Roosevelt Surname Meaning, History & Origin
is an American surname originally derived from a Dutch place name
spelled variously as van Rosevelt or van Rosenvelt, meaning “from the
Roosevelt family, a merchant and political family descended from the
17th century immigrant to New York Claes Maartenszen van Rosenvelt.
- Descendants of Claes Maartenszen van
Rosevelt. Descendants of van Rosevelt the immigrant.
- About Theodore Roosevelt.
Theodore Roosevelt website.
- Oyster Bay. Teddy
Roosevelt’s home at Sagamore Hill.
- Hyde Park. Home of
Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The van Rosevelts were prominent
in the Tholen coastal region of SW Holland where they were vassal
lords. However, no records exist to connect the 17th century
emigrant Claes Maartenszen van Rosenvelt with these van Rosevelts.
America. In 1613 the first Dutch settlers arrived and
founded a number of
villages and a town called New Amsterdam in what was to become the
state and city of New York. Some of the Dutch families who came to New York
in the 1600’s, such as the Vanderbilts, Roosevelts, van Burens,
Schuylers and van Dykes were later through their descendants to have
important parts to play in American history.
Claes Maartenszen van Rosenvelt arrived in New Amsterdam (now New York)
sometime in the late 1640’s. He took up land to farm in an area
today of midtown Manhattan which includes the Empire State Building.
Claes’ son Nicholas, a fur trader and shopkeeper, was the first to use
the spelling Roosevelt. His children Johannes and Jacobus were
the progenitors of the Oyster Bay and Hyde Park branches
of the Roosevelt family that emerged in the 18th century.
Roosevelt, the son of Jacobus, became one of the first
large-scale sugar refiners in colonial New York. His heirs
invested their inheritance wisely, primarily in coal and railroads,
and augmented their position through judicious marriages. They
were generally content to live at their estate at Hyde Park on the
Hudson river as country gentlemen. The family
itself became progressively less Dutch over time. Isaac’s mother
German, he himself
married a Swede, and his son and grandson both married English women.
Oyster Bay Roosevelts
These Roosevelts, the descendants of Johannes, made their
money later. It was Cornelius van Schaak Roosevelt, known as CVS,
who was the founder of the family fortunes. He made a killing in
Manhattan real estate, plunging into the market during the Panic of
1837 when property values had crashed. At his death in 1871 he
was said to be one of the five richest men in New York.
Roosevelts were involved in banking and trust fund management.
The firm of Roosevelt & Son, begun by CVS’s father as a glass
importer, celebrated its
150th year anniversary on Wall Street in 1947. It was only Teddy Roosevelt,
seizing his opportunity during the Spanish-American War of 1898, that
deviated the family into politics.
Hyde Park Roosevelts
Teddy Roosevelt was a hero to his distant cousin, Hyde Park’s Franklin
Delano Roosevelt. FDR in fact married Eleanor Roosevelt from Teddy’s
side of the family in 1905 and his political career closely followed
that of Teddy’s, even to the extent of attaining the Presidency.
FDR and the Hyde Park Roosevelts are generally associated with the
Democratic party, Teddy and the Oyster Bay Roosevelts with
the Republican party. There was a bond between the two sides, although
they did fall out after FDR captured the White House. Teddy’s
widow came out of retirement then to announce that “the New Deal was
incompatible with our American democracy and liberty.”
Many books have covered the Roosevelt family, the earliest probably
being C.B. Whittelsey’s 1902 book The
The Van Rosevelts. The grants of land fiefdoms in the area of Tholen in SW Holland dated
back to the early 15th century. The vassal lords who received
these grants had the responsibility of building dykes on the land and
in return held local powers.
One of the first of these amt lords was Marijinus van Rosevelt, whose lordship dated back to 1697. Johan Willem van Rosevelt was an amt lord from 1731 to 1790. These van Rosevelts held a place of
prominence in the Oud-Vessermeer House of Amt Lords which was
constructed in 1767, even among the other amt lords.
Evidence suggests that the immigrant Claes van Rosevelt did come from
the Tholen region of Holland. However, there is nothing to tie him to
the amt lords van Rosevelts. In fact there is no knowledge
even of who his parents were.
FDR’s daughter reported that her father, in all his study of family
genealogy, had never been able to find out what Claes had done for a
livelihood before coming to America. As a consequence, he said,
he had come to the conclusion that his ancestor must have been a horse
thief or some other kind of a thief and, therefore, a fugitive from
justice. This conclusion, however, may have been designed to
tease his aristocratic mother.
Dutch New York Families. A number of Dutch families who came to New York in the
1600’s achieved a later prominence in American history. The table
below lists these family names, their immigrant forebear and arrival
date, and approximate numbers in America today.
|Name||Forebear and Arrival Date||Numbers Today (000’s)|
|Vanderbilt||Jan Aertszoon van der Bilt in
|Roosevelt||Claes Maartenszen van Rosenvelt
|Van Dyke||Jan Thomasse van Dyke in 1652||2.4|
|Schuyler||Philip Pieterse Schuyler in 1650||1.4|
|Van Buren||Cornelis Maessen van Buren in
Other notable early Dutch families, but with few
descendants of their name in America today, are Rensselaer, Stuyvesant,
van Courtlandt, van Wyck, Beekman, Hasbrouck (a Huguenot family), and
(which probably became Bloomingdale).
