Thursday, August 9, 2012

the life of Jesse de Forest, "Petitioner of Freedom"

Jesse de Forest: The Petitioner for Freedom

Jesse de Forest sprang from a family with strong qualities, as we learn from the post about the de Forest family of Avesnes

We now turn to Jesse's own history which, notwithstanding some the gaps in its sequence, is extraordinarily noteworthy.

Highlights of the life of Jesse de Forest

  • Jesse de Forest, son of Jean de Forest, was born in 1576.
  • On Sunday, September 23, 1601, he married Marie du Cloux, and they had 10 children.
  • After living in Sedan briefly, Jesse moved to Montcornet in 1609, and later moved to Leyden, Holland where he made his home on the Breedestraet.
  • Jesse served with Prince Maurice of Nassau, as a Lieutenant and Captain.
  • In 1621, the Walloons and Huguenots of Leyden, Holland planned to follow the Puritans to America (then called the West Indies). Jesse de Forest was acclaimed the leader and spokesman for the band when the exiles approached the British Ambassador at The Hague regarding their settling in Virginia. The English turned down his petition to establish a colony in Virginia.
  • It was Jesse's desire to establish a Colony in the New World, so that the Walloons could practice their Reformed Religion without persecution. He then sought permission from the Dutch to establish a colony in what is now New York City. He was granted permission. He assembled approximately 60 families of French Speaking Walloons and Dutch for the settlement in New Amsterdam, New Netherland. The first permanent settlers arrived in New Amsterdam May 1624.
  • Today, there is a Monument in Battery Park, New York City called the Walloon Settlers Memorial. That monument was given to the City of New York by the Belgian Province of Hainaut in honor of Jesse's inspiration in founding New York City. Baron de Cartier de Marchienne, representing the Belgian King and Government, presented the monument to Mayor John F. Hylan, for the City of New York May 18, 1924.
  • There is also a monument in Jesse's honor in Avesnes, France, the College Jesse de Forest and Jesse de Forest Avenue.

Overview of the story of the legendary Jessé de Forest
(1576 – October 22, 1624)

Jesse’s Birth and early life

Jessé de Forest was born in 1576 in Avesnes (Hainaut). He left Avesnes for Sedan and Montcornet before settling in Leiden, Holland. 

Jesse born in Avesnes during times of profound persecution

He was born in Avesnes and spent his boyhood there during the time of the little city's great stress. The young Huguenot was probably imbued from his earliest days with hatred for the enemies of his country and his religion and with longing for freedom and escape from religious persecution. The turbulent scenes of his childhood undoubtedly supplied the motives which underlay the acts of his subsequent life.

Marriage, Family and Early Career

The first mention which we find of Jesse tells of his marriage at Sedan in 1601.

Jesse's father had left Avesnes for Sedan at some time during the three years prior to 1601, so that Jesse had had opportunity in the latter place to meet and to be attracted by young Marie du Cloux. She was the daughter of Nicaise du Cloux, a fellow merchant of Jesse's father. The members of the du Cloux family were people of good position in Sedan merchants, barristers and surgeons
Jesse's name first appears in the registers of the old Huguenot church of Sedan, sequestrated in 1669 by Louis XIV and later recovered. The earliest entry that concerns the de Forests translates as follows:
1601: Sunday, 23d day of said month [September] at the Catechism the said Sieur du Tilloy blessed the marriage of Jesse des forests, son of Jean des forests, merchant, residing in this city, with Marie du Cloux, daughter of Nicaise du Cloux merchant residing in this city.”

Sieur du Tilloy was evidently the Protestant minister who officiated for the event.

The first child, baby Marie, was born in 1602, then four children of Jesse and Marie baptized between 1604 and 160

In the following year appears a record which shows that Jesse himself had become a merchant of Sedan.
1602: Sunday, 7th day of said month [July] on which day was celebrated the Lord's Supper, Monsieur du Tilloy, having made the evening exhortation, baptized Marie, daughter of Jesse des forests merchant residing in this city, and of Marie du Cloux his wife.” Sponsors: Estienne du Cloux and Marie Aubertin. 
Then follow the baptisms of four other children:
  • Jean (later called Jan or Jehan), July 22nd, 1604, witnessed by Jean le Vasseur and Magdeleine du Cloux;
  • Henry (known to us as Hendrick), March 7th, 1606, witnessed by Henry de Lambremont, merchant, and his wife Rachel Aubertin;
  • Elizabeth, November 1st, 1607, witnessed by Abraham le Groa, goldsmith, and his wife Elizabeth Aubertin;
  • David, December 11th, 1608 witnessed by David de Lambremont, merchant-dyer at Montcornet, and Marie de Lambremont, daughter of Henry.
It is also noteworthy that his children were always christened after a godfather or a godmother, a fact which accounts for the disappearance of the baptismal names then current among the de Forests of Avesnes.

Jesse and Marie’s children would be later connected to America

Several of these names connect the family with its later existence in America. Henry de Forest was one of the founders of Harlem, on the island of Manhattan, and died there in 1637. Jean, sometimes recorded as Johannes, had a small claim against the estate of Henry, though it does not appear certain that he ever crossed the ocean. David visited New Amsterdam in 1659, and had a son baptized there, but in 1665 had returned to Holland and was guardian to Willem and Rachel de la Montagne grandchildren of his sister Rachel.

Jesse followed his father’s footsteps as a merchant in Sedan, then changed careers and becomes a merchant-dyer in 1608

When Jesse's father went to Holland in 1602 he must have left his mercantile business in Sedan to Jesse for in that year we first find the latter spoken of as merchant undoubtedly a merchant in woolen cloth. Up through 1606 Jesse appears in the Sedan records as a merchant (probably in woolen cloth) residing at Sedan. In 1607 he is still a merchant, but resident at Montcornet in Thierache, an eastern canton of Picardy. In 1608 he was there still but had changed his work to merchant-dyer. It is clear that while living at Montcornet, he was in partnership with David de Lambremont, husband of Magdeleine du Cloux, a sister of Marie.

The du Cloux family of Sedan

The du Cloux were people of consideration at Sedan. Several of them were merchants. Others were barristers, notaries or surgeons. One Jean du Cloux was bailli of the city previous to 1596.

Daughter Rachel born in 1609

After 1608 there was a gap of eight years in the church registers of Sedan. Jesse de Forest appears in the Walloon registers of Leyden in 1615. His daughter Rachel, mother of one of the notable families of New York, was born in 1609 while Hendrick Hudson was sounding his way up the “great north river,” and four years earlier than Christaensen put up his block-house on Manhattan Island. Rachel married Jean Mousnier la Montagne in 1626 at age seventeen, which was fairly young for a bride even in those days.

Jesse’s brother Melchior remained connected through the church and family events

Jesse's elder brother Melchior and his younger brother Gerard had reached Holland by 1611 when Melchior joined the Walloon church at Amsterdam by letter from the church of Lille, a French city with a considerable Huguenot population. On the 1st of March, 1615, Melchior visited Leyden to stand as godfather to “Jesse, son of Jesse du Forest and Marie du Cloux.” On the 6th of April, 1616, Melchior had a son Jean baptized at Amsterdam. His wife was Marie Gobert, whose family name is traceable in the ancient records of Avesnes.

Jesse’s brother Gerard appears often in the chronicles of the day

Gerard de Forest appears often in the Walloon church registers and in the civic records of Holland. In his case the spelling and pronunciation of the surname is diversified into du Forest, du Forret, des Forests, de Forre, de foree, and Gerrit fore, according to the inventiveness of the various scribes. One may observe in passing that a family without many different spellings of its name is probably not a very ancient family, at least in record.

Gerard moved to Leyden in 1605 and set up a dryery

On April 9th, 1605, Gerard du Forest joined the Walloon church of Leyden by profession of faith.  In November of the same year he went to Amsterdam, partly perhaps to investigate prospects of business there and partly to visit his mother, his sister Anne and his brother Melchior. In May, 1606, he had settled in Leyden and bought land of the burgomasters there for a dyery paying by annual installments of fifty and seventy five florins. The need for installments points toward a “slender purse”.

