William Hanna was born in Litchfield, Connecticut about 1738. He was educated at Kings and "the Jersey college at Prince Town." Raised a Calvinist, he was licenced to preach by the presbytery of Litchfield in May 1760.
He was called to the Albany Presbyterian church in 1761. While in Albany, Reverend Hanna held a lot on Foxes Creek, taught geography, and also studied law with Peter Silvester. He was admitted to the New York bar in 1767 but did not establish an extensive legal practice. He served the Albany Presbyterian church until 1767 when he removed to Schenectady to practice law and teach classical languages. Later, he relocated to New York.
While in Albany, Hanna also became a client of Sir William Johnson, who brokered his ambition to become an Anglican missionary. In 1771, he sought ordination in the Church of England. Rebuffed in New York, he went to England and, in 1772, was ordained by the Bishop of London. He then moved on to Maryland and Virginia where he served for many years.
William Hanna married twice: first to Hanna Lawrence in 1761 and then to Sara Turner of Maryland in 1778.
First minister of the Albany Presbyterian church, well-educated William Hanna was an unsuccessful cleric and attorney. He died in Maryland in 1785.
The life of William Hanna is CAP biography number 8506. He lived in Albany only a few years. This profile is derived chiefly from community-based resources and from Blayney, First Presbyterian Church. He is the subject of a sketch printed in the Documentary History of New York 4:374, 447, 47-48.
first posted: 6/5/02