In the United States, a patroon (English: /pəˈtruːn/; from Dutch patroon) was a landholder with manorial rights to large tracts of land in the 17th century Dutch colony of New Netherland on the east coast of North America.[1] Through the Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions of 1629, the Dutch West India Company first started to grant this title and land to some of its invested members. These inducements to foster colonization and settlement (also known as the "Rights and Exemptions") are the basis for the patroon system. In 1775, at the outbreak of the American Revolution, primogeniture and feudal tenure were abolished and thus patroons and manors evolved into simply large estates subject to division and leases.

The deeded tracts were called patroonships and could span 16 miles in length on one side of a major river, or 8 miles if spanning both sides. In 1640, the charter was revised to cut new plot sizes in half, and to allow any Dutch American in good standing to purchase an estate. The title of patroon came with powerful rights and privileges. A patroon could create civil and criminal courts, appoint local officials and hold land in perpetuity. In return, he was required by the Dutch West India Company to – sources vary – establish a settlement of at least 50 families within four years on the land,[2] or "ship fifty colonists to it within four year".[3] As tenants working for the patroon, these first settlers were relieved of the duty of public taxes for ten years, but were required to pay rent to the patroon. A patroonship sometimes had its own village and other infrastructure, including churches.

After the English takeover of New Netherland in 1664, the system continued with the granting of large tracts known as manors, and sometimes referred to as patroonships.


The largest and most successful patroonship in New Netherland was the Manor of Rensselaerswijck, established by Kiliaen van Rensselaer. Rensselaerswijck covered almost all of present-day Albany and Rensselaer counties and parts of present-day Columbia and Greene counties in New York State.

Original patents

Other large private land patents

English manorial grants

Notable English non-manorial grants



The word patroonship was used until the year 1775, when the English redefined the lands as estates and took away the jurisdictional privilege. Ethnic Dutch, who were still a substantial part of the population, resented the change and moved mostly toward the cause of the Independence movement. After the war, the newly recognized New York State government refused to overturn the law.

Rensselaerswijck was dismantled in the early 19th century after its last sole proprietor died. Two sons split the property and, after tenant farmers gained the right to refuse to pay rent, the sons sold off much of the property. The land was organized as different counties and towns in New York's Capital District.

In popular media

See also


  1. ^ "Conditions as Created by their Lords Burgomasters of Amsterdam". World Digital Library. 1656. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  2. ^*.html Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology
  3. ^
  4. ^ S.L. Mershon, English Crown Grants, NEW YORK: THE LAW AND HISTORY CLUB, 1918
  5. ^ Burrows, Edwin G.; Wallace, Mike (1999), Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 92, ISBN 978-0-19-514049-1


External links

Albany Lumber District

The lumber district of Albany, New York was relatively small in the 1830s with around six wholesale lumber merchants, but by the 1870s Albany was the largest lumber district in the United States by value, though by that time it had recently been outstripped in feet sold by Chicago. For about a quarter century in the middle of the 19th century the Albany lumber district was considered the largest white pine wholesale market. There were 3,963 sawmills operating in the lumber district in 1865 but by 1900 there were only around 150. A fire ripped through the district in 1908 signalling the decline of the lumber industry for Albany.

The lumber district was considered to be the land from North Ferry Street north for about 1½ miles and from the Erie Canal on the west to the Hudson River on the east. It was about 500 feet (150 m) wide at the southern end and 1,150 feet (350 m) wide at the northern end and constituted over 100 acres (0.40 km2). Thirty-one slips connected to the canal and ran east to within 150 feet (46 m) of the Hudson, the longest slip being 1,000 feet (300 m) long.

When the Albany Basin was constructed in 1825 the pier separating the basin from the Hudson River was the quickly turned into a prestigious place for the lumber industry in Albany, which dates back to the arrival of a millwright and two sawyers in 1630 and the first sawmill in 1654. Until 1848 it continued to be considered the headquarters of the lumber trade in the city, even as the industry moved to the area between Quackenbush Street and the Columbia Street Bridge. The future lumber district at this time was owned by the Patroon Stephen Van Rensselaer and his brother William, and consisted of mostly vegetable gardens that paid little in the way of rent. The Patroon was approached about building slips off the canal for the use of the lumber industry in return for a more ample amount of rent. Originally the Patroon bore the cost of constructing the slips, but as time went on the lumber dealer took upon himself the cost of the slip in return for keeping the rent until such time as construction costs were paid for, at which time the dealer had to start paying rent to the Patroon as everyone else did. It took roughly eight years for the slip to be paid off. During the winter months when the slips were ice-bound and the offices closed, the lumber district virtually abandoned. The inspection system used in Albany for the white pine was the first inspection system for lumber and the model for many other systems.At first the supplies of white pine were from within New York, in Allegany and Chemung counties. When those became over-harvested the supply shifted to southern Ontario, and after 1856 from Michigan where Albany buyers held the monopoly on the good white pine.

