From Ulster County Wills

From Ulster County, N. Y., Probate Records, In the Office of the Surrogate, and in the County Clerk’s Office at Kingston, N. Y., compiled, abstracted and translation by Gustave Anjou, Ph. D., 1906. Privately published (?) in New York, but available at genealogical libraries (NYPL and others). Subtitle: “A careful abstract and translation of the Dutch and English wills, letters of administration after intestates, and inventories from 1665, with genealogical and historical notes, and list of Dutch and Frisian baptismal names with their English equivalents.” Introduction by Judge A[lphonso] T[rumpbour] Clearwater, LL.D. This is available in reprinted form. Note that there are two distinct volumes included in this work, sometimes combined into one physical book.

The wills are interesting by themselves, but what makes this book a valuable resource is the extensive notes that follow, in many cases quite thorough and apparently well researched.

It is worth noting that Gustave Anjou’s credibility has been seriously questioned. I have been fortunate enough to be able to compare Anjou’s transcriptions with the manuscript originals in the Ulster County Clerk’s office (available in their entirety on microfilm for a fairly low price), and I can say that Anjou’s transcriptions are faithful, although one could quibble with some of the readings of individual words or letters. More significant, Anjou leaves one of Tjerck’s sons (Jacob) out of his record, probably an inadvertent result of editing excerpts from the original. Anjou also misunderstands the date of the will, which he lists as March 4, 1687; the Dutch original spells out March 4, 1697/8, which matches better the habit of writing a will only when death appears quite close. It is unusual among New York colonial wills to find a document prepared a decade or more in advance of a person’s death. (For more complete discussion of New York dating systems in the late 17th century, see Wikipedia on Old Style/New Style dating. March 4, 1697, in the British Empire, which at the time still used the Old Style, Julian calendar, would be March 4, 1698, in the New Style, Gregorian calendar in use today.) Tjerck died in February 1700/1, just shy of three years after writing his will.

Wiard Hinrichs, a tireless researcher in Germany, was gracious enough to provide a transcription of the complete documents., including the complete “Long religious preamble,” in which Tjerck (among other remarks) acknowledges that his “temporal estate” includes “land, houses, negroes, goods, horses, animals, debts, gold, silver minted and unminted,” which “de Heere [the Lord]” has seen fit to give him “verre boven myn verdiensten [far above my merits].” This confirms that Tjerck considered himself the owner, when he wrote his will, of at least more than one slave, and probably an ample number. The Anjou book includes specific mention of only one, and the will does not go into detail on the others, but even this much is at least a helpful addition to understanding better Tjerck Claessen DeWitt’s participation in the practice of claiming ownership of other human beings as property. Subsequent generations perpetuated this practice, to various degrees, until it became illegal in New York State in 1827.

After I got to take a peek at scans of the Ulster County Clerk’s copies of the will, through great good fortune, Mark Saunders, in Albany, New York, came upon a separate copy of Tjerck’s will in a collection of old family DeWitt memorabilia. The copy in the Ulster County Clerk’s office would have been a copy made for the court, on court-sized paper, by the court copyist, in the copyist’s handwriting, showing the locations of signatures and seals, but all in the copyist’s hand, not the writing of the original signers. The copy Mark Saunders has is on a much larger sheet, and probably was made as one of a set of several, at the same time as Tjerck Claessen drew up the will in 1686. My guess is that several identical copies were made at the same time. One of them would have been the official original, probably with wax seals and notarial confirmations on it. Other identical paper copies would have been available for the convenience of anyone who needed one for other records or transactions. (For example, when Zacharias Hoffman went back to Europe in 1704 to close out the North American heirs’ entitlement to Tjerck’s original family farm near Esens, he probably took a copy of this will, as well as some others, together with notarized powers of attorney, for the court over there to inspect, by way of verifying that he truly represented the complete list of surviving heirs of the estate.) Mark Saunders appears to have one of these original copies. It appears to match the Ulster County Clerk’s official handwritten copy, letter for letter.

The will is described on p. 4 of the Thomas Grier Evans genealogy of the DeWitt family, with excerpts from a translation “kindly furnished by George G. De Witt, Esq., of New York City.” Evans reports terms that match what Anjou details below; he notes the will is “recorded in the Ulster County Clerk’s office in Kingston, in Book AA of Deeds, p. 252, and in the New York Surrogate’s Office, Lib. 7 of Wills, p. 601.” Evans also notes that after Barbara died on 6 July 1714, and the estate was finally divided, the certificate was recorded in Ulster County in Book BB of Deeds, p. 513, on 25 April 1716.

