Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Who is Hendrick Jansen, from Jeveren, Locksmith?

On 21 February 1645, at New Amsterdam, "Hendrick Jansen from Jeveren, locksmith, and Adam Brouwer have in love and friendship, in the presence of the witnesses hereto invited, agreed and contracted about the purchase of a certain house and lot for a garden situated on the island of Manhatans."* The date of this contract gives us the first verifiable mention of Adam Brouwer in New Netherland, and the phrase "in love and friendship," begs us to ask, who is this Hendrick Jansen, and can he in anyway provide us with new leads regarding Adam Brouwer's origins?

Three other records provide us with another potential clue. On the same date as the contract above, Adam Brouwer gave power of attorney to one Geurt Servasz, at Amsterdam, residing in Papenbrigh alley, in "The Whalebone," to collect on his (Adam's) behalf his wages due from the West India Company earned in Brazil.* Two and a half years later, on 9 August 1647, at New Amsterdam, Hendrick Jansen, smith, gave power of attorney to Geurt Servaessen, residing in Pepenbroeck alley at Amsterdam, to collect on his (Hendrick's) behalf, money due on a note from Jan Jansz from Rotterdam, cooper.* A bit over a year later, on 10 September 1648, at New Amsterdam, Hendrick Jansen, smith, again gave a power of attorney to Geurt Servaessen, residing at "Papenbroch streech" at Amsterdam, power of attorney to collect from the West India Company wages due Bartel Lourisz for service on De Princess.** The records of the Provincial Secretary of New Amsterdam contain a number of such power of attorneys - requests by persons living at New Amsterdam for others about to make a trip to Amsterdam to collect money from the WIC and others, on their behalf. Of these requests, only Adam Brouwer and Hendrick Jansen, smith, gave power of attorney to this Geurt Servaessen, who was living in Amsterdam at the time. What previous connection did Adam Brouwer and Hendrick Jansen have with Geurt Servaessen? Did both Adam and Hendrick know Geurt personally from some time in the past, back in Amsterdam? Was only Hendrick acquainted with Geurt and did Hendrick then recommend Geurt to his friend Adam, or vice-a-versa?

Here is what we know regarding "Hendrick Jansen, from Jeveren, locksmith," a.k.a. "Hendrick Jansen, smith." Hendrick Jansen was born about 1602 at "Jeveren." His wife was Annetje Gerrits. He committed suicide by hanging on or just before 16 July 1664, in New Amsterdam. During his life at New Amsterdam, Hendrick was a locksmith, more frequently called simply a smith (smit), he also owned a tavern, and rented out at least one house in New Amsterdam. [A timeline of records for Hendrick Jansen, with sources, is online as a PDF].

On 6 October 1638, "Hendrick Jansen, locksmith, aged 36 years, and Hendrick Gerritsen, aged 20," gave depositions at New Amsterdam on behalf of Grietje Reyniers who was disputing statements made by Domine Everardus Bogardus (see the above linked PDF for source citations for this and all that follows). This establishes that Hendrick Jansen was born about 1602. It also establishes the fact that Hendrick was in New Amsterdam by October 1638. The 1645 contract with Adam Brouwer tells us that he was from (probably born at) "Jeveren." In Hendrick's day, Jever was a city in Oldenburg (a county, later a Duchy). Today it is the capital of the district of Friesland in the German state of Lower Saxony. On 12 November 1645, Annetje Gerrits, wife of Hendrick Janszen, Smit, witnessed the baptism of Geertje, child of Theunis Thomaszen and Belitje Jacobs, at the Reformed Dutch Church at New Amsterdam. This record gives us the name of Hendrick Janszen's wife (see this timeline of events, with sources, for Annetje Gerrits). On 16 July 1664, Pieter Tonneman (schout at New Amsterdam) reported the death of Hendrick Janszen Smitt, to the court at New Amsterdam. He had committed suicide by hanging at the Kalkhoek.*** Between 1638 and 1664, Hendrick Janszen is found with numerous mentions in the records of New Amsterdam. He apparently owned multiple properties, and although referred to as a smitt (smith) he also had a tavern and rented out a house (or houses). On 16 March 1648, his name is among a long list of fellow tavern keepers and inhabitants of New Amsterdam agreeing to abide by ordinances put in place by the Director-General and Council. At the time of his death his the court and his immediate neighbors referred to him as an "old Burgher" of the city. One ongoing feud Hendrick had was with his neighbor, Hendrick Willemszen, the baker, who on more then one occasion complained to the court against Hendrick Janszen about water draining into his property. The matter of this complaint was still ongoing before the court at the time of Hendrick Janszen's death, and his widow, Annetje Gerrits, is then afterwards found in the court records regarding the matter. The last record found for Annetje Gerrits (thus far) is dated 3 July 1672.

