Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Monday, January 14, 2013

Some Unexpected Descendants of Willem Brouwer of Beverwijck

Willem Brouwer and his wife, Lysbeth Drinkvelt, came to New Netherland in 1655. They were first at New Amsterdam but soon relocated to the settlement of Beverwijck which later became Albany, New York. Hendrick, their eldest son for whom descendants are known, was baptized in 1652 at Amsterdam and died early in 1707 at Schenectady, New York. Hendrick's son Cornelis, baptized in 1704 at Schenectady, left a will dated 13 August 1765, which was proved on 3 December 1767. In his will he mentions his daughter Marytje, and her husband, John Munro, a merchant of Albany.

Until just a couple of weeks back I had not spent any time researching the family or descendants of Marytje Brouwer and John Munro. As of then, the only child I had identified for the couple was a son Cornelius, who was baptized on 16 October 1768 at the Schenectady Reformed Church, sponsors being Hendrick Brouwer and Cornelia Brouwer (brother of Marytje and her mother, Cornelia Barheit). Then I received an e-mail from Janko Pavsic who pointed out to me that among the descendants of Marytje Brouwer and John Munro were some prominent members of Quebec politics and society during the 19th century, including a Prime Minister and some Mayors. Janko provided me with a chart that he placed online - Van den Bergh, Albany, New York, which features two of John Munro and Marytje Brouwer's children, and a few descendants of note. This provided a start, and Janko was helpful with other leads and translations. Over the past two weeks I've learned of the interesting story of John Munro and Marytje Brouwer and of some of their descendants. Much of this may not be new to anyone who has had an interest in the family, as much of it can be found in published accounts online and in print. In all cases, however, the correct ancestry of Marytje Brouwer, seemed to be unknown, or was not considered.

"John Monro of Scotland and Maria Brouwer of Schdy, were married with license," at the First Reformed Church of Schenectady, New York on 6 April 1760. It is believed that he was born in 1728, the son of Hugh Munro of Fyrish Fowlis in Alness, Scotland, and his wife, Christiana Munro. He came to the American colonies in 1756 and served during the Seven Years War (French and Indian War in North America). He is stated to have married first, in 1758, Jane Caldwell, and had a son, Hugh (there is a marriage license in New York, though I have found no record of Hugh's birth). The Schenectady church record does not refer to John as a widower at the time he married Marytje (as Dutch church records usually do). Therefore it is possible that this marriage may belong to a different man named John Munro.

After the Seven Years War, John received large grants of land and amassed over 11,000 acres in the Albany area. He was an Elder in the Presbyterian Church at Albany and served as Justice of the Peace for the City and County of Albany. Soon he received additional land in Shaftsbury, Vermont. Beginning in the 1740s, the colonial provinces of New York and New Hampshire had both laid claim to, and issued grants for land, in what later would become the State of Vermont. John Munro, as a "Yorker," would become personally involved in disputes with his New Hampshire neighbors. The conflicts came to a head in the early 1770s when the New York Supreme Court declared the New Hampshire land grants invalid. In response, Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys began attacks against the "Yorkers" in an attempt to drive them out. John Munro was certainly among the targets, and he was leader of the party that attempted to capture the Green Mountain Boy, Remember Baker, in 1771, an episode that has been widely written about, and in which John Munro nearly lost his life. (The issue of the Vermont lands was not completely settled until Vermont was admitted as a State in 1791).

When the Revolutionary War broke out, John Munro declared himself a Loyalist and was appointed Captain of the 1st Battalion of the King's Royal Regiment in New York. By 1781 he was stationed in Montreal, placed in charge of providing for Loyalist refugees. After the Revolutionary War his family joined him in Canada, his Vermont properties were confiscated, and he later received a partial compensation from the British Government. The family settled at Matilda Twp. in Upper Canada. It was a destination for many Loyalist families who previously lived in the Mohawk River Valley region of New York. John Munro become known as "Hon. Capt. John Munro."

