I, Peter Jay, did not have any ancestors of British origin. My grandfather, Pierre, came, in fact, to Britain as one of the French Huguenots fleeing from persecution. Then my father, Auguste Jay, migrated to America, moving from South Caroline, to Philadelphia, until he finally settled in New York. My father anglicized his name to Augustus, and began working as a shipboard junior merchant for Frederick Philipse, the richest man in New York then. In 1679 Augustus married Anna Maria Bayard. I was born in New York City in 1704. I worked as a merchant with my father. A few years later I met a girl named Mary Van Cortlandt, who I married in 1728 in the Dutch Church. Interestingly, my father-in-law, Jacobus Van Cortlandt, married Eva Phillipse, the daughter of the man my father worked for!
My wife and I had quite a large family. John Jay was our eighth child. Unfortunately… many of my children had problems. Eve was a little crazy, prone to many fits of hysterics. My son, Augustus, was extremely slow and lazy. I tried to send him away to study with the Reverend Samuel Johnson, but after only two years, Johnson sent him back, saying he could not work with him and his “bird-witted humor.” And to top it off, my son and daughter, Peter and Anna, were blinded by smallpox. Because of these problems, we decided to move to the country in Rye, Westchester County, the birthplace of John Jay. [<– click to go on]