Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts

The complete title is, Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts, Being the Letters of Kiliaen van Rensselaer, 1630-1643, and Other Documents Relating to the Colony of Rensselaerswyck. This work was translated and edited by Arnold J. F. van Laer. It was published in 1908 by the University of the State of New York, Albany.

A brief description of the Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts can be found on the New Netherland Institute's website. The link labeled, "Translation" will take you to a digital copy of the book in PDF format. It is over 900 pages and may take a few minutes to completely upload to your screen. Once it has, I have found that the best way to utilize the book is to download it to my computer and open it offline. Here is a direct link to the PDF:


Digital copies in PDF and with options for other formats can be found elsewhere online, for example at the Internet Archives, and at Google Books. Since the book was published prior to 1927, it is in the public domain. For those who wish to have a physical book, used copies and reprints can be found for sale online at the websites of various booksellers. Just do a search.
There is one person named Brouwer found in this volume, and a second person referred to as de Brouwer (the brewer), an appellation that should not be confused for a surname.

Beginning at page 166 is a "Certificate of purchase from the Indians of land on the west side of the Hudson River from Smacks Island to Moenemin's Castle and of tract of land on the east side opposite Castle Island and Fort Orange." The date is given as August 13, 1630. Footnote 31 tells us that this certificate is the first purchase for Kiliaen van Rensselaer of land from the Indians in the vicinity of Fort Orange. The Indians are named as Kottamack, Nawanemit, Abantzeene, Sagiskwa and Kanamoack. Kiliaen van Rensselaer, himself, never came to his colony in North America. The certificate is signed by Peter Minuict, Director (Peter Minuet, who at the time was Director of the New Netherland Colony), Pieter Bijlvelt, Iacob Elbertsz Wissinck, Ian Ianssen Brouwer, Sijmon Dircks pos, Reynier Harmansen (this at page 168). 

The Ian Ianssen Brouwer listed above is Jan Jansz Brouwer, relatively well known today as having been a mariner and the captain of the ship d'Eendracht, that made trips to and from New Netherland during the earliest years of the colony. On page 170 he is mentioned simply as, Jan Brouwer, in a letter from Sijmon Dircxz pos to Kiliaen van Rensselaer. Sijmon Dircxz pos writes, "I would also recommend to your honor my cousin dirck Joosten, who is now coming home as mate with Jan Brouwer, since he is a good, upright young man."

Jan Brouwer is again found at page 272, this time in a letter from Kiliaen van Rensselaer to Wouter van Twiller, dated April 23, 1634 (begins at page 266). Wouter van Twiller was Director-General of New Netherland at this time, having replaced Peter Minuet in 1633. Van Twiller was a nephew of Kiliaen van Rensselaer (Wouter's father's sister was Kiliaen van Rensselaer's wife). The long letter is primarily Van Rensselaer warning Van Twiller about those at home who are against him, followed by some advise on how to keep is job. Once again, Jan Brouwer, is referred to in the context of a ship's captain.

Please note: there is no evidence that the ship captain, Jan Jansz Brouwer was in any way related to any of the early New Netherland progenitors bearing the surname Brouwer (that is to say, he is not related to Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Jan Brouwer of Flatlands, or Willem Brouwer of Beverwijck).

Jacob de Brouwer is found at page 839, in the section titled, "Settlers of Rensselaerswyck, 1630-1658." This section has been published separately as Settlers of Rensselaerswyck, 1630-1658, Excerpted from the Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts,with Index to Biographical Notes. It is a short (54 page) pamphlet of brief biographies of those found at the Colony of Rensselaerwyck* from 1630 (the year of it's founding) to 1658. It is arranged chronologically and Jacob de Brouwer is listed under the year 1649, with the brief entry: "received apparently in 1649, permission to build on a hofstee (lot), next to Mr. hogens [de Hooges], for which, from 1650 to 1652, he is charged with a rent of f16 a year."

As with Jan Jansz Brouwer, there is no evidence that links Jacob de Brouwer with Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Jan Brouwer of Flatlands, or Willem Brouwer of Beverwijck.

Map of Rensselaerswyck, ca. 1632 (Wikimedia commons)
 *There is some debate as to the correct name and spelling of Van Rensselaer's colony. Arnold J. F. van Laer used the spelling RENSSELAERSWYCK with an S after the root, Rensselaer. Some believe that the inclusion of the S is incorrect, and the correct name and spelling is RENSSELAERWYCK, without the S, or even more correctly as RENSSELAERWIJCK, which would be the Dutch spelling (substituting IJ for Y).

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