- Dutch for “from the rose field”
- The surname of two important American Presidents: Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR)
History of the name Roosevelt
According to good authorities, the name was assumed back in the 12th century, and if this is so, then the Roosevelts bore a surname much earlier than was the case with most Hollanders.
Many of the Holland settlers of this country never thought of having a last name until they came to America, and frequently took the name of the locality from whence they came — at first merely for identification, and later as a true surname.
The Roosevelts had a well-established last name when they arrived. It means “field of roses,” and from early times the armorial bearing of the family has been a full-blown rose.
From earliest Colonial days, the Roosevelts have been persons of considerable wealth in their community. They have been prominent and successful in business, but no less so in all sorts of charitable undertakings. And the same spirit of liberality and generosity combined with practical common sense seems to be characteristic of those who bear the name today.
The Roosevelts were pure, dyed-in-the-wool Hollanders, the first of the name in this country and ancestor of those who bear the name today having been Claes Maartenszen van Rosenvelt, who, with his wife Jannetje, came from Holland around 1649.
One of their children was a son, Nicholas, born in 1658 in New Amsterdam. He worked as a fur trader and served as an alderman. He and his wife, Heyltje Jans Kunst, had ten children.
It was he who changed the family name to Roosevelt, and it is also from he that two of America’s most famous citizens descended.
Presidents Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) were fifth cousins. Their mutual ancestor, a great-great-great-great-grandfather, was none other than the aforementioned Nicholas.
True, Theodore and his kinsman, Franklin, have been pointed out as examples of the offshoots of old Dutch Colonial blood. But there was much besides Dutch blood in the veins of both. Theodore Roosevelt was an almost equal blending of English, French, Scotch, Irish and Dutch.