What is a patroon?

What is a patroon? Here are some definitions.

Noun
  1. (US) One of the landowning Dutch grandees of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, especially after it became a British possession renamed as New York.
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The title of patroon came with powerful rights and privileges.
A patroon could create civil and criminal courts, appoint local officials and hold land in perpetuity.
In return, a patroon was required by the Company to establish a settlement of at least 50 families within four years who would live as tenant farmers.
They were walking past the house of the old Patroon, with its squat walls and small square windows compactly grouped about a central chimney.
In the United States the labourer is a freeman, lives on good substance, and being an honest man, neither fears nor envies the richest patroon about him.
When the English took over the colony from the Dutch in 1664, the patroon system was continued and, indeed, large manors were allotted to English settlers.

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