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The Philipse Family

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First Generation

Frederick Philipse I (1626–1702)

Vrederick Flypsen (Frederick Philipse) was born in Bolswaert, Friesland in 1626. He immigrated to New Netherland in 1647 with, according to some sources, his widowed mother, Margaret Dacres Philipse. Historic records list him as the "Official Carpenter" of the Dutch West India Company. His skills would have included not just those of a general carpenter and brick layer, but also the responsibilities of an architect-builder.

Image: Bolsward, Friesland map. 1652

Philipse first appears in New Amsterdam court records as a resident acting as an arbitrator on behalf of the municipality in business disputes. Director General Peter Stuyvesant refers to him as a carpenter twice in a report on work being done in Esopus in 1658. Records indicate that in 1660, Frederick Philipe was no longer the company’s official carpenter, although he was often called upon for consultations. On September 20, 1660, New Amsterdam Counsel minutes show the passing of a resolution “to charter to Frederick Philipse late the Director’s carpenter, the Company’s sloop for a voyage to Virginia,” beginning his career as a trader.

On April 12, 1657, Philipse was granted the Small Burgher Right of New Amsterdam, which gave him the right to operate a trade business. Early trade records show him dealing in furs and Virginia tobacco. In1658, Stuyvesant granted Philipse a lot of land on the corner of Markvelt (now Whitehall Street) and Breuers Straet (now Stone Street), the latter of which would become one of the most distinguished streets in the city, and the only one paved with brick.

Philipse married the widow Margariet Hardenbroek De Vries 1662. He immediately adopted her two-year-old daughter Maria and renamed her Eva Philipse. The couple had ten children together and amassed a fortune through international trade and real estate. Along with exports of furs and tobacco, Frederick Philipse was one of the first traders to begin exporting wheat. With the establishment of the Manor of Philipsborough by Royal proclamation in 1693, and the introduction of tenant farmers, wheat became the family’s chief export item. Philipse’s ships traveled the world with a variety of items, both luxury and practical, including fine textiles, pots, shoe buckles, paper, spices and enslaved Africans.

Throughout his lifetime, Philipse served as a public officer for both the colonial government and the church. He was one of the two City Surveyors for New Amsterdam, an Alderman and member of the Common Council, and served as a Councilor in the royal Commission under New York Governors Thomas Dongan and Benjamin Fletcher. He was also a Warden of the Dutch Reform Church.

Through his own endeavors and Hardenbroek’s fortune, Philipse had become the wealthiest man in the colony by the time of the 1664 British takeover of New Netherland. He would remain so until his death in 1702. He is buried in the crypt of the Old Dutch Church, in Sleepy Hollow, New York, a church that he and his second wife, Catherine Van Cortlandt, had built on what were then Manor lands.

Margaret Hardenbroek De Vries Philipse (c.1637–1691)

Born into an established Dutch family of shipping merchants, Margaret Hardenbroek arrived in New Amsterdam in 1659. A well-educated, licensed “she-merchant” and factor for her cousin’s trading business in New Netherland, she quickly established her own trading enterprise, exporting furs and importing needed goods, especially textiles.  Shortly after her arrival she married Pieter R. De Vries, a fellow Dutch merchant. Together they had one daughter.

Image: New Amsterdam, A Small City on Manhattan Island.

Hardenbroek’s fortunes increased through her own work and the estate of her husband, who died in 1661, leaving her with a fleet of ships. She would often act as factor on her own vessels, overseeing deals and managing cargo in the colony and Europe. Historic records indicate that she and a partner purchased the initial three hundred acres of Westchester land from Adrian van der Donck’s widow, land that would eventually become part of the lower portion of the Manor of Philipseborough.

Under British control, Hardenbroek’s wealth and property reverted to her second husband, Frederick Philipse, whom she married in 1662. Despite this change in status, she and her husband continued to work together, and at times, separately. During her time in New Netherland, Hardenbroek’s parents and brothers also immigrated there. Margaret died in 1691 without a will, which transferred her entire estate to her husband.

Catherine Van Cortlandt Dervall Philipse (1652–1730)

Born in the colony of New Netherland, Catherine van Cortlandt was one of the four children of Oloff Van Cortlandt, a solider and officer of the Dutch West India Company. The widow of a trading partner of Frederick Philipse’s, she was in her 40s when she married Philipse, who was in his 60s, in 1692. Continuing in the Dutch tradition, the couple signed a prenuptial agreement which allowed Van Cortlandt to maintain her own substantial fortune and eliminated any future claims she may have had on Philipse’s.

