New Netherland Family History

Using New Netherland documents to explore your ancestry

Land and Property

Perhaps because they seem difficult to locate, family historians often overlook land and property records. Fortunately, these useful records are abundant in the volumes of translations. The range of property-related records includes land leases and sales, dwelling house or business transfers, and the sale of goods such as livestock.

We, Willem Kieft, etc... have given and granted to Anna Negerinna, the widow of Andries d' Angola, a certain piece of land located on the island of Manhattan; its front is on Pieter Tamboer's land; its rear on Touchyn Briel's; it extends east by east 51 rods; north 30 rods; north north west 54 rods; north east and north east by east 41 rods; amounting in all to 3 morgens and 2 rods, with the express conditions etc... Done at Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland (no date). (Land Papers, GG 169, p. 48 [undated but with records from early 1647])

From this entry we learn the following:
Anna Negerinna was married to Andries d' Angola.
Andries d' Angola died before 1647.
Circa 1647 Anna Negerinna, was granted land in Manhattan.
Both Pieter Tamboer' and Touchyn Briel owned land in Manhattan circa 1647.

In the following excerpt square brackets [ ] are used, "for words added by the translator either for clarity of meaning (as when a word is implied but not spelled out in the manuscript) or to indicate words or parts of words which, though destroyed or otherwise illegible, the transcribers or the translator was able to infer from the context." Explanations of these kinds of editorial decisions are generally given near the front of a translated volume and understanding them will aid researchers.

... Michiel Jansz has abandoned his farm and Teunis Cornelisz, [Jansz's] farm laborer, has, [from the time of Janz's departure] until now, been on the farm without any conditions [or agreement, regarding his work on the farm], and we have not received any communication from the fatherland, and yet, we could not [allow] the farm to be vacant under these circumstances. So it is that I, together with Lords Megapolensis and Abraham Staes have decided, in the best interests of the Lord Patroon and this Colony, to lease the [farm] to the same Teunis [Cornelisz] for one year, on the following conditions ... (Memorandum Book of Anthony De Hooges, [A30] p. 37)

Disputed property transactions may result in legal action, as in the example below. While this may not appear to add much to family history, it does place these two men in the colony in this timeframe. Consider too that in some cases a record like this might be the only mention of an ancestor that we can locate.

Harman Smeeman, plaintiff, against Sybout Claesen; the plaintiff sold the defendant two cows for 110 guilders in currant servant [and] 13 beavers. He has received the sewant; demands payment of the beavers. He does not acknowledge any beavers; a delay is granted until the next session in order to audit the same. (Council Minutes, 1652-1654, [59] p. 38)

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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