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The Livingston Branch


Major Henry Livingston, Jr.
Robert Livingston Philip Livingston Philip, the Signer Robert, the Chancellor Edward Livingston
Bob Livingston


The Livingstons were one of the prominent families of Falkirk, Scotland from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century. Mary Livingston was one of the "Four Marys" acting as Ladies in Waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots. The Roman Wall of Antonine runs through the estate.

Trace the family back through the 5th Lord Alexander Livingston's wife, Agnes Douglass, and you find Elizabeth Stuart, the wife of James Douglass, Lord Dalkirth. Go a little further back and you come upon Kings Robert I, II and III of Scotland and back further to Robert the Bruce.

That name, Robert, certainly does seem to have staying power.

Miscellaneous Livingston Data

Callendar House
Callendar House
Photograph courtesy of Phil Morgan

The Author of Night Before Christmas

Born to the "Gilbert branch" of the Livingston family, Major Henry Livingston enlisted early in the Revolutionary army and joined his cousins under General Montgomery (the husband of another cousin) in an invasion of Canada in 1775. Leaving the army when his tour was up and Montreal taken, Henry returned home to Poughkeepsie and his wife, Sarah Welles, and new baby. For the remainder of the war, Henry held civilian positions, such as commissioner of sequestration (the taking and evaluating of property belonging to loyalists), while continuing to support his growing family as a farmer and surveyor. After the war he held a number of political positions, including Justice of the Peace, a local judical position that handled the low end criminal and civil trials.

A poet and classicist from his earliest days, Henry published extensively in newspapers and periodicals in Poughkeepsie and New York City though, almost always, anonymously, or under the pseudonym of "R". His writing had a wit and humor that he employed for his family and his friends. It was important enough in his life to be mentioned prominently in his obituary.

Night Before Christmas was anonymously published in 1823 in the Troy Sentinel. Although the poem was submitted by someone who copied it at the home of Clement Moore, its authorship was not attributed to Moore until long after the death of Henry Livingston in 1828. Clement Moore finally took credit for the poem in 1837, but the Livingston family were not aware of this until a granddaughter saw a copy of a book with Moore's name on it in the 1860's. Although they were shocked seeing the attribution, the family just complained among themselves. But a growing group of descendants were being raised with the story of their parents hearing the Major recite the poem to them around 1808, and these stories were told to the children before Moore's attribution was ever made public.

Starting in about 1880, descendants started trying to straighten out the record. Cornelia Griswold Goodrich was the first to gather together the family stories, and to reach out publicly. After that, the fight was taken up by Dr. William Sturges Thomas, and then by his son, W. Stephen Thomas. Both were able to argue their cases enough to bring over converts, such as Daniel McCracken, the president of Vassar. But their voices weren't loud enough to penetrate through the tradition that had grown up around Moore's claim.

What it took was an expert in anonymous text attribution, Don Foster, an English professor at Vassar who lived only a few miles from where Henry Livingston is buried. Don's book, Author Unknown presents an argument for the authorship of the Christmas poem based on the literary analysis of style and influence. The book hit with massive publicity on October 26, 2000, with a two page article in the New York Times.

The 20th Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Vol.6, p.458

Robert Livingston, the first lord of the manor, was born at Ancrum, Roxburghshire, Scotland, Dec. 13, 1654; son of Dr. John Livingston (1608-1672), a Presbyterian minister, who was banished from Scotland in 1663, on account of his nonconformist views, and went to Holland soon after the restoration of Charles II. Robert accompanied his father in his flight to Rotterdam, and immigrated to America in 1673, and after spending part of a year in Charlestown, Massachusetts Bay colony, removed to Albany, N.Y.

In Albany, Robert was secretary of the commissaries who superintended the affairs of Albany, Schenectady, and the parts adjacent, 1675-86. He was married in 1683 to Alida, daughter of Philip Pietersen Schuyler, and widow of Nicholas Van Rensselaer. In 1686 he received from Governor Thomas Dougan a grant of land comprising large parts of what was subsequently set off as Dutchess county, and the grant was confirmed by royal charter from George I., who erected the manor and lordship of Livingston. Robert Livingston was appointed to proceed to New York with his brother-in-law, Peter Schuyler, to obtain a charter for the manor from Governor Dougan, under which charter he was town clerk, 1686-1721. In 1689 he attached himself to the anti-Leisler faction. He was secretary of the convention held at Albany, Oct. 25, 1689, which, while it acknowledged the sovereignty of William and Mary, opposed Leisler's proceedings. When Richard Petty, sheriff of Albany, reported to Leisler that Livingston favored the Prince of Orange, Leisler ordered Livingston's arrest, and the latter retired to one of the neighboring provinces until the arrival of Sloughter, in March, 1691.

