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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Van Rensselaer

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[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 1-28 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

It is beyond possibility to write the history of the city of Albany, New York, without making prominent mention of the Van Rensselaer family. This is because the deeds for every foot of land now comprising the site of the capital city were executed by the owners of the soil, the Mohawk tribe of aborigines, to Patroon Van Rensselaer and his associates, so that this family will ever stand in history as the original owner of a very important and large area of land in the New World; but it is likewise true that every one in the United States either bearing that name or of the blood, must turn to Albany in order to trace his or her descent, which leads to the single progenitor of the family in America.

For nearly three centuries it has been a family whose members have invariably maintained, by culture and mode of living, an undisputed prominence, yet with a well-known reluctance to force itself into public affairs, preferring that retirement which refinement usually seeks, avoiding notoriety and the conflict concomitant with affairs of business life and public office. The family, however, has never suffered the complaint of any lack of patriotism, nor of failing to respond to a genuine appeal to serve the government in an official capacity. It can with full right count its numbers who have done both with a verdict of fullest credit from the people. The direct line has had its representation in the congress of the nation in the state senate and assembly of New York, and in the chair of the lieutenant-governor of the Empire State.

The patriotic qualities of the family have been fully demonstrated by their figuring with prominence in all the great military struggles which have convulsed this nation, and their acts have placed high in the memorable rolls of American history the names of a large number. To their special credit it is recorded also that they served either as officers or in the ranks without pay or emolument, and, moreover, devoted the advantages of their estates to the cause of freedom. The well-known war historian, William L. Stone, states that "They consisted of eighteen males in 1776. During the war every adult, except two old men, and all minors, except four boys, bore arms in one or more battles during the Revolutionary struggle." George W. Schuyler, in his "Colonial New York," explains further, that of the eighteen males, sixteen belonged to Hendrick Van Rensselaer's branch, and of these, five were of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer's family. To bear out such statements by facts it is necessary to examine only a few of the records. Colonel Kiliaen Van Rensselaer departed with his three sons, two of them officers and all true patriots in the revolution, was wounded in the battle of Saratoga when participating in the fierce conflict against Burgoyne, and General Washington paid him the highest compliment upon his courage. One of his sons, Colonel Hendrick Van Rensselaer, was directed by General Schuyler to go in company with Colonel Long to hold the enemy in check at Fort Anne until the cannon and armament of Fort George could be removed to a place of safety. The English under Colonel Hill were in pursuit of the patriots from Lake Champlain up Wood creek, and, on their approach to Fort Anne, Van Rensselaer and Long sallied from the fort on the morning of July 8, 1777, and attacked them so vigorously that they were obliged to retire, leaving their wounded on the field. Colonel Van Rensselaer was so severely wounded that he was obliged after that to relinquish further service, and on his death, thirty-five years later, the ball then received was extracted from his thigh bone. Likewise there was Major James Van Rensselaer, who served with honor and without pay on the staff of the brave Montgomery, and who was near him when he fell mortally wounded before the walls of Quebec, December 31, 1775, Colonel Nicholas Van Rensselaer participated in the decisive battles on the heights of Stillwater, and after the surrender of General Burgoyne, October 17, 1777, was despatched by General Gates to convey the intelligence to Albany. Philip Van Rensselaer was engaged in the commissary department, where he rendered efficient service.

In the war of 1812, Generals Stephen and Solomon Van Rensselaer will ever be remembered as the leaders in command of the forces which crossed into Canada and captured Queenstown, October 13, 1812. In this fight the latter was disabled, being wounded no less than six times. In 1794, as a captain of cavalry, he took prominent part in the battle with the Indians on the Maumee river, where he was wounded, August 20, 1794, while fighting under General Wayne. General Robert Van Rensselaer commanded the militia who pursued and defeated Sir John Johnson when on his famous raid in the Mohawk Valley in 1780.

In the civil war there were many of the name and descent who sustained the Union, most prominent among them being Colonel Henry Kiliaen Van Rensselaer and his nephew, Captain Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, who fought bravely under both Grant and Hancock, participating in no less than fourteen stubborn engagements. William Van Rensselaer, of Seneca Falls, served in the New York Volunteers, Engineering Corps, and fought with gallantry in the Army of the Potomac.

For several other pertinent reasons attention has been directed to this family. It made one of the earliest attempts at colonization in America, the enterprise having received its initiatory movement in Holland at about the same time that the Pilgrims were planning their cruise to avoid religious persecution, and it was originally intended, so some maintain, that both should seek the free soil of what became New Netherland and then New York.

The family will long be remembered because it was identified with the movement for establishment of a landed aristocracy of the New World, its leader to enjoy the ancient Dutch title of Patroon, and after the supersedure of the Dutch by the English, to be known by that of Lord of the Manor. It was a stalwart race and fought strenuously for high ideals; but the titles vanished with the revolution. If ever a feudal aristocracy could have been perpetuated in the New World, this family was best fitted to perform the task.

After that period they added another chapter by being one of the parties participating in the famous anti-rent feud, for, although the revolution had abolished titles, the system of leasing land remained unchanged. It was a matter which was fought by arms and in the courts from 1839 until about 1860. The Van Rensselaers made a stubborn fight for the cause with which they had so long been identified, and the last Patroon finally bowed graciously to the will of the court when the construction of the change from the English laws made it imperative.

A fourth matter of interest taken by many in this family is the importance of the marriage connection with a great number of families also of note, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, among which alliances may be mentioned the Schuyler, Hamilton, Livingston, Jay, Morris, Bayard, Van Cortlandt, Bleecker, Cuyler, Douw, Lansing, Ten Broeck, Ver Planck and Paterson lines. In the younger generations of half a century ago they intermarried with the families of Atterbury, Baylies, Bell, Berry, Biddle, Cogswell, Crosby, Cruger, Delafield, Erving, Fairfax, Grubb, Hodge, Howland, Johnson, Kennedy, King, Lorillard, Pendleton, Pruyn, Reynolds, Robb, Rogers, Tallmadge, Thayer, Townsend, Turnbull, Waddington and Wilkins. Each of these families holds a recognized position in the various cities where they reside, and in every instance their connection with the Van Rensselaer line is well known, for it signifies that in each case one of the name traces with pride to the progenitor of the Van Rensselaer family.

The arms of the Van Rensselaer family, in use three centuries ago in Holland and employed by the Patroons and their descendants in America, consists of: A shield, the first and fourth quarters gules a cross moline argent; second and third quarters argent, six fleurs-de-lys gules, 3, 2 and 1. On an escutcheon of pretence argent bordered sable a cross moline. The crest displays a high, iron fire-basket argent, from which issue flames proper. The motto is Niemand zonder. The interesting tradition regarding the crest has it that on a certain occasion of festival a grand illumination took place in Holland, and the Van Rensselaer family on that day ordered huge iron baskets, similar to that depicted in the crest, to be filled with combustibles and placed on the gate and fence posts, where they added to the effect of the night illumination. The result was so startling that it called forth special commendation from the Prince of Orange, who wished accordingly to bestow a favor such as royalty allows people to whom a money recompense would not be fitting, and he begged Van Rensselaer to adopt the motto, "Omnibus effulgeo," signifying "I outshine all." Before that time the motto had been "Niemand Zonder," meaning "No one without a cross," referring to the cross appearing upon the shield, being of silver upon a red field. The arms as an entirety and sometimes the crest have been employed as the family bookplate for several generations, and they likewise form an attractive feature upon the silver handed down from oldest son to oldest son, as was the English custom so long a common practice of this family.

The Van Rensselaer family was one of importance in Holland before coming to America, respected and honored by their countrymen, holding such positions of trust as burgomaster, councillor, treasurer, etc. In the Orphan Asylum at Nykerk, Holland, there still hangs a picture of Jan Van Rensselaer, in which he is represented as a "Jonkheer," or nobleman, by the distinguishing costume, and he is identified by the small representation of the arms painted on the shield above his head. The original Manor of the Van Rensselaer family, from which they took their name, was as late as 1880 called Rensselaer, and was located about three miles southeast of Nykerk. It was originally a "Reddergoed," the possession of which conferred nobility. The last member of the family who bore the name was Jeremias Van Rensselaer, who died there April 11, 1819. He had married Julie Duval (Judic Henrietta Duval), and they had no children. In his will he states that he had no heirs except the Van Rensselaer family then living in America.

These facts were gleaned by Eugene Schuyler, who purposely journeyed to the ancient family seat, and whose letter, printed in the Albany Argus, September 21, 1879, reads in part as follows:

"I went to Amersfoort, to Nykerk, and to several other towns in Guelderland. At Amersfoort, there is a Table in the Church of St. Joris or St. George, on which is mentioned Harmanus Van Rensselaer, as one of the Regents in 1639. Dr. is prefixed to his name, which may mean Doctor of Laws, Divinity, or Medicine. There is also a tomb of a Captain Van Rensselaer, who died from a wound received at the battle of Nieuport. This is covered by the wood flooring, and is not visible. In the Orphan Asylum at Nykerk, there is a very fine picture of its first Regents, 1638. The picture is painted by Breecker in 1645. There are two noblemen in this picture, Jan, or Johannes Van Rensselaer, and Nicholas Van Delen; one of the four others is Ryckert Van Twiller, the father of Walter Van Twiller, who married the sister of Kiliaen, the first Patroon. There are two other Van Rensselaers named among the later Regents — Richard, in 1753, and Jeremias, in 1803.

The estate of Rensselaerswyck is now only a farm, all the old buildings have lately been taken down — they were covered with gables, weathercocks of the arms and crest of the family; but all have now disappeared. There is scarcely a church in Guelderland that did not have somewhere the Van Rensselaer arms on the tombstones, either alone or quartered with others. The exact coat-of-arms is a white or silver cross on a red ground. The crest is a white basket, with yellow flames above a closed, or knight's helmet."

The Crailo, as the seat of the family was called in Holland, was a large and productive estate some time before any of the family came to America, and it is believed that the family was related to that of Olden Barneveldt, the famous patriot and statesman, because portraits of John of Olden Barneveldt and of his wife Marie, of Utrecht, were preserved as heirlooms until the Crailo estate was sold in 1830. The Manor of Olden Barneveldt was close to Rensselaer, and about six miles south of Nykerk, between it and Amersfoort. This Crailo estate passed into the possession of the female line, the last of whom was Joanna Jacoba Sara Van Rensselaer, from Amsterdam, who married Jonkheer Jan Bowier. She was the mother of twelve children, and when she died in 1830, the Crailo was sold. Two sons of this marriage, Jonkheer Hugo Jan Jacob Bowier, and Jonkheer Martin Bowier, colonel in the royal marines and at one time commandant of the Dutch naval forces off Atchin, were permitted by royal license to assume both the name and the arms of the Van Rensselaer family. In this way the Bowier family came into possession of many heirlooms and valuable papers relating to the Van Rensselaers. These documents were brought from Holland through the efforts of Mrs. Alan H. Strong, of New Jersey, and after being translated by Arnold J. F. van Laer, New York State Archivist, were published in 1908 by the state of New York, and make a volume of over nine hundred pages.

The first historical mention of the family refers to Johan Van Rensselaer, a captain of a hundred men, who did good service in Friesland for the King of Spain in the early part of the sixteenth century. It also refers to Captain Harmanus Van Rensselaer, who was seriously wounded at the battle of Nieuport, in the year 1600, and died in 1601, as is stated upon the tomb at Amersfoort.

In tracing the descent from the earliest known records and family traditions, an early chart shows that the primordial name is that of Hendrick Wouter Van Rensselaer, who married Swene Van Imyck, and had children: Johannes Hendrick, married Derykebia Van Lupoel; Geertruj, married Advocate Swaaskens; Wouter (Walter) Hendrick; Anna and Betje.

Johannes Hendrick Van Rensselaer and Derykebia Van Lupoel had a son Kiliaen, who married Nelle Van Wenckom, and another son named Wouter Jans.

Kiliaen Van Rensselaer and Nelle Van Wenckom had a son named Hendrick, who married Maria Pafraet; a daughter, Engeltje, who married Gerrit Guilliam Van Patten; Claas, who married Jacobina Schrassens; Johannes, who married Sandrina Van Erp, styled Waredenburgh, and Johannes, who died without issue.

The foregoing statement figured on the chart brings one to a period when there are documents and dates which are reliable.

Captain Hendrick Van Rensselaer, son of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer and Nelle Van Wenckom, was probably born upon the estate named Rensselaer, near Nykerk, in Holland, and died at Ostende, Belgium, June 6, 1602. He married Maria Pafraet; children:

  1. Kiliaen, born at Hasselt, Province of Overyssel, Netherlands, about 1580; died at Amsterdam, Holland, in 1644; married (first) Hillegonda Van Bylaer, (second) Anna Van Wely, who died June 12, 1670.
  2. Maria, married Ryckert Van Twiller, and had: Wouter Van Twiller, who was the (third) director-General of New Netherland, 1633-38; Elizabeth, married Johannes Van Rensselaer, son of Kiliaen, the first Patroon.
  3. A third child (apparently), also named Maria, who married Obelaers, and died at Munnikendam, Holland, in 1673.

Kiliaen Van Rensselaer [Painting: original size (28K) | 4x enlarged (92K), "supposed to be Killaen Van Rensselaer, born 1580, from a painting owned by Howard Van Rensselaer, Esq. M. D."], son of Hendrick Van Rensselaer and Maria Pafraet, was born in Hasselt, Province of Overyssel, in the Netherlands, about 1580, and died in Amsterdam, Holland, in 1644. He was the first Patroon and the founder of the colony of Rensselaerswyck in America.

Kiliaen Van Rensselaer was a wealthy merchant of Amsterdam, known to be a dealer in pearls and precious stones, to have had some reputation as a banker and general merchant, and owned large estates in Holland. He was a leader in the famous guild of trading princes which at that time played so prominent a part in the commerce of the world, and it is quite evident that he must have been both shrewd and farsighted. The innumerable documents which he has left demonstrate great thoughtfulness in planning even the details, and he could grasp a situation in a foreign country with the same perfection in every respect as though present and overseeing all. He exhibited sagacity in his stand taken with regard to the policy of the colony as against the desires of his associates who desired to grow wealthy with rapidity. They sought to have those sent out engage in hunting for the purpose of making immediate and large shipments to foreign lands, while he desired that the colonists should become settlers, owning their houses, and leading happy and contented lives, so that they would be willing to remain; should raise large families, and long continue to progress the work on an ever increasing scale as they prospered. He not only had the courage to found a colony in the wilds of an unknown America, but possessed the energy to push the work, once begun and discouraging at times, until it prospered.