Children of Hendrick Janszen and Annetje Gerrits have not been identified. However, on 16 July 1671 (Soert Olfertszen, pltf., vs. Annetje Gerrits, deft.) her "son-in-law" appeared and testified on Annetje's behalf. The son-in-law's name is not stated. Hendrick and Annetje may have had at least one daughter. However, it has to be remembered that the term "son-in-law" had multiple meanings during colonial times. It could refer to, as we know today, the husband of one's daughter. But, it could also, as a legal definition, refer to one's step-son. If Hendrick Janszen did have children in New Amsterdam, we could expect to find them with the patronymic, Hendrickszen or Hendricks (or some variation thereof). Some of Hendrick's properties are relatively well defined. We at least know the names of some of his immediate neighbors. Perhaps there are later deeds that can be found that record the transfer of one or more of his properties by heirs. Annetje Gerrits appears as a witness at a handful of baptisms at the New Amsterdam Reformed Dutch Church, however, in none of them is the mother's name recorded with the patronymic, Hendricks. If Annetje had any family relationship to any of the parents in these baptism records, it is not immediately apparent. (See the last paragraph below).

The given names Hendrick and Jan, are two of the most common, possibly the two most common given names found in New Amsterdam. Therefore, to no surprise, we find that the name Hendrick Janszen, is also very common. There are in fact a number of different men with that name living in the (relatively) small community of New Amsterdam from 1638 to 1664 (and beyond). One other, for example, was Hendrick Janszen, tailor (snyder), who is easily separated out from the other Hendrick Janszens by the addition of his occupation after his name. Our Hendrick Janszen, smith (smitt) is distinguished from the other Hendrick Janszens in the same way. There are, however, one, two, or three other Hendrick Janszens that should be mentioned.

On 12 November 1642, "Hendrick Jansen from Oldenborch," age 20, a soldier, admitted to selling powder to (Jan) Schepmoes. Hendrick was ordered to perform his guard duty and remain at the Fort until the next court session.**** "Oldenborch" would be Oldenburg, and as mentioned above, our Hendrick Janszen was from Jever, then a city in the county of Oldenburg. In this case I would suspect that the Oldenburg being referred to was the city of the name, and not the county, and we cannot assume that this man was also from Jever. Born about 1622, "Hendrick Jansen from Oldenborch" was not the same man, "Hendrick Jansen from Jeveren, locksmith," who sold Adam Brouwer a house lot in February 1645.

On 25 August 1656 a patent was granted to Hendrick Jansen van Jeveren for a piece of land beyond Hellgate on Long Island.***** The property was bounded by properties belonging to Lieven Jansz and Adrian Dircksz. It was in the then town of Newtown, a predominately "English" town. Hendrick Jansen is found in the records there, sometime recorded with the name, Henry Johnson (an English equivalent to Hendrick Jansen) right through to 1677 when he is an "appellant" in a suit with William Hallet. He is on the rate list at Newtown in 1662, 1666 and 1667 as Henry Johnson. The undated will of Thomas Lawrence of Newtown (proved 25 February 1703) mentions a lot he bought of Hendrick Johnson. It is apparent that there were (at least) two men named Hendrick Jansen, both originally from Jeveren, who lived in New Netherland at the same time. By locating and considering all of the records that belong to each, we can easily separate the two. For a timeline of events and sources see, "Hendrick Jansen Van Jeveren, a.k.a. Henry Johnson, of Newtown, L. I." (PDF).

