Portrait of Angelica Schuyler Church

Angelica Schuyler Church and Trinity

Angelica Schuyler Church, whose final resting place is in the Trinity Churchyard, was a well-connected woman on two continents.

She became a famous name this century as a Schuyler sister in the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” but even in her own time Angelica had achieved a level of celebrity that would put an Instagram influencer to shame. In addition to having Alexander Hamilton as a brother-in-law, she had a famous father (Revolutionary War General Philip Schuyler), and even more famous friends (like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and the Marquis de Lafayette). She even had a town named after her.

Schuyler Family Mansion near Albany, NY.
Angelica Schuyler Church grew up in the Schuyler family home near Albany, New York.

Born near Albany in 1756, Angelica and her 14 siblings, including the future Eliza Hamilton, came from wealth, both from Philip Schuyler’s side of the family and from Catherine Van Rensselaer, Angelica’s mother. Philip Schuyler also enslaved an estimated two dozen persons, a fact that led to the removal of a statue honoring him in front of City Hall in Albany in June 2023. According to recent research at the Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, Angelica and her husband were also enslavers.

Baptism records for Angelica Hamilton from October 1788
Angelica Schuyler Church served as sponsor for her niece and namesake. The child was baptized at Trinity Church Wall Street in October 1788.

While her sister, Eliza Hamilton maintained a strong connection to Trinity Church, regularly bringing her children to Sunday services, not much is recorded about Angelica’s participation in parish life.  The one exception: Angelica was a baptism sponsor for her niece, Alexander and Eliza’s second child and eldest daughter Angelica, who was born in 1784.

Angelica lived overseas for almost two decades after eloping with John Barker Church. In Europe, Angelica became friends with noteworthy celebrities of the day, such as the British royal family, Franklin, Jefferson, and Lafayette. Her husband’s political appointments in France and England opened doors for her, but it was her reputation as a witty, generous person who was passionate about political affairs that cemented her friendships.

Angelica’s relationship with Alexander Hamilton was very friendly, even flirty. In a letter to Eliza, Angelica once wrote, “your Husband, for I love him very much and if you were as generous as the old Romans, you would lend him to me for a little while.” This line is interpreted by most historians as a joke between sisters. Their closeness is documented in dozens of letters between the two of them as well.

Angelica Schuyler Church marker in Trinity churchyard
Angelica Schuyler Church (1756-1814)

Sadly, it was Angelica’s husband’s pistols that killed both her nephew Philip Hamilton and her brother-in-law Alexander Hamilton in ill-fated duels— John Barker Church had provided his own firearms not only to Philip and Alexander, but also to George Eacker and Aaron Burr. After Alexander Hamilton died on July 12, 1804, his body was taken to the home of Angelica and her husband until Hamilton's funeral procession through New York to Trinity Church on July 14.

The graves of Alexander and Eliza Hamilton in the Trinity Churchyard are visited by thousands each year. Angelica’s exact final resting place is unknown, but a marker for her stands at the Livingston Family vault, near the western perimeter of Trinity’s north churchyard. Her maternal grandmother was a Livingston.

Park Bench in Angelica, NY
The town of Angelica, named after Angelica Schuyler Church, is in southwestern New York.

Now, how about that town named after Angelica? 

When her family purchased a 100,000-acre tract of land in western New York, Angelica’s son Philip chose a site along the Genesee River to build a town and named it Angelica after his mother. The town of Angelica still exists in Alleghany County.

There is a measure of irony in the fact that the city named after the woman whom Lin Manuel Miranda dubbed “the oldest and the wittiest,” a woman who could be legitimately called a socialite in New York, London, and Paris, was and is far away from big city life. The population of Angelica, NY in 2020 was 723.

This article is based on an earlier story by Jewel Tauzin in August 2021.

Changemakers in the Churchyard

Angelica Schuyler Church is one of many changemakers buried in the Trinity Churchyard. We remember their lives of service because of the impact they had on those around them in their time. Today, there are also many opportunities to get involved and make the world better. Here are a few ways to volunteer, get involved, and learn through our Trinity community. You can also subscribe for weekly updates.

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