In those days the jewelers were moving spirits in advancing the trade with far-distant countries and were alert to seek new fields, even in the alluring country of India, whither all eyes were turned, and the greatest endeavor being made to find a quicker passage. After long years of preparation the charter affecting the colony was granted June 3, 1621, and the subscription list opened. At the start the subscriptions did not come in very rapidly, largely on account of the exclusion of the salt trade from the charter's list of inducements: but when this difficulty was removed the full amount was subscribed. The Chamber of Amsterdam, "because thence came the most money," had the largest number of directors, who were to administer four-ninths of the entire capital of the company. There were twenty, and each had to contribute at least 6,000 guilders. Next to the board of directors there was a body of chief participants, each of whom had the same amount invested, yet while they took no part in the daily management, as the representatives of the stockholders, no resolutions of importance could be taken without them. It was agreed that the first two vacancies should be supplied from the ranks of the chief participants, and the first thus received into the Chamber was Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, who it appears was among the first subscribers and had paid at least 6,000 guilders. It may be mentioned here that on June 16, 1628, he became the owner of the estate called Crailo, near Huizen, to which he added a vast area of unreclaimed land.

Fort Orange had been established 1 May, 1624, close to the western shore of the Hudson river, about one hundred and forty-two miles north of New Amsterdam (New York City), now the site of Albany, and Van Rensselaer thought it an excellent advantage to have his lands under the protection of its guns. He sent agents to investigate the nature of the territory, who reported favorably, and Bastiaen Jansz Crol and Dirk Cornelisz Duyster were especially empowered in writing, signed January 12, 1630, secured shortly a large tract of land on the west bank. In January, 1631, he sent Marinus Adriaensz, from Veere, with some assistants as tobacco planters, and in July he sent Laurens Laurensz, from Kopehaven, with another Northman, to operate the saw and grist mill, also a number of laborers and some ten calves. Knowing that they could not succeed in their support for the first two or three years, he allowed them from 150 to 180 guilders per annum. He also provided the colonists with implements, and allowed the farm hands from 40 to 90 guilders a year. Between 1630 and 1632 he transported on these terms ten persons in the first year and twelve in the next two succeeding years. The first quota of men sailed from Holland, March 21, 1630, aboard the ship "d'Eendracht," or "the Unity," commanded by Jan Brouwer, and arrived at the island of Manhattan, May 24th, to proceed up the river to the site of Rensselaerswyck. The Lords States-General, at The Hague, June 7, 1629, had ratified the plan of the Dutch West India company to allow the patroons to divide the land into manorial grants; but reserving to that company the fur business, and unless five per cent. were paid to the West India company should the colonists weave woolen or other stuffs. The land ultimately secured by Van Rensselaer from the Indians is commonly stated as a tract reaching north and south twenty-four miles from Baeren Island to the Cohoes Falls in the Mohawk, and extending forty-eight miles east and westward, half on each side of the Hudson river, containing about 700,000 acres, comprising therein the present counties of Albany, Rensselaer and the northern part of Columbia. The statement, however, should be modified by the understanding of recent research, although it is practically correct. The land was not purchased at one time. The first certificate of purchase from the Indians was dated August 13, 1630, and (translated) it reads

Anno 1630, this day the 13th of August. We, the director and council of New Netherland, residing on the island the Manahatas and in Fort Amsterdam; under the jurisdiction of their High Mightinesses the Lords States General of the United Netherlands and the Chartered West India Compan, Chamber of Amsterdam, do hereby testify and declare, that on this day, the date underwritten, before us appeared and presented themselves in their proper persons, Kottamack, Nawanemit, Abantzeene, Sagiskwa and Kanamoack, owners and proprietors of their respective parcels of land extending up the river, south and north, from the said fort (Fort Orange, later Albany) to a little south of Moeneminnes Castle (situated on Haver Island, in 1910 Peobles Island, at mouth of the Mohawk River), belonging to the aforesaid proprietors jointly and in common, and the land called Semesseeck, belonging to the aforesaid Nawanemit individually, lying on the east bank from opposite Castle Island to the above mentioned fort; also, from Petanock, the mill creek (Normans Kill), north to Negagonse…

This was signed in the several hands of "Peter Minuiet, Director; Pieter Bijlvelt, Iacob Elbertsz Wissinck, Ian Ianssen Brouwer, Sijmon Dircks Pos, Reynier Harmansen."

Mr. A. J. van Laer, the New York State Archivist, a most careful and capable expert, interprets this to mean: "1, the land on the west side of the river from Fort Orange to the Mohawk; 2, a small tract on the east side of the river, on both sides of the present Mill Creek, from opposite Castle Island to a point opposite Fort Orange; 3, the land on the west side of the river from a point south of the Normans Kill to the north point of Castle Island, or possibly to Fort Orange."

From what Kiliaen Van Rensselaer wrote in his "Account of the Jurisdictions," of July 20, 1634, enclosed in his letter of the 21st to Johannes de Laet, it would seem that the land comprised "all the shore along the river on the west side, from beeren Island to Momnenis Castle." which distance, from Baeren Island, fourteen miles below Albany, to the "Castle" on the Mohawk. Cohoes, ten miles north of that city, would be a north and south line of about twenty-four miles. To the original purchase of 1630 was added in May, 1631, land from "Beeren Island to Smacks (Smax) Island." On April 23, 1637, more land was bought on the east side of the river from Papscanee creek south to a point opposite Smacks Island, and at later dates purchases were made of islands in that vicinity and land near the Poesten Kill (Troy), at Catskill, Bethlehem and Claverack.

It is stated on good authority, after the examination of the Van Rensselaer-Bowier Manuscripts, which were translated in 1903 by the State Archivist, and in which was the letter-book of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer and other voluminous documents, that he never visited his colony or came to America. Even before that it had been a matter of considerable doubt.

It should be stated that Van Rensselaer, for the purpose of more speedy development of his large territory, formed a partnership October 1, 1630, with three brother directors of the company. These were Samuel Godyn, Johannes de Laet and Samuel Bloemmaert, who after a time sold out their interest, and Van Rensselaer alone developed the colony.

In 1640, because of disputes over various matters between the colony and the Dutch West India Company, the patroons obtained a new charter of privileges and exemptions, some of the provisions therein being that all patroons, free colonists and inhabitants of New Netherland should enjoy the privilege of selling articles brought from Holland upon payment of a ten per cent. duty; that they pay ten per cent. export duty on all furs shipped to Holland; that they be allowed to manufacture woolen goods and cotton cloth, which had been prohibited; the person bringing five persons to New Netherland as a colony would be entitled to two hundred acres, and might hunt in the public woods or fish in public streams; no religion except that of the Reformed Dutch Church was to be tolerated; the colonists were to be provided with negroes to help them on their farms; appeal from manorial courts might be made to director and council of New Netherland, provided the sum in dispute was equal to forty dollars; but the patroon's jurisdiction was not to be affected in any way by the new charter. The provisions of the patroon's contracts kept Arendt van Curler, commissary-general of Rensselaerswyck, and Adriaen vander Donck, the public prosecutor, busy throughout 1641.

On March 6, 1642, Patroon Kiliaen Van Rensselaer requested the classis of Amsterdam to send "a good, honest and pure preacher" to his colony, and that body selected Dominic Johannes Megapolensis, Jun., pastor of Schorel and Berg of the Alkmaar classis, who accepted the call of six years, conditioned on a salary of one thousand guilders ($400) that he need not be required to work as a farmer, the same to be paid in meat, drink and whatever he might claim. The dominie was accredited on March 22nd, and June 3rd the patroon sent detailed instructions setting forth where he desired the church, the minister's house and the people to build their homes. The Amsterdam Chamber of the Dutch West India Company indorsed Megapolensis on June 6th, and the patroon was somewhat exorcised, as he considered the matter entirely within his right and not a matter for them to act upon in any way. The dominie, his wife and four young children, arrived at Rensselaerswyck on August 12th, and Arendt van Curler set about the erection of a house for him, while Megapolensis undertook the study of the Indian language so as to be able to preach to the savages. For fully half a century this church, erected by the order of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, was one of the only two in the province of New York, and among the earliest in the entire, United States, for in 1650 there were but few.

Undoubtedly Kiliaen, the first patroon, was a man of absolute sincerity in the maintenance of his Christian views, and this strong characteristic may be traced through any number of his descendants for many generations. That he was so imbued may be accepted as a certainty from what he wrote in various letters, and is illustrated by the following extract, translated from the Van Rensselaer-Bowier manuscripts, being a letter written July 2, 1640, to Arendt Van Curler when he shipped to the latter "three very fine blankets which you will give in my name to three chiefs; one to Sader Juchta, chief of the Maquaes (Mohawks), the other two to the two chiefs who have the greatest credit and power among the Maquaes," as presents to secure their friendship. "These small presents to the savages may sometimes cause great friendship and prevent much enmity. It would also serve as a means of making them acquainted with God, saying this person knows you, although he has not seen you, through those persons whom he has heard speak and who have written of you. How much better then can God, who made the heavens and the earth and created the sun which you can see, see your works, He who each day lets his bountiful gifts come to man through the fruitfulness which He gives to the products of the earth and to man's sinful body."

Trouble was brewing for the colony of Rensselaerswyck early in 1643, for the patroon sought to maintain his rights against any authority of the Dutch rule established firmly in New Amsterdam under the director-general. On September 8, 1643, the patroon sent word from Holland to Nicolaas Coorn to fortify Beeren Island (some fourteen miles south of the present city of Albany), and to demand of each skipper passing up or down, except those of the West India Company, a toll of five guilders ($2) as a tax, likewise to see that every vessel coming up the river lowered its colors at the fort as a sign of respect to the patroon. Thereupon Croon issued the following manifesto:

"I, Nicolaas Coorn, Commander of Rensselaer's Castle, and for the noble lord, Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, under the high jurisdiction of the high and mighty Lords States-General of the United Netherlands, and the privileged West India Company, hereditary commander of the colonies on this North River of New Netherland, and as vice-commander in his place, make known to you that you shall not presume to use this river to the injury of the acquired right of the said lord in his rank as Patroon of the Colony of Rensselaerswyck, the first and the oldest on this river. * * * Protesting in the name of the said lord should you presume in defiance of law to attempt to pass by contrary to this proclamation, I am directed to prevent you. Under this manifesto, however, you are permitted to trade with his commissary; but not with the Indians or his particular subjects, as will be seen and read in the admonition and instruction given by him, the Patroon, to Pieter Wyncoop, the commissary, and Arendt Van Curler, the commissary-general, conformable to the restriction of the regulations contained therein.

Matters in this line came to a crisis the next year. On July 1, 1644, Govert Loockermans, skipper of the yacht "Good Hope," set sail from Fort Orange for New Amsterdam, and with studied contempt failed to salute the fort, Rensselaer's Castle (sometimes called "Steyn"), on Beeren Island ("beeren," the plural of bear), as directed by the mandate, whereupon Commander Coorn shouted across the water to him: "Lower your colors!" Loockermans answered back: "For whom should I?" Coorn told him: "For the stapleright of Rensselaerswyck." To this the "Good Hope's" indomitable skipper replied: "I lower my colors for no one except the Prince of Orange and the lords, my masters!" Coorn applied a match to the fuse of his small cannon, and a shot ripped through the "Good Hope's" mainsail, also cutting loose the rigging. Another shot was delivered, but it passed over the vessel. The third shot, discharged by an Indian, passed through the colors of the Prince of Orange. On July 5th, Skipper Loockermans landed at New Amsterdam, making complaint and demanding reparation, and the Council of New Netherland issued an order for Coorn to desist from such practice; but the following months he asserted that he would not, and should demand recognition of Van Rensselaer.

Authentic records show that Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, first patroon, died in 1644, in Amsterdam, Holland, although it has been published that his death took place in 1645 and also 1646. *

[* Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, the first Patroon, was buried at Amsterdam, October 7, 1643. The fact was ascertained as this work was going to press, by the city archivist of Amsterdam, on examination of the burial book of the old Amsterdam church, and communicated by him to Mr. van Laer, of Albany.]

He was married (first) to Hillegonda Van Bylaer (or Bijler), daughter of Jan Van Bylaer, member of a prominent family in Holland. By her he had three children. She died in Holland, and was buried January 1, 1627, in the Oude Kerk. His second wife was Anna Van Wely (or Weely), whom he married December 14, 1627, and by her he had seven children. She was daughter of Jan Van Wely the younger, of Barneveldt, residing at The Hague, and of Leonora Haukens (or Haeckens), of Antwerp. To Anna Van Wely was presented in 1684 the first thimble, made by a goldsmith named Nicholas Van Benschoten as a protection for her dainty fingers. She died June 12, 1670. The first and second wives were apparently cousins, and Jan Van Wely, father of the second wife, had a tragic fate. He was not only a prominent and respected merchant of Amsterdam, but the "admodiator," or administrator of the county of Buren, a domain of the Prince of Orange. In 1600-01 he had been chosen by the merchants of Amsterdam as their representative with the army, that they might have sure and regular news. It was then that he received a large gold medal representing the battle of Nieuport, which he transmitted as an heirloom to his descendants. In 1616 Van Wely was sent for to The Hague by Prince Maurice, and brought with him, some diamonds and precious stones, which the prince wished to purchase, and worth about one hundred thousand florins. While waiting for the prince in his cabinet, Van Wely was murdered by two officers of the guard, and his body concealed under the table until it could be taken out and buried in an ash pit. This murder, though perpetrated solely for plunder, turned out in the end to have political effects. On the representation of the widow, Hans Van Wely, her eldest son, was continued in the duties and privileges of "admodiator" of Buren.

The three children of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer and Hillegonda Van Bylaer and the seven children by Ann Van Wely were:

  1. Hendrick, died in childhood.
  2. Johannes, baptized September 4, 1625, died in latter part of 1662, or early in 1663. He was the second patroon, but never came to America. Being a minor of about nineteen years when his father died in 1644, the estates in Holland and at Rensselaerswyck were placed in charge of executors. They selected Brant Arentse Van Slechtenhorst to take charge of the colony, in place of Arent Van Curler, resigned, who arrived at Fort Orange March 22, 1648. He married Elizabeth, sister of Wouter Van Twiller, director-general of New Netherland for the Dutch. Children:
    1. Kiliaen, died at Watervliet, Albany county, soon after February 22, 1687, having married his cousin, Anna Van Rensselaer, daughter of Jeremias Van Rensselaer and Maria Van Cortlandt.
    2. Nella, married Johan de Swardt.
  3. Maria, died without issue.
  4. Hillegonda; buried August 23, 1664; without issue.
  5. Eleanora, died without issue.
  6. Susanna, lived and died in Holland; married Jan de la Court, August 5, 1664.
  7. Jan Baptist, born in Holland, was the first of the name to visit America, coming as "Director" of Rensselaerswyck colony in 1651; was never patroon; returned to Holland in 1658, when he was succeeded by his brother Jeremias the same year, who became the third patroon; married Susanna Van Wely; had a son Kiliaen who died without issue, and he (Jan Baptist V. R.) died in Amsterdam, Holland, October 18, 1678.
  8. Jeremias, born in Amsterdam, Holland, in 1632, became the third patroon; married Maria Van Cortlandt, July 12, 1662, and died at Rensselaerswyck, October 12, 1674. (See forward.)
  9. Rev. Nicolaas (Nicholas), born in Amsterdam, Holland, 1636. He was a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church. On being introduced to Charles II, then exile at Brussels, he prophesied the restoration of that monarch to the throne of England, which circumstance afterward obtained for him a cordial reception at the Court of St. James, when he visited London as the chaplain to the Dutch Embassy. In acknowledgment of the truth of the prediction the king presented him with a snuffbox, which relic is preserved in the family.

