Pierre Van Cortlandt

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Pierre Van Cortlandt
Lieutenant Governor of New York
In office
Governor George Clinton
Succeeded by Stephen Van Rensselaer
Personal details
Born January 10, 1721
New York
Died May 1, 1814(1814-05-01) (aged 93)
New York City
Spouse(s) Joanna Livingston

Pierre Van Cortlandt (January 10, 1721 – May 1, 1814)[1] was the first Lieutenant Governor of the State of New York.

Pierre Van Cortlandt, ca. 1731. Oil on linen. Brooklyn Museum

He was born in New York, the son of Philip Van Cortlandt (1683–1748) (a son of New York Mayor Stephanus Van Cortlandt and Gertruj Van Schuyler), and Catherine DePeyster (a granddaughter of Johannes De Peyster— an ancestor of Abraham DePeyster and Arent Schuyler DePeyster). His great uncle Jacobus Van Cortlandt was mayor of New York City.

Van Cortlandt served briefly in the colonial forces during the American Revolution in spite of efforts by British officials to ensure his loyalty to Great Britain.

Van Cortlandt was Vice President of the 4th New York Provincial Congress which convened as the New York State Constitutional Convention from 1776 to 1777. He lost the election as Lieutenant Governor of New York to George Clinton who was elected both Governor and Lt. Gov. in June 1777, but formally resigned the office of Lt. Gov. when he took office as Governor. Van Cortlandt was elected to the New York State Senate in 1777 and was elected Temporary President of the State Senate, and thus was Acting Lt. Governor. In 1778, Van Cortlandt was elected Lt. Gov. to fill the vacancy, and took office on June 30, 1778. He was re-elected five times, remaining in office until 1795.

Lt. Gov. Pierre Van Cortlandt was elected an original Honorary Member of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati on July 6, 1784.[2]


Van Cortlandt was married to Joanna, daughter of Gilbert Livingston. He died in New York City.

In 1749, Pierre turned the family's simple hunting lodge into an elegant residence known as Van Cortlandt Manor House, adding the upper stories and porches. The house remained in the Van Cortlandt family until 1945 and was purchased in 1953 by John D. Rockefeller Jr. to assure its preservation.[3] The restored manor house was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1961.[4][5]

In 1756 Van Cortlandt built a home near Peekskill, Westchester County, New York called the Upper Manor House, and occupied it much of the time until he died. During the Revolution, Pierre and his family was obliged to leave the Manor House at Croton, and spent most of the time at their Rhinebeck home and at the Upper Manor Home at Peekskill. This house was always open to his friends, as both he and his wife were famed for their hospitality.[6]

The Upper Manor House is a gambrel roofed, brick house, built by Pierre Van Cortlandt. General George Washington with his aides slept in this house many nights while making Peekskill their headquarters in 1776, 1777 and 1778. Cornelia (Van Cortlandt) Beekman refused to give a representative of the British spy John André an American officer’s uniform she had in safe-keeping.[7] It is now part of the adjoining Cortlandt Healthcare nursing care center and may be seen by appointment. The Upper Manor House is located near Hillside Cemetery, Cortlandt Manor, Westchester County, New York where Pierre and his wife, Joanna Livingston Van Cortlandt, are buried.

In 1760 Van Cortlandt built another home, Oldstone (28 Bear Mountain Bridge Road, Cortlandt Manor, NY 10567), a magnificent estate on a bluff overlooking the far-reaching river and Peekskill Bay. The 29-acre property overlooking a bend in the Hudson and an eagle sanctuary. Because of its strategic location on the eastern banks of the old Hudson River, Oldstone was commissioned by the United States Military and used as a military outpost during The Revolutionary War.[8]

His eldest son, Philip Van Cortlandt, was a Continental Army General and New York Congressman.

The first wife of his second son (also named Pierre Van Cortlandt) was Catherine daughter of New York Governor and Continental General George Clinton. A brother George Washington Clinton was also a son-in-law to New York Congressman William Floyd. Another sister of Catherine Clinton named Maria was married to Dr. Stephen D. Beekman-a grandson of Pierre Van Cortlandt and Joanna Livingston. A cousin of Catherine was Congressman George Clinton, Jr..


Van Cortlandt Upper Manor House, Cortland County, New York, Cortland, New York, Cortlandt, New York, and Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School are named after him.


  1. ^ Van Cortlandt, Pierre (1721-1814) at The Political Graveyard
  2. ^ Schuyler, John (1886). Institution of the Society of the Cincinnati with proceedings of the New York State Society. New York: Printed for the Society by Douglas Taylor. p. 85. 
  3. ^ "Van Cortlandt Manor". Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  4. ^ ""Van Cortlandt Manor", January, 1975, by James Dillon (National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination)" (pdf). National Park Service. 1975-01.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ "Van Cortlandt Manor--Accompanying photos, exterior, from 1967 and 1974. (National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination)" (pdf). National Park Service. 1975-01.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ Roebling, Emilt (1903). The Journal of the Reverend Silas Constant. Philadelphia: B. Lippencott Company. p. 429. 
  7. ^ "Women of the American Revolution / Cornelia Beekman". Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  8. ^ "Monteverde at Oldstone". Retrieved 2 March 2014. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
George Clinton
Lieutenant Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Stephen Van Rensselaer