Robert Barnwell Roosevelt

Is your surname Roosevelt?

Research the Roosevelt family

Robert Barnwell Roosevelt's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Robert Barnwell Roosevelt

Birthplace: New York, NY, USA
Death: Died in Sayville, Suffolk, New York, United States
Place of Burial: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt and Margaret Roosevelt
Husband of Elizabeth Roosevelt and Marion Fortescue / Roosevelt
Father of John Ellis Roosevelt; Robert Barnwell Roosevelt; Margaret Barnhill Roosevelt; Helen Roosevelt and Maj. Granville R. Fortescue, Rough Rider
Brother of Silas Weir Roosevelt; James Alfred Roosevelt; Cornelius van Schaack Roosevelt, Jr.; Theodore Roosevelt, Sr.; William Wallace Roosevelt and 1 other

Occupation: Congressman, Congressman/Conservationist
Managed by: Felicia Anderson Moore
Last Updated:

About Robert Barnwell Roosevelt

Robert Barnwell Roosevelt, also known as Robert Barnhill Roosevelt (August 7, 1829 – June 14, 1906), was a sportsman, author and United States Congressman from New York (1871–1873).


He was born in New York City. Roosevelt completed studied law and was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1850. He commenced practice in New York City. During the Civil War he was an active Democrat, and a founder of the Allotment Commission and the Loyal National League.


His first experience in politics was in the organization of the Citizens' Association at the time of the Tweed Ring administration in New York city. For several years, he edited the organ of the Citizens' Association, the New York Citizen, at first with Charles G. Halpine, and after Halpine's death by himself. He was a founder of the Committee of Seventy, and first vice-president of the Reform Club.

Roosevelt was elected as a Democrat to the 42nd Congress (March 4, 1871 – March 4, 1873). Although the pressure of anti-Tammany Democratic organizations forced Tammany Hall to approve his nomination, he denounced its measures, and did much to contribution to the breaking up of the latter organization.

He was appointed by President Grover Cleveland as Minister to The Hague, serving from 1888 to 1890. He was treasurer of the Democratic National Committee in 1892. He was a member of the Board of Aldermen of New York City. He served as trustee representing the city of New York for the New York and Brooklyn Bridge from 1879 to 1882. He was instrumental in establishing paid fire and health departments in New York City.


Roosevelt was an early angler and conservationist. He organized several clubs to restrain the indiscriminate slaughter of game. He is credited with influencing his nephew, Theodore Roosevelt, to become a conservationist. He founded the New York State Fishery Commission in 1867, and was appointed one of the three fish commissioners. He served as fish commissioner for 20 years, 1868–1888, without a salary. The reports of the commission were prepared chiefly by him, and led to the appointment of similar commissions in other states. For many years, he served as president of the Fish Culture Association, of an association for the protection of game, of the New York Sportsman's Club, and of the International Association for the Protection of Game. He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. As a member of the U.S. Congress, he originated the bill to create the United States Fish Commission.


Roosevelt was a popular author and a friend of such writers such as Oscar Wilde. He sometimes wrote under the pseudonym Barnwell or Ira Zell. His books include:

Superior Fishing; or The Striped Bass, Trout, Black Bass and Bluefish of the Northern States.
Game Fish of the Northern States and British Provinces.
Game Birds of the North (1866)
Superior Fishing (1866)
Florida and the Game Water Birds (1868)
Five Acres Too Much, a satire provoked by Edmund Morris's Ten Acres Enough (1869)
Progressive Petticoats, a satire on female physicians (1871)

He edited Political Works of Charles G. Halpine, supplying a memoir (1869).

Theodore Roosevelt, in his biography, credits Robert with being the first to scribe the "Br'er Rabbit" stories (which had been passed down orally by slaves), "publishing them in Harper's, where they fell flat. This was a good many years before a genius arose who, in 'Uncle Remus,' made the stories immortal."

Roosevelt died in Sayville, Suffolk County, N.Y., on June 14, 1906. His remains were interred in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.


Robert Roosevelt's father was Cornelius Roosevelt (1794–1871) and his mother was Margaret Barnhill (1799–1861). He was also the nephew of James I. Roosevelt. He was the brother of Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., the uncle of President Theodore Roosevelt and the great-uncle of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was to father many children. Some children were born from his marriage and others were born from his relationship with a long-term mistress. After the death of his first wife, he married his mistress. The offspring of his second wife were recognized as his stepsons.

First wife. The three children born to Elizabeth Ellis Roosevelt were Margaret Barnhill Roosevelt, John Ellis Roosevelt, and Robert Roosevelt Jr.. He purchased the Meadowcroft property at Sayville, New York in 1873 and it was later developed by his son as the John Ellis Roosevelt Estate. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

>In 1879, John Ellis Roosevelt married Nannie Mitchell Vance, daughter of Hon. Samuel B. H. Vance, at the recently-built St. Nicholas Collegiate Reformed Protestant Dutch Church, Fifth-avenue and Forty-eighth street, in New York City. Vance, who was active in New York State Republican politics, was a manufacturer who served as Acting Mayor of New York City for the month of December 1874.

Second wife. The two children born out of wedlock to Minnie O'Shea Fortescue were Kenyon Fortescue and Granville Roland Fortescue.

>Kenyon was destined for a career as an attorney.
>Major Granville Roland "Rolly" Fortescue married Grace Hubbard Fortescue (née Grace Hubbard Bell), who became a defendant in the notorious 1932 murder trial known as the "Massie Affair".
view all

Robert Barnwell Roosevelt's Timeline

August 7, 1829
New York, NY, USA
February 25, 1853
Age 23
August 20, 1866
Age 37
October 12, 1875
Age 46
New York, NY, USA
June 14, 1906
Age 76
Sayville, Suffolk, New York, United States
June 1906
Age 76
Brooklyn, New York, United States