Alexander L. Glen and Catherine Duncanson

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22 February 1997                                          C5604.1
                    Alexander L. Glen = Catharine Duncanson

Alexander Lindsay Glen was born ca. 1605, probably near Dysart in Fifeshire, Scotland. As early as 1633 he came to the Dutch colonies and was an employee of the West India Company at Fort Nassau on the South (Delaware) River. He appears in the Dutch records as Sander Leendertse Glen in conformance with their orthography. His proper middle name is subject to speculation. Perhaps his father's name was Leonard and this led to "Leendertse" as the corresponding patronymic. Dysart is in Clan Lindsay territory, but whether a clan name would be used as a middle name at that period is doubtful.

He returned to Europe and married Catalijn Donckes, as her name appears on the Dutch records, in the Oudekerk, Amsterdam, Holland, on 31 October 1638. His age is given as 32 years, occupation is noted as sailor. Her age is given as 18. Her proper name was Catharine Duncanson. She was the daughter of Rev. James Duncanson, the minister of the church at Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, and his wife Helen Livingstone. She was baptized in her father's church on 15 April 1621. Three of her sisters also married New Netherland settlers. (See Reference 8 for her parentage.)

According to Reference 7, however, they signed a contract dated 2 March 1639 in which her age is given as 20 years old, "van Alou in Schotland." This would indicate a birth near 1619: perhaps she was hiding her youthfulness in order to make a binding contract. His age is given as 34, place of origin "Duysert in Schotland." So this information agrees with that previously published.

On 26 March 1639 this couple were engaged by Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the patroon, as "vrye coloniers" (free colonists) at Amsterdam. On this record his age is again noted as 34, but now she is 24 years old! (Ref. 4) They sailed on the ship Den Harinck (the Herring) in the same year for the new world.

In 1646 he received a patent for a tract of land at New Amsterdam. He was then called "coopman" (an authorized trader) of Beverwyck.

On 11 March 1649 they acknowledged their signatures on contracts of 28 March 1639 and 23 February 1645, and stated that they sailed the two yachts of the patroon from 1641 for three years, "but not when they tapped liquor." Sander Leendertsz is credited with wine and beer furnished between 1644 and 1646, and charged with fl 32 a year from 1647 to 1652 for ground rent and the right to trade with Indians. On 2 August 1649 director van Slichtenhorst notified Sander Leendertsz and other skippers not to transport colonists to the Manhattans without his consent.

They returned to the Delaware where he again became an agent for the West India Company. He received a grant of land there and prepared to build in 1651, but was prevented by the violence of the Swedes.

In 1658 he built a mansion of stone on the north bank of the beautiful Mohawk River under the title and protection of the Mohawks. He obtained a patent for this site and some adjacent uplands and small islands, and all the flats contiguous in 1665. This estate he termed Scotia in honor of his native soil.

In 1662 he joined with fourteen others to purchase the site of the town of Schenectady from the Indians. He was the third of the fifteen named proprietors. He and his near descendants were intimately involved in the destiny of early Schenectady.

In 1664 he also owned lands, houses, and cattle at Graves End, Long Island. He owned real estate in divers parts of Beverwyck, and -- as appears from records and traditions -- was a large owner of lands, a considerable trader with the Indians, an extensive agriculturist, and the owner of many negro slaves.

As tradition informs us, Mr. Glen was reputed to be a gentleman of solid wealth and educated in the schools of Scotland to an extent beyond the existing advantages of this country. (However, according to Reference 8, he signed his marriage intention by mark.) He was of a commanding physique and high-strung temperament, but full of benevolent zeal for the progress of all Christian churches. So far as can be learned, he was reared in the rigid tenets of John Knox. But in 1682 he had built a frame building of respectable dimensions for the use of the Dutch Reformed congregation. In 1684 Rev. Petrus Taschemaker, a graduate of the University of Utrecht, was installed as its pastor. This church was burned by the French and Indians on 8 February 1690 when all of Schenectady was burned except for the house of John Alexander Glen. Orders had been given that Taschemaker's life should be spared on account of the information they could obtain from him. But his house was not known and he was killed and his house and papers burned before he could be recognized.

Catalyn Glen died at their country estate Scotia on 12 August 1684, and was buried under the newly erected church, just in front of the pulpit. He died on 13 November 1685 and was buried beside her. This church was burned on 8 February 1690. Another church was built on the same site in 1702 without disturbing the remains. This was dismantled in 1733. Thereafter this site was not used until the summer of 1848 when some large cisterns were to be built there. A descendant watched the excavation carefully and rescued the bones of his ancestors. These relics were well preserved. The next day they were reburied in the Scotia family cemetery amid a long line of descendants. The site of their original burial was under the old church at the junction of Church, State, Water Streets, and Mill Lane, in the only public square in Schenectady.

Mr. Glen's village lot in Schenectady was 200 feet fronting on the west side of what is now Washington Avenue, running down with equal breadth to the strand on the main Binnekill. His farm apportionment embraced the flats and the adjacent islands on the north side of the Mohawk River.

Alexander Lindsay Glen and his wife Catalyn Duncanson had three sons and no daughters:

Jacob Alexander
born 1645, died 2 October 1685, lived in Albany, and left issue
born 1647, died cat 1695, Married Anna Wemp, daughter of Jan Barentse Wemp (or Wemple), but left no issue.
John Alexander
born 5 November 1648, died 6 November 1731, married firstly Anna Peek, secondly Deborah Wendell. Descent through the first wife is continued.


1. A Centennial Address Relating to the Early History of Schenectady, John Sanders, Albany, 1879, pp 27-33
2. A History of the Schenectady Patent, Jonathan Pearson,
3. "The Schenectady Massacre of 1690, with some Comments on the Glen Family," Dutch Settlers of Albany Yearbook 1954-1956, Edwin R. van Kleeck
4. "Random Notes Concerning Settlers of Dutch Descent," William J. Hoffman, The American Genealogist, Vol. 29, No. 2 (April 1953), p. 75
5. The Massacre, John J. Vrooman, 1954, historical novel
6. Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts, A. J. F. van Laer, editor, 1908, page 821
7. "Utrecht Farmers in New Netherland," John H. van Schaick, NYG&BS Record, Vol. 127, No. 2 (April 1996), page 98
8. "The Duncanson Wives of Four New Netherland Settlers," Gordon L. Remington, NYG&BS Record, Vol. 128, No. 1 (January 1997), pages 1 - 10

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