Nathan Hawley


Nathan Hawley is said to have been born in Redding, Connecticut in 1763 or 1765 and to have been the son of Samuel and Katherine Bennett Hawley. Same-named contemporaries complicate defining his origins and path to Albany.

In April 1785, he married Elizabeth Sears of Danbury, Connecticut. By 1810, the marriage had produced at least twelve children who were born in Connecticut, across New York, perhaps even in Kentucky as the Hawley's sought to set down permanent roots. Their last daughter arrived a month after Nathan's death.

By the late 1780s, the couple had settled in the Heldeberghs town of Rensselaersville where Nathan worked as a farmer. In 1790, his household of five was configured on the Albany County census for Rensselaersville. About 1795, he became the town's first schoolmaster.

In 1800, the Hawleys relocated to Albany where Nathan found employment as a jailer. His family is said to have occupied rooms adjoining and in the rear of the new jail. His wife is said to have run a boarding house and inn there at 71 Maiden Lane.

The Hawley family in their Albany home is the subject of a classic American folk art watercolor.

Nathan Hawley is said to have died in February 1810. His will passed probate in March. His widow continued on in Albany for at least five more years and survived until 1846.

Although he was an Albany mainstay for the last decade of his life, the name of Nathan Hawley was found only infrequently in the community-based record thus far encountered.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Nathan Hawley has not been assigned a CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from 200 Years of Collecting, an enhanced catalogue of treasures from the Albany Institute of History and Art. The catalogue profile was developed by curator and museum professional Tammis K. Groft. Family-based resources are available online.

first posted: 2/10/11