Hendrick Hansen was born in Albany in 1665, the son of Beverwyck trader Hans Hendrickse and Eva Gillis de Meyer. He followed his father in the fur trade. That business often took the young man into the Indian country and thus postponed the start of his own family.
In Albany to stay by 1691, Hendrick was appointed constable and then high constable - designations that signalled his entry into community life. In 1692, he wed Debora Van Dam - the only daughter of an Albany carpenter. Shortly thereafter, the couple moved into the Hansen home on the east side of Market Street where they raised seven children. He may have been the "Hendrick Haes" whose household was configured on the Albany census in 1697. Although a Dutch church member, unlike most Albany city fathers, this Lutheran-background native son did not play a major role in its operations.
On the death of his father, Hendrick inherited substantial properties and was heir to numerous opportunities as well. In 1693, he was elected to the city council as assistant alderman for the third ward. Two years later, he was elected alderman. Hansen served until 1698 when he was appointed mayor of Albany by the royal governor. After a year, he was succeeded by Pieter Van Brugh. But Hansen maintained a close connection to the Albany government as a contractor and advisor. That connection was formalized in 1703 when he again was elected third ward alderman. Hendrick Hansen held that position for much of the remainder of his life. Throughout his municipal career, he was among the most active participants in city business. His major responsibilities included dealing with the fort - for which he was a supplier, community infrastructure issues, Indian diplomacy, and Albany's lands beyond the city limits.
Unlike most of his contemporaries, his officeholding transcended the local level. While continuing to hold municipal offices, in 1699 he was elected to represent Albany in the provincial legislature. At the time of his death, he was serving a fifth term in the New York General Assembly.
Hendrick Hansen filed a will in September 1723. He called himself an "Albany yeoman" and stated that he was "weak in body." It parceled out his substantial real estate in Albany, Schenectady, Fort Hunter, and beyond to his wife and children. He died in February 1724 and was buried beneath the Albany Dutch church.
Sources: The life of Hendrick Hansen is CAP biography number 4939. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.
first posted: 2/15/01; recast and revised 1/20/07