Gerard lived to an old age, flourished in his business, and his daughter married Johannes Panhuysen, a Director of the Dutch West India Company, who was instrumental in the families plan to migrate to New Netherland

On the 12th August, 1611,” Gerard des Forests, dyer, native of Avesnes in the country of Hainaut,” married Hester de la Grange, daughter of Crispin de la Grange, dyer, native of France. On the 6th October, 1617, he purchased the right of citizenship in Leyden, again registering himself as a native of Avesnes in Hainaut, as though the fact were a claim to respect. Later records show that he prospered as a dyer and as a merchant.

Gerard had six children.  One of married Johannes Panhuysen of Leyden who was director of the Dutch West India Company in 1636.  He also represented Leyden in the Chamber at Amsterdam, in which office he had succeeded Johannes De Laet.  

Gerard's son, Crispin De Forest, with encouragement from his brother-in-law, laid plans to enter the lucrative tobacco trade in New Netherland, which had taken on new importance, with the failure of that crop in Virginia. The promise of great wealth and a chance to escape the plague that then swept Europe, prompted Henry and Isaac De Forest to become partners in their cousin's venture and turn their backs on Holland. The plan seemed complete when their only sister, Rachel, and her husband, Dr. La Montagne, agreed to go."viii
The plague repeatedly returned to haunt Europe and the Mediterranean throughout the 14th to 17th centuries.  According to Biraben, plague was present somewhere in Europe in every year between 1346 and 1671.  The Second Pandemic was particularly widespread in 1602–1611; 1623–1640; 1644–1654; and 1664–1667;
 Gerard lived to be guardian of two grandchildren of his niece Rachel de Forest La Montagne. He died in August 1654 leaving the respectable estate of 15,325 florins.

Jesse had at least 10 children, possibly more

We return now to Jesse, and his first appearance in Holland where his name is recorded as du Forest, du Forrest, des Forests, des forest, and de Forre. His children born at Leyden were: Jesse, baptized March 1st, 1615, with uncle Melchior for sponsor; Isaac, the future ancestor of our American de Forests, July 10th, 1616; Israel, October 7th, 1617;  Philippe, September 13th, 1620.  Adding Rachel and those registered at Sedan we have ten besides a supposable few belonging in the recordless blank between 1609 and 1615. Possibly it was this host of young mouths to feed which first suggested to Jesse de Forest his scheme of transatlantic emigration.

Military service

Jesse De Forest served with Prince Maurice of Nassau as a lieutenant and captain.
Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange (1567- 1625) was sovereign Prince of Orange from 1618, on the death of his eldest half brother, Philip William, Prince of Orange, (1554–1618). Maurice was stadtholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands from as early as1585 until his death in 1625. i

A Stadtholder was "steward" or "lieutenant".  In the Low Countries the stadtholder was a medieval function.  This position was tasked with maintaining peace and provincial order in the early Dutch Republic.  Later, during the 18th century, the Stadtholder developed into a rare type of de facto hereditary head of state of the thus "crowned" Dutch Republic.   
  • Maurice organized the rebellion against Spain into a coherent, successful revolt. He reorganised the Dutch States Army together with Willem Lodewijk, studied military history, strategy and tactics, mathematics and astronomy, and proved himself to be among the best strategists of his age.
  • In the Eighty Years' War he proved himself a good leader by taking several Spanish Outposts. Paying special attention to the siege theories of Simon Stevin, he took valuable key fortresses and towns: Breda in 1590, Steenwijk in 1592, and Geertruidenberg in 1593. These victories rounded out the borders to the Dutch Republic, solidifying the revolt and allowing a national state to develop behind secure borders. They also established Maurice as the foremost general of his time.
  • His victories in cavalry battles at Turnhout (1597) and at Nieuwpoort (1600) earned him military fame and acknowledgment throughout Europe. Despite these successes, the House of Orange did not attain great respect among European Royalty, as the Stadtholdership was not inheritable.
  • The training of his army is especially important to early modern warfare. Previous generals had made use of drill and exercise in order to instill discipline or to keep the men physically fit, but for Maurice, they "were the fundamental postulates of tactics.” This change affected the entire conduct of warfare, since it required the officers to train men in addition to leading them, decreased the size of the basic infantry unit for functional purposes since more specific orders had to be given in battle, and the decrease in herd behavior required more initiative and intelligence from the average soldier.
 Prince Maurice at the Battle of Nieuwpoort by Pauwels van Hillegaert.
The Dutch Revolt or the Revolt of the Netherlands (1566 or 1568–1609) xwas the partially successful revolt of the Protestant Seventeen Provinces of the defunct Duchy of Burgundy in the Low Countries against the ardent militant religious policies of Roman Catholicism pressed by both Charles V and his son Philip II of Spanish Empire. The religious 'clash of cultures' built up gradually but inexorably into outbursts of violence against the perceived repression of the Spanish Crown. These tensions marked the beginning of the Thirty Years' War and led to the formation of the independent Dutch Republic. The first leader was William of Orange, followed by several of his descendants and relations. This revolt was one of the first successful secessions in Europe, and led to one of the first European republics of the modern era, the United Provinces.

Jesse’s finiancial difficulties and those of his fellow Walloons

It appears probable that Jesse was at times pressed for money. A Hague civic record of 1618 exhibits him as pledging his dyery chaldron and other chattels to secure a debt of fifty florins on his house rent. There were more dire cases than this among the exiled Huguenots in Holland. Many noble Walloon families were reduced to begging food in the streets of Leyden and Amsterdam. 
Jesse de Forest may have been motivated by his financial difficulties to gather his transatlantic colony. Many of the adventurers of colonial times were driven to improve their lot. Usselinx, the founder of the West India Company, and Peter Minuit, the founder of New Sweden, were both men of ruined fortunes. John Smith and William Bradford knew what it was to sit at the door of starvation. 
A telling trait of an enterprising spirit is a faculty for putting the wealth and labor of others into the prosecution of one's own designs. It is only natural to find inspiration in a man who knows not where to lay his head, stepping forward to guide and save his fellow creatures, with a perfect confidence that he can do it. The thought of our exiled ancestor, with his ten young children and his haunting debt of fifty florins, planning and petitioning and recruiting for a Protestant colony in America, is a remembrance which ought to fill his descendants with pride and to stimulate them to courage of soul and energy of deed.

Organizing the Walloons and meeting the Pilgrim forefathers

Jessé de Forest is best known as the leader of a group of Walloon Huguenots seeking to flee Europe due to religious persecutions. It was de Forest's desire to establish a Colony in the New World, so that the Walloons could practice their Reformed Protestant Christianity without persecution. In Leiden, he moved to obtain the right to emigrate with his own and other Walloon families to the New World. During his stay, he also met Pilgrim Fathers, future passengers of the Mayflower. 

The pilgrims in Leyden

In July 1620, Jesse de Forest almost certainly was aware of the departure of the Pilgrim fathers from Holland for America. Was he personally acquainted with the members of this memorable band? There is no likelihood that he could speak English or Dutch, or that they could speak French. But he must have known of their presence in Leyden, of the circumstances which had led them to settle there, and of their purpose in migrating to the new world. Why should not Walloons also settle in a land where they could maintain the Protestant faith and the usage of their native tongue? It is entirely logical that he asked himself this question.

Prelude to colonization

What was the colonizing situation at this time in Holland? Eleven years earlier a Dutch bark, commanded by an English captain, had explored the Hudson river and claimed for the republic a vast contiguous region. Since then Christaensen had built a log fort on Manhattan Island, and had traded for furs with the natives. But there was no permanent settlement, because Holland could not raise colonists. Meanwhile, England claimed the country and France was actively preparing to seize it.

Jesse’s leadership and determination was critical to the Walloon migration

At the critical moment, when a French vessel had already entered the Hudson to take possession, help came to Holland in the form of a colony of Walloons. But why Walloons instead of some other race of refugees, or a band of Frieslanders or Zealanders? Here is a question which most historians of New York have but partly answered. It was because of one Walloon, a man with a fixed idea a man, with an obsession. Jesse de Forest had conceived the design of planting a colony of his own people in the new world, and this design he carried with relentless passion from year to year and from state to state until he had brought it to execution.