    Upon his coming to America the Dutch church looked upon him with suspicion, fearing he was a Papist, and demanding a certificate from the classis, for not only did Dominie Nieuenhuysen absent himself from Dr. Van Rensselaer's service in the church, but he was not permitted to baptize. He arrived in Rensselaerswyck as the engaged minister, July, 1674; married, February 10, 1675, Alyda Schuyler, born February 28, 1656, daughter of Philip Pieterse Schuyler and Margarita Van Slichtenhorst; died November, 1678, without issue, and his widow married, in 1679, Robert Livingston, who died about 1728.

  10. Ryckert (Richard), born in Holland, and died there about 1695. He was treasurer and administrator of the Vianen estate belonging to the Breerode family. He came to America, arriving at Rensselaerswyck June 30, 1664, and that year built for himself a residence on the west bank of the Hudson river, about four miles north of Albany, called The Flatts, which was long afterward known as Schuyler's Bouwerie and to this day is known as the Schuyler Flatts, because he sold it to Philip Pieterse Schuyler on June 22, 1672, the father of Albany's first mayor, Pieter Schuyler. He returned to Holland about this time, for he married in that country, January 26, 1672, Anna Van Beaumont, by whom he had five sons and five daughters, only one son and three of his daughters marrying. Their third son, Johannes, died in 1678; their fourth son, also named Johannes, was born February 17, 1679; Anna Cornelia, born in April, 1673, and Kiliaen, born in April, 1675. For many years he was one of the magistrates of Rensselaerswyck, but never was director of the colony, although he assisted his brother Jeremias in the management, and after the death of his mother at Amsterdam he went there. When Jeremias, the third patroon, died in 1674, it was hoped that Richard would return; but as he had been recently married he would not make the trip, and his brother Nicholas came in his stead.

(I) Colonel Jeremias Van Rensselaer, the third patroon, son of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer and Anna Van Wely, was born in Amsterdam, Holland, in 1632, and died in Rensselaerswvck. October 12, 1674. Because he was the first patroon who resided in the colony, he was considered the first Lord of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck. It has constituted considerable confusion to distinguish in the series the proper numerical position of the patroon and the lord of the manor, many historians employing the terms as though synonymous expressions, in error. It fell to the lot of Jeremias Van Rensselaer to witness the overthrow of the Dutch rule at Fort Orange on September 24, 1664, and to find it again to revert to the Dutch government August 5, 1673, when the fort at Albany became known as Willemstadt. He continued the work of his father on much the same lines. His efforts saw the completion of the Dutch church edifice, a rude wooden affair, in July, 1646. One may form an excellent idea of the colony's aspects by what Father Isaac Jogues, the Jesuit missionary residing there, wrote thereof on August 3, 1646:

"There are two things in this settlement, first, a miserable little fort called Fort Orange, built of logs, with four or five pieces of Breteuil cannon and as many swivels. This has been reserved and is maintained by the West India Company. This fort was formerly on an island in the river. It is now on the mainland toward the Iroquois, a little above the said island. Second, a colony sent here by this Rensselaer, who is the Patroon. This colony is composed of about a hundred persons, who reside in some twenty-five or thirty houses, built along the river as each one found most convenient. In the principal house lives the Patroon's agent; the minister has his apart, in which service is performed. There is also a kind of bailiff here, whom they call the seneschal, who administers justice. Their houses are solely of boards and thatched, with no masonwork except the chimneys. The forest furnishes many fine pines; they make boards by means of their mills which they have here for the purpose. They found some pieces of cultivated ground, which the savages had formerly cleared, and in which they sow wheat and oats for beer, and for their horses, of which they have great numbers. There is little land fit for tillage, being hemmed in by hills, which are poor soil. This obliges them to separate, and they already occupy two or three leagues of the country. Trade is free to all; this gives the Indians all things cheap, each of the Hollanders outbidding his neighbor, and being satisfied, provided he can gain some little profit."

Petrus Stuyvesant became director-general for the Dutch in 1647, and immediately after his arrival at New Netherland there were strained relations between him and those in charge of the Rensselaerswyck colony. None of the name of Van Rensselaer had come over. Johannes Van Rensselaer, then only twenty-two years old and residing in Holland, was the patroon, and Jan Baptist Van Rensselaer did not come over to be director until four years late. It was necessary to have an able representative to cope with the cunning of Governor Stuyvesant. Brandt A. Van Slechtenhorst sailed from Holland, by way of Virginia, September 26, 1647, for Fort Orange. The Hudson river being frozen over, he did not arrive until March 22, 1648. While he would not admit any rule over his authority by Pieter Stuyvesant, still he did pay him due respect on his first visit of inspection of the fort, south of the Manor, it being recorded: "Whereas the council of the colony directed that the Heer General Pieter Stuyvesant should be honored, on his arrival and departure, with several salutes from the Heer Patroon's three pieces of cannon, the Director (Van Slechtenhorst) employed Jan Dircksen Van Bremen and Hans Eencluys to clean the same, for they were filled with earth and stones, and to load them, in doing which they were engaged three days, to wit: one day in cleaning them, the second day in firing at the arrival, and the third at Stuyvesant's departure, for which Van Slechtenhorst purchased twenty pounds of powder and expended ten guilders for beer and victuals, besides having provided the Heer General at his departure with some young fowls and pork," which was in July, 1648.

Stuvvesant had hardly returned to New Amsterdam when, July 23rd, he wrote Van Slechtenhorst that he must see to it that all buildings of the colony must be moved away from the range of the cannon in the fort, saying: "We request, by virtue of our commission, the commandant and court of the said colony to desist and refrain from building within a cannon-shot from the fort until further orders, * * * for both above and below there are equally suitable, yea better building sites." Van Slechtenhorst replied on July 28th in refutation to the assertion of rights of Stuyvesant, stating the claim of the colony to use of land all about Fort Orange — that the Patroon's trading-house had stood a long time on the edge of the fort's moat, and he ridiculed Stuyvesant's order in view of the valueless quality of the fort as an adequate place of defence saying: "So far as regards the renowned fortress, men can go in and out of it by night as well as by day. I have been more than six months in the colony, and yet I have never been able to discover a single person carrying a sword, a musket or a pike, or have I heard or seen a drum beat, except when the Director-General himself visited it."

Stuyvesant was angered, and in September despatched both sailors and soldiers to Fort Orange with orders to demolish the house of Van Slechtenhorst, which news when received in the colony excited the men to prepare to take up arms, and as a result Commissary Van Brugge wrote to Stuyvesant that it was useless for him to stand against the inhabitants as they outnumbered his men and had Indians as allies. Consequently Stuyvesant recalled his men in October, and requested Van Slechtenhorst to appear before him on April 4, 1649.

In 1651, Jan Baptist, third son of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, the first Patroon, came to the colony to be its director. It then became a mooted question whether he or Stuyvesant was to be superior. At once he sought to strengthen his position, and on November 23rd he had the council announce: "All householders and freemen of the colony shall appear on the 28th day of November of this year, being Tuesday, at the house of the honorable director, and them take the `'urggerlijke' oath of allegiance." On that day forty-five colonists appeared and took their oath, swearing: "I promise and swear that I shall be true and faithful to the noble Patroon and codirectors, or those who represent them here, and to the honorable director, commissioners and council, subjecting myself to the court of the colony, and I promise to demean myself as a good and faithful inhabitant or burgher, without exciting any opposition, tumult or noise; but on the contrary, as a loyal inhabitant to maintain and support, offensively and defensively against every one, the right and the jurisdiction of the colony. And with reverence and fear of the Lord, and the uplifting of both the first fingers of the right hand, I say, So truly help me, God Almighty."

The soldiers of Fort Orange, on January 1, 1652, made at night a hideous outcry, discharging their muskets in front of the director's mansion. A piece of burning wad fell on the thatched roof and set it ablaze. The next day they assaulted Van Slechtenhorst's son, beating him and dragging him mercilessly through the mire. On January 15th Stuyvesant wrote to his man, Vice-Director Dyckman, to maintain the rights of the Dutch West India Company, and he went with a bodyguard to Jan Baptist Van Rensselaer's manor house, where the colonial magistrates were in session, making the request that Director Van Rensselaer read the proclamation from Stuyvesant to the inhabitants. Van Rensselaer was angered, maintaining that Dyckman should not have come with armed men upon his land, and he asserted: "It shall not be done so long as we have a drop of blood in our veins, nor until we receive orders from their high mightiness and honored masters." Thereupon Dyckman ordered the Van Rensselaer bell to be rung to call the inhabitants together; but being refused, rang that of Fort Orange, and returned to Van Rensselaer's house for the purpose of reading this proclamation from his steps. Van Slechtenhorst snatched the document from his hands, and in tearing it, the seals fell from the paper. When Dyckman threatened that Stuyvesant would make Van Rensselaer suffer for the indignity, Van Slechtenhorst turned to the colonists and said, "Go home, good friends, it is only the wind of a cannon-ball fired six hundred paces off."

Governor Stuyvesant then ordered Dyckman, on March 5th, to erect a number of posts six hundred paces from the walls of Fort Orange, being about 3,083 feet (250 Rhineland rods of 12 Rhineland feet of 12 36-100 in.), marking each with the West India Company's seal, and each with a board nailed thereon to hold the proclamation. On March 17th, Vice-Director Dyckman planted several posts as directed, and two days later the magistrates of Rensselaerswyck ordered the high constable to remove them. After that incident Stuyvesant sent word to Fort Orange that he should come there and take steps to see that his mandates were strictly obeyed. He arrived at Fort Orange on April 1st to straighten out matters and have a clear understanding as to what was property of Van Rensselaer and what appertained to the fort. He despatched Sergeant Litschoe with a squad to lower the Patroon's flag, and, when Van Slechtenhorst interposed, the soldiers entered his yard, discharged firearms and lowered the colors. Stuyvesant then ordered that the land within the area which he had staked out around the fort be known as Dorpe Beverswyck, or the village of Beverswyck, meaning where beavers gathered. Having given what was a fort the status of an actual locality, he instituted a court and appointed three judges. On the court-house he had his proclamation posted, but on April 15th Van Slechtenhorst tore it down, attaching that of Van Rensselaer instead. Because of this act of insubordination he was imprisoned on April 18th, and matters did not mend for several years until both parties, fearing the advent of the English, adjusted matters amicably, fearing a common foe. On May 8, 1652, Jan Baptist Van Rensselaer's certificate was signed in Holland, authorizing him to be "Director" of Rensselaerswyck, and in 1658 he returned to Holland, and it was then that Jeremias became the third Patroon. It is known that he was in Rensselaerswyck in 1659, for history is filled with many of his important undertakings in adjusting matters with the Indians. An invasion of the French from Canada also caused fear. In October of that year he ordered the settlement to be surrounded by a high stockade, as the Esopus Indians were making raids along the river. Although on September 6, 1664, Stuvvesant at New Amsterdam (New York city) drew up articles of surrender to the English fleet then menacing that place, it was not until September 24th that Vice-Director Johannes de la Montagne, for the Dutch West India Company, surrendered Fort Orange. The name "Albany" was then bestowed, and Jeremias Van Rensselaer took the oath of allegiance to King Charles II.

Colonel Jeremias Van Rensselaer, the third Patroon, married, at New Amsterdam, July 12, 1662, Maria Van Cortlandt, born in New Amsterdam, July 20, 1645, died at Rensselaerswyck, January 24, 1689, daughter of Olof Stevense Van Cortlandt, who came on the ship "Haring" to New Amsterdam in 1637, from Wyck by Duurstede, Province of Utrecht, Holland, as a soldier in employ of the West India Company, and died in New York city, on April 4, 1684, having married, February 26, 1642, Anna (Anneke) Loockermans, who died in May, 1684. Children of Jeremias Van Rensselaer and Maria Van Cortlandt:

  1. Kiliaen, fourth Patroon and second Lord of the Manor, born at Rensselaerswyck, August 24, 1663, died there in 1719; married, in New York, New York, October 15, 1701, Maria Van Cortlandt, daughter of Stephanus Van Cortlandt, and Gertrude Schuyler. (See forward.)
  2. Johannes, died without issue.
  3. Anna, born at Rensselaerswyck, August 1, 1665; married (first) Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, son of Johannes Van Rensselaer and Elizabeth Van Twiller, who died in 1687; married (second) William Nicoll.
  4. Hendrick, born at Rensselaerswyck, October 23, 1667; resided in Greenbush, Rensselaer county (Rensselaer, N. Y.), where he died July 2, 1740; married, New York, N. Y., March 19, 1689, Catharina Van Bruggen, daughter of Johannes Pieterse Van Brugh (or Van Bruggen) and Catharina Roeloffse, daughter of Anneke Jans, and Catharina Van Bruggen died at Greenbush, December 6, 1730, having had but one child, Anna, born in 1719, who married John Schuyler.
  5. Maria, born at Rensselaerswyck, October 25, 1672; married, at that place, September 14, 1691, Peter Schuyler (son of Philip Pieterse Schuyler and Margareta Van Slechtenhorst), who was born September 17, 1657; died at The Flatts, four miles north of Albany, February 19, 1724, being the first mayor of Albany, July 22, 1686 — October 13, 1694. The date of the death of Maria does not appear.

(II) Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, son of Colonel Jeremias Van Rensselaer and Maria Van Cortlandt, being the 4th Patroon of Rensselaerswyck, was born there August 24, 1663, being "Friday morning towards eight o'clock," and "was baptised the next Sunday." He died at Rensselaerswyck in 1719.

He was left in the management of the Manor for account of the heirs of the first Patroon until 1695. At this date all the children of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, the projector of the colony, were dead, except two, Eleonora and Richard, and the latter was the treasurer of Vianen, a legalized asylum in Holland for criminals. The Van Rensselaer estate was not yet divided among his heirs, but for nearly fifty years had been held in common. Besides the manor there was a large estate in Holland (the Crailo) and other property. The time had now arrived for the heirs to make a settlement. Controversies had arisen among them, and, to end the disputes, Kiliaen Van Rensselaer (son of Jan Baptist Van Rensselaer) was delegated by the heirs in Holland to visit America and if possible make a complete settlement with the children of Jeremias, the third Patroon, as the only heirs in this country. Kiliaen, eldest son of Jeremias, and the fourth Patroon, was appointed with power of attorney to act for the family of which he was a member. The cousins met and, after a prolonged discussion, in which, as is usual, both lost their temper, they at last came to an amicable agreement to their mutual satisfaction. The indenture is dated New York, November 1, 1695. The heirs in Holland released to the heirs in Albany all right and title in the manor, which was reciprocated by the release of the latter to the former of all right and title to the land in Holland, known as the Crailo, and another tract in Guelderland. They also agreed to deliver the titles to three farms in the Manor, reserving the tenths, and to pay in addition seven hundred pieces of eight. They also released all claims on personal property in Holland, as well as on certain expectations from relatives on their decease. Bonds were exchanged between the cousins for the faithful performance of the contract, and the work was complete. At last, in 1695, the vast estate of the old Patroon was settled, and the colony he founded in 1630, with its territory of practically twenty-four by forty-eight miles, was in possession of one family consisting of Kiliaen, Johannes, Hendrick, Maria, wife of Mayor Pieter Schuyler, and Anna, wife of William Nicoll. Besides the Manor they owned another tract of land containing 62,000 acres known as the Claverack patent, and quite commonly called the "Lower Manor." The latter was on the eastern side of the river, in the vicinity of what is now Hudson, New York. At this time the province was under the English law, and the eldest son was heir-at-law of the real estate belonging to his father.

