Cadwallader Colden was born of Scottish parents in Ireland on 7 February 1687/8, while his mother was visiting Ireland. His father was Rev. Alexander Colden A.B. of Duns, Berwickshire, mother was Janet Hughes.  He attended the University of Edinburgh on his parents' expectation that he would become a minister of the Church of Scotland, but after completing his studies in 1705 he was disinclined toward the ministry and turned instead to the study of "physic" (i.e, medicine). When he finished his education, his father lacked the financial means to set him up as a physician in Scotland or England, so Cadwallader decided to emigrate to America, where a widowed and childless sister of his mother was in a position to help him begin a medical practice. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1710, where he resided with his aunt and established a professional practice.
In 1715 he returned to Great Britain for a visit and was married to Alice Christy (also called Christie or Chryste) in Kelso, Scotland, on 11 November 1715. In 1716 they traveled together to Philadelphia, and he resumed his medical practice there.
In 1718 he visited New York, where he made the acquaintance of Governor Robert Hunter, who subsequently invited him to relocate to New York with his family and offered him "an office of profit" there. On 6 October 1718 he petitioned (together with James Kennedy and James Alexander) for a grant of 2,000 acres of land in Ulster County, New York, and on 9 April 1719 he received a warrant of patent for the land. On 18 February 1720 Governor Hunter issued a warrant appointing Cadwallader Colden as Surveyor of Lands for the Province of New York. 
He was the Governor of the Province of New York 1760-1762, 1763-1765, 1769-1770. 1774-1775.
He died at Spring Hill, near Flushing, Long Island, New York, on 20 September 1776.
Children of Cadwallader Colden and his wife Alice were:
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