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Johannes Lydius

LYDIUS, Johannes, clergyman, born in Holland; died in Schenectady, New York, 1 March, 1709. He had held the pastorate of a Reformed church in Antwerp, Belgium, but came to this country in 1700, and was settled at Albany. He also labored in Schenectady after 1705, and from 1702 till his death did missionary work among the Indians. Robert Livingston, the Indian agent, had promised the Mohawks in 1700 that he would engage Lydius to learn their language and preach the gospel to them, and that he hoped soon to have the Bible translated for their benefit. In 1702 the "praying Indians" represented to the agent that Lydius "had exhorted them to live as Christians," and that his teachings had so wrought on their spirits that " they were all now united and friends." They returned hearty thanks for the pains that he had taken with them, which they acknowledged with a belt of wampum, and when Lydius died they presented four beaver-skins to the agent as an expression of condolence. Lydius ministered among the tribes of the Five Nations, and received from the governor and council suitable compensation for his services. About thirty Indian communicants were connected with his church when Lydius died. The latter is represented by Thomas Barclay, his contemporary, and a clergyman of the Church of England, as "a good, pious man," who "lived in entire friendship" with him, and " sent his own children to be catechized."--His son, John Henry, Indian trader, born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1693; died near London, England, in 1791, became an Indian trader in the province of New York, and understood several native dialects, among them Cherokee, Choctaw, and Catawba, besides speaking Dutch, French, and English fluently. He was a counsellor of Sir William Johnson, and for several years governor at Fort Edward. An English writer is responsible for the statement that the Lydius family were possessed of considerable landed property in the province under an original grant from James I., and that the Indians, grateful for the services of the father as a missionary, added to these domains a large tract of country in central New York. Lydius is said to have gone to England in 1776 to solicit arrears for services that he had rendered the government and money that he had expended, and to visit Holland. Before leaving New York he gave homesteads to many families, and urged his children to pursue the same policy. He never returned to this country, but resided in Kensington, London, until his death.

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