Lawyers and Jurists

This page provides basic access to information and people who made up the legal community in Albany. Our approach is biographical in nature. A few practicioners were well educated and well-trained in the law. However, most would-be Albany lawyers took a more practical approach to litigation and legal matters.

Beginning during the earliest days of the settlement, prominent community members represented themselves and their less articulate neighbors and kin before local courts.

Notaries and justices such as the tragic Adrian Janse Van Ilpendam were parts of the Albany legal community.

Reputedly trained in England, former garrison officer John Collins was Albany's first professional attorney.

Colonial legal profession. William Corry left an extensive practice (caseload) when he died suddenly in 1763. Peter Silvester followed him in Albany until relocating to Kinderhook during the War for Independence.

Abraham Yates, Jr. had a number of proteges.

Native son and Yale graduate William Livingston was trained in New York and represented Albany before the provincial government on many occasions during the 1750s and 60s.

New Yorker Stephen Lush.

Era of the American Revolution. Aaron Burr, Robert Troup, and Alexander Hamilton all lived in Albany in 1780.

Albany mainstay Robert Yates was a reknowned surveyor, lawyer, and jurist.

Abraham Van Vechten - jurist.

After graduating from Princeton in 1782, Kingston native Peter E. Elmendorf was an attorney in Albany (and a son-in-law of the Van Rensselaers) for the better part of his long life.

A number of online resources further describe the law and legal profession in early America!

page in-progress


Sources: The best single source on colonial lawyering is Paul M. Hamlin, Legal Education in Colonial New York published as New York University Law Quarterly Review (1939). Available (but not directly) online.

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first posted: 3/20/07; revised 6/11/11