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Van Rensselaer, Nicholas (bap. 14 September 1636), Reformed church clergyman and fourth director of the patroonship of Rensselaerswijck, was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the son of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, a diamond merchant and first patroon of Rensselaerswijck, and Anna Van Welij. When Nicholas (originally Nicolaes) was seven his father died, and he was brought up largely in the care of his mother. In 1656 he entered the University of Leiden to study theology but shortly abandoned his studies. His mother then apprenticed him to Amsterdam spice merchant Servaes Auxbrebis. Van Rensselaer was unhappy in that position, and so his mother reapprenticed him to Amsterdam textile merchant William Brughman. He also left there after several weeks, claiming that God was calling him for the ministry....