New Netherland Family History

Using New Netherland documents to explore your ancestry


Tracking the migrations of our ancestors from either patria to colony or within the colonies can be difficult, but there are records that contain such information.

While researchers are unlikely to find a list of a ship's passengers as they might while researching more recent generations, there are a few examples that come close. One exceptional example is found in the following list, sent in 1655 by the directors of the West India Company, in which the company's directors "resolved to send over some boys and girls, specified in the enclosed memorandum, in the Company's ships, thereby taking a burden from the Almshouse of this city and helping to increase the population of New Netherland". (Correspondence, 1654-1558, [12:24] p. 64)

Memorandum of the names and ages of the Almshouse children, who are to go to New Netherland pursuant to the order of their highly esteemed honors, the burgomasters of Amsterdam. [dated 27 May 1655]

Trijntge Pieters 23 years old
Trijntge Jans 22 years
Lysbet Jans 18 years
Dieuwer Volcharts 16 years
Annitge Pieters 17 years
Lysbet Gerrits 16 years
Debora Jans 15 years
Marritge Hendrix 16 years
Catalijntge Jans 13 years
Guillaume Roelants 17 years
Jan 17 years
Mathijs Coenraetsz 16 years
Hendrick Thomasz 14 years
Pieter Stoffelsz 13 years?
Otto Jansz 13 years
Jan Hendricksz 12 years
(Correspondence, 1654-1558, [12:25] pp. 65-66)

Discovering the details of migration within other kinds of documents is far more likely.

Machteltjen Martens, wife of Andries Barentsz who departed last year for New Netherland as a soldier, having received a communication from him to convey herself also over there, petitions, because of lack of funds to be able to complete her voyage over there at her own expense, that she may receive four months salary from the accompanying wage ticket (of which two months are already due) ... Tuesday, the 9th of April 1652 (Correspondence, 1647-1653, [11:67b] p. 176)

The above record tells us several useful things:
Machteltjen Martens was the wife of Andries Barentsz.
Andries Barentsz left Amsterdam in 1651 for New Netherland as a soldier.
Machteltjen Martens was making plans to travel to New Netherland in 1652.

A record may also indicate the geographic origin of an individual but not give the specific date of his or her migration. In this case, the date of the record can approximate a time frame. The following record establishes that "Davit Pietersen from Hoorn" was in New Netherland by 1642.

On the 26th of June 1642 Davit Pietersen from Hoorn, plaintiff, vs. Hendrick Jansen, tailor, defendant, for payment of a certain account outstanding between the parties ... (Council Minutes 1638-1649, [128] p. 149)

In the example below, the footnote not only adds to our understanding of the record but also corrects a previous error.

Before me, Cornelis van Tienhoven, secretary of New Netherland, appeared Jacob Stoffelsen from Ziericksee,* who appoints and empowers, as he does hereby, Symon Dircksen Pos to ask, demand and receive in his name from the honorable directors of the Chartered West India Company the sum of two hundred and ninety-one guilders, which sum is due to him... the 8th of August anno 1647....

* Zierikzee, a city on the island of Schouwen, province of Zealand, Netherlands; not "Lake of Zurich," as given by B. Fernow in Doc. Rel. Col. Hist. N.Y., 14:18. (Register of the Provincial Secretary, 1642-1647, [162m])

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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