The following is taken from Volume I, “Exhaustive Indexes of Persons and Localities, Fac-Similes of Wills, etc.,” pages 56-58 (Tjerck) and 54-55 (Jan):

Book of Deeds, Liber I.

Folio 252.—DE WITT, TJERCK CLAESE, of Kingston

Will dated March 4, 1687, and written in Dutch. [Corrected year: 1697/8]

(Long religious preamble, similar to previous wills.) “Myn huysvrouw Barbara d’ Widt sall blyven in posessie van myn geheele staet om geduerende haer Leeven.” (My wife, B. de W., shall continue in possession of my whole estate, as long as she lives).

“Aen myn oudste Soon Andres de Widt” “de gerechte twaelfde part van myn geheele Staet, en dat myn voorsch. soon na het overlyden van myn voors. huysvrouw, sall hebben en genieten voor hem” “de gerechte helft van all t’ Lant, huysing, etc. myn soebehoorende Mils gehouden naelselve by onpartydige parsonen op Eedt gepryseert is, uyt te Keeren en betalen aen myn andere Erfgenaemen als haer volgens dien Sullen Compiteeren ook so heb ick ’t landt van Cocksinck betaelt en Naederlant Een grandt van de goveneur en Raeden van deese proventie voor Een groot bedeelte, geobtineert alsmede een stuck Landt omtrendt de Klyne Soopis in Compagnie met Wm. de Meyer gecoght Welcke Lande van Korcksinck en Klyne Esoopeis ick hebbe gegeven aen myn voors. Soon en Confermeere tselve sonder dat hy gehouden Sall syn Jetwes voor ’tselve aen myn andere Erfgenaeme te betalen.” (To my oldest son, A. de W., 1/12 of my estate, and after the decease of my wife one half of all the land, houses, my mill, etc., to be appraised by impartial witnesses, he to pay my other heirs whatever they may appraise it to. I have paid for my land at C., and also obtained a grant from the Governor and Council of this Province, as well as purchased a piece of land near the Little Esopus in company with Wm. de Mayer, which land I have given to my said son, and which conveyance I hereby confirm; he not to be obliged to pay anything further for said land to my other heirs).

“Aen myn Jongste soon Tjerck de Widt” “de gerechte twaelfde part van myn geheele Staet en dat myn voors. Soon na het overlyden van myn voors. huysvrouw sall hebben en genieten” “de geregte helft van all ’t lant huysing Etc.” (To my youngest son, T. de W., 1/12 of my entire estate, and after my wife’s decease one half of all the land, houses, etc.).

“Myn Soon Jan de Widt” “de geregte twaelfde part van myn geheele State op maniere als boven ook dat myn voors. Soon uyt de penningen myn Competeerende weegens Koop van Landt Sall genieten vyf hondert
This is entered exactly as it is written in the book, but I suspect the phrase marked in blue is an inadvertent repetition.
Competeerende weegens Koop van Landt Sall genieten vyf hondert Schepels tarwe.” (My son J. de W. 1/12 of my whole estate, as above, and out of the money due me for sale of land, 500 schepels of wheat).

[Here the Anjou transcription extract leaves out “myn soon Jacob de Witt,” who also is supposed to receive 500 schepels of wheat from the land sale.]

“My son Luycias D Witt” “de gerechte twaelfde Part van myn geheele Staet” “ook so hebbe ick Een Sloep getimmert de voorlede Jaer de helft van voors. Sloep is en Sall Syn ten behoeven” (My son. L. de Witt, 1/12 of my estate, and half interest in a sloop which I built last year).

“Aen myn Soon Dieck d Witt” “de gerechte twaelfde part van myn geheele Staet.” “Aen myn dogter Tjatje huysvrouw van Mattys Mattyson” “de gerechte twaelfde part van myn geheele Staet.” “Aen myn dogter Jannetie huysvrouw van Cornelis Swetts de gerechte twaelfde part” (to son D., daughter T., wife of M. M., and daughter J., wife of C. S., 1/12 part of the entire estate each) “met dese Conditie dat Indien myn voors. Dogter quam te overlijden Sonder Kindere” “voors. portie Sall Syn Ten behoeve van myn Erfgenamen om Egaelyck” “gedeelt Te Werden” (on condition that if my daughter should die, leaving no children, her portion shall be equally divided among my other heirs).

“Aen myn dogter Geertruy” “de gerechte twaelfde part van myn geheele Staet, “ock soo heift myn voors. dogter een Negerinn” “in possessie myn toe behoerende Welch ick begeere Sall Syn ten behoeren van myn voors. dogter” (to my daughter G. 1/12 part of my whole estate, and the negress which she now has in her possession).

