An American Aristocracy: The Livingston Family: The Livingstons

Clare Brandt, Author Doubleday Books $19.95 (297p) ISBN 978-0-385-15875-6
Three hundred years ago, in 1686, an ambitious Scottish immigrant named Robert Livingston received a royal patent to 160,000 acres of land in the Hudson River Valley. By his grandchildren's time, ""Livingston Manor'' comprised one million acres, and the Livingstons had become the landed gentry whose rise and decline is recounted in this appealing popular history. Brandt, ably researching her way through a centuries-old maze of intermarriages, portrays dozens of Livingstons of every stripe (merchants, drunks, etc.), who sometimes served the nation (one signed the Declaration of Independence; another was a governor of New Jersey), often feuded, and always had an eye out for the land, the family and their ``bluebloodedness, exclusivity, and money.'' After 1800, democracy, industrial change and their own insularity cut the influence of the family, many of whose members now struggle to maintain servantless manors. Photos not seen by PW. (April 18)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1986
Release date: 04/01/1986
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