Robert Dunbar


Known as "Robert Dunbar, Jr., agent of the Patroon," this Robert Dunbar probably was born in June 1772. He was the son of Levinus and Margarita Hansen Dunbar. He grew up in a mid-sized family in a modest home in Albany's North End..

Perhaps he married Albany native Alida Graverat at the Albany Dutch church in May 1796. The marriage produced a number of children.

In May 1797, he purchased a share of the legendary sloop The Experiment.

In 1800, his household was configured on the Watervliet census showed the newlyweds (under Robert Dunbar, Jr.) living with an older couple and two slaves.

In 1808, he was appointed adjutant in the Albany County militia. In 1832, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. Later, he would be known as "General."

In August 1802, he paid for the burial of his father-in-law from the Dutch church.

In January 1808, he was among those invited to the funeral of Henry J. Bleecker.

In January 1810, "Robert Dunbar Junr. Esq." paid chairmaker James Chestney for six "Common Chairs."

He was said to have been the principal agent of the Patroon for over thirty years and thus a resident of the part of the Manor then called Watervliet and now Colonie. He may have built the so-called "Pruyn House," the headquarters of Dunbar's niece's husband and successor, Casparus F. Pruyn - who reputedly got his start in Dunbar's office at age thirteen..

In 1825, he was among the area worthies who made a large pledge to endow a third professorship at what was then the "Theological College of New Brunswick.

He resigned (retired) from the patroonship in 1835 and was succeeded by Pruyn.

"General Robert Dunbar, Jr." died in June 1837 at the age of sixty four. His newspaper obituary stated that "He had been for more than thirty years the principal agent of the patroon and enjoyed the confidence and esteem of all who knew him." His patron, Stephen Van Rensselaer, died in 1839. Robert Dunbar's widow, Alida, died in April 1840.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Robert Dunbar is CAP biography number 2271. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

About 1808, Ezra Ames is said to have produced a presently unlocated portrait of Robert Dunbar, Jr. In 1808, he commissioned two portraits - the other of his wife who also produced memorial needlework.

Sources: Manor-related papers.

first posted: 10/10/08