Jonathan Kidney


Jonathan Kidney was christened at the Albany Dutch church in December 1760. He was the son of John and Phoebe Brooks Kidney. He was referred to as "Jonathan" fairly consistently in the community-based record.

He later stated that in 1777, 1778, and 1779, he served as a private in militia company commanded by William Hun, John Price, and Nicholas Jeroleman at Fort Edward, Fort George, Saratoga, escorted prisoners to Connecticut and then to Boston, served in the Schoharie Valley, and at Fort Plain .

Later, in 1782, he served on the crew of a privateer out of Providence, Rhode Island. The ship was captured by a British warship and Kidney was taken to New York. He then was confined on the "Old Jersey Prison ship" until the end of the war when he was released and eventually returned home.

After the war, he became a blacksmith. In 1788, "Jonathan" was listed as a boarder in a first ward house. Afterwards, his house and holdings were valued modestly on city assessment rolls. In 1791 and at different times afterwards, he served as a fireman in the first ward. In 1800, and thereafter, his first ward household was configured on the Federal census for the city of Albany. Beginning with the first issue in 1813, Jonathan Kidney was listed in the city directory as a blacksmith at 71, 82, and 84 Hudson Street. Those locations were in the block east of South Pearl Street.

By 1788, he seems to have taken charge of a small cannon. The story goes that he had appropriated the old piece from the remains of an artillery park on the property of Philip Van Rensselaer. As an antifederalist, he is said to have dragged the cannon into the path of the ratification parade - forcing the procession to take another route. On a number of festive occasions afterwards, Kidney was able to fire off volleys from his ancient field piece.

About 1791, he married Albany native Hannah Van Zandt. By 1800, four children had been christened in Albany churches.

Hannah Van Zandt died in December 1830. Although in his late seventies, Jonathan continued to live in his Hudson Street home.

signature from Jonathan Kidney's pension application in 1833 In 1833, he submitted a claim for a pension based on his Revolutionary War service. It detailed his extensive involvement as a soldier, sailor, and prisoner of war. We are uncertain as to the disposition of his claim.

Jonathan Kidney died in March 1849 and was buried in the Dutch church cemetery plot. His will passed probate in April. This "soldier in the Revolution" had lived almost ninety years.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Jonathan Kidney is CAP biography number 5989. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. After his application for a pension, a number of reminiscent sources embellish episodes in his long life.

We apologize for copying the following from a very useful online resource:

State of New York
Albany Justice's Court

Be it known that on the 23rd day of October 1833 personally appeared before the Justices's Court of the City of Albany, JONATHAN KIDNEY of the City of Albany, who being duly sworn in open Court, deposeth answerith that by reason of old age and the consequent laps of memory, he enough swears positively as to the previous length of his service, but according to the best of his recollection, he served not less than the periods mentioned below and in the following grades:

1. In the year 1777, I served as a private in the company of militia commanded by Captain [William] Hunn in Col. [Gerrit] Lansing's Regiment and under the command of General Philip Schuyler on a term of duty at Fort Edward, Fort George, Snookkill, Saratoga and as stated in my original declaration not less than three months and half in that is from about the first of July to about the 22nd of October.

2. In the same year 1777, I also served as a private in the Company of Militia commanded by Capt. Price, on a tour of duty to Hartford in Connecticut as stated in my original declaration, for a period of no less than twelve days.

3. In the year 1778, I served as a private in the Company of Militia commanded by Capt. [William] Hunn on a tour of duty to Lower Fort, Schoharie, and Cobleskill as stated in my original declaration on which tour I served not less than four weeks.

4. In the year 1778, I served as a private in the Company of Militia commanded by Capt. Nicholas Joraleman in a tour of duty to store_______ as stated in my original declaration on which I served not less than four weeks.

5. In the year 1779, I served as a private in the same company of Militia commanded by Capt. Joraleman on a tour of duty to Fort Plains on the Mohawk, as stated in my original declaration on which tour I served not less than one month.

