Silvester Tiffany


Printer and publisher Silvester Tiffany was a resident of Albany during the late 1780s and early 1790s.

He was born in August 1759. He was the eldest son of Gideon and Sarah Dean Farrar Tiffany of Norton, Massachusetts. He grew up in a large family perhaps in the home of a physician and Patriot. These Tiffany's seemed to have moved to New Hampshire where younger siblings were born.

Just past his sixteenth birthday, Sylvester entered Dartmouth College in 1775 but left after two years. He then seems to have taken up the printing trade and the calling of the journalist. We seek information on this young Yankee's wartime activities and path to Albany.

In 1788, he was a boarder in a second ward home. His kinsman, Oliver Tiffany, lived there as well. In 1790, he was the head of a Pearl Street household that included seven family members and a slave. Also appearing on the census for the first ward was the household of Ezekiel Tiffany.

He was a printer and publisher. In 1793, he had an office at "Spencer's Book Store" in Albany. About that time, he also was the partner of William W. Wands.

During the 1790s, he published newspapers in Lansingburgh where he also had a book store.

His first wife was Frances Davis Hopkins. Their daughter was christened in Albany in 1797. That couple also had at least a son named George Sylvester Tiffany who later lived in Central New York. His second wife was Elizabeth Ralston - the mother of five Tiffany children.

After other not successful publishing enterprises in the Troy area, by the end of 1795, Tiffany moved his family west joining his younger brothers in Upper Canada where they were printers as well. Silvester Tiffany was able to secure land grants and the appointment as "the king's printer" (or at least an assistant). He died in Canandaigua, New York in March 1811.


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Silvester Tiffany has not been assigned a CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. It is presented here because its subject was an Albany householder in 1790. We seek defining demographic information. The essential source for his life beyond Albany is a biographical article published in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. That profile may have been informed by The Tiffany's of America: A History and Genealogy . . . , by Nelson Otis Tiffany (date unknown), which had not been adapted to the Internet in May 2016.

first posted: 8/5/07; last updated 5/23/16