Biographical Sketches of All The Magistrates of New Amsterdam 1653-1678 Part II

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Paulus Leendersen Vandiegrist

Schepen in 1653, 1654.
Burgomaster in 1657, 1658, 1661, 1664

This citizen, who was a prominent public man in his day, was, upon his first visit to these shores, a captain in the merchant service. We find his name among property-holders as early as the year 1644. In 1646, Vandiegrist commanded one of four ships, forming the fleet which conducted Gov. Stuyvesant hither.

Stuyvesant appointed him naval agent, and Captain Vandiegrist took up his permanent abode in this city, and commenced business as a trader. He owned a sloop, (sailed by Frederick Hendrickson,) in which he navigated the waters, adjacent to New Amsterdam, on trading expeditions. He likewise kept a store of general merchandise, consisting of dry goods, groceries, agricultural products, etc. His residence and place of business in the city, was in Broadway, opposite the Bowling Green, and, as was usual with all citizens in comfortable circumstances in those days, he likewise had a farm on this island a short distance from the city, from which much of his family stores were produced.

Captain Vandiegrist was frequently called upon, in times of trouble, for his personal aid in military expeditions. In 1647, Stuyvesant procured his services in cutting out an English vessel, which had been covertly trading in Dutch waters, and being pursued, had taken refuge in the harbor of New Haven.

In 1655 a party of savages, consisting of Mohegans, Pachamis, and others, estimated at nearly 2000 in number, landed one morning before daybreak, at this city. Scattering themselves through the town, they pretended to be looking for certain Indians from the north; but, in reality their design was vengeance for the death of a squaw, who had been killed by the Dutch Attorney General Van Dyck, for stealing peaches in his garden. The people on awaking, gathered together in the fort, and thence sent to ask the Indians why so many came armed in the city. The savages explained their motive, and demanded satisfaction. The townspeople at last prevailed on them to go out of town, and they accordingly retired about sun-down, though under exasperated feelings, to Nutten Island (now called Governor's Island,) to stay the night. But soon they were seen coming again in the evening, and meeting Van Dyck, they shot him in the breast with an arrow. Captain Vandiegrist was also felled down with an axe. Upon this the cry of murder ran through the town, the citizens assembled, and flew upon the savages, driving them into their canoes, leaving three Indians dead on the shore at the foot of the present Whitehall street.

Captain Vandiegrist was in command of one of two militia companies, formed in this city in 1655. These companies had no music but a drummer. After the city capitulated to the English, Vandiegrist began to make preparations for breaking up his business and leaving the country. He departed in 1669 for Holland, taking with him a considerable fortune, which he had acquired here in trade.

William Beekman

Schepen in 1653, 1654, 1656, 1657 and 1673.
Burgomaster in 1679, 1680, 1682, 1685, 1691, 1692, 1693, 1694 and 1695.

This magistrate was born at Hasselt, in Overyssel, in Germany, in the year 1623. He emigrated to this city in the year 1647, at the age of 24 years. His first employment in this country was in the service of the West India Company, as clerk. But he left that service in the year following that of his arrival (1648) and engaged in mercantile pursuits. About the same time he purchased a farm in the vicinity of the present Beckman street, and established a brewery. The residence of Beekman was upon a bluff on the west of what was then the high road to Boston (at present Pearl street) overlooking the East river. His farm covered the neighborhood now known as the swamp, (for a long time called Beekman's swamp) then a marshy tract covered with bushes. His land extended beyond Franklin square, on one side, and nearly to the present Park on another. His neighbors, owning farms and country residences adjoining his property, were Welfert Webber, Leendert Arsden, Tomas Hall, Cornelis Jacobs Stille. The orchard on Beekman's farm lay upon a side hill, running down to the swamp. Beekman street now passes through its site.

In 1658, Beekman was appointed Vice Director, having the principal authority over a colony of the Dutch, at the head of Delaware Bay. He remained in that office until the year 1663, when he was transferred to "Esopus," (now Kingston) then a thriving agricultural settlement, in which place he held the office of sheriff, or chief officer. He returned to New York after the establishment of the English authority in the province, and continued to reside here until his death, which took place in 1707, at the age of eighty-five years.

The wife of Beekman was Catrina De Boogh, by whom he had six children, the descendants of whom have been prominent and wealthy members of the community.

Maximilianus Van Gheel

Schepen in 1653

This magistrate was a civil officer of the West India Company at the time of his appointment of schepen. His residence here was merely temporary, and he left the city the following year.

Johannes Nevins,

Schepen in 1655

Mr. Nevins was, for a number of years, Secretary of the Court of Burgomasters and Schepens, succeeding Jacob Kipp in that office in the year 1658, and holding it until 1665, at which time the city had fallen under the control of the English. Nevins tried to hold over under the foreign government, but was superseded by Nicholas Bayard in 1665.

Secretary Nevins lived in the City Hall, which then stood facing the river on the present line of Pearl street, opposite Coenties slip. That building was of stone, two stories in height, and about fifty feet front, built in 1642. It stood for a long period upon an unfenced lot, which was used by the neighbors for piling lumber, &c. It was afterwards fenced in. Nevins applied for permission to sow grain in the yard of the City Hall, which was granted. The jail occupied a part of the City Hall in the rear, the entrance to it being by that narrow alley way now called Coenties alley, Which then adjoined the City Hall, and was left as an entrance way to the jail. The Court room occupied a portion of the second story of the City Hall. In 1669, Governor Nicolls, the English commander-in-chief, who had taken the city from the Dutch in 1664, built a tavern, as a matter of speculation, on the lot adjoining the alley way next to the City Hall. This was a fine building in those days. He constructed a passage way, after getting above the first story, over the alley way, so as to lead from the second story of his tavern into the court room.


Website: The History
Article Name: Biographical Sketches of All The Magistrates of New Amsterdam 1653-1678 Part II
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: My collection of Books: Manual of the Common Council of New York 1852 by D.T. Valentine
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