James Weems


Spelled variously, Captain James Weems commanded a company of soldiers serving at the fort in Albany during the 1690s and early 1700s. However, several same-named individuals were in North America at that time.

He is said to have been a soldier who came from Scotland to America about 1695. However, several references place him in North America during the late 1680s. These appear to be incorrect - perhaps due to a flawed transcription of the date!

In June 1695, the Albany city records first referenced him as "capt of fusilleers" and contracted with Robert Sanders to provide him with lodging. In August 1696, he already was involved with the provincial government and the Albany Commissioners in frontier defense and diplomatic relations with the Indians. Muster rolls and information on his fusiliers stationed at Albany from the 1690s has survived.

Until 1704, he was known as a "captain of fusilleers" and had regular business with the city government regarding his command at Albany. In 1703, he arranged for the burial of a number of his soldiers through the Albany Dutch church. In 1704 and 1706, four of his soldiers married local women at the Albany church. A number of the soldiers in his command married into the Albany community.

In August 1699, he commanded the garrison soldiers who took part in an attack on Pemmiquid, [Maine]. Francis Parkman tells us that Weems and others were taken prisoner by the Abenakis following his surrender.

In 1702, he was referenced in a will filed by an Albany victualler.

Although stationed at Albany, during the early 1700s, he reported on conditions at Schenectady. In 1703, Governor Cornbury reported that Weems had 92 men under his command.

He is thought to have filed a will in New York in 1723. James Weems is said to have died in New York in 1723.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of James Weems has not been assigned a CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. Substantial resources appear to be available for a more comprehensive appreciation of his command. This sketch will attempt to focus on his Albany context!

Curiously, this particular sketch provides a documentable case study of some of the activities of the Albany garrison for the years around 1700. This career officer is especially important to the early Albany story because so many of his newcomer soldiers married local girls and founded mainline Albany families.

first posted: 2/20/10