Post-conflict Holland had many potential recruits for the Walloon colony, a risky mission of strategic importance to the Dutch

From 1610 forward peace had generally prevailed in Christendom, and many thousands of soldiers had been dismissed to civil life, great numbers of them countrymen of de Forest. We learn from the letters of Henry IV that the 8,000 infantry, which the States General had sent to aid him in the siege of Rouen, were all Walloons. Then there were the countless artisans and peasants from the Spanish Netherlands who had swarmed to Holland in search of employment and food. De Forest had no need to return to his own country in search of colonists.
The Dutch needed his adventurers. They were anxious, not only to find work for their hosts of aliens, but also to contest the possession of the East and West Indies with Spain and England. Previous to 1620 the Netherland Company had sought “by large offers” to engage the Pilgrim Fathers to populate its American possessions. The riskiness of this project shows how sorely Holland needed the Walloons.

A lack of alternatives steered Jesse in the direction of the British for sanction to start a Walloon Colony

So we can see that there was a condition where there was 1) an aspiring pool of ready-willing & able recruits and 2) a geo-political motivation for the Dutch sponsors. However, there was no colonial machinery ready to employ them. The Greenland Company and the New Netherland Company had successively died out. In June, 1620, the States General commenced debate upon the project of a West India Company, but with such deliberation that three years elapsed before the charter was issued. Either these lingering counsels discouraged our Jesse de Forest, or he was bent on following the Puritans, for in the latter half of July, 1621, he sought the residence of the British ambassador at the Hague, and announced himself as spokesman for three hundred of his fellow Huguenots.

Jesse formally petitions Sir Dudley Carlton

There hath been with me of late,” wrote Sir Dudley Carleton on July 19th to state secretary Calvert, “ a certaine Walon in the name of divers families, men of all trades and occupations, who desire to goe unto Virginia. … I required of him his demands in writing, with the signatures of such as were to bear part therein, both of which I send your honor herewith.”

Jesse was the Walloons leader at the fore throughout their pursuit of a colony

The “demands” were presented under date of July 21st, 1621. They were signed by Jesse de Forest alone. It is observable also that he alone called upon the ambassador. There can be no doubt of his presence and of his leadership. So it is throughout the whole of this business of getting a Walloon colony to America He signed the first known document on the subject, and the last one was addressed to him He was the beginning and the end of the entire enterprise.

The world remains unknowing of the devout character of the courageous Walloons

The “demands” show precisely the devout spirit of the Pilgrim Fathers of New England. Fifty or sixty Walloon and French families, “all of the reformed faith,” prayed the king of England to grant them a settlement in Virginia, and “to maintain them in their religion” by undertaking their protection and defense. A thousand volumes and orations have glorified the Plymouth Puritans for living and dying in accordance with similar sentiments and desires. But concerning the pious Walloons of early New York the world has remained relatively unknowing and unconcerned.

Patronage requested for logistics and arms

The “demands” advanced various practical suggestions as to the management of the colony. Whereas one ship could not carry three hundred persons with their cattle, would not his majesty furnish them with another properly armed and equipped? It was desirable, also, to arrange for regular commerce between England and the colony. The settlers would build and fortify a town, but would need cannon and munitions to defend it. They desired a reservation of sixteen English miles in diameter for their own separate inhabitation, doubtless purposing and trusting that in such an asylum they might preserve their Calvinistic worship and their native tongue.

Feudal basis of colony design

This territory they would hold in fealty from his majesty under his laws. An oath of fealty, from the Latin fidelitas (faithfulness), is a pledge of allegiance of one person to another. Typically the oath is made upon a religious object such as a Bible or saint's relic, often contained within an altar, thus binding the oath-taker before God. In medieval Europe, fealty was sworn between two people, the obliged person (vassal) and a person of rank (lord). This was done as part of a formal commendation ceremony to create a feudal relationship. Fealty and homage are a key element of feudalism.

Design of class-structure in the proposed colony and the quest for self-determination

At the same time the Wallon proposal to the British involved reserving to themselves in all local matters, “rights of inferior lordship”. The Wallons further requestied that those of them who could live as nobles might be permitted to style themselves such.
There was nothing strange at that time in this final condition. The spirit of the age was oligarchical, even in nominal republics, even in Holland. The majority of men firmly held that civilized society could not exist unless there were nobles to enlighten and direct it. Nowhere did this venerable credence prevail more vigorously than in the native province of Jesse de Forest and many of his companions. Froissart, a son of Valenciennes in Hainaut, expresses precisely the belief of his countrymen when he celebrates the excellence of “good knights” as compared with the baseness of plebeian humanity. Finally, de Forest probably knew that the colonizing plans of the Virginia Company included the combination of a ruling gentry with an indentured peasantry. If there must be nobles in the proposed Huguenot settlement he preferred that the Walloons and French should provide their own.

Round-robin signed by 56 prospective Walloon colonists

In accordance with Carleton's suggestion the “demands” were accompanied by a “round robin” promising good faith in the enterprise, signed by fifty six men, mostly heads of families, each of whom added the number of his household, the total of persons being two hundred and twenty-seven. De Forest himself proposed to take over his wife and five children, leaving the others, we may suppose, under the care of his brothers and sister or mother.

Virginia Colony responds with restrictions that are unacceptable to theWalloons

Carleton forwarded the papers with a friendly endorsement, though he considered some of the conditions “extravagant”. Calvert referred them to the directors of the Virginia Company, who made reply on the 11th August, 1621. They “conceived no inconvenience at present” in the proposed colony. The Virginia Company did object on account of the expense to furnishing “shipping or other chargeable favour”. They thought that “for the securing of the plantacion in his Ma’ties obedience,” the said families should not settle in one body with the rights specified, but should be scattered “by convenient nombers in the principal Citties, Borroughs and corporacions in Virginia.”
This response was far from being satisfactory to the Walloons. Divided among the English settlements, how could they preserve their Calvinistic worship, their native tongue, their own gentry. Only a scattered few of them drifted to Virginia.

Restrictions lead De Forest to decline “Round Robin” opportunity in Virginia February 5, 1621, Jessé de Forest sent a petition, to Dudley Carleton, 1st Viscount Dorchester, English ambassador to The Hague. It applied for permission to settle about fifty Walloon and French Huguenot families that planned to follow the Puritans to America (then called the West Indies) in Virginia. De Forest asked to dispose over a territory of eight English miles radius. Known as the Round Robin, this document is now preserved in the British Public Record Office. On August 11, 1621, the Virginia Company gave an agreement in principle, but raised some restrictions. The worse one was the refusal to have the settlers dwell together in one autonomous colony. De Forest declined the proposition. 

  the 'Round Robin', 

Dutch West India conflict with Spain over Brazilian interests

The foundation of the Dutch West India Company in 1621 had given gave rise to multiple opportunities. In 1581, Philip II of Spain had prohibited commerce within his realm with Dutch ships, including in Brazil. Since the Dutch had invested large sums in financing sugar production in the Brazilian Northeast, a conflict began for control of the area.

De Forest’s proposal to West India Company

He then sought permission from the Dutch to establish a colony in what is now New York City. He was granted permission. He assembled approximately 60 families of Walloons and Dutch Protestants for the settlement in New Amsterdam, New Netherland. 
Proposing his services and those of his fellow countrymen to the Dutch West India Company, de Forest informed them that a group of families practicing various trades had the opportunity to emigrate to America. The States of The Netherlands, realizing the importance of such an opening for future colonization, immediately consulted the Directors of the Company, who were meeting in The Hague.
On August 27, 1622, after efforts delivered by Willem Usselincx and Jessé de Forest, the latter finally received the authorization to emigrate with other families to the “West Indies”.


Jessé de Forest emigrated to the New World, where he planned to found New-Belgium and call the colony New Avesnesii.

De Forest dies on reconnaissance but his vision takes hold

De Forest left for the coasts of Guyana in 1623. The first permanent settlers arrived in New Amsterdam during May 1624. Jessé de Forest, still on the reconnaissance mission, died of sun stroke while living among the Yaos Indiansiii on this expedition on the Oyapock River bank, the present borderline between Brazil and French Guyana, on October 22, 1624. 

