John Fryer was born about 1720. He was the eldest son of Albany newcomers Isaac and Elizabeth Fryer. He grew up along South Pearl Street in a house probably built by his father about the time of John's birth. Their neighbors were a mix of soldier families and older residents including the Van Zandts.
About 1745, he married Albany native Anna Van Zandt - a daughter of the Fryers' Southside neighbors. By 1760, six of their children had been baptized at St. Peter's Anglican church where he was a member.
John Fryer came of age during the 1740s and served as a constable in the first ward. He supplied candles and other items to the city government. In 1756, his house was identified as a dramshop. By that time, he had become a slooper and carried cargoes on the Hudson for many clients for the rest of his life.
In 1766, he was elected assistant alderman for the first ward and served for several years. With the passing of his father in 1755, he had become head of the Fryer family and prominent in a number of community-based activities - including serving as a lieutenant in an Albany militia company.
At the onset of difficulties during the mid-1770s, this active skipper supported the Revolutionaries, contributing for supplies, signing the Association, and keeping the wells in the first ward. Absent from most wartime rolls, this English-ancestry native son must not have been considered disaffected. Later, he was awarded a land bounty right in conjunction with the Albany militia.
Captain John Fryer filed a will in November 1783. It named his daughters and grandchildren as his wife and sons had passed on. John Fryer died in July 1784 at the age of sixty-four. His obituary appeared in the Albany newspaper. He was buried in the Dutch Reformed churchyard.
first posted: 11/5/03