Livingston of Callendar

{Reverend} John Livingston, M.A.

    The following account is from Sir Hector Livingston Duff, The Sewells of the New World, William Pollard and Co., 1924, and is quoted by W. Darcy McKeough in The McKeough Family Tree, Section #44, Livingston.  This material originated with:  Mr. E. B. Livingston, The Livingstons of Callendar and The Livingstons of the Manor.

    "John, like his father, entered the Church, and held various livings, of which the last was Ancrum in the county of Roxburgh, whence it happens that he is usually referred to in the family annals as Master John Livingston of Ancrum in Teviotdale. This celebrated man was one of the most eminent divines in the history of the Church of Scotland, and, after the lapse of more than two hundred years, his name is still well remembered in that country. He was nearly always in trouble of one kind or another, being of an uncompromising character and essentially a fighter, as anyone could tell from his original portrait now in possession of the Earl of Wemyss, which shows a face singularly massive, rugged and sombre. At the very outset of his career he became involved in a bitter dispute with the Bishop of Glasgow, and from then onward he was constantly being censured for insubordination, and was more than once suspended from his holy office. Yet, in spite of all this, 'Worthy, famous Mr. John Livingston,' as he is affectionately called by contemporary chroniclers, carried more weight with the Scottish people than any churchman of his time.

    "On the account, and partly, too, perhaps by reason of his aristocratic connections, he was chosen as one of the Commissioners who, in 1650, proceeded to Holland to negotiate with the then Prince of Wales, afterwards Charles II, the terms on which the Scottish nation was prepared to support the restoration of the Stuart dynasty, and it was Livingston himself who administered to the young prince the oath by which he swore to observe the Solemn League and Covenant. When, after his recall to the throne, Charles broke this promise, Livingston refused to recognise him as head of the Scottish Church, in consequence of which this brave and honest man was banished to Rotterdam (in 1664), where, in August, 1672, he died.

    "John Livingston married, on the 23rd June, 1635, Janet, daughter of Bartholomew Fleming.  She was a kinswoman of the Earl of Wigton who, with his eldest son, Lord Fleming, attended the wedding. His own account of his courtship reads very quaintly. He says that he spent 'nine months seeking a direction from God' before he could make up his mind to propose to the lady, and admits that it was not until some time after the wedding that he succeeded in developing the 'proper marriage affection' towards her. However, in spite of this rather unpromising start, the pair lived very devotedly together for many years, and had fifteen children, so everything seems to have come right in the end.

    "Of John Livingston’s eight sons but three survived him, and only two have male posterity living at this day, namely James and Robert. The latter, born at Ancrum, on the 13th December, 1654, and destined to become the most celebrated of his family, emigrated in 1673 to America, where he acquired extensive lands on the Upper Hudson river, in what is now the State of New York. So greatly did Robert prosper in the New World, and such were his influence and importance there, that in 1686, when he was only thirty-two years old, his estates on the Hudson were erected by a grant from Governor Dongan, afterwards confirmed by George I, into the 'Lordship and Manor of Livingston with rights of Court Leet and Court Baron, and all other manorial and feudal privileges,' to which favours was added in 1715 the further right of nominating a special representative for the Manor of Livingston to sit and vote in the Colonial House of Assembly.

    "Thus, within the marvellously short space of twelve years, and at a distance of three thousand miles from the home of his ancestors, did this younger son of a poor Scottish clergyman lay anew the foundations of his nobly descended line. From the circumstances of his having been thus the originator of the since famous family of the Livingstons of the Manor, and the first to receive a grant of the honours and privileges above mentioned, Robert Livingston is generally referred to in the annals of his House as 'Robert the Grantee'. He died at Boston, Massachusetts, 1st October, 1728, and was succeeded in the lordship of the manor of Livingston by his son Philip, whose descendants own a large part of the original manorial estates to this day. So vast were the landed possessions of the American Livingstons at the time of the War of Independence that they are said to have staked more on the issue of that struggle than any other family in the American colonies.

    "Mr. E. B. Livingston’s book The Livingstons of the Manor, gives a full and most absorbing account of the succession of celebrated men whom this branch of the Livingstons have produced- of Philip Livingston, commonly called 'Philip the Signer'; of Robert Livingston, the Chancellor; of Edward Livingston, the Secretary of State and Minister to France; of General Henry Livingston, of William Livingston first Governor of the State of New Jersey, and many others, and of the great part played by them in the history of the United States. But though the line of the Manor had thus covered itself with honour, it is not the senior surviving branch of the old House of Callendar. That distinction belongs to the descendants of Robert the Grantee’s elder brother James, our own ancestor."

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