The Turk Anthony Jansen van Salee

"Anthony Jansen van Salee is a Turk, a rascal and a horned beast."

- Hendrick Jansen voicing the common view of his neighbor's character in 1638.

Anthony Jansen van Salee, the Turk, arrived in New Amsterdam about 1633. For the next forty years, he stirred up trouble. He took his surname from the Moroccan seaport of Salee, where his Dutch father admiraled a sultan's fleet. His nickname came from the local woman the admiral bedded, who presumably raised her son Mohammedan, making him New York's first Muslim - by upbringing only since no one would call him a religious man.

New Amsterdam was a litigious place, and Anthony was involved in more than his share of lawsuits. Within five years, Anthony was hauled into court for stealing wood, paying wages he owed with a dead goat, allowing his dog to kill a neighbor's hog, pointing a loaded pistol at the overseer of the West India Company's slaves, threatening a debt collector with bloodshed if he insisted on the money owed and slandering any number of people.

As if he couldn't create enough trouble himself, Anthony married Griet Reyniers, former mistress to an early Director turned whore of the rabble. The couple together ran afoul of the local clergyman and his wife, an escapade that could not go unpunished.

Courtesy of Bill Greer, author of The Mevrouw Who Saved Manhattan (available in the NNI Shop).

"Whether or not Salee sympathized with Indians other than sharing savage habits, he sure supported his friends when somebody larger picked on them."

- Jackie Lambert expressing an alternative view of the Turk's character
in The Mevrouw Who Saved Manhattan.

About the New Netherland Institute

For over three decades, NNI has helped cast light on America's Dutch roots. In 2010, it partnered with the New York State Office of Cultural Education to establish the New Netherland Research Center, with matching funds from the State of the Netherlands. NNI is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. More

The New Netherland Research Center

Housed in the New York State Library, the NNRC offers students, educators, scholars and researchers a vast collection of early documents and reference works on America's Dutch era. More


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