Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Matheus (Mathew) Brewer in Dutchess County, New York, "Ancient Documents"

Family Search has under its Historical Record Collections for New York, a collection of digitized records called New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971. There is no search engine for this collection, but you can browse through the images and many of the sub-categories have indexes that have also been digitized. With time and effort anyone should be able to locate whatever specific document it is they are looking for. A recent search in this collection resulted in locating a file that provided some new information and shed a little light on the life of one Brouwer family memebr in the Province of New York in the mid 1700s.

The New York Probate collection is arranged by county. Under Dutchess County we find a very long list of links to a series titled "Ancient Documents." Although nested under the New York Probate collection, it appears that few of these files have to do with probate issues, but instead have to do with other court and legal matters. Scroll down through the list of links and you will find General Indexes to at least part of this collection. Here is the index page on which the files (nos. 1681 and 1682) for Matheus/Mathew Brewer appear.

New York Probate, Dutchess Co., General Index 1721-1862, no. 1-15181 A-K at
What has been labeled (probably by a 19th or 20th century clerk in the Dutchess County Court House) as Ancient Document no. 1681, is a suit brought by Dr. John Sackett against Matheus Brewer for a debt of two pounds, five shillings and nine pence, for medical services and travel expenses. The case was brought before the May 1743 session at the Court of Common Pleas in Poughkeepsie (often spelled Pokeepsie in that time and abbreviated as POK). The service for which Dr. John Sackett is seeking payment took place on 1 February 1741/42.

Sackett v. Brewer, May 1743 session, Dutchess Co. Court of Common Pleas
 The language in the complaint (above) is a bit rambling and unclear as to just what took place between John Sackett and Mathew Brewer, but in the end John Sackett is represented by Gilbert Livingston, attorney, and they are seeking nine pounds from Mathew Brewer for "trespass upon the case." It is not specified as to how this case was resolved.

Ancient Documents no. 1682, Sackett - Brewer
To me, the most interesting document in the two files is the one that follows, in which Dr. Sackett provides a list of his services and charges for treating Mathew Brewer.

Ancient Documents no. 1682 Sackett's bill for services to Mathew Brewer
In his bill, Dr. John Sackett charges for travel to "Sweago" to see Mathew Brewer. The year is 1741/42, and this prompted me to want to know just who this Mathew Brewer was, and where was "Sweago." Fortunately, the given name, Mathew (Matheus, Matthys, etc.) is relatively uncommon among the early families named Brouwer, Brower or Brewer of colonial New York. The Matheus, or Mathew Brewer featured in this law suit must have been an adult in 1741 and therefore born sometime prior to about 1720. There are only two known men that fill this requirement. The older of the two would be Matthys Brouwer, the son of Samuel Brouwer and Grietje Smith, who was baptized 3 April 1695 at the New York Reformed Dutch Church. He was married to Wyntje Kranckheyt on 19 March 1719 at the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow (later known as the First Reformed Church at Tarrytown) in Westchester County, New York. In 1741/42, Matthys would have been aged 46 or 47. The second candidate would be Matthys Brouwer, son of Johannes Brouwer and Marritje Lamb, who was baptized on 20 October 1711 at the New York Reformed Dutch Church. He was married to Maritie Cronkhite sometime before 1738 when their first known child was baptized. This second Matthys would have been aged 30 or 31 in 1741/42. Both of these Matthys Brouwers were grandsons of Matthys Brouwer (baptized in 1649) and great-grandsons of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island. But which one was the man named in the files is impossible to determine based upon the limited information found within the files.

The location, "Sweago" named in Dr. Sackett's bill, also is of interest. I believe it can only be a phonetic spelling for Oswego, which is located on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario in present day Oswego County, New York. According to the History of Oswego, New York (Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & Co., 1877), pages 19-24, the area saw English and Dutch traders by 1700. In 1721 or 1722, Fort Oswego, a trading post was established and a fort was built in 1727. Travel between Oswego and the greater New York City area (including Dutchess and Westchester Counties) would not have been easy or quick, although a good portion of it would have involved water travel on the Hudson River and it's largest tributary, the Mohawk River.

Prior to finding this file we were certainly aware of the fact that some English and Dutch colonists from the areas of New York where towns were well established, had interests in and made travels to some of the more outlying areas of their known world such as the trading post at Oswego. This file, however, is the first evidence I've found that specifically points to a member of one of the early colonial Brouwer famlies being involved in such an enterprise.

We also can only guess at exactly what ailment afflicted Mathew Brewer to the point that Dr. Sackett had to make a house call. His bill describes "drinks" and "engreediences" (ingredients) that were apparently used to induce vomiting and "purging," which evidently were method believed effective to cure Mathew Brewer of whatever condition it was he had. (Perhaps it was something affecting his gastrointestinal system). In any event, Mathew Brewer apparently recovered, and in 1743 was healthy enough to be sued by Dr. John Sackett. It also looks as if Mathew hired a man named John Alsop, as his attorney.

Ancient Documents file 1682. Mathew Brewer, John Alsop, his attorney
 But again, the outcome of the case is not stated.

More info, details and source citations for the men named Matthys Brouwer, mentioned above, can be found on the Brouwer Genealogy Database website. All images were downloaded from the FamilySearch website; New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971; Dutchess (County); Ancient Documents 1721-1862, no. 1501-1793, images 883 to 890.


  1. Oswego was a hamlet between Verbank and LaGrange - same name as the upstate town, but in Dutchess County. Not upstate. From Wikipedia: Oswego is a former hamlet, later a ghost town, in the northwestern part of the town, north of Lagrangeville and south of Verbank, now part of the hamlet of Moores Mills, shared with the town of LaGrange. It is located directly southeast of Sky Acres airport. A historic marker set by the state government marks the spot of the former hamlet. The Oswego Meeting House and Friends' Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.[7][8]

    This ghost town is not to be confused with the city in the northern part of the state, also named Oswego, New York.


Because of spamming issues, all submitted comments are moderated. Your comment is appreciated, but it will not appear online until it has first been reviewed. All relative comments will be sent through. Comments of a commercial nature will be blocked. It may take as little as a few hours or as long as a few days for submitted comments to appear online. Please do not resend the same comment. Thank you.