To Kiliaen, the eldest son of Jeremias Van Rensselaer, deceased, a patent was granted May 20, 1704, for the entire Manor, including the Claverack patent. His brother Johannes having died without issue, there were only three others interested. Kiliaen conveyed to his brother Hendrick, on June 1, 1704, the Claverack patent and some 1,500 acres on the east side of the river, opposite Albany, later known as Greenbush, and then as Rensselaer, New York. To his sister Maria or her heirs he gave a farm of a few hundred acres adjoining The Flatts, above Albany, and to his sister Anna or her heirs he gave a farm larger in extent, but at that time no more valuable, located on the west bank of the river, in the town of Bethlehem.

Kiliaen Van Rensselaer devoted much of his life to the public service. He was an officer of the militia and one of the magistrates, and represented the Manor in the assembly, from 1693 to 1704, in which latter year he was appointed to the council, remaining a member until he died in 1719. The settling of the Manor was much retarded by Indian wars. It was a common practice for the tribes to resell the lands to others after they had sold to Van Rensselaer in 1630. Kiliaen's grandfather's old miller, Barent Pieterse Coeymans, who came out in 1636, purchased from the Catskill Indians, in 1673, a tract of land eight miles along the river by twelve miles deep, which was actually the Manor land. He even procured a patent for it from Governor Lovelace, April, 1673, and the legal contest over it was not decided until 1706.

Of his children, two of the three sons, Jeremias and Stephen, survived him, and these were successively patroons. Two of his daughters, Anna and Gertrude, married brothers, sons of Arent Schuyler, of Belleville, New Jersey.

It was while Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, 4th Patroon, was alive and at the head of the colony, that Albany became a city by charter granted by Governor Thomas Dongan, July 22, 1686. Naturally it created a serious state of affairs, for it meant the determination of the prescribed areas of Rensselaerswyck and Albany, which had been geographically very closely connected, for the legal security of which Van Rensselaer had secured purchaser's rights from the Indians.

Dongan came to Albany in May, 1686, and was requested by the most prominent men to issue a charter by which the village might acquire larger boundaries and by virtue of being a city would have a higher guarantee of property titles than that of magistrates. This forced Dongan to obtain a relinquishment of the Van Rensselaer claims to the land the people would include within the bounds, and his decision, as reported February 22, 1687, to the privy council of King James, regarding the rights of each party, is as follows:

"The Town of Albany lyes within the Ranslaers Colony. And to say the truth the Ranslaers had the right to it, for it was they settled the place, and upon a petition of one of them to our present King (James II.) about Albany the Petitioner was referred to his Matys Council at Law, who upon perusal of the Ranslaers Papers, made their return that it was their opinion that it did belong to them. Upon which there was an order sent over to Sir Edmund Andros that the Ranslaers should be put in possession of Albany, & that every house should pay some two Beavers, some more, some less, according to their dimensions, Pr annum, for thirty years & afterwards the Ranslaers to put what rent upon them they could agree for. What reason Sir Edmund Andros has given for not putting these orders into execution I know not. The Ranslaers came & brought mee the same orders which I thought not convenient to execute, judgeing it not for his Matys Interest that the second Town of the Government & which brings his Maty soe great a Revenue, should bee in the hands of any particular men. The town of itself is upon a barren sandy spot of Land, & the Inhabitants live wholly upon Trade with the Indians. By the means of Mr. James Graham, Judge (John) Palmer & Mr. (Stephanus van) Cortlandt that have great influence on that people. I got the Ranslaers to release their pretence to the Town and sixteen miles into the Country for Commons to the King, with liberty to cut firewood within the Colony for one & twenty years. After I had obtained this release of the Ranslaers I passed the Patent for Albany, wherein was included the aforementioned Pasture to which the People apprehended they had so good a right that they expressed themselves discontented at my reserving a small spot of it for a garden for the use of the Garrison. That the people of Albany has given mee seven hundred pounds is untrue. I am but promised three hundred pounds which is not near my Prquisits, viz. ten shillings for every house & the like for every hundred acres patented by mee."

Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, the fourth Patroon, married Maria Van Cortlandt, in New York city, October 13, 1701. She was born on her father's extensive estate, the Van Cortlandt Manor, near Croton, New York. April 4, 1680. She wrote her name "Maritje." Her father was Stephanus Van Cortlandt (born May 7, 1643: died Nov. 23, 1700), son of Olof Stevense Van Cortlandt and Anneke Loockermans, who had married, September 10, 1671, Gertrude Schuyler (born Feb. 4, 1654; died after October 7, 1719), daughter of Philip Schuyler and Margareta Van Slechtenhorst. Maria Van Cortlandt, when Van Rensselaer's widow, married Dominie John Miller, or Mellen. Children, born at Albany:

  1. Maria, born July 31, 1702; married Frederic Van Cortlandt.
  2. Gertrude, born October 4, 1703: died May 9, 1705.
  3. Jeremias, born March 18, 1705; died at Albany, and was buried May 8, 1745, without issue. He came of legal age in 1726, and was made the fifth Patroon, or third Lord of the Manor, and represented the Manor in the assembly from September, 1726, to September, 1743. In 1734 he visited Canada at the time of threatened rupture between France and England, the Canadian governor reporting, "Patroon, Lord of Albany, in company with another influential gentleman, visited us under pretense of a tour."
  4. Stephen, born March 17, 1707; died at Albany, and was buried at "the Mills" on July 1, 1747; was sixth Patroon; married, July 5, 1729, Elizabeth Groesbeck (see forward).
  5. Johannes. born December 10, 1708; died 1711, without issue.
  6. Daughter, born August 28, 1710; died September 2, 1710.
  7. Johannes, born November 15, 1711; died December 9, 1711.
  8. Jacobus (James), born March 29, 1713; died 1713.
  9. Gertrude, born October 1, 1714; married Adoniah Schuyler (born 1717, died 1763), son of Arent Schuyler and Swantje Dyckhuyse.
  10. John Baptist, born, January 29, 1717; died 1763, without issue.
  11. Anna, born January 1, 1719; died 1791; married John Schuyler, son of Arent Schuyler and Swantje Dyckhuyse.

(III) Stephen Van Rensselaer, son of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer and Maria Van Cortlandt, was born at Albany, New York, March 17, 1707; was baptized March 23rd by Dominie Lydius, of the Dutch Reformed Church, with General Philip Schuyler, godfather, Maria Van Cortlandt and Elizabeth Johanna Schuyler, godmothers; died at the Manor House in Albany, and was buried "at the mills" on July 1, 1747.

He was the sixth Patroon, and known as the fourth Lord of the Manor. His elder brother, Jeremias Van Rensselaer, had been fifth Patroon, but died unmarried in 1745, as the oldest son of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer. Stephen therefore succeeded him in control. His constitution was not robust, and he never took a very active part in public affairs, and only two years after his succession died at the age of forty. The population of the province of New York at that time was 61,588. Colonel William Johnson was at that period sending bands of Indian allies into Canada, for in September, 1746, he had been appointed "chief manager of the Indian War and Colonel over all the Indians by their own approbation." The savages had burned the farms at Saratoga (Schuylerville) November 17, 1745, and the French were expected to move upon Albany at any time.

He married, at Albany, July 5, 1729, Elizabeth Groesbeck, born at Albany, baptized August 17, 1707, and buried December 31, 1756. Her father was Stephanus Groesbeck, a trader, (son of Claas Jacobse Groesbeck, from Rotterdam in 1662), buried July 17, 1744, who married, July 16, 1699, Elizabeth Lansing (born 1679), daughter of Johannes Lansing (born in Hassel and buried at Albany, Feb. 28, 1728) and Gertrude Van Schaick. Children of sixth Patroon Stephen Van Rensselaer and Elizabeth Groesbeck:

  1. Kiliaen, born at Albany, baptized December 8, 1730; died 1730, without issue.
  2. Maria, baptized Augus 13, 1732; died 1734, without issue.
  3. Elizabeth, baptized July 12, 1734; married, at Albany, November 1, 1763. General Abraham Ten Broeck (son of Mayor Dirck Ten Broeck and Margarita Cuyler), who was mayor of Albany from April 9, 1779, to June 26, 1783, and from October 15, 1796, to December 31, 1798; born at Albany, May 13, 1734, and died there, January 19, 1810.
  4. Kiliaen, baptized April 17, 1737; died without issue.
  5. Maria, baptized August 19, 1739; died without issue.
  6. Stephen, seventh Patroon, born at Rensselaerswyck, was baptized June 2, 1742, died at Albany, October 19, 1769; married, in New York city, January 23, 1764, Catherine Livingston (see forward).
  7. Kiliaen, born 1743; died without issue.

(IV) Stephen Van Rensselaer, son of Stephen Van Rensselaer and Elizabeth Groesbeck, was born at Rensselaerswyck, baptized June 2, 1742, and died at Watervliet, Albany county, October 19, 1769. He was the seventh Patroon. His father had died when he was only five years old and the estate had to be managed for him. At about that time (in 1749) the population of Albany county was 10,634, and of the colony of New York 73,348. The boundary between New York and Massachusetts was in dispute in 1752, as the manors of Hendrick Van Rensselaer and Robert Livingston, on the east side of the Hudson, were being encroached upon. In 1753 the Albany council petitioned Governor Clinton to levy a tax on the province in order to raise $30,000 to erect a stone wall about the city, claiming it required such defense as a frontier town. The various provinces sent commissioners to the colonial congress held in Albany. June, 1754, and 1755 marked the great conflict with the French with serious engagements along Lakes Champlain and George, which were of vital concern to Albany. On September 17, 1755, General Philip Schuyler married Catherine Van Rensselaer, only daughter of Colonel John Van Rensselaer, of the Claverack Manor, and granddaughter of the original owner of the vast tract on the east side after the first division of the Van Rensselaer patent. In 1756 the population of Albany county had risen to 17,524, and The Schuyler Flatts were burned that year. So serious was the Massachusetts boundary dispute in July, 1757, that offers were made to take Hendrick Van Rensselaer dead or alive. Troops assembled here in great numbers under General James Abercrombie, in 1758, and following the death of Lord Howe, at Ticonderoga. July 6th, his body was brought here for burial in St. Peter's Church.

The Van Rensselaer Manor House, or the "Patroon's," as it was more commonly called, was built by Stephen Van Rensselaer in 1765. At the time of its erection it was unquestionably the handsomest house in the colonies, and as such exerted a wide influence over the architecture of the more ambitious dwellings. One or two, possibly three, other edifices, had been used by the head of the family before this, and likewise styled the Manor House; but they were poor affairs compared with this one or with the average residence of these days in a country village. The original house was built of brick of unusual size (9 x 4 1/4 x 2 inches) and it was painted in the colonial colors, cream and white. A short flight of steps led up to the Dutch "stoop," a small porch whose roof was upheld by two Doric columns, above which, in the second story, was the great Palladian window. The house was flanked at either end with octagonal wings one story in height. The walls were of unusual solidity, and the entire construction was the heaviest. The floor beams were of hewn pine, ranging from 3 x 12 to 9 x 11 inches. All about it were gardens and lawns, surrounded by enormous elms, and the gradual slope towards the Hudson river was beautified for acres with floral effects, fountain and statuary. Located one mile north of State street, it stood directly at the head of Broadway, which made a turn to the west in order to continue northward as the Troy road. Patroon's creek was the southern demarcation of the property, spanned by a massive brownstone bridge, and at its edge stood the lodge where the keeper lived. It was to this handsome home that Stephen Van Rensselaer brought his bride, Catherine Livingston; but he enjoyed it only a brief spell, for within six years of his marriage he died.

Stephen Van Rensselaer, the seventh Patroon, married, in New York City, January 23, 1764, Catherine Livingston, born August 25, 1745, died April 17, 1810. Her father was Philip Livingston, signer of the Declaration of Independence for New York state; born January 15, 1716; died at York, Pennsylvania, June 12, 1778; who married, April 14, 1740, Christina Ten Broeck, born December 30, 1718; died June 29, 1801. When a widow, following the death of her husband, October 19, 1769, Mrs. Van Rensselaer married, at Albany, July 19, 1775, Dominie Eilardus Westerlo, pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church in Albany, who was born in Groeningen, came to Albany in 1760, and died in Albany, December 26, 1790; by whom she had Rensselaer Westerlo, born in the Manor House, May 6, 1776, died April 18, 1851, married, May 5, 1805, Jane Lansing, daughter of Chancellor John Lansing: and a daughter, Catherine, born in the Manor House, August 23, 1778, died at Albany, September 27, 1846, married judge John Woodworth.

Children of seventh Patroon Stephen Van Rensselaer and Catherine Livingston:

  1. Stephen, born in New York City, November 1, 1764; married (first) Margaret Schuyler, at Schuylerville, New York, June 6, 1783; (second) Cornelia Paterson, at New Brunswick, New Jersey, May 17, 1802. Died at Albany, January 26, 1839. (See forward).
  2. Philip Schuyler, born at the Manor House, Albany, April 15, 1766; died at No. 85 State street, Albany, September 25, 1824; was thirty-second mayor of Albany, officiating the longest of any mayor, January 1, 1799 to July 7, 1816, and July 3, 1819 to February 18, 1821, and was president of the Bank of Albany; married, 1787, Anne de Peyster Van Cortlandt, born, 1766, died January 10, 1855, and was daughter of General Philip Van Cortlandt and Catherine De Peyster; no issue.
  3. Elizabeth, born at the Manor House in Albany, August 15, 1768; died in Albany, March 27, 1841; married in Albany, September 18, 1787, John Bradstreet Schuyler, born in Albany, and was baptized July 23, 1765, died at Saratoga (Schuylerville), August 19, 1795, son of General Philip Schuyler and Catherine Van Rensselaer, by whom she had two sons — Philip, born in Albany, October 21, 1788, married Grace Hunter, and Stephen Van Rensselaer, born May 4, 1790, died young. After the death of John B. Schuyler, Elizabeth, his widow, married John Bleecker in 1800, by whom she had one daughter, who married Cornelius Glen Van Rensselaer, and several sons, who died unmarried, among them Stephen Van Rensselaer Bleecker, born January 5, 1803; died April 16, 1827.

(V) General Stephen Van Rensselaer [Painting: original size (31K) | 4x enlarged (106K)], the eighth Patroon, son of Stephen Van Rensselaer and Catherine Livingston. was born in the house of his grandfather, Philip Livingston, the Signer, in New York City. November 1, 1764, and died in the Manor House; Albany, New York, January 26, 1839.

