Witt-Claes Janßen (a.k.a. DeWitt)

Birth Date - d. 10 November 1659
Birthplace

Tiade [Tiarcks] Bremers

born in Ostbense, Ostfriesland, probably ca. 1600-1605
died 21 March 1647

Emmerentje (Rinelt) Claessen DeWitt

born in Ostbense, Ostfriesland
baptized as Rinelt, named possibly for mother’s father’s first wife, Esens, 1 July 1638
witnesses/godparents: Dietrich Boyen (Bürgermeister of Esens); Catharina Maria Taja (wife of Pastor Abraham Tajus); Fenneke Evers (unclear)
Presumed buried in Kingston, New York

Martin Hermanzen Hoffman

born 1624, Revel, Estonia - died 1712, New York
migrated from Sweden to North America in 1657
married (first wife) Lysbeth Hermans, April 21, 1663, in Brooklyn, New York
married (second wife) Emmerentje Claesen De Witte, May 16, 1664, New Amsterdam (probably date banns were posted); she is described as “j.d. van Esens in Embderlt.”

It is interesting that the marriage of Martin and Emmerentje is not recorded in Kingston. By 1664, Kingston has a church; six marriages are recorded there that year. (First recorded marriage in Kingston is in 1660; Domine Hermannus Blom continues to marry couples there for many years, as the name of the place changes from Wildwyck to Kingston.) The location of their marriage suggests that they are living in Manhattan at the time, not in Kingston. One story (source?) has it that she was working in a clothing shop on Broadway when she met him, working in a shop a few doors down. It was not unusual in the early days of the Dutch colony in North America for a couple to post banns in Manhattan, but then be married closer to where they lived (Fort Orange, Brooklyn, Wildwyck).

Marten Hoffman and Amerens Claessen (and Jan Andriesse) are listed as godparents when Tierck Claesse De With and Barber Andriesse baptize their son Jan in Kingston, New York, on 14 February 1666. (Marten Hoffman serves as godfather to another, unrelated child, in Kingston on 7 January 1663.) In 1668, when Tierck and Barbara baptize their daughter Geertruyd (15 October), the three witnesses all appear to be Barbara’s siblings: Jan, Luyckas, and Martie. Amerens/Emmerentje and Martin do not appear elsewhere in the Kingston church records (which include Hurley baptisms and marriages). All of this suggests that they lived elsewhere.

Annetje

named for [???]
baptized (as Annetie) in the Reformed Dutch Church, Manhattan, March 1, 1665.
Witnesses: Jerck Claeszen de Wit and Annetje Croesvelt [is this Marten’s mom?]
Parents: Marten Hofman, Emerensje Hofman
died date ? location ?
married Hendrik Pruyn; died with no issue

Marritje

named for [???]
baptized (as Marritie) in the Reformed Dutch Church, Manhattan, December 12, 1666
Witnesses: Baÿ Crúÿsvelt, Marritie Elsenhuÿsen
Parents: Marten Hoffman, Emmerens
died date ? location ?
children?

Zacharias

named for [???]
b. 1668 (or 167-), Fort Orange (Albany), New York
d. 25 February, 1743/44, Shawangunk, New York
married Hester Bruyn; posted banns 24 March 1703/04 (or 1705/06), Kingston, New York (daughter of Jacobus Bruyn and Gertrude van Esselstein, b. 30 November 1683, in Ulster, New York, or bap. 11 February 1683, in Kingston, New York)
children:
Maria (1707),
Geertruy (1709, m. Nathaniel Du Bois),
Zecheriah (6 December 1713, m. Maria Terwilliger 15 January 1738/39; she was born 28 August, 1720, in Ulster, New York; may well have been a minister in New Paltz, performing marriages there recorded in 1742 and 1749; for more descendants, see extensive notes on Hope Farm page listed in sources below),
Janneke (17--, m. William Rosenkrans),
Margaret (17--, m. Thomas Jansen),
Jacobus (1720, m. Cornelius Bruyn),
Niclaes (1724, died young)

Zacharias became a lawyer and returned in 1704 to Esens, where his mother had come from, to litigate family property settlements left over from the 1660s when his grandfather and an aunt had died. He carried with him powers of attorney to let him represent his mother’s interest as well as those of cousins who had also inherited property rights.
He was granted a patent to a portion of the present Township of Shawangunk, New York, on 28 November 1709. In 1717, in a list of militia officers for Ulster County, one of the names of the officers for New Paltz and Shawangunk is Captain Zach. Hoffman. He appears in the same capacity in 1738.

Nicholas

named for Emmerentje’s father
b. ca. 1680 (or 1676?) - d. [date]
Birthplace Kingston, New York; settled in Esopus; built Hoffman House (or expanded it) at North Front and Green Streets, still standing, northwesterly corner of old stockade from 1658
married Jannetje Crispell 30 December 1704, Kingston, New York, moved to Dutchess County (see Anjou Wills Vol. I p. 73 and notes, also p. 133 and following)
[see notes below about Hoffman House]

Taatje

named for Emmerentje’s mother (or her sister, killed by Indians in 1663, or her grandmother)
b. 1673 in New York (?) - d. [date]
Birthplace
married Everardus Bogardus: 9 May 1697, Tjaatje Hofmans, j.d., born in N. Jorck, marries Evert Bogardus, j.m., born in Albanien [Albany] 2 November 1660

Notes

Tjerck Claessen DeWitt emigrated from near Esens in Ostfriesland (today the northern coast of Germany) in the early or mid-1650s. (See related page of discussion on his origins.) Three siblings, including Ida/Tette joined him over the next few years. Others remained in Ostfriesland, on his family’s farm.

