If your first introduction to the children of Gen. Philip and Catharine Schuyler is "Hamilton: An American Musical", then you'll be forgiven if you believe that there were only three Schuyler sisters. Angelica Schuyler Church (1756–1814), Elizabeth, or Eliza, Schuyler Hamilton (1757–1854), and Margarita, or Peggy, Schuyler Van Rensselaer (1758–1801) are the three oldest of the Schuyler siblings, the three sisters who were probably closest, and, doubtless for the sake of dramatic clarity, the only three who are mentioned in the play.
In reality, however, Catharine Van Rensselaer Schuyler gave birth to fifteen (!) children in the course of her long marriage to Philip Schuyler. Of these, seven died either at birth or before their first birthdays, including sets of twins and triplets. There were three surviving sons: John Bradstreet Schuyler (1765–1795), Philip Jeremiah Schuyler (1768–1835), and Rensselaer Schuyler (1773–1847) - so you can forget the theatrical Angelica's lament about how her father had no sons, too.
But there were also two more Schuyler sisters. Cornelia Schuyler Morton (1776–1808) was born on the eve of the American Revolution. Cornelia was considered beautiful and witty, much like her oldest sister Angelica. She's shown, above left, in her portrait by Thomas Sully.
Also much like Angelica, Cornelia fell in love with a man that failed to impress Gen. Schuyler. Cornelia first met George Washington Morton, a young Princeton-educated lawyer from a prosperous NJ family, at the home of Eliza and Alexander in 1796. Although Washington did ask Cornelia's father for her hand, he was denied, and curtly shown the door. Soon afterwards, the young couple eloped. Tradition says Cornelia jumped into Washington's arms from her second-floor bedroom window, fleeing with nothing but the clothes on her back. Regardless of this dramatic beginning, the Mortons were happily married, with five children. Unfortunately both parents died young: Cornelia in 1808, and her husband in 1810.
Catharine Schuyler Malcom Cochrane (1781–1857), above right as a teenager, shared the same birthday (February 20) with her oldest sister Angelica, but more than a generation separated them in age. Twenty-five years younger, Catharine, or Caty, was truly the baby of the family, and a particular favorite of her aging father. She often visited with her grown, married sisters Angelica and Eliza, whose own children were Caty's contemporaries. (In I, ELIZA HAMILTON, Caty is the baby born soon after the army's winter encampment in New Jersey where Eliza and Alexander fall in love, and become engaged.)
Caty married twice. Her first husband, Samuel Bayard Malcolm, was from a prominent New York merchant family with Scottish roots, loyal supporters of Alexander Hamilton's Federalist party. After Samuel's death in 1817, Caty married her cousin James Cochran, the son of John Cochran and Gertrude Schuyler Cochran, Philip Schuyler's sister (and who are all mentioned in I, ELIZA HAMILTON, too.) Both Caty and James lived into their late seventies.
The portraits of the sisters, above, courtesy of the Schuyler Mansion, Albany, NY. Many thanks to the Mansion's staff for their assistance with this post.
Read more about Eliza Schuyler, her family, and Alexander Hamilton in my latest historical novel, I, Eliza Hamilton, now available everywhere.