Captain Tjerck DeWitt

TGE 15. i. Family 12.
23 January 1683 - 30 August 1762
birthplace [probably Marbletown, New York]
buried in the churchyard at Old Dutch Church in Kingston, New York, per family Bible

Ann Pawling

married 19 June 1708
1687 - before 1739
baptized Kingston, New York
burial location

Johannes (John) DeWitt

MVDW 100
TGE 91. iv.
baptized 18 August 1717 - 30 May 1749
(family Bible says born 13 August 1722, 12:00 on Monday)
parents: ’t Jerk de Wit, Anna Paling
witnesses: Thomas Mathysz, Maria Paling
buried presumably in Bermuda
from notes in the family Bible:
John DWitt, son of Tijerck Dewitt and Anna Dewitt, departed this life in 1749 on 30 May, a Tuesday, before noon at about 10 o’clock in Barmud[a] [Bermuda] at the age of 31 years, 9 months, and 16 days.

Evans, p. 11, says Johannes died 30 October 1749, but this does not match the documentary record.


Marriage record not found. In his will he leaves property to his father and to nieces and nephews


MVDW 000
birth date - death date


John worked closely with multiple members of the Livingston family at Livingston Manor and the Ancram Iron Works in Dutchess County, as well as in Manhattan. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, in the New-York Historical Society in Manhattan, has a number of letters back and forth between the Livingstons and John DeWitt 1739-1744, regarding trade in rum, tea, salt, bread, wheat and other grains, nails, pork, molasses, sugar, and lime juice; various accounting from Livingston Manor; imminent war between Great Britain and France; various issues involving tenants on the manor; and clearing winter ice so the mills could run.

Starting around the time John died, his brother Peter [Petrus] was also involved in various trade with the Livingstons. Their cousin Charles DeWitt MVDW 137 also worked as a manager of Livingston Manor, under Robert Livingston Junior, ca. 1751-1754, before returning to live and raise a family on the west side of the Hudson, in Ulster County. (Charles lived 1727-1787; his father Johannes MVDW 25 1701-1776 was the brother of John and Petrus’s father, Captain Tjerck MVDW 15 1683-1762.)

John spent probably ca. 1743-1749 in Kingston, Jamaica, in correspondence with and contact with various Livingston cousins with roots in and connections to the Hudson River community; he died in Bermuda in 1749, and it was Henry Livingston in Jamaica who forwarded his will to his father, Tjerck DeWitt, still living in Kingston, New York. John is witness to the baptism of his nephew John (son of Tjerck) in Kingston [NY] in 1745, so he probably goes back and forth on different voyages.

Livingston Family Tree: Which Henry?

The Livingstons were a large and complex extended family, with a network of business, social, and family connections that reached through New England and the Caribbean, and across the Atlantic.

For a more complete discussion of the Livingston family, and amplification of all the discussion below, including detailed family tree charts, see Traders and Gentlefolk: The Livingstons of New York 1675-1790, by Cynthia A. Kierner (1992, Cornell University Press).

The first Robert Livingston (1654-1728) in North America emigrated from Scotland to Albany by way of Massachusetts in 1675. He already was fluent in Dutch.

John DeWitt and his brother Petrus, and their cousin Charles DeWitt, worked at Livingston Manor for Robert Jr. (1708-1790), a grandson of that first Robert Livingston.

Confusingly, Robert Livingston’s son Robert (1688-1775) was not known as Robert Livingston Jr.; he was known instead by the grander title “Robert Livingston of Clermont,” taking the appellation from the name of his estate at Livingston Manor. (The Manor was carved up into smaller pieces as the generations evolved; the DeWitts were managers of only one part of the entire original Manor.)

Philip Livingston (1686-1749), second son of the original Robert Livingston and elder brother of Robert of Clermont, was the one who started the Ancram iron works in 1743. Along with iron ore and a forge, an iron works needed ample supply of trees, for charcoal, and limestone, both of which could be found nearby. Kierner describes Philip Livingston, with his six sons, as “by far the most successful of the second-generation Livingstons” (p. 64). (Worth noting: From the very early days, the Livingston family business included mills for producing flour, making them competitors to some degree with various DeWitts, including those who worked for them. Also, the Livingstons were slave owners and traders, and Robert’s will bestows numerous slaves on his various children, in addition to land and other specific assets. See p. 71 and other places in Kierner for some mentions of the slave trade.)

Robert Livingston Jr., for whom the DeWitts worked, was the son of Philip Livingston (1686-1749). Since both Robert Jr. and Robert of Clermont were around at the same time, living not far from each other, Charles DeWitt in his journal usually specifies clearly that he is working with Robert Livingston Jr.

