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  • #28 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: A Bibliographic and Geographic Survey of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, Part 1

    Gary Boyd Roberts

    Today and for the next two weeks I shall discuss major geographic divisions and sources for the mid-Atlantic region – New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware (columns #16, 17, and 18 cover the South from Maryland through Texas). This survey – for both the mid-Atlantic and South -- will be the subject of my lecture on Thursday, June 3, to participants in the first 1999 NEHGS Tour to Salt Lake City.


    New York and New Jersey readily divide into six areas: Dutch Albany and the Hudson Valley; the English (and New England-derived) manorial (and town) Long Island; mercantile New York City; upstate and western New York; East[ern New] Jersey; and West[ern New] Jersey. Dutch Albany and the Hudson Valley contain both the patroon culture of the Van Rensselaers, Van Cortlandts, Schuylers, Stuyvesants, and Scots Livingstons (see below), and the burgher Dutch exemplified by the ancestors of Martin Van Buren and early Roosevelts. Major families in the Long Island manorial culture include the Brewster progeny of the royally-descended (RD) Roger Ludlow (and the RD progeny of Gabriel Ludlow of NYC); the Lloyds of Lloyd’s Neck (and the RD progeny of John Nelson of Mass.); Nicholls, Floyds and Woodhulls (the alleged Nicholl and Woodhull RDs are doubtful or disproved); the progeny of John Underhill (whose RD is said to be disproved), nephew-in-law of John Winthrop; and the Tangier and Smithtown Smiths, both of whom are in the ancestry, the latter various times over, of New York scholar and NEHGS Director of Development Henry Bainbridge Hoff.

    The above two groups met and the English/New England slowly absorbed the Dutch, in mercantile New York City. Major NYC families in the colonial and Federal eras, i.e. pre-Astor, include Barclay, Bayard, Beekman, Brevoort, Clarkson (RD), de Peyster, Goelet, Gouverneur, Gracie, Kip, Rhinelander, Roosevelt, Rutgers, Schermerhorn, and Ver Planck (sugar refiners, brewers, and West Indian traders). The Astor fortune of the 1840s and later presages the great tycoon culture of the post-Civil War "Gilded Age." Many "robber barons" and founders of Wall Street derived ancestrally from New England; many were associated with Yale. Those with New England RDs in Notable Kin, Volume Two include Jay Goulds (from Fairfield Co.), J.P. Morgans (from Hartford), Rockefellers (from Cleveland and Averys of Groton, Conn.), James Stillmans (of Wethersfield), C. L. and L. C. Tiffany (of Bowen of Woodstock RD), Mrs. W. S. Paley (a Cushing sister of Boston), Mrs. J. I. Straus (Margaret Shelton Hollister), Vanderbilts (of Flagg of New Haven descent), Whitneys (and Paynes, of Cleveland, of full New England ancestry), Hetty Green (daughter of a Howland), Pamela Harriman (a descendant of artist John Singleton Copley, Winslows, Hutchinsons, Appletons and Bulkeleys), and Brooke Astor (of Traill and Whipple descent, a cousin of Robert Lowell). Also note Leonard Jerome, Wall Street financier and maternal grandfather of Sir Winston Churchill, and Frank Work (from Chillicothe, Ohio, married to a Strong descendant), great-great-grandfather of the late Princess of Wales.

    The wives and daughters of various tycoons formed "400" Society, which summered at Newport, R.I., and was led by Mrs. William (Backhouse) Astor (Jr.) (Caroline Webster Schermerhorn) and Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish. Later this culture evolved into "café society," named by Mrs. Irving Berlin (Ellin Mackay) and the "jet set" of Jackie Onassis, Truman Capote, Egon and Diane von Furstenberg, etc. (later Newport was led by Browns and Slocums). Almost since its evolution into the largest and predominant city in America, New York has both absorbed a wide variety of first-generation immigrant groups, and served as a center of artistic culture and the avant-garde, as well as finance and social life. Major post-1840 immigrant groups include the Irish, Italian, Jewish, [southern] black, and various Hispanic (also in California, Texas, and Florida) and Asian (also in the West) groups, in Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens as well as Manhattan. The 20th-century march of talented young people from main street, small-town U.S.A. to Broadway and Greenwich Village is part of contemporary legend.

    Upstate and western New York – from the Beekman Patent and Mohawk Valley through Utica, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo – was settled largely by post-Revolutionary New Englanders from Vermont, western Massachusetts, and Connecticut especially. Often difficult to trace, these migrants were some time en route to the Midwest. Major political figures of upstate or western N.Y. origin include Fillmore and Cleveland from Buffalo, various vice presidents, and Secretaries of State W. H. Seward, Elihu Root, Robert Lansing, C. E. Hughes, and J. F. Dulles.

    East[ern New] Jersey consists largely of spillover NYC, especially the lesser mercantile (burgher) Dutch, and spillover New England, especially from Connecticut via Long Island to Newark, and from Rhode Island to Monmouth County. West[ern New] Jersey consists largely of spillover Philadelphia, especially English Quakers (e.g. Claytons of Burlington Co., who marry Newbolds and are ancestors of the late Princess of Wales). There is some New England migration to this latter area as well, including numerous Mayflower descendants to Cape May.

    The major royally-descended clan in New York consists of the progeny of Robert Livingston the elder, first lord of Livingston Manor, and his nephew Robert Livingston the younger. Colonial and Federal-era descendants include Philip, Jr., Robert R., Jr., and Edward Livingston, plus the wives of Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, DeWitt Clinton, Robert Fulton, and Samuel F. B. Morse. Nineteenth-century descendants include American and British Astors (from Mrs. William Backhouse Astor, born Margaret Rebecca Armstrong, daughter of a Livingston and daughter-in-law of the first John Jacob Astor); Elisha Kent Kane; Elizabeth Cady Stanton; Hamilton and Stuyvesant Fish; and wives of Robert Charles Winthrop, Levi Parsons Morton, (Columbia president) Nicholas Murray Butler, Lewis Morris Rutherford and Charles Eliot Norton. Twentieth-century descendants have included Eleanor Roosevelt, (Yale president) Alfred Whitney Griswold, Robert Lowell and Montgomery Clift, plus wives of McGeorge Bundy, Joseph Alsop, Lee deForest, Louis Auchincloss, Eero Saarinen, Irving Berlin, and Fred Astaire. See, among other sources, Notable Kin, Volume One, pp. 107-8, 111-12.

    In next week’s column I shall discuss the major sources for New York and New Jersey genealogy, as well as the first several major geographic divisions of Pennsylvania
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