Early Colonial History of Estate
The colonial history of the estate, Hyde Park and Dutchess County begins around 1683. Prior to this time, the entire area was only sparsely populated. There were several Native American tribes, including the Wappingers. However, most had already disappeared, absorbed by the more powerful Iroqouis nations to the north, before white men came to the area. Although little is known about them, the names they gave to areas of the valley such as Poughkeepsie, Wappingers and Minnewaska survive.
In the late 1600's, the colonial government of New York tried to encourage settlement of the valley between Albany and New York City by granting 'patents' or large tracts of land to individuals in exchange for guarantees that they would establish settlements on it. One of the largest patents was the Great Nine Partners Patent, which contained nearly half of what is now Dutchess County. The land stretched from the Hudson River, east to the Connecticut border. To the north was a smaller patent, bordering the river and belonging to Henry Pawling. When he died in 1695, it was discovered that his patent actually contained much more than the 4,000 acres which he had been granted.
A new survey of the land was done and an additional 6,000 acres was mapped. In 1704, a group of 4 men petitioned Sir Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury and Governor of New York for the extra land. This group, including Peter Fauconnier, was granted the patent in 1705. This land extended from the Hudson River, east to the Crum Elbow Creek and includes much of what is today the town of Hyde Park. The 4 partners divided up the area into lots. Peter Fauconnier became owner of a valuable stretch of river-front property which would later be known as the Vanderbilt Estate.
Not much is known about the first owner of the estate. Peter Fauconnier was a Huguenot who, like many others, fled France in 1685 after the Edict of Nantes was revoked. He served in various positions in the court of Queen Anne and was appointed Secretary to Lord Cornbury in 1702. No physical changes were made to the land during this time. However, it appears that Fauconnier was the first one to name the area 'Hyde Park', probably in honor of Cornbury, Sir Edward Hyde. When Fauconnier died in 1746, his patent was inherited by his daughter, Magdalene Fauconnier Valleau.