The Walloon Emigration of 1623-24

Jesse de Forest and his comrades had now been driven to look outside of England for assistance in founding their colony.

Walloons turned to the Dutch parliament for support

For eight months he quietly awaited some favorable turn of events in Holland. Then, in April, 1622, finding that the Dutch had not yet matured their West India Company, he petitioned the powerful local parliament known as the “States of Holland and West Friesland,” to provide means for “conveying families to the West Indies,” a geographical phrase which in those times meant America, whether northern or southern. 
The States referred the paper to the directors of the as yet immature West India Company for their opinion and advice. The directors reported that they considered the proposal “very advantageous for the Company,” and “that an effort ought to be made to promote it” by promising that the petitioners should be employed. But in regard to immediate practical action they asked time to complete the organization of their board.
Thereupon on the 21st of April, 1623, 
“the Lords Gentlemen and Cities of Holland and West Friesland unanimously resolved and agreed that the aforesaid promise shall be made, the magistracy being made acquainted therewith.”
The final phrase of the resolution suggests that the petition called for leave to recruit colonists in the cities of the republic, which is precisely what Jesse de Forest demanded four months later, and what he was eventually commissioned to do. He was the presumed author of the petition of April, just as he was certainly the author of the petition of August. At all events no name but his appears in connection with either of these papers.
For four months the Resolutions of April, 1622, bore no practical fruit that we know of.  Then de Forest wearied of the slow hatching of the West India Board, or perhaps the directors of the Company requested him to aid them in hastening matters at the national headquarters. 
On the 26th of August, 1622, he petitioned the States General for “authorization to inscribe and enroll, for the colonies, families of the Christian Reformed Religion willing to make the voyage to the West Indies [America] for the advancement and service of the West India Company.”

States General refer the matter of the Walloon proposal to two southern states which take affirmative action

The States General had much to think of at this juncture, for the twelve years truce with Spain had expired and war had recommenced. They considered the petition and they mysteriously referred it to somebody else just as perplexed or wary statesmen do things now. They referred it down to the States of Holland and West Friesland, and the responsibility of action was promptly shouldered by this jurisdiction. So it came to pass, and the honor of authorizing the colony that became New Amsterdam and then New York rests with the local legislature States of Holland and West Friesland!

Des Forest empowered to inscribe and enroll colonists

On the 27th of August, 1622, the Representative Councils of these states:
taking action on the aforesaid petition, charged and authorized the said Jesse des Forest, as they do hereby charge and authorize him, to inscribe and enroll for the colonies all families having the qualifications requisite for being of use and service to the country, the same to be transported to the West Indies; under condition that the said des Forest so does with the mutual knowledge and correspondence of the magistrates of the respective cities where he may inscribe and enroll as above mentioned, and that he be bound to furnish a report thereof to the Lords Gentlemen” [of the States General].

It thus becomes evident that Jesse was planning to enlarge the scope of his enrollment so as to include citizens from other Dutch cities as well as Leyden and it is also evident that he no longer made such sweeping demands as at first.  He did not even ask that his colonists might govern themselves. No doubt “the said Jesse des Forest” went bravely at his enrolling, though all record of it has passed beyond human knowledge, his report having been lost. 
The wife and five children whom he had proposed to take to Virginia were presumably of the company which would sail to Dutch America. Meanwhile there occurred in the family a pious preparation for the expected voyage across the then awful Atlantic. In February, 1622, Henri de Forest, not quite sixteen years old, joined the church by profession of faith, and in June his elder brother Jean followed his example, as also their sister Rachel, a child of thirteen.

Dutch Colonial movement rapidly gains strength and focuses most intensely on Brazil and thepet “Wild Coast”.

Larger recruitings and outfittings than those of Jesse de Forest were at this time going on in the Netherlands. The colonial projects of the Holland merchants and statesmen were on a scale of surprising breadth and power. One vessel, to be followed by others, would plant settlements on the Hudson, the Delaware and the Connecticut, but that was not the initial plan.  The Dutch West India Company allocation of resources indicates that the settlement along the Hudson was the lowest priority.

The West India Company was finally organized on June 21, 1623. It immediately began to form vast projects, so vast that they were expected to astonish the world. One mighty fleet under Admiral Willekens was to wrest Brazil from the Spaniards.
File:Govert Flinck 003.jpg 

Jacob Willekens, second from the right. Painting done in 1642 by Govert Flink.

Willekens (1564 – 1649) was a Dutch admiral and a herring seller who went to sea again at the age of fifty for the Dutch West Indies Company. His most well-known success was undoubtedly the conquest of São Salvador da Bahia, the then capital of Brazil. His fleet  included 26-36 ships and 3,300 sailors.   At the beginning of June 1624, they began their attack from sea and soon captured the Portuguese stronghold with little resistance. They occupied Bahia for over a year before the local population took up arms under acting governor Matias de Albuquerque and Archbishop Dom Marcos Teixeira who eventually expelled them with the help of a combined Spanish-Portuguese fleet numbering 52 warships and 12,000 soldiers in May 1625.   This was the first major WIC privateering expedition to the region. 
 Another fleet was slated to seize the coasts of Congo and Angola, so as to ensure a supply of slaves for work in the new territory. Still another squadron was to cruise on the Atlantic and destroy all Spanish war vessels. Several vessels were also to plant colonies and trading posts along the Wild Coast as the northeastern coast of South America was then called. A single ship, probably to be followed by others, was to establish a colony on the Hudson River.

File:Dutch Squadron attacking Spanish fortress.jpg

Indeed, Admiral Willekens surprised Brazil and wrested it from Spain.  A smaller fleet seized the coasts of Congo and Angola, with a view to obtaining abundant slaves, and perhaps also negro soldiers, for the conquered regions. A reserve squadron as large as that of Willekens cleared the Atlantic of Spanish warships, and forwarded African laborers and recruits. 

Although slavery was illegal inside the Netherlands it flourished in the Dutch Empire, and helped support the economy.   By 1650 the Dutch had the pre-eminent slave trade in Europe.   They were overtaken by Britain around 1700. Historians agree that in all the Dutch shipped about 550,000 African slaves across the Atlantic, about 75,000 died on board before reaching their destinations. From 1596 to 1829, the Dutch traders sold 250,000 slaves in the Dutch Guianas, 142,000 in the Dutch Caribbean islands, and 28,000 in Dutch Brazil.  In addition, tens of thousands of slaves, mostly from India and some from Africa, were carried to the Dutch East Indies.  

Certain West India Company vessels were to establish trading posts and colonies in the Caribbean islands and along the “Wild Coast,” meaning the northern shore of South America from the Brazilian frontier to the Gulf of Maracaibo. The fleet for Brazil and the Wild Coast alone counted twenty-three ships and three clipper yachts, carrying five hundred cannon and manned by sixteen hundred sailors and seventeen hundred soldiers, besides colonists.

Jesse’s Journey to the Wild Coast revealed in “The Journal”

Jesse “Gone to the West Indies” and for centuries it was believed we knew of him no more, but his legacy remained as a driving force behind the settlement of New York.  Concerning Jesse de Forest the trail of information ran cold for historians and family scholars. After December 21st, 1623, there is no mention of him in the records of Leiden except two entries opposite his name in a tax list, “Gone to the West Indies,” which then meant, we must remember, any portion of the two Americas.

Until the early 20th century researchers believed the Resolutions authorizing the colony were the last record of Jesse de Forest. It was supposed that the Resolutions of the States of Holland and West Friesland contained the last authentic mention of Jesse de Forest's enterprises. Many have been the surmises as to his fate, and many the regrets that it could not be known whether he ever realized his hopes by going with a colony of his own people to the land of his desires.

Then,  there was a break in the case.x

The following information is from ‘A Walloon Family in America; Lockwood de Forest and His Forbears 1500 - 1848 by Mrs. Robert W. de Forest (2 vols), 1914. ‘xi Before this book was published there was speculation that maybe Jesse de Forest (and Jean de la Montagne) had come to Manhattan in 1623 or 1624.