We know that Emmerentje (whose name is spelled various ways) sailed to North America in November 1662, together with her younger brother and an older sister, Tette/Ida, plus that sister’s husband and young daughter.

She sailed to North America in 1662 on De Vos (The Fox), listed in passenger log as Ammereus (probably a misreading of the log: the handwriting probably has an -n- where the transcriber read a -u-), together with her sister Tette (Ida), who had already been to North America, had married Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck there, and returned to East Frisia; and with her brother Jan, 18 and not yet married (he apparently never did get married); possibly with a brother of her sister’s husband, named Hendrick Albertsen.

After arriving in New Netherland, she lived in Manhattan, probably with either Lucas Andriessen and Aefje Laurens or Marritie Andriessen and Jan Janszen van Breestede. The Andriessens were both siblings of Barbara Andriessen, who married Emmerentje’s brother Tjerck. Both families would have been part of the lively Lutheran community in the colony, which was not officially recognized or even allowed until the English took over from the Dutch, but which continued to congregate and agitate for official recognition. After a short time in New Amsterdam, Emmerentje married Martin Hoffman, from Revel, a dominion of Sweden at the time, today renamed Tallinn, capital of Estonia (his second marriage; he had no children with his first wife before she died).

Various Hoffman genealogies say Martin was descended from a family in Bohemia, without offering much substantive documentation; see “Pursuing the Bohemian Identity of Martinus Hermanzen Hoffman . . . Legend or a Hoax?” by Miloslav Rechcigl, Jr., Rockville, MD. Rechcigl also notes that U.S. genealogies of the Hoffman family describe Martin as having been ”a Rittmeister in the army of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, who fought under him in the Thirty Years’ War.”

The name Hoffman also raises questions of possible links to Melchior Hoffman, an early leader of Anabaptists who spent time in Revel and neighboring towns, and also spent a significant time leading a community in Emden, not far from where Emmerentje grew up. Melchior was originally from southern Germany (there was no Germany at the time, but he came from further south in what today is known as Germany). He traveled to the Revel area originally as a tradesman; it is easily possible that the Hoffman family had other relatives there, and he traveled to stay with them in pursuit of his trade. His relatives (if such there were) may not have been Anabaptists; Melchior was the one who became inspired. Martin Hoffman comes around more than a century later. He appears to be actively Lutheran. (For more on Melchior Hoffman, one could do worse than to start with various Wikipedia articles on him, some of his followers, and the early history of Anabaptist theological development. Menno Simons, for example, whose name is evoked in the Mennonite sect, was baptized by disciples of Melchior Hoffman.)

Martin Hoffman had a house in Manhattan, just up Broadway from where Lucas Andriessen and Marritie Andriessen’s houses faced each other across what today is the little park of Bowling Green; he was also part of the active Lutheran community, and like at least Jan Janszen Breestede (and possibly some others in the little clan), he grew up in a region that spoke German officially, though local dialects may have been spoken at home. A saddlemaker by trade, Martin did business both in Manhattan and in the colony upriver that clustered around Fort Orange. He may well have known Lucas Andriessen from taking voyages up and down the river together; Lucas was skipper of a sloop that went back and forth along that route. They also would have known each other from Lutheran activities. Lucas and Martin both sign a petition together in 1664 on behalf of the colony’s Lutheran community, requesting of the newly installed British Governor Richard Nicolls that the Lutherans be allowed freedom of worship, and that they be allowed to hire their own minister, a Lutheran one.

A partial timeline, drawn from multiple sources:

Sylvester in History of Ulster County (p. 39) places Martin Hoffman at Esopus on 16 September 1658, saying he took part (against orders) in the initial skirmish that led to the First Esopus War; I have not checked this to verify it.

On “the 20th of May 1659, at Manhatans, in N. Netherland” (The Lutheran Church in New York, 1649-1772, pp. 39-40), a large group of Lutherans in the New Netherland colony compose a polite letter to the Directors of the West India Company in Amsterdam. The Lutheran Consistory in Amsterdam had in 1657 sent a minister, Domine Johannes Goetwasser, to lead the Lutherans in New Netherland, but Peter Stuyvesant, the director of the colony, would have none of it and obstructed Gutwasser until he left. The writers of the letter describe the congregation as “at Fort Orange there are from 70 to 80 families, here at the Manhatans and on Long Island also fully that many, including permanent residents and mechanics, but mostly farmers.” (O’Callaghan estimated that at New Amsterdam in 1656, there were about 120 houses; by 1660 there were 300 or so: 80 families is a sizable group.) They request nothing terribly specific, just a little more “toleration of our religion.” Among the signers: Marten Hoffman.

On 19 January 1662 (Fort Orange Records 1654-1679, pp. 236-237), Jan Lambertsen says he wishes to auction “his house and lot located in the village of Beverwijck, which Marten Hoffman, saelmaker [saddlemaker], occupies.”

On 31 October 1662, in Wildwyck (Kingston Papers, p. 38), Hendrick Cornelissen sues Martin Hermensen for 10 guilders, 10 stivers. Martin does not appear.

