John Townsend (mayor)

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For other people of the same name, see John Townsend.
John Townsend
John Townsend (Mayor).JPG
John Townsend
37th Mayor of Albany, New York
In office
February 9, 1829 – December 31, 1829
Mayor of Albany, New York
In office
January 1, 1830 – December 31, 1830
Preceded by Charles E. Dudley
Succeeded by Francis Bloodgood
Mayor of Albany, New York
In office
January 1, 1832 – December 31, 1832
Preceded by Francis Bloodgood
Succeeded by Francis Bloodgood
Personal details
Born (1783-06-14)June 14, 1783
Sterling, New York
Died August 26, 1854(1854-08-26) (aged 71)
Albany, New York
Nationality American
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Abby Spencer
Relations Son of Henry Townsend and Mary Bennett
Children Theodore Townsend ()

Catherine Clinton Townsend ()
Edward Townsend ()
John Townsend ()
Mary Townsend ()
Julia Townsend ()
Ambrose Spenser Townsend ()
Laura Spenser Townsend ()
Julia Isabella Townsend ()
Abby Eliza Townsend ()
John Townsend ()
Marianna Townsend ()

Residence 142 State Street, Albany, NY
Occupation Iron worker, industrialist, politician
Religion Presbyterian

John Townsend (1783–1854) was a prominent industrialist and politician in the Albany, New York area. He was unanimously elected Mayor of Albany three times and served as the 37th Mayor of the city.

Birth and Family[edit]

John Townsend was born at the Sterling Iron Works in Orange County on June 14, 1783 the son of Henry Townsend and Mary (Bennett) Townsend. He was descended from Henry Townsend one of the founders of Oyster Bay, New York in the mid 17th century.

Townsend married on July 7, 1810 Abby Spencer, daughter of Ambrose and Laura (Canfield) Spencer. Ambrose held a number of important government positions in the City of Albany and in New York State, including 35th Mayor of Albany (1824–1826), New York State Attorney General (1802–1804), and Chief Justice of the New York State Supreme Court (1819–1823). Laura Spencer's brother, John Canfield Spencer served as Secretary of War under President John Tyler. The Townsends resided at 142 State Street, Albany, NY.

The Townsends had twelve children: Theodore, Catherine Clinton, Edward, John, Mary, Julia, Ambrose Spenser, Laura Spenser, Julia Isabella, Abby Eliza, John and Marianna. Julia Townsend (1824–1906) was married to State Senator Allen Munroe (1819–1884).

Iron Business[edit]

Townsend moved to Albany, New York in 1802 to work for his brother Isaiah who ran a successful iron and foundry business in the city called "I & J Townsend"[1] The firm was involved in the buying and selling of iron and produced in their foundry machine castings and railcar wheels. Townsend took over the business when his brother died in 1838. Townsend's nephew, Franklin Townsend joined the business as a young man in 1849. Upon the John Townsend's death Franklin took over and continued the business.

The business, which was eventually known as the "Townsend Furnace" was located at Broadway, Rensselaer and Mulberry streets fronting upon the Hudson River for 180 feet and the brick building was four stories high.[2]

Political career[edit]

Townsend was a member of the Whig Party.[3]

Townsend was Mayor of the City of Albany in 1829, 1830, and 1832. He was elected to his first term by unanimous vote of the city council on February 9, 1829 upon the resignation of Mayor Charles E. Dudley who took office as US Senator for New York.[3] He was reelected to a second term on December 21, 1829 by unanimous vote of the council and began his term on January 1, 1830.[3]

Townsend lost the council election on December 29, 1830 by a vote of 9 to 12 to Francis Bloodgood, who then went on to serve as 38th Mayor of the city. He was, however reelected to the office at the council vote on December 29, 1831 and regained the office on January 1, 1832.[3]

In 1832 an outbreak of cholera occurred in Albany and Townsend was praised for his efforts in combating the disease.[3]

On November 20, 1833 the council voted to name a park at the intersection of Washington Avenue and the Bowery (Central Ave) "Townsend Park" in honor of the then former mayor.[3]

Commercial Interests[edit]

At the time of his death Townsend was president of the Commercial Bank of Albany and acting president of the Albany Insurance Company.

He was on the board of:

  • Water Commissioners
  • Albany Exchange Company
  • Albany Savings Bank
  • Albany Pier Company
  • Syracuse Coarse Salt Company
  • Watervliet Turnpike Company


  1. ^ FP (1988). The New York Public Library Rare Books and Manuscripts Division Accession Sheet (PDF). New York Public Library. p. 2. 
  2. ^ Reynolds, Cuyler (1914). Genealogical and Family History of Southern New York and the Hudson River Valley. Albany: Lewis historical publishing company. p. 2. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Reynolds, Cuyler (1906). Albany Chronicles: A History of the City Arranged Chronologically, from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time. Albany, NY: J.B. Lyon & Co.