“Aen myn dogter Ragel” “de gerechte twaelfde part van myn geheele Staet” “mitsdat gekort sal werden uyt myn voors. dogters portie tot benifitie van myn Erfgenamen Een hondert pondts die myn voors. dogters man Cornelis Bogardus Schuldigh Aen myn is voor Een Aghule van Een bercken tyn Aen him vercoght” (to my daughter R. 1/12 of my whole estate, less £100, which my said daughter’s husband, C. B., owes me for 1/8 interest in a brigantine, which I sold him) “dogh begeerende dat t’ Kind van voors. Bogardus met naeme Barbara Sall genieten nye voors. hondert pondt vyftigh Stuck van aghten” (the child of said B., called Barbara, to have 50 pieces of eight out of said £100).

“Aen myn dogter Maritie” “de gerechte twaelfde part van myn geheele Staet.” “Aen myn dogter Aegie” “degerechte twaelfde part van myn geheele Staet.” (To daughters M. and A. 1/12 part each).

“Indien Eeniege van myn voors. Erfge. in haere onmondighyt quamen to overlyden dat als dan desselfs portie onder myn Erfgenamen Eegaelyk sall gedeelt werden.” (If anyone of my heirs should die during their minority, such portion shall be equally divided among my other heirs).

“Huysvrouw Barbara de Witt” appointed executrix. Signed by the testator, and witnessed by

Jacob Rutsen Abraham Lamater W. D. Meyer.

Abr. Lamater & Wm. de Meyer of Kingston, appeared, March 6, 1700/1 before Jacob Rutsen, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, proving the will. (A true copy examined with the original by Ruth Bleeker, Clark).

(Tjerck Claesse De Witt, from Grootholdt, in Zunderland, m. in New Amsterdam, Apr. 24, 1656, Barbara Andriessen, from Amsterdam. A sister of T. C. De W., Emmerentie De Witt, m. at New Amsterdam, in 1662, Martinus Hoffman. His brother, Jan Claetz De Witt, made his will March 31, 1699 (q.v.).—He had in 1661 a brother-in-law, Jan Alberse in Beverwyck, and another, Pieter Janse, in Oosterbemis, in East Friesland, Holland.—Had in 1661 land there, which he had inherited from his father, from which he was receiving rents.—His widow, Barbara De Witt, died July 6, 1714, and the property was appraised, in accordance with the provisions in the will. (See Ulster Co. Deeds).—T. C. de W. died in Kingston, Febr. 17, 1700.—On June 25, 1657, Tjerck Claessen (De Witt) appeared before Johannes La Montagne, Deputy at Fort Orange, declaring that he had conveyed to Carsten Claessen and Jan Barensen (Wemys) 180 guilders to be paid in merchantable beavers, growing out of the sale of a stallion, at public sale, of which Jan Roeloffse remained the last bidder. (Albany Co. Rec.).—On Sept. 10, 1660, Madame Johanna De Laldt and her husband, Hon. Jeronimus Ebbinck granted to T. C. (De Witt), inhabitant of the Colony of Rensselarswyck two pieces of land in Esopus, the north field comprising 35 morgens 155 rods, the other adjoining the west side 35 morgens 110 rods, in exchange for which T. C. has given his house 20 feet long and with a passage 30 feet broad, and lot 10 rods and 29 feet long, in Beverwyck, adjoining on the east side the street, on the west the garden of Henderick Anderiessen and Lambert Van Neeck, and on the south by the house of Hendrick de Backer (Ibid.).—Tjerck C. de W. and Heymanse Roos are to be punished if they continue to oppose authority.—Letter from Dir. Stuyvesant, July 30, 1663 (Dutch MSS., Corr., xv, p. 48).—On June 25, 1672, T. C. de W. had a deed from Gov. Lovelace, for a parcel of bush land, together with a house, lot, orchard, and calves’ pasture, lying near Kingston, in Esopus (N. Y. Land Papers, Albany, L, p. 46).—On Oct. 8, 1677, he had a deed from Gov. Andros for a piece of woodland of about 50 acres, at Esopus, to ye west of the towne (Ibid., p. 128).—On May 14, 1694, he petitioned for an order for survey of 280 acres of land purchased of the Indians at Coxinke (English MSS., xxxix, p. 160).—On the Patent of T. C. de W., near the confluence of the Mombackus and Rondout Kills, stood, for a long time, a sycamore tree, in which had been cut a man’s face, carved to commemorate a battle fought near the spot, Mombakkus (silent head from ’mom’, silent, and ’bak or bakkus’, head), which was named thereafter.—Tjerck C. de Witt’s will is also recorded in N. Y. Sur. Office, Liber 7, p. 601, under Dirck Claas De Witt (wife Barbara).

