2013-01-12 21:30:52 UTC
My article “The Livingston Ancestry of the Duncanson Sisters of New Netherland”, is the result of nearly five years of research partially co-financed by “The Duncanson/Livingston Project”, founded by the author and including Anthony Glenn Hoskins, Joseph V.R. V.E. Laux, and John Camp—all descendants of the Duncanson sisters.
It is being serialized in THE GENEALOGIST, with part I appearing this April, part II this Fall, and part III in Spring 2014. For subscription information, please visit The American Society of Genealogists’ website: www.fasg.org
The starting point for this project was an article by Gordon L. Remington, FASG, who identified the parentage of four Duncanson women in an article published in the RECORD in 1997. The Duncanson sisters were daughters of Mr James Duncanson, Minister of Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, and his wife Helen Livingston. Mr James was the eldest son and heir of Rev. John Duncanson, Minister to James VI. Mr James’s daughter Katherine arrived in New Amsterdam (New York City) in 1639 followed by three of her older sisters. (It is conceivable that some of their other siblings also immigrated but there is no evidence of this. I did discover an elder brother—not included in Remington’s article—who almost certainly lived in England.)
Part I identifies Helen Livingston’s parentage and traces her Livingston ancestry for several generations, and includes her siblings and Livingston aunts and uncles.
Part II examines in detail Helen’s legitimate descent from Robert III, King of Scots (d. 1406). The noted Scottish genealogist Andrew B.W. MacEwen of Stockton Springs, Maine, contributed several references. His analysis of key evidence bolstered aspects of the royal descent and corrected some errors that have appeared in print over the years. From this one royal line alone the vast number of descendants of the Duncanson sisters in America can claim a broad swath of British and continental European medieval ancestry. Much of this ancestry can be traced on Leo van de Pas’s site www.genealogics.org.
Part III identifies Helen Livingston’s mother based on contemporary documents I obtained in England. I trace Helen’s maternal grandfather’s male line back through several generations of prosperous merchant burgesses of Edinburgh to the late 1400s. I also uncovered an unusually close network of servants to Mary, Queen of Scots, and her son James VI (later King of England) which included Helen’s mother, maternal grandmother and several other close relatives. The unique relationship between Helen’s mother and King James I of England is the likely reason why Helen twice received royal favor from King James and his son Charles I.
Helen’s children appear to have been plucky and resourceful like their mother—Helen’s daughter Katherine Duncanson became a successful trader after the death of her husband Hon. Alexander Glen. And Katherine and Alexander Glen’s children founded large and prosperous families near Schenectady, New York. The mansion house built on the Glen plantation named “Nova Scotia” (Scotia, New York) survives to this day as the Glen-Sanders Mansion hotel and restaurant. I stayed at the mansion for several days and finished writing the first draft of my monograph in one of the upper rooms of the restored home (now used for corporate events and weddings).
I published a notice of this project in FOUNDATIONS last year that mentioned the fact that Helen Livingston also descends from John Napier, 3rd Laird of Merchiston, and his wife Elizabeth Menteith of Rusky, senior co-heir general to the ancient Gaelic earldom of Lennox. This can be found online by subscription at www.fmg.ac.
Many talented genealogists have provided assistance: Tony Hoskins, Janet Wolfe, John Blythe Dobson, FASG, and Andrew B.W. MacEwen. My editor Col. Charles Hansen, FASG, has worked tirelessly in preparing the lengthy manuscript and shown great patience over the past two years dealing with changes, additions, and corrections.
I hope this project will promote greater interest not only in the Duncanson family but in other colonial New York families whose ancestries have not been studied in detail.
ADRIAN BENJAMIN BURKE, JD, Bar of New York
NEW YORK CITY