The Site Of Rutger’s Brewery, New York City, 1776


This is quite the thing:

In the summer of 1776 there stood on the northern side of Maiden Lane near where Gold Street now enters it, a large Brewery, with its attendant dwelling, malt-house, sheds, storehouses, etc. The premises extended from Smith, now William,* Street on the west, to Queen, now Pearl Street, on the east; and from Maiden Lane, on the south, to the present line of John Street on the north; and it was one of the most notable features in that part of the city.

Wow. That’s four full blocks of what is now Lower Manhattan. The red rectangle is roughly the location of the brewery itself according to this map. The text is from the introduction to an 1866 reprint of the ruling in Rutgers v. Waddington, an 1784 ruling of the Mayor’s Court of New York City. The case was about the use of the brewery property by the British during the American Revolution. The first beer had been brewed on that site by Harmenus the father-in-law of the plaintiff, Elizabeth Rutgers, on December 24th, 1711. Elizabeth owned the property at the outset of hostilities with her son, Robert, “who carried on the hereditary business of a brewer” as his father Harmanus had, as his grandfather (yes) Harmanus had before that. The elder Harmanus moved to New York in the late 1600s from Albany. Robert is also the nephew of the Anthony Rutger mentioned in the story of the Lispenards. Which makes him the first cousin once removed to the Leonard Lispenard who is sent to London to train with Barclay in 1783. Which means before the war the Lispenards brewing on the North River near Cortlandt Street are close family with the Rutgers brewing on Maiden Lane. And, like the brewing Gansevoorts of Albany, they all line up with the Revolutionaries.

I need to figure out more of this but suffice it to say that brewing at scale, political power and inter-married Dutch families with a significant lack of diversity in first name use are all key to the story.

*Further formerly Cart and Horse Street.

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