On 28 November 1662, in Wildwyck (Kingston Papers, p. 44), Marten Harmense does appear; this time Hendrick explains that he bought 3,000 bricks from Marten. Marten admits a debt of 8 guilders, 10 stivers, which the court tells him to pay. Merten Hermensen turns around and seeks payment “according to judgment” (from a previous case?), “which should have been paid within twenty-four [hours].” Pieter Hillebrantsen, who owes him the money, says he has none, and his only money comes from working for Aert Jacobsen. Pieter then asks Aert for 170 guilders, “in wheat or other grain,” for wages earned. Aert agrees he owes it. The court instructs him to pay the debt.

On 12 December 1662, in Wildwyck (Kingston Papers, p. 50), Hester Dowens gives notice that she has attached three schepels of buckwheat that Jan Jansen has, which belongs to Merten Hermensen. No further explanation is offered.

31 March 1663 Martin Hoffman (from Revel) posts banns to marry Lÿsbeth Hermans (New Amsterdam Marriages, p. 28). (Anjou, in Ulster County Wills, says the marriage takes place in Brooklyn.)

22 January 1664, in New Amsterdam, an apparent customer who bought some fabric goods from Emmerentje disagrees with her over the form of payment (Page 10, The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674 Anno Domini, Vol. V). Emmerentje probably is living with Lucas Andriessen or Marritie Andriessen; they live opposite each other in houses at the very southern end of Broadway, where the little Bowling Green park is today. (See Iconography for house locations; Lucas (pp. 218-219) is described as a skipper who plies the Hudson, sailing up and down from New Amsterdam to Fort Orange and back, no doubt an important factor in keeping the Andriessens unified and well connected, with Geertruy in Fort Orange and Barbara in Wildwyck. If Martin Hoffman is a merchant who sells in Fort Orange as well as New Amsterdam, it makes sense that he and Lucas might know each other, even travel together on some trips.)

At Wildwyck, 11 March 1664, Mattheus Capito, serving as Provisional Schout, tries to settle a matter of money owed to the estate of Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck (Kingston Papers, pp. 136-137). Evert Pels is the curator of the half of the estate belonging to Jan; Tjerck Claessen DeWitt, Emmerentje’s older brother, is the curator of the portion that devolves to Tjerck and Emmerentje’s sister Ida (Jan’s wife) and her heirs. For the minor children who survived the couple (the identity of these children remains unclear, but they must have been children of Jan’s from a previous marriage?), Henderick Jochemsen is guardian, speaking for their interest. (In the eventual settlement, no part of Ida’s half of the estate goes to any children of hers; it all goes to her sisters and brothers, both in North America and in Europe, or their children. We might guess, then, that any children who survived belonged to Jan and a previous wife, who must have died before he married Ida.) Evert wants Tjerck to give “security,” i.e. more than just his word, to stake some kind of actual property, for the amount he owes as well as for the amounts owed by other people he agreed to be “surety” for, which appears to mean his brother Jan Claesen and Emmerentje, his sister. (“Surety” has real implications in this court; it comes up regularly that a person does not pay a debt, so his creditor asks the court to demand payment from the person who stood as surety for the amount.) Tjerck, who is identified here as joint guardian (probably meaning co-curator?), says he doesn’t mind posting security for the goods he bought, but “he will not give bond for his brother Jan Claesen and his sister Amarens Claesen, as he is already bound.” There is some dispute about whether he posted security already. The Court raises its eyebrows when it learns that Evert and Henderick, without letting the court know, already extended the payment period for the amount Amerens owed, to May 1. (Courts then as now take a dim view of having their appointed representatives take action unilaterally, without consulting the court.) “[T]he Honorable Court has been slighted,” in their view. They give Tjerck 48 hours to post some kind of bond, for his debt, and release him from having to offer any further security for Amerens (since, apparently, Evert and Henderick, without consulting the court, already accepted whatever security Tjerck offered in her name). The implication is that Tjerck is present in Wildwyck, and Jan and Emmerentje were around for the auction, but they are not present in Wildwyck now.

16 May 1664 Martin Hoffman, widower of Lÿsbeth Hermans, posts banns to marry “Emmerentje de With, j.d. van Esens in Embderlt.” (New Amsterdam Marriages, p. 30).

On 26 May 1664, in Beverwijck; the deaconry pays 35 guilders to “jufvrou De Wet” for 13 ells of shirts (Deacon’s Accounts 1652-1674 Beverwijck/Albany, Janny Venema translator & editor, Picton Press, Rockport, ME, and William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1998). (Note that this does not mean Jufvrou De Wet was in town to sell the shirts; she may have shipped them upriver while she remained in Manhattan. Compare, for example, the 27 March 1654 record [ibid. p. 11] where the deacons pay “Mother Megapolensius” for seven pairs of hinges, though no record shows she had traveled to Beverwijck to sell them. Two days later [p. 12], the record shows that Goosen Gerritsen gave back the money, because Mother Megapolensis “would not accept it,” underlining that she was not present, though the time interval—only two days—would not have allowed time for communication to Manhattan and back. See again 30 October [p. 17], when the deacon again pays Goosen Gerritsen, again as a proxy for Mother Megapolensis, apparently for the same hinges.)

The British take the colony from the Dutch; Richard Nicolls is installed as Governor.

