James Wilson


James Wilson was a Schenectady merchant who was commissioned sheriff of Albany County in October 1753. A month later, he appeared before the Albany city council and was sworn in. His tenure was short-lived as he was replaced by Abraham Yates, Jr. in 1754.

In August 1757, he married Magdalena Schermerhorn at the Schenectady Dutch church. Their child was born the following year. His wife was the daughter of a Schenectady landholder who was left a substantial inheritance.

It appears that two different, but same-named, individuals christened children with area women during the 1750s.

Wilson probably was among those trying to establish a Presbyterian meeting house at Schenectady during the 1760s. Thus, he probably was of Scottish origin.

In May 1757, he identified as a Schenectady merchant when he purchased a lot on Schenectady's main street. During the 1760s, he had business dealings with Sir William Johnson and Johnson's trading network.

James Wilson was still in Schenectady in 1771.

Perhaps he was the former Albany resident named James Wilson who established a farm north of the Mohawk after the last French and Indian war. An aged (89th year) James Wilson was buried there in 1774.

This individual does not seem to have been an actual Albany resident. Many questions remain regarding his life. He is included here because of his brief tenure as sheriff - which probably followed from his relationship with Johnson.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of James Wilson has not been assigned a CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. We seek information on his origins and passing.

first posted: 3/15/06; revised 8/10/10