Nicholas Roosevelt (Nicholas van Rosenvelt) was born in New Amsterdam (later New York City) and baptized on 2 October 1658 in the Reformed Dutch Church there.
He was the son of Claes Maartenszen van Rosenvelt (c. 1626–1659) and Jannetje Samuels Thomas (1625–1660). Claes arrived in New Amsterdam sometime between 1638 and 1649. About the year 1652, he bought a farm from Lambert van Valckenburgh, comprising 50.51 acres in what is now Midtown Manhattan, including the present site of the Empire State Building.
By 1680, Nicholas had moved to Esopus, near Kingston, another early Dutch settlement in the New Netherlands. There, on 5 April 1680, he signed a petition asking for a minister for Kingston. During his time in Esopus, he was a fur trader on friendly terms with Native Americans.
He married Heyltje Jans Kunst (1664–1730) in the Reformed Dutch Church of New York on 9 December 1682. She was the daughter of Jacomyntje Cornelise Slecht (1645-1695) and her first husband, Jan Barentsen Kunst (1640-1668). Together they had ten children, the first four baptized at Esopus and the rest in New York.
In 1690, he returned with his family to New York, where he was listed as having the occupation of a "bolter"(a person who sifted meal). He was made a "freeman" on 23 August 1698. Politically active, he was a supporter of the party of Jacob Leisler, who had led an insurrection in 1689 in support of the succession of Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau to the English throne in the Revolution of 1688.
He was the first Roosevelt to hold an elected office in North America. He was an alderman from 1698 to 1701 and again for the West Ward in 1715.
He was also the first to use the familiar spelling of the family name.
Nicholas and his wife were the last common ancestors of the Oyster Bay Roosevelts founded by his son Johannes, and the Hyde Park Roosevelts founded by his son Jacobus.
Nicholas died on 30 July 1742.