Robert Mc Clallan


According to traditional sources, Robert Mc Clallan was born in county Derry, Ireland in January 1747. He was a younger son in the family of Michael and Jane Henry Mc Clallan. He emigrated to America with his family and settled in northern New England.

His father died when Robert was ten. A decade later, his older brother took him to Albany and placed him in the business of their kinsman, Robert Henry. He later became their partner. As late as 1792, the business known as "Henry, Mc Clallen & Henry" was referenced in community-based records.

In 1771, Robert married Albany native Jane Williams. Over the next two decades, a number (nine accounted for) of children were christened in Albany churches. He was a member and trustee of the First Presbyterian church.

Although his business association with the Henrys was long-term, in November 1771, he advertized in the new Albany Gazette that he was a merchant who had a store near city hall and opposite the house of Pieter Schuyler. He offered for sale, fabrics, skins, tea, and chocolate. Subsequent notices added tea kettles and sugars to his stock.

By that time, he had taken up residence on lower State Street. He also held additional property on the Albany waterfront. Later, his addresses were at numbers 10 and then 66 State Street. His Albany holdings were substantial - as expected of a prominent merchant. By 1790, his first ward household included eleven family members and was served by three slaves. In 1800, that number had swelled to twenty-four residents - including fourteen adult men and two slaves.

At the outbreak of the war in 1775, he supported the revolutionary cause financially. Beginning in 1776, he served as a member of the Albany Committee of Correspondence. He was a valued member of the committee. But, as a still-active merchant, he not exempt from criticism regarding his marketing of much needed commodities.

Robert Mc Clallan is said to have been involved in procuring supplies for the American army. We are inquiring into the records of the Continental commissary department. Afterwards, he was allotted a land bounty right for service in conjunction with the Albany militia regiment. Later, his financial dealings caused him great difficulty and ended with Mc Clallan declaring bankruptcy. He then was forced to turn his State Street home into a boarding house.

Although he had served as a firemaster in 1771, beginning in 1780, he was elected to the Albany city council - first as assistant, then as alderman. During the 1780s and 90s, this one-time newcomer had become an Albany insider.

Perhaps to compensate him for wartime losses of his stock and property, in 1798, he was appointed treasurer of New York State. He served as State treasurer until he resigned in January 1803.

Robert Mc Clallan died in Albany on Wednesday morning, October 8, 1817. He had lived seventy years. His widow survived into the 1820s.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Robert Mc Clallan is CAP biography number 725. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. His background is well articulated on the Internet and in family- based resources.

first posted: 7/15/07