John Chester was born in Wethersfield, CT. He graduated from Yale College in 1804 and went on to study theology under Joseph Lyman. In 1810, after three years of preaching in Marblehead and Springfield, MA, he was called to the Presbyterian Church of Hudson, NY. He remained there until 1815, at which time he left to take charge of the Second Presbyterian Church of Albany.
In 1823 Chester was elected Moderator of the General Assembly. He retired from the Second Church in 1828 and died the following year.