De Peyster collection
The De Peyster collection is internationally important 18th century material collected around 1777 by Colonel Arent Schuyler De Peyster (1736-1822), while serving with the 8th Regiment of Foot, later retitled the King’s Regiment.
From 1768, during the 17 year-long garrison in the Great Lakes region of North America, De Peyster worked to gain the trust of the Indigenous North American Tribes including the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk); Ojibwe (Chippewa), Cherokee, Wyandot (Huron), Shawnee, and Oceti Sakowin Oyate (Sioux). These strong relationships, built over years, and his skill at making treaties, meant that during the Revolution, local Tribes did not trade or fight with the Americans. The collection includes objects gifted to him by Indigenous Tribes during treaty ceremonies. The importance of the collection lies in its extremely good condition and the very complete provenance available from military, diplomatic and personal records, including De Peyster’s memoirs.
The collection was purchased from Dumfries Observatory and accessioned by the King’s Regimental Museum in 1934; it has been on long-term loan to National Museums Liverpool as part of the King’s Regiment collection since 1958. They are some of the oldest objects in the collection and illustrate the relationship that developed between the British Army and the local tribes. They also show the importance of trust and ceremony in the diplomatic negotiations between both communities.
The majority of the items have been on display in the City Soldiers gallery since the Museum of Liverpool opened in 2011, visited by around 750,000 visitors a year. In addition to being a key part of the King’s Regiment display, the De Peyster Collection is of interest to researchers who visit from around the globe, and is well known in the United States of America and Canada.
Read more about the historical background to the collection below.