Rensselaer Westerlo


Rensselaer Westerlo was born in May 1776. He was the first child born to the marriage of Domine Eilardus Westerlo and his wife, the widow Catherine Livingston Van Rensselaer. He grew up in a combined family at the Manor House until his older half-brother Stephen Van Rensselaer III succeeded to the title of Patroon in 1784. His father then moved their family into the Dutch Reformed parsonage on North Market Street. The elder Westerlo became ill and died at the end of 1790. During the 1790s, Rensselaer Westerlo first became a pewholder.

Young Rensselaer was educated at Columbia College in New York from where he graduated in 1795. He returned home to Albany and lived in his widowed mother's second ward home.

During the 1790s, he was among the young men who represented New York State in diplomatic negotiations with the Iroquois.

He was well-known in Albany circles as an attorney. He was the partner of fellow Columbia alumnus Abraham Hun.

Well-educated and trained to practice law, he was able to acquire substantial real property in Albany and beyond as well. He was a trustee and director of a number of Albany-based civic organizations. He served in the New York State militia, was a veteran of the War of 1812 (confidante of the Patroon), and was named brigadier general of the Albany cavalry in 1818.

By 1810, his mother had passed on and Rensselaer Westerlo had married and was counted as the head of a second ward household at what became 72 North Pearl Street.

While living in his mother's home, he sustained a close relationship with his younger sister, Catherine, who would marry newcomer attorney and officeholder John Woodworth in 1810. In May 1805, Rensselaer Westerlo was almost thirty when he married twenty-year-old Jane Lansing, daughter of the illustrious Chancellor. The marriage produced six children - none of whom appear to have raised their own families.

In 1817, he was elected to represent Albany in the United States House of Representatives. A Federalist, he served one term and returned to his legal practice.

Rensselaer Westerlo died in April 1851 at the age of seventy-four. His widow survived twenty years longer.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Rensselaer Westerlo is CAP biography number 6868. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. Wikipedia.

first posted: 7/10/09