Numerous Henry Livingstons were around at different times. Each of the original Robert’s surviving sons—Philip, Robert of Clermont, and Gilbert—had a son named Henry. Robert Livingston Jr. had a son named Henry, and there were other great-grandsons with the name. Some are distinguished by their middle names (Henry Beekman Livingston, Henry Brockholst Livingston), and some just used their simple names, leading to confusion.

Cutting to the chase, the Henry Livingston who lived in Bermuda and sent word home to Captain Tjerck of the death of his son John probably was Henry Livingston (1719-1772), son of Philip Livingston (1686-1749), one of the first Robert Livingston’s three surviving sons. This Henry was a brother of Robert Jr., so it’s sensible to imagine that after working for Robert Jr. at Livingston Manor, a young DeWitt might be referred off to work with one of Robert’s brothers. (Kiernan says that all of Philip’s sons except Henry ended up settling in Manhattan, p. 70.)

Of Henry Livingston, son of Philip, Kiernan writes (pp. 69-70) that he started his education in New Rochelle, learning French for three years in anticipation of a career in Canada trade. Then he worked in the family’s store in Albany and then 1738-1741 worked in Boston as apprentice to his father’s friend Jacob Wendell. After that his father sent him on the customary Grand Tour of Europe to make further business connections, and then “Henry ultimately settled in the West Indies, where his New York contacts helped him to establish himself in the sugar trade.”

Further business and social connections are suggested in John’s will, in which he leaves substantial amounts of money (as well as some gold rings) not only to his father, siblings, and their children, but also to Ann Reade of New York City and some of her family members (also to Susanna Sperring). His will describes Henry Livingston and Laurence Reade, the brother of Ann Reade, as his “partners.” The most detailed account of John’s death comes in a 1 June 1749 letter from Francis Jones in Bermuda to Livingston and Reade. Further story is suggested in the 1771 will of Joseph Reade, Esq., of New York, who leaves behind a wife Ann (1701-1778, daughter of Philip French, Mayor of New York 1702-1703, and Annetje Philipse, daughter of a rich Dutch merchant) as well as a daughter of the same name, “widow of Gerritt Van Horne”:

(Page 575.) In the name of God, Amen. I, JOSEPH READE, ESQ., of New York, being in good health. I direct all debts to be paid. I leave to my wife Ann £1,000, to be disposed of as she thinks fit. Besides what I have given to my children, I leave to my son, Laurence Reade, a debt he owes to me from him in company with De Witt and Livingston; Also another debt due to me from him in company with Livingston, as they stand charged in my books. I leave to my son Joseph £200; To my son John £500; To my daughter Ann, widow of Gerritt Van Horne, £200; To my daughter Sarah, wife of James De Peyster, a debt due to me from him; To my daughter Mary, wife of Francis Stephens, £200. I leave the use and income of all the rest of my estate to my wife Ann during her life, and then to all my children. Except all mines, minerals, and ores, which I leave to my three sons, Laurence, Joseph, and John. The legacy left to my daughter Sarah is to be put at interest for her during her life, and then to her children. And the same for the legacy of my daughter Mary. My executors may sell all estate, real and personal. I make my wife and sons, executors. Dated March 15, 1769. Witnesses, Gabriel Ludlow, Henry Cuyler, David Clarkson. Proved, August 29, 1771.

(Source of this appears to be New York City Wills, 1766-71, the 1898 volume in a series from the New-York Historical Society collections, which seems to have been skipped over at, which has most of the rest of the series. Print copies can be found on; for an online edition, try here, pp. 414-415. For the 1771-1776 volume, see here. Below is some additional biographical information on the Reade family and their interconnections with the Livingstons and DeWitts, among others; the allusion in Joseph Reade’s will to “mines, minerals, and ores” will probably reveal some further interesting stories. Note that the text above is abstracted from the complete text of the will, which may specify which DeWitt—and Livingston—are involved with Laurence Reade.)

Gerrit Van Horne, who married Anne Reade after John DeWitt died in Bermuda, was a Livingston cousin, according to Wikipedia (which also ties the Livingstons to the Bush family of 20th and 21st century U.S. politics). His mother was Joanna Livingston (1694-1734), who married Cornelius Gerrit Van Horne (1694-1752). Gerrit, like Anne Reade, was born in 1726; they married 22 March 1751. This underlines the suggestion that Anne Reade may have been John DeWitt’s intended when he died in 1749. (The Van Hornes also come up in discussion of slavery; Cornelius Van Horne was a noted slave trader in New York City. See this site’s page on Marritje De Witt for a little more conversation on the topic, though the Van Hornes, their milieu, and their dealings are not themselves the subject of this genealogy.)

