Genealogy and Biography of the Jay Family
By Timothy Alden, published in 1814

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From the book : A collection of American Epitaphs and Inscriptions with occasional notes, pentade 1, volume 5. By Rev. Timothy Alden. S. Marks Printer, New York, 1814; article 1069, p. 246-250.

Headings added to the original text

The following notice of the illustrious John Jay, LL. D. and of his ancestry, the author of this Collection has been enabled, with the assistance of a friendly reply to certain queries, made by a distinguished member of the family, to give to his respected patrons.

First Generation : Pierre Jay

Pierre Jay was a wealthy merchant of La Rochelle in France. During the persecution of the protestants, which followed the revocation of the edict of Nantz, a party of dragoons was quartered upon him, and he found it necessary to abandon either his country or his religion. He determined on the former, and, taking with him two sons and a daughter, fled privately to England. Of all his property he only took with him the ship, in which he escaped, and its cargo which was iron. He settled at Bristol, where his daughter married, and where he continued to his death, which happened long after.

One of the sons, who accompanied him into exile, died, during the voyage. The other entered one of the regiments of French volunteers, who served under count Schomberg and, at the battle of the Boyne, received a great number of wounds, of which he long languished and finally died.

Second Generation : Augustus Jay

There still remained a third son, named Augustus, who fortunately had been educated in England and who, at the time when his father had fled from France, was absent on a trading voyage. Upon his return, being made acquainted with the ruin of his family, he determined to seek his fortune in America, and, accordingly, went to South Carolina, where many of his countrymen were then establishing themselves. Disliking the climate he travelled northward, and, at length, settled at Aesopus on the river, Hudson, where, for some years, he carried on trade in partnership, with mr. L'Hommedieu, ancestor fo the late hon. Ezra L'Hommedieu, one of the senators of New York. From Aesopus he removed to New York, in 1697, married Anne Marie Bayard, daughter of Balthazar Bayard and great niece of governour Stuyvesant. Three daughter and a son survived him;

1. Judith, who married Cornelius Van Horn;
2. Marie, who married Peter Vallette;
3. Frances, who married Frederick Van Cortlandt;
4. Peter, who married Mary Van Cortlandt, the sister of Frederick.

Augustus Jay and his wife both lived to a great age. He was born at La Rochelle on the 13 of March, 1665, and died, at New York, in 1750. He was remarkable for his piety, vivacity, and good sense; and his memory has been cherished with great veneration by his descendants.

Third Generation : Peter Jay

His son, Peter, was also a merchant. He had five sons and two daughters, Augustus, James, Peter, John and Frederick; Eve, who married the rev. Harry Munro, and Ann, who died unmarried. He was a man of fervent piety united to strong sense, great knowledge of mankind, a cheerful disposition, and elegant manners. He was, however, unambitious and steadily refused to meddle in political disputes until the rights of his countrymen were invaded by the British parliament. These he zealously defended, but his age and infirmities had then unfitted him for publick stations. About the year, 1746, he withdrew from business and removed to Rye. From this place he was driven, in the beginning of the revolutionary war, by the approach of the British army, and, after spending some years at Fishkill and at Poughkeepsie, died, at the latter place, in 1782.

Fourth Generation : John Jay

His son, John Jay, the principal subject of this article, was born, on the 12 Dec. 1745, in the city of New York. He was instructed in the first rudiments of literature by his mother, and was then sent to board with the rev. Mr. Stoep, pastor of the French church at New Rochelle, with whom he continued till he was eight years old. He was afterwards taught at home by a private tutor and, when he was fourteen years old, was sent to King's college, then lately founded in the city of New York. After taking a degree at that place, he studied law with mr. Kissam and, about the year, 1767, began to practice it. In 1774, he married Sarah, daughter fo William Livingston, esq. afterwards gov. of New Jersey (see art. 1084).

In the disputes, which had arisen between Great Britain and her American colonies, he had sided with the latter and he was elected a member of the first congress. From that time his history is well known.

It may however, be proper to add, that he was a member of the convention, which framed the constitution of the state of New York and that that instrument was draughted by him. He was afterwards chief justice of the state of New York; president of congress; minister at the court of Madrid; one of the commissioners, who signed the treaty of peace with Great Britain, in 1783, in the making of which he had a principal share. The firm and decided part, which he and mr. Adams acted on that memorable occasion, greatly to the honour and benefit of their country, needs no comment in this place. He was also secretary of foreign affairs; chief justice of the United States; and governour of the state of New York. In one or other of these offices he was occupied till the year, 1801, when declining a re-election to the office of governour, as well as a re-appointment to that of chief justice, he retired to private life, and has since resided on a patrimonial farm, at Bedford, in the county of Westchester.

The children of mr. Jay, still living, are Peter Augustus Jay, esq. William Jay, mrs. Maria Banyer, widow of the late Goldsborough Banyer, jun. esq. Ann Jay, and Sarah Louisa Jay.






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