In November 1664, Martin Hoffman buys from Hendrick Hendricksen Lot 6 in Block B in New Amsterdam, “by the Land Gate” in the wall at the north edge of the town, where Wall Street is today. (The lot is at the southeast corner of today’s Broadway.) Johannes Nevius built a house on the lot; Hendricksen bought it and owned it in 1660; Iconography, Vol. 2, p. 229, notes that a diagram is attached to Hoffman’s deed from 1664. Hoffman sold it to Captain John Manning in 1668. Martin apparently borrowed 700 guilders from Jacob Jansen Moesman to buy this house on 19 November 1664; when Martin sells it to Captain Manning, Moesman tries repeatedly to get Martin to pay back the loan (see notes below, also Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VI, p. 190, among many other entries). Moesman lives in Block Q, No. 4 (Iconography, Vol. 2, p. 325), a bit further east on the north perimeter of the city (today’s Wall Street), near Smith’s Valley (Smit’s Vly)

(The “Castello Plan” of Manhattan ca. 1660, possibly drawn ca. 1665-70, represented in Stokes’s Iconography of Manhattan, together with the “De Sille List” of Manhattan’s inhabitants, meant to be a census as of 10 July 1660, provides a detailed description of who lives where in New Amsterdam. In 1656, O’Callaghan estimated, there were about 120 houses in New Amsterdam; by 1660, there were 300 or so, laid out on clearly marked streets. Records from occasional house taxes also indicate who was living in the town in different years, and the amount of tax paid gives a very rough idea of which residents were better off.)

Lucas Aendreesen on 15 December 1664, “in New York on Mantans Island,”  together with Martin Hoffman (Marten Hoefmaen) and “many others” (only six put down their names, including Lucas and Martin), signs a petition to newly installed Governor Richard Nicolls, right after the British take over the colony, asking for permission to hire a Lutheran pastor [see entry above]. The letter says the petitioners “were prevented by the former authorities from publicly exercising our religion . . . according to our conscience” and request “that with his honor’s protection we may be granted [freedom of] public worship.” (Lutheran Church in New York, pp. 48-49.)

On Tuesday, 17 January 1665, in City Hall at New Amsterdam (Records of New Amsterdam,Vol. V, p. 177), Freryck Gyzberzen van den Burgh complains that Marten Hofman, together with Claas Pietersen, owes him 44 guilders for “rent and consumed drink.” Marten says he owes only half the bill, and Adam Onckelbagh appears to say that he’s the one who brought Marten and Claas “to Daniel van Donck to hire the house, and nobody ever said anything about Marten being responsible for the whole tab. The court instructs Marten to pay his part of the bill. This is a bit of a puzzling record. Martin Hoffman married in May or June 1664, bought a house in November 1664, is due to have his first child in February, and here in January he is apparently not just drinking but also renting a room in the tavern of Frederick Gijsbertsen vanden Bergh (Nos. 2 and 2A, Block E, in the Castello Plan of New Amsterdam, as described by De Sille, discussed in Stokes’ Iconography,Vol. II, p. 257). By 27 June 1665, apparently Marten still has not paid the debt; Freryck summons him back to court, but he does not appear to be in town (Records, V:264). It comes up yet again on 4 July (this time Marten is in town); Marten admits he owes 23 guilders yet; he requests “some delay.” The court instructs him to pay within “14 days to 3 weeks” (p. 271). Possibly the rent discussed here is from the time before Martin bought his own house?

1 March 1665 Jerck Claeszen de Wit and Annetje Crosevelt witness the baptism of Martin and Emmerentje’s first child, Annetje, in New Amsterdam (New Amsterdam Baptisms, p. 78).

Marten Hoffman power of attorney to collect debts for estate of his sister-in-law, killed in Esopus attack by native tribesmen; identifies Hoffman as co-heir (4/17/1665)

On 17 April 1665, in Wildwyck (Kingston Papers, pp. 560-561), the administrators of the estate of Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck and Ida Claesen (Emmerentje’s older sister, killed in a raid by Esopus Indians) all get together to give Martin Hoffman, “co-heir of the aforenamed estate,” a power of attorney to collect debts owed to Jan Albertsen from people who live in Manhattan, or “those who, coming from Fort Orange, he should meet on the Manhattans”; he has been given a list, made from Jan Albertsen’s account book, of the people who owed him money. Martin is to provide a receipt for any debt paid.

On Wednesday, 19 April 1665, at City Hall in Manhattan (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. V, p. 221), the city council meets to consider Governor Nicolls’ order “to quarter one hundred [British] soldiers” in the city for the protection of the colony; the Governor will pay 3 guilders per soldier plus rations. Along with questions about where the soldiers will be quartered, there is the matter of additional pay for lodging. Many Burghers have said “they would much rather contribute than lodge soldiers,” so they will pay for lodging them elsewhere. Lucas Andrieszen is assessed 2 guilders for this purpose (Stuyvesant himself pays 4 guilders); Martin Hoffman, living on the Heere Straat (Broadway), pays 1 guilder.

On 19 September 1665, “At a Court held in New York” (now that the English have taken over and renamed the city), Marten Hoffman complains that Jan Hendricx van Gunst rented Marten’s boat “on the express condition, under defendant’s hand [i.e. he took an oath], that he should return the same to [Marten] uninjured,” which was not done. Jan agrees he made that promise, but he complains “that the rigging etc. belonging to the boat was rotten and worn.” The court instructs Jan to repair the boat, and names two men to have a look and appraise the situation. (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. V, pp. 292-293.)

