Edward S. Willett was born in November 1750. He was the son of Samuel Willett of Flushing, Long Island. He was baptized at Trinity Church in New York City in 1753. By the early 1770s, he joined his older cousin in Albany and worked with him in the saddler's trade. Shortly after arriving, he became a member of St. Peter's Anglican church.
He then followed his father-in-law in the river trade - becoming a sloop captain himself by the mid-1770s. At the outbreak of the war, he joined the Revolutionary cause - carrying people, cargoes, and intelligence on his sloop. He was trusted to transport Tories to New York for exchange and was called "a gentleman of undoubted loyalty" by Governor Clinton. He then served under the Quartermaster General as "forage master" and also with an artillery company. Aftwards, he received a land bounty right in conjunction with the Albany militia regiment.
His home was on what became South Pearl Street and was located in the middle of the block between Beaver and Hudson Streets. In 1776, he served as a firemaster in the first ward. After the war, he was an Albany mainstay for the next three decades. During some of that time, his household included slaves. Community-based documents identified him as a merchant dealing in building supplies, a mariner, and a saddler. He was a Mason - belonging to the Union Lodge.
Edward S. Willett died in April 1810 a few months shy of his sixtieth birthday. He was buried in the Dutch church cemetery. His widow lived until 1831.
first posted: 2/10/05; last updated 3/5/11