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Dutch Colonial Roots


New York City's and America's history is the history of

our Old Dutch Church and our Staten Island Congregation.



Henry Hudson Anchors off

Staaten Eylandt in 1609

Early 1600s

In September, 1609 a Dutch ship, The Half Moon, captained by Englishman, Henry Hudson, anchored off Staten Island. Hudson named this new land for the Dutch legislature "Staaten Eylant."


The Dutch in Europe already enjoyed the ideals embodied in the Reformed Church: wide freedom of religion; much freedom of expression; high employment.  There were wide disparities in wealth, true, but the taste to avoid tactless display.  So they lacked the emigrating impulse.


Many of those who came to the colonies starting in 1625 may have been the peasants half-forced by their landlords to vacate their property and adventure overseas, often so countrified that they still lacked surnames. 

Photo courtesy of the Staten Island

Borough President's Office/ Michael Falco

Seal City of New York

They were often called "Kitchen Dutch"

If the same roster included two men named Jan Jans (John, son of John) they were distinguished by the names of their native villages, such as Jan Jans van Aalst or Jan Jans van Eysden, for example.  So their modern American descendants have names implying a dignity in the new world they never enjoyed in the old.

Van de Bilt became Vanderbilt.

From The Voorlezer's Book

Recording of Births


               Earliest Vanderbilt entry

is dated 1713.


Oct 21.       Rem Van de Bilt

                      his Daughter Hilletie, 

                      was baptized   

                      Witnesses:  Jacob Van de Bilt

                      Femmetie Adriaenssen

The Dutch were almost outnumbered in their own colony.  

Of the first 300 persons married in the official Reformed church in New Amsterdam, only 163 were Dutch. 


June 7, 1629


The Dutch Staats General passed the Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions which established patroonships which provided land grants to populate the colonies.  Established for trade purposes, they entitled settlers to live by and freely practice their religious beliefs. As the predominate influx of settlers came from Holland they were assimilated into the Dutch Church.  


The Dutch West India Company required a competent teacher and a member of the church

to be included in every group of emigrants who went to America.  

Petrus Stuyvesant 1660 New York Historical Society

The Fall of New Amsterdam by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

August 27, 1664  New Netherland ceded to the English


While England and the Dutch Republic were at peace, four English frigates sailed into New Amsterdam's harbor and demanded New Netherland's surrender.  Peter Stuyvesant (left of center, with wooden leg) stands on shore among residents of New Amsterdam who plead with him not to fire on the English warships.  He provisionally ceded New Netherland including Staten Island.  The English King, Charles II, made a grant to his brother James, the Duke of York. 


The first Dutch property seized by the English fleet was on Staten Island,

where the block house was taken and occupied.

On Staten Island, settled by Dutch and French, everything began to take on an English aspect.

However Stuyvesant had systematically, deliberately, and at every opportunity

firmly planted Dutch ideals into the colony

by his nurturing promotion of the Dutch Reformed Church, with its Waldensian ideals.

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