De Peyster, Arent Schuyler

views updated

De Peyster, Arent Schuyler

DE PEYSTER, ARENT SCHUYLER. (1736–1832). Loyalist officer. New York. Born to a powerful family on 27 June 1736 in New York City, De Peyster went to England in 1751. He enlisted on 13 April 1755 with an ensign's commission in Major General William Shirley's Fiftieth Foot, becoming a lieutenant in Sir William Pepperrell's Fifty-first Foot on 10 June. During the Seven Years' War he served under his uncle, Peter Schuyler (1710–1762), along the northern frontier, being taken prisoner at Oswego on 14 August 1756. Exchanged the following year, he transferred to the Eighth Foot and saw duty in Germany. Promoted to captain, De Peyster was stationed in Montreal from 1768 until 1774, when he was made commandant of Michilimackinac. There he played a key role in negotiating a peace between the Sioux and Ojibwas.

With the start of the Revolution, De Peyster successfully won the support of several Indian nations, sending volunteers to serve with Generals Guy Carleton and John Burgoyne. He was promoted to major on 6 May 1777. In 1779 he was put in command at Detroit, where he again won many Indians over to the British side and organized attacks on the Kentucky settlements. In 1783 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the Eighth Foot and given command at Niagara. In 1785 he returned to England as commander at Plymouth. In 1793 he sold his commission and retired to Dumfries, Scotland, where in 1795 he commanded the Dumfries Volunteers. An original member of his command was Robert Burns, who wrote a poem titled Epistle to Colonel De Peyster. The following year De Peyster again retired, devoting himself to poetry. He died in Dumfries on 26 November 1832. He was an uncle of Abraham De Peyster.

SEE ALSO De Peyster, Abraham.

                            revised by Michael Bellesiles