The new Manor House of the Patroon was not completed until he was one year old, in 1765, and his father brought him and his mother there so soon as it was ready. His father died October 19, 1769, at the age of twenty-seven, when the son was less than six years old, so the care of the great landed and feudal estate, which had fallen exclusively to him by the rule of primogeniture, was committed to his uncle, General Abraham Ten Broeck. It was managed by him with rare ability throughout the minority of his ward, despite the disturbed condition of affairs during the Revolutionary period, when Albany was the scene of serious preparation for war in collecting men and supplies for the great conflict at Bemis Heights and old Saratoga, or Schuylerville. General Ten Broeck was a participant in this military movement to the north, and was the twenty-eighth mayor of Albany, officiating from April 9, 1779, to June 26, 1783, and a second term from October 15, 1796, to December 31, 1798. He had married Elizabeth Van Rensselaer, daughter of Patroon Stephen Van Rensselaer and Elizabeth Groesbeck, November 1, 1763. Under his direction the Manor House was erected.

Stephen was given his earliest education at Albany by John Waters, who was what was then known as a professional schoolmaster, and, being before the days of printed spelling-books, he was taught from a horn book. A little later, his grandfather, Philip Livingston, took charge of his education, placing him at a school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey; but the troublous times of the Revolution drove Livingston with his family from his home in New York City, and they took refuge in Kingston. Fortunately he established a classical academy there under John Addison, a fine Scotchman possessing thorough scholarship and who was later a state senator. It then became necessary to supply the young man with an advanced education, and he was sent to Princeton, when the celebrated Dr. Witherspoon, scholar, divine and patriot, was president. Witherspoon abandoned education for the pursuit of war, was a Signer of the Declaration, and young Van Rensselaer, to avoid the seat of war, was sent to Cambridge, where he became a Harvard graduate in 1782. In 1825 Yale conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws.

The year following his graduation in 1782, peace had been restored in the United States, and the new nation firmly established. There was no occasion for the young man, then nineteen years of age, to fight. Instead, he turned his attention to matrimony, and married Margaret Schuyler, at "Old" Saratoga (Schuylerville), New York, in 1783. She was third daughter of General Philip Schuyler and Catherine Van Rensselaer. Her next rider sister, Elizabeth, had married Alexander Hamilton, who were thus the uncle and aunt of General Stephen Van Rensselaer. Margaret Schuyler was born in Albany, and baptized there September 24, 1758, and she died there on March 14, 1801. Her remains repose in the center of the Van Rensselaer lot in the Albany Rural Cemetery. Her father was General Philip Schuyler, commander of the Army of the North in 1777, and trusted friend of Washington, who was born in Albany, November 11, 1733, married September 17, 1755, and died in Albany, November 18, 1804. Her mother was Catherine Van Rensselaer, born in The Crailo, Greenbush (Rensselaer, N. Y.), November 4, 1734, died in the Schuyler Mansion, Albany, March 7, 1803, and was daughter of Johannes Van Rensselaer and Engeltie (Angelica) Livingston, the latter being the daughter of Robert Livingston, Jun., twelfth mayor of Albany. John Van Rensselaer became heir of the Claverack patent when his father, Hendrick, died July 2, 1740, and was thus the owner of "The Crailo" in Greenbush, called Rensselaer later. It will be remembered that Hendrick Van Rensselaer was a brother of the last Patroon by the name of Kiliaen — in other words, the younger brother of Stephen's great-grandfather. Hendrick was born in 1667, died in 1689, and had married Catharina Van Brough (or Verbrugge), whose share in the property left by their father, Jeremias, was the Claverack property.

At this time Stephen Van Rensselaer's mother was the wife of Dominie Eilardus Westerlo, whom she had married in Albany, July 19, 1775, and they were residing in the Manor House, which she had a right to do as the Patroon's widow. He was an original Dutchman, born in Groeningen, known widely as a fine scholar, an eminent divine, and as the pastor for a long period of the Dutch Reformed Church in Albany, preaching in the Dutch language for the first fifteen or twenty years of his charge. As Dominie Westerlo, and his wife, the mother of Stephen, were occupying the Manor House, consequently the young man brought his bride to the mansion at the southeast corner of North Market street (Broadway) and North Ferry street, which had served as an ample parsonage. When, however. Stephen reached his majority, Dr. Westerlo and his wife exchanged residences with the young Patroon and his bride, the latter couple leaving the parsonage to occupy the Manor House. The day of his attaining his majority was made one of great celebration, and from miles around the tenantry and the social set of the city flocked to participate in his hospitality.

Mr. Van Rensselaer found it necessary to look critically after the interests of his Manor, for in order to secure good returns it was essential that the lands should be cultivated, and while speculators would buy lands, the farmers, or laborious tillers of the soil, were unwilling to contract for the fee. By offering leases in fee or for long terms at a moderate rental, he readily succeeded in bringing a large proportion of his lands, comprising the greater portion of the counties of Albany and Rensselaer, into cultivation, thus acquiring a goodly income, yet those who knew him have said "he had none of that morbid appetite for wealth which grows ravenous by what it feeds on."

He received his first military commission, as a major of infantry, in 1786, when twenty-two years old, and two years later was promoted to colonel and given command of a regiment. In 1801, Governor John Jay directed the cavalry of New York to be divided from the infantry, and the cavalry formed a single division, with two brigades, and the command of the whole was conferred upon Stephen Van Rensselaer. He bore the commission of major-general of cavalry to his death.

In 1787, he took an important step in his career as a man of character, when twenty-three years of age and on the threshold of a life which might have been one pampered with wanton and luxurious excesses, he deliberately chose, by a formal profession of religious faith and a personal vow of religious obedience, according to the doctrines and discipline of the Christian church as adopted by the Dutch reformers, to pledge himself to a life of temperance, simplicity, truth and purity. How well he kept his vow is known to all who are intimately acquainted with the manner of his life, for his domestic relations were the most tender, and his character before the world harmonious and beautiful, as well as replete with deeds of public service.

Towards the close of 1787, the convention sitting in Philadelphia to frame a constitution, terminated its labors and submitted its work for the judgment of the people. Mr. Van Rensselaer took ground promptly, and was pronouncedly in favor of the constitution. The next spring delegates to the state convention were to be chosen from Albany county, and both Yates and Lansing, who had left the Philadelphia convention before its labors were completed, were residents of the same county and held great power as anti-Federalists. It was to be expected that their views would prevail, yet Mr. Van Rensselaer, urged by his party to uphold their moral force in the controversy, consented to stand as a candidate for the assembly, and despite his popularity was beaten. In the spring of the next year, 1789, however, Mr. Van Rensselaer was again a candidate, and, with the previous question settled, was elected by an enormous majority. In the spring of 1790 he was elected to the state senate, and was re-elected, serving continuously until 1795, as a faithful, vigilant and influential member. On standing committees, of which there were few then, he was always an important member. At the next gubernatorial election, 1795, he was chosen lieutenant-governor, with Hon. John Jay as executive, Messrs. Yates and Floyd heading the opposition ticket. In 1798 both were renominated and elected by handsome majorities. This time Chancellor Livingston was Mr. Jay's opponent, while Mr. Van Rensselaer was the candidate of both Federalists and the antis, so universally popular had he become. At the same time, the plan was to attract votes for Livingston away from Jay. In January, 1801, a convention was held at the Tontine Coffee House in Albany, and Mr. Van Rensselaer was unanimously named the candidate for governor. His nomination was enthusiastically seconded in New York City and at public meetings all over the state. His purity, reliable judgment amd competent acquaintance with interests and business of the state commended him but the parties were at such great odds, the rancor so fearful, that it poisoned even whole families with hatred one for another. DeWitt Clinton was named as his opponent. He was also deservedly popular and a man of great energy in affairs of moment. In the midst of the state campaign announcement of the election of Thomas Jefferson was announced. It helped in large measure to turn the tide, and Mr. Van Rensselaer was defeated by a majority of less than four thousand votes.

In October, 1801, a state convention met at Albany to revise the constitution, and Mr. Van Rensselaer was a member, presiding during much of the deliberations as chairman, although Aaron Burr was its president. In 1807 he was elected to the assembly, with his friend, Abraham Van Vechten, as colleague. In March, 1810, a commission was chosen by the legislature, consisting of seven persons — Gouverneur Morris, DeWitt Clinton and Stephen Van Rensselaer among the more important — for exploring a route for a proposed western canal. In the summer of that year, accompanied by a surveyor, he traveled by horseback inspecting a route for the projected undertaking which resulted in the Erie canal, and they gave their findings in February, 1811. With all his enormous energy he advocated the measure in the assembly, thus giving the plan an impetus very needful because of considerable opposition.

War against Great Britain was declared in June, 1812. This was another crisis in his life. A requisition was made on Governor Tompkins, of New York, and the patriotic governor promptly obeyed, selecting Major General Stephen Van Rensselaer for the command. They were then regarded as rival candidates for the chief magistracy. The line of party were distinctly drawn, and the Federalists were charged with being hostile to the war as being premature and unnecessary. General Van Rensselaer was a Federalist. The appointment placed him in a position of embarrassment, for, should he decline, it would tell against his party, and, on the other hand, he was expected to defend both the northern and western frontier, with no experience in warfare and dealing with decidedly impracticable material in the make-up of fighters. He did not hesitate an instant, but accepted the service. His country had summoned him to the field, and he was ready. He was not a loiterer, for in an incredibly short time he had thrown off the citizen surrounded by political advisers, and had formed his military family. In ten days he arrived at Ogdensburgh, having inspected Sackett's Harbor on the way. On August 13th he was in camp at Lewiston, just one month from his call, and just two months later, on October 13th, he was engaged in one of the most gallant and brilliant affairs of the whole war. He carried his American arms into the enemy's territory, and planted the flag of the United States triumphantly on the Heights of Queenstown. Although gaining a complete victory, unfortunately it was of brief duration, on account of the defection of his troops. Had they remained by him, he could have retained the peninsula of the upper province of Canada for the winter, for it was originally planned that Fort George should also be stormed by regular troops. Very valuable to him had been the services of his aide, Colonel Solomon Van Rensselaer, who was wounded a number of times when in the thickest of the fight. By the shameful refusal of his yeoman soldiery, under the plea of constitutional scruples, to march into the camp which had been won for them, he should have felt wroth; but he reported it as an unvarnished relation of facts, telling the truth plainly, but without complaints or reproaches, for he had done his full duty. The British had lost their General Brock by the engagement, and during the cessation of hostilities agreed upon for six days, both sides proceeded to humanitarian duties of burying the dead and caring for the wounded. General Van Rensselaer informed his antagonist that he should order a salute to be fired at his camp and also at Fort Niagara on the occasion of the funeral solemnities of the brave and lamented Brock, to which the stern General Sheaffe replied: "I feel too strongly the generous tribute which you propose to pay for my departed friend and chief, to be able to express the sense I entertain of it."

General Van Rensselaer entered the gubernatorial campaign against Daniel D. Tompkins in the spring of 1813, but his party was in the minority, even though giving him a united support, and he was defeated in the state by 3,600 votes out of the 83,000 cast in the election. In 1816 he was again elected to the assembly, and in March the canal commissioners, with Mr. Van Rensselaer at their head and acting as chairman, presented their report to the legislature, requesting that body to adopt immediate measures for prosecuting the enterprise. In April this great work was authorized, the management committed to a board of canal commissioners, with General Van Rensselaer as a member. He was president of that board for fifteen years, succeeding DeWitt Clinton in April, 1824., and serving until his death in 1839.

In 1819 the legislature was induced to pass an act for the encouragement and improvement of agriculture, appropriating money to be divided ratably among the counties, which were to form county societies, with presidents, who should form a central board. The delegates from twenty-six county societies met at the Capitol in January, 1820, and elected General Van Rensselaer president. In 1819 he was elected regent of the University of the State of New York, and was subsequently the chancellor until his death.

In December, 1823, General Van Rensselaer took his seat in congress for the first time, and was continued in his place by re-election for three successive terms, retiring on March 4, 1829. He held the position of chairman of the committee on agriculture. His report on tariff laws affecting agriculture, made in March, 1824, was a valuable one. His ballot on the presidency, in February, 1825, determined the vote of his state's delegation in favor of Mr. Adams.

On May 5, 1824, the Albany Institute was organized for the purpose of engaging in fields of observation of the natural sciences, for study of new theories and discoveries, and the preparation of learned papers. General Van Rensselaer was elected its first president, having the local prestige of being the president of the Albany Lyceum of Natural History. This society elected him annually through fifteen years, until his death. He perceived the advantage of placing knowledge before the people, and his first movement was to employ Professor Eaton, with several competent assistants, to traverse the state near the route of the Erie canal, taking apparatus and specimens to aid the delivery of lectures before business men and farmers in all the villages along the line. These were given on chemistry, natural philosophy and various branches of natural history, and were given in the summer of 1824 at his expense. The experiment was a success. He had also been accustomed to send his schoolmaster among his tenants in the same capacity, and this led him, on November 5, 1824, to provide a suitable building in Troy, New York, for the conduct of a school under Rev. Dr. Blatchford, to whom he delivered a set of rules for its government. He endowed it with professors, and it was incorporated in 1826 as the Rensselaer Institute. Through the next two years, he paid one-half of its current expenses, and at his death he endowed it. Not alone did he institute the Rensselaer Polytechnic, but to two colleges he gave $5,000 each, and to a single agent for the prosecution of scientific research and advancement of education, no less than $30,000. His benefactions were not only most liberal, but wisely devoted, and in those days these sums were considered fortunes in themselves.

He was connected with the institution of Masonry, having been initiated in 1786, when twenty-two years old, and was placed in official station, becoming successively junior and senior warden, and then master. In 1793 he declined further election in Master's Lodge, but in 1825 was installed in the highest office of Masonry, that of grand master, which act was conducted by Governor DeWitt Clinton.

The funeral of General Van Rensselaer was a most impressive one, perhaps more so than any other at Albany before or afterwards. The religious service was held at the North Dutch Church, and the body, in a simple, unadorned casket, was borne nearly a mile to the family vault, upon men's shoulders, the bearers frequently relieving each other, for no hearse was permitted to receive the hallowed burthen. The mourners, composed of the family, civic officials, Masonic bodies, school societies, the chief magistrate and other executive officers of the state, members of the legislature, all on foot, not a carriage being in use. The military were in citizens' dress; all badges of office were laid aside; no plumes nodded; no helmets glistened; no music murmured — solemn, slow and silent the vast throng moved through the highway to the north.

It is of interest to note the manner in which in those days the intelligence of his death was sent to New York City, where he was well known, and it being necessary to transmit the news because of his prominence in the state's public life. It is recorded in Munsell's "Notes from the Newspapers," as an item of news on that day, January 26, 1839:

"An express was started by Messrs. Baker & Walker, to carry the intelligence of the Patroon's death to New York. A Mr. Dimmick left Albany 14 minutes before 6 p. m. in a sulkey. At Redhook, he found a bridge gone, but mounted his horse and swam the stream, drawing the sulkey after him. At Fishkill, the obstruction was much more formidable. The bridge was gone, and the road for more than half a mile inundated. He again mounted his horse, who pushed gallantly into the flood and swam with his rider and sulkey, over a quarter of a mile, bringing both safely to the opposite shore. Notwithstanding these and other obstructions the express arrived at the Canton House at 20 minutes past 8 o'clock in the morning, having rode over the distance of about 150 miles in 14 h. 31 m."

