Thura Truax Hires wrote:**
While there has been so much written regarding the Mayflower and the landing of the Pilgrims in New England in 1620, little has been said regarding the permanent settlement of New York City (then New Amsterdam) in 1624 by a body of Walloons who came that year in the ship New Netherland. Had the list of those sailing from Holland to this country on that ship not been lost the name of the New Netherland would be as famous as the Mayflower. It is now quite definitely known that among those who sailed on the New Netherland was Philippe du Trieux with his wife, Susanna du Chesne, and their children. Philippe du Trieux was probably born at Roubaix, France, in 1586 and is the progenitor of all the Truaxes and Truexes in this country.
MEMO FROM BELGIUM*
The nation of Belgium is extremely proud of the role our ancestors and their companions played in 1624 as settlers of what was to become New York. In a continuing publication entitled, "Belgium At the Heart of Europe", much attention is given to the Walloons who left to seek sanctuary from religious persecution, the benefits to Holland derived from these Walloons, and the circumstances of settling New Amsterdam.
Officials in Brussels have been most cooperative in providing information of the past. So much information is available. Herein are excerpts from "Memo from Belgium" published in 1976 to commemorate America's 200th birthday. This tells the story of how Jesse De Forest and families such as ours with boldness, pride and a touch of arrogance maneuvered to leave Holland as a group.
They first petitioned England for transportation, land and human rights as freemen to the colony of Virginia. When this faltered, they set their eye on land along the Amazon River in South America. Jesse died there. Then, they cut their deal with the West India Company to settle in New Amsterdam. It should be noted that they did not board the "Nieu Nederlandt" until Holland had officially spelled out and published their rights to be freemen. Here is Belguim's version of the story:
WALLON PROTESTANT FAMILIES IN LEYDEN AND JESSE DE FOREST THE PETITION OF 1621*
In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, many Protestants from the Southern Low Countries (present-day Belguim) sought refuge in the Northern Provinces of the Netherlands. As these provinces had broken away from Spain, the Reformed Religion could be freely practiced there.
A party of Walloons belonging to the Reformed Church, coming from the Avesnes-Valenciennes-Lille region in the Counties of Hainaut and Flanders, settled in Leyden around this time. Their homeland was later to be separated from our provinces by the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659), that of Aix-la-Chapelle (1658) and the Treaty of Nijmegen (1678).
There must have been a fair number of these Belgians, because by 1584 a Walloon Church had been founded in Leyden. Hence it was possible for our fellow-countrymen to practice their religion in complete freedom and in their own language.
Between 1608 and 1615 a newcomer came to settle in Leyden: this was Jesse de Forest, born around 1575 at Avesnes-surHelpe, which is located today in France (Department du Nord), but at that period Avesnes was part of the County of Hainaut.
He undertook a propaganda campaign in favor of emigration to Virginia among his Walloon compatriots and a few Frenchmen living in Leyden. On 19 July 1621, Jesse sought an audience of Sir Dudley Careton, the English Ambassador to the Hague. He brought with him a petition drawn up in French and signed by 56 would-be Walloon and Protestant emigrants towns and localities of Virginia.
The Company's reply, given in London on 11 August 1621, reached Jesse De Forest is companions shortly after that date. It must certainly have come as a disappointment to them. The "round robin" remains, therefore, an unrealized emigration plan by Protestant Walloons, natives of our ancient provinces, who hoped to settle in the English colony of Virginia. Even so, the document is of capital importance to any history of the origins of New York, because most of the Families listed therein later settled on the site of the future American metropolis and in its immediate vicinity.
As for Jesse de Forest who initiated the project, he died in South America without ever having set foot on the North American continent.
THE WEST INDIA COMPANY JESSE APPLIES TO THE NEW BODY*
At the time when Jesse was presenting his Petition to be allowed to emigrate to Virginia, another project was materializing, the initiative for which was due to a Protestant from Antwerp, Willem Usselinx who, like so many of his fellow-countrymen, had fled to Holland. In fact, on 3 June 1621, a concession by the States-General of the United Provinces instituted the West-Indische Champagne, which obtained a monopoly of navigation and trade with the West Indies -- virtually the whole of America -- and part of Africa. However, because of the difficulty of raising sufficient capital, the new company did not actually commence operations until the middle of the year 1623. One of the matters which had preoccupied Willem Usselinx for many years -- since before 1600 in fact -- was the creation of permanent settlements. The new company was to accomplish that purpose.
After receiving the unsatisfactory reply furnished by the English Virginia Company, Jesse de Forest turned to the Dutch company. On 9 February 1622, the English ambassador in the Hague handed the Dutch Government a note of protest in the name of the King of England, concerning the activities of the Hollanders in Niew Nederland. The English claimed that this region was part of their own territory of Virginia, and that consequently it belonged to His Britannic Majesty.
