John James Abbott
Well-known in Albany as John James Abbott, this individual was born about 1726. Naturalized in 1765, he appears to have been of Germanic origins. His name has been encountered under a number of spellings. However, we seek more specific information on his background and path to Albany.
In 1762, he received a provincial license to marry one Mary Catherine Loman (aka Saunse) - beginning an Albany union that would last for more than forty years. Only their son was christened in the Albany Dutch church in 1767. However, his family seems to have been much larger.
In 1766, he was among those granted a lot on which to erect a German Reformed church. These Albany men were a core of the emerging German-speaking enclave and mostly were identified as living near the waterfront. In 1774, he was one of those petitioning the provincial government for reimbursement for building the "German church" in Albany.
By the mid-1760s, he was an Albany householder - apparently living in the third ward. He seems to have practiced the watchmaker's trade. In 1771, he was paid by the Albany government for repairing the "city clock." By mid-decade, he had been given the contract to care for the clock. He was one of the first watchmakers to live in colonial Albany.In 1772, he had been granted a lot along Foxes Creek. In 1779, his (Ebbet) house in the first ward (probably near the waterfront) was valued moderately while his more liquid assets were assessed at a rate comparable to that accorded the more recently arrived. At the same time, his lot (probably along Foxes Creek) was assessed modestly.
Abbott supported the crusade for American liberties and was among those who signed the General Association in 1776. Afterwards, he was granted a bounty right as a member of the First Regiment of the Albany County Militia. Too old for active service, he was exempted in 1778. He contributed to the war effort and continued to care for the city clock.
Certainly by 1790, he had set up his home and shop in the waterfront area of the first ward. He later lived on Maiden Lane, Dock Street, Market Street. In 1800, his third ward household included nine people.
John James Abbott lost his wife in August 1809. He died in July 1810 and was buried in the Episcopal plot. Later, his stone was relocated to Albany Rural Cemetery. "Albany's first watchmaker" had lived eighty-four years.
Sources: The life of John James Abbott/Ebbett is CAP biography number 6354. This profile is derived chiefly from community-based resources. He may have been the "Gams Abbet" listed on the roster of John Winne's militia company in 1767 which included a number of German émigrés to Albany. He should not be confused with his contemporary John Abbott of Halfmoon and/or Hoosick!
first posted 7/20/02; last revised 9/11/17