There appears to be some myth and (probably later day) fabrication around Marytje Brouwer. Some (undocumented) online accounts have referred to her as "of a prominent Dutch family descended from Admiral Hendrick Brouwer." Of course this is incorrect and completely unsubstantiated. Hendrick Brouwer (1581-1643) was a Dutch navigator and explorer and an administrator for the Dutch East India Company (VOC). He never came to North America. His travels took him primarily to the East Indies and to Chile in South America. Baptism records and probate records prove beyond a doubt that Marytje was a daughter of Cornelis Brouwer and a great-granddaughter of the immigrant, Willem Brouwer. During his life, Willem was a shoe-maker and a sometimes trader, although, apparently an unsuccessful one. He died insolvent in 1668 at Beverwijck. There is no evidence of any maritime interest or activity on the part of Willem Brouwer, something you might expect if he were in fact the son of an important Admiral and figure in the VOC. Willem has nothing in common with the fabled Admiral Hendrick Brouwer, with the exception that they both possess the same surname.
A second curiosity regarding Marytje are accounts in which she is called, "Marie Talbot Gilbert Bruère. Her baptism record of 15 October 1738, simply calls her, "Marytje" (Kelly, Schenectady Reformed Church Baptisms, 1694-1811 [Rhinebeck, NY: Arthur C. M. Kelly, 1987]. page 57, no. 1258). Of course, anyone familiar with colonial Dutch families knows well that Dutch parents did not give their children middle names. As will be seen, Marytje's daughter married into a prominent French Quebec family, one in which multiple "middle names" was common. It appears to me that later day descendants, possibly starting with her daughter, Marie-Charlotte Munro (in her marriage record) bestowed this more elaborate name "Marie Talbot Gilbert Bruère" upon Marytje. Where the name, Gilbert, comes from is evident. Marytje's mother, Cornelia Barheit, was a daughter of Johannes Barheit and Catherine Gilbert. However, the choice of the name,"Talbot," has thus far eluded explanation. Perhaps Marie Charlotte Munro was unsure of the identity of her mother's father, and, for some reason, believed his surname was Talbot. It of course, was not.

Marytje Brouwer and John Munro have been stated to be the parents of six children. With some help from Janko, I have thus far found five. The previously known son Cornelius, as mentioned above, was baptized in 1768. He, along with his brother Henry, were granted lots in Matilda Twp., Upper Canada, in 1797. A daughter Christian Munro, married Philip Mount in 1786 at St. Gabriel's Presbyterian Church in Montreal. A son John Munro is found on lists of Loyalists who served with the New York Royal Rangers, where is is listed as "a son of Capt. John Munro."
Daughter Marie Charlotte Munro was probably born in the decade of the 1770s, either in Albany County, New York, or at Shaftsbury, Vermont. In 1802, as the widow of Paul Denis, she married Michel-Eustache-Gaspard-Alain Chartier de Lotbinière, the 2nd Marquis de Lotbinière. He was the Seigneur of Vaudreuil, Lotbinière and Rigaud, all in the present day Province of Quebec. The couple had six children, five daughters and one son. Three daughters reached adulthood and left descendants.
The eldest, Marie-Louise-Josephte (b. 1803) inherited the Seigneury of Vaudreuil and married Robert Unwin Harwood. They were the parents of ten children. He served in the legislatures of Lower Canada and of the Province of Canada. Two sons served as Mayors of Vaudreuil and a grandson as Mayor of Rigaud.
Daughter, Marie-Charlotte (b. 1805) inherited the Seigeury of Rigaud and married William Bingham, the son of William Bingham (1752-1804) of Philadelphia, a delegate from Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress, and a U. S. Senator from 1795 to 1801. The city of Binghamton, New York, is named for the elder William Bingham. Marie-Charlotte and her husband lived in Montreal before moving to Paris, France where they divorced. She died in London in 1866 and of her five children, three daughters married French Counts.
Julie-Christine (b. 1810) inherited the Seigneury of Lotbinière, and married Gaspard-Pierre-Gustave Joly in1828 at Christ Church in Montreal. The couple lived at Lotbinière. Born in Switzerland, his family settled at Épernay in Champagne province of France. He was a businessman and an early amateur daguerreotypist and often traveled to France and the Middle East. He is credited with being the first person to photograph the Acropolis at Athens, and other ancient monuments. They had three children, among them, Henri Gustave Joly de Lotbinière (1829-1908) who became the fourth Premier of Quebec in March 1878. He was later the seventh Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.

(Much of the info above began with a web search of John Munro which led to his Wikipedia entry and continued using source links provided there both to other websites and other Wikipedia entries. A search at Google Books and at Heritage Quest led to info on the sons of John Munro. Janko Pavsic provided some additional vital data translated and transcribed from records in his possession. I have been able to confirm some, and find others, with searches at, especially in their "Quebec Vital Records and Church (Drouin Collection)" database which has links for images of the original records. Source citations will be included on the next update of the Brouwer Genealogy Database. Although the families of the children of Marytje Brouwer and John Munro are not complete, it will offer a start from which anyone interested can further extend the research).

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