Unlike Hardenbroek and her own mother, Catherine van Cortlandt grew up in British New York. Her life and education happened as part of a transitional generation, leaving her perhaps more British than Dutch. Living as a woman of the colony’s upper class, she would be more socialite than businesswoman. Together with her husband, she initiated construction of the Old Dutch Church on the Upper portion of the Manor and eventually laid him to rest there. Although they had no children of their own, together they did raise their young, orphaned grandson, Frederick Philipse II. In his will, the elder Philipse charged her with overseeing the boy’s education. A year or so following her husband’s death, she took young Frederick to England where they lived for nine years while he studied and obtained a degree in law.

Lithograph of stone Dutch church with belfry surrounded by trees, small cemetery, picket fence.
The Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow, image from Benson, John Lossing, ed. Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History (vol. 5) (New York, NY: Harper and Brothers, 1912)

Upon their return, she assisted her grandson in building his political life as he learned to manage his estate. With her grandson’s marriage, she stepped into a life of retirement among her family and friends. As part of her will, written in 1730 while she lay ill, she requested that her enslaved servants, Molly and Sarah, “be manumitted and sett at full freedom and Liberty,” one month after her decease. However, a law had been enacted which required enslavers to pay a security of two hundred pounds sterling per enslaved person being freed. No funds had been set aside for this purpose. Without any documentation. it is assumed the women were passed on to family or sold. Catherine Van Cortlandt is buried with her husband, Frederick Philipse, in the crypt at the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow.

Second Generation

Eva Philipse Van Cortlandt (1660–1760)

Born July 6, 1660, Eva Philipse was the daughter of Margaret Hardenbroek and Pieter De Vries.  Around the age of two, she was adopted by Frederick Philipse upon his marriage to Hardenbroek and renamed Eva Philipse. Little is known of her early life. She married Jacobus Van Cortlandt on May 31, 1691, and together they had four children. Upon the death of her stepfather, her portion of the estate, in accordance with British law, was left to her and her husband. The estate included the New York City house they resided in, another lot in the city, a mortgage for a stretch of wilderness north of Manhattan, and one quarter of all ships, plates, goods, etc., in the estate. Using those ships, Jacobus van Cortlandt would become involved in international trade, including that of enslaved Africans.  

Jacobus Van Cortlandt (1658–1739)

The brother of Catherine Van Cortlandt (who married Eva Philipse's stepfather Frederick Philipse a year later), Jacobus Van Cortlandt held several political positions during his lifetime, including two non-consecutive terms as Mayor of New York City. After inheriting ships from Frederick Philipse I, Van Cortlandt increased his international trade business, including enslaved Africans among his goods. He made several land purchases near the southern end of the Manor of Philipsborough, including land that would become Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

Philip Philipse (1664–1699)

The oldest child of Frederick Philipse I and Margaret Harbenbroek, Philip Philipse was baptized on March 18, 1664. Known to be a good sailor, he worked with his parents and siblings as part of the Philipse merchant trading empire. He is mostly remembered for his focus on the family’s Barbados interests in sugar, enslaved Africans, and their planation in Spring Head, Barbados, purchased in 1674. In 1690, New York Governor Jacob Leisler commissioned him to sail along the Long Island coastline to look out for French vessels. He married Maria Sparks, the daughter of John Sparks, in 1694. The couple had one child, Frederick Philipse II (1695–1751). Philip Philipse died in Barbados in September 1699.

Image: ‘Ashford Plantation, Barbados.'

Maria Sparks Philipse (1656–1699)

Maria Sparks was the daughter of John Sparks, and the wife of Philip Philipse. She died in Barbados shortly after her husband in October, 1699, leaving young Frederick Philipse II an orphan.

Adolph Philipse (1665–1750)

Waist up portrait of white man with long brown hair in 18th century black coat and white cravat
Portrait of Adolphus Philipse. Wikimedia Commons.

