Hill" was built around 1793 by John Livingston (1750-1822), son
of Robert Livingston, the third Lord of Livingston Manor. It
was built on the northwestern corner of the manor and is
situated on a high bluff with a fabulous view of the Hudson
River and the Catskill Mountains. The house has remained in the
Livingston family since it was built.
Legend has it that John climbed an oak tree to decide where to
build his new home. The breathtaking view from this vantage
point encouraged him to choose this spot. The bricks from the
manor house were made from local clay and baked right on the
property. Oak Hill is one more than a dozen Livingston family
homes built along the Hudson, and is the only one still
remaining with descendants with the family name.
John Livingston was descended from Robert Livingston, the first
Lord of Livingston Manor, who was born December 13, 1654 at
Ancram on the Teviot River in Scotland. Exiled with his parents
to the Netherlands in 1663, he sailed for America in 1673, a
year after his father's death. His father was a renowned
minister who also tried to come to America on three occasions
and never made it. Robert arrived in Albany in 1674, where five
years later he married Alida Schuyler Van Rensselaer. In 1686
he received the patent to the Manor of Livingston from Governor
Thomas Dongan. Through his marriage to Van Rensselaer, Robert
became one of the wealthiest men in new world, with a total of
600,000 acres. This made up a good part of the state of New
York and part of Massachusetts. Livingston became the Minister
for Indian affairs for the King of England, and learned the
local Indian language. He also thrived in Albany as he was
fluent in Dutch from his migration to the Netherlands.
The Livingstons are descended from the great noble house in
Scotland, which was formerly guardian to the Scottish kings.
Mary Livingston was one of the three ladies in waiting to the
Mary Queen of Scots. Their coat of arms can be seen in
Edinburgh and at the castle in Sterling, Scotland. The former
Livingston castles may be seen in Scotland, including the one in
Linlithgo, which is now open to the public.
John Livingston married Mary Leroy and they had ten children.
After her death he married his first cousin, Catherine
Livingston Ridley, who was one of the three daughters of William
Livingston, Governor of New Jersey. Her sister, Sarah, married
John Jay, the first secretary of state, and visited Oak Hill
often when she was not at the John Jay Homestead at Katonah, New
Oak Hill has been preserved and restored by the Livingston
family over many generations and is a lovely and unique site for
any kind of event.