Patroon

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For other uses, see Patroon (disambiguation).

In the United States, a patroon (from Dutch patroon, owner or head of a company) was a landholder with manorial rights to large tracts of land in the 17th century Dutch colony of New Netherland in North America.[1] Through the Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions of 1629, the Dutch West India Company first started to grant this title and land to some of its invested members. These inducements to foster colonization and settlement (also known as the "Rights and Exemptions"), are the basis for the patroon system.

The deeded tracts were called patroonships and could span 16 miles in length on one side of a major river, or 8 miles if spanning both sides. In 1640 the charter was revised to cut new plot sizes in half, and to allow any Dutch American in good standing to purchase an estate. The title of patroon came with powerful rights and privileges, similar to those of a lord in the feudal period. A patroon could create civil and criminal courts, appoint local officials and hold land in perpetuity. In return, he was commissioned by the Dutch West India Company to establish a settlement of at least 50 families within four years on the land.[2] As tenants working for the patroon, these first settlers were relieved of the duty of public taxes for ten years, but were required to pay the patroon in money, goods, or services in kind. A patroonship had its own village and other infrastructure, including churches (which recorded births, baptisms, and marriages).

After the British takeover of New Netherland in 1664, the system continued with the granting of large tracts known as manors, and sometimes referred to as patroonships.

Rensselaerswyck[edit]

The largest and most successful patroonship in New Netherland was the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, established by Kiliaen van Rensselaer. Rensselaerswyck covered almost all of present-day Albany and Rensselaer counties and parts of present-day Columbia and Greene counties in New York State.

Original patents[edit]

Other large private land patents[edit]

English manorial grants[edit]

Notable English non-manorial grants[edit]

Resistance[edit]

Abolition[edit]

The word patroonship was used until the year 1775, when the English redefined the lands as estates and took away the jurisdictional privilege. Ethnic Dutch, who were still a substantial part of the population, resented the change and moved mostly toward the cause of the Independence movement. After the war, the newly recognized New York State government refused to overturn the law.

Rensselaerswyck was dismantled in the early 19th century after its last sole proprietor died. Two sons split the property and, after tenant farmers gained the right to refuse to pay rent, the son sold off much of the property. The land was organized as different counties and towns in New York's Capital District.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]