While the States-General and the States-Provincial of Holland were meeting to discuss the British note, on 15 April 1622 Usselinx secured agreement to the appointment of a commission to proceed with the organization of the West India Company. The Dutch had absolutely no intention of relinquishing Niew Nederland, and it is quite likely that Usselinx, in pursuit of the theory dearest to his heart, was strongly avocation the establishment of permanent colonies in the New World.
Jesse de Forest must have got wind of what was going on. Availing himself of what he considered to be a good opportunity, he offered his services and those of his compatriots to the Dutch company, pointing out very astutely that a group of families skilled in all trades had been given a chance to emigrate to Virginia on behalf of the English, but that they preferred to leave on behalf of the West-Indische Champagne. His offer was made on a "take it or leave it" basis. Indeed, the Resolutions adopted by the States-Provincial of Holland on 20 April 1622 tell us that : "that here in this land were divers families of every trade, and these had been solicited by the English that they should let themselves be transported to Virginia, the which people however would rather allow themselves to be employed by the West India Company".
The States of Holland, realizing the importance of Jesse's offer to their forthcoming attempts at colonization, that same day asked for the opinion of who, with their families, represented about 227 people. This document, which is known as the "round robin", is still preserved in the Public Records Office in London. The signatures of 56 petitioners are arranged in a circle, or rather in the shape of an ellipse, hence the name given to the documents. Each signature is followed by a note stating whether the signatory is married or a bachelor how many children he has, and his trade or profession. We find carpenters, sawyers, farmers, brass-founders, dyers, drapers, brewers, weavers, printers, and even an apothecary, a surgeon, and a student of theology. In a word, all the trades needed to found a colony that would be viable and self-sufficient were to be found among the signatories.
To this first sheet was annexed another setting out the conditions laid down by the Walloons. In sever clauses, they express the desire to found a colony on a territory measuring "eight English miles all around it, namely; sixteen miles in diameter" which shall be completely autonomous, and where they shall even be to provide for their own defense. They also propose to supply a ship at their own expense, but on condition that the English company shall provide a second vessel for their journey.
These seven clauses were drawn up by Jesse de Forest and bear his signature alone.
The Virginia Company in London, to whom the Ambassador forwarded the petition, did not reject it out of hand. There was an agreement in principle, but the English Government objected to the cost involved in chartering a ship for the emigrants. But undoubtedly the most serious factor was that the Walloon families would not be allowed to remain together and form a single autonomous colony. They were to be split up into small groups scattered among the main the Directors of the West India Company who were meeting at The Hague at that time: "to examine to what might therein be accomplished in the service of the West India Company". Already on the following day, 21 April 1622, the Directors decided unanimously in favor of the offer, and so replied. The Company promised to "employ" our fellow-countrymen in founding a colony in the West Indies, that is: in America (either North or South). But our Walloons would have to wait until after the election of the "Bewindhebbers". This took place in October 1622. But before that date, Jesse had already submitted a request to the States-General. He asked permission to enroll families or colonists belonging to the Reformed Religion who were prepared to leave for the West Indies on behalf of the Company. On 27 August 1622, the States-General officially authorized "Jesse de Forest" to enroll all families having the requisite qualifications so that they could be transported to the West Indies in order to be of service to the country. The families recruited by Jesse would therefore be able to immigrate to America. No information was given regarding the region to which they were to be taken.
CHANGE IN THE COLONISATION PLANS OF THE WEST INDIA COMPANY THE BEGINNINGS OF NEW YORK*
On 3 November 1623, during Jesse's absence (then in South America) and before the Pigeon returned home, the West India Company was contemplating sending a ship to Virginia (Niew Nederland) in order to take over the trade carried on since 1614 by the free traders and there after manage it for the Company's benefit. for trading purposes, the ship could transport five or six of the colonists' families. The merchants or their agents who were still in Niew Nederland would be brought back with their goods as freight on the return journey.
The idea of transporting settlers' families -- which we assume to be the Walloon families of Jesse de Forest's party -- to the New York region, was already being studied by the Company.
In Februsary 1624, Nicolaes van Wassenaer reports the West India Company's decision to establish a colony in Niew Nederland. The States-General of the United Provinces, he said, considers that the population increase in their country and the growing interest in emigration authorizes the West India Company to found colonies in Niew Nederland. Wassenaer then goes on to mention the merchants who have traded for several years with theNew York region, and who have even built a fort there ('t Fort Nassau) on an island off the north bank of the Hudson, at 42 degrees (of latitude North) near the site of the future town of Albany. This fort has been abandoned because there was some question of establishing a settlement in the region, among the "Maikans" people.
After a fairly long digression on the local tribes, Wassenaer tells us that the Company, wishing to establish a colony in that territory, had already fitted out a ship to carry families.
