Marriage of Jacob Milborne and Mary Leisler 1691 Part III

MARRIED_February 3, 1691, Jacob Milborne to Mary Leisler.

Meanwhile, Milborne, before these events, had set out with fifty men in three sloops for the purpose of establishing the authority of the new government at Albany, where he arrived in the early part of November.

The population of Albany was divided into parties in about the same disproportions as those of New York, the friends of Leisler being considerably in the majority, but the opposite party possessing the fort and other places of power refused to relinquish ; nor could the menaces of the people, who " raging and mutinous " drove the convention from the City Hall in fear of their lives, alter their resolutions. The mayor and his adherents shut themselves up in the fort, having first sent a mission to the Maquas Indians, with whom the Albanians were on intimate terms, to lend them assistance in case of necessity. All accommodation appearing hopeless, Milborne marched against the fort, and approaching the gate demanded entrance, which was denied him, he pushed himself partly in, and was thrust out, whereupon he returned to his forces, and, having marshaled them in front of the fort, he commanded his men to load. At this point of time the Maquas appeared on the hill near the fort, and prepared to take part against the New York troops. Nothing remained for Major Milborne but to retreat ; he accordingly marched his men into the town, and a captain having been selected at Albany, troops were left for the protection of the refractory city, which was in great apprehension of an assault during the ensuing winter from the French and their Indian allies.

Milborne thus returned to New York in a state of discomfiture, a circumstance which served to elate the opposite party, who began to " prick up their ears." Leisler was openly assailed in the streets by a mob, and found it necessary to cut his way through them sword in hand. Upon this a general alarm was sounded, and the people flocked to the city by the hundreds, quartering themselves in the houses of the leading persons of the opposite party. The leaders of the faction were obliged to fly to adjacent provinces. But Bayard, who had made his appearance at this time, was chased and captured. He was placed in irons in the dungeon of the fort, and remained a close prisoner for the following fourteen months. He sought in vain to be released from his loathsome confinement, engaging in return for his liberty to recognize the authority of Leisler, but the latter was obdurate.

Almost at the same time with the occurrence of these events in the city happened the massacre at Schenectady, so well known in our colonial annals. This was in the early part of February, 1690. Almost the whole population fell before this murderous fray. Leisler no longer hesitated in his mode of dealing with the refractory Albanians, to whose supineness he attributed this terrible disaster. He at once organized a body of troops sufficient to overcome all resistance, and dispatched them under Milborne with two other companies. Resistance was not thought of, the fort and public places were delivered up to Leisler's delegates, and all together bent their efforts in apparent harmony toward the maintenance of the general safety.

The public voice now called loudly for retaliatory measures, and all the energies of Leisler were devoted to the organization of an invading army against Canada. The various eastern colonies agreed to co-operate, and promised to supply a proportion of troops. The quota of New York, however, was much the largest, and she was to be allowed to name the generalissimo. Leisler made great personal sacrifices to meet his engagements with the other colonies, and indeed the whole province of New York was taxed to the utmost. The spring advanced and, punctual to the time appointed, the New York troops were at Albany. The spring passed away and part of the summer, and still no troops from the East. At last a few arrived from Connecticut, and in return for these she demanded the choice of a general to command all the forces. However unacceptable these terms, they could not be denied. It was either compliance, or the failure and abandonment of the enterprise. The troops set out, but proceeded only a few miles when a council of war was called, and it was decided by the general that the force was inadequate to its object, and the army returned to Albany. Without discussing the judiciousness of this movement, we will only refer to the exasperation of Leisler upon finding all his efforts turned to naught by a general forced upon him by a pretended friendly power. He did not hesitate to proceed in person to Albany and seize upon the general, whom he placed under arrest. The general was not. however, long held in confinement. The only result of this expedition, of which so great hopes had been entertained, and such sacrifices made, was the estrangement of the colony of Connecticut under the indignity offered to her general, and perhaps from an innate sense of her own unfairness toward an ally who deserved more consideration than was accorded him.

The close of the summer of 1690 found Leisler shattered in fortune and suffering under the misfortunes of his administration. He looked forward to the arrival of his successor with an anxious desire to be relieved of cares and responsibilities to which he found himself unequal, and perhaps with not a little foreboding as to the results to himself, for it became known at this time that a successor had been named by the government whose unfriendly sentiments toward Leisler were not concealed. The enemies of his administration had grown bold to the point of insult, and his life was again attempted by a mob. But however hopeless his cause his friends still sustained him, and their numbers forbade any organized resistance to his authority.

Apparently the home government had deliberately condemned the authority assumed by Leisler, as we must infer from the fact that the former Lieutenant-Governor Nicholson had been invested with the high position of Governor of Virginia, and his friend, Colonel Sloughter. named as Governor of New York; but, in the instructions to the latter, he was enjoined to examine into the state of affairs at New York, and report the result to the home government.

Governor Sloughter set out from England with a squadron of ships of war and store ships, carrying a considerable number of soldiers for garrison duty. In the course of the voyage the vessels became separated, that of the governor going into one of the southern islands to refit, while that of his second officer, Major Ingoldsby, accompanied by two store ships, entered the bay of New York on the 25th January, 1671. Ingoldsby was at once surrounded by the impatient opponents of Leisler, and a concert of action was established between them. Being without authority to take upon himself the act of superseding the existing government he was embarrassed as to the course to be pursued, but it was decided to demand possession of the fort for his quarters and that of his soldiers.

This proceeding had been anticipated by Leisler and his council, who, after full deliberation, resolved to maintain their position until the delivery of formal orders for the relinquishment of their authority. Accordingly, when, on the 29th of January, the ships were brought in front of the fort, and a demand made for the opening of its gates to the forces of the king, an answer was returned, couched in friendly terms, setting forth the impropriety of the demand and the impossibility of complying therewith before the delivery of orders. Meanwhile quarters were offered in the city to the major and his forces. The latter, however, refused any accommodation, and proceeded to land his men with the same warlike movements as if in the face of an enemy. Proclamations were issued through the country by both leaders calling upon their respective friends to rally to their support. The adjoining colonies were traversed for recruits, and the whole country responded in accordance with their long-pent prejudices. But Leisler's friends greatly preponderated in numbers. It was estimated- that not less than nine hundred men were in arms on his side, a number which effectually destroyed all hope of the success of his opponents by force. Nothing remained, therefore, but to await the arrival of the governor, whose presence, it was conceded, would put an end to the dispute. Weeks passed, and at the middle of March no news had yet arrived of the missing vessel, so that it was on all sides feared that it was lost. Additional excitement was occasioned by this apprehension, and the anticipation of a conflict of arms as the only method of settlement became universal.


Website: The History
Article Name: Marriage of Jacob Milborne and Mary Leisler 1691 Part III
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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