The Company We Keep

Some further notes on the Reade family, from Franklin Bradley:

The Reades were in business with Richard Yates; brothers John and Lawrence each had a shop on Wall Street. See Colonial Records of the New York Chamber of Commerce, 1768-1784, p. 395, listing as members of the Chamber of Commerce:

  • Reade, John. Importer of European and India Goods. Shipping. Store corner of Wall Street, fronting Queen Street.
  • Reade & Yates. Lawrence Reade & Richard Yates. Importers of European and East India Goods. Store Wall Street.

For various lots in NYC, see the Bancker collection of New York City property documents 1667-1821, available online at the New York Public Library. A search for “reade” comes up with several properties:

  • Mr. Lawrence Read’s house in Wall Street, b. 12 f. 78, surveyed 16 September 1774 at the request of Joseph Reade, is bordered by King Street and Wall Street. (King Street appears to be a block north of Wall, perhaps where Pine Street is today. Today’s King Street, near Houston, is in a completely different place. In 1774, Lawrence Reade had just died; the survey, probably part of settling the estate, would have been ordered by his brother Joseph, since their father, also Joseph, died in 1771.)
  • Lot b. 7 f. 10 at the corner of Wall Street and Queen Street (Pearl Street today?), is Lawrence Reade’s lot, surveyed 15 August 1774.
  • “Garret Van Horne’s house next to Mrs. Vetch’s 1772 May 26” (b. 13, f. 19) has a note that the survey was for Joseph Reade.
  • Much later, “Mr. Reade’s Lot” on King Street, b. 5 f. 51, described 17 October 1793 as “bounded northerly by King Street . . . westerly by a Gang Way belonging to Richard Yates, southerly by the ground of the said R. Yates.”

Lawrence Reade’s lot at Wall & Pearl Streets puts him squarely in the middle of the waterfront, where ships would unload all manner of cargo, but also conspicuously adjacent to the open-air slave market established by the New York Common Council in 1711, which kept going until 1762 and became the largest market for enslaved laborers in North America other than the one in Charleston, South Carolina. The slave market (which also served as the location for trade in other commodities; it was known as the Meal Market too) is pictured in drawings from the period as being squarely in the middle of Wall Street where it meets the waterfront, which was originally Pearl Street and later Water Street; apparently the market took up most of the last block of Wall Street where it hit the East River.

Thomas Bond, in a 7 June 1769 letter to Benjamin Franklin, referred to Lawrence Reade as “Larry Read”; the letter describes goods that were shipped to him in error and would not fetch the price the owner had hoped for.

Philip Schuyler writes a note to Alexander Hamilton 31 August 1795 that discusses his claims on some land in Cosby Manor in upstate New York near Utica, described thus in the National Archives:

Cosby (or Cosby’s) Manor, or the Cosby Patent, comprised two tracts on either side of the Mohawk River. One tract consisted of “20,000 acres of land, on both sides of the Mohawk river” (towns of Schuyler and Frankfort, in Herkimer County), and the other of “22,000 acres of land, on both sides of the Mohawk river” (towns of Deerfield, Marcy, Utica and New Hartford, in Oneida County) (Calendar of N.Y. Colonial Manuscripts: Indorsed Land Papers; in the Office of the Secretary of State of New York. 1643–1803 [Albany, 1864], 1003).

The National Archives explains that:

Part of Cosby Manor had been sold [in 1765 and 1766] to the American Iron Company, a British concern which before the American Revolution had bought the assets of the Ringwood Company, an important iron producer in northern New Jersey. . . . [By 1795,] the American Iron Company had been bankrupt for more than two decades.”

Apparently Lawrence Reade and Richard Yates were involved in some way with the American Iron Company; see letter described from 3 February 1773 (note 6 here; also see notes 4 and 5, and possibly other notes, for further background).

Lawrence Reade and Richard Yates were described as attorneys in a longstanding (1764-1773) series of warrants of Thomas Gage, commander in chief of the British Army in North America, almost all of which describe payments by him to them for the annual salary of John Stuart, the Agent and Superintendent of Indian Affairs (ASIA), Southern District (in Florida and Alabama?).