In April 1624, Wassenaer returns to the subject of colonies, and pays tributed to the "Bewinthebberen" of the West India Company because they have decided to found settlements -- which, we think, is proof that so far the company had not implemented any plans to populate the territory. After this introduction, the Amsterdam doctor tells us that the first party of emigrants which the West India compay has sent out to Niw Nederland in order to found a colony is being carried by theship "Niew Nederland" of 130 "last" or 260 tons burthen, under the command of Cornelis Jacobsz May of Hoorn. It consists of 30 families, most of them Walloons. Who have seen that already in April 1622, the Company had promised to place the party of Walloon would-be emigrants recruited by Jesse de Forest in a settlement to be founded in the West Indies. On 27 August 1622, the States General had officially authorized Jesse to recruit for the West Indies all those families belonging to the Reformed Religion which had the requisite qualifications and skills for the foundation of a colony. Now, the men who signed the "round robin" (July 1621), namely: The Walloon Protestant families in Leyden, were the ideal recruits for such a scheme. By the end of 1623, Jesse counted on establishing some Leyden families in Guyana, and this again brings us back to the 1621 group. After Jess's departure, the company's plans were altered, and towards November 1623 already quoted states textually: "V of VI familien vin de colonen". This precise tem "de colonen" can only apply to the actual group of families officially engaged by the Company right back in August 1622. So, again, it was from the members of this group that the Walloons were recruited who formed the majority of 30 families that sailed in March 1624. We do not know the names of those who sailed, but they must doubtless be sought among those who were not awaiting the return of a loved one already in Guyana, and who were in a difficult situation as a result.
To sum up: the first settlers who left in 1624 to found a colony in the State of New York were for the most part Walloons who had originally come from our ancient Belgian princedoms, who had settled in Leyden, and who had been recruited by Jesse de Forest.
WHEN DID THE SHIP "NIEW NEDERLAND" LEAVE?*
During the month of March 1624. According to Wassenaer, at the beginning of March; according to the instructions handed to the settlers, at the end of March. This document, which has only been accessible to historians since 1924, tells us that the colonists who went on board the "Niew Nederland" had sworn to obey their orders. The oath was officially administered on board the ship, on 30 March 1624. Clause 5 imposes the use of the Dutch language for all official documents, which is additional proof that most of the emigrants were Walloons. as for the exact date of departure, we may assume that the ship hoisted sail a few hours after the oath-taking, probably later that same day (30 March).
It was an easy run, and the "Niew Nederland reached the mouth of the Hudson after seven or eight weeks sailing, which brings us to the second half of May. IN the Hudson River the Dutch ship found itself alongside a French vessel which had come to take possession of the territory in the name of the King of France. With the help of the crew of the "yacht" De Makereel lying not far off, the French ship was driven off. Meanwhile, the colonists were landed on Manhattan Island (the site of New York) where the apportionment of land took place.
In May 1624, the site of the future city of New York was formally occupied in the name of the West India Company. The eight men who settled there permanently laid the foundations of the great American metropolis. As most, if not all, of the colonists who arrived in May 1624 were Walloons, it is permissible to state the Walloons were among the founders of New York.
Alluding the 1624 emigrants, Baudartius says that in August of that year a ship from Niew Nederland returned to Holland bringing several letters written by the 1624 emigrants to their friends and relations. The text he reproduces of a typical letter shows how satisfied the colonists were in the future State of New York; a pleasant, fertile region yielding abundant produce, game and fish for the taking, good soil, security where the Indians were concerned. They only acked cattle, pigs and other comestible animals (which they were expecting to receive from Holland shortly). Anyone wishing to come here with his family would have no cause to regret it. Baudartius adds that these letters influenced many families to make up their minds and leave for Niew Nederland: "firmly believing they will live there in luxury and ease". To live in the midst of plenty without having to work, the eternal dream of all emigrants". By the end of the year 1624, everybody in Holland was firmly convinced that the Niew Nederland colony had got off to a flying start.
Research has shown that (there are) an abundance of places known as "Trieu" or "Trieux", generally situated in the province of Hainaut. There are some in the north of France, too. The name Du Trieux (in various forms) is not rare in Belgium."
Source: Letter dated 28 February 1981 from the Belgian Institute of Information & of Documentation.
FROM THE TRIBES OF EASTERN EUROPE*
Some ten thousand years ago, a number of tribes from Eastern Europe settled in the territory which is now Belgium. They were succeeded by the "Belgae", who were the rearguard of the Celts and who occupied the area a between the Seine and the Rhine.<br><br>The roman ear began in 57 B.C. It took Julius Caesar five years to conquer the Belgian tribes. The "Pax Romana" led to the creation of roads and townships, the establishment of ad administrative network as well as economic and agricultural reforms. Christianity first reached "Belgian Gaul" in the 4th Century but only began to flourish there in the 6th and 7th Centuries.
It was the Frankish invasion in the 5th Century, which was the origin of the Belgian "linguistic frontier". The Northern part of the country was not occupied by the Romans, and the Franks, who spoke a Germanic language, left their mark on the area.
Source: "Belgium at the Heart of Europe"
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