Albany County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York, and is part of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy Metropolitan Statistical Area. The name is from the title of the Duke of York and Albany, who became James II of England (James VII of Scotland). As of the 2010 census, the population was 304,204. As originally established, Albany County had an indefinite amount of land, but has only as of March 3, 1888. The county seat is Albany, the state capital.
Albany County was created on November 1, 1683 by New York Governor Thomas Dongan, and later confirmed on October 1, 1691. The act creating the county vaguely defined its territory "to containe the Towns of Albany, the Collony Rensselaerwyck, Schonecteda, and all the villages, neighborhoods, and Christian Plantaçons on the east side of Hudson River from Roelef's Creek, and on the west side from Sawyer's Creek (Saugerties) to the Sarraghtoga." The confirmation declared in 1691 was similar but omitted the Town of Albany, substituted "Mannor of Ranselaerswyck" for "Collony Rensselaerwyck", and stated "to the uttermost end of Sarraghtoga" instead of just "to Sarraghtoga". Livingston Manor was annexed to Albany County from Dutchess County in 1717. Albany's boundaries were nailed down more specificially as various state statutes would add land to the county, or more commonly subtract land for the formation of new counties. In 1772 with the creation of Tryon County and Charlotte County Albany gained definitive boundaries and included what are now Albany, Columbia, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady counties; large parts of Greene and Washington counties; and the disputed southwest corner of Vermont.
The city of Albany was the first municipality within this large county, as the village (dorp in Dutch) of Beverwyck by the Director-General of New Amsterdam, Pieter Stuyvesant, who also established the first court in Albany. Albany was then erected as a city in 1686 by Governor Dongan through the Dongan Charter. Schenectady was given a patent with some municipal rights in 1684 and became a borough in 1765. The Manor of Rensselaerswyck was created as a district within the county in 1772, and subsequently divided into two districts, one on each side of the Hudson River in 1779. The west district included all of what is now Albany County with the exception of what lands were in the city of Albany at that time. Though the Manor of Rensselaerswyck was the only district (along with the city of Albany) in what is today Albany County, it was not the only district in what was Albany County at the time. Pittstown in 1761, and Duanesburgh in 1764, were created as townships. However, when districts were created in 1772 those townships were incorporated into new districts, Pittstown in Schaghticoke and Duanesburgh into the United Districts of Duanesburgh and Schoharie. Schenectady was made from a borough to a district in 1772 as well. Other districts established in 1772 were Hoosick, Coxsackie, Cambridge, Saratoga, Halfmoon, Kinderhook, Kings, Claverack, Great Imboght, and the Manor of Livingston.
In a census of 1697, there were 1,452 individuals living in Albany County, two years later it would be counted as 2,016 at the beginning of King William's War. By the end of the war in 1698 the population had dropped to 1,482, but rebounded quickly and was at 2,273 by 1703. By 1723, it had increased to 6,501 and in 1731 to 8,573, which was slightly less than the population within the city of New York in the same year. In 1737, the inhabitants of Albany County would outnumber those of New York County by 17 people. In 1774, Albany County, with 42,706 people, was the largest county in colonial New York. According to the first Federal Census in 1790, Albany County reached 75,921 inhabitants and was still the largest county in the state.
Formation of towns
On March 7, 1788, the state of New York divided the entire state into towns eliminating districts as administrative units by passing New York Laws of 1788, Chapters 63 and 64.
Timeline of boundary changes
Albany County was one of the original twelve counties created by the Province of New York on November 1, 1683. At that time it included all of the present Bennington County, Vermont, all of New York state north of the counties of Dutchess and Ulster, and theoretically stretched west to the Pacific Ocean.
On May 27, 1717, Albany County was adjusted to gain an indefinite amount of land from Dutchess County and other non-county lands.
On October 7, 1763, King George III, as part of his Proclamation of 1763, created the new province of Quebec, implicitly setting the northern limit of New York at the parallel of 45 degrees north latitude from the Atlantic-St. Lawrence watershed westward to the St. Lawrence River, implicitly setting the northern limit of Albany County, but it was never mapped.
On July 20, 1764, King George III established the boundary between New Hampshire and New York along the west bank of the Connecticut River, north of Massachusetts and south of the parallel of 45 degrees north latitude. Albany County implicitly gained present-day Vermont. Although disputes occasionally broke out later, this line became the boundary between New Hampshire and Vermont, and has remained unchanged to the present. When New York refused to recognize land titles through the New Hampshire Grants (towns created earlier by New Hampshire in present Vermont), dissatisfied colonists organized in opposition, which led to the creation of independent Vermont in 1777.
On July 3, 1766, Cumberland County was partitioned from Albany County to cover all territory to the northern and eastern limits of the colony, including Windsor County, most of Windham County, and parts of Bennington and Rutland counties in present-day Vermont.
On June 26, 1767, Albany County regained all of Cumberland County.
On March 19, 1768, Albany County was re-partitioned, and Cumberland County restored.
On March 16, 1770, Albany County was again partitioned. Gloucester County was created to include all of Orange, Caledonia and Essex counties, most of Washington County, and parts of Orleans, Lamoille, Addison and Chittenden counties in present-day Vermont.
On March 12, 1772, Albany County was partitioned again, this time into the counties of Albany, Tryon (now Montgomery), and Charlotte (now Washington). This established a definite area for Albany County of .
On March 24, 1772, Albany County was partitioned again, with an additional handed over to Cumberland County.
On March 9, 1774, Albany County was partitioned again, this time passing to Ulster County.
On April 1, 1775, Albany was again partitioned, this time giving up to Charlotte County, who then exchanged this land with a like parcel in Cumberland County.
On January 15, 1777, Albany County was again partitioned, this time on account of the independence of Vermont from New York, reducing Albany County by an additional .
On June 26, 1781, Bennington County, Vermont attempted to annex a portion of Albany County that today includes portions of Washington and Rensselaer counties to form what they called "The West Union". The fledgling United States – under the Articles of Confederation – arbitrated this annexation, and condemned it, resulting in Vermont ceasing the annexation on 1782-02-23.
On April 4, 1786, Columbia County was created from of Albany County land.
On March 7, 1788, New York, refusing to recognize the independence of Vermont, and the attendant elimination of Cumberland County, attempted to adjust the line that separated Cumberland from Albany County in present-day Vermont, but to no effect.
On February 7, 1791, Albany County was partitioned again, this time to form Rensselaer and Saratoga counties. Rensselaer received , while Saratoga received . Also the town of Cambridge was transferred to Washington County. A total of changed hands.
On June 1, 1795, Albany County was once again partitioned, this time losing to Schoharie County.
On April 5, 1798, another partition took place, with passing to Ulster County.
On March 25, 1800, once again Albany County was partitioned, with being used to create Greene County.
On April 3, 1801, all New York counties were redefined, with Albany County gaining .