The primary markets were the city of New York and New Jersey. The Albany market also had for a time foreign markets such as Argentina, Chile, and Australia.The lumber district had its own dining saloon, telegraph office, a chapel, and several stores. For fire protection there were many fire hydrants and thousands of feet of fire hose. The lumber district did not have any track facilities connecting it to the railroads that fed into Albany until 1906 due to fears that the locomotives would spark a fire.The eastern part of Arbor Hill around Ten Broeck Street became home to many of the wealthiest lumber merchants in Albany, where they proceeded to build grand rowhouses overlooking the lumber district, Erie Canal, and Hudson River.

Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions

The Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions, sometimes referred to as the Charter of Privileges and Exemptions, is a document written by the Dutch West India Company in an effort to settle its colony of New Netherland in North America through the establishment of feudal patroonships purchased and supplied by members of the West India Company. Its 31 articles establish ground rules and expectations of the patroons and inhabitants of the new colonies. It was ratified by the Dutch States-General on June 7, 1629.

Jan Baptist van Rensselaer

Jan Baptist van Rensselaer (Amsterdam 18 March 1629–Amsterdam, 24 October 1678) was the second son of Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the first Patroon of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck.

Jeremias Van Rensselaer (sixth patroon)

Jeremias van Rensselaer (March 18, 1705 – 1745) was the eldest son of Kiliaen van Rensselaer and Maria van Cortlandt.

Jeremias van Rensselaer

Jeremias van Rensselaer (Amsterdam, 16 May 1632 – 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 and was created the first patroon of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck. Jeremias van Rensselaer was the acting patroon of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, and the first of his family to establish himself permanently in America.

Johan van Rensselaer

Johan van Rensselaer also Johannes van Rensselaer (Amsterdam, 4 September 1625 – Nijkerk , 6 May 1663), second patroon of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, was the eldest son of Kiliaen van Rensselaer, and his only son by his first wife, Hillegonda van Bylaer.

Kiliaen Van Rensselaer (fifth patroon)

Kiliaen Van Rensselaer (August 24, 1663 – 1719), the eldest child of Jeremias and Maria van Cortlandt Van Rensselaer was born in Rensselaerwyck.

Kiliaen van Rensselaer (fourth patroon)

Kiliaen van Rensselaer (died February 22, 1687), was the patroon of Manor of Rensselaerswyck.

Kiliaen van Rensselaer (merchant)

Kiliaen van Rensselaer (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈkɪlijaːn vɑn ˈrɛnsəlaːr] (listen); 1586 – buried 7 October 1643) was a Dutch diamond and pearl merchant from Amsterdam who was one of the founders and directors of the Dutch West India Company, being instrumental in the establishment of New Netherland.

He was one of the first patroons, but the only one to become successful. He founded the Manor of Rensselaerswyck in what is now mainly New York's Capital District. His estate remained throughout the Dutch and British colonial era and the American Revolution as a legal entity until the 1840s. Eventually, that came to an end during the Anti-Rent War.

Van Rensselaer was the son of Hendrick Kiliaensz van Rensselaer, a soldier from Nijkerk in the States army of the duke of Upper Saxony, and Maria Pafraet, descendant of a well-known printers' dynasty. To keep from risking his life in the army like his father, he apprenticed under his uncle, a successful Amsterdam jeweler. He too became a successful jeweler and was one of the first subscribers to the Dutch West India Company upon its conception.

The concept of patroonships may have been Kiliaen van Rensselaer's; he

was likely the leading proponent of the Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions, the document that established the patroon system.

His patroonship became the most successful to exist, making full use of his business tactics and advantages, such as his connection to the Director of New Netherland, his confidantes at the West India Company, and his extended family members who were eager to emigrate to a better place to farm. Van Rensselaer married twice and had at least eleven children. When he died sometime after 1642, two succeeded him as patroons of Rensselaerswyck.

Van Rensselaer had a marked effect on the history of the United States. The American Van Rensselaers all descend from Kiliaen's son Jeremias and the subsequent Van Rensselaer family is noted for being a very powerful and wealthy influence in the history of New York and the Northeastern United States, producing multiple State Legislators, Congressmen, and two Lieutenant Governors in New York.

Manor of Rensselaerswyck

The Manor of Rensselaerswyck, Manor Rensselaerswyck, Van Rensselaer Manor, or just simply Rensselaerswyck (Dutch: Rensselaerswijck Dutch pronunciation: [ˈrɛnsəlaːrsˌʋɛik]), was the name of a colonial estate—specifically, a Dutch patroonship and later an English manor—owned by the van Rensselaer family that was located in what is now mainly the Capital District of New York in the United States.

The estate was originally deeded by the Dutch West India Company in 1630 to Kiliaen van Rensselaer, a Dutch merchant and one of the company's original directors. Rensselaerswyck extended for miles on each side of the Hudson River near present-day Albany. It included most of what are now the present New York counties of Albany and Rensselaer, as well as parts of Columbia and Greene counties.

