THE LIVINGSTON FAMILY*

CLERMONT,

COLUMBIA COUNTY,

NEW YORK

By Capt. Franklin Ellis282

1878

 

     This ancient and distinguished family is said to derive its origin from an Hungarian gentleman of the name of Livingins, who accompanied Margaret, the sister of Edgar Atheling, and wife of King Malcom Canmore, from his native country to Scotland, about the period of the Norman conquest, in 1068.  He became the proprietor of an estate at West Lothian, which was created a barony, and transmitted through his descendants for nearly four hundred years, when, in the reign of James IV (1488-1513), Bartholomew Livingston dying without issue, the direct line became extinct; a collateral branch had, however, in the mean time, acquired wealth and consequence, and it is from this that the earls of Linlithgow, in Scotland, and the Livingstons of America, are descended.

     In the reign of David II (1320-70), Sir William Livingston, Kt., marrying Christian, daughter and heir to Patrick de Callendar, lord of Callendar, in the county of Sterling, received that barony with her.  His grandson, John, had, besides his eldest son Alexander, two others, Robert, the ancestor of the earls of Newburgh, and William, progenitor of the viscounts of Kilsyth.  Sir Alexander Livingston, of Callendar, was, on the death of James I, in 1437, appointed by the estates of the kingdom joint regent with Crichton during the minority of James II; he not long after yielded to the formidable power of the young earl of Douglas; his property was confiscated (but subsequently restored), and his son brought to the block.  His other son, James, who succeeded his father in the barony of Callendar, was created Lord Livingston.  He died in 1467.

     The lordship of Livingston appears to have been one of the most important baronies.  In the list of members for the Scottish Parliament for the year 1560, we find the name of Livingston.

     William, the great-grandson of the above-mentioned James, and fourth Lord Livingston, married Agnes, daughter of Sir Patrick Hepburn, and from him the Livingstons of this country are descended, through his son Robert, who was slain at the battle of Pinkifield.  He was the grandfather or great-grandfather (probably the latter) of John Livingston, the parent of the first American emigrant of the name to America.  This latter was John Livingston, or Mess John, as he was called in the ballads of those days.  He was appointed a commissioner, with others commissioned by Parliament to negotiate with Charles II for the terms of his restoration to the throne.  Being a dissenting minister of much ability, he was persecuted on account of his nonconformity, and many of his hearers and himself took passage for America.  After encountering a great storm in which they were nearly shipwrecked, and which they could only avert by fasting and prayer, they returned again to Scotland, and he was afterwards exiled to Rotterdam, where his son learned the Dutch language.  This son was Robert Livingston, the first proprietor of Livingston manor.  He was born at Ancram, in Teviotdale, Roxburghshire, Scotland, Dec. 13, 1654.  He was ambitious, shrewd, acquisitive, sturdy, and bold, his whole career illustrating the motto upon the scroll of his ancestors' coat of arms, "Si je Puis."  He emigrated to American in 1674, and married in 1679 Alida, widow of the Reverend (sometimes called Patroon) Nicholas Van Rensselaer, and daughter of Philip Pieterre Schuyler.  We find him in 1676 in responsible employment at Albany, under the colonial administration, and in 1686, established by Governor Dongan in possession of the territorial manor of Livingston on the Hudson, acquired by purchase of the Indians, which large tracts were all incorporated in the Livingston manor.

* See sketches of Judge R. R. Livingston, Chancellor Livingston, Edward Livingston, and E. P. Livingston, in Chapter XI of the general history, on preceding pages.

Clarkson's "Clermont Manor."

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