6. In the fall of the year 1782, I went out in the capacity of a mariner or sailor on a cruise in the Privateer Brig Scammel. She was a square-rigged _______ commanded by Capt. Stoddard. She sailed from Providence in the State of Rhode Island - I recollect that the sailing master's name was Pierson - We sailed out on the cruise about a fortnight and were then taken in about a days sail off Sandy Hook, by the British Frigate Jason - the 50 gun ship Renown being in Company with her. Part of the Crew of the Privateer was put on board the Jason and a part of them on board the Renown. I was put on board the Renown and taken into New York. I was then transfered to the old Jersey Prison Ship - I remained a prisoner until May following when Peace was proclaimed. Parts of the time I was confined onboard the Jersey Prison ship and part of the time onboard the Hospital ships. I recollect that the news of Peace was publicly read onboard the Jersey Prison ship to the prisoners and we were immediately discharged. We went out up with a flag to Dobb's Ferry __________. I stopped at _____ Point, where I received two days provisions by the direction of the Commanding officer. Then I went to Newburg where the army there lay. I there got six days of provisions and a half pint of rum and then came home to Albany in a sloupe.

I was taken prisoner as above mentioned sometime in November and remained a prisoner not less than five months. At the time I made my original declaration I was not informed whether I was entitled to my allowance for the time I was a prisoner as above stated, and therefore did not mention or claim it in my first declaration. But I now claim it if the Law entitles me to it - in addition to my other services.

I further state that in regard to my services in the year 1779 under Capt. Jorleman at Fort Plains, I was never satisfied that the statement of the time I was engaged in said term in my original declaration is a mistake - that the time should have been stated as one month or about and not twelve weeks.

Signed Jonathan Kidney

Sworn and proclaimed in open Court this 23rd day of October 1833, John G. Watson, Clerk

National Archives and Records Administration. Selected Records from Revolutionary War Pension Application Files [Microfilm M-805]. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.

Excerpt from the New England Genealogical and Historical Record:

293 JONATHAN KIDNEY (says the Eve. Journal,) was born in this City, where he has resided for eighty eight years He was consequently one of the oldest connecting links between the past and the present. He has sustained through life a blameless reputation, and died, as he lived, greatly beloved by his descendants and universally respected by all who knew him. Mr. KIDNEY served his time as a Blacksmith and followed the business always.

At the age of 17, Mr. KIDNEY was drafted as a militia-man, under Gen. 1777. Hisdivision was at first ordered to Fort Edward ; but soon fell back upon Saratoga. Afterwards we hear of him at Bennington, in both engagements at that place. Again, upon the intelligence reaching thai place of the expected battle with Burgoyne. he was ordered back to Saratoga, but did not arrive there until after the battle. To the just tribute of the Eve. Journal to his private character, we add briefly tome ol the principal incidents of his life : Mr. KIDNEY took an active part with the friends of George Clinton, Robert Yates, Samuel Jones, Abm. Ten Eyck, Gen. Peter Gansevoort, Chancellor Lan- ting.and other prominent anti-federalists, against the adoption of the U. S. Constitution in 1788; and he participated in the high scene of excitement and collision which in this City followed the attempt of the federalists of that day to celebrate the event. To the day of his death, as we are informed, he held in possession the cannon which on that occasion was planted in Green street, to dispute the passage through it of the procession headed by Gen. Schuyler, Stephen Van Rensselaer, and their friends. The venerable Isaac Denniston is now the only survivor of those who witnessed that conflict. The most eventful period of his life was that which followed. He was one of a party who embarked at New Haven, Conn., in a privateer vessel. With the entire party he was taken prisoner by the British, and placed on board the Jersey Prison ship at the Wallabout. He was confined there some six months, at the expiration of which he was released, but in a weak state, from the tyrannical and barbarous treatment be received. He travelled on foot from Jersey City to Newburgh, where General Washington had his head-quarters, not being able to accomplish more than five miles a day. He there received assistance, by order of the Commanding General, and took passage in a sloop for Albany.

A patriot of the Revolution, he was ever earnest in what he regarded as synonymous with the principles and duties of that great epoch, and throughout his life was a decided and consistent democrat.

March, 1849.

first posted: 1/20/08