A “Journal” was discovered revealing that Jesse did indeed lead a colony across the seas

While so many surmises were current, there lay hidden in the British Museum a most interesting and remarkable manuscript. A “Journal” of the voyage reveals that Jesse did indeed lead a colony across the seas, together with an account of his death in Guiana, far from his Dutch home and family. 

About 1901 Rev. George Edmondson discovered in the British Museum a manuscript known as Sloane MS. 179b. It is written in "quaint old French". It is a Journal of the voyage made by the "peres de familles" sent by the West India Co. to the coast of Guiana in 1623-1625.

The title of the manuscript as given on the first page is “Journal du voyage faict par les peres de familles enuoyes faict Mrs. les Directeurs de la Compagnee des Indes occidentales pour visiter la coste de Gujane”. So this was a Journal of Travel to visit the coast Gujan and constituted a deed executed by the fathers of families for Directors of the West Indies Company.

A transcription of the French and a translation into English are printed side-by-side in vol 2. Of A Walloon Family.
  • It is clear from the Journal that Jesse de Forest and Jean de la Montagne and others set sail from Amsterdam on 2 July 1623 on the Pigeon.
  • On 21 Oct 1623 they entered the Amazon.
  • On 16 Dec 1623 they reach the "Wyapoko" River.
  • On 22 Oct 1624 Jesse dies of sunstroke in Guiana near the Wyapoko (now Oyapok) River.
  • On 16 Nov 1625 Jean de la Montagne arrives back in the Netherlands.
Neither one could have been on the earliest ships to Manhattan. Books written before this (such as Riker's Revised History of Harlem, 1904) did not have the benefit of the information in this Journal.
To continue a bit - 12 Dec 1626 Jean de la Montagne marries Jesse's daughter, Rachel, in Leyden. Rachel and la Montagne came to New Netherland until they arrived in March 1637 (NS) on the ship, Rensselaerswyck. The log of that voyage is published in the Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts, ed. by A.J.F. van Laer.

Emily Johnston de Forest's 1914 hypothesis about the origin of the  Journal

It is not clear who wrote the journal. Mrs. de Forest speculates that Jesse may have started it and la Montagne finished it. However, it seems to be known as "Jesse de Forest's Journal."The identity of the writer of the Journal, a matter of great interest to scholars cannot be clearly established. The manuscript has been spoken of as Jesse de Forest's Journal, but Jesse died before many of the events related in the later pages had occurred. It is not improbable that one of Jesse's colonists and close friend, Jean Mousnier de la Montagne, “estudient en medicine,” was for at least part of the time the scribe. We shall probably never know surely.

Journal reported Jesse’s successful recruiting efforts in 1623

From the Journal itself we learn that Jesse, who in 1622 had been authorized to “inscribe and enroll families” had not been idle. True to his determination to found a colony across the seas he had already secured the names of a number of families who desired to settle in the Indies by 1623.

Gerard de Forest’s petition to the Court in Leiden to succeed his brother Jesse as a dyer of colors under the sanction of the Drapers’ Guild and permission is granted

Ten days before the above letter was written on the Wild Coast, Gerard de Forest filed a petition which deserves a place in the colonial history of Holland. It must be understood that the dyers of Leiden were divided into two classes, those favored ones who had a permit to dye in colors and those who might dye only in black. Jesse belonged to the former class and Gerard to the latter. Apparently an agreement had been entered into between them to the effect that if Jesse went abroad Gerard might apply for the vacated privilege.
At all events, Gerard did thus, apply either on or before the 21st of December, 1623, as we learn from a brief of his petition in the Aldermanic Record of Leiden. As the brief is an important paper, and as its leading date escaped both Riker and Baird, John William de Forest copied it in full in his 1900 treatise on the de Forests of Avesnes.

Court Journal L fol 52
de Gerard des Forest
To the honorable gentlemen of the Court: Gerard des Forest, a dyer of this city, respectfully announces that his the petitioner’s brother Jesse des Forest, who by virtue of your admission has dyed wools and camelets in this city, removed from here by the last ships which sailed from here for the West Indies; and accordingly he the petitioner would be glad to be employed in dyeing in colors. He therefore prays and requests that you will be pleased to admit him, in view of the fact that he will not increase the number but only succeed to the place of his absent brother. Which doing, etc., etc.
Let this be placed in the hands of the Superintendants and Governors of the chief Drapers’ Guild here, that they may communicate to the Court of this City their advice concerning this request, in order that, said advice having been heard, proper action may be taken in the mate.
Done at the meeting of the Court of this City on the 21st of December, 1623. In my presence: S. v. Baersdorp.

At another session of the Burgomasters just a week later was issued the following order:
The Court having first heard the advice of the aforesaid Superintendants and Governors, has hereby admitted and given permission to the petitioner to dye in colors wools and camelets here, provided he takes the customary oath to the Burgomasters and Rulers of this City, and conducts himself according to rules and regulations made and hereafter to be made with regard to the said dyeing.
Done at their meeting on the 4th of January, 1624. In my presence: S. v. Baersdorp.”

Jesse leaves Holland for Brazil and Guiana with a major part of Willekens fleet.

During that week, between the first of these aldermanic sessions and the second, the major part of Willekens fleet had left Holland for Brazil and Guiana, bearing thousands of fighting men and an uncertain number of colonists, of whom one was Jesse de Forest. De Laet’s statement of this departure translates as follows:

Of this fleet nineteen ships, among them the ship of the Admiral, left the Texel and the mouth of the Ems the 21st and 22nd of December (1623); the 23rd one ship and two small ones sailed out of the Maas (Meuse); the 25th of January, 1624, the vessel of the vice Admiral went from the Goeree (near Amsterdam); on the 26th of January, from Zealand, two ships and one small one; in all, 26.

The only vessels in this fleet which closely concern Jesse de Forest are the “one ship and two small ones” which sailed out of the Meuse, twenty miles south of Leiden, on the 23rd of December. They should be connected with the following item in a “List of the Effects of the West India Company,” in 1626, preserved in the records of Holland. One ship and two yachts destined for the trade of the Amazon and the Coast of Guiana, with the cargoes, florins 80,000. 
It will be observed that these three vessels did not quit the coast of Holland until December 23rd, two days after the briefing of Gerard de Forest's petition in which he spoke of his brother as having sailed for the West Indies. But the sailing may have been fixed for the 21st, and Gerard may have trusted to that when he presented his request. At all events a man on board a ship, at the mouth of the Meuse, had at least removed from Leiden and was little likely to return immediately.

The Pigeon scheduled to depart for the Wild Coast

The Journal says “at the beginning of their administration” the West India Company fitted out a small ship of about ninety tons, named the Pigeon. This yacht was routed to visit the Amazons and the coast of Guiana. This ship was to be commanded by Pieter Fredericsz of Harlem.

The allure of the South was its gold and jewels, dyes, coffee and spices

Jesse then felt that his opportunity had come. His first plan, to go to North America, had not been realized, but the accounts of South America were in some ways more alluring. The Dutch merchants at this period thought the colonization of North America was second in importance to that of the southerly continent. At the trading posts of South America they expected to find gold and possibly jewels, also dye woods, coffee and spices. The furs, tobacco and building timber of the northern continent seemed comparatively less important in comparison with the valuable and picturesque products of the South. They certainly did not tempt with the same glamour.

The prospect of transportation and employment were enough to satisfy Jesse and his recruits

Jesse eagerly petitioned the West India Company that his families might be “employed in the service of the Company” and transported to South America.  Holland was now swarming with refugees whose only plea was for employment and Jesse also was ready to be satisfied if the company would convey his families across the seas and promise to employ them after arrival.

Ten heads of families sent to scout a settlement location under the command of Jesse de Forest

The directors, with obvious wisdom, objected to the wholesale experiment of transporting families at once. Instead they offered to take Jesse and some of the heads of families – “Peres de familles,” as they called them– to the Wild Coast to select for themselves an advantageous site and to prepare it for the colony before risking the lives of women and children. A small band of men was therefore selected, ten besides our Jesse.
We quote once more from the Journal:
There were chosen for this purpose Louis Le Maire, Barthelemi Digan, Anthoine Descendre, Anthoine Beaumont, Jehan Godebon, Abraham Douillers, Dominique Masure, Jehan and Gilles Daynes brothers and Jehan Mousnier de la Montagne, over whom when landed the said Jesse desforest was to have command.”

