Isaac Swinton


Isaac Swinton was the first recorder (or deputy mayor) appointed under the original Albany city charter in July 1686. However, he died unexpectedly in July 1687 and the sole reference to him actually being in Albany on September 14, 1686 may be in error. By October 1686, he had been replaced as recorder by Albany insider Dirck Wesselse. This sketch compiles available information on this original city father.

Perhaps, he was born about 1653 and thus would have been the youngest son of John and Lady Margaret Stewart Swinton/Sinton of Ireland. If so, his wife was Elinor. Perhaps, the couple had two sons. We surmise that he was an officer or officer holder under proprietary and royal governor Thomas Dongan and seek more definitive information on Isaac's origins and path to colonial New York.

In December 1682 and in April 1683, Isaac Swinton was among those who witnessed wills in New Jersey.

In October 1685, he was among those who had petitioned for land at Flushing, Long Island. Early in 1686, he was among those identified as a patentee of the Queens town of Newtown.

In December 1685, he was appointed provincial clerk of the chancery. In November 1686, he was identified as clerk of the provincial council and was sworn to secrecy. A singular biographical notice styled him "Deputy Secretary of the Province . . . and clerk of the Chancery."

On July 7, 1687, the provincial council minutes revealed that Swinton was deceased and that he was to be replaced in his various clerkships.

Isaac Swinton died in July 1687. On July 16, provincial Attorney General James Graham notified the colonial office of his passing. As he apparently left no will, in October 1687, his principal creditor, William Nicoll, was appointed administrator of his estate.

This provincial placeholder was in New York for less than a decade. Perhaps Governor Dongan appointed him to the recorder's office to be his representative in Albany. His early death put an end to such possibilities. Swinton Street in today's Arbor Hill probably is named in his honor - although few living today would know why!

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Isaac Swinton has no CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. Online: The Dongan Papers detail his duties under the governor.

Graham to Spragg: ". . . also to acquaint you that Mr. Swinton departed this life the 3rd current, after that he had been violently seized with three fitts of apoplexie. In the intervall of his fitts he was very sensible but with apprehensions of death, however was prevailed with to make a will, by which has constituted Mr. Delaval his executor, his affairs are in great confusion and he judged to be indebted £300. besides what his engagements may be to you, his Excell: being at Albany, The Councill sealed up the Office in which state it now remains and will continue until His Excells. pleasure be knowen. Mr. Knights in the mean time does the service of the Office" (NYCD vol 3:426), online image.

first posted 8/20/13; updated 1/8/14