He was fifth in descent from Killian Van Rensselaer (c. 1580-1645), the original patroon of Rensselaerwyck, New York, who acquired his large estates between 1630 and 1637.
The patroon received his estate in perpetual inheritance and had the exclusive right of hunting and fishing upon it.
Two years later, by a revision of the Charter of Privileges and Exemptions, the prohibition on manufactures was abolished, the privileges of the original charter with respect to patroons were extended to " all good inhabitants of the Netherlands," and the estate of a patroon was limited to 4 m.
The colony of Rensselaerwyck was the only one that prospered under the patroon system.
'1667), 1 while manager of the estates of his cousin, the patroon, Killian Van Rensselaer, visited the site in 1642, and it 1662, being dissatisfied with conditions on the Manor, he led a band of settlers here.
The founder of a colony was styled a patroon, and, although the colonists were bound to him only by a voluntary contract for specified terms, the relations between them and the patroon during the continuance of the contract were in several important respects similar to those under the feudal system between the lord of a manor and his serfs.
The patroon was the legal heir of all his colonists who died intestate.
The charter did not give the encouragement to agriculture that was expected of it because the status created for colonists of a patroon was no attraction to a successful farmer in the Netherlands.
Melyn surrendered his rights as a patroon in 1661 and during the remainder of the Dutch regime many small grants of land were made to French, Dutch, and English settlers.
He had a bitter controversy with the patroon of Rensselaerwyck, who claimed to be independent of the West India Company.
In 1659 it was bought from the Indians, with the consent of the patroon, by Jan Barentsen Wemp, and several families settled here.