Families of New Netherland

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty

Since the early 17th century, New Netherland had produced several notable families. Collectively known as the Edelen, they are conventionally divided into two general categories, the vieux riche Optimates (Amerikaens: Opptimaeten) and the 20th century Reckeningers.


The Optimates, named for the ancient Roman senatorial class, represent the centuries-old aristocracy of New Netherland. They are subdivided into;

  • the Patröns - named after the patroon system, the landed nobility of the country whose inception dates back to 17th century European immigrants. They had acquired significant power during the colonial period and ruled the nation during the eponymous Patrön period.
  • and the Jonckers (urban nobles) - old urban upperclass, usually centered around New Amsterdam established by diverse 17th century immigrants. Their name comes from the Dutch noble title Joncker, equivalent to a British Esquire.

In the 20th century, they eventually lost power to the Reckeningers, who are also bisected. The phrase comes from the Dutch rekening, meaning the accounts book or an invoice of a businessman.

  • the Parvenö (the new aristocracy) - families which had accumulated wealth and status during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Parvenö comes from the French phrase parvenu, referring to people who had quickly gained wealth and had not been accepted by the old aristocracy.
  • the Borghers (the bourgeoisie) - finally emerging during the early Republican era, they represent the modern middle class and intelligentsia of New Netherland.


Patrön families

Coat of arms of the Van Rensselaer family, first granted to the family during the 1660s.

Van Rensselaer family

The Van Rensselaers, often referred to simply as the Rensselaers, are a New Netherland familly of Hollandish origin. Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the clan's progenitor, had established their patroonship in 1630. Their colonial demesne, centred on the eponymic town of Rensselaerwÿck, was among the largest, earliest, and most autonomous in New Netherland. Prior to their emigration, the Rensselaers served as burgomasters, councillors, soldiers, and treasurers in the United Provinces.

List of patriarchs
  • Kiliaen van Rensselaer (1630-1643)
  • Johannes van Rensselaer (1643-1652)
  • Jan Baptist van Rensselaer (1652-1658)
  • Jeremias van Rensselaer (1658-1676)
  • Kiliaen van Rensselaer II (1676-1689)
  • Jeremias van Rensselaer II (1689-1710)
  • Stefaen van Rensselaer (1710-1747)
  • Martÿn van Rensselaer (1747-1768)
  • Kiliaen van Rensselaer III (1768-1770)
  • Willem van Rensselaer (1770-1798)
  • Kiliaen van Rensselaer IV (1798-1801; 1808-1815)
  • Stefaen van Rensselaer II (1801-1808; 1815-1822)
  • Kiliaen van Rensselaer V (1822-1823)
  • Kiliaen van Rensselaer VI (1823-1858)
  • Willem van Rensselaer II (1858-1881)
  • Stefaen van Rensselaer III (1881-1920)
  • Kiliaen van Rensselaer VII (1920-1957)
  • Willem van Rensselaer III (1957-1988)

Stuyvesant family

Kouwenhoven family

Ketelhuyn family

Philipse family

Rambo family

Svensson family

Davenport family

Allerton family

Du Forrest family

Joncker families

Van Corlaer family

Schuyler family

De la Plaes family

D'Acosta family

Morris family

Pelham family

Cornell family

Kidd family

Parvenö families

Jonkman family

Vonda family

Levy family

Tergotsky family

Van der Bilts

Van der Poels

Rösenvelt family

See also