The second son of Frederick and Margaret Philipse, Adolphus (or Adolph) Philipse was baptized on November 15, 1665. Actively involved in the family’s trading business and land interests, he headed them for nearly thirty years following his father’s death. As the executor of his father’s estate, he also inherited the northern portion of the Manor lands and responsibility for Frederick Philipse II until the younger Philipse reached 21 years of age. He increased the family’s landholding with the purchase of the 250-square-mile tract known as the Highland Patent, a swath of land north of the main estate which extended from the Hudson River eastward to the border of Connecticut. Adolph's business, political and social interests, like those of his parents, were centered in New York City. Like his father, he served on the Governor’s Council, often supporting the position of the merchant class over the landed gentry.

During his tenure as head of the family trade enterprises, he continued to increase the family’s fortune, sending ships far and wide. He worked alone and with a variety of partners including his brothers-in-law, Jacobus van Cortlandt and Philip French, and Jewish merchant traders Moses Levy, Samuel Levy and Jacob Franks. Historic records show Philipse vessels at the time moving between Barbados, Jamaica, the French and Dutch colonies of Martinique, Curacao, and Surinam, as well as multiple points in Europe.

Adolph Philipse dealt predominantly in dry goods, trading in items ranging from luxury to practical. The Caribbean trade provided sugar, rum, molasses, cacao, old iron and enslaved people. His New York goods ranged from baskets and brooms created by Native peoples, to wheat, butter, ship's biscuits (hardtack), and lumber from the Manor lands. Luxury goods from Europe and Asia were also common items. He resumed the family’s participation in the Madagascar trade between 1715 and 1721 through a loophole in the Dutch East India Company’s monopoly. Several English liquor bottles baring his seal and an international array of artifacts were found during archaeological digs conducted at the Upper Mills property between 1958 and 1961.

Adolph Philipse never married and had no children. He died in 1750 without a will, leaving his nephew Frederick Philipse II to inherit his entire estate (reuniting the northern and southern sections of the main Manor estate) and gain legal status as Lord of the Manor. The inventory of the estate created a rich historic record, including a variety of currencies from around the world, as well as a list of the names of twenty-three enslaved Africans at the Upper Mills portion of the Manor, and others from a house in Manhattan. He is interred at the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

Annetje Philipse French (1667–?)

The third child of Frederick Philipse I and Margaret Hardenbroek, Annetje Philipse was baptized on November 27, 1667. It is believed she worked in the family’s trading business until she married Philip French on July 8, 1694. Together, they had four children: Philip III, Elizabeth, Ann, and Margareta. There is no record of her death date or burial location.

Philip French II (1656–?)

Born in Suffolk, England, Philip French II immigrated to New York in 1689, and worked on behalf of his English merchant father Philip French as a trading partner with Frederick Philipse I and later with his brother-in-law Adolph Philipse. Historic records show him among the top ten merchant traders in New York. His political life included serving as Speaker of the Assembly in 1698, Alderman in 1701, and later as the 27th Mayor of New York City.

Rombout Philipse (1669–?)

The fourth child of Frederick and Margaret Philipse, little is known about Rombout Philipse. He was born in 1669 and died young. He is mentioned as deceased in Frederick Philipse's 1702 will.

Third Generation

Image: Frederick Philipse II

Frederick Philipse II (1695–1751)

Orphaned at the age of four upon the death of his parents Philip Philipse and Maria Sparks Philipse, young Frederick Philipse II was brought from Barbados to New York to live with his grandfather Frederick Philipse I and his second wife, Catherine Van Cortlandt. In his grandfather’s will, Van Cortlandt was charged with the guardianship and education of the younger Philipse. Seeking to fulfill her duties, she took young Frederick to London for his education. After nine years abroad, he returned in 1716 with a degree in law. He worked with his uncle, Adolph Philipse, to learn the family business and began building the social and political relationships he would need to take his place in New York society.

In 1719, Philipse married Johanna Brockholst, and that same year began a lengthy career in public service as Alderman, Assemblyman, and New York Supreme Court Justice. To accommodate his growing family, and to better present himself as an English gentleman, Philipse began an expansion of his Manor Hall in Yonkers.

After the death of Adolph Philipse in early 1750, the manor lands of Philipsburg came under the sole control and ownership of Frederick II. Within 18 months, however, Frederick Philipse II was dead from tuberculosis. In his will, he left his Westchester estate and lands to his eldest son, Frederick Philipse III. He divided the 205,000 acre Highland Patent to the north among his other children.