The Oyster Bay and Hyde Park Roosevelts
The Oyster Bay Roosevelts
Johannes Roosevelt (1688-1750) married Heyltje Sjoerls in 1708
– Jacobus (James) Roosevelt (1724-1777) married Annetje Bogert in 1746
– Jacobus (James) Roosevelt (1759-1840) married Maria van Schaak in 1793
– Cornelius van Schaak Roosevelt (1794-1871) married Margaret Barnhill in 1821
– Theodore Roosevelt (1831-1878) married Martha Bulloch in 1853
– Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt (1858-1919), President.
The Hyde Park Roosevelts
Jacobus Roosevelt (1691-1776) married Catharina Hardenbroek in 1712
– Isaac Roosevelt (1726-1794) married Cornelia Hoffman in 1752
– Jacobus (James) Roosevelt (1760-1847) married Maria Walton in 1786
– Isaac Roosevelt (1790-1863) married Mary Aspinwall in 1827
– James Roosevelt (1828-1900) married (second wife) Sarah Delano in 1880
– Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1946), President.
The two Roosevelt presidents were the same number of
generations removed from their common ancestor. Their fathers were
contemporaries. But Teddy was a child of his father’s youth and
F.D.R. of his father’s fifty fifth year.
Isaac Roosevelt and His Sugar Business. Isaac Roosevelt built the old sugar house in New York, the first erected before the Revolution, and worked there before
the war and for ten years after. His store was originally on Wall
Street and his home faced on Queen Street (now Pearl) in Franklin
Square. On the rear of his house and in the center of the block
was the old sugar house. He moved to St. George’s Square in 1772,
advertising his move as follows:
“Isaac Roosevelt is removed from his house on Wall Street
to the house of his late brother, Jacobus Roosevelt Jr deceased, near
the Sugar house and opposite to Mr. William Walton’s, being on the
northwest side of Queen Street, where his customers may be supplied as
usual with double, middling, and single refined loaf sugars, clarified,
muscovado and other molasses etc.”
Isaac Roosevelt was one of the most active patriots
during the period of the Revolutionary War and served as state senator
from 1786 to 1790.
Teddy Roosevelt and the Spanish American War. T.R. got the position of Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897, a
post from which he was able to observe with gusto the coming of war
He had always wanted to lead his countrymen in battle and recruited his band of
“Rough Riders.” The nation had never before and would never again
see the likes of the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry. Lt.
Colonel Roosevelt found his troopers in the Ivy League, the Somerset
and Knickerbocker clubs, the New York police force, the Texas
Rangers. There were polo players, Indians and Indian fighters,
broncobusters and steeplechase riders.
“It was the society page,
financial column, and Wild West Show all wrapped up in one,” wrote a
Teddy’s capture of San Juan Hill during the ensuing war was hardly more
than a skirmish. His cavalry had left its horses at home and
scrambled up the slope on foot. Later, when Edith saw the site of
her husband heroics, she was amused to find that it was hardly as steep
as he had led her to believe.
Still for T.R, it was “the time of my life.” Less than three
months later he was back at home, a national hero, and the Republican
candidate for governor of New York. As the Roosevelt campaign
train steamed through the state a bugler would appear at each stop to
play the cavalry charge. The candidate then emerged, surrounded
by his faithful Rough Riders:
“You have heard the trumpet that
sounded to bring you here. I have heard it tear the propic dawn
when it summoned us to fight at Santiago.”
Poor Mr. Van Wyck, the Democratic candidate, never had a chance.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s Life. Looking back over her life, Eleanor Roosevelt saw
certain distinct patterns. The pattern of her early married years
had been largely determined by her mother-in-law; the pattern of her
middle years by her children and husband; the pattern of her latter
years was her own.
She seemed to pick up momentum as more and more she became a public
person, throwing her phenomenal energy and moral earnestness into
issues, problems, policy. After her husband’s death she applied
herself to the Democratic reform movement in New
York. And She continued her daily column, appearing in 75
and her monthly magazine articles. Then there were books to be
written, lectures to deliver, people to see, mail to answer, charities
to be supported. So many things to do, so little time, as she
spread her deep sympathies over mankind.
President Truman appointed her to the American delegation to the United
Nations, which was a natural canvas for her broad-gauge
humanitarianism. Diplomats discovered that she was no figurehead;
the Soviets that she was no pushover. These were her shining
years, just as the UN Declaration of Human Rights was her lasting
A young girl once paid a visit to Sagamore Hill, and Mrs. Theodore
Roosevelt, her aunt Edith, wrote:
“Poor little soul, she is very plain.
Her mouth and teeth have no future, but the ugly duckling may turn out
As if recalling this prediction, Adlai Stevenson rose to pay tribute to
the memory of Eleanor Roosevelt at the 1964 Democratic Convention:
“She thought of herself as an ‘ugly
duckling.’ But she walked in beauty in the ghettos of the world,
bringing with her the reminder of her beloved St. Francis. And
wherever she walked, beauty was forever there.”
Select Roosevelt Names
- Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States, from 1901 to 1909.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) was the 32nd President of the United States, from 1932 to 1946.
- Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady, was wife to Franklin D. Roosevelt.
- Kim Roosevelt was the CIA operative who directed the 1953 coup which overthrew President Mossadegh of Iran.
Select Roosevelt Numbers Today
- 4,000 in America (most numerous
in New York)
Select Roosevelt and Like Surnames
The surnames found here cover most of the US Presidential surnames since the first President, George Washington. Click on the surname below if you wish to know more of that particular President and his name.
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