Cornelius Jacobsen Mey was appointed by the Dutch West Company [DWI] to be the first director of what eventually became New Netherland and its major center and focus, New Amsterdam, in the summer of 1624. Mey was the captain of the “New Netherland”, the ship that brought the first 30, mostly Walloon and Flemish, families to what is now New York City. Keep in mind that the Walloons and Flemish, although currently citizens of Belgium, were then citizens of the United Netherlands. It was not until 1830 that Belgium became an independent nation.
The 30 immigrant families landed on Noten Eylant, the island that is currently called Governor’s Island, near Manhattan. The following year, in June 1625, 25 additional immigrants arrived on three ships, along with over 100 horses and cows and numerous pigs and sheep. Upon the arrival of the first group of immigrants, in 1624, Mey was the only senior person with leadership experience and therefore was apparently chosen to be the first director of the colony. He remained the director until the following year, 1625, when he was replaced by Willem Verhulst.
In 1624, Mey was by no means a newcomer to the new world, or to the various settlements in the new world. Also, all Mey’s past exploration activities in the new world were sanctioned by the Dutch States General, essentially the then Dutch Government. Ten years earlier, in 1614, Mey as captain of a ship, had explored the Hudson River and had traded with the Indians, largely for furs, a valuable commodity in Holland. Mey also, in 1614, became associated with the New Netherland Company, a company which received an exclusive permit from the Dutch States General to undertake four voyages over a four year period, to explore the American territories between the 40th and 45th parallels.
A successor company of the New Netherland Company, the company with which Mey was associated, apparently received permission to also explore the territories between the 38th and 40th parallels which included the Delaware Bay and lower Hudson River areas. Mey was captain of a ship, the “Blijde Boodschap”, which under his command explored and surveyed the Delaware Bay area in 1620, and carried out trade with the Indians, again largely for furs. Mey’s company was not the only company doing exploration and surveying in the area of the 38th and 39th parallels. There were competing Dutch companies. So the Dutch States General decided to step in, and in 1623 decided to give a monopoly for the jurisdiction of the area to the DWI. And it was the DWI which sponsored the first shipload of immigrants to New Netherland in 1624. So Captain Mey was not a stranger to the New Netherland area and its exploration. He also knew how to get along and trade with the Indians, an important part of being a director of the new colony, and an expertise that some of the later directors did not possess.
Cornelius Jacobsen Mey left a larger legacy behind than most of the succeeding directors of the DWI, largely because of the name he made for himself because of his explorations, especially in the Delaware Bay area. Cape May [sounds like Mey] was named after him, as well as the city of Cape May, New Jersey and Cape May County, also in New Jersey.
It is not clear why Mey was replaced as director in 1624 by Willem Verhulst. One must suspect that it probably was at his request. Being a director of a small colony of immigrants in a new territory was probably not as attractive as being a sea captain, an explorer and a principal in an exploration company. There is no information available on what happened to Mey after he left the directorship of the new colony. We must assume that he sailed off into the sunset.
Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, www.answers.com/topic/cornelius-jacobsen-mey
Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, Wikipedia
Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Cornelius_jacobsen_mey
New Netherland, Wikipedia
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