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Encyclopedia > Sir William Johnson

Sir William Johnson (1715-1774) was an English pioneer and soldier in the colonial New York, and the British Superintendent of Indian Affairs from 1755-1774. He served on the Governor's Council in New York, earned the rank of Major General in the British forces during the French and Indian War. Sir William was a man of many accomplishments, and ultimately his estate in the Mohawk Valley covered over 400,000 acres (1,600 kmē).

He was born to Christopher Johnson in County Meath, Ireland in 1715. He originally planned a mercantile career, but in 1738 he emigrated to America to manage the land granted to his uncle (Admiral Sir Peter Warren). He settled on the Mohawk River about 25 miles west of Schenectady, New York. He learned from and lived with the Mohawk Indians who adopted him, and later made him a sachem (civil chief). He also began to purchase land from the Indians in his own right.

William was married in 1739 to a German immigrant, Catherine Wisenberg. She originally came as to America as an indentured servant, but he purchased her contract, released and married her and the couple had three children before her death. Their son John Johnson, inherited his father's title and estates. When Catherine died he married Caroline Peters who was the niece of Chief Hendrick and gave him three more children before her death five years later. When Caroline died he married another Mohawk, Molly Brant, sister of the chief Joseph Brant, and she bore him another eight children.

He founded Johnstown, New York on his estate and brought Irish immigrants to New York.

In May of 1750 the king appointed him a permanent member of the Governor's Council for the Colony of New York. He attended the Albany Congress in 1754 that reached an accord that kept the Iroquois on the British side during the next several wars.

French and Indian War

General Braddock as commander-in-chief, commissioned him a Major General and tasked him to lead militia forces against Crown Point. In September, his expedition defeated Baron Dieskau. In recognition of this victory he was awarded Ģ5,000 and made a Baronet in November. In 1758 he was part of General Abercrombie's failed attempt to take Fort Ticonderoga.

He led an Indian and militia force as part of General Prideaux's siege of Fort Niagara in the summer of 1759. When Prideaux was killed, he took command of the force and captured the Fort. He also accompanied General Amherst at the capture of Montreal in 1760. After the war, King George rewarded him with the grant of an additional tract of 100,000 acres (400 kmē) north of the Mohawk River.

Other Events

He died from a stroke at his home in Johnstown on July 11, 1774. His manor house is now a New York Historic Site and is open to the public.

External Links

  • Johnson Hall Historic Site (http://www.nysparks.state.ny.us/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/nysparks/historic.cgi?p+14)
  • Johnstown's Memorial Page (http://www.johnstown.com/city/johnson.html)

  Results from FactBites:
Sir William Johnson, 1st Baronet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (926 words)
William is thought to originally planned a mercantile or legal career, but in 1738 he emigrated to America to manage the land granted to his uncle (Admiral Sir Peter Warren).
Johnson is also known to have been intimate with the sisters Susannah and Elizabeth Wormwood (daughters of Henry Wormwood), an Irish woman called Mary McGrath (by whom he appears to have had a daughter, Mary), and several other Mohawk women.
Johnson led an Indian and militia force as part of General John Prideaux's siege of Fort Niagara in the summer of 1759.
Old Fort Johnson (1773 words)
William was educated for a mercantile life, but his career was entirely changed by the refusal of his parents to permit him to marry a lady with whom he had fallen in love.
Johnson accepted, and in 1738 established himself on a tract of land on the south side of Mohawk river, about twenty-four miles west of Schenectady, which Sir Peter had called "Warrensburgh." He began to colonize this tract, and also embarked in trade with the Indians, whom he always treated with perfect honesty and justice.
Sir William was the author of a valuable paper entitled "The Language, Customs, and Manners of the Six Nations," written to Arthur Lee, secretary of the Philosophical society of Philadelphia, and published in their "Transactions" for November, 1772.
  More results at FactBites »



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