Posted by: Jim Bell | February 26, 2011

Arent Schuyler DePeyster

DePEYSTER, ARENT SCHUYLER, army officer; b. 27 June 1736 in New York City, son of Pierre Guillaume DePeyster and Cornelia (Catherine?) Schuyler; cousin of Abraham De Peyster*; d. 26 Nov. 1822 near Dumfries, Scotland.

The second son of a prominent New York family, Arent Schuyler DePeyster was connected with the colonial aristocracy through both his father and his mother. At the age of 15 he sailed for London to further his education. Military life soon attracted him and on 13 April 1755 he obtained an ensign’s commission in Major-General William Shirley’s 50th Foot. On 10 June he was appointed lieutenant in Sir William Pepperrell’s 51st Foot.


In 1795, when a French invasion appeared possible, the locals formed a volunteer unit called the Dumfries Volunteers, and DePeyster became its major commandant. One of his men was the poet Robert Burns, who penned “The Dumfries Volunteers” and an “Epistle to Colonel DePeyster.” Sharing an interest in poetry, DePeyster and Burns were kindred spirits. However, their association was short since Burns died in July 1796.

During the following years DePeyster enjoyed his retirement, spending his time training the militia, corresponding with old friends, and worrying about the slowness of the government in paying some of his bills from 20 years before. Disturbed by the events of the Napoleonic Wars, he drafted many poems which, together with others from his period in the western posts, he finally published in 1813 under the title Miscellanies, by an officer. His health remained good in his old age, and he loved to play billiards and ride his large horse. When he died on 26 Nov. 1822 he was buried with full military honours in St Michael’s churchyard, only a short distance from the grave of his friend Burns. His lifelong companion, Rebecca, died on 20 Feb. 1827.

The above is an extract from the Dictionary of Canadian  Biography. Colonel DePeyster lived at Mavis Grove (now called Laghall) in the Parish of Troqueer. For the whole article go to:


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