James Stevenson
Stefan Bielinski

James Stevenson was born about 1697. He was the patriarch of the Stevenson family of early Albany. He came to Albany during the 1720s and lived there for the last forty years of his life.

In December 1729, he married Sara Groenendyck, daughter of a Schenectady trader and a one-time sheriff of Albany County. The marriage produced a number of children who became Albany residents. The marriage ended when Sara died in 1744 at the age of forty-four. Some of their children were baptized in the Albany Dutch church But Stevenson, who did did not re-marry, was a member of St. Peter's Anglican church.

In 1731, he was appointed sheriff of Albany County and served for a year. However, in his early days, he seems to have earned his living as a clerk. By the 1730s, he was receiving fees from Edward Collins and other attorneys. For many years, he filed legal papers for clients from a range of backgrounds. In 1742, his name appeared on a list of Albany freeholders living in the first ward. During the 1740s, he assisted Albany County Clerk Philip Livingston and was a deputy clerk of the Commissioners of Indian Affairs as well. He also was deputized to receive sums of money on behalf of the Albany corporation.

By that time, he had become an Albany mainstay - living in a substantial house on upper State Street, known as a merchant, and acting as Albany County treasurer until his death. In 1756, he was appointed recorder of Albany but declined to serve!

His sons, James and particularly John, followed in their father's footsteps. His sister, Mary Stevenson, married Dr. Nicholas Schuyler.

James Stevenson, Sr. filed a will in 1763. It stated that he was "sick." It named his two sons and his daughter as beneficiaries. He died in February 1769 at the age of seventy-two. A newspaper obituary called him a "merchant and attorney" and said he had lived in Albany for forty years. He was buried from St. Peter's church.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of James Stevenson, Sr. is CAP biography number 3901. This profile is derived chiefly from community-based resources. We seek defining information on his origins and background! His account book as Albany County treasurer is held at the New York State Archives #10882.

Although he was often empowered to receive funds on behalf of the city, kept a treasurer's account book, and, in November 1770, was identified as the "late treasurer of the city and county of Albany," we still search for an actual appointment document!

A letter written by a descendant in 1915 described his burial: "When the second St. Peter's was razed to the e;round in March 1859, there were discovered in digging for the new structure the remains of about twenty-four persons along the north foundation wall of the church of 1802. The Albany Journal of March 30, says: "This fact alone is sufficient to establish the presumption that the remains of all buried in the old church which stood in the center of the street, were disinterred and their bones deposited within the walls of the structure recently torn down." In fact one coffin was found with its silver plate bearing this inscription: "In this coffin are the bones of my father, James Stevenson, Esqr., who died 2d February, 1769, and was buried in the Episcopal St. Peter's Church, and when it was taken down they were removed to the new Episcopal Church, called St. Peter's." (See also Joel Munsell's "Collections on the City of Albany", 1:444-46, Albany, 1865). It was at this time that the remains of Lord George Viscount Howe, killed in the attack an Ticonderoga, 1758, which had been removed according to B. J. Lossing, the historian, to "a Place under the chancel of St. Peter's Church", were found; and they now rest under the vestibule of the present St. Peter's. (J. A. Holden, "New Historical Light on Real Burial Place of Lord Howe", Proceedings of New York State Historical Association, 10:259-366, Glens Falls, 1911). "

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first posted: 1/30/04