Daniel Shields


According to family-based information, one-time Albany resident Daniel Shields was born in Scotland in February 1766. We seek defining information on his origins and path to Albany.

A subsequent succession of traditional sources have called him a Scotsman who entered the Revolutionary army as a "drummer boy" under Lafayette and ended up as a captain. Less reminiscent sources tell a less legendary story.

In September 1818, Danuel Shields was over fifty-five years old and living in Schenectady when he applied for a pension based on his service to the American cause. That document not only summarized his service but also filled in important gaps in his non-Albany life. It declared (in retrospect) that he enlisted in the Third New York Regiment in 1780. A year later those regiments were consolidated into the First New York and he served there until the close of the war. The document (which may have been at some distance from the actual deposition) stated that Shields was at the Battle of Yorktown, saw other action in "skirmishes," and in 1818 was in need of assistance. It also noted that he received a land grant in 1790 for 600 acres and also for 100 acres in Onondaga County. It appears (in 1818) that he no longer held that acreage. Perhaps, the actual pension was isssued to his widow (as the transcription seems to intimate) at some time later.

In 1790, a Daniel Shields was listed as the head of a household (with but one man and a female counted) on the census for Philipstown in Dutchess County.

In 1800, his first ward household was configured on the Albany census. It included two adolescents and two youngish adults.

Perhaps he had married a somewhat younger Scotswoman named Elizabeth Fenn - the mother of his children born in 1800 and afterwards. At some time thereafter, he seems to have re-located to Schenectady. On April 16, 1807, perhaps a different Daniel Shields married Elizabeth Joslin at St. George's Episcopal church in Schenectady. In March 1807, he had been one of the trustees named at the incorporation of the St. Andrew's Society in Schenectady.

In May 1809, he was among those identified as jurors at what perhaps was the first Schenectady court case.

Traditional sources tell us that he was an innkeeper and/or stagecoach station proprietor at a landmark location at State Street and Broadway in Schenectady.

In 1825, he served as sergeant at arms of the New York State Assembly.

In August 1828, he was identified as chariman of the Albany Antimasonic committee which met at his house. He also was a delegate to the State Antimasonic convention.

In September 1835, an Albany paper noted that Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shields had died at the age of seventy. Letters of Administration were granted on his estate in September 1835.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Daniel Shields has no CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

Within the "Lathrop Family Papers" at Stanford University: "Daniel Shields' papers, 1807-1835, largely concern his pension as a Revolutionary soldier and his appointment as Sergeant at Arms for the New York Assembly; other items include a ledger and an appraisal of his estate. Other papers of note in the collection include a list of donations to the Albany Orphan Asylum, 1833; insurance accounts of Charles Lathrop, 1908-1915; and a letter to Elizabeth Shields, Sept. 23, 1850, that mentions the wedding of Jane Lathrop and Leland Stanford." Call Number: SC0536.

first posted 1/20/13; updated 3/13/13