On 8 January 1667, a patent was confirmed for Hendrick Jansen Van Jeveren, for property at New Castle upon the Delaware, bought from Jacob Aldrichs.****** This Hendrick Jansen, from Jeveren, was living on the Delaware river as early as 1662 when he witnessed the "death-bed" testimony of Harmen Hendricksen. He took the oath at Delaware, as Henry Johnson, on 1 October 1664, and is found on the 1671 Delaware census as Henrich Janssen. Peter S. Craig [1671 Census of the Delaware. Monograph Series no. 4. Philadelphia: Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, 1999, pp. 62-63] claims that this Hendrick Jansen (Henry Johnson) was the same man who was granted land near Hellgate (above). Both men are named Hendrick Jansen, a.k.a. Henry Johnson, and yes both are from Jeveren, but proof that they are one and the same is lacking, or at least was not offered by Peter S. Craig in his review of the 1671 Delaware census. Hendrick Jansen (Henry Johnson) is found in a number of records at New Castle, Delaware between 1662 and 1677. They somewhat overlap the records of Hendrick Jansen (Henry Johnson) found at Newtown. It is conceivable that the same man inhabited both places, but more certain proof is needed. Peter S. Craig tells us that Henry Johnson of New Castle married an Elizabeth Carter of Virginia and later moved to Baltimore County, Maryland where he died 18 January 1691, leaving sons named Joseph Johnson and Henry Johnson. For a timeline of events and sources see "Hendrick Jansen Van Jeveren, a.k.a. Henry Johnson, of New Castle, Delaware" (PDF).

There were at least two, very possibly three, men named Hendrick Jansen, from Jever, plus a soldier named Hendrick Jansen, from Oldenburg, who lived in New Netherland at the same time during the mid 1600s.

Back in the first paragraph we asked, can Hendrick Jansen, the man from whom Adam Brouwer bought his first property in New Netherland, provide us with new leads regarding Adam Brouwer's origins? The records of Hendrick Jansen fail to answer this question. They do, however, offer a few things to consider.

That Hendrick and Adam agreed to the contract of sale, "in love and friendship," tells us that they were  friends. However, it does not tell us the duration of that friendship. It does not tell us when, and where, they first met. It should also be noted that three months after their contract, Adam Brouwer sued Hendrick Jansen, in court, for delivery of the deed to the property. Adam wanted the deed despite the fact that he had completed paying for the property. How is it that two "loving friends" could not settle this without the aid of the court? In addition, between 1646 and 1653 Adam Brouwer had four children baptized at the New Amsterdam Reformed Dutch Church, probably just a five minute walk from where Hendrick Jansen lived. Yet, Hendrick does not appear as a witness at any of the baptisms. So, just how close, or long of a friendship did they actually have?

We know that Adam Brouwer came to New Amsterdam from Maranhão in Brazil, and the circumstances of events regarding the departure of the West India Company's employees from this location imply that Adam left Maranhão, went to Curaçao, and in July 1644 was sent to New Amsterdam. Adam was apparently in New Amsterdam for only seven months prior to his contract with Hendrick Jansen. Hendrick, on the other hand, had been in New Amsterdam for at least seven years, the first record of his presence there dating to October 1638. The records of New Amsterdam previous to 1638 are lost. Because of this we cannot know just when Hendrick came to New Amsterdam. We have no evidence that Hendrick Jansen was in Brazil (at least none has been found as of yet). We also know that Hendrick was born about 1602, and if we accept that Adam Brouwer was born  around 1620, we can see that there was about an eighteen year difference in age between these friends. Unless the two knew each other prior to 1638, a time when Adam was probably only a teenager and Hendrick a man in his thirties, and in Europe (perhaps in Amsterdam), then it is more likely that the two first met only after Adam Brouwer arrived at New Amsterdam, and so knew each other for only seven or so months prior to their contract.