Four signers of the Round Robin were on the first voyage

A few words are necessary regarding the members of this party and their leader. Four of the men selected had signed the Round Robin in July, 1621, and now two years later were still eager for emigration.
  • Jesse de Forest or as in the Round Robin “Jesse de Forest, tincturier”
  • Barthelemi Digan or “Barthelemy Digand, scyeur de bois”
  • Anthoine Descendre or “Anthoin Desendre, laboureur”
  • Jehan Mousnier de la Montagne or “Mousnier de la Montagne. estudient en medicine”
As we have just heard Jesse de Forest was to be in charge of his colonists after they landed

Fredericsz was the “Master” of the ship and de Forest was the “Captain” of the settlement

The identity and separate duties of Frediericz and de Forest, known in the Journal under the titles of “our Master” and “our Captain”, are somewhat puzzling at first, but they become clear after a little study. The Pigeon was under command of Pieter Fredericsz of Harlem, “our Master,” “le Maistre de navire,” as he was called. The peres de familles were placed under his direction until such time as they should find a location to suit them for their settlement after which they were to be under the leadership of Jesse de Forest, “our Captain.” He was indeed a judicious and capable leader, as we shall see from the tale narrated in the Journal. Among his services we note that he discovered good places for dyeing cotton and that he collected plants from which dyestuffs could be made for we must not forget that Jesse was a “tincturier.”

The incorrect hypothesis that Jesse went to New Netherland refuted by the Journal 

Jesse's Journal becomes enables the reconstruction of Jesse's own life but it provides evidence regarding the date of the founding of the New Amsterdam colony, which has been subject to controversy. It has been claimed that Jesse himself should be considered the Founder of New York.   It is interesting to trace how this very assertion came to be made. Before the discovery of the Journal our knowledge of Jesse practically came to an end with the statement of his brother Gerard in December, 1623, that Jesse removed from Leyden by the last ships which sailed to the West Indies. The good ship New Netherland under command of Cornelis Mey left Holland for New Netherland March, 1623.

It was natural to infer that Jesse had sailed in this ship with the colony which he had enlisted apparently for that purpose.   We know that Jesse negotiated with the Amsterdam Chamber of the West India Company, the outfitters of the ship that conveyed a colony of thirty families, mostly Walloons, to New Netherland.  The term West Indies used by Gerard in the statement about his brother was frequently, if not usually, employed to describe the whole of the Western Continent.  The inference that Jesse had led his colony at last to the site of the great city where his own descendants were later domiciled seemed reasonable, but does not necessarily follow.  The Journal and other papers discovered in disclose to us the early 1900s reveal the facts.

Departure delayed by damage to the mast of the Mackerel

It was on Saturday, July 1, 1623, that the “peres de familles” left Leyden, that “goodly and pleasant citie” as the Pilgrim Fathers had called it.  Jesse and his fellow scouts embarked at Amsterdam with hearts full of hope and confidence that they would before long be at their desired haven.   It was expected that a yacht called the Mackerel which had already left Holland would join the Pigeon.  The two ships would then sail together as far as the Amazon. From there the Mackerel was to go on to New Netherland. Both vessels hoped to accompany, for a time, a fleet which was on its way to Guinea to procure slaves.   The date for the sailing of the Pigeon had been arranged expressly so as to secure this added protection.   Plans changed when damage to the mast of the Mackerel necessitated delay.  The desired opportunity was lost.  For a short time the two ships joined a fleet bound for Morocco under Captain Couast, but the mast of the Mackerel gave way again and she and the Pigeon were obliged to come to anchor.  

7 members of the Mackerel crew defect and more delays follow

On July 28th, being then anchored off the Downs, Kent County, they met Pieter Jansz of Flushing.  He was probably an old friend with the ship of which he had command. Pieter Fredericsz, the Master of the Pigeon, invited Jansz and the Master of the Mackerel on board and entertained them.  A squabble arose between the Master of the Pigeon, who seems to have been a rather rough and quarrelsome kind of man, and his principal sailors. Harsh words were spoken on both sides.  Seven of his minor officers and crew left him and he had the greatest difficulty in filling their places. It thus became necessary to find a new surgeon to replace the one who had just left.  That too caused an added delay, for the new surgeon wished to get married before sailing, and the Master had to give another feast in honor of him and his friends.

The Pigeon overtook an English ship and raided it

Add contrary winds and one cause for delay following another, and it was nearly two months after the voyagers set sail from Amsterdam before they rounded Cape Finisterre. Near Finisterre they described another vessel and promptly gave chase. This was kept up until nightfall. In spite of the darkness and the disapproval of the pilot the Master wished to follow still farther, but he was finally dissuaded. A few days later, still another sail was sighted.  The Pigeon again started in pursuit, although this time the chase was more difficult as there was no wind. The Master was not to be discouraged.  All hands were put to work at the oars.  On overhauling this ship it was found that she was an English vessel returning from Newfoundland.  Holland and England were on friendly terms at this time.  One would think that would have been reason enough to lett the ship alone, but those were days when all seafarers were more or less buccaneers.   The Master returned from his visit to the other vessel laden with provisions and with much clothing taken from the chests of the sailors.

Controversy ensued over the course the ship was following along the coast

Then Jesse's righteous indignation was aroused and he asserted himself, insisting on the return of the clothes that he evidently considered personal property.  The pilot also asserted himself and accused the Master of violating his orders and delaying the voyage by following the coast, presumably in search of booty. Thereafter, the Pigeon was sailed on a more direct course.  

The Mackerel went on its separate way to the Hudson in June, 1623

All went well with the two ships until September 14th, when they were not far from the Island of Madeira. At that point, the wind being favorable, the Mackerel left the other vessel laying her course according to the Journal for New Netherland.  Here it is worth while to pause for a moment in our narrative to follow the Mackerel to her anchorage in the Hudson River.  Van Wassenaer, in his Historical Account, dated April, 1624, speaks as follows regarding this vessel:
“The yacht Maeckeree sailed out last year, 1623, on the 16th of June, and arrived yonder in New Netherland on the 12th of December. That was indeed somewhat late, but it wasted time in the savage islands to catch a fish, a Spanish prize, and did not catch it; so ran the luck.”
According to this statement the yacht reached the Hudson River in December, and there we leave her for the winter months.

The Makerel and New Netherland expel a French “intruder” from the Hudson

Meanwhile the ship known as “New Netherland” was crossing the seas with the thirty families, mostly Walloons, on board.   They arrived early in May in the bay below Manhattan Island. There they found a French vessel that was just about to claim the land in the name of the King of France.   They also found there the little yacht Mackerel that,  according to van Wassenaer’s account, had lain above in the Hudson River during the winter.  So the Makerel was opportunely on hand in this most critical moment to aid in expelling the French intruder.

The date of the Wallons arrival in New Netherland was May, 1624

The date of the arrival of the New Netherland was clearly established by the Journal.  The Mackerel left the Pigeon off the Island of Madeira in September, 1623.   Her stated objective point was New Netherland. The meeting with the ship New Netherland could took place in May, 1624.

Contemporary copies of original West India Company records document the full instructions sent over with Mey of the New Netherland for the conduct of the new colony.  This paper is dated March, 1624.   The verified authenticity of these papers further fixes the year of the beginning of the formal Dutch West India colony on the Hudson.   They were signed by three members of the West India Company.  Unfortunately no list of the colonists is given.

