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Beekman, Henry (02 January 1688–03 January 1776), New York landowner and provincial assemblyman, was born in Kingston, New York, the son of Henry Beekman, a landowner and provincial assemblyman, and Johanna Lopers. Beekman was not a self-made man. His Dutch ancestors were prominent locally in the turmoil associated with the Protestant Reformation and the Dutch struggle for independence from Spain. His immigrant grandfather, William Beekman, was an administrative subordinate to the governor of New Netherland. His father was a militia leader from Ulster County whose work in preparing for possible attacks by the French during King William’s War (1689–1697), plus a small gratuity to the governor, won him land grants later branded “as large as a middling county of England.” These Dutchess County land grants (Rhinebeck Patent, 21,766 acres; Beekman Patent, 84,000 acres) became the basis for the younger Henry Beekman’s career....

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Brent, Margaret (1601–1670?), landowner and colonial leader, was born in England, the daughter of Richard Brent, lord of Admington and Lark Stoke in the county of Gloucester, England, and Elizabeth Reed.

When Margaret Brent was about thirty-seven years old, she traveled to the New World with her sister Mary, brothers Giles and Fulke, and their servants. They landed at St. Mary’s (later St. Marys) Maryland, in November 1638. Although the two sisters traveled with their brothers, they did not depend on them for their economic survival. They arrived with servants as well as the means to procure large land grants from the proprietor, Lord Baltimore (...

Article

Hazen, Moses (01 June 1733–05 February 1803), army officer, landowner, and merchant, was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, the son of Moses Hazen, a merchant, and Abigail White. Hazen was apprenticed to a tanner and later operated independently. The outbreak of the French and Indian War lured him away, and he remained in the military during two great wars. In 1755 he enlisted in a British colonial unit and served under Colonel ...

Article

Heathcote, Caleb (06 March 1666–01 March 1721), merchant, manor lord, and Anglican activist, was born in Derbyshire, England, the son of Gilbert Heathcote, a trader in hides and iron who served as mayor of Chesterfield, England, and Anne Dickens. While living in England Heathcote became a merchant specializing in trade with New York, where he settled in 1692 after the woman to whom he was betrothed fell in love with his brother Samuel and married him instead....

Article

Livingston, Robert (13 December 1654–01 October 1728), colonial merchant, landowner, and politician, was born in Ancrum, Scotland, the son of the Reverend John Livingstone, a minister of the Church of Scotland, and Janet Fleeming. Livingston’s father faced the threat of prosecution as a noted Presbyterian minister in a Scottish church that was moving strongly toward Episcopacy in the aftermath of the Restoration of Charles II, and in 1663 the family fled Scotland for the Protestant haven at Rotterdam. The city of Rotterdam had a large community of Scottish merchants in the seventeenth century, and at a young age Livingston began to engage in commerce, possibly under the tutelage of two brothers-in-law who were active traders in that city....

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Livingston, Robert Robert ( August 1718–09 December 1775), landowner, attorney, and politician, was born in New York, the only son and heir of Robert Livingston and Margaret Howarden. His father, a younger son of manor lord Robert Livingston, was given a portion of land, called “Clermont,” at the southern end of Livingston Manor. In 1742 Livingston married Margaret Beekman, the heir of Colonel ...

Article

Pell, Thomas (1608?– September 1669), physician and landholder, was born in Southwick, Sussex, England, the son of the Reverend John Pell, a schoolmaster, and Mary Holland. Most sources give the date of Pell’s birth as 1613, but there is also evidence to suggest that he was born in 1608. His brother John Pell was born in 1611 and is usually referred to as Thomas’s younger brother; in addition, the dates of various events in Pell’s life would seem to point toward the earlier birthdate....

Article

Penn, William (14 October 1644–30 July 1718), founder of Pennsylvania and eminent English Quaker, was born in London, England, the son of Sir William Penn, an admiral, and Margaret Jasper Vanderschuren, the daughter of a Rotterdam merchant. Penn was educated at Chigwell Free Grammar School, Essex, and Christ Church College, Oxford, where he studied from 1660 until 1662, when he was expelled for openly criticizing the Church of England. In an effort to prevent him from becoming a dissenter and to prepare him for the life of a gentleman, his father sent him to tour the Continent. In France the younger Penn studied Huguenot theology at L’Académie Protestante de Saumur. He returned to England in 1664 a more sophisticated man and the next year entered legal study at Lincoln’s Inn. He then assisted his father in business and military affairs. These activities required attendance at court, where he made acquaintances that would later prove useful, especially his friendship with Charles II’s brother, James, duke of York....

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William Penn. Print, c. 1897. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-106735).

Article

Philipse, Frederick (1626–1702), manorial landowner and merchant, was born Vrydrych or Frydrych Flypse in Bolswaert, Friesland, the Netherlands, the son of Vrydrych Flypse, a slater, and Margaret Dacres. Little is known of his early youth beyond the fact that he was apprenticed to a carpenter at an early age. The earliest reference to him as a resident of New Amsterdam occurred in 1653, when he appeared as a carpenter in the employ of the Dutch West India Company. He plied his craft and soon sought to increase his opportunities by purchasing a Small Burgher Right, granting him the privilege of trading on a limited scale in his own account. He apparently was successful, for by 1660 he was categorized as “Frederick Philipse, late the Director’s carpenter” and henceforth became noted as a merchant....