With specific reference to patterns of living in the Caribbean, see the will of Laurence Reade, of New York, merchant, “but at present [1773] in London,” where he describes “a free mulatto woman on the Island of Jamaica, whose name is Mary Barrow, who has three children called after me, by the [surname] of Reade, one Sarah Reade born in 1748, Laurence, born 1750, and now a writer to the African Company, at Cape Coast Castle, in Africa, and the other Anne Reade, born 1759.” He leaves to each of these children £300. By comparison, to whichever of his brothers marries first, he leaves £500 each, and to his mother, who he admits “has no occasion for my assistance,” he leaves £800. The will goes on to free “All my slaves," with a token 6 guineas to be given to one named Priam.

This will tells us more about Larry Reade: Yes, he has a shop and property in Manhattan, but he apparently spent enough time in Jamaica also to have fathered three children there, in 1748, 1750, and 1759. He also travels to London. So he is not just a static merchant with a trade network; he travels himself and probably spends substantial time in other locations (perhaps with real estate there as well). We also see that, like John DeWitt, he mentions no wife in his will, but leaves substantial amounts to family members. His relationship with “a free mulatto woman” is apparently one he is willing to acknowledge and describe officially, but not in terms of husband and wife. (Nor does he explicitly say the children are his.) He and John DeWitt appear to have been in Jamaica at the same time, and we can imagine that, as business partners, they may have followed similar social patterns.

(The will, dated 6 November 1773, is witnessed by a few Londoners but also Cornelius Van Horne, of New York; it was proved in New York 6 September 1774, “upon the oath of Cornelius Van Horne, mariner.” A note in the 1900 edition adds that Reade “died on the road from London to Bath” 4 December 1773, and locates his house and lot in Manhattan “on the north side of Wall Street [now No. 50], next to the house of William Marston, which was the east corner of William Street. The lot was 48 feet wide and extended to King [now Pine] street.” See Abstracts of Wills on File in the Surrogate’s Office: City of New York, Volume VIII, 1771-1776; New-York Historical Society Vol. XXXII, 1900, pp. 243-245 [from p. 318 of Book 29 in the original collection].)


Scans are courtesy of Matthew Ten Eyck DeWitt Family Collection

1743 bill of passage for goods from John DeWitt of New York to Jamaica

John DeWitt Will 30 May 1749

Letter from Henry Livingston in Kingston, Jamaica, to Captain Tjerck DeWitt in Esopus, New York, 8 July 1749

(Also extant: 4 letters, several pages each, in Dutch, from John in Manhattan and then Kingston, Jamaica, to his father Captain Tjerck in Esopus, dated 1743-1747, and various other letters, including from Francis Jones, who describes the maladies leading to John’s death)

Letters in Dutch:

25 June 1743 from John in Manhattan to Captain Tjerck in Esopus

10 October 1743 from John in Kingston, Jamaica, to Captain Tjerck in Esopus

1 January 1744 from John in Kingston, Jamaica, to Captain Tjerck in Esopus

11 May 1747 from John in Kingston, Jamaica, to Captain Tjerck in Esopus


Information is from Mary Veldran DeWitt’s “The DeWitt Genealogy: Descendants of Tjereck Claessen DeWitt of Ulster County, New York.”

Further notes from Andries and Jannetje DeWitt Bible (not available in print, but see photos at link above and on Andries’ page), courtesy of the Matthew Ten Eyck DeWitt Family Collection.

Further documents from the Matthew Ten Eyck DeWitt Family Collection

Baptismal and Marriage Registers of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston, Ulster County, New York (formerly named Wiltwyck, and often familiarly called Esopus or ’Sopus), for One Hundred and Fifty Years from their commencement in 1660. Transcribed and edited by Roswell Randall Hoes, Chaplain U.S.N., corresponding secretary of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, etc. New York 1891; available today from Higginson Book Co., Salem, Mass., 508-745-7170. Detailed information about baptisms has been filled in through the end of 1687, marriages through 1701. More information is available. Records begin 1660. Other baptisms may have taken place in Hurley and other locations nearby; also from time to time itinerant ministers would travel through and perform various rites, not always entered in the books. This is available online at

Thomas Grier Evans, The De Witt Family of Ulster County, New York (reprinted from the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, October 1886), New York: Trow’s Printing and Bookbinding Co., 201-213 East Twelfth Street, 1886. Available online from

Abstracts of Wills on File in the Surrogate’s Office: City of New York, Volume VIII, 1771-1776; New-York Historical Society Vol. XXXII, 1900, pp. 243-245 (from p. 318 of Book 29 in the original collection).

Traders and Gentlefolk: The Livingstons of New York 1675-1790, by Cynthia A. Kierner (1992, Cornell University Press)

Last Modified: Tuesday, July 4, 2023

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