William Bay


William Bay was born in October 1773. He was a son of the marriage of newcomer schoolteacher John Bay and innkeeper's daughter Hannah Williams. Shortly after the outbreak of hostilities in 1775, Bay moved his young family to Claverack where he would be known as a revolutionary stalwart and prominent attorney.

Like his father, this son of an upperclass family was sent to Princeton College to prepare him for professional life. However, in his senior year, William's health failed and he withdrew to New York City where he received medical care and also training under the tutelage of Dr. William Pitt Smith. He also studied at "Columbia Medical College," where he is said to have graduated in 1797. Following the death of his mentor in 1796, the chronically ill Bay returned to Claverack in 1797. Settling there, he began to practice medicine.

In November 1797, he married Catherine Van Ness at the Dutch church in Claverack. Perhaps, the marriage produced only one son who also became a physician. These Bays lived in a landmark Claverack home as William became a leading figure in the Columbia County medical community.

However, Bay's health continued to decline and he undertook a trip to the West Indies to improve his condition. The change in climate seemed beneficial as the cholera, consumption, and other ills that had plagued him previously were far less troublesome in the islands. His health restored, he was about to resume what would become a long and productive life.

By 1810, he had returned to Albany where he entered medical practice with Dr. William Mc Clelland. Following Mc Clelland's death in 1812, Bay carried on the practice from his residence/office at what became 65 North Pearl Street. Over a career that spanned sixty-eight years, he provided medical services to a large portion of the Albany community, trained medical students, and also served a large number of community-based civic organizations.

William Bay lost his wife in 1864. He died in September 1865 at the age of ninety-two. His will passed probate in November.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of William Bay has not been assigned a CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. The chief external resource for Bay is the sketch in Munsell's Annals, volume 9. A long obituary appears in volume three (p. 263) of Munsell's Collections. He also was eulogized on the occasion of his ninety-first birthday.

first posted: 10/5/11