Jeremias van Rensselaer

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Jeremias Van Rensselaer
Patroon of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck
In office
1658 – 1674
Preceded by Jan Baptist van Rensselaer
Succeeded by Kiliaen van Rensselaer
Personal details
Born 16 May 1632
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died October 12, 1674 (1674-10-13) (aged 42)
Manor of Rensselaerswyck, New York
Nationality Dutch
Spouse(s) Marritje Van Cortlandt
Children Kiliaen Van Rensselaer
Hendrick van Rensselaer
Parents Kiliaen van Rensselaer
Anna Van Wely
Relatives See Van Rensselaer family
Occupation Merchant, Patroon
Signature signature, which reads "Jeremias Van Rensselaer"

Jeremias van Rensselaer (Amsterdam, 16 May 1632 [2] – October 12, 1674) was the third son of Kiliaen van Rensselaer, one of the founders and directors of the Dutch West India Company who was instrumental in the establishment of New Netherland. Jeremias van Rensselaer was the acting patroon of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, and the first of his family to establish himself permanently in America.

Early life[edit]

Jeremias van Rensselaer was born on May 16, 1632 in Amsterdam, the second son of Kiliaen van Rensselaer (1586-1643) and Anna van Wely (1601-1670), his father's second wife. He grew up on Keizersgracht, and received a Calvinist education. His eldest brother was Johan van Rensselaer (1625-1663), the first son of his father and his father's first wife Hillegonda van Bylaer (1598-1626). His older brother, Jan Baptist van Rensselaer (1629–1678) was the first son by Kiliaen and Jeremia's mother, Anna van Wely.

New Netherlands[edit]

In 1654, he sailed from Amsterdam on the Gelderse Blom (Gelderland Flower), to New Netherland (present day United States).[3] He returned to Holland by the Beaver, October 28, 1655, and sailed the second time from Amsterdam on the Gilded Otter, shortly after June 14, 1656.

In 1658, Jan Baptist van Rensselaer returned to Amsterdam and Jeremias succeeded him as Director of Rensselaerwyck on September 24, 1658.[4] Jeremias was the first of his family to establish himself permanently in America, the remaining sixteen years of his life being devoted to the government of the colony.[5]

Manor of Rensselaerswyck[edit]

Pursuing the policies begun under the vice-directors, he became a man of great influence among the Indians, and "so attached them to him that they guarded his estates as carefully as they did their own."[6] To the French in Canada he was known as one of the representative and ablest men of the Dutch and English colonies. He had the good judgment to adjust the acute differences with Peter Stuyvesant (1612-1672) which had troubled the administrations of his brother and van Slichtenhorst, and during the brief residue of the Dutch authority in New Netherland was on excellent terms with the governor.[5]

In 1661, eight chairs, a bed, a mirror and a cupboard were sent to him from the Dutch Republic.[7]

In 1664, Jan Baptist, Elisabeth van Twiller, the widow of Johan, Leonora and Susanna decided to sell all their property in and around Rensselaerswijck to Jeremias.[8] His younger brother Rijckert went to the colony to assist him.

On the occasion of the landtsdagh or diet summoned by Stuyvesant early in 1664 to deliberate on the critical condition of the province—this being the first general representative assembly held within the present state of New York—he served as presiding officer of that body.[5]

English control[edit]

After the surrender to the English in September 1664, he took the oath to the new government, and the rights and immunities enjoyed by his family in its colony were recognized, though the precise future status of the property was not settled in his time. He desired to obtain a new patent in the name of his family, and, failing in this, was privately advised to move in the matter as an individual (being qualified to hold real estate by virtue of his British citizenship), and so obtained a regrant of Rensselarswyck in his personal name. This counsel he rejected indignantly, saying he was but a coheir, and would not defraud his brothers and sisters. He finally obtained from Governor Andros a patent "to the heirs of Kiliaen van Rensselaer," which, while in a sense only provisional, served all necessary purposes until the manor grant of 1685.[9]


As his nephew, Kiliaen van Rensselaer, was still a minor upon Jeremias' death in 1674, Jeremias' younger brother, Nicholas van Rensselaer (1636-1678), succeeded him as Director of Rensselaerwyck until his death in 1678 at which point Kiliaen became the 4th Patroon.[10]

Personal life[edit]

On July 12, 1662, Jeremias married Maria van Cortlandt, daughter of Olaff Stevensz van Cortlandt (c. 1615–1684) and Annetje Loockermans (1618-1684)[11][12] Maria was the sister of Stephanus Van Cortlandt (1643-1700) and Jacobus Van Cortlandt (1658-1739), both of whom served as Mayor of New York City. Together Jeremias and Maria had the following children with her.[10]

Jeremias died in Rensselaerswyck on October 12, 1674.[13] He left a voluminous correspondence, together with a minute chronicle of events in America, under the title of the "New Netherland Mercury". His great industry and methodical habits have been remarked upon by many writers.[10]


  1. ^ Spooner 1907, p.17
  2. ^ Birth certificate Amsterdam City Archive[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Bielinski, Stefan. "Jeremias Van Rensselaer", New York State Museum
  4. ^ Spooner, pp. 13-14
  5. ^ a b c Spooner, pp. 14
  6. ^ Wilson, James and Fiske, John. Appletons Cyclopaedia of American Biography Vol. 6, pp. 250-251, D. Appleton and Company, 1889
  7. ^ Jacobs, J. (2005) New Netherland: a Dutch colony in seventeenth-century America, p. 411 [1]
  8. ^ NA 2241, f. 1233-1234, not A. Lock, 13 June 1673.
  9. ^ Spooner, pp. 14-15
  10. ^ a b c Spooner, pp. 15
  11. ^ Jacobs, J. (2005) New Netherland: a Dutch colony in seventeenth-century America, p. 429 [2]
  12. ^ Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds, Vol.I, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York, 1911
  13. ^ Jacobs, J. (2005) New Netherland: a Dutch colony in seventeenth-century America, p. 444 [3]


This article incorporates text from an article in American Historical Magazine, by W. W. Spooner (1907), a publication now in the public domain.