General Stephen Van Rensselaer, the eighth Patroon, married Margaret Schuyler, daughter of General Philip Schuyler and Catherine Van Rensselaer, at Schuylerville, New York, June 6, 1783; and married (second) Cornelia Paterson, at New Brunswick, New Jersey, on May 17, 1802. She was born June 4, 1780, and died in New York City, August 6, 1844. Her father was Chief Justice William Paterson, a resident of New Brunswick, New Jersey, born at sea December 24, 1745, and died September 9, 1806, while on a visit at the Manor House in Albany. He was U. S. senator in 1789; in 1791 chosen second governor of New Jersey, and General Washington appointed him in 1793 a justice of the U. S. supreme court, which position he held up to the time of his death. He married Cornelia Bell, daughter of John Bell, in 1779. Three children were the result of the first marriage, and nine by the latter.

Children of General Stephen Van Rensselaer and Margaret Schuyler:

  1. Catherine Schuyler, born in July, 1784, baptized August 9; died at Albany, April 26, 1797, without issue.
  2. Stephen, born at Albany. June 6, 1786; died in 1787.
  3. Stephen, born at Albany. March 29, 1789: died at the Manor House, Albany, May 25, 1868; married, in New York City. January 2, 1817, Harriet Elizabeth Bayard (see forward).

Children of Gen. Stephen Van Rensselaer and Cornelia Paterson:

  1. Catherine, born at Albany, October 17; 1803; died in New York City, November, 1874; married, 1830, Gouverneur Morris Wilkins.
  2. William Paterson, born at Albany, New York, March 6, 1805; died at New York City, November 13, 1872; married (first) in New York, March, 1833, Eliza Rogers, (born New York, 1812, died in Cuba, March, 1836) by whom one child; married (second), at New York City, April 4, 1839, Sarah Rogers (born New York, October 29, 1810; died Rye, N. Y., Nov. 19, 1887), daughters of Benjamin Woolsey Rogers and Susan Bayard; by whom eight children, as follows:
    1. William Paterson, born in New York, January, 1835, died in Rye, New York, July, 1854;
    2. Susan Bayard, born in New York, January 31, 1840, died in Rye, New York, July 19, 1863;
    3. Cornelia, born in Albany, September 22, 1841, married John Erving of New York, April 22, 1862;
    4. Walter Stephen, born in Albany, November 2, 1843, died in Rye, New York, May 14, 1865;
    5. Captain Kiliaen, born in Albany, February 14, 1845, married Olivia Phelps Atterbury, in New York, December 13, 1870; died in New York, November 26, 1905;
    6. Sarah Elizabeth, born in New York, January 18, 1847, died in Rye, New York, June 29, 1859;
    7. Arthur, born in New York, September 28, 1848, died in New York, March 4, 1869;
    8. Catherine Goodhue, born in Norwalk, Connecticut, 1850, married, June 11, 1891, Rev. Anson Phelps Atterbury;
    9. Eleanor Cecelia, born in Rye, New York, November 3, 1853, married at Rye, New York, June 1, 1887, Hamilton R. Fairfax.
  3. Philip Stephen, born at Albany, October 14, 1806; died June 1, 1871; married, October 17, 1839, Mary Rebecca Tallmadge, born May 16, 1817, died August 3, 1872, and had: James Tallmadge; Philip, died in 1882; Cornelia; Clinton, Franklin; Cortlandt.
  4. Cortlandt, born at Albany, May 25, 1808; died at Burlington, New Jersey, July 25, 1860; married, September 13, 1836, Catherine Ledyard Cogswell, born September 22, 1811, died December 24, 1882, daughter of Mason Fitch Cogswell, M. D., by whom: Philip Livingston; Alice (Hodge); Elizabeth Wadsworth (Byrd Grubb); Ledyard Cogswell; Alexander.
  5. Henry Bell, born at Albany, May 10, 1810; died at Cincinnati, Ohio, March 23, 1864; married, August 22, 1833, Elizabeth Ray King (daughter of Governor John Alsop King and Mary Ray), born August 17, 1815; by whom: Euphemia, Elizabeth (Waddingon), John King, Katharine (Delafield), and Henry.
  6. Cornelia Paterson, born at Albany, July 1812; married Robert Turnbull, M. D., February 16, 1847; by whom Cornelia Paterson (Turnbull) and Catherine Euphemia (Turnbull).
  7. Alexander, born November 5, 1814; died, 1878; married, 1851, Mary Howland; (second), 1864, Louisa Barnewell, and had: Samuel Howland, Mary, Louisa, (Baylies), Mabel, and Alice.
  8. Euphemia White, born at Albany, September 25, 1816: died May 27, 1888; married, May 2, 1843, John Church Cruger; by whom Stephen Van Rensselaer (Cruger), Cornelia (Cruger), and Catherine (Cruger).
  9. Westerlo, born at Albany, March 14, 1820: died at Albany, July 8, 1844.

(VI) General Stephen Van Rensselaer, son of General Stephen Van Rensselaer, the eighth Patroon, and Margaret Schuyler, was born in the Manor House at Albany, New York, March 29, 1789, and died in the same place, May 25, 1868.

He was given a thorough education, and enjoyed the benefits of culture acquired by travel abroad and by continual association with people of refinement. In social and public life he was greatly respected, and in his family much beloved.

A leading event in his life, as it affected him and his family, was the anti-rent feud. Anti-rentism had its origin in Albany county. Its existence dated from the death of General Van Rensselaer in 1839, the last holder of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck under the British crown and its regulations. He was known to that generation as "the Patroon," was sometimes styled the "good Patroon," and after his death as "the old Patroon." Primogeniture was the law of inheritance in England, so it had been to some extent in the British colonies, and, as the eldest son, Stephen Van Rensselaer had inherited the Manor. But the Revolution and subsequent laws changed the rule of inheritance, giving alike to all the children if no will were made. In order to break the force of this radical change, and so as to continue this vast landed interest in the hands of his two eldest sons, Stephen and William Paterson Van Rensselaer, General Van Rensselaer (1764-1839), on reaching his majority, had adopted the system of selling his lands in fee, reserving to himself in the conveyances, and to his heirs and assigns, all mines and minerals, all streams of water for mill purposes, and beyond this, certain old-time feudal returns, denominated rents, payable annually at his Manor House, usually specified as so many bushels of good, clean, merchantable winter wheat, four fat fowl, and one day's service with carriage and horses; finally the reservation or exaction of one-quarter of the purchase price on every vendition of the land. In other words, one condition alone provided an income to him every time the purchaser of land should resell it. It is said that the mind of Alexander Hamilton conceived and framed this form of lease or conveyance for Van Rensselaer's especial benefit.

Under such peculiar conditions, the land of the Patroon in Albany and Rensselaer counties was sold to innumerable purchasers for farms. The system operated successfully during the life of the Patroon; but when his son Stephen (born in 1789), inherited the land by his father's death in 1839, a new and serious trouble arose. The first purchasers did not object, for they had bought with the definite understanding clearly before them: but on the death of the Patroon and also of the purchaser, the successors of the latter, as new owners, began to grow restive under the burdens imposed, and when either Stephen or William P. Van Rensselaer pressed for payments of the money due as reserved in the deeds, the owners of the land began to question the legality of the reservation.

To Stephen Van Rensselaer and his younger brother, William Paterson Van Rensselaer, the Patroon, General Stephen Van Rensselaer, had devised by his will, drawn on April 18, 1837, all interest in the lands thus sold by him in fee; with the reservations of rents — in other words, they believed that they owned or retained the soil. Stephen, the oldest son, was to receive the rents in Albany county, and William P. Van Rensselaer those in Rensselaer county. The rents at this time came in more sparingly and were paid more reluctantly than they had been to the father, who had been noted as one of the most gentle, kind-hearted and benevolent of men, often generously reducing the rents and in many ways calling forth the love and gratitude of the landholders. The only course open for his son was to sue in the courts, and it was not long before a strong hostility developed. The legal contests of a quarter of a century might have been avoided if the lawyers had perceived that the deeds of the Patroon, being absolute conveyances of all interest in the lands, the reservations were, for that reason, invalid as incumbrances, made so by the English statute, known as the statute of quia emptores, which rendered it impossible for a British subject, on a conveyance in fee of his land, to make, or if made, to enforce by re-entry or forfeiture, such feudal reservations. That was a right remaining in and belonging to the crown alone. It is probable that Hamilton assumed that that statute was never in force in the colonies, for it was adopted back in the reign of Edward I., and later lawyers might have dismissed the consideration of it on the assumption it was not the law of either colony or state.

In the spring of 1839 the anti-renters held their preliminary meeting, numerously attended by all the farmers living in the Helderberg towns. They appointed a committee to wait on Mr. Van Rensselaer to ascertain whether a compromise might not be effected. On May 22 the committee visited the office of Mr. Van Rensselaer, but he refused to recognize them, and instructed his agent, Douw B. Lansing, to inform them that he would communicate in writing. He did so, informing them that he considered it would be an injustice to himself and his family to consent to their claims.

From that time on, his agents had much difficulty in collecting rents, and frequently, when attempting to do so, were held off by shotguns. In December, Sheriff Archer was obliged to call to his aid, in serving process, the posse comitatus, or power of the county. Among prominent citizens summoned was ex-Governor William L. Marcy, who went as far as Clarksville. On December 3rd the sheriff, with his posse, numbering six hundred citizens, started from Albany for Reidsville, some sixteen miles from the city. Arriving within a few miles of the place where the disturbance was expected, he selected seventy-five of the stoutest-hearted and pushed on to Reidsville, where it was understood that the anti-renters were collected in force. Before reaching Reidsville the sheriff and his posse encountered no less than fifteen hundred men, mounted upon their farm horses, posted across the highway, who absolutely barred further progress and ordered the smaller body to go hack. The sheriff and his men could but comply, and gladly marched back to Albany, arriving at 9 o'clock that night.

The next morning the sheriff presented an exaggerated account of what had transpired to Governor William H. Seward, who deemed it his duty to call out the militia, and forthwith he ordered out a force sufficient to capture every man, woman and child upon the Helderbergs. It consisted of the Albany Burgesses' Corps, Capt. Bayeux; Albany Union Guards, Capt. Brown; Albany Republican Artillery, Capt. Strain; First Company Van Rensselaer Guards, Capt. Kearney; Second Company Van Rensselaer Guards, Capt. Berry; Troy Artillery, Capt. Howe; Troy Citizens' Corps, Capt. Pierce, and Troy City Guards, Capt. Wickes.

Major William Bloodgood was in command of this formidable body of citizen-soldiery, and, headed by Sheriff Archer, they moved on Reidsville, the morning of December 9, 1839. Its march, with colors flying, drums beating and cannon rumbling, was decidedly imposing. It found no enemy to attack. Remaining on duty in camp for a week, it returned sadly bedraggled, in a cold rainstorm, somewhat chagrined. Under proclamation of subsequent governors, similar demonstrations took place, all the time the landholders hoping that Mr. Van Rensselaer would seek a compromise. Politicians were alive to bring the landholders into line, and urged the press to take the matter up, with the result that The Freeholder, published in Albany, became their organ, while The Whig, or the paper opposed to the Democratic party, secured the greater number of anti-renters. After many years the question was allowed to drop from politics and the courts took it up. The court of appeals rendered decisions in special cases in 1852, 1859, and finally in 1863, after which the matter rested. Many who sought to risk their fortunes that they might be large gainers, bought the claims of the landholders, and Walter S. Church in this way acquired innumerable pieces of property and was in litigation until his death.

The large area of the once famous "Lumber District" extending along the river front from North Ferry street, northward for a mile, and real estate in or close to the city, were not encumbered by perpetual leases, and remained as a source of income for members of the three generations following. Among the papers preserved by the family is the account-book of General Abraham Ten Broeck, the guardian during the minority of Stephen, and under the entry of a "charge for beef and liquor consumed in a dinner to the tenantry on this your glorious twenty-first birthday" is a brief mention of a transaction which many years later took from the Van Rensselaers many of their acres. On that day the Patroon sold in fee, with warranty of title, his farming lands in Albany and Rensselaer Counties, and no less than nine hundred farms of 150 acres each, or more than 207 square miles, were leased on that day.

On June 3, 1843, the Manor House was opened after extensive alterations made by Architect Richard Upjohn, the leading architect of the time, whose handiwork may be seen in Trinity Church, New York. The wings had been torn down, the whitestone had been removed and replaced with brown New Jersey sandstone, and the great wings and porch in front had been added. The new building bore no resemblance to the old, even in architectural style. The brick exterior was now concealed behind a coating of sanded mastic, and the new stone-work was for the most part of a strictly classical design; but in gables and belt courses a distinctly Gothic tendency prevailed. The building was rectangular in plan, with the great hall, 24 feet broad, extending from the front to the rear, some 46 feet. On either side of front and rear doors were large windows with deep window-seats. The walls of this hall were decorated with frescoes which in their day were the wonder of the country. These were painted upon large sheets of heavy paper, and were executed in Holland especially for the room, and put on the walls in 1768, as is shown by the bill which is preserved. The center of the west wall was pierced by a large, arched doorway, leading to the stairs, flanked by Ionic pilasters. The stairs were lighted by a semi-circular window at the landing, displaying in colors the family coat-of-arms, similar to one placed in the Dutch church in 1656.

The principal adornments in the main hall were two alabaster urns, six feet tall and handsomely carved with acanthus leaves, intended to hold lights. Two large equestrian statues in bronze stood in the central line, one of them depicting Chevalier Bayard, there being only one duplicate in existence. To the right of the entrance was a room about 24 feet square, the guest room or "Bridal Chamber," as sometimes called, and beyond it, further to the east, the large drawing room, ornamented with carved wood, statuary in marble and bronze, and many oil paintings upon the walls. To the rear of this was the library. Correspondingly were placed to the left of the entrance, the reception room, from which one entered, further to the west, the long dining-room, which was the scene of brilliant entertainments and had made the Manor House a noted place both here and abroad, for the foreign guests received at the Patroon's board not infrequently returned to their homes with glowing accounts of the sumptuous hospitality and the magnificence of the family plate.

When Stephen Van Rensselaer died, May 25, 1868, he left behind him an enviable reputation for the sterling virtues which had distinguished the line from which he had descended. He was liberal in his benefactions and dispensed wealth freely to all charitable objects and church. On his death, about 2,500 acres between the Troy and Shaker roads, north of the Manor House and in which he had a life estate, reverted to his half-brother, William Paterson Van Rensselaer. Surviving him in his own immediate family, besides his widow, were: Margaret, wife of Wilmot Johnson, of Chases, Maryland; Cornelia, wife of Nathaniel Thayer, of Boston; Catherine, widow of Nathaniel Berry of Washington and Paris; Justine, widow of Dr. Howard Townsend, then residing in Albany; Harriet, wife of Colonel John Schuyler Crosby, of New York City; Laura Reynolds, widow of Bayard Van Rensselaer, living in Albany; and Eugene, who had married Miss Sarah Pendleton.

