The Patroons

December 19, 2010

In 1629 the Dutch colony in New York established a system much resembling feudalism. A patroon was the name for a landowner who had manorial rights over a large plot of land. With the creation of the Charter of Freedom and Exemptions permission was granted to these individuals to “choose and take possession of as much land as they could properly cultivate and hold in full ownership.” A true patroon was one who obtained fifty adults within a period of four years. This allowed him to have territory extending sixteen miles on one side or eight miles on both sides of a river.

A patroon could create civil and criminal courts, and could appoint local officials. The tenants of these estates would be relieved from paying taxes for 10 year but in return had to pay the patron in money, services, or goods. The most successful of the patrons was Kiliaen van Rensselaer whose manor Rensselaerwyck covered the New York State counties of Albany, Rensselaer and part of Columbia.

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