Johanna Brockholst Philipse (1700–1765)

The daughter of a former Lieutenant Governor of New York, Johanna Brockholst was 19 when she wed Frederick Philipse II. She grew up on her father’s estate in Pompton, New Jersey (now Wayne). Both she and her older sister, Susannah, married grandchildren of Frederick Philipse I. She and Frederick Philipse II had ten children, five of whom lived beyond infancy. Susannah (1723), Anthony (1735), Joanna (1739), and Adolphus (1742) did not survive childhood. Margaret Philipse (1733-1752) died of illness as a young woman.

In her husband’s will, written shortly before his death in 1751, Johanna was given seven enslaved men and women, an annual stipend of £500, and living rights in one of her husband’s Manhattan houses. She died from injuries that she received in a fall from her carriage in 1765.

Fourth Generation

Frederick Philipse III (1720–1786)

Portrait of Frederick Philipse III by John Wollaston, ca. 1750. New-York Historical Society

Like his younger siblings, the third and final Lord of Philipsburg Manor, Frederick Philipse III, was raised under the exceptional wealth and privilege of New York’s wealthiest family. Frederick Philipse III was educated in New York, and attended King’s College (Columbia). He was 31 years old when he inherited the 52,000 acres that comprised the Manor of Philipsburg in Westchester County. At the time of his father’s death, he also received several houses in New York City and at least 32 enslaved men, women, and children at both the Upper and Lower Mills.

Unlike his predecessors, Frederick Philipse III seemed less interested in politics or trade and focused his attention on developing his Yonkers home, Philipse Manor Hall, and the surrounding landscape into a gentrified country estate worthy of a man of his wealth. He married the widow Elizabeth Williams Rutgers in 1756 and they had nine children. While many of his relatives, such as John Jay and Pierre Van Cortlandt, played significant roles in the formation of the new nation, Frederick Philipse III remained loyal to England during the American Revolution and paid a dear price for this decision. Philipse and his family left Philipse Manor Hall in 1777 and moved into one of their houses in British-held New York City for the remainder of the war. His manor home and all his land was confiscated by the new New York government and auctioned in parcels after the war. Philipse and his family sailed to England in 1783. He died there three years later.

Elizabeth Williams Rutgers Philipse (1732–1817)

The daughter of Naval Officer Charles Williams and Sarah Oliver, Elizabeth Williams was the widow of Anthony Rutgers when she married Frederick Philipse III in 1756. She has been credited as being an adventurous woman fond of fashion and display.

Like her husband, she was also a strong loyalist. During the Westchester campaign over the summer and fall of 1776, Frederick Philipse III was under arrest and being held in Connecticut. On August 14, the imprisoned Philipse sent his wife a note expressing his love and cautioning their children ''not to oppen their lipps about the times'' because the Continental soldiers encamped on the estate might be listening. He also instructed his wife to write any “news. . . [on the] In­side of the Cover of Your letters not with ink but the Juice of a Lemon.”

She and her sister-in-law, Mary Philipse Morris, occupied Philipse Manor Hall with their children and the sizable enslaved community. At times, the house and the surrounding land was occupied by both American and British forces, each side taking cattle, horses, sheep, poultry, firewood, and other items necessary to sustain an army on foot. Elizabeth Williams wrote letters to William Howe and George Washington complaining about the behavior of their respective armies; both Generals replied to her, apologizing for the “misfortunes of war” and the “depredations of their troops.”

With her husband and children, Elizabeth Philipse left New York City for England in 1783. She outlived her husband and died in Somerset, England in 1817.

Philip Philipse (1724–1768)

Portrait of Philip Philipse by John Wollaston, c. 1751. Museum of the City of New Yor

The second-born son of Frederick Philipse II, Philip Philipse received a share of the Highland Patent equal to that granted to each of his three sisters, Susanna, Mary, and Margaret. In 1746, Philip Philipse became the first of his generation to wed when, at the age of 22, he married Margaret Marston. After the death of his father, he moved his family to their newly inherited land in what is now Putnam County. He died in 1768 at the age of 43.