They had issue: i. Andries, m. March 7, 1682, Jannetje Egbertsen (bt. N. Y. Jan. 11, 1664, d. Nov. 23, 1733, d. of Egbert Meindertse & Jaepe Jans). Captain Andries was accidentally killed, July 22, 1710; ii. Taatje, b. Albany ab. 1659, carried off by the Indians at the burning of Kingston, 1663, but rescued, m. 1677, Matthys Mattysen Van Keuren, s. of Matthys Jansen & Marg. Hendrickse; iii. Jannetje, bt. Febr. 12, 1662, m. Cornelis Swits (q.v.); iv. Klaes, bt. Febr. 17, 1664; v. Jan, bt. Febr. 14, 1666, m. Wyntje Kierstede, d. of Roeloff K. & Ikee (Anghe) Roosa, d. of Albert Heymanse R. (q.v.); vi. Geertruy, bt. Oct 15, 1668, m. March 24, 1688, Hendrick Hendricksen Schoonmaker (see Hendrick Jochem S.); vii. Jacob, m. before March 1, 1696, Grietje Vernooy, d. of Cornelius V. & Annatje Cornelis (q.v.); viii. Rachel, m. Cornelis Bogardus, (s. of Cornelis B. & Helena Teller); ix. Lucas, m. Dec. 22, 1695, Annatje Delva (d. of Anthony D. & Jannetje Hillebrants (q.v.); x. Peek, m. 1., Jan. 2, 1698, Marytje Janse Vanderberg, of Albany, and 2., Dec. 21, 1723, Maria Teunis, widow of Jacob De Mott; xi. Tjerck; xii. Marritje, m. 1., Nov. 3, 1700, Hendrick Hendricksen Kortright, s. of Hendrick Jansen (K.), and Catharina Hansen Webber, and 2., Sept. 6, 1702, Jan Macklin; xii. Aagje, bt. Jan. 14, 1684, m. Aug. 23, 1712, Jan Pawling (bt. Oct. 2, 1681, s. of Henry Pawling & Neeltje Roosa, d. of Albert Heymanse R.), rem. to Phila.)

Page 215.—DE WITT, JAN CLAETZ, of Amsterdam in Hollandt.

Will dated March 31, 1699, and written in Dutch.

“Myn Neef Evart Bogardus en Myn Nicht Tialie Bogardus
Jan and Tjerck’s sister, Emmerentje Claessen DeWitt, married Martin Hoffman (see notes above and elsewhere). Her daughter Taatie (probably named after the mother of all three DeWitts) married Evert Bogardus in Kingston. This would appear to be the nephew and niece to whom Jan refers. Nicholas Hoffman here would be another of Emmerentje’s children. Jan was also godfather to at least one of Tjerck’s children.
Sal hebben en genieten Alles wat Ick hier in America heb” (my nephew, E. B., and my niece, T. B., shall have all that I have here in America) on condition that they “Sal geven en Leveren Aen Nicholas Hofman myn neef Vyfen twentigh Stuck van Achten (give and deliver to N. H., my nephew, 25 pieces of eight (an old Dutch coin).”—“De kinderen van myn Suster Tialie Heerekeus Sal hebben Myn gehull Staet die Ick In’ Hollandt heb, Roerende en onroerende (the children of my sister, T. H., shall have all my real estate and personal property in Holland). Signed by the testator, and witnessed by

Stephen Gacherie
Mellyse Vlecht.

Jacob Aertse, Justice of the peace, Stephen Gacherie & Mallyse Vlecht appeared before Arie Gerritse & Roeloff Swartwout, Justice of the peace, June 26, 1699, proving the will.

(Jan Claessen De Witt was a brother of Tjerck Claasen De Witt (q.v.), and died unmarried. [Note: Anjou said he died unmarried, but Jan actually married in Amsterdam in 1670 and appears to have kept a house there, on Reguliersdwarstraat, at least until the death of his wife in 1696. No record of any children has been found to date in 2020. After his wife died, Jan apparently returned to Kingston, N.Y., where he wrote his will and died in 1699. For more details on his wife and where he lived in Amsterdam, likely together with his sister Grietie and her family, at least until she died in 1675, see my page on Tjerck Claessen. Eventually these notes, primarily from the records at the Staatsarchief in Amsterdam, will be put on Jan’s page where they belong, but I haven’t moved them over there yet, as of September 2020.])

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