We also know that both Adam and Hendrick each gave power to one Geurt Servaessen, of Amsterdam, to collect money on their separate behalves. No other inhabitant of New Amsterdam gives such power to Geurt. Did both Adam and Hendrick know Geurt personally, back in Amsterdam? Did Hendrick know Geurt prior to his arrival in New Amsterdam, and did he recommend Geurt to Adam? Or did Adam know Geurt, and recommend him to Hendrick? While one of the two (Adam or Hendrick) most likely knew Geurt personally, it may be that both of them did not. Enough is not yet known about Geurt Servaessen to determine what type of relationship (if any) he had with either Adam Brouwer or Hendrick Jansen, prior to 1645.


A search of the "Netherlands Births and Baptisms, 1564-1910" at, has found one record of potential interest. Found is an index entry for the baptism of Trijn (indexed as Trijn Jansen), child of Heinrik Jansen and Anne Gerrits. The date of the baptism is 17 September 1623, at Amsterdam. Taking this information to the Doopregisters found at the Amsterdam Archives website, we can find this record by searching for Heinrik Jansz as vader (father), with date 17-9-1623, and two results are given, one of which is the above record found at Hover your cursor over the second entry and you will see that the baptism took place at the Oude Kerk (old church). Hervormd tells us that it was a Reformed congregation. The record is found in DTB 6, p. 58. For a few euros a digital copy of the DTB 6, p. 58 can be ordered, and a PDF of the image can be found here. The record of interest is on the left hand page where just below the second solid line you can find the date "17 September." The record begins on the sixth line down from that solid line. A translation provided to me by Cor Snabel filled in the remaining information. The father is Heinrik Jansz, his profession is ships carpenter, the mother is Anne Gerrits, the witnesses are Ael Heinrix and Geert Jans, and the child's name is Trijn. This record is of potential interest only because the names of the parents match those of Hendrick Janszen, Smit and Annetje Gerrits of New Amsterdam, and the date (17 Sept. 1623) is prior to any possible immigration to New Amsterdam by this couple, and is late enough (Hendrick was born ca. 1602) for Hendrick Janszen, Smit to be the father. In addition, I have not been able to locate other baptism records for this couple (Heinrik Jansz and Anne Gerrits) by searching the Doopregisters or the database. A conflict here is the fact that the father in this record was a ships carpenter, while Hendrick Janszen of New Amsterdam was a Smit, a smith. It should be emphasized that there is not enough information to either connect or disassociate the Amsterdam baptism record with Hendrick Janszen, Smit of New Amsterdam. The baptism record is presented here as simply a possible starting place for anyone interested in exploring the origins of Hendrick Janszen, Smit.

* Van Laer, Arnold J.F., Kenneth Scott (Ed.) and Kenn Stryker-Rodda (Ed.). Register of the Provincial Secretary, 1642-1647. New York Historical Manuscripts, Vol. 2. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1974), pp. 290-292, 468.
**Van Laer, Arnold J.F., Kenneth Scott (Ed.) and Kenn Stryker-Rodda (Ed.). Register of the Provincial Secretary, 1648-1660. New York Historical Manuscripts, Volume 3. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1974), pp. 39-40. In June 1647, Bartel Loursen acknowledged a debt to Hendrick Jansz, smith, for board (pp.41-42). It appears that Bartel had served, presumably as a sailor, on the Princess which sailed from New Amsterdam late in August 1647 and was wrecked off the coast of Wales in September 1647. Probably Bartel Loursen was lost in the shipwreck and Hendrick was looking to collect his wages to satisfy the debt owed to him by Bartel.
***Kalkhoek, Dutch for Chalk Point, was a hill near the Collect Pond which was a large fresh water pond in lower Manhattan.
**** van Laer, Arnold J. F., Kenneth Scott (Ed.) and Kenn Stryker-Rodda (Ed.). Council Minutes, 1638-1649. New York Historical Manuscripts, Dutch, Vol. 4. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1974), p. 173.
*****Gehring, Charles T. Land Papers. New York Historical Manuscripts, Dutch, Vols. GG, HH & II. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1980), p. 83
******General Assembly, State of Delaware. Original Titles in Delware Commonly Known as Duke of York record, being an authorized transcript from the official archives of the state of Delaware, and comprising the letters patent, permits commissions, surveys, plats and confirmations by the Duke of York and other high officials, from 1646 to 1679. (Wilmington: Sunday Star Print, 1903), p. 123.

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