Williams, John, 1752-1806

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Born in England; studied medicine and surgery; served as a surgeon on an English man of war; came to America in 1773 to practice medicine. Served as a member of the New York Provincial Congress, was appointed surgeon of the New York State Militia, 1775; member of the New York State Senate, the New York State Assembly; delegate to the New York convention to ratify the U. S. Constitution in 1788; member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York; and was director of a company organized to build the Erie Canal.

From the description of Letter, 1796 February 8. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122519350

John Williams was an officer in the American Revolution who resided in Salem, Washington County, New York. He was one of the original patentees of the Turner patent, and he became one of the largest landowners in Washington County (originally called Charlotte County), largely through purchases of Tory lands after 1784. He was a doctor and also the proprietor of the first store and the first tavern in the area.

From the description of John Williams papers, 1768-1851 (bulk 1768-1808) (New York State Historical Documents). WorldCat record id: 155409204

Doctor John Williams was twenty-one or twenty-two years old when he arrived in Charlotte County. Within the year he had married Susannah Thomas Turner, a widow with four children. Susannah's first husband, James, in addition to being one of the original patentees of the Turner patent, was the proprietor of the first store and the first tavern in the area. John Williams assumed the management of these on his marriage to Susannah. The store was later operated by Alexander J. Turner (son of Susannah and James) and David Thomas (son-in-law of Susannah and James); the tavern, by David Thomas. So John Williams started life in America as a doctor and a storekeeper. In 1775 he was chosen a representative from Charlotte County to the New York Provincial Congress. Re-elected three times, he served the entire length of the Congress, 1775-1777. This started a long career as an elected representative, which included terms in the State Assembly, the State Senate and the U.S. Congress. Meanwhile, in 1776, he was commissioned Colonel of a regiment of Charlotte County militia. He continued in this post until he was promoted to Brigadier-General ten years later.

In addition, he became one of the largest land-owners in the county, largely through purchases of forteited Tory lands after 1784. A significant portion of the documents in the collection concern land: buying, selling, leasing, mortgaging; partnerships created to buy land; agreements to buy, sell, or lease; correspondence concerning land. In this Williams acted for himself alone or in combination with others, and also on occasion acted as agent for groups of potential purchasers. He was also a Justice of the Peace, and Supervisor of the town of Salem. He was Master Mason of the second Masonic lodge in the county, and a founding member of North Star Lodge No. 51 in Salem (the fifth lodge in the county). He was a teacher of medicine, and one of the founders of Washington Academy in Salem. He was also a slaveowner. He and Susannah had four children: Susan, Maria, Elizabeth, and John, Jr. After Susannah's death he married Mrs. Mary Townley of New York City. Of his varied activities -- political, military and commerical -- we have considerable documentation in the John Williams papers. Of family and personal relationships the papers tell us relatively little, which may reflect the intentions of the Williams family who initially preserved the papers.

From the description of Papers, 1767-1841. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122611241

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn McNish family papers, 1773-1926. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
creatorOf Williams, John, 1752-1808. John Williams papers, 1768-1851 (bulk 1768-1808) New York State Historical Documents
creatorOf Williams, John, 1752-1806. Papers, 1767-1841. American Periodical Series I
referencedIn McNish family. McNish family papers, 1773-1926. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Williams, John, 1752-1806. Letter, 1796 February 8. American Periodical Series I
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Allen, Ethan, 1738-1789. person
associatedWith Duane, James, 1733-1797. person
associatedWith Duer, William, 1747-1799. person
associatedWith Jay, John, 1764-1829. person
associatedWith Kane, Charles. person
associatedWith Livingston, Edward, 1764-1836. person
associatedWith McNish family. family
associatedWith McNish family. family
associatedWith Munro, Peter Jay. person
associatedWith New York State. Militia. corporateBody
associatedWith North, William, 1755-1836. person
associatedWith Schuyler, Philip John, 1733-1804. person
associatedWith Skene, Philip. person
associatedWith St. Clair, Arthur, 1737-1818. person
associatedWith United States. Congress corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Navy corporateBody
associatedWith Van Rensselaer, Solomon Van Vechten, 1774-1852. person
associatedWith Van Rensselaer, Stephen, 1764-1839. person
associatedWith Woolsey, Melancthon Taylor, 1780-1838. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)
New York (State)
Salem (N.Y.)
Philadelphia (Pa.)
Salem (N.Y.)
United States
United States
New York (State)--Washington County
Charlotte County (N.Y.)
Maritime law
Real estate investment
Land titles
Land titles--Registration and transfer
Real property


Birth 1752

Death 1806-07-22


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