Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Register of the Provincial Secretary, 1638-1642

The Register of the Provincial Secretary, 1638-1642, is volume 1 in the series, New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch. A description can be found online at the website of the New Netherland Institute.


The Secretary of New Netherland was an employee of the Dutch West India Company. The Register covers legal documents of various sorts that were filed with the Provincial Secretary. This volume, the first of three covering the Register of the Provincial Secretary, was translated and annotated by Arnold J. F. Van Laer beginning in 1911. He had picked up on work begun by Edward Bailey O'Callaghan during the 19th century. Van Laer's edition was published in 1974 by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., of Baltimore, Maryland. The published editions were edited and indexed by Kenneth Scott and Kenn Stryker-Rodda. Hard copies are somewhat difficult to come by. The series had only a limited number of books published and accessing one usually meant a trip to a larger library. Purchasing a copy online usually involves finding a used copy for sale by an individual, and in such cases the asking price can be steep. Thankfully, the New Netherland Institute has, over the past few years, placed PDF versions of the publication online. The PDFs can be downloaded and it is now possible to have a convenient digital version on your home computer. And it's free - but while you're at the website, why not make a donation to the NNI

Volume 1, covering the years 1638-1642, is available in two formats, both can be accessed via links found on the page mentioned above. The link for the original version published in 1974 is labeled, in parenthesis, "published book images." This version includes an index and is therefore the easiest to use. A note: the index entries do not give the page number in the book for each entry. Instead the number refers to the original document number, which in every case is different than the page number in the book. The second version made available on the NNI website is a version edited by Charles Gehring, Director of the New Netherland Research Center. This version does not include an index. A third link will open up a PDF of Van Laer's transcriptions of some of the documents that make up this volume.

I would strongly recommend reading the Preface (page vii), the biography of Arnold J. F. van Laer (page ix), and the Introduction by Peter R. Christoph (page xiii). The three provide an informative background for not just using, but also appreciating the availability of this work and others in the New York Historical Manuscripts series.

In addition, the New York State Archives has made available online, digital images of some of the original documents of the Register of the Provincial Secretary. They can be found here.

Volume 1 (1638-1642) has documents involving two (or three) different men named Brouwer

Document 57, which begins at page 78 is an accounting of what Johannes la Montaenje (Johannes de La Montagne) paid and dispersed to divers persons on account of debts and for the maintaining of the house and plantation of the late Hendrick de Foreest (Johannes de La Montagne's wife, Rachel de Foreest, was a sister of Hendrick). The document is dated 26 July 1637. On page 79 is an entry dated Dec. 1, "To Jan Brouwer, for 12 lbs powder...fl18 (18 florins). 

Document 101, beginning at page 138, is the Promisory note of Johan de Voocht to Petronella Underhill with receipt of Petronella Underhill for part payment by General Specks. Note 3, on page 139, mentions Hendrick Brouwer, who was appointed instead of Jacques Specks (Specx) who had initially been appointed as successor to Jan Pietersen Coen as governor general (of the Dutch East Indies). [Please take note that Hendrick Brouwer is not named in the original document, and he was not present in New Netherland. See his Wikipedia entry for more.]

Document 195, beginning at page 270 has two parts. The second, found on page 271, is a Power of Attorney from Harman Meyndertsen van den Bogaert to Carel Looten, to collect money due from the West India Company. The document mentions that Harman sailed to New Netherland, from Texel on the ship De Eendracht, Jan Brouwer, skipper. The ship sailed from Texel on 21 March 1630, and arrived at New Netherland in 24 May 1630. The document is dated 22 March 1640. 

None of the above two, or three men (are there two different men named Jan Brouwer here, or do the two records pertain to the same man?) had any lasting presence in New Netherland. In fact Hendrick Brouwer was never there. His mention is in a note added by van Laer. None of the later 17th century Brouwer families of New Netherland (headed by Adam Brouwer, Jan Brouwer, or Willem Brouwer) can be shown to be related to either of the Jan Brouwers, or the Hendrick Brouwer, mentioned above. The documents, however, represent the earliest mentions of any person named Brouwer found in the surviving records of New Netherland.

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