In Wildwyck on 2 March 1666 (Kingston Papers, p. 279), Martin Hoffman appears, “husband and guardian of Amarens Claesen De Wit,” to request some money (64 guilders, plus interest) from the estate of Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck. He says Jan sold a cow for Emmerentje (where did Emmerentje get a cow?), and he pocketed the money, plus two years’ rent for the cow. The court cautiously agrees to give Martin the principal, but no interest, and says Martin will have to post some security to show that he can pay the money back if his story turns out not to be true.

On 3 March 1666, and again on 13 March (Kingston Papers, pp. 590-593), in Wildwyck, all the various administrators of the estate of Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck and Ida Claesen DeWitt appear before the council and the secretary, to officially divide the total amounts of inheritance that will be awarded to the various heirs of the estate. Martin Hofman appears as “heir, he being the husband and guardian of Amerens Claesen DeWit, sister of the aforesaid deceased Ida Claesen DeWit.” Amerens is presumably home in Manhattan. Worth noting: Jan Claesen DeWitt is not present for these sessions.

Final closure and settlement of estate, 1921 guilders, plus odds and ends. 960 guilders to Jan’s peeps; 960 to Ida’s peeps. TCDW and Marten Hoffman are present and named as heirs; MH is identified as husband and guardian of Amarens. (3/13/1666)

On 16 March 1666, still in Wildwyck (Kingston Papers, p. 593), Martin Hoffman finally gets in writing a commitment to pay him and Amerens for the cow Jan Albertsen sold. TCDW offers security for Marten Hoffman for 256 guilders (drawn from the estate) for a cow, and for 64 guilders rent for the cow, which Jan Albertsen received while he was alive from Amerens Claesen De Wit, now the wife [Amarens, not the cow] of Marten Hoffman. (3/16/1666)

In Wildwyck on 6 April 1666 (Kingston Papers, p. 290), Martin is back to seek more money from the estate of Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck. This time he explains that some “friends” of Jan Albertsen have some money in patria, which generally means in the Netherlands but could mean somewhere else in Europe, and Martin has a claim on that money. He says the money belongs to “his wife Amerens Claesen De Wit,” and he hopes to receive further details from “his friends in Holland.” The court lets Martin attach the money for now, asking him to return quickly to present his claim in more detail.

On 4 December 1666 (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VI, p. 47), Elias Watts seeks to meet Martin in the court at New York; Martin does not show up. On 11 December (p. 49), Martin again does not show up. On 18 December (p. 51), Martin again does not show; the court warns that if he misses on the next court day, “the Judgement shal be Pronounced.” On 28 December (p. 52), Martin appears at last. Elias Watts demands that he pay 12 bushels of winter wheat that he is owed according to a bill that Watts has in hand. Martin agrees he owes the money and “desiered some time for the payment.” The court instructs him to pay half within 14 days, and the other half in six weeks.

At a Mayors Court in New York on 23 June 1668 (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VI, p. 136), Martin Hofman complains that Lukas Dirckz owes him 793 guilders for goods “& by a perticular obligation.” The court orders arbitration by two other men. On 30 June (p. 137), both men are absent from the court.

At a Mayors Court in New Yorck 20 October 1668 (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VI, p. 153), Jacob Kip, “as curator of the estate left by Hage Bruynsen,” demands 735 guilders from Marten Hofman “arising from an unpaid bill of exchange” of 200 guilders according to an agreement dated 25 May. Martin says he is willing to pay the bill on the condition that Mr. Kip post security “that the bill of exchange in question was not paid in Holland.”

On 3 August 1669 (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VI, p. 190), Dirck van Clyff, as “atturny of Arent James Moesman,” demands from Marten Hoffman 700 guilders plus 10% yearly interest, as described in “a mortgage dated 19 November 1664,” when Marten bought his house in New Amsterdam. Dirck notes that Marten has sold the house now to Captain Manningh; since he no longer owns the house (which is security for the loan), the lender (Moesman) wants to call the loan due. Martin “admits the debt; requests some delay.” The court instructs Martin to give Moesman some new security for the debt within 3 months and declares the mortgage is still valid until it has been correctly paid off.

At a Mayors Court in New Yorke 8 February 1670 (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VI, p. 217), Herry Breser has a complaint against Guilliam De Honeur and Martin Hoffman, who are told to bring their proofs at the next court day. On 1 March (p. 221), the defendants default (i.e., don’t appear) a second time. On 15 March (p. 225), Herry explains that Martin and Guilliam owe him 207 guilders for renting his boat. Martin and Guilliam “produce an account” that shows they still owe him only 78 guilders, which they turn over in court. (It is fairly common for the courts in the colony to examine account books of people who appear before them, and to use them as evidence of payment of a debt; it is important to keep a clear, accurate written record for occasions like this.) The court keeps the payment in the secretary’s custody pending the next court date, when the defendants are “to proeve the Demorrage” that was caused by Herry. (Demurrage is “a charge payable to the owner of a chartered ship in respect of failure to load or discharge the ship within the time agreed”; it appears that Martin and Guilliam are trying to make a case that Herry caused a delay and should not be charging them for the extra time.) On 12 April 1670 (pp. 229-230), Guilliam and Martin say they haven’t had a chance to get their witnesses lined up yet, claiming “they had no due Warning of the Court day”; they maintain that the demurrage “was occasioned by the plaintiff.” On 10 May (p. 232), the court finally decrees, “Uppon hearing of the debates of both parties,” that Martin and Guilliam should pay the 207 guilders, deducting 88 guilders for 3 days demurrage caused by Herry.

