William De Witt


William De Witt was an Albany resident during the late 1770s and 1780s. The existence of several same-named contemporaries (in a number of other states as well) dictates caution in the assignment of information on his origins and other social attributes. He most likely was one of those 18th century William De Witts born and raised in Ulster County. Perhaps his father was Andries De Witt of Rochester, Ulster County. Based on subsequent information, he would have been born prior to 1738.

Mindful that a number of same-named individuals would be at risk, William De Witt, a cordwainer, a was made a freeman of New York City in October 1765.

This individual's wife probably was Hester Dykman who he married at the Dutch church in New York in May 1770. Their son, William, was baptized at the New York City Presbyterian church in April 1773. Two children were christened by them at the Albany Dutch church in 1779 and 1781.

Without established origins for now, we do know that he was known in Albany by the late 1770s.

We seek definitive information on his wartime service. In November 1778, he was among those, fifty years old and older, who was exempted from military service in Albany. Afterwards, his name appeared on a list of those men who qualified for a land bounty right in conjunction with the Albany militia regiment.

In 1779, his house and holdings in the third ward were assessed substantially.

In June 1781, he informed the Albany Commissioners that he had been taken prisoner on the Kinderhook road while on his way to Albany from Philadelphia. He was questioned by his captor and then released. Later, he reported to the Board on a number of matters.

In 1781, he was appointed chimney viewer for the second ward.

In February 1783, The New-York Gazetteer newspaper advertized that William De Witt had ". . . re-opened business near Gen. Ten Broeck's, Goods, Suitable for all Seasons: Broadcloths, silk, cotton and linen, Cutlery Ware: knives and forks, knitting needles, etc. Stationary: ledgers, spelling books, etc. Articles sold for cash, ship timber, planks, boards, shingles, clap-boards, staves and hoops. Even old Continental Money will be received in payment." After that notice, his name seems to have dropped from the community-based record.

He seems to have returned to Ulster County and possibly died there in 1828.

Perhaps he was dead as early as 1788 when the will of a William De Witt passed probate in Ulster County. However, important questions remain regarding his origins, family life, and passing.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of William De Witt is CAP biography number 7868. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

first posted: 3/20/12; revised 8/1/12