Granting "Anthony the Turk" land in Brooklyn
Willem Kieft, 27 May 1643
KIEFT, Willem (1598-1647). Manuscript document signed ("Willem Kieft") as Director of New Netherland, Fort Amsterdam, New Netherland, 27 May 1643. Endorsed on the verso by Peter STUYVESANT (1592-1672), c. 1647.
One page, 179 x 328mm, on vellum (mild soiling at margins, text on verso significantly faded).
The first person of Muslim origin to settle in America is granted land near Coney Island by Willam Kieft, Director of New Netherland. An important grant of 100 morgens (approximately 200 acres) of land on the south shore of Brooklyn opposite Coney Island ("Conynen Eylant") to Anthony Jansen van Salee (1607-1767). Jansen was born at the port of Salee in Morocco, the son of Jan Jansen, a Dutch buccaneer in the service of the Sultan. The elder Jansen had taken a local Muslim wife, who bore Anthony and is believed to have raised him as a Muslim. Anthony Jansen emigrated to New Netherland in the mid-1630s and acquired a farm between present day Maiden Lane and Ann Streets. Locally known as "Anthony the Turk," he soon became notorious for his quarrelsome nature—evidenced by numerous lawsuits recorded at the time involving him as well as his wife, Grieste Reyniers (believed to have been a prostitute in Amsterdam who continued in her occupation in the New World). The couple's continual disputes with their neighbors came to a head when they were accused of slander by the town's Domine (Anthony's wife had insinuated that the Domine's wife was soliciting prostitution). Anthony's refusal to back down from the charges forced the hand of Director Willem Kieft, who ordered the couple banished from New Netherland in 1639, which at that time meant crossing the East River to Long Island. Anthony sold his farm in Manhattan and moved to Brooklyn to a tract near Coney Island, and a grant was conferred by Kieft in 1643 (the present document) making him one of the first non-native settlers of Brooklyn. Jansen flourished in his new home, and soon became one of the largest landowners in the area. Anthony and Grieste fathered four daughters, one of which became the great-great-grandmother of Cornelius Vanderbilt. See Leo Hershkowitz, "The Troublesome Turk: an Illustration of Judicial Process in New Amsterdam," New York History, Oct. 1964, pp. 299-310.
Extremely rare. The last example of Kieft's signature to appear at auction was over 130 years ago: a clipped signature from 1639 document (Estate of Lewis J. Cist, Bangs, New York, 6-8 October 1886, lot 1070).