On 21 June 1670 in New York City (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VI, p. 239), Marten Hoffman seeks 26 guilders from Jacob Milborn, “which [Jacob] promised to pay for Hans Block,” and another 16 guilders “for wheat sold.” Jacob admits he owes 16 guilders “and says, he was always ready to pay it, but denies having accepted” the 26 guilder debt. The court tells Jacob to pay the 16 guilders for now, and tells Martin to bring proof if he wants to get paid the rest.

On 6 September 1670 at Mayors Court in New Yorke (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VI, p. 254), William Merrit wants to see Marten Hofman in court; Martin does not show up. On 27 September (p. 257), he misses court again. On 18 October 1670 (p. 264), Martin again misses court, but Emmerentje shows up, not named, but described as “the defendant’s wife.” Merrit explains that he is seeking 93 guilders “for fraight from delloware etc.” Emmerentje “desired that this case might be suspended till hur husbands returne from Albany,” which the court allows, providing that she pledge security for the debt until Martin returns to make his case. On 29 November (p. 269), Martin is still not back from Albany. (At this point, is it too late in the year for a boat to sail back from Albany?) The case does not appear again in the court’s minutes.

On 11 July 1671 in New Yorck (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VI, p. 306), Jacob Fabricius (Lutheran pastor, possibly from the learned Ostfriesland family; David Fabricius, for example, wrote a paper describing sunspots before Galileo. Jacob moves to the South River; see Lutheran Church in New York, p. 85, for example) wishes to see Marten Hofman in court. Neither party shows up. The case comes up again on 15 August (see below). Also on 11 July (p. 308), Captain John Manning (who bought Martin Hoffman’s Manhattan house in 1668) and Nicolaes Bayard (Peter Stuyvesant’s nephew, and from 1685-1686 mayor of New York) both want to see Martin in court. The court refers both of their cases to Johannes de Peister and Jeronimus Ebbing as arbitrators. Manning’s case comes back to the court on 16 July 1671 (see below). The case with Bayard may be a mistranscription; he also has cases during this time with Marten Meyer (see p. 324), and the court secretary may have written down the wrong name.

At Mayors Court in New York 16 July 1671 (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VI, p. 313), Marten Hofman demands from Jan Roelofsen [Seubringh] 100 guilders in sewant (wampum shells on a string) and 400 lbs. of tobacco; Martin has a written note establishing the debt, and he has attached Jan’s tobacco “and other effects in the hands of Claes Mellis.” Martin insists that the goods should be sold to satisfy the debt, “as he warned [Jan] three several times to come here from Flatbush [in Brooklyn],” to pay Martin his due. The court sides with Martin. Jan comes to court 15 August (p. 318) and tries to have the verdict overturned, but he is not successful.

In the same 16 July 1671 session (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VI, p. 314), the arbitrators for the dispute between Captain Manning and Martin (see 11 July above) come back with their report, “that they could not perswade [parties] to a Composure.” The court orders that Margin “should make paiment of the summe for [which] the house is Morgaged for to Dirck van Clyff,” in order to clear the title to the house so Captain Manning can enjoy it in peace. This arrangement would also please Dirck Van Cliff, who has been trying since 3 August 1669 to get the mortgage paid, for his client Mr. Moesman.

In Mayors Court at New Yorck 15 August 1671 (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VI, p. 318), the case of Martin Hoffman and Jacob Fabricius (see 11 July above) comes back to the court, without much of a conclusion. The court instructs Martin to come back to court with a proper account of the debts. Fabricius is in court on several other cases too, including one of “disfamation” against Martin (p. 319); the court bundles this with his other case. On 29 August the court refers the case to two arbitrators to settle; it does not come back to the court (p. 323).

16 January 1672 the Lutheran Congregation in New Amsterdam petitions Governor Lovelace for a “Lycense to build & Erect a House for their Church to meet in” and for permission for Martin Hoffman to go to the South River in Delaware to solicit contributions for this purpose (Iconography, p. 225, which cites Executive Council Minutes, edited by V.H. Paltsits, II: 589). The complete text of the pass given to Martin Hoofman “a Membr. of Ye. Augustane Confession” (i.e. the Unaltered Augsburg Confession) can be found in Fernow’s Vol. XII of the Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York, the series begun with 10 volumes of papers collected in Europe by Brodhead. On p. 494 Lovelace explains that a Sloope belonging to Martin Cregier is about to leave for New Castle in Delaware, and Hoffman intends to be on it.

3 June 1672 Martin Hoffman buys a house in Albany (Pearson, Early Records of Albany, Vol. III, pp. 495-6) from Jan Coneel (Jan Conell?). Connel got it from Jacob Joosten (van Covelens). For the same record see also Fort Orange Records 1654-1679, pp. 541-542.

The Dutch briefly retake New Netherland.

On 31 October 1673, at court in New Orange (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VII, p. 18; the city has been renamed under the Dutch Governor), Dirck van Cliff appears with “a mortgage on Moesman’s house, sold to Marten Hofman and demands by virtue of this mortgage to take the said house.” The record adds that “Nothing is done in this case.” Dirck has been trying to get satisfaction in this case since 3 August 1669.