At the funeral, held in the old North Dutch Church of 1799, on May 28th, Rev. Rufus W. Clark officiated, assisted by Rev. Dr. Kennedy, of Troy, Rev. Dr. Vermilye preaching the sermon, and Rev. Dr. William Buel Sprague delivering the benediction. The mourners were followed by the physicians, wearing white linen scarfs. On the following Sunday, Rev. Dr. Clark preached a memorial discourse. The consistory of the Dutch Church, of which he had been an elder, met the day following his death and voiced this sentiment regarding their senior member: "We bear, with profound satisfaction, our testimony to his munificent liberality to this church, to the various public educational institutions, to the societies for the extension of the Redeemer's Kingdom, and to every department of Christian charity."

The Board of Lumber Dealers met on the 27th, and their resolution spoke of "our landlord and friend, General Stephen Van Rensselaer, whose intercourse with us has been distinguished by fairness, considerateness and courtesy." The Albany Institute, of which body he was an early, most efficient patron and supporter, memorialized his "love of justice and regard for the rights of others were strong by nature and invigorated by constant exercise, whose respect for truth and detestation of deceit were always deeply felt." The Young Hen's Christian Association assembled on the 29th and spoke of him as "our venerable and honored friend. * * * in whom we have lost a personal friend, a public benefactor, and an earnest supporter of our Association."

General Stephen Van Rensselaer and Harriet Elizabeth Bayard were married in New York City, by Bishop Hobart, of the Episcopal Church, January 2, 1817. She was born in New York City, February 12, 1799, and died in the Manor House at Albany, June 19, 1875. She was the daughter of William Bayard, who died September 18, 1826; who married, October 4, 1783, Elizabeth Cornell, born in 1764, died at the Manor House, Albany; January 17, 1854. William Bayard was the son of Colonel William Bayard and Catherine McEvers.

Colonel William Bayard was a prominent and opulent merchant of New York City, where he was born on June 1, 1729, and died at Southampton, England, in 1804. He resided at Castle Point, Hoboken, New Jersey, and, although he joined the Sons of Liberty, his estate was confiscated because his principles would not permit him to aid the movement for independence. He was a direct descendant of Nicholas Bayard, born in Alphen, Holland, about 1644, who came to America with the Dutch Governor, Pieter Stuyvesant, landing at New Amsterdam on May 11, 1647, and died in New York, in 1707. He was mayor of New York in 1685, secretary of the Province of New York in 1673, and receiver-general in 1663. Colonel William Bayard's wife, Catherine McEvers, was born in 1732 and died in 1814. Mrs. Stephen Van Rensselaer was a woman of superior education and culture, given to the most cordial hospitality, and her life was consecrated to kind acts. Following her death, in 1875, there was a division of the property among the heirs, and the Manor House was closed forever as a family habitation. In October, 1893, the building was razed, and the land thereabouts placed on the market. Twenty-five years later it was the scene of a number of manufacturing plants, and what were once handsome grounds and a forest park were bisected by spurs of railroad tracks.

The children of Gen. Stephen Van Rensselaer and Harriet Elizabeth Bayard were as follows:

  1. Elizabeth Bayard, born at Albany, October 4, 1817; died July 7, 1819.
  2. Margaret Schuyler, born at Albany, May 12, 1819; died at Albany, September 15, 1897; married, at Albany, April 12, 1837, John DePeyster Douw (born in Albany, Dec. 16, 1812: died in Poughkeepsie, Jan. 30, 1901), son of Johannes DePeyster Douw and Catherine Douw Gansevoort; by whom:
    1. Henry Augustus (Douw), born at Albany, January 21, 1840, died February 23, 1854; and
    2. Harriet Van Rensselaer (Douw), born at Albany, March 20, 1842; died at Albany, August 31, 1862; married (second) Wilmot Johnson, of Catonsville, Maryland, April 24, 1851, who died in New York City, September 9, 1899.
  3. Harriet Elizabeth, born at Albany, May 30, 1821; died there, September 19, 1821.
  4. Cornelia Paterson, born at Albany, January 24, 1823; died at Boston, Massachusetts, March 4, 1897; married, at Albany, June 10, 1846, Nathaniel Thayer, of Boston, son of Nathaniel Thayer and Sarah Toppan, who was born at Lancaster, Massachusetts, September 11, 1808, and died at Boston, March 7, 1883; by whom:
    1. Stephen Van Rensselaer (Thayer), born at Boston, August 2, 1847, died there, October 10, 1871, married, Boston, November 2, 1870, Alice Robeson;
    2. Cornelia Van Rensselaer (Thayer), born at Boston, October 23, 1849, died at New York, New York, July 19, 1903, married, Boston, November 24, 1868, Hon. James Hampden Robb (q. v.);
    3. Nathaniel (Thayer) born Boston, June 13, 1851, residing in Boston and Newport, Rhode Island, in 1910, married, Baltimore, Maryland, February 1, 1881, Cornelia Street Barroll, who died February 18, 1885; married (second) Boston, June 11, 1887, Pauline Revere;
    4. Harriet (Thayer), born at Boston, February 16, 1853, died at Dublin, New Hampshire, September 16, 1891; married, Boston, October 11, 1883, John Forrester Andrew;
    5. Eugene Van Rensselaer (Thayer), born at Boston, December 27, 1855, died there, December 20, 1907, married, Boston, December 21, 1880, Susan Spring;
    6. John Eliot (Thayer), born at Boston, April 3, 1862, married, Clinton, Massachusetts, June 22, 1886, Evelyn Duncan Forbes;
    7. Bayard (Thayer), born at Boston, April 3, 1862, married, Yarmouthport, Massachusetts, September 1, 1896, Ruth Simpkins.
  5. Stephen, born at Albany, June 12, 1824; died April 9, 1861; married Annie Wild, no issue.
  6. Catherine, born at Albany, July 24, 1827; died at Washington, D. C., November 1, 1909; married, in the Manor House, Albany, 1856, Nathaniel Berry, son of Nathaniel Berry and Anna Beach, of Washington and Paris (born Sharon, Conn., July 4, 1811; died, Paris, France, April 4, 1865), son of Nathaniel Berry, by whom
    1. Katherine Van Rensselaer (Berry), born at Paris, France, November 2, 1857, died at Bar Harbor, Maine, September 14, 1907;
    2. Walter Van Rensselaer (Berry) born at Paris, France, July 29, 1859, residing in Washington, D. C., in 1910; and
    3. Nathalie (Berry), born at Paris, July 15, 1864, residing in Washington in 1910.
  7. Justine, born at Albany, September 18, 1828; residing in New York city in 1910; married, in the Manor House at Albany, February 2, 1853, Howard Townsend, M.D., (son of Isaiah Townsend and Hannah Townsend) who was born at Albany, November 22, 1823, and died there January 16, 1867; by whom:
    1. Justine Van Rensselaer (Townsend), born at Albany, December 5, 1853, died at Paris, France, April 22, 1881, married at Albany, January 23, 1877, Lieut. Thomas Henry Barber, U. S. A.;
    2. Helen Schuyler (Townsend), born at Albany, November 17, 1855, died there, May 27, 1858;
    3. Howard (Townsend), born at Albany, Aug. 23, 1858, attorney, practicing in New York City in 1910; married, New York, New York, April 17 1888, Sophie Witherspoon Dickey, who died at Saranac, New York, Jan. 29, 1892; married (second), New York, New York, October 20, 1894, Anne Lowndes Langdon;
    4. Stephen Van Rensselaer (Townsend), born at Albany, October 20, 1860; attorney; died at Hempstead, Long Island, January 15, 1901, married, at Grace Church Chantry, New York City, May 22, 1888, Janet Eckford King;
    5. Harriet Bayard (Townsend), born at Albany, March 23, 1864, residing in New York City in 1910, married, New York, New York, April 28, 1886, Thomas Henry Barber.
  8. William Bayard, born at Albany, 1830; died young.
  9. Bayard, born at Albany, September 8, 1833; died at Pau, France, January 12, 1859; married at Albany, February 1, 1854, Laura Reynolds, born at Albany, November 22, 1830, daughter of Marcus T. Reynolds and Elizabeth Ann Dexter; by whom:
    1. William Bayard, born at Albany, October 4, 1856, died at Albany, September 25, 1909, married, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, November 3, 1880, Louisa Greenough Lane; and
    2. Howard, born at Albany, June 26, 1858, (see forward).
  10. Harriet, born in the Manor House, Albany, July 3, 1838; residing in Washington, D. C., in 1910; married, in the Manor House, Albany, June 20, 1863, Colonel John Schuyler Crosby (son of Clarkson Floyd Crosby and Angelica Schuyler), who was born at Quidor Knoll (Watervliet), Albany county, September 19, 1839, and was residing in New York City in 1910; by whom:
    1. Stephen Van Rensselaer (Crosby), born in the Manor House, Albany, May 14, 1868, married at Manchester, Massachusetts, September 18, 1895, Henrietta Grew; and
    2. Angelica Schuyler (Crosby), born at Albany, June 26, 1872, died at Portland, Maine, July 25, 1907, married, at Charlestown, West Virginia, February 12, 1903, John Brooks Henderson, Jr.
  11. Eugene, born at Albany, October 12, 1840; residing at Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, in 1910; married, at Baltimore, Maryland, April 26, 1865, Sarah Pendleton (daughter of Elisha Boyd Pendleton and Marie Lucinda Tutt), who was born at Martinsburgh, West Virginia, December 11, 1846, and was residing at Berkeley Springs in 1910; by whom:
    1. Elizabeth Kennedy, born in the Manor House, Albany, May 31, 1866, married, at Washington, D. C., February 23, 1909, James Carroll Frazer; and
    2. Rev. Stephen, B. A., B. D., born in the Manor House, Albany, January 17, 1869, married, at Lenox, Massachusetts, October 10, 1900, Mary Thorn Carpenter, born March 18, 1861, died October 12, 1902.

(VII) Bayard Van Rensselaer, son of General Stephen Van Rensselaer and Harriet Elizabeth Bayard, was born at Albany, New York, September 8, 1833, and died at Pau, France, January 12 1859. He was the third son and ninth child, but his eldest brother died without issue, and his next elder brother died in infancy before he was born, hence the family name of William Bayard, bestowed upon the infant, was carried down by baptizing him Bayard. By birth, culture and associations he was one of the leaders in the most brilliant social set in Albany, and belonged to a number of clubs and organizations, among them the Burgesses' Corps, then composed of the most prominent young men in the city. His health being far from robust, he sought to improve it by a sea voyage in 1858 and a sojourn in the most invigorating climate of France. Unfortunately, the results were not as beneficial as expected, for he died in France.

He married, at the bride's residence, No. 25 No. Pearl street, Albany, Bishop Horatio Potter, of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, officiating, February 1, 1854, Laura Reynolds. She was born in Albany, November 22, 1830, and was residing in her home there, No. 98 Columbia street, in 1910. Her father was Marcus Tullius Reynolds, born at Minaville, Montgomery county, New .York, December 29, 1788, died at 25 No. Pearl street, Albany, July 11, 1864, who married, May 6, 1823, at Albany, Elizabeth Ann Dexter, born Albany, March 24, 1797, died 7 Park Place, Albany, August 30, 1840.


  1. William Bayard, born at Albany, October 4, 1856, died at Albany, September 25, 1909, married, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, November 3, 1880, Louisa Greenough Lane; and
  2. Howard, born at Albany, June 26, 1858, residing there in 1910, (see forward).

(VIII) William Bayard Van Rensselaer [Portrait and signature: original size (20K) | 4x enlarged (89K)], oldest son of Bayard Van Rensselaer and Laura Reynolds, was born in Albany, New York, October 4, 1856, and died in Albany, September 25, 1909.

He was a direct lineal descendant of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, of Amsterdam, Holland, and had not the laws of New York prohibited the entailing of property, he would have been the 11th Patroon, and owner of the Rensselaerswyck property.

In early boyhood, after returning from Europe, where he had been taken by his parents, went for a while to the Albany Boys' Academy. A little later he was sent to a private boarding-school at Catskill, where he spent two years, or until 1869, when a boy of thirteen, he went to St. Paul's School at Concord, New Hampshire, where he remained for six years, entering Harvard as a freshman in 1875. He was a graduate of the class of 1879 and then attended the Harvard Law School. At school, college and the Law School he was prominently identified with all the leading societies and clubs. After leaving the law school he entered the office of M. T. & L. G. Hun, in Albany, and was admitted to the bar in the fall of 1882, opening an office at No. 25 No. Pearl street. Active duties of a general counselor were to some extent set aside in 1881, by Mr. Van Rensselaer's appointment as the one most suitable person to have full charge of the Van Rensselaer estate. His knowledge of the laws governing real estate and his conservative judgment were a guarantee of most capable management. In the fall of 1885, following his suggestion, the many heirs of the late General Stephen Van Rensselaer conveyed their interest in the Albany property to the Van Rensselaer Land Company, and he was made treasurer, which office he continued to hold until his death.

Mr. Van Rensselaer became a director of the New York State National Bank in 1885, and was made its vice-president in 1900. He was elected a trustee of the Albany Savings Bank in 1883, vice-president in 1897. His grandfather, General Stephen Van Rensselaer, had been the first president of this bank when chartered, March 25, 1820. As chairman of the building committee he devoted untiring energy to the erection of the handsome, new edifice which was opened April 25, 1899. On August 15, 1900, about a month after the death of J. Howard King, he was elected the bank's president, and was its chief executive through a term of years the most successful in its long and remarkable history.

In 1901 he was chosen chairman of the executive committee of the Savings Banks Association of the State of New York, and on May 12, 1904, was elected president of that body because of his widely recognized ability and conservatism.

In 1893 he organized the Albany Terminal Warehouse Company, and a large building was erected on the Van Rensselaer property in the north part of the city, part of which was used as a bonded warehouse. He was a director of the Cohoes Company, incorporated in 1823, by his grandfather, which supplies all the factories of Cohoes, New York, with their water power. On organization of the Union Trust Company, he was made its vice-president, and he was also a trustee for numerous estates, giving close attention to their careful management.

Among various appointments in rendering public service was his appointment by Governor Morton on the Albany Bi-Centennial Celebration Committee, and he was named by Governor Hughes one of the State's representatives on the Hudson-Fulton Commission in 1909.

He was one of the organizers and charter members of the Fort Orange Club of Albany, a member of the Albany Country Club and of the Albany Institute and Historical and Art Society; also a member of the Holland Society, Reform Club and University Club of New York City. He was on the board of trustees of the New York State Normal College and of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, also one of the officers of the Albany Chamber of Commerce.

