Catharina Livingston Van Rensselaer Westerlo
Stefan Bielinski

Catharina Livingston was baptized in the Albany Dutch church in August 1745. She was the third of the nine children born to Albany natives Philip Livingston and his wife, Christina Ten Broeck. She grew up in New York City and in her parent's country home on Brooklyn Heights. Hovever, these Livingstons were frequent visitors to Albany.

Shy of her nineteenth birthday, she married Patroon Stephen Van Rensselaer II in New York City in January 1764. Their first son, Stephen, was born in New York that November. The marriage also produced another son and a daughter.

Before long, the young patroon's family took up residence in a new Manor House built by Stephen in 1765. Catharina gave birth to three children before her husband died suddenly in October 1769. Surrounded by family and supported by servants, the twenty-four-year-old widow would raise her children in the Albany countryside as her world headed into an uncertain future.

From childhood, Catharina had known the comfort of the Dutch Church. Her marriage to Stephen Van Rensselaer II had further elevated her status in the Albany church. In 1769, three seats in the patroon's pew were reserved for the "patrooness!" Her connection to the church became even stronger in 1775 when she married Dominie Eilardus Westerlo. For the next fifteen years, she was the minister's wife - ensuring her new husband's acceptance in the upper echelon's of regional society. By 1783, Catharina had given birth to three Westerlo children.

Her new family lived at the manor house until her eldest son, Stephen Van Rensselaer III, came of age and became lord of the manor. By 1790, the Westerlos moved into the parsonage located on Market Street. Westerlo died in December of that year - leaving Catharina a widow again. For a time, she resided in the parsonage. A few years later, she moved her family to a comfortable home on Pearl Street that in 1800 was served by seven slaves.

Catharina Livingston Van Rensselaer Westerlo died in April 1810 at the age of sixty-five.



the people of colonial Albany The life of Catharina Livingston Van Rensselaer Westerlo is CAP biography number 5034. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

Home | Site Index | Navigation | Email | New York State Museum

first posted: 9/10/01