Jan Vigne is the first white European male born in New Netherland. Some documents report his birth to have occurred in 1625, but the 1624 date appears to be more likely. Sarah Rapalje was born in June 1625, and she is also widely reported as the first white European born person in New Netherland. So either Jan Vigne or Sarah Rapalje was the first person born in New Netherland, but both were the first borns in their respective genders. We will, however, stay with the 1624 date for Jan Vigne’s birth.
Jan Vigne’s family originally came from Valenciennes in France. They were Huguenots who had migrated to Holland because of the religious repression in France at that time. Jan’s parents had three daughters prior to Jan’s birth in the new world. Jan’s sisters, all born in either France or Holland, were Christina , Maria , and Rachel . Since Rachel was baptized at the Leiden Walloon Church in 1623, and the two older sisters were quite a bit older, it is probable that the older sisters were born in France. Jan was born in 1624, or possibly in 1625, on Manhattan Island, or possibly elsewhere in New Netherland. What is known for sure is that his family migrated to New Netherland in April 1624 on the Nieu Nederlandt, and started farming on Manhattan Island in 1625.
The Vigne family had considerable disruptions during Jan’s early years. His father apparently died while Jan was still quite young. Following Jan’s father’s death, his mother remarried Jan Jansen Damen, and as a result Damen became Jan’s stepfather. In 1638, the stepfather evicted two of Jan’s older sisters with their respective husbands from the family residence. And it is assumed that the stepfather’s disruptive presence caused Jan’s younger sister, Rachel, to marry Cornelis Van Tienhoven, when she was only 16 years old in 1939.
The disruptions in Jan’s household may have caused Jan to decide to move back to Holland in 1645, when he was 21 years old. What is, however, more likely is that the extreme shortage of women in the new colony, made it very difficult to find a wife. Holland beckoned, and it had an abundant supply of marriageable spouses. Jan ended up in the city or in the province of Utrecht, probably because his brother in law, Cornelis Van Tienhoven, was from the province of Utrecht. Upon Jan’s arrival, it did not take him long to find a spouse. Jan married a widow 20 years his senior. Her name was Emmerentje Gosens [Emmy for short] Van Nieuwerzluys in Utrecht in 1645. Emmy had been married before to Lambert Wolf, and had two daughters, Aeltgen , and Gysbertgen , and a son, Herman . Of geographic interest is the fact that both Tienhoven and Niewersluys were two small villages near the city of Utrecht, around the year 1600, and today they are still small villages.
Emmy and her family lived in the city of Utrecht, and following the marriage, Jan moved into their home on the Oude Gracht. Jan and Emmy had three children of their own, but only one survived childhood. The first child, Johannes , died in infancy, the second child, also named Johannes, also perished in infancy, and the third child, Gosen  survived into adulthood.
Jan, on his own, returned to Manhattan in the spring of 1647, probably to visit his mother and sisters, and to take care of some financial matters. He did not stay long and returned to his own family in Utrecht, Holland in the fall of 1647, voyaging on the ship “Princess Amalia”. The “Princess Amalia” was shipwrecked on the Welsh coast, and only 20 of the 106 people on board survived. One of the survivors was Jan Vigne. Needless to say his wife was happy to see him back.
Jan’s stay in Holland was not a success. It appears that Emmy was not enthusiastic to go to the new world. But in 1651, Emmy’s youngest daughter, Gysbertgen, had reached adulthood and married, and this made it easier for Emmy to make the big step of moving to the new world with her husband and young son, Gosen. So in 1651, Jan, Emmy, Gosen, and Emmy’s older daughter Aeltgen migrated to Manhattan. Apparently, Emmy’s older son, Herman, decided to stay behind in Holland. Aeltgen married on December 31, 1651, less than a year following her arrival in Manhattan. The shortage of women in the new colony obviously made it easy for her to find an eligible husband.
The Vigne family prospered in Manhattan. From public records it is clear that Jan bought a farm of 170 acres in 1655, and sold the same farm in 1670, probably for a substantial profit. He then went into the beer brewing business and ended up owning two beer breweries. Since New Netherland at that time was known for its thirst for alcoholic beverages, and especially beer, Jan apparently did quite well financially. During that time Petrus Stuyvesant also appointed Jan to a position called “schepen”, a councilman, of the New Amsterdam colony. This position was reserved for important people, and Jan apparently had become an important person in the colony.
Emmy Vigne, Jan’s wife, passed away in 1680 at the age of 75. Jan remarried to Weiske Huytes, age unknown. Jan passed away in 1689 at the age of 65. Jan and Emmy’s only son, Gosen voyaged to Amsterdam, Holland in 1669, probably to find a spouse. He apparently only stayed for 4 years, and returned in 1673. It appears that he was unsuccessful in finding a spouse and as a result he left no known descendants. Since Gosen was the only surviving Vigne on Manhattan, after his father’s death, and since Gosen had no descendants, the family name of Vigne died with him. Since Jan and Emmy had no surviving daughters, there were no descendants of the Vigne’s through either the paternal or maternal side. In contrast, Sarah Rapalje’s maternal lineage is estimated to have produced as many as a million descendants since the period of her life up to the present.
Jan Vigne, Fulkerson web site, http://www.fulkerson.org/1-janvig.html
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