Robert R. Livingston, 1654–1728, b. Roxburghshire, Scotland, was raised in Holland and immigrated to America in 1673 after his father died. He made Albany, N.Y., his home, married (1679) Alida Van Rensselaer, and, mainly through trade with Native Americans, rose quickly to a position of wealth and influence in New York. Through the influence of Gov. Thomas Dongan, he secured (1686) a patent (later confirmed by royal charter) to shape his extensive land holdings, amounting to 160,000 acres, into Livingston Manor—in the present Dutchess and Columbia counties. Livingston and his brother-in-law, Peter Schuyler, were the leaders of the Albany opposition to the rebellion of Jacob Leisler, and afterward Livingston found his estates and privileges so endangered by the Leislerian faction, that he twice went to England to defend them. He served as secretary of Indian affairs from 1695 until his death and had considerable influence on the policy of the colony toward Native Americans; the governors of New York in this period relied heavily on Livingston's advice and were careful to retain his favor. A representative (1709–11, 1716–25) in the New York provincial assembly, he was elected (1718) speaker and supported the legislative body in opposition to the royal control of the governor. He had two sons, Robert and Philip.
See biography by L. H. Leder (1961).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.