Robert Livingston the Elder

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Robert Livingston the Elder
Robert Livingston (1654-1728).jpg
Portrait of Robert Livingston the Elder.
Born Robert Livingston the Elder
(1654-12-13)December 13, 1654
Ancrum, near Jedburgh, County of Roxburgh, Scotland
Died October 1, 1728(1728-10-01) (aged 73)
Ethnicity Scottish
Spouse(s) Alida
Children Nine children, including Philip, Robert and Gilbert.

Robert Livingston the Elder (December 13, 1654 – October 1, 1728) was a New York colonial official, and first lord of Livingston Manor. He married Alida Schuyler (widow of Nicholas Van Rensselaer) in 1679. He was the father of nine children, including Philip, Robert and Gilbert. He was also uncle of Robert Livingston the Younger, grandfather of Philip Livingston and William Livingston.

Early life[edit]

He was born in the village of Ancrum, near Jedburgh, in the County of Roxburgh, Scotland, one of seven children of the Reverend John Livingston, a lineal descendant of the fourth Lord Livingston, ancestor of the earls of Linlithgow and Callendar, a minister of the Church of Scotland, who was sent into exile in 1663 due to his resistance to attempts to turn the Presbyterian national church into an Episcopalian institution. The exiled family were raised in Rotterdam, in the Dutch Republic, thus Robert Livingston was fluent in the Dutch language, which helped him greatly in his later career in the former Dutch colony of New Netherland.


Following the death of his father in 1673, Robert Livingston returned to Scotland and then sailed for Boston to find his fortune in North America. Livingston moved to Albany, New York where he became wealthy in the fur trade, and then obtained a patent to 160,000 acres (650 km²) that would become Livingston Manor in Columbia and Dutchess County.

With his brother-in-law Peter Schuyler, he led the opposition in Albany to Leisler's Rebellion. He served as Secretary for Indian Affairs from 1695 until his death. In 1696, he backed Captain William Kidd's privateer voyage on the Adventure Galley. He served as a representative to the New York provincial assembly in 1709–1711 and 1716–1725 and was elected speaker in 1718.

Family and descendants[edit]

Livingston's son Gilbert was married to Cornelia Beekman, a granddaughter of Wilhelmus Beekman, New York City Mayor,[1][2][3] Governor of Delaware,[4] 1653-1664, and Governor of Pennsylvania, 1658-1663.[5][6] Their daughter married New York Lt. Governor Pierre Van Cortlandt. One of the Van Cortlandts' daughters married Albany Mayor Philip Schuyler Van Rensselaer. Mrs. Van Cortlandt's sister-in-law married the great-grandson of New York Colony Governor Peter Stuyvesant. They were grandparents to New York Governor Hamilton Fish. Another daughter of Gilbert Livingston named Margaret Livingston married Peter Stuyvesant (1727–1805) also a great-grandson of Peter Stuyvesant. Their son Nicholas William Stuyvesant (1769–1833) married Catherine Livingston Reade, who was also a great-granddaughter of Gilbert Livingston.

Another relation was niece Catherine Schuyler, married into the De Peyster family; her son was loyalist Arent Schuyler De Peyster. Arent's nephew, Abraham De Peyster, was a loyalist Officer who served with the King's American Regiment and was at Battle of King's Mountain; Abraham was married to Catherine Livingston, a granddaughter of Philip Livingston (1686–1749, and 2nd Lord of the Manor).

Notable descendants include Presidents of the United States George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, the entire Fish and Kean families, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of New York Anna Morton, actors Montgomery Clift and Michael Douglas, actress Jane Wyatt, medical resident Asad Rizvi, poet Robert Lowell, cinematographer Floyd Crosby, his son David Crosby, author Wolcott Gibbs, and almost the entire Astor family.

His will provided for the establishment of the Livingston Memorial Church and Burial Ground.[7] It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.[8]


  1. ^ Lamb, Martha J. (1877, 1896). History of the City of New York: Its Origin, Rise and Progress. Volume 1.. A. S. Barnes and Company. p. 301. 
  2. ^ Van Rensselaer, Mrs. Schuyler (1909). History of the City of New York in the Seventeenth Century. Vol 2.. New York: Macmillan Company. pp. 247, 269. 
  3. ^ Hamm, Margherita Arlina (1902). Famous Families of New York. New York: G. P. Putnam & Sons. p. 28. 
  4. ^ Acrelius, Israel; Collin, Nicholas (1841). "New Sweden, or The Swedish Settlements on the Delaware". Collections of the New York Historical Society. 2 1: 421. 
  5. ^ Aitken, Ph.D., William B. (1912). Distinguished Families in America Descended from Wilhelmus Beekman and Jan Thomasse Van Dyke. New York: Knickerbocker Press. p. 3. 
  6. ^ Beekman, Mrs. William B. (1925). The Beekman Family. An Address Read Before the New York Branch of The Order of Colonial Lords of Manors in America. Baltimore. p. 6. 
  7. ^ Neil Larson (July 1985). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Livingston Memorial Church and Burial Ground". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2010-07-04. 
  8. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 

External links[edit]