler's Secretary and, from 1691, his son-in-law. Leisler and Milbourne instituted a highly autocratic regime under which property was confiscated, mail was opened, homes searched and people were jailed without warrant or trial, and anyone who criticized them was accused of being secretly Catholic or "popishly affected." Wanting to strike a blow at Catholic France, they mounted an unsuccessful invasion of Canada. It was a strange regime in that its proclaimed purposes were (a) to prevent a Catholic takeover, yet there was no real threat of this given how few Catholics were in New York at the time, and (b) to hold power for the new Protestant king and queen of England, William of Orange and his wife Mary, pending their consolidation of power and sending of instructions and representatives to the colony, yet when the new king and queen sent troops and a new governor, Leisler and Milbourne were initially resistant to accepting them.
When a new Governor Henry Sloughter arrived with the resources to put down the rebellion, Leisler and Milborne surrendered to him, but not before shots were fired and lives were lost in a standoff at the fort. They were arrested and tried for murder and treason by a somewhat biased bench. Originally sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered and their estates forfeited to the crown, the two men were in the event simply hanged (Hanged, but then cut down prior to death and then beheaded in front of a large crowd.) and their estates later restored to their heirs. In 1698, largely thanks to the sympathetic efforts of the then Governor, Earl of Bellomont, the bodies of the two men were disinterred and reburied at the Dutch church.Leisler's Rebellion
Leisler's Rebellion was an uprising in late 17th century colonial New York in which German American merchant and militia captain Jacob Leisler seized control of the colony's south and ruled it from 1689 to 1691. The uprising took place in the aftermath of Britain's Glorious Revolution and the 1689 Boston revolt in the Dominion of New England, which had included New York. The rebellion reflected colonial resentment against the policies of deposed King James II.
Royal authority was not restored until 1691 when English troops and a new governor were sent to New York. Leisler was arrested by these forces, who tried and convicted him of treason. He was executed, but the revolt left the colony polarized, bitterly split into two rival factions.New Rochelle Centennial Half-Dollar
The New Rochelle Sestercentennial Half-Dollar (1938) was minted to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the settlement of New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York. Artist and sculptor Gertrude K. Lathrop was chosen to design the coin. It was the last new commemorative coin issued by the U.S. Mint prior to World War II and was the last brand-new “commem” to appear for nearly a decade. New Rochelle is one of only ten cities to have been commemorated with a spendable coin minted by the federal government.Parsonage pear
The Parsonage is a cultivar of the European Pear (Pyrus communis) which is a native of New Rochelle, New York in northeastern United States. The pear tree, found on the parsonage of Reverend Doctor R. U. Morgan, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, was introduced as the Parsonage pear in 1857 by Stephen P. Carpenter of the Huguenot Nurseries of New Rochelle. The original tree was a constant and abundant bearer of fruit which was viewed as flavorful and of very good quality.
During its early years, New Rochelle was well known for the propagation of trees and shrubbery. The Huguenot settlers were especially skilled in the development of fruits and flowers. The 'Churchland' and 'Huntington' pear varieties are also native to the community, as well as the Lawton blackberry, the first widely cultivated blackberry in the country.Pea Island (New Rochelle, New York)
Pea Island is a small island in Long Island Sound and a part of the city of New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York. It features a rocky, grass-covered terrain, with exposed rocks at low tide. The island lies approximately 1 mile from the New Rochelle shore, adjacent to Davids' and Columbia islands, and just west of the New York City border.
Pea Island is owned by the Huguenot Yacht Club which is based on nearby Neptune Island in New Rochelle's "Lower Harbor". A 1992 storm destroyed most of the club's structures on the Island.Pine Island (New Rochelle)
Pine Island is a small, privately owned island in the city of New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York. The island is situated off the coast of Davenport Neck in Long Island Sound.Statue of Jacob Leisler
The Jacob Leisler Monument is a bronze sculpture designed by American artist Solon Borglum and located in the city of New Rochelle, in Westchester County, New York. The monument was erected by the Huguenot Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Huguenot Association of New Rochelle to the memory of Jacob Leisler, 17th-century advocate of the Huguenot settlers and said to be the first chief executive of the province of New York to draw his power directly from the people. The unveiling of the statue on June 24, 1913, was the principal event in the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of New Rochelle. The monument is the only existing statue of Leisler.
Jacob Leisler was German-born and came to North America in 1660 as a soldier in the Dutch West India Company's service. Settling in New Amsterdam (New York), he left the company and prospered in the tobacco and fur trades, becoming a wealthy merchant and being appointed to several public offices in the city, such as justice of the peace and judge. Beginning in 1689, following the English Revolution in 1688 and accession of the Protestant rulers William III and Mary II, he led an insurrection dubbed Leisler's Rebellion, with popular support among the common people, ultimately seizing control of the city and colony from Jacobite officials previously appointed under the deposed King James. He appointed himself as acting Lieutenant Governor of the Province until the governor appointed by William and Mary finally reached New York in March 1691. During this period, he had purchased land from Pelham Manor, reserving a portion to help create the Huguenot settlement of New Rochelle in 1689. He refused to turn over power to a newly appointed lieutenant governor in 1690.Leisler in 1691 was arrested and tried by his personal and political enemies on charges of felony and treason to William III and Mary II, for refusing to give up power to their appointed Lieutenant Governor before the full governor arrived several months later. He and his son-in-law were both executed. Many thought the trial was unjust. Four years later, Parliament reversed the conviction, clearing Leisler's name and restoring his estate to his heirs. They exonerated the late friend of the Huguenots.Travers Island, New York
Travers Island is a former island located on Long Island Sound in the city of New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York. The island, originally united by a causeway to the mainland, comprises a tract of thirty acres in the Lower Harbor of New Rochelle, situated between Neptune Island, Glen Island and Hunter Island in New York City's Pelham Bay Park. The narrow strip of water originally making it an island was eventually filled in, converting this tract into a peninsula.
Travers Island currently serves as the New York Athletic Club's summer home. Travers Island hosted the 1903, 1905 and 1906 USA Cross Country Championships.WVIP
WVIP is a radio station licensed to New Rochelle, New York and serving the New York metropolitan area. WVIP features a Caribbean music format airing programming for the Afro-Caribbean community.