In politics Mr. Van Rensselaer was a Republican, but at times asserted his independence. Though repeatedly urged to accept, yet he never sought or held political office. As a thoughtful man was, however, much interested in governmental affairs. To the advancement of the Cathedral of All Saints, as one of the chapter, he gave his best endeavor, promoting the work of securing the new and handsome edifice. He traveled extensively, going abroad a number of summers, and in the winter season entertained with great frequency at his home, No. 385 State street, all distinguished visitors coming to Albany, being met at his table. His house is furnished with many of the articles once belonging to his ancestors.

Mr. Van Rensselaer married, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, November 3, 1880, Louisa Greenough Lane. She was born at Cambridge, November 21, 1860, and still lives, residing in Albany. Her father was Professor George Martin Lane, of Harvard University, born in Charleston, December 24, 1826, died in Cambridge, June 30, 1897, son of Martin Lane and Lucretia Swan. Her mother was Frances Eliza Gardiner, born at Shelter Island, New York, July 31, 1828; died in Cambridge, August 31, 1876, daughter of Samuel G. Gardiner, and Mary Catherine L'Hommedieu.

(VIII) Howard Van Rensselaer, M.D. [Portrait and signature: original size (26K) | 4x enlarged (67K)], son of Bayard Van Rensselaer and Laura Reynolds, was born at No. 98 Columbia street, Albany, New York, June 26, 1858.

Before he was a year old he was taken abroad by his parents, returning in 1859, on the death of his father, when he was but nine months old. He was placed in the State Normal School at Albany to learn the elementary branches, and later changed to the Albany Boys' Academy. Remaining there a short time, he was sent to Miss Gaylord's private boarding-school at Catskill, New York, noted for its excellent moral training. When twelve years old he entered St. Paul's School at Concord, New Hampshire, where he pursued his literary studies with especial diligence, and was made an editor of The Horae. While here he was an enthusiastic athlete. He established the one, and three-mile walking records, which still remain unbeaten. He was stroke oar on the successful crew; was on the first eleven of the cricket club, and was president of the Athletic Association. At the age of eighteen he entered Yale, taking the Sheffield Scientific course preparatory to the study of medicine, and graduating in 1881 with the degree of Ph.B. He was also a student of the Yale Art School, took a literary prize, and was a member of the Berzelius Society, the oldest scientific society in this country.

After his graduation from Yale, he immediately entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, then under Drs. Clark, Sands and Dalton, graduating in 1884. During this period of three years he attended all the courses of lectures and read with avidity in every spare moment. He was made the interne at the Chambers Street Hospital, where he gained practical knowledge of medical science. After that he passed the severe competitive examination which entitled him to the position so much to be desired by the aspiring student of medicine, of house physician at the New York Hospital, for a service of eighteen months.

While still studying in New York, he entertained the idea of visiting Europe with a view of studying disease in its various forms and symptoms and the modes of treatment adopted by the celebrated physicians. He crossed to Germany in January, 1887, and visited all the great hospitals of Europe, excepting those of Spain, studying in the large ones in Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Munich, London and Edinburgh. Two years were thus spent, and at intervals he made side trips as opportunity opened, seeing sights in the old world from the North Cape to Constantinople and Greece. He returned from abroad in February, 1889, and opened an office in his native city. He was at once appointed visiting physician to St. Peter's Hospital, and the dispensary of the Child's Hospital. In the fall of 1889 he was appointed instructor of nervous diseases and diseases of the chest at the Albany Medical College of Union University. In December, 1889, he was given the position of attending physician to the Hospital for Incurables, and in January, 1890, was elected visiting physician to the Home of the Friendless. In June of the same year he was called to the position of lecturer on materia medica at the Albany Medical College. In 1892 he was advanced to the position of associate professor of materia medica. In 1894 he was elected full professor of materia medica and therapeutics, and associated professor of the practice of medicine, positions which he still holds.

He is a member of the Medical Society of Albany County; the New York State Medical Society; and is vice-president of the American Therapeutic Society; also, of the Fort Orange, Albany Country and Albany Camera Clubs, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Albany Institute and Historical and Art Society, and likewise of the Calumet Club of New York City. He was a prime mover in establishing the Country Club, and has been for many years its president.

Dr. Van Rensselaer has written a number of notable scientific papers, which have been published and widely read. He was editor of the Albany Medical Annals for six years. He is a medical examiner of several prominent life insurance companies, and gives his services as the attending physician of four Albany hospitals and two charitable institutions. He has been for several years president of the Albany Boys' Club.

Besides his visits to Europe, he has traveled extensively on the American continent, touring the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone regions, Cuba, the Bahamas and Mexico. In 1909 he labored assiduously to establish a Red Cross Hospital for Consumptives, and raised single-handed the fund which covered the erection of the original buildings, the large area of land for the site of which he contributed. It has grown to be one of the most appreciated institutions in the city, and as a department of the Albany Hospital, which it became, will endure as a valued testimonial to his efforts for his fellow-citizens. He holds the position of medical director for this institution.

(The Thayer Line)

Nathaniel Thayer, banker, of Boston, Massachusetts, was born at Lancaster, Massachusetts, September 11, 1808, and died at Boston, March 7, 1883. He was the son of Nathaniel Thayer, D.D., (Harvard, 1789), and Sarah Toppan.

Nathaniel Thayer married, at Albany, New York, June 10, 1846. Cornelia Paterson Van Rensselaer, who was born in the Manor House at Albany, January 24, 1823; died at Boston, Massachusetts, March 4, 1897, and was daughter of Hon. Stephen Van Rensselaer and Harriet Elizabeth Bayard, who were married in New York City, January 2, 1817.

  1. Stephen Van Rensselaer Thayer, son of Nathaniel Thayer and Cornelia Paterson Van Rensselaer, was born at Boston, Massachusetts, August 2, 1847, and died at Boston, October 10, 1871. He married, at Boston, November 2, 1870, Alice Robeson, who was born at Newport, Rhode Island, September 23, 1849, and was daughter of Andrew Robeson and Mary Arnold Allen, of Providence, Rhode Island.

    Andrew Robeson was born at New Bedford, Massachusetts, October 14, 1811; married, at Providence, Rhode Island, March 2, 1843; died at Tiverton, Rhode Island, July 23, 1874, and was son of Andrew Robeson and Anna Rodman. Mary Arnold Allen was born at Providence, Rhode Island, September 9, 1819; died at Isleborough, Maine, July 25, 1903, and was daughter of Zachariah Allen and Eliza Harriet Arnold.

    To Stephen Van Rensselaer Thayer and Alice Robeson was born, at Tiverton, Rhode Island, July 15, 1871, Stephen Van Rensselaer Thayer, Jr., who died at Vichy, France, June 24, 1907. He married, at Niagara Falls New York, June 5, 1895, Julia Mathews Porter, who was born at Niagara Falls, March 6, 1871 and was daughter of Augustus Porter and Julia Granger Jeffries. Children: Alice, born at Paris, France, June 11, 1896; Julia, born at Boston, Massachusetts. December 1, 1899; Mary Allen, born at Boston, June 7, 1901.

  2. Cornelia Van Rensselaer Thayer, daughter of Nathaniel Thayer and Cornelia Paterson Van Rensselaer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, October 23, 1849, and died at her home, No. 23 Park avenue, New York City, July 19, 1903. She was a woman of most estimable qualities. She married, at Boston, Massachusetts, November 24, 1868, Hon. James Hampden Robb.

    Mr. Robb was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 27, 1846. His father was James Robb, born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, April 2, 1814: died at Hampden place, near Cincinnati, Ohio, July 30, 1881, who married June 14, 1836, Louisa Werninger, born at Morgantown. Virginia, May 15, 1808, died at New Orleans, October 13, 1855. She was the daughter of Augustus Werninger (or Weningerode) and Charlotte Matilda Van Swearingen, the latter a direct descendant of Garritt Van Swearingen, the Dutch Representative and Pieter Stuyvesant's lieutenant for the Dutch Colony on the Delaware river.

    Mr. Robb received his education at a school in Europe, and afterwards at Mr. Churchill's well-known military school at Sing Sing, New York; later at Harvard University. After leaving Cambridge he was associated in business in New York City with his father and the late Edward King. He has always been a Democrat, and as such was elected a member of assembly in 1882 from his New York district. He also served as state senator in 1884 and 1885. He was a delegate to the Democratic national convention held in St. Louis in 1888. He was appointed a park commissioner for New York City, and was president of the Park Board, serving from 1887-1890. He was also a commissioner on the first State Board of Commissioners of the Niagara State Reservation, and its first secretary and treasurer. He had served in the National Guard of New York State, and was adjutant-general of the First Brigade. In 1887 President Cleveland offered him the office of assistant secretary of state; but he was obliged to decline the appointment, owing to other engagements. His city residence was at No. 23 Park avenue, and his country home was located at Southampton, Long Island. He died in New York, N. Y., January 21, 1911.


    1. Nathaniel Thayer Robb, born in New York, New York, July 5, 1870; married, New York, November 26, 1895, Frances Beatrix Henderson, born in New York City, October 18, 1875, daughter of Charles R. Henderson and Jennie North; by whom, born in New York City:
      1. Janet Henderson, September 7, 1896;
      2. James Hampden, December 22, 1898;
      3. Cornelia Van Rensselaer, March 5, 1904.
    2. Cornelia Van Rensselaer, born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, September 11, 1874.
    3. Louisa, born in New York City, January 5, 1877; married, New York City, April 8, 1896, Goodhue Livingston, Architect, born in New York City, February 23, 1867, son of Robert Livingston and Susan De Peyster; by whom:
      1. Goodhue, Jr., born in New York City, March 30, 1897; Cornelia Thayer, born in New York City, November 20, 1903.
    4. Harriet Bayard, born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, August 22, 1822, died in New York, New York, December 27, 1910.
  3. Nathaniel Thayer, Jr., son of Nathaniel Thayer and Cornelia Patterson Van Rensselaer, was born at Boston, Massachusetts, June 13, 1851. He was a banker of Boston, residing in 1910 at Lancaster, Massachusetts, and with a summer home at Newport, Rhode Island. He died at Boston, March 21, 1911.

    He married (first), at Baltimore, Maryland, February 1, 1881, Cornelia Street Barroll, who died at Boston, February 18, 1885, daughter of Benjamin C. Barroll and Sarah Street. He married (second), at Boston, June 11, 1887, Pauline Revere, who was born at Quincy, Massachusetts, February 19, 1862, and was daughter of Paul Joseph Revere and Lucretia W. Lunt. Children:

    1. Cornelia Van Rensselaer (Thayer), born at Boston, December 6, 1881; married, Lancaster, Massachusetts, July 29, 1907, Count Carl Moltke; by whom:
      1. Carl Adam Nathaniel, born at Copenhagen, Denmark, September 13, 1908.
    2. Anna Morton (Thayer), born at Boston, May 29, 1883; married at Lancaster, Massachusetts, June, 1904, William S. Patten, son of Joseph H. Patten and Elizabeth G. Boit; by whom:
      1. Anna Thayer, born at Wellesley, March 29, 1905;
      2. Jane Hunnewell, born there, May 8, 1906;
      3. William S., Jr., born there, Nov. 29, 1909.
    3. Sarah Barroll (Thayer), born at Boston, February 18, 1885.
  4. Harriet Thayer, daughter of Nathaniel Thayer and Cornelia Paterson Van Rensselaer, was born at Boston, Massachusetts, February 6, 1853, and died at Dublin, New Hampshire, September 16, 1891.

    She married, at Boston, October 11, 1883, John Forrester Andrew, born at Hingham, Massachusetts, November 26, 1850, died at Boston, May 30, 1895, son of John Albion Andrew and Eliza J. Hersey. Children:

    1. Cornelia Thayer, born at Boston, Massachusetts, November 19, 1884; married, at Boston, April 5, 1904, John Dudley Clark; by whom,
      1. John Dudley, born at Boston, December 30, 1904;
      2. Forrester Andrew, born at Boston, February 20, 1906;
      3. Cornelia Andrew, born at Sherborn, Massachusetts, April 11, 1907;
      4. George Oliver, born at Boston, March 15, 1909;
      5. Nathaniel Thayer, born at Boston, December 8, 1910.
    2. Elizabeth Thayer, born at Boston, Massachusetts, April 9, 1886; married, at Hingham, Massachusetts, July 15, 1905, Charles Ellis Mason; by whom: Harriet, born at Hingham, May 26, 1907; Charles Ellis, born at Boston, October 5, 1908.
  5. Eugene Van Rensselaer Thayer, son of Nathaniel Thayer and Cornelia Paterson Van Rensselaer, was born at Boston Massachusetts, December 27, 1855, and died at Boston, December 20, 1907.

    He married at Boston, December 21, 1880, Susan Spring, born at Lexington, Massachusetts, August 29, 1854, daughter of Isaac Hastings Spring and Susan M. Phinney. Children:

    1. Eugene Van Rensselaer (Thayer) Jr., born at Boston, Massachusetts, September 27, 1881; married, Newport, Rhode Island, September 3, 1903, Gladys Brooks, born at New York, New York, February 1, 1882, daughter of Mortimer Brooks and Josephine Higgins, of New York City.
    2. Katharine Spring (Thayer), born at Boston, Mass., November 2, 1882; married, at Lancaster, Massachusetts, June 1, 1904, Howland Russell, born at Milton, Massachusetts, January 27, 1872, son of Henry Sturgis Russell and Mary Forbes; by whom:
      1. Henry Sturgis Russell, born at Hyde Park, Massachusetts, February 24, 1905.
    3. Susan (Thayer), born at Boston, Massachusetts, October 1, 1885.
    4. Rosamond (Thayer), born at Boston, Massachusetts, January 8, 1891; died November 25, 1891.
  6. John Eliot Thayer, son of Nathaniel Thayer and Cornelia Paterson Van Rensselaer, was born at Boston, Massachusetts, April 3, 1862; ornithologist; residing in Lancaster, Massachusetts, in 1910.

    He married, at Clinton, Massachusetts, June 22, 1886, Evelyn Duncan Forbes, born at Clinton, Massachusetts. September 22, 1862, daughter of Franklin Forbes and Martha Anne Stearns Cushing. Children:

    1. John Eliot Thayer, Jr., born August 19, 1887;
    2. Evelyn Thayer, born August 1, 1888;
    3. Nora Forbes Thayer, born September 6, 1889;
    4. Natalie Thayer, born May 24, 1894;
    5. Duncan Forbes Thayer, born February 14, 1900.

    The first three were born in Lancaster, Massachusetts; the last in Boston, Massachusetts.

  7. Bayard Thayer, son of Nathaniel Thayer and Cornelia Paterson Van Rensselaer, was born at Boston, Massachusetts, April 3, 1862; residing in Lancaster, Massachusetts, in 1910.

    He married, at Yarmouthport, Massachusetts, September 1, 1896, Ruth Simpkins, born at Brooklyn, New York, November 19, 1864, daughter of John Simpkins and Ruth Barker Sears. Children:

    1. Ruth Thayer, born at Yarmouthport, Massachusetts, September 28, 1897;
    2. Nathaniel Thayer (2), born November 14, 1898;
    3. Constance Van Rensselaer Thayer, born, December 20, 1900;
    4. Mabel Bayard Thayer, born April 6, 1908.

    The three last named were born in Boston, Massachusetts.


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