Skip to main content Skip to main navigation

Peter Curtenius papers

Call Number

MS 142


1748-1844 (bulk, 1809-1814), inclusive


Curtenius, Peter, -1817


0.65 Linear feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials

The documents in this collection are in English.


Peter Curtenius served as the United States Marshal of the District of New York during the War of 1812. The collection primarily relates to his duties as Marshal, though there are also deeds and other documents pertaining to the Curtenius family's real estate holdings.

Biographical note

Peter Curtenius was born in New York City to Peter Theobaldus Curtenius (1734-1796) and Catharine Goelet (d. 1806). Peter T. Curtenius, a merchant by trade, served as a member of the New York Committee of Correspondence and later as a Lieutenant-Colonel of the Militia of the City of New York and as Commissary General, in charge of purchasing provisions for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He also held the position of New York State Auditor from 1782 to 1796. The family had six children: Peter, Philip (a merchant who died in 1802), Mary, Elizabeth, Jane (who married Elbert Roosevelt), and Catharine (who married Reverend John Dunlap).

Peter Curtenius was appointed Marshal of the District of New York by Thomas Jefferson in 1806. He served in this post until about the end of the War of 1812. During his tenure as Marshal, Curtenius maintained registers of the approximately 1,500 British citizens living in New York. Curtenius also monitored British prisoners of war and oversaw the U.S. District Court, District of New York. He had a wife, Mary Ann, and their son Frederick fought in South America against Spanish rule in the 1820s.

Peter Curtenius died in New York City in 1817.


The collection is organized in four series by topic or form:

Series I. Correspondence
Series II. Financial Documents
Series III. Prisoner and Alien Files
Series IV. Family Real Estate

Papers within each folder are arranged chronologically. The first three series relate to Peter Curtenius's work as U.S. Marshal for the District of New York. In the fourth series are personal papers related to his family's real estate holdings.

Scope and Contents

The materials in the first three series of the Peter Curtenius Papers relate to Curtenius's role as U.S. Marshal of the District of New York before and during the War of 1812. The papers consist mainly of correspondence between Curtenius and various government agencies, financial documents related to expenses generated by the Marshal's Office, and papers related to civilian prisoners of the U.S. District Court, District of New York and British prisoners of war. Some of the papers in these series were generated during the tenure of John Smith, Curtenius's successor as Marshal of the District of New York.

The fourth series consists of personal papers related to the Curtenius family's real estate holdings. It contains releases, deeds, grants, indentures, surveys, and other documents related to the family's land transactions and the transactions of their relatives and/or business partners.

Presidential signatures are found in:

Box 1, Folder 3: Department of State Correspondence (multiple letters written by James Monroe)
Box 3, Folder 4: Land Grants and Patents (Martin Van Buren's signature)
Box 3, Folder 4: Land Grants and Patents (John Tyler's signature)

Conditions Governing Access

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Conditions Governing Use

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit:

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the Peter Curtenius Papers, MS 142, The New-York Historical Society.

Location of Materials

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Related Materials

Researchers interested in the War of 1812 may also wish to consult the Tontine Coffee-House Records (MS 631). For materials related to Curtenius's work as a U.S. Marshal, including registers of British citizens living in New York, researchers may consult: BV New York State Marshal's Office. Both collections are at this repository.

Collection processed by

Rachel Schimke

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 15:47:12 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Description is written in: English, Latin script.


New-York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024