Robert Van Rensselaer

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.[1]

Robert Van Rensselaer
Member of the
New York State Assembly
In office
1777-78, 1778-79 and 1780-81
Member of the
New York Provincial Congress
In office
Personal details
Born(1740-12-16)December 16, 1740
Fort Crailo, Rensselaer, Province of New York, British America
DiedSeptember 11, 1802(1802-09-11) (aged 61)
Lower Manor House, Claverack, New York, U.S.
Political partyFederalist
Cornelia Rutsen
(m. 1765; her death 1790)
RelationsSee Van Rensselaer family
ParentsJohannes Van Rensselaer
Engeltie Livingston
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service New York Militia
RankBrigadier General
UnitAlbany County militia
Battles/warsAmerican Revolutionary War

Early lifeEdit

Robert Van Rensselaer was born December 16, 1740, at Fort Crailo in Rensselaer, New York. He was the son of Johannes Van Rensselaer (1708–1793), and Engeltie "Angelica" Livingston (1698–1746/47). His older siblings were Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, the 3rd Lieutenant Governor of New York, and Catherine Van Rensselaer, who married Philip Schuyler,[2] who eventually became a United States Senator from New York and was also a Federalist.[3]

His paternal grandparents were Hendrick van Rensselaer (1667–1740), director of the Eastern patent of the Rensselaerswyck manor, and Catharina Van Brugh, daughter of merchant Johannes Pieterse Van Brugh (1624–1697).[4] His paternal 2x great-grandfather was the merchant Killian Van Rensselaer, one of the original founders of the Dutch colony, New Amsterdam. His maternal grandparents were Robert Livingston the Younger and Margarita Schuyler, herself the daughter of Pieter Schuyler, the first Mayor of Albany.[5][6]


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.[7] This brigade included the Tryon County militia. He fought at Fort Ticonderoga and at the Battle of Klock's Field.[8]

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.[1] In 1780, Van Rensselaer negotiated a mediation with the chiefs of the Oneida Nation, Native Americans who had made an alliance with the British against the American colonists during the Revolutionary War.[9][10]

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.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

On April 23, 1765, Robert married Cornelia Rutsen (1747–1790),[11] the daughter of Colonel Jacob Rutsen and Alida Livingston on April 23, 1765 and had the following children:[12][3][13]

  • John Van Rensselaer (b. 1766), who died with no heirs.[3]
  • Jacob Rutsen Van Rensselaer (1767–1835), who married Cornelia de Peyster (1774–1849), daughter of Pierre de Peyster.[3]
  • Jeremiah Van Rensselaer (1769–1827), who married Sybil Adeline Kane (1770–1828).[3][14]
  • Alida Van Rensselaer (c. 1771–1799), who married Elisha Kane (1770–1834) in 1794.[3]
  • Catharine Van Rensselaer (c. 1770–1867), who married Colonel John Arent Schuyler of Belleville, New Jersey.[3]
  • Angelica Van Rensselaer (c. 1785–1818), who married Reverend Thomas Yardley How.[3]
  • Henry Van Rensselaer (b. 1775), who married Catherine D. Hoffman.[3]
  • James Van Rensselaer (1783–1840), who moved to Jasper County, Indiana and purchased land to found Rensselaer, Indiana.[3]

Van Rensselaer died September 11, 1802 at the Van Rensselaer Lower Manor House.[3][15]


Through his daughter Alida, he was the grandfather of John Kintzing Kane (1795–1858), a noted Pennsylvania lawyer and judge who served as the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. Kane was the father of Elisha Kent Kane (1820–1857), the explorer, Thomas Leiper Kane (1822–1883), an attorney and abolitionist, and Elizabeth Kane (1830–1869), who married Charles Woodruff Shields (1825–1904) in 1861.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Hough, M.D., Franklin (1858). The New York Civil List: containing the names and origin of the civil divisions, and the names and dates of election or appointment of the principal state and county officers from the Revolution to the present time. Weed, Parsons and Co. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  2. ^ Schultz, Robert (2010). Masters of New York. AuthorHouse. p. 139. ISBN 9781452088464. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Reynolds, Cuyler (1914). Genealogical and Family History of Southern New York and the Hudson River Valley: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Building of a Nation. Lewis Historical Publishing Company. p. 1151. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  4. ^ Bergen, Tunis Garret (1915). Genealogies of the State of New York: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation. 3. Lewis Historical Publishing Company. OCLC 39110613.
  5. ^ Livingston, Edwin Brockholst (1910). The Livingstons of Livingston Manor. New York: Knickerbocker Press.
  6. ^ Schuyler, George W. Colonial New York: Philip Schuyler and His Family, Vol. 1, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1885
  7. ^ Stambach, Paul. "Honored Through the Ordeal: Crailo and the Colonial Wars". New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Robert Van Rensselaer [1740-1802] Military Leader". New Netherland Institute. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  9. ^ Rensselaer, Robert Van (1780). Minutes of Treaty Kept by General Robt. V. Rensselaer with the Indians in Schenectady, 28. Augt. 1780. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  10. ^ Watt, Gavin K. (1997). The Burning of the Valleys: Daring Raids from Canada Against the New York Frontier in the Fall of 1780. Dundurn. p. 25. ISBN 9781770700826. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  11. ^ Browning, Charles Henry (1891). Americans of Royal Descent: A Collection of Genealogies of American Families Whose Lineage is Traced to the Legitimate Issue of Kings. Porter & Costes. p. 583. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  12. ^ Spooner, pp. 197
  13. ^ Americana: (American Historical Magazine). American Historical Company, Incorporated. 1920. p. 294. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  14. ^ Archives, Episcopal Church General Convention Commission on; Hobart, J. H. (1804). Archives of the General Convention. Privately printed. p. 243. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  15. ^ Larry E. Gobrecht (July 1982). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Jacob Rutsen Van Rensselaer House and Mill Complex". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Archived from the original on 2012-10-13. Retrieved 2010-07-03. See also: "Accompanying 28 photos". Archived from the original on 2012-10-13.
  • 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

External linksEdit