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Guide to the Stuyvesant-Rutherfurd Papers
1647-1917 (bulk 1840-1917)
  MS 605

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

@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Richard Fraser

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 04, 2011
Description is in English.

Scope and Content Notes

Scope and Content for the Alexander - Stuyvesant - Rutherfurd Collections

The Stuyvesant-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 John Rutherfurd Papers

Scope and Content for the Stuyvesant-Rutherfurd Papers

This collection contains correspondence and papers of members of the Stuyvesant and Rutherfurd families of New York City and New Jersey. Most of the collection consists of correspondence among members of the immediate family of Lewis Morris Rutherfurd (1816-1892), and his son, Rutherfurd Stuyvesant (1840-1909). Other persons represented in the collection include Lewis Morris Rutherfurd's aunt, Helena Rutherfurd Stuyvesant (1790-1873), her husband, Peter Gerard Stuyvesant (1778-1847), and her father-in-law, Peter (Petrus) Stuyvesant (1727-1805). One series contains material concerning the Stuyvesant Institute, an educational facility in New York City. The collection also contains a small amount of material pertaining to or created by members of the Alexander family of New York City and New Jersey.

The inclusive dates of the collection are 1775 to 1917. The bulk dates of the collection are ca. 1840 to 1917.

Also in the collection is a small group of artifacts, specifically "a piece of wood from the old house" (the specific house unidentified); four metal corners from the cover of an unidentified volume, and a small metal monogram, apparently of Rutherfurd Stuyvesant. In addition, there are numerous photographs. Included are images of items in Rutherfurd Stuyvesant's armor collection, interior and exterior shots of a country estate, probably Tranquillity Farms, and photographs taken during a trip to India, perhapsby Lewis Rutherfurd Stuyvesant and his wife, Rosalie Pillot Stuyvesant.

Whenever possible, series are arranged according to the name of the person to which a given set of material pertains. (For purposes of this arrangement, the names of married women consist of the woman's first name, maiden name, and married name. No middle names are used.) Principal subseries for each person are (if applicable), Letters Received; Accounts, Bills, Receipts (excluding material relating to court cases); Legal Papers (indentures, contracts, deeds, etc.); and Court Papers (material, including accounts bills and receipts, having to do with specific court cases). Other subseries of material specific to each person follow as needed. Material in each subseries is arranged chronologically.

Correspondence is arranged according to recipient, not sender. Thus, there are subseries for each family member entitled [Name] - Letters Received, but no subseries [Name] - Letters Sent. The only exception to this is in those instances where a family member is addressing letters to a group of other persons not specified by name (e.g. "Dear family" or "Dear Children"). In these instances, the subseries is called, for example, Margaret Chanler Rutherfurd -- Letters to her Children.

Six bound volumes are listed at the end of the collection's container list. Two of these volumes are account books of the estate of Peter (Petrus) Stuyvesant. Two others, a payroll book and a guest book, relate to the Rutherfurd family's estate, Tranquillity. One other volume is a kennel record of fox terriers bred by Lewis Morris Rutherfurd Jr. and Winthrop Rutherfurd. The final volume is a portfolio of photographs, including both studio portraits and interiors of a residence. Most of the subjects of the portraits are unidentified, and none are identified as members of either the Stuyvesant or Rutherfurd families.

In many instances, correspondence is addressed to a person using a nickname or pet name. Nicknames of members of the Rutherfurd and Stuyvesant families that are used in this collection are: "Loulou", "Poodle", "Ducky" = Louisa Morris Rutherfurd (1859-1892); "Mamie" or "Mamy' = Margaret Pierrepont Stuyvesant; "Daisy" = Margaret Rutherfurd White; "Aunty" = Helena Rutherfurd Stuyvesant; "Lori" = Rosalie Pillot Stuyvesant.

Very little of the material in the collection was in original order. In instances where material had been kept as a discrete unit by the person to whom it pertains, it was kept together in the arrangement. To use another example for the Rutherfurd Stuyvesant series, there was one cluster of material together in an envelope on which had been written "Papers of the Dino Collection." This envelope contained correspondence regarding Rutherfurd Stuyvesant's purchase of a collection of European armor. Since this material had been kept together, and identified specifically with reference to the purchase of armor, it was not integrated into the subseries Rutherfurd Stuyvesant -- Letters Received. Rather, it was placed in the subseries Rutherfurd Stuyvesant - Armor Collection. Similarly, a group of telegrams from 1903-1904 that appear to have been kept together by Rutherfurd Stuyvesant have been placed in a folder entitled Rutherfurd Stuyvesant - Telegrams Received. Except for this one case, telegrams addressed to a given person were placed in the Letters Received subseries for that person.

Another group of material that had been kept as a discrete unit is the "Stuyvesant Institute Papers." Although these papers were kept as a unit, they do not appear to have been kept in any specific order. Because of the volume of material having to do with the Stuyvesant Institute, it was sorted according to the subseries headings described above (Accounts, Bills, Receipts, Legal Papers and Court Papers, with the subseries title Correspondence replacing Letters Received). This material is arranged as a series (Stuyvesant Institute Papers) of seven folders in Box 13.

Finally, a group of letters received by Sabina Morris Rutherfurd, which appear to have been bound together has been kept in the order in which they were found.

This collection supports research into the social lives of upper class New Yorkers during the 19th and early 20th centuries, detailing their relationships with family and friends, pastimes, travel, and business ventures. The collection contains almost no material regarding the professional activities of the family members. For example, there are only a few letters to Lewis Morris Rutherfurd concerning his work as an astronomer, and there are only two printed articles by him on the subject. The collection contains no notes or drafts of articles by him regarding astronomy.

There is very little material in the collection dealing with political issues. Most such material is correspondence dating from 1849, when a party of family members and family friends is touring Europe. Some of the letters address the political situation, mostly in the context of how it affects the traveling party. Very few letters address the politics of the United States during the period. Some of the letters of Margaret Rutherfurd (Mrs. Henry) White deal with activities at the Court of St. James during the late Victorian era.


The Stuyvesant-Rutherfurd Papers are organized into the following twenty-two series:

  1. Series I: Rutherfurd Stuyvesant
  2. Series II: Mary Pierrepont Stuyvesant
  3. Series III: Peter (Petrus) Stuyvesant
  4. Series IV: Peter Gerard Stuyvesant
  5. Series V: Helena Rutherfurd Stuyvesant
  6. Series VI: Matilde Stuyvesant
  7. Series VII: Nicholas William Stuyvesant [1722-1780]
  8. Series VIII: Alain Stuyvesant
  9. Series IX: Lewis Rutherfurd Stuyvesant
  10. Series X: Rosalie Pillot Stuyvesant
  11. Series XI: Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Rutherfurd Stuyvesant
  12. Series XII: Gerardus Stuyvesant
  13. Series XIII: Stuyvesant Family
  14. Series XIV: Stuyvesant Institute
  15. Series XV: Lewis Morris Rutherfurd
  16. Series XVI: Margaret Chanler Rutherfurd
  17. Series XVII: Louisa M. Rutherfurd [1859-1892]
  18. Series XVIII: Margaret Rutherfurd White
  19. Series XIX: Rutherfurd Family
  20. Series XX: Alexander Family
  21. Series XXI: Other Persons
  22. Series XXII: Govert Loockermans--Correspondence and Papers (in Dutch)
  23. Other Series