[NEW YORK]. VAN TWILLER, Wouter (ca.1580-1656), Governor of New Netherland. Document signed ("W. Van Twiller") as Governor, countersigned by Jacobus Van Curler, Claes Van Elsant and Jacques Bentin, constituting a ground-brief (indenture) for the purchase of lands from the Lenape tribe in present-day Flatbush, Brooklyn, Manhattan ("Eylandt Manhatans"), 6 June 1636. 1 page, oblong folio (13 1/8 x 17¾ in.) written in a clear scribal hand ON PARCHMENT, seal lacking (vellum stub present), small holes along one fold, affecting a few letters in last line of text, in Dutch (full translation available), verso with A 1658 ENDORSEMENT OF PIETER STUYVESANT. With 14 later deeds to the same property (see below).
NEW YORK IN 1636: ONE OF THE EARLIEST INDIAN LAND SALES ON LONG ISLAND, SIGNED AT "EYLANDT MANHATANS," JUNE 1636, ONLY 12 YEARS AFTER THE FOUNDING OF THE COLONY OF NEW NETHERLAND
THE EARLIEST NEW YORK DOCUMENT TO BE OFFERED IN AT LEAST FIFTY YEARS
A exceptional vellum document dating from the earliest years of Dutch settlement at the mouth of the Hudson River, signed by Van Twiller, Peter Minuit's successor and endorsed 22 years later by the famous Peter Stuyvesant (1592-1672). This remarkably early New York document (only 13 of the hundreds of similar documents precede it), records the sale by Native American owners of certain flat lands "on the island...Sewanhacky between the bay of the North River and the East River" (i.e., Long Island) to two Dutch settlers, Andries Hudden and Wolphert Gerritsen. While the settlement had been established in 1624, the earliest recorded Indian deeds for the entire New York region date from July 1630. Van Wouter (a cousin of Nicholas Van Rensselear) had taken the reins as Governor of the tiny Dutch colony in 1633 after Peter Minuit; he strengthened Fort Amsterdam at the tip of Manhattan (where this document was signed), built a church and planted tobacco fields. Wouter became an active land speculator, and acquired Governor's, Ward's and Blackwell's Islands in the East River. In 1636 he launched the settlement of Long Island by purchasing tracts of rich flatlands and shore tracts in South Brooklyn from the Lenape tribe, with whom he apparently enjoyed a very trusting relationship ("for years after his departure...the Indians were daily calling for the return of Wouter"--DAB). As late as 1664, when control of Dutch holdings in New York, New Jersey and Delaware passed to the British, the total population of these three areas was estimated at a mere 9,000; in 1630 the population of present-day New York was only about 300 souls, a number of them soldiers. The two Dutch landowners in the present deed, Gerritsen and Hudde, broke ground for a farm the same year; the village which grew up at that site, Nieuw Amersfoort, comprises present-day Flatlands, Brooklyn.
The document reads: "We, director and council of New Netherland residing on the island of Manhattan at Fort Amsterdam...testify...that this day personally appeared before us Tenkirau, Ketamau, Ararikan, Awachkouw, Warinckehinck, Wappitawackenis, Eheytn, as owners...voluntarily...for certain merchandise...have transferred, ceded...to Andries Hudde and Wolphert Gerritsz. The westernmost of the flats called Keskateuw...on the island called Sewanhacky [Long Island], stretching in length from a certain stream...almost north into the woods and in width from a certain marsh, included, almost west also into the woods...Done on the aforesaid island of Manhatans..."
An exceptionally early New York document: the earliest examples traceable at auction since 1950 are dated during the 1650s, most signed by Stuyvesant. The Forbes Collection featured an indenture for lands in Flushing Meadows, Queens, dated 1684 (sale, 10 October 2002, lot 1, $30,000). But NOT A SINGLE DOCUMENT SIGNED BY PETER MINUIT OR VAN TWILLER HAS BEEN OFFERED FOR SALE SINCE AT LEAST 1950. Published (from early Dutch records of New Netherlands) in New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch. Land Papers, trans. and ed. Charles Gehring. Baltimore: 1980, GG no.14, p.5.
STUYVESANT, Pieter (1592-1672), governor of New Netherland. Endorsement signed ("P Stuyvesant," with flourish), New Amsterdam, 24 August 1758. 1/4 page, oblong folio, comprising 11 lines plus signature on the verso of the above indenture. The endorsement confirms the sale of land in the document on the recto (see above) to Wolphert Gerritsen and specifies his obligations as owner of these lands to the Dutch West India Company. -- LATER DEEDS. A series of deeds relating to the same property. Various sizes, several on parchment, one signed by NY Governor Richard Nicholl (full list on request). (15)