Under the terms of the patroonship, the patroon had nearly total jurisdictional authority, establishing civil and criminal law, villages, a church (in part to record vital records, which were not done by the state until the late 19th century). Tenant farmers were allowed to work on the land, but had to pay rent to the owners, and had no rights to property. In addition, the Rensselaers harvested timber from the property.

The patroonship was maintained intact by Rensselaer descendants for more than two centuries. It was split up after the death of its last patroon, Stephen van Rensselaer III in 1839. At his death, van Rensselaer's land holdings made him the tenth-richest American in history to date. The manor was split between Stephen III's sons, Stephen IV and William. Tenant farmers began protesting the feudal system and their anti-rent movement was eventually successful. Stephen IV and William sold off most of their land, ending the patroonship in the 1840s. For length of operations, it was the most successful patroonship established under the West India Company system.

North Albany, Albany, New York

North Albany is a neighborhood in the city of Albany, New York. North Albany was settled in the mid-17th century by the Patroon of Rensselaerswyck and his tenants and later became a hamlet in the town of Watervliet. Due to the Erie Canal being constructed in 1825, North Albany saw immense growth, with the Albany Lumber District and an influx of Irish immigrants lending the area the name of Limerick. Home to many historic warehouses and row houses, North Albany continues to be an important industrial neighborhood. Recent efforts have begun to gentrify the neighborhood by adapting heavy industry/warehouse use to artistic and entertainment venues, such as a German beer garden, an amusement park, live music venues, and arts and crafts marketplaces.

Patroon Creek

Patroon Creek is a stream in Albany County, New York, United States and is a tributary of the Hudson River which flows south to New York Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. The creek's source is Rensselaer Lake in the western section of the city of Albany and flows along the northern border of said city with the town of Colonie to its mouth at the Hudson River. The creek received its name from the patroon of Rensselaerswyck.

Patroon Island Bridge

The Patroon Island Bridge is a major crossing of the Hudson River in Albany, New York. The bridge carries Interstate 90, in the east-west direction, over the Hudson River between Albany and Rensselaer Counties.

It has been in service since 1968; however, some structural repairs were made in 1992. The bridge consists of ten spans. Seven spans are considered the main spans and consist of steel trusses and concrete decks. The other three spans are considered approach spans, which are supported by plate girders. The main span over the river-shipping channel is 375 feet (114 m) long and 89 feet (27 m) wide, and the overall bridge length is 1,795 feet (547 m). There is an estimated 60 feet (18 m) of clearance for shipping on the Hudson River below, which changes with the local tide. Today's replacement cost is estimated to be between $80 and $100 million. The bridge has an HS Inventory load rating of 35 tons, and is inspected annually. The average daily traffic count was 70,787 in 1998 with a 4.5 percent estimated traffic growth during the life of the bridge.

The bridge's design is similar to that of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, MN, which collapsed during rush hour on August 1, 2007. This realization by New York State transportation officials prompted full-scale inspections of the state's major highway bridges, including the Patroon Island Bridge. Subsequently, the bridge was deemed safe for the time being, but would need substantial repairs and retrofitting in order to ensure motorist safety, and to extend its useful service life if replacement was found not to be a viable option in the near future.On May 31, 2016, the New York State Department of Transportation declared that it had completed a $148-million-dollar renovation and rebuild of the bridge.

The bridge's name comes from the former (Lower) Patroon Island that once existed adjacent to the bridge. A patroon was a proprietor of a tract of land in the 17th-century Dutch colony of New Netherland in North America.

Rensselaer Lake

Rensselaer Lake is an artificial lake in Albany, New York, United States named for Major-General Stephen Van Rensselaer, last patroon of Rensselaerswyck. The lake was Albany's first municipally-owned source of water. It is part of a 57-acre (23 ha) park and the state's Albany Pine Bush Preserve. The lake and park have been under the purview of the Albany Water Authority since 2003.

Stephen van Rensselaer I

Stephen van Rensselaer I (March 23, 1707 – June 1747), was the second son of Kiliaen van Rensselaer and Maria van Cortlandt, who served briefly as the 7th Patroon of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck and 4th Lord of the Manor.

Stephen van Rensselaer II

Stephen van Rensselaer II (June 2, 1742 – October 19, 1769) was the six and youngest child of Stephen van Rensselaer I and Elizabeth Groesbeck.

USS Patroon (1859)

USS Patroon was a screw steamer acquired by the United States Navy during the American Civil War. The Union Navy used her to patrol off the coast of the Confederate States of America to enforce the Union blockade.

Van Rensselaer (family)

The Van Rensselaer family is a family of Dutch descent that was prominent during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries in the area now known as the State of New York. Members of this family played a critical role in the formation of the United States and served as leaders in business, politics and society.

Van Rensselaer (surname)

The surname Van Rensselaer is of Dutch origin, more specifically Flemish. Van is a Dutch preposition meaning from and is a common prefix in Dutch language surnames. In Dutch, "van" is written with a lower case "v"; in the United States the particle "Van" is usually capitalized, but individual usage should be followed.

New Netherland series
The Patroon System
People of New Netherland
Flushing Remonstrance
New Netherlands Seal Vector

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