Saturday, April 3, 2010

cornelius melyn


MELYN, Cornelis, colonist, statesman and author, was born about 1602, and came to New Amsterdam from Antwerp in 1639,1 accompanied by Joachim Kuyter, another gentleman of education and ability. He returned for his family, and after many adventures and perils from pirates, from shipwreck and the tyranny of corrupt officials, settled on Staten Island, buying lands from the Indians in 1641 and becoming the first patroon by appointment from Holland.

He was twice deprived of his property by colonial governors, and his settlement was twice destroyed by fire and massacre. At a critical period, when president of the "council of eight men," he made peace with the Indians of Long Island, and commenced a vigorous war upon those of the Hudson river. A memorial, forwarded by him to Holland, October, 1644, asking for the recall of Gov. Kiefft, recounts the massacre, the maladministration and decay of the colony, petitions for a system of government like that of the municipalities of Holland, and shows that the Dutch governors wasted their opportunities for empire by making enemies of their Indian neighbors. In 1647 Stuyvesant banished Kuyter for three years and Melyn for seven; in addition the latter was sentenced to forfeit the benefits of the company and to pay a fine of 300 guilders.

On August 17th of that year Kiefft sailed for Holland, carrying with him Melyn and Kuyter, who though the vessel was wrecked on the coast of Wales, escaped to land and found their way to Holland, where the sentences against them were reversed by the states general. In 1650 Melyn returned to New Amsterdam with a mandamus obliging Director Stuyvesant to appear in person or by attorney at the Hague to answer to the charges preferred by Kuyter and himself. Stuyvesant at once renewed his persecutions, confiscating the vessel on which Melyn arrived, with its cargo, and later his property in New Amsterdam, on the east side of Broad street, forcing him to retire to Staten Island and live in a state of siege as it were.

At last he sold his lands to the Dutch India Co. and took the oath of allegiance to the New Haven colony in April, 1657. A perusal of the literature of the Dutch colony shows him to have been an upright, clear-headed patriot of indomitable will and tenacity of purpose. His treatise, "Wholesome Advice to the United New Netherland Provinces", translated by Dr. H. C. Murphy (Vol. III., "Historical Collections of New York"), is esteemed by Prof. Justin Winsor as the production of a statesman and a patriot. A copy of the original work is in the Lenox Library, New York City. He died in 1674,2 probably in New York, leaving a widow (Jannetjen) and five children, whose descendants are in the families of Conklin, Dickinson, Houston, Kingsbury, Leavenworth and Schellinger, to go no further. One son was carried away prisoner with him and perished at the time of the shipwreck.

In 2005, Richard Baskas, a Melyn descendant, published The Ancestry and Life of Cornelius Melyn, which collects data available from various sources. This book is now out of print.

Among Cornelis and Janneken Melyn's numerous descendants are two recent presidents of the United States. Cornelis arrived in New Amsterdam about the same time as, and was undoubtedly well acquainted with, the ancestors of two other presidents.


That settlement, and subsequent others by Cornelius Melyn, failed until the first permanent settlement, in 1661 at what is now South Beach, by a mixture of Belgian Walloons and French Huguenots, Protestant fugitives from religious oppression in Europe. Slavery was continued and expanded after the British takeover in 1664. Although colonial slavery by the British was extinguished by the close of the American Revolution, the institution itself continued throughout New York State, including Richmond County (a.k.a. Staten Island), under the new American government. When abolitionist Governor John Jay (1745-1829) led the way towards passage and signing of the Gradual Abolition Act of 1799, New York State belatedly joined with the New England States to abolish slavery. In 1817, another abolitionist governor, Daniel D. Tompkins (1774-1825), persuaded the NY State Legislature to pass the Final Abolition Act freeing all NY State slaves in 1827. [pp. 48-58, Census Occupations of Afro-American Families on Staten Island, is entitled Slavery on Staten Island. ]

The Dutch West India Company (founded 1621) transported the first settlers to New Netherlands in 1623. Lured by the fur trade, land and trading rights, Michael Pauw, a wealthy director of the Company and Lord of Achitienhoven, attained the attained the patroon (dutch for "head of company")for Staten Island from 1630-1637. Staten Island was plentiful in oysters, fish and game and the cultivation of maize and pigs. Troubles with Raritan Indians and other Leni-Lanapes, plagued Pauw and his successors David Pieterszen De Vries and Cornelius Melyn at their colony in the “Watering Place.” In 1655, the sixteen farms were destroyed in wars with Native Americans, although one or more Dutch families continued to live on the Island.
Full story here:

No comments:

Post a Comment