The Walloons colonists arriving in New Netherland may have included signers of the Round Robin

We seem to have made a long digression in pursuit of information about this colony but all these ramifications have a bearing upon questions concerning Jesse and his colonists. We know from the the Journal that our Jesse never came to New Netherland. That does not negate the probability that the signers of Jesse's Round Robin were not among the earliest colonists at New Amsterdam. We know them to have been mostly Walloons and van Wassenaer tells us further that they were freemen, that is not connected with any special colony.
That is all we know about them personally. The records of New Amsterdam for the first fifteen years are not in existence, but after these fifteen silent years we find mentioned in them many surnames which are also among the signatures on Jesse's Round Robin of 1621, his first list of colonists. Besides the names of de Forest and La Montagne we find the following: 
Cornille, Campion, Catoir, Damont, De Carpentier, De Croy, De Crenne, Du Four, De la Mot, Du Pon, De Trou, Gaspar, Ghiselin, Gille, Lambert, Le Roy, Le Rou, Maton, and Martin.
This would seem to be somewhat more than a coincidence. It seems likely that the many owners of these names belonged to the families that Jesse “inscribed and enrolled.”

As far as the dates are concerned it would even have been possible for the eight “peres de familles” who returned from Guiana to Holland on the Pigeon to have reached there in time to sail again on the New Netherland in the latter part of March, 1624, for they left the Wyapoko on January 1, 1624. They could have crossed the Atlantic in less than two months. But alluring as this theory is, we can assert as fact only what the Journal tells us.

Enccounter with cunning islanders

After the departure of the Mackerel, the Pigeon sailed on alone.  They stopped occasionally at islands where the Master thought they might find fresh provisions. Some of the islands were uninhabited, but on one of them the voyagers saw large prairies on which herds of cows were grazing. “The Master landed and conferred with the negro inhabitants who promised him bucks and other provisions tomorrow. When the morrow came not an animal was in sight they had all been driven into the mountains, which proves that savages are not always so simple and trusting as their more sophisticated white friends.”

The Journal has its share of fish stories

Naturally there are plenty of fish stories told in the Journal, Many flying fish fell upon the deck .  On one occasion a seven foot shark was caught with its living family discovered inside of it. The most remarkable tale is that told of a little fish like a herring with a flat head shaped like the moon. This little fish had attached itself to the belly of the shark by the top of its head.  When the sailors put the little fish into an empty cask it climbed out aiding itself by the top of its head. Impossible as this tale seems, there really is a fish called the Remora (or Stay fish) that is able to perform such remarkable gymnastics.

The Pigeon encountered the crafty and unscrupulous Pieter Jansz in the Amazon

The Pigeon spent about six weeks exploring and trading on the Amazon.

On October 16th, the ship having now almost reached the equator neared the North Cape, which was just north of the mouth of the Amazon. Here our company sighted another sail and behold it turned out to be that of Pieter Jansz of Flushing, whom they had left off the English Downs. The two ships entered the Amazon together on October 21st, fifty days after the Pigeon had left Plymouth.  Pieter Jansz had for years been in command of a trading vessel which made frequent voyages to the Wild Coast, for the early efforts of the Dutch were mainly devoted to trading.   The factors who represented Dutch enterprise on this coast usually made an engagement for three years and trafficked on the different rivers Their supplies were furnished to them periodically by merchants from Holland brought them fresh goods, often of a very tawdry character, which were bartered with the natives for valuable products. Annotta letter wood and tobacco were thus obtained by Europeans for almost nothing.

Sir Walter Raleigh had met Jansz or Janson of Flushing as he called him at Cayenne in 1617, and said of him that “he had traded that place about a dussen years.” No wonder that Jansz “knew the tricks and could skilfully run himself on sandbars in the Amazon and so block the passage of the Pigeon that his own pinnace was enabled to go ahead and secure the best of the traffic.”   Pieter was a clever trader.

Jesse's party explored both the Amazon and the Wyapoko.  This was not the first time colonists had gone to these rivers.
  • Sir Walter Raleigh made his famous voyage in 1595 searching for Eldorado, which was supposed to be far inland back of Guiana.  
  • In 1612, a Spaniard writing to his king told him, “There are forty houses of English and Flemings in the settlement which I report to be on the river Guyapoco, and there be eighty men in it, and they occupy themselves in sowing tobacco and cultivating it.”  
  • The River Essequibo in Guiana was also an attractive goal for the Dutch from the first,   Captain Gromwegel from Zee land arrived there with two ships and a galliote in 1616 .  It is said that he was “the first man that took firme foteing on Guiana by the good liking of the natives.”   Gromwegel, or his son, continued in command on the Essequibo for over fifty years.
There were indeed six English and Irish colonies there on the Amazon river.  There were constant rumors of belligerent Spanish ships near at hand, “ one Dutch vessel having recently been burned to save it from capture by these enemies,” and it was known that there were also Spanish settlements up the river at Para.

Recommendation to locate the Walloon colony along the coast for defense from the Spanish

On November 7th, the Master asked the peres de familles if these places pleased them and they answered, “No, not for settling families there,” adding that the Spaniards at Para knowing that there were families living below them on the river would surely “visit them to their death,” especially as the Spaniards would have the aid of the flux and reflux of the tide in coming down the river and in returning. Hartsinck the historian says that this is what the Spaniards did only two years later killing off almost all the Dutch colonists on the Amazon  They thought it better to seek a place along the coast from which these enemies, should they attack the Walloon colony, could not return to the Amazon without going over as far as the Azores to pick up the wind. This would surely have a tendency to deter such attacks.   

Thatched huts along the shore of a river. This type of dwelling is home to the indigenous peoples the Walloon expedition would have encountered


The Master made a compact with the English

The Master tried to induce the voyagers to start a settlement of their own on the Amazon or to remain there with the English colonists. Failing in this plan, he merely “made a compact” with the English in the name of the West India Company, after which he gave them a feast and had the cannon fired as a salute. It is worthy of notice that who gave these feasts.

The Walloons actively explored and documented their findings with notes and maps

On December 4th, after six weeks on the Amazon, our adventurers were back again at the North Cape, evidently bound for the Wyapoko River. This river is now called the Oyapok and to day forms the boundary between French Guiana and northern Brazil. They explored the coast in their pinnace, and as they advanced, the scribe wrote full notes and drew outlines of the shores as seen from the ship. He also made very interesting maps of the rivers up which they ventured, showing in each case the course of the vessel, the soundings and the places of anchorage. Many of these maps and views were beautifully colored.

The Tragedy in Guiana

Jesse’s party stopped at Carippo, home of the Yaos Indians, one of whom had been to England and returned with Robert Harcourt, an English traveller

At last, on December 16th, the Pigeon reached the mouth of the Wyapoko River and on the seventeenth came to anchor there. Opposite the ship's anchorage was Carippo, one of the settlements of the Yaos Indians, who received the colonists in a very friendly way and willingly furnished them with fresh provisions. 

This tribe occupied all the lower stretches of the river. Several of their rulers had had the advantage of visiting foreign countries. The “cacique” of Carippo had been in England for some years when he was a boy, and “Martin” as he was then called, had returned to his native land in 1608 with Robert Harcourt, a well known English traveler. Harcourt lived at Carippo during his stay in the region, and he and Martin sometimes “had good laughs together over the simplicity of the savages”.

At Wyapoko Village the Walloons found Dutch speking Indians who welcomed them

Five or six leagues up the river, probably at Wyapoko Village, there was another Indian cacique who had lived for some time at Hoorn in Holland. He spoke excellent Dutch and sent friendlymessages to our Dutch colonists. No wonder therefore that the peres de familles felt almost as if they had arrived among friends!

The future leader Yapoko travelled to France with a voyager named Mocquet

In the account of a voyager, Jean Mocquet, we hear of still another of these Indian travelers, a lad who was taken to France in 1604. He was to be the ruler of Yapoko (Wyapoko) when he became of age and was called “Yapoko.” Meanwhile he insisted on going to France with Mocquet and there he had many interesting adventures, as may studied further in the account of Mocquet's voyages.

The Walloons found a location for a settlement and confirmed their choice with the Master

For ten days the colonists explored the river and its tributaries, finding much that pleased them and discovering many possibilities in the way of agriculture. On December 27th, after their return to the ship, the Master called the peres de familles together and formally asked them one by one “if they had found a place to their liking. They replied Yes and that they wished to come and live there with their families.”

