Robert Van Rensselaer

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Robert van Rensselaer (December 16, 1740 – September 11, 1802) was Brigadier General during the American Revolutionary War, a member of the New York Provincial Congress from 1775 to 1777 and later a member of the New York State Assembly in the 1st, 2nd and 4th New York State Legislatures.

Early life[edit]

Robert van Rensselaer was born December 16, 1740, at Fort Crailo in Rensselaer, New York to Johannes van Rensselaer (1708–1793), and Engeltie "Angelica" Livingston (1698–1746/47). His grandfather was Hendrick van Rensselaer (1667–1740), director of the Eastern patent of the Rensselaerswyck manor, and his paternal grandmother was Catharina Van Brugh, daughter of merchant Johannes Pieterse Van Brugh (1624–1697). His older siblings were Jeremiah Van Rensselaer (1738–1810) and Catherine van Rensselaer (1734–1803)[1] who in 1755 married Philip Schuyler (1733–1804), a Revolutionary general and later a United States Senator from New York.[2]


On October 20, 1775, he was made colonel of the 8th Albany County Regiment of militia and on June 16, 1780, he was promoted to brigadier general of the second brigade of the Albany County militia. This brigade included the Tryon County militia. He fought at Fort Ticonderoga and at the Battle of Klock's Field.

From 1775 to 1777, he was a member of the New York Provincial Congress and a member of the New York State Assembly in 1777-78, 1778-79 and 1780-81. Van Rensselaer was a Federalist presidential elector in 1796, and cast his votes for the eventual 2nd President of the United States, John Adams, and Thomas Pinckney, who lost the vice-presidency to Thomas Jefferson.

Personal life[edit]

Robert married Cornelia Rutsen (1747–1790), the daughter of Colonel Jacob Rutsen and Alida Livingston on April 23, 1765 and had the following children:[3]

  • John van Rensselaer, died with no heirs.
  • Jacob R. van Rensselaer (1767–1835), who married Cornelia de Peyster.
  • Jeremias van Rensselaer (1769–1827), who married Sybil Adeline Kane.
  • Alida van Rensselaer, who married Elisha Kane.
  • Catharine van Rensselaer (c. 1770–1867), who married Colonel John Arent Schuyler of Belleville, New Jersey.
  • Angelica van Rensselaer (c. 1785–1818), who married Reverend Thomas Yardley How.
  • Henry van Rensselaer (b. 1775), who married Catherine D. Hoffman
  • James van Rensselaer (1783–1840), who moved to Jasper County, Indiana and purchased land to found Rensselaer, Indiana.

He died September 11, 1802 at the Van Rensselaer Lower Manor House.


His grandson, John K. Kane (1795–1858), was a noted Pennsylvania lawyer and judge.

See also[edit]


  • Heitman, Francis B., Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution. New, enlarged, and revised edition., Washington, D.C.: Rare Book Shop Publishing Company, 1914