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Guide to the John Rutherfurd Papers
1726-1835 (bulk 1775-1835)
  MS 533

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Richard Fraser

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 09, 2023
Description is in English.

Scope and Content Notes

Scope and Content for the Alexander - Stuyvesant - Rutherfurd Collections

The John Rutherfurd Papers is one of four discrete but closely related collections. The largest and the smallest of the four collections, the Alexander Papers and the John Rutherfurd Papers, were originally a single donation, made in the late 19th Century. The remaining two collections, the Rutherfurd Family Papers and the Stuyvesant-Rutherfurd Papers, were donated separately in the 1970's.

Together, these collections chronicle seven generations of an extended family in New York an d New Jersey over the course of two centuries. The founders of the family were James and Mary Alexander, who married in 1721. James Alexander had merchant business, but was primarily active as an attorney and government official in New York and New Jersey. Most of the material in the Alexander Papers derives from James Alexander's legal practice in both colonies, and from his tenures as Surveyor General of New Jersey, and Attorney General of New York. Other material in the Alexander Papers documents Mary Alexander's merchant business in New York, and the business activities and pre-Revolutionary military service of their son, William Alexander (Lord Stirling).

While the daughters of James and Mary Alexander are underrepresented in these collections, their husbands are represented to a greater or lesser extent in each of the collections described below. The Alexanders' four daughters married men who were or would become leading figures in New York and New Jersey. Mary married Peter Van Brugh Livingston, Susanna married John Reid, and Elizabeth married John Stevens. Catherine Alexander married Walter Rutherfurd.

The marriage of Catherine and Walter Rutherfurd also produced a son, John Rutherfurd, who evidently inherited the bulk of his father's and grandfather's papers. In 1847, Stuyvesant Rutherfurd (a grandson John Rutherfurd and nephew of Peter Gerard Stuyvesant), changed his name to Rutherfurd Stuyvesant in accordance with a provision of Peter Gerard Stuyvesant's will. Rutherfurd Stuyvesant evidently inherited at least some of the papers of his uncle. The Rutherfurd collections contain material created by or pertaining to the Alexander family, and the Stuyvesant-Rutherfurd Papers contain material created by or pertaining to the Alexanders and the Stuyvesants.

The material the Rutherfurd collections relates primarily to the landholdings and business undertakings of a wealthy and socially prominent family. The Stuyvesant-Rutherfurd Papers documents the activities of later generations of that family. By the mid-nineteenth century, the family had become more occupied in strictly leisure activities.

Various descendants of John Rutherfurd donated the collections described in these finding aids to the New-York Historical Society, and the collections extensively document the business dealings, professional activities, and family relationships of the Alexanders during the 18th Century, and the Rutherfurds from the 18th until the early 20th centuries.

For finding aids to the other three collections, click on the following links:

The Alexander Papers

The Rutherfurd Family Papers

The Stuyvesant-Rutherfurd Papers

Scope and Content for the John Rutherfurd Papers

This collection consists principally of material relating to or created by John Rutherfurd (1760 - 1840), and his father, Walter Rutherfurd (1724 - 1804). The inclusive dates of the collection are 1775 - 1835. The collection also contains small amounts of business-related material concerning persons who were associated with or related to John and Walter Rutherfurd. These include John Duncan, Alexander Hamilton, Gen. John Reid, and Alexander McDonald. Two institutions with which John Rutherfurd was affiliated, the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, and the Corporation for the Relief of Widows and Children of Clergymen of the Episcopal Church, are also represented in the collection.

Principal subseries for John and Walter Rutherfurd are Correspondence; Accounts, Bills, Receipts; Legal Papers; and Court Papers. Correspondence includes letters to John or Walter Rutherfurd, and drafts of their replies. Deeds, agreements, contracts, leases, and other legally binding documents are in the Legal Papers subseries. However, such legally binding documents that are identified as having to do with specific court cases or suits are foldered with the appropriate suit in the Court Papers series. Accounts, Bills, Receipts is self-explanatory.

There is also a series in the collection entitled Other Persons. This series consists of small numbers of items created by or pertaining to persons other than John or Walter Rutherfurd. The subseries in this series include Correspondence; Accounts, Bills, Receipts; Legal Papers; and Court Papers. Certain material relating to some persons is extensive enough to merit those persons being given subseries within this series. Persons with specific subseries within this series are John Duncan (legal papers only), Gen. Alexander Hamilton, Alexander McDonald, and Gen. John Reid. With these exceptions, material for all other persons is interfiled according to format, in chronological order.

Material pertaining to John Rutherfurd consists primarily of business correspondence and legal papers such as deeds, conveyances, and leases. Some material reflects his interest in the development infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, in New Jersey. There is very little family material of any kind in the collection. None of the material concerns John Rutherfurd's political career or political affairs. Most of the material pertaining to Walter Rutherfurd is also business-related.


The John Rutherfurd Papers are organized into the following eight series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I: John Rutherfurd
  2. Series II: Walter Rutherfurd
  3. Series III: Other Persons
  4. Series IV: Corporation for the Relief of Widows and Children of CLergymen
  5. Series V: Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures
  6. Series VI: Abstracts of Legislation re New Jersey -- New York Boundary
  7. Series VII: [Map of Turnpike Route]
  8. Series VIII: Fragments