Having the last name Van Rensselaer and a family tree that traced its roots back to the first major landowner in the Hudson Valley was enough to ensure that Philip Van Rensselaer was a member of the upper class. However, class in 18th century America wasn't simple. Although his last name and pedigree ensured him a place in the upper level of 18th century Albany society, it did not mean that all upper class gentlemen were created equal. In fact, Philip Van Rensselaer would have been socially inferior to Albany gentlemen such as General Philip Schuyler and the Patroon Stephen Van Rensselaer. Much of what Philip did with his life and for his family seems to indicate his desire to propel his family further up the social ladder. His words and deeds show that he considered himself a gentleman, equal to any located at the apex of 18th century Albany society.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

PVR Chronology: July 20, 1774

On July 20, 1774, Philip Van Rensselaer purchased a male slave named Andrew, who was a cooper in New Brunswick, NJ.  This purchase, which was recorded in a bill of sale, is the earliest documentation that PVR owned slaves.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

PVR Chronology: January 1773

Philip and Maria's third and fourth children, twin boys, were born on January 19, 1773. One of the sons was born dead. The other son lived and was named Robert Sanders.

Prayer stool circa 1770-1790. Branded with "PVR"

Monday, August 29, 2011

PVR Chronology: 1772

In August 1772, Philip purchased a pair of Barcelona Handkerchiefs and 6 children's knives for 4 pounds 1 shilling 3 pence.  This is the earliest recorded purchase that exists.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

PVR Chronology: December 16, 1771

Philip and Maria's first child, Ariantje, died on December 16, 1771.  She was buried in a church cemetery.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

PVR Chronology: 1771

Philip Van Rensselaer owned his own Hudson River sloop in 1771.

"PVR" brand on Chippendale chair belonging to Philip Van Rensselaer. Historic Cherry Hill Collection.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

PVR Chronology: August 26, 1770

Philip and Maria's second child, a daughter named Elizabeth, was born on August 26, 1770.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

PVR Chronology: December 5, 1768

Philip and Maria's first child, a daughter named Ariantje, was born on December 5, 1768.

High Chair, branded with "RS" (Robert Sanders). First half of the 18th century.  Collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

February 24, 1768

Philip Van Rensselaer and Maria Sanders were married on February 24, 1768.  They were married by Dominic Westerlo at the house of Peter Schuyler (Maria's grandfather) at the Flatts.  The Schuyler Flatts are located in present-day north Menands, NY.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Maria Sanders

Maria Sanders was born Oct. 15, 1749.  She was the oldest child of Robert and Elizabeth (Schuyler) Sanders of Albany.
Cradle made of white pine and covered with leather and brass studding.  The year 1749 is visible in brass studding. Historic Cherry Hill Collection.

Maria Sanders’ father, Robert Sanders, died in 1765.  Robert Sanders was a prominent Albany merchant and served as the mayor of the city of Albany from 1750-1754.  After his death, Maria inherited several items from him.  The items can be identified because they have been branded with “RS”.  One such inherited item was an English side chair, shown here.  More inherited items will be revealed in future posts!
English side chair, c. 1700.  Historic Cherry Hill Collection.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

PVR Chronology - Birth

Philip Van Rensselaer was born May 19, 1747.  Philip's father, Col. Kilian Van Rensselaer (1717-1781), was active during the American Revolution, serving on the Committee of Correspondence in Albany, and after the war he was a member of the New York Assembly from 1777-1778.   Philip's grandfather, Hendrick Van Rensselaer (1667-1740), was a younger brother of the third patroon of Rensselaerwyck Manor and received as a gift from his brother the patroon, 1500 acres at Greenbush, directly across the Hudson River from Albany.  This land grant became known as the "Lower Manor" and the family home at Greenbush was called Fort Crailo.

Present day view of Fort Crailo, now Crailo State Historic Site.  It was the family home of Philip Van Rensselaer's father and grandfather.