Thomas Shipboy
Stefan Bielinski

Thomas Shipboy came to Albany during the 1750s. He was a Scottish trader who followed the British army to fight the Seven Years War. He was born about 1730 in Colraine, Loudonbery, Ireland. In time, a brother and at least one nephew joined him in America.

By 1757, he had settled in Albany where his partnership with Robert Henry advertized "broadcloths of all sorts and colors" for sale at Dr. Van Dyck's in Albany. In the years that followed, he established himself in Albany as a cloth merchant and specialty importer who counted among his clients the city government as well as Sir William Johnson.

He married young widow Anna Williams Van Vechten in 1765. Over the next decade, the marriage produced at least two children. The family lived on Court Street and Shipboy later purchased a store on State Street and one or two city lots as well.

By the mid-1760s, he was an Albany mainstay. Business made him quite wealthy but also susceptible to market fluctuations which more than once left him in debt to the point of insolvency. Johnson's agency and some government contracts aided in his recovery. Primarily an importer, he appears to have maintained a business connection with Robert Henry and also with John Shipboy - his brother or nephew.

In 1766, he stood with other Albany people in opposition to the Stamp Act when he signed the constitution of the Albany sons of liberty. In 1767, he was a member of an Albany militia company. With the coming of war with Britian, he managed to avoid conflict with the Albany revolutionaries and even was permitted to post bonds for recently arrived Scots living in the area. At this point, his wartime activities are unclear! In 1779, his property assessment identified him as an active and successful merchant.

After the war, he was a member of a reconstituted Albany Presbyterian church. During the 1790s, he was conducting business from a store at 56 State Street. Besides the Henrys, he also was the partner of Schenectady native William Van Ingen.

Called an "eminent merchant," Thomas Shipboy died on October 10, 1797 and was buried the next day.



the people of colonial Albany The life of Thomas Shipboy is CAP biography number 5686. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

In April 1822, the newspaper reported that some silver plate stolen from his house in 1778 was found by someone plowing on the "West Hill." Printed in Annals of Albany, 7:157.

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first posted: 5/30/02