Sunday, August 13, 2023

Laurens Duyts - One of a 100 ancestors with an interesting life.

Dear Grandparents,

In October 2002, my siblings and I traveled to be with our mother (Betty (Werst) Cone) to commemorate the 10th anniversary of our father's (Charles Newton Cone, Jr.) death. Oh, there were some tears shed, but there were many more smiles and laughs as we told stories of the wonderful man he had been. Remembering that wonderful occasion, we decided to gather to mark the 10th anniversary of our mother's passing this year. Given that all four of our grandparents had ancestors who had lived in New York State, coupled with the amazing fact that none of we four (very well-traveled individuals) had ever visited Niagra Falls, we are heading for upstate New York next month. In preparation, I've been doing some research into our New York ancestors and have decided to share some of the amazing lives they lived.

Please meet our 8th great grandfather Lauren Duyts. He is said to have been from an area in Holstein that is now Denmark. No records of his birth or baptism have been discovered. Another Dye (Duyst eventually changed in our family line to Dye), Robert Dye has written,

        "Laurens Duyts was apparently born and raised on the island of "Strand" west of the city of Husum, then part of Denmark. Most of the people on the island made their living by deep sea fishing. In 1634, a catastrophic tidal wave nearly destroyed the island tearing it into three separate islands and killing several hundred people. The area where Laurens lived is now the island of Nordstrand."

The storm may have provided the motivation for his move to Amsterdam. His marriage bans were posted August 28, 1638 in the Noorderkerk on the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, Netherlands. My siblings and I well remember the church from our many trips to visit Trude in Amsterdam. has filmed the Nederland Hervomed Kerk, BK vol 228-229 Page 153 left hand side from FHC microfilm 0223298 Item 2; "Lourens Dyijs from Noortstrant, a laborer living at the Brouwergracht, aged 26 years, with Ytgie Jans from Amsterdam aged 18 years."

The young couple were looking for opportunities and decided to immigrate to New Netherlands, now New York State, the Dutch Colony across the Atlantic. They arrived in New Amsterdam July 15, 1639 on the Brant van Trogen (Fire of Troy in English) a private armed vessel, engaged at Hoorn Hollang by fellow Dane Captain Jochiem Pietersen Kuyter. Two other Danes traveled on the same ship. Jonas Bronck and Peiter Andriesen. Jonas Bronck hired Duyts and Andriesen to clear a tract of 500 acres, which Bronck had purchased from the Indians. According to a book on Scandinavian Immigrants in New York, 1630-1674, Laurens was "commonly known as Laurens Grootschoe (Big Shoe)". One is left to wonder if his feet were exceptionally large.

        "They shall be at liberty to plant tobacco and maize, on the express condition                           that every two years they shall clear new pieces of the land...furthermore, Pieter                       Andriesz and Lourens Duyts bind and pledge their persons and properties for the                      payment of what Mr. Bronck has disbursed for them on board the ship De Brant                        van Troven, 120 guilder 16 stivers of which Peiter Andriessen must pay fl 81:4 and                    Lourens Duyst fl. 49:12. Done in Fort Amsterdam, 21st of July 1639.

Arnold J. F. Van Laer, New York Historical Manuscripts Dutch Vol I; 1638-1642; Genealogical Publishing Co, Inc., Baltimore, MD. 1974; pp 196-197; Morris Library, University of DE, Newark.  

Their first child, daughter Margariet was baptized December 23, 1639 in New Amsterdam. One of her sponsors was Gerrit Jansen of Oldenburg leading to speculation that he may have been Ytgie's brother. She was followed by sons Jan Laurenszen Duyts in 1642 and our 7th great grandfather Jans Laurentzen Duyts in 1644. 

Laurens seems to have been an itinerant farmer, renting the land he worked. He had a difficult time getting along with his neighbors as well as the Dutch authorities. One can find more than 15 instances in the court records of New Amsterdam documenting his legal problems. These problems come to a tumultuous conclusion with the verdict handed down by Pieter Stuyvesant, one of the severest verdicts handed down in New Amsterdam.

In November 1658, Laurens was accused of forcing his wife to sleep with Jan Botcher. When she refused, he beat her. Later he sold and left his wife to Jan Botcher to settle an old debt of 500 guilders, thirty guilders in hand and a half a barrel of beer. Laurens is then accused of committing adultery with Gessie Jans, the married wife of Jan Jansen Smit, with whom he had relations several times according to confession of both of them. The Director General of the United Netherlands and the honorable lords directors of the Chartered West India Company at the Chamber of Amsterdam sentenced and condemned, as they hereby sentence and condemn the aforesaid Lauens Duijts alias Grootschoen to be brought to the place where justice is commonly done, and the, with the hangman's rope around the neck be severely whipped with rods, and his right ear shall be cut off, and he shall be and remain banished from this province for the period of 50 years, on penalty if he returns again to this province of being punished with the rope until death follows, and to pay the legal cost made for this, as an example to others, denying the fiscal's further claim made on and against him. Thus done and sentenced in Fourth Amsterdam the 25th of November 1658 and executed the 30th of the same month.

Stuyvesant Pieter Tonneman

For living in adultery with Laurens Duyts, Geese Jansen is sentenced to the whipping post, the upper part of her body being stripped naked, and two rods placed in her hand, to be afterwards conducted, in that wise, outside the city gates, and banished for the term of 30 years with costs. Her sentence was also carried out on November 30th. 

The similar paper for Ytige Jans, Lauren's legal wife is illegible where the sentence is spelled out however it carries the same ominous phrase "executed the 30th day of the same month." She was found guilty as charged without torture and was whipped and banished also. She was found guilty of living in adultery with John Parcell, alias Borcher, of Huntingdonshire, England.

On December 12th, 1658, John Parcel and Itje Jans file a petition pleading for mercy and confessing their "guilt, and sin and great remorse.... not knowing to which place they will flee with their five innocent little children.... praying for the love of Goad, out of mercy to pardon the petitioners and to allow them to stay in this province, and to agree that they may be married for the protection of the innocent children."

The Council's record on the decision does not survive but when John Parcel dies in 1684, he leaves a widow Ytije.

(These items are held in the New York State Archives and published online by the New Amsterdam History Center which provides both the images and the translations).

Laurens Duyts went into exile in Bergen, New Jersey where he married Grietje Jansen January 1, 1666. They were among the first couples married in the new settlement of Bergen.

Laurens and Ytige are my paternal grandmother's 7th great grandparents through their youngest son Hans Laurentzen Duyts. My grandmother was a very prim and proper woman and would have been scandalized by the stories of Laurens' behavior. In fact, I imagine that she would not be pleased that I am sharing this story. Hopefully, she will understand that the stories of our ancestors, the good, the bad and the ugly, should be told.



For family: Our line to Laurens Duyts:

Hazel Bynon (Allen) Cone daughter of Chester Bynon Allen and Ida Mae Dye. Ida Mae Dye, daughter of Amos Dye, Jr. and Marinda Jane McCowan. Amos Dye, Jr. son of Amos and Maria (Taylor) Dye. Amos Dye son of John Laurens and Elizabeth (Caywood) Dye. John Laurens Dye son of John and Mary (Applegate) Dye. John Dye son of John Laurens and Ann (Brown) Dey. John Larens Dey son of Hans Laurentzen Duyts and wife Sarah Vincent. Hans Laurentzen Duyts son of Laurens Duyts and Ytige Jans.

Note: spellings used in this post are the spelling found in the documents or translations. Spelling was not standardized until the 1920s so names are often spelled differently even in the same document.

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