Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Archival Treasures: The Patent

Here we have the famous patent, granted to Robert Livingston by Thomas Dongan in appreciation for his services - and perhaps for agreeing not to push his claim on Rensselaer property any farther. I've smoothed out the text, removing the random capitalizations and adding a few pieces of punctuation.


Thomas Dongan Lieutenant Governor and Vice Admiral under his Majesty King James the Second of the Province of New York and its dependencies in America, To all to whom these presents shall come sendeth greeting.
Whereas Robert Livingston by virtue of a Patent under my hand sealed with the seal of the province aforesaid bearing date the fourth day of November Anno Dom one thousand six hundred and eighty four is seized and possessed of a certain tract of land situate and lying on a creek on the east side of the Hudson River commonly called or known by the name of Roeloffe Johnson Kill, it being in three plains called Nekanhook, Kichua, Wicquashaka and two of three other small flats or plains, in all about one hundred Morgan or two hundred acres together with eighteen hundred acres of woodland lying and being between a small creek or kill lying over against Catts Kill called Wachon hafseck(?) and a place by the Indians called Sivashahamuka(?) to the south of Roeloffe Johnson's Kill, that is to say two hundred acres along the rivers side and the rest adjoining to the said two hundred acres and so running back into the woods. And also all woods, underwoods, waters, running streams, ponds, creeks, meadows, marshes, fishing, hawking, hunting and fowling and all other liberties and privileges, hereditaments, appurtenances to the said tract or parcel of land belonging or in any wise appertaining, to have and to hold the said tract of land and premises together with all and singular the appurtenances aforementioned unto the said Robert Livingston, his heirs and assignees to the proper use and [?] of the said Robert Livingston, his heirs and assignees forever.
To be holden of his said Majesty in free and common socage according to the tenure of East Greenwich in the County of Kent in his Majesty's Kingdom of England, Rendering and paying as a quit rent for the same twenty shillings current money of the province yearly and every year at Albany upon the five and twentieth day of March unto his Majesty, his heirs and successors or unto such Officer or Officers as should be appointed to receive the same as by the said patent accorded in the Secretary's office, relation being thereunto had, may more fully and at large appear.
And Whereas the said Robert Livingston by virtue of another patent under my hands and sealed witht the seal of the province bearing date the seven and twentieth day of August last past is seized and possessed of another tract of land called Sachkanick(?) lying and being adjacent unto the aforementioned tract of land, beginning behind Pellhook on a certain creek that runs into the east side of the Hudson River and is known by the name of Roeloffe Johnson's Kill, beginning on the northwest side of the said hill that runs along the flat or plain...

That's enough to give you the idea. Much of this is boilerplate, but of course it contains the ten underlined words that Livingston was able to twist into his 160,000 plus acres. Note that the underline is not mine; it is on the document itself. I cannot tell if the underlining was done by Dongan or by a later editor. The ink is the same shade and appears to be similarly aged, so perhaps it is original to Dongan or Livingston himself.

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