The prospective settlers are dismayed to learn that the Dutch West India Company will only grant passage back to Holland to 2 among them

Then followed a startling and wholly unexpected blow. The Master informed them that he had orders from the Directors of the West India Company to leave the peres de familles there, with the exception of two, whom he should take back with him. They were all filled with consternation. Not one of them had expected any such treatment. How were arrangements to be made for bringing over the families if only two of their number were allowed to return to Holland! They all “began in divers ways to excuse themselves,” like the guests who were invited to the “great feast” described in the Bible.

The Captain offers to stay behind and his terms are met by the Master

Then the wise and self sacrificing Captain said that he was willing to be one of those who should stay, if the Master would give to him in the place of those peres de familles who wished to return the same number of sailors. To this the Master agreed and so, as the Journal says, there remained with our said Captain Louis le Maire, and I (from among the families) and our gunner, four sailors and the surgeon's mate, nine persons in all.” The person who called himself “I” was, of course, at that time the writer of the manuscript, and in view of the evidence was presumably Jean Mousnier de la Montagne.

On December 28th, the peres de familles depart with scanty provisions

On December 28th, according to the record in the Journal of the departure of the peres de familles, “they prepared everything which they were willing to give us” - a quantity of cocoa, which is still one of the staple products of Guiana, some axes and knives (number not given), a small cannon, and the pinnace which belonged to the Pigeon. A scanty outfit!

Those remaining moved across the river to Commaribo where the Yaos had a settlement

Before the ship, sailed the little company who were to be left moved across the river to Commaribo, a high mountain on the seashore just to the west of the mouth of the river, “a fruitful and pleasant enough place,” where their friends the Yaos had a settlement .

There appears in the Journal, dated only five days after the Master's first statement of the Company's orders, the meagre entry, “The first day of the year 1624 our ship left to return to Holland.” This was just six months after the departure of the colonists from Amsterdam. 

Wassenaer recorded a revealing letter from one of the settlers

And it is all that we should now know about these brave men and their circumstances and plans for the future at precisely the time when they were left by the ship were it not for the invaluable Nicolaes van Wassenaer. In his “Historical Account of all the Memorable Events in Europe Asia and Africa happening from 1621 to 1632” .  Nicholas de Wassenaer, a physician at Amsterdam, published his work in annual volumes, each relating to the affairs of the previous year.

Dated in the margin December, 1623, he says while telling of the Wyapoko, that the situation of that place might be learned from a letter sent in 1623 by some person then living there to a friend in Holland. He thus quotes the letter
Although the letter from our Captain suffices to inform you both of the success of our voyage and the excellence of this region where we live, I will not neglect to fulfill the promise which I made at my departure. Our voyage was very happily concluded; it took us three months and a week to complete it; six weeks were spent in England and seven on the ocean, and thereafter we visited the Amazones and arrived at Wyapoko, which is the place where we now live. 

We found very friendly natives here, who treated us well; the streams are convenient and the land overflows with everything that is needed to support human life: good bread and fine fish. A cake of Cassavi, measuring one and a half feet across and containing enough food for six or seven people, is sold here for a coral, worth a farthing; the bread is superior to the best that is found in Holland. A hog sells for two knives of a stiver apiece, a deer for a hatchet of one shilling; a rabbit and a partridge for two farthings; a fish as large as a codfish and of good flavor for two farthings. Tree fruits have a much finer flavor than in the Netherlands. A man can live here on one crown a year better than on one hundred crowns in the Netherlands. 

We expect here the families from Holland; meanwhile, we shall diligently visit with our shallop the three rivers which flow into the gulf and through the adjoining country.

We have advice from a captain of the savages, who at one time lived in Holland, at Hoorn, and who speaks good Dutch, five (Dutch) miles higher up in the country along this river where no Christian has ever been; we shall go there also, in the hope of finding something curious which will be communicated to you likewise. 

Done in Wyapoko, the 31st of December.
Your friend, N.N.

To this letter van Wassenaer added these words:
The families whom they expect are people going thither from Leyden; it is a beautiful paradise where one can live well without working and sufficiently protect himself against all attacks. It were desirable if many Christians went thither, in order that the light of salvation might be revealed to the heathen who are plunged in darkness. 
This well situated land lies north of the equinoctial line; nothing is wanting there but the knowledge of God and his Son, who through the Holy Ghost bestows His blessings upon us. In this want the careful management of the West India Company will undoubtedly provide. 
The letter from Wyapoko could not have been written by Jesse, because “our Captain” is mentioned in the text, and must therefore have been from the hand of either La Montagne or le Maire - probably the former. How interesting it would be to us had “the letter from our Captain” been preserved as well! Might it not have been that the Captain's letter, as well as the one just quoted, which was presumably from La Montagne, was addressed to Marie du Cloux, Jesse's wife? After La Mon tagne's return to Leyden intimate relations were reestablished with Jesse's family there, and to whom would van Wassenaer be more likely to turn for information about Jesse and his colonists than to Jesse's wife?

The departure of the Pigeon was surely an emotional farewell for the 3 brave colonists left in Commaribo

Intense must have been the loneliness and yearning with which the three marooned pioneers and their companions watched the Pigeon sail away, carrying back to Holland and their loved ones there so many of those who had been their close comrades for the last six months.

Pieter Janz returned 5 days after the Pigeon departed

Living as they did at the Indian village of Commaribo, which was situated “on a fertile mountain” overlooking the sea, they could easily see any ship which approached, and it must have been with great rejoicing that five days later they welcomed Pieter Jansz, whom they had last seen on the Amazon. Certainly he had outwitted them in trading with the natives at that time, but at this juncture he was a friend from home. 
Our new settlers began to explore the country in earnest, for which purpose they found the pinnace most useful. There were a number of native houses on the shores of the river, all of them with thatched roofs and built on high piles, as may be seen in the picture which was made of the Wyapoko. 

The houses were undoubtedly thus elevated because, as we are told, there were marshes above the mouth of the river which were continually flooded. This elevation must also have been useful as a protection from wild animals. 

for all rights reserve photo see:

The Yaos catered to every need of the 3 Christians who lived amongst them

The Yaos, the nearest Indian neighbors of the newcomers, continued to be very friendly, so that when a good site farther up the river was proposed later for the settlers, it was deemed wise for them to remain where they were on account of the great affection which the Yaos had for them. In fact, so helpful were the natives usually that we read in an old account of the Amazon and the coast of Guiana: “The Christians take no pains nor labor for anything. The Indians house them, work for them and bring them victuals, receiving iron work or glass beads and such like ‘contemptible things’ as reward.

Jesse was instrumental in encouraging a first ever peace between rival Indian communities

Jesse, at any rate, was no such idler. He seems to have been a true leader and to have had a good deal of influence with the natives. An interesting example of his success in dealing with them is told in the Journal. The Caribs (of Cayenne) came on a visit to their friends the Yaos, and the next day there appeared in canoes, a third tribe, the Aricoures from the Cassipoure River who were deadly enemies to the Caribs. The Yaos, being on friendly terms with both parties, were much troubled for a battle between the hostile tribes seemed inevitable. Both sides prepared for action. 

The original inhabitants of French Guiana were Carib and Arawak Indians.

Here was an opportunity for Jesse to exercise his powers as a peace maker. He intervened, and with the aid of the Yaos prevailed upon the Caribs to desist, provided that the Aricoures should ask them to do so. 

The Journal continues, “Their ceremony was as follows: The Caribs obliged them (the Aricoures) to wait on the sea shore with their arms and (as the Caribs) fitted the arrow to the bow ready to let fly, the Aricoures took water and poured it on their heads.

This done, the Caribs throwing down their arms rushed into the canoes of the others and embraced them.” The Yaos, to celebrate a peace which had never before existed between Caribs and Aricoures, entertained them together for eight days. 

A small number of other foreigners lived in the area and were on good terms with our 3 settlers

Indians, however, were not the only neighbors of the colonists. An Englishman who had three negroes working for him lived on a near-by river, and a countryman of their own from the Texel, for the price of four axes, sold them a fine tobacco field not far off.  When the necessities of hunger required or they had time to spare, they went hunting or fishing. Wild hogs and deer were very plentiful, and they also shot rabbits, partridges, etc. The fish caught in the stream were abundant and of excellent quality.

Jesse’s relentless exploration