In 1694 Robert made a voyage to England, was shipwrecked on the coast of Portugal, and obliged to travel through Spain and France by land. He returned to New York in 1696, accompanied by his nephew, Robert Livingston. While in England he was appointed by royal commission, dated Jan. 27, 1695-96, commissioner of excise, receiver of quit rents, town clerk, clerk of the peace, clerk of the common pleas for the city and county of Albany, and secretary for the government of the Indians in New York.

He obtained for Robert Kidd a commission to rid the American seas of buccaneers; but Kidd himself turned pirate and the expedition failed.

In September, 1696, the charge of alienation was preferred against him by the council, but through the influence of Lord Bellomont, who arrived in April, 1698, to take charge of the government, he was appointed one of the council, September, 1698, and in the autumn of 1700, was reinstated in all his offices. He was accused by the Leislerian commission of appropriating the public money for his own use, and of employing improper influences to induce the Indians to favor his going to England on behalf of their interests at the court. He refused to exonerate himself of the charge by oath and on April 27, 1701, his estates were confiscated and he was suspended from the council board. Through the intercession of Lord Cornbury he was vindicated.

On Feb. 2, 1703, he regained his estates, and in September, 1705, he was reinstated in his former offices. He was elected a member of the assembly from Albany in 1711, and from his manor, 1716-25, serving as speaker 1718-25, when he retired on account of ill-health. He died in Albany, N.Y., April 20, 1725.

Robert's oldest sons, Philip and Robert, became famous in their own right and produced a tree of famous descendants.


The 20th Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Vol.6, p.457

Philip Livingston was the second Lord of the Manor of Livingston. He served as deputy secretary of Indian affairs under his father, and in 1722 succeeded him as secretary. Philip was a member of the provincial assembly from Albany in 1709; took part in the battle of Port Royal in 1710 and subsequently was appointed a colonel in the provincial army. He was appointed county clerk in 1721 and was a member of the provincial council, 1725-49.

Upon his father's death in 1725, Philip became the second Lord of the Manor. He was married to Catherine, daughter of Peter Van Brugh, for many years mayor of the city of Albany. He had palatial residences in New York city, Albany and on the manor.

His eldest son, Robert, became third and last Lord of the Manor, and Philip's daughter, Sarah, was married to William Alexander (Lord Stirling) (q. v.) Philip Livingston died in New York City, Feb. 4, 1749.


PHILIP LIVINGSTON, The Signer (1716 - 1778)
The 20th Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Vol.6, p.457

LIVINGSTON, Philip, the signer, was born in Albany, N.Y., Jan. 15, 1716, son of Philip and Catherine (Van Brugh) Livingston. He was graduated from Yale, A.B., 1737, A.M., 1740, and engaged in business in New York city as a merchant.

Philip Livingston Christina Livingston

He was one of the seven aldermen of the city, 1754-63; a member of the provincial assembly, 1763-69 and speaker in 1768; a member of the committee of correspondence; a delegate to the stamp-act congress in October, 1765; a delegate to the Continental Congress, 1774-78, and at the first convention of that body he was one of the committee appointed to prepare an address to the People of Great Britain. He was one of the four delegates from New York who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Philip Livingston Christina Livingston

It was at Philip's residence on Brooklyn Heights, NY, that Washington held the council of war that decided on the retreat from Long Island in 1776.

He was a member of the state assembly and in May, 1777, was chosen state senator. He was one of the founders of the New York Society library in 1754; of the chamber of commerce in 1770; and one of the governors of the New York hospital in 1771.

In 1746 he aided in founding the Livingston professorship of divinity at Yale, and was prominent in the establishment of King's college.

Philip married Christina, daughter of Richard Ten Broeck, recorder of Albany, and died while in attendance at the 6th session of the Continental Congress, at York PA, June 12, 1778.


ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON, The Chancellor (1747-1813)
The 20th Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Vol.6, p.457

Robert Livingston was born in the city of New York in 1747. He was educated at King's (now Columbia) College, where he was graduated in 1764, and studied law under William Smith, chief justice of New York, becoming an eminent Lawyer.

Livingston became politically active in the era of the Stamp Act Revolt, and was probably (along with his brother, William), involved with the Sons of Liberty in New York. In 1776, as a member of the Provincial congress of New York, he was selected to attend the Continental Congress. He was one of the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence but was recalled by his state before he could sign it.

Livingston was appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs (Secretary of State) soon after the Articles of Confederation were adopted. He served that post until 1783, when he was appointed Chancellor of the State of New York. He was an advocate for the Federal Constitution, and served as a delegate to the New York convention held at Poughkeepsie in 1788, to ratify it.

On the 30th of April, 1789, Livingston administered the presidential oath of office to George Washington.

In 1801, President Jefferson appointed Robert Livingston resident minister at the court of Napoleon. It was he who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase from the French. He was also a patron of Robert Fulton, who refined the steam engine. Chancellor Livingston died on the 26th of February, 1813, at the age of sixty six.



A U.S. statesman, brother of the U.S. statesman and diplomat Robert R. Livingston, Edward Livingston was born in Clermont, New York, and educated at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). He practiced law in New York City, and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1795 to 1801, and mayor of New York City from 1801 to 1803.

In 1804 he moved to New Orleans and, in 1815, served on the staff of Major General Andrew Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans.

He drafted a legal code for Louisiana and represented the state in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1823 to 1829 and in the U.S. Senate from 1829 to 1831. He was U.S. secretary of state from 1831 to 1833 and minister to France from 1833 to 1835.



Bob Livingston

Those who argue for environment over heredity might want to look back at the history of the Livingston family.

Bob Livingston, former Chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, held the very same seat held in 1829 by Edward Livingston, the son of Robert R. Livingston. Bob's own great-great-great grandfather, Henry Walter Livingston, was, himself, a member of Congress from 1803 to 1807.

Bob is a direct descendent of Robert Livingston's son, Philip, the second Lord of Livingston Manor and Philip's son, Robert, the third Lord of the Manor. Both Philip and Robert were extensively involved in the political affairs of the time and worked actively for the interests of their local constituents, as well as for their new country. Bob is the 5th great-grandnephew of Philip, the Signer, and the 2nd cousin, 6 generations removed, from Robert, the Chancellor.

Bob Livingston is actually the 4th Robert Linlithgow Livingston to carry the same name. From Robert the Bruce to Bob Livingston. There's just something in that name.



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Genealogy of Robert Livingston - 1st Lord of Livingston Manor
An American Aristocracy
Livingstons in the Political Graveyard
Bob Livingston - US House Committee on Appropriations
The Clermont Mansion
Livingston Papers in the Roosevelt Library
Descendents of Robert Livingston
Clan Livingstone
Biographies of Livingstons
Dutch Families of Ulster County, New York
History of Livingstons and Conklins
A Gilbert Livingston relative


Photographs of Livingstons in the Civil War
Revolutionary War Livingstons - currently 2
Link List of Searchable Genealogy Sites
Shawna's Searchable Records
Search 300 Million Names
royal line

(Number of entries as of 12/29/97)
GENDEXs 741 Livingston entries
Family Tree Maker many Livingston entries
Immigrant Ancestors Robert Livingston, arrival aft 1654 216 Livingston entries
Social Security Death Index
Rootsweb Surname Searchers


LIVINGSTON Family in America & its Scottish Origins
Florence van Rensselaer, 413p. 1949. $63.00
The Livingstons of Callendar and Their Principal Cadets
E. B. Livingston, 1920
The Robert Livingstons
E. B. Livingston, 1920
Genealogy of the Roberdeau Family
Roberdeau Buchanan, 1876

The Livingstons of Livingston Manor
The history of the branch which settled in N.Y. with an account of Robert Livingston of Albany & his principle descendents, by E.B. Livingston. 623p. 1910. $75.50


Photographs of Livingstons in the Civil War
How to Request Civil War Military Records
How to Request General Military Records
Cyndi's List of Military Resources Worldwide
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