Angelica Schuyler Church is a fascinating personality with an interesting family history. She is the eldest daughter of Continental Army General Philip Schuyler and Catharine Van Rensselaer Schuyler. She was married to a British Member of Parliament [MP], John Barker Church. During the Revolutionary War, Church made a fortune supplying the American and French armies. How he was able to do this as a British MP is not clear. One would suspect that he was not very welcome in his home country. Angelica’s sister Elizabeth was married to Alexander Hamilton.
In 1777, at the age of 21 Angelica eloped with Church and married him. She was afraid her father would not approve of the marriage because of his suspicions about Church’s past. In 1783, she and her family, then consisting of the two parents and four children, left for Europe and did not return until 1797.
From 1783 to 1785, Barker Church was in the employ of the US government as a US envoy to the French government. While in France, Angelica developed friendships with Benjamin Franklin, who was then US Ambassador to France. After he was replaced by Thomas Jefferson as ambassador she also developed a friendship with him. In addition she became friends with the Marquis de Lafayette, an important French personality.
In 1785 the Church family made a visit to New York which required a major round trip before the development of steamship travel. Following their New York trip they moved to London where she was able to develop friendships with members of the royal family.
As the daughter of a famous Revolutionary War general, Angelica was invited to attend President Washington’s inauguration in 1789, requiring another long round trip across the Atlantic Ocean in a sailing ship.
The Church family moved back to the United States in 1797, and they were reunited with the other members in the Schuyler family in New York.
Church had provided substantial credits to the new United States during its struggle for independence. Unfortunately the country was unable to pay him back in monetary terms. In its place the United States paid him back with 100,000 acres of land in Western New York. The land was located in Genesee and Allegany counties, along the Genesee River. Church’s son Philip traveled to the area to see how useful and valuable the lands were.
At a special spot on the Genesee River, a town was laid out with designs reminiscent of Paris. Philip named the new town after his mother Angelica. The town named Angelica is still there until today. The layout is still as it was when designed by Philip Church.
Angelica Schuyler Church was born on February 20, 1756 and passed away on March 13, 1814 at the age of 58. She had led an interesting life.
Angelica is an important role model in the Hamilton musical play by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Renee Elise Goldsberry developed the role of Angelica in the off-Broadway and Broadway productions. Angelica is portrayed as witty and intelligent and is featured in the songs “Satisfied” and “The Schuyler Sisters”. At the time of this writing she is portrayed in the Broadway Musical “Hamilton” by Mandy Gonzalez.
Chernow, Ron, “Alexander Hamilton”, Penguin Press, 2004
Randall, William Sterne, “Alexander Hamilton: A Life”, Harpers-Collins, 2003
Roberts, Warren, “A Place in History: Albany in the Age of Revolution, 1775-1825”, Albany: NY State University Press, 2010
Wikipedia, especially for picture (Angelica Schuyler Church with her son Philip C. 1785)