|Birthplace:||Albany, NY, USA|
|Death:||Died in Canada|
|Occupation:||Captain of River Sloop/Merchant|
|Managed by:||Brian Hill|
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About William Pemberton
Pemberton was the son of a one-time garrison soldier and had been a major river carrier since the 1750s. Although his patronage came from Sir William Johnson and pro-British commercial interests in New York City, William Pemberton continued to make headway in upriver Albany — purchasing a home and raising a family, signing the Sons of Liberty constitution in 1766, being appointed Albany jailer, and in 1775 receiving an unprecedented city lease contract for all three Albany docks.
With the outbreak of hostilities, he continued to serve the Albany committee as jailer, provided firewood and custodial services, and was elected an officer in the city militia. Promoted to captain of the Albany Grenadier Company in January 1776, Pemberton surprised his neighbors by refusing to sign the required loyalty oath. A few months later, the jailer became a prisoner — after turning the keys over to Samuel Stevenson, his former deputy. Pemberton’s situation continued to deteriorate as he was condemned for harboring supplies intended for the British.
He was banished to Connecticut, his Albany property sequestered, and his sloop — now commanded by brother-in-law Nicholas Druly, was used to transport Tory prisoners. Paroled by Governor Trumbull late in the year, the Albany committee spoiled his repatriation — confining him in the jail and sending him in irons to the fleet prison in Kingston.
A year later, he was allowed to return home after espousing new faith in New York State. But in 1780, Captain Pemberton was implicated in a Tory escape ring and banished from his native city. His son, Jeremiah — a Heldeberg farmer, also was arrested by the committee, carried dispatches for Burgoyne in 1777. Fleeing confinement, he became an ensign in Jessup’s Loyal Americans and finally led the Pemberton family to exile in Nova Scotia.
From Colonial Albany Social History Project