At City Hall in Manhattan 15 October 1674 (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VII, p. 128), the Governor General (Anthony Colve) says he has received official orders “for the restitution of this Province of N. Netherland to his Majesty of Great Britain . . . with further orders that he return home with the garrison as soon as possible.” He does not leave yet for a little while; he appoints a committee of 10 men to run the city during the interregnum, before his British successor appears.

On 16 October 1674 (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VII, pp. 131-132), remarkably, Dirck van der Cleef is still unpaid, “in virtue of a mortgage dated 19/29the 9ber 1664 and judgment obtained dated 3d. August 1669, by which mortgage [Marten] hypothecated his house and lot situate in Broadway next the guard house etz. having then fraudulently sold the aforesaid to Capt Manning and received the payment from him for it.” The Worshipful Court instructs that Martin “be legally notified and informed, that if he do not soon appear here to defend his cause, the aforesaid hypothecated house and lot shall be sold at his cost and the damage charged to him.” The court refers also to “one Mistress Seely, who is concerned in the house through her deceased husband,” and is being supported by the city deaconry; she may be the widow of Mr. Moesman? (Be aware: This entry does not appear in the book’s index under Martin Hoffman’s name, though it clearly should. Might others be missing as well?)

On 3 November 1674 Edmund Andros arrives and is formally greeted on his frigate “now anchored under Staten Island” (Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. VII, p. 138); on 10 November “the Province of N. Netherland is surrendered by Governor Colve to Governor Major Edmond Andros in behalf of his Majesty of Great Britain” (p. 139).

7 September 1675, Albany (Court Minutes of Albany, Rensselaerswyck and Schenectady, Vol. II, p. 21: Michiel Siston, Sheriff, files a complaint that “[Emmerentje], the wife of Martin Zaelmaker . . . went with shoes, etc., up the hill, contrary to the ordinance.” Martin Hoffman is a saddler, per Van Laer’s footnote; he refers to Early Records of Albany 1:299, 3:192. The shoes were some of Martin’s wares. Emmerentje says “she was on the hill to find her cow.” The 25-guilder fine stands.

On 26 May 1676 (FOR 1656-78, pp. 192-193), Jan Hendricx van Bael sells a house to Timotheus Cooper in Albany; the house is “at the hill” between Jan Thomase on the south and Martin Hoffman on the north. Martin and Jan are distantly related; they share Tjerck Claessen as a brother-in-law.

On 6 June 1676, in Albany (CMARS II:114), Marte Hoffman complains that Tierck Harmense owes him 32 boards and a schepel of wheat. Tierck says he paid the boards, but Martin says no, Tierck gave the boards to Claes Rust, but Claes gave them to someone else; Wynant Gerritse and Jan Conell confirm this. The Court tells Tierck to deliver the boards and wheat to Martin, plus expenses, and notes that Tierck may want to take action against Mr. Rust.

On 30 November 1676, in Albany (FOR 1656-78, pp. 220-221), Marte Hoffman appears before Robert Livingston to record that he has sold to Cornelis Cornelise van der Hoeve “his house and lot standing and located here in Albany near Wm. Loveridge, hat maker”; Martin says he bought the house from Jan Conell, 3 June 1672. (On 4 March 1678 in Albany [Fort Orange Records, 1656-1678, pp. 258-259], Cornelis Cornelise vander Hoeve says he has sold his house and lot in Albany to Arent Jacobse; the house stands between those of William Loveridge and Jacob Staes, and he bought it from Martin Hoffman 30 December 1676.)

The company we keep:

18 October 1675, Albany (CMARS II:35-36): Jan Hendrick Bruyn complains that Helmer Otten has abused and slandered him; Bruyn presents two affidavits to that effect. Helmer Otten has a written answer ready; he says he feels betrayed, because one of the affiants, M. Hoffman, “forced him to answer his questions.” The court orders Bruyn to give Otten a copy of the complaints, and says the witnesses will have to appear in person. Otten asks for the matter to be resolved in an extraordinary session on the next day.

19 October 1675: The court rejects Marte Hoffman’s affidavit, “because he said in open court: Why shouldn’t he discredit his enemy? For J. Bruyn was his friend, being the godfather of his child.” Then the other affiant, Arent van den Burgh, admits that he went to Hoffman’s house at Bruyn’s request, “to listen in to what [Otten] said.” Martin Hoffman is found to have lied, because [apparently] he said he never invited Otten into his house, and Otten has a witness (Myndert Fredericx) who says yes, Martin did invite him in, several times. The complaint is dismissed.

Helmer Otten, by the way, is deceased by 7 April 1676, when a reference is made to remarks made at his funeral (see below). In the meantime, on 7 September 1675 in Albany (CMARS II:19-20), his wife Ariaentie Arents [Bratt; see note p. 282] sued for separation; Jan Jansz Bleycker and Gerrit Lansing as witnesses said Helmer “does not live with his wife as he should, being often drunk and using much abusive language in speaking to her, leading therefore a scandalous life.” Gerrit Slichtenhorst says Helmer “at different times has not treated his wife well.” Helmer Otten is a staunch Lutheran from Esens [Isens; confirm source]; the Claessen siblings likely knew him, or at least knew who he was, before they all came to North America.

