Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Council Minutes, 1638-1649

Council Minutes, 1638-1649, is volume 4 in the series, New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch. As with the first three volumes of the series, Council Minutes, 1638-1649, was translated and annotated by Arnold J. F. van Laer, and edited and indexed by Kenneth Scott and Kenn Stryker-Rodda. It was published by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., of Baltimore, in 1974. It can be difficult to find hard copies. Some larger public libraries and university libraries (especially in New York State) would have it. Some offers of used copies for sale can be found online, but the price is usually steep. Thankfully, the New Netherland Institute has digital copies online in the form of PDFs. They can be downloaded for free (the NNI accepts donations).


As described on the NNI website, "this volume of Council Minutes contains the earliest surviving records of its kind, as minutes previous to Willem Kieft's directorship, or before 1638, were probably taken back to the Netherlands with the former directors Peter Minuit and Wouter van Twiller. These records have not been found." Those familiar with the early families, individuals and personalities of the early years of New Netherland, will recognize many names in these documents. Some genealogical information can be found, but perhaps the greatest value found here lies with the picture it helps paint of the New Netherland Colony.

For Brouwer researchers, a Jan Brouwer is mentioned once, and Adam Brouwer is mentioned twice.

Document 42, found at page 50, is dated May 19, 1639. It is a case of debt in which Jan Brouwer, plaintiff, demands payment of 60 florins from George Homs,* who acknowledges the debt and promises to pay within five or six weeks, "when Mr. Allerton** shall have returned to the Manhates from the North." It is not known who this Jan Brouwer is. There is no evidence to suggest that he is Jan Brouwer of Flatlands, L. I. His name is not accompanied by any appellation or other description, so it cannot be assumed that he is the Jan Brouwer, skipper of De Eendracht, found in Register of the Provincial Secretary, 1638-1642, doc. 195. However, he may be the Jan Brouwer found in the accounting of Hendrick de Foreest's debts, dated July 26, 1637 (doc. 57 of the same). But, assuming the two are one and the same is not certain.

Adam Brouwer, who later settled at Gowanus, Long Island, is found in two documents. Document 221 is found on pages 262 and 263. Dated May 2, 1645. Adam Brouwer, plaintiff, demands of Hendrick Jansen, locksmith, defendant, delivery of the deed for the house and lot he purchased from Hendrick on February 21, 1645 (see Register of the Provincial Secretary, 1642-1647, doc. 141c, pages 292-293[van Laer]). Hendrick is willing to comply provided Adam bind himself for the payment of the account rendered to him (in the original agreement it is apparent that Adam did not initially pay for the property in full, but was rather making payments to Hendrick). The Council orders that in the deed the house be mortgaged until the defendant is paid.

Adam Brouwer is mentioned in document 243, at page 294. This mention is within the context of a long list of complaints brought against the Rev. Everardus Bogardus by the Council. It begins with document 242 at page 291, and ends with document 244 at page 296. The date is January 2, 1646, but the list of complaints date back to 1634. Among the complaints against Rev. Bogardus is the accusation that "on the 21st of March 1645, being at a wedding feast at Adam Brouwer's and pretty drunk, you commenced scolding the fiscal and the secretary then present..." The issue of complaints and criticisms by Dom. Bogardus (and others) directed at members of the governing council, and Director Willem Kieft in particular, dominates this volume of the Council Minutes. In document 316 (as listed in the index, but in actuality probably 317), it is recorded that Domine Everardus Bogardus has "requested by petition his dismissal and leave to go to the fatherland." The last mention of Everardus Bogardus is in document no. 318 (pages 413-415). The date for both documents is July 22, 1647. On August 16, 1647, the ship Princess Amelia (called De Princesse in the Council Minutes, p. 413) left Manhattan for the Netherlands. On board was Dom. Everardus Bogardus, Director Willem Kieft (who had been fired and replaced by Petrus Stuyvesant) and others including Jochem Pietersz Kuyter, Cornelis Melyn and Hendrick Jansen, the tailor (not the locksmith). During the voyage the ship's captain missed the English channel and instead sailed the ship into the Bristol Channel, an inlet that separates South Wales from Devon and Somerset in England. The ship ran aground, broke apart, and most of the passengers, including Dom. Bogardus and Dir. Kieft perished. (Jochem Pietersz and Cornelis Melyn survived, Hendrick Jansen, the tailor, did not).

*George Homs, also called Joris Homs by Dutch clerks and recorders, was George Holmes, an Englishman who first settled in Virginia (the earliest record found for him there is dated 4 August 1635). He led a small party of men in an attempt to take Fort Nassau, the Dutch fort on the South (Delaware) River. The attempt failed and George Holmes was brought to New Amsterdam. He afterwards settled there, buying land at Deutel (Turtle) Bay on the East River side of Manhattan Island where he established a tobacco plantation. He is has been referred to as the first English resident of Manhattan Island. See  Innes, J.H., New Amsterdam and its People: Studies, Social and Topographical, of the Town Under Dutch and Early English Rule (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1902), pp. 14 and 326-27, and Stokes, Isaac Newton Phelps, The Iconography of Manhattan Island 1498-1909 (New York: R.H. Dodd, 1915-1928), 6 vols, Vol. 6, pp. 172-173).

**"Mr. Allerton," is Isaac Allerton who came to America in 1620 as one of the passengers on the fabled Mayflower. Allerton's interest had less to due with Puritan ideals and religious freedom sought by some of his fellow passengers, but rather more to due with economic opportunities. His interests led him to varied locations along the east coast of America, and the Caribbean islands . His name is frequently found in the records of New Netherland. He died at New Haven, Connecticut, apparently insolvent. His son (and namesake) Isaac Allerton, a graduate of Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1650, eventually settled in Westmoreland Co., Virginia.

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