John Van Allen


John Van Allen was born in October 1734. He was the son of Albany residents Pieter Van Allen and his second wife, Anna Van Benthuysen Van Allen.

His father died before he reached adulthood and he lived with siblings in the Albany house of his widowed mother.

He does not appear to have married but was a member and pewholder of the Albany Dutch church.

He was in the shipping business with his brother, Barent Van Allen. In keeping with a frequent Albany practice, John was the mariner and Barent the skipper and businessman. These Van Allen brothers appear to have lived together in a first ward house on State Street and also owned vacant lots in the city. In 1790, their property was attended by eight slaves.

Beginning in 1765, he was elected assistant alderman for the first ward. He was active in committee work and appears to have rented space on the new city docks. He also was a member of an Albany militia company.

In 1766, he joined other Albany businessmen in signing a document protesting the Stamp Act. With the outbreak of hostilities in 1775, this native son would have been expected to support the crusade for American liberties. But as a sloop captain and a possible flight risk, he soon fell under the scrutiny of the Albany Committee of Correspondence. By the summer of 1776, he had been identified as "disaffected to the cause of America," refused to sign the Association, was disarmed, and then branded as "dangerous to the state." Although he later relented, he was forced to provide security for his behavior. However, after the war, he received a land bounty right in conjunction with an Albany miltiia regiment.

After the war, John Van Allen was in his fifties and more involved in real estate transactions.

John Van Allen died late in December 1797 at the age of sixty-three. He was buried in the Dutch church plot.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of John Van Allen is CAP biography number 5623. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

first posted: 4/25/06