Theodorus Van Wyck Graham


Theodorus Van Wyck Graham was born in July 1759. He was the son of the Reverend Chauncey Graham and his wife, Elizabeth Van Wyck Graham. He was a middle child in the large family of a Connecticut-born, Presbyterian minister who settled in Brinkerhoffville, Dutchess County and married the daughter of a prominent Dutchess County family. He was named for his maternal grandfather - also a prominent churchman.

Only sixteen at the outbreak of hostilities in 1775, he served in the Revolutionary army.

Perhaps he first came to Albany as part of the expedition against the Iroquois in 1779.

Although, his legal training and education is not clear, this distinctively named individual was an attorney, jurist, and a pillar of the Albany community for the remainder of his life. He is said to have been in legal practice by 1784.

In October 1786, Theodorus married Magdalena Ten Broeck at the Albany Dutch church. He was a member, elder, and trustee of the Albany Presbyterian church where his children were christened beginning in 1787. His slave Dinah was a communicant there as well.

The newlyweds initially made their home on the hill above the settled part of the city. Before long, however, they settled permanently on Market Street near the northern city line probably in a house recently vacated by Magdalena's father - a State assemblyman.

In 1790, his household in the third ward included six family members and four slaves. A decade later in 1800, his family included ten members and was served by three slaves. By 1810, those slaves had become "free people of color" within his household. His third ward house was assessed substantially while he paid taxes on additional lots on Fox Street.

By the 1790s, he was involved in acquiring substantial real estate in central New York.

In 1787, he was elected alderman for the second ward. He also served as a fireman.

In 1792, he was among those who petitioned for incorporation of the Albany Library. In 1794, he was among those who pledged a hundred pounds toward the establishment of Union College.

Graham was elected to the New York State Assembly himself from Albany County and served one term, 1793-94.

In January 1808, his entire family (including wife, sons, and daughters) were invited to the funeral of a prominent neighbor.

In 1813, the first city directory listed the home of "T. V. W. Graham" and of his son, John T. B. Graham, at 5 Market Street. At that time, Graham was called "Judge of Probate."

Theodorus Van Wyck Graham died in July 1822. He was called "an eminent lawyer." He was buried in the Presbyterian church plot. Letters of administration were granted on his estate in September.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Theodorus Van Wyck Graham is CAP biography number 8215. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.
At this point, we gratefully the substantial research notes and information supplied by James Allie - a new online friend. More regarding this resource in the future.

first posted: 10/30/09