Robert Lansing was born in Albany in January 1707. He was the second son of contractor/merchant Johannes G. Lansing and one of the five children born to Helena Sanders - daughter of a long-standing, Scottish-ancestry New York family. Named for grandfather Robert Sanders, he was not the only surviving early Albany Lansing to be named "Robert."
Robert Lansing grew up in Albany and followed his father in community-based activities that frequently included service to the city government. He married three times: First, in 1734, to gunsmith's daughter Margarita Roseboom - a union that lasted through four children to her death in 1746. He then married Albany native Sara Van Schaick - with one daughter born before Sara's death a few years later. And in 1752, he wed Catharina Ten Broeck - a daughter of the Roelof Jansen Kil Ten Broecks and the thirty-year-old widow of Ephraim Van Vechten. Robert was forty-five and his third marriage lasted until Catharina's death in 1753. Of his six children, only Hendrick, the son of Robert's first marriage, and his older sister, Maria, lived to reach adulthood.
Robert Lansing followed the trade of the Rosebooms to become a gunsmith. He was colonial Albany's most prominent practicioner - training a number of traditional tinkerers over his long career. By mid-century he had set up his house/shop on Court Street across from City Hall where the Ruttenkill flowed through his back yard.
Serving first as a constable, Robert followed his father to be elected assistant alderman for the first ward - serving from 1739 to 1743. He also was a frequent contractor of the city. In 1743, he was appointed "sealer and stamper of weights and measurements." That year he was placed in charge of Albany's first fire engine. Assisted by his son and protege, Robert Lansing was responsible for Albany's pumpers for the next fifty years. In 1742 and 1763, his name appeared on a list of Albany freeholders.
In 1775, Robert Lansing was almost sixty years old and was more dependant on Henry R. Lansing in his trade, his municipal responsibilities, and also for personal support. Still nominally in charge of the Albany fire engines, in 1777 he was asked to muster a fire company and to assign necessary tasks. He also was called on by the Committee of Safety to repair guns and appraise confiscated weapons.
In 1788, he joined his son and a number of local men in signing a statement issued by the Albany Antifederal Committee.
By 1790, old Robert Lansing was living in the Court Street house attended by his son and grandchildren. This Albany mainstay died in March 1795 at age eighty-eight and was buried in the Dutch Church cemetery.
The life of Robert Lansing is CAP biography number 3656. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. An online transcription of information recorded in his bible provides unparalleled details about Robert Lansing's family.
first posted: 1/15/01; last revised 11/10/03