Points of Interest: “The Oldest and the Wittiest” - Angelica Schuyler Church
Born into a prominent Dutch American family, Angelica Schuyler and her sisters have been called the “Kardashians of the 1780s” due to the prominent social circles they ran in. A socialite with vast connections, most famously as the sister of Eliza Hamilton and sister-in-law of Alexander Hamilton, Angelica’s story is woven into the fabric of New York and immortalized in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton.
Angelica eloped with merchant John Barker Church in 1777 because she feared her father, Revolutionary War hero Philip Schuyler, would disapprove of their marriage due to Church’s debts and questionable past. In 1782, the Church family left America for Europe.
While in Europe, Angelica became friends with noteworthy celebrities of the day, such as the British royal family, Benjamin Franklin, Marquis de Lafayette, and Thomas Jefferson. Her husband’s political appointments in France and England — including as a member of Parliament — opened doors for her, but it was her reputation as a witty, generous person who was passionate about political affairs that cemented her friendships. The Church family returned to America in 1799.
Angelica’s relationship with Alexander Hamilton was very friendly, even flirty, leading some to believe the two had an affair, although that is unconfirmed. 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.
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.
The graves of Angelica, Eliza, and Alexander are in the Trinity churchyard, while John is buried in England at Westminster St. James.
Angelica’s final resting place is the Livingston Family Vault, near the western perimeter of Trinity’s north churchyard. Her maternal grandmother was a Livingston.