[Jan Hendricksen Bruyn seems like trouble. In Kingston church records he does not appear, though Martin’s son Zachariah marries Hester Bruyn, who was born in Kingston to Jacobus Bruyn; the relationship is not clear. On 3 July 1678, Jan Hendricksen Bruyn is in Manhattan as sponsor to the baptism of Jacob, son of Hendrick ten Eyck and Peternellitie. On 13 October 1697, he is there to sponsor the baptism of Jan Hendrik, son of Geesknana Bruyns and Juriaan Bosch. But in Albany, on 7 April 1676 (CMARS II:88-90), he is in court to defend himself against an accusation from Huybertje Marcelis that he is the father of her baby. He says it’s a lie that he slept with her and a more ungodly lie that she “cried.” Secondly, he says it’s villainous to say that he offered her something to terminate the pregnancy. Thirdly, he says that she never said she was pregnant, but that he told her there were rumors she was; her nickname for him is “Wishy-Washy.” Huybertje concedes that he never offered her anything to terminate the pregnancy; he admits he can’t deny that he had “carnal conversation” with her. He refuses to marry her. The court tells him it’s his choice: Marry her or give her a thousand guilders, plus pay court costs. Jan goes on to sue Huybertje’s father, Marcelis Janse, for calling him a murderer at the funeral of Elmer Otte (see above).]

Pix

baptism record

Baptism record, from Kirchbuch Esens, 1 July 1638. Text reads: “Ditto” (same date as previous entry) “Claas Janßen” (the father’s name) “Rinelt” (underlined in blue), then the names of witnesses/godparents. Photo by Doug Bradley 2017.

If the map below is hard to read, just open it in a new window, and it should spring to full size:

Map of New Amsterdam ca. 1660, showing locations of various homes of interest

Sources

I’m just beginning to list sources here. Apologies for not being more complete. I will continue to add to this list as I have time. There are many sources of information on the family named Claessen DeWitt, some better than others.

Printed sources:

Record of baptisms and marriages from Kingston, New York.

Ship Passenger Lists to New Netherland (see http://www.olivetreegenealogy.com/nn/ships/)

Genealogy of The Hoffman Family, Descendants of Martin Hoffman with Biographical Notes, by Eugene Augustus Hoffman and Ms. Elizabeth Dodds, 1899. Published by Dodd, Mead & Company. Found at: New England Historic Genealogical Society (CS/71/H71/1899), 101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116, 617-536-5740.

Records of the Reformed Dutch Church in New Amsterdam and New York: Baptisms from 25 December, 1639, to 27 December, 1730,Edited by Thomas Grier Evans, 1901, New York, printed for the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society; reprinted 1968 by the Gregg Press, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Baptisms from 1639 to 1730 in the Reformed Dutch Church, New York (Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Vol. II), 1901, New York, Thomas Grier Evans, editor, reprinted 1968 by the Gregg Press, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Anjou, Gustave, Ulster County, N.Y. Wills, Vols. I & II, New York, 1906.

The Iconography of Manhattan Island 1498-1909, Compiled from Original Sources and Illustrated by Photo-Intaglio Reproductions, Vol. II; by I.N. Phelps Stokes; Robert H. Dodd, New York, 1916; the volume includes detailed biographical sketches, with sources noted, in describing owners and inhabitants of each house in Lower Manhattan, based on the De Sille list from the Castello Plan.

The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674 Anno Domini, Vol. V: Minutes of the Court of Burgomasters and Schepens, Jan. 8, 1664 to May 1, 1666, Inclusive, Berthold Fernow (editor), Knickerbocker Press, New York (under the authority of the City of New York), 1897.

Records of New Amsterdam (7 volumes), edited by Berthold Fernow, originally published New York, 1897; republished 1976 by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore.

The Lutheran Church in New York, 1649-1772: Records in the Lutheran Church Archives at Amsterdam, Holland, translated by Arnold J.H. vanLaer: New York, 1946, The New York Public Library; introduction, also informative, is by Harry J. Kreider.

 

Online sources:

http://www.hopefarm.com/hermanzen.htm

Tjerck Claessen DeWitt in Court

Record of early marriages in the Dutch Reform Church in Manhattan, available in printed form or online or online in PDF form.

Record of early baptisms in the Dutch Reform Church in Manhattan, available online

English translations of Dutch colonial records, also known as “The Kingston Papers,” available online. These are the Dingman Versteeg translations. The originals are available on microfilm from the Ulster County archivist, who can be found through the same link. A cross-reference indexing the archive pages to the microfilm frames to the pages in the printed translation can be obtained from Donald Lockhart, dlockhart at rcn dot com, who includes an entertaining introduction about the misadventures of the original manuscript records in the 1800s, before they were at last safely ensconced with the Ulster County archives.

http://www.ortsfamilienbuecher.de

The Hoffman House still stands in present-day Kingston, New York, bought by Nicholas Hoffman in 1707 from Edward Whittaker. Today it is a tavern in Old Kingston, which makes it easy to visit and marvel over.

Genealogy of the Hoffman Family online (see full citation above).

Reproduced herein:

Wills of Tjerck Claessen DeWitt and his brother Jan, who died unmarried in Kingston, 1699 (1906 Anjou edition)

Very cursory look at public records from Albany, NY, regarding Tjerck Claessen DeWitt and possible relatives.

The Peltz Record (1948)

The History of Ulster County, New York

The Oberholtzer Genealogy

Last Modified: Tuesday, October 6, 2020

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