(in process of editing)
James King is often referred to in Albany history as a real estate
opportunist. Although little has been found to report in depth about his life,
this assessment should be considered a simple one.
The son of a minister who
emigrated from Ireland to North Carolina in 1758, King graduated from
Princeton University in 1810 and located in Albany to start a law practice. His
first wife was Eleanor (Ellen) James, aunt of philosopher William and author
Henry James. She died in childbirth in 1823. King married again in 1828 to
Harriet Maria Kane. The Kanes were a prominent family of merchants early in
Albany's development as an important commercial crossroads.
It was undoubtedly for the purpose of starting a new family that King
purchased what was formerly John Stafford's house and Gov. Yates' executive
residence. His opportunity came in 1828 when the house was auctioned at the
Mansion House Hotel on Broadway to help pay the Stafford family's debts.
King formed a law partnership with Isaac Denniston, and was an injunction
master in chancery. He had been a member of the Board of Regents of the
University of the State of New York since 1823, and became its Chancellor in
1839. As a real estate speculator, King was one of the earliest to develop land
in what has become the Arbor Hill neighborhood. His concerns lay primarily
with the estate formerly of General Abraham Ten Broeck. An arched opening
between two houses on North Swan Street is all that remains of an enclave
clustered on King Place behind the Ten Broeck “Mansion.” The Kings moved
from Madison Avenue to the Mansion in 1836, and James King died there five