Portrait of Margaret Marston Philipse, by John Wollaston, c. 1751. Museum of the City of New York

Margaret Marston Philipse (1727–1807)

The daughter of New York merchant Nathaniel Marston, Margaret Marston Philipse resided with her husband Philip Philipse and their four children on land inherited through the death of her father in-law, Frederick Philipse II. A year after her husband's death in 1768, she married the Reverend John Ogilvie, Assistant Minister at Trinity Church in New York City. Margaret and Philip Philipse’s youngest son, Nathaniel, was an ensign in the British army, and died in 1777 at the battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania. Margaret, Philip, and their middle son, Frederick, are buried in the Marston family crypt at Trinity Church in lower Manhattan. Two dresses that belonged to Margaret Philipse Ogilvie are on display at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History.

Portrait of Susannah Philipse Robinson by John Wollaston, c. 1750. New-York Historical Society.

Susannah Philipse Robinson (1727–1822)

Named after her mother’s sister, Susannah Philipse was the oldest daughter of Frederick Philipse II. In accordance with her father’s will, she received one quarter of the Philipse Highland Patent lands equal to portions granted to her siblings Philip, Mary, and Margaret. Upon Margaret's death in 1752, her share was divided amongst the family survivors.

Susannah married wealthy Virginian Beverly Robinson in 1747, and they later settled on their share of land in the Highland Patent, where they raised their six children. At the end of the war, the Robinson family left for England and settled in Thornbury, near Bristol.

Beverly Robinson (1722–1792)

Image:Portrait of Beverley Robinson from The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume XIII, 1906, page 55

Born in Middlesex County, Virginia, Beverly Robinson was the younger brother of John Robinson, Jr., Virginia’s longtime and powerful Speaker of the House of Burgess. Although Robinson disagreed with the punitive measures taken by Parliament against the American Colonies, he was opposed to separating from Great Britain. Although Robinson may not have wanted any part of the war, the war nonetheless came to him. In 1777, Robinson formed the Loyal American Regiment, chiefly comprised of men who were his tenants on his Highland Patent lands, and fought in several skirmishes. His family was forced to leave their home on the Highland Patent, and move to the safety of British-held Manhattan. Their home and lands were confiscated by the new New York government and the Robinson house became the headquarters for West Point’s Commander, Benedict Arnold, and later, George Washington.

It was at the Robinson house that Benedict Arnold learned that his British liaison, Major John Andre, had been captured and the plans for taking West Point discovered. Knowing that his actions were treasonous, it was said that Arnold quickly packed his bags, headed to Robinson’s dock on the Hudson River, and left on board the British warship, the Vulture.

Portrait of Mary Philipse Morris by H. R. Butler After Original Painting By John Wollaston. Cochran Collection, Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site.

Mary Philipse Morris (1730–1825)

The fourth surviving child of Johanna Brockholst and Frederick Philipse II, Mary Philipse was born on July 3, 1730. “Polly” Philipse was born into wealth, inherited a vast estate when her father died in 1751, and may have been courted, briefly, by a young George Washington, before marrying Colonel Roger Morris in 1758. Within a few years, she, her husband, and their growing family moved to their own mansion (now called the Morris-Jumel Mansion), built overlooking both the Hudson and Harlem Rivers in northern Manhattan. George Washington briefly occupied the house in the summer of 1776, although it was likely that Mary Philipse Morris and her children had already abandoned the building as the war approached.

As a loyalist, Mary Philipse Morris remained behind British lines during the war, living in Manhattan. At the war’s end, she left New York and moved to England, outliving her husband by over thirty years.

Portrait of Colonel Roger Morris by Benjamin West, undated. Published in "Philipse Manor Hall" by Edward Hagaman Hall.

Roger Morris (1727–1794)

English-born Roger Morris came to America as a seasoned soldier who had fought in the war of the Austrian Succession. During the Seven Years war, Morris served as General Edward Braddock’s aide-de-camp, and fought in several battles in Pennsylvania, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. In 1758, Morris married Mary Philipse while recuperating from an injury.

Colonel Morris retired from the British army in 1764 and soon moved his family into a new estate named Mount Morris (now called the Morris-Jumel Mansion) in Harlem Heights. At the onset of the American Revolution, Morris left New York and his family for England. His wife and children first stayed with Elizabeth Philipse (Mary Philipse's sister-in-law) at Philipse Manor Hall before moving to the safety of British-held Manhattan, where they remained until the end of the war.

Roger Morris was reunited with his family in England after the war. They settled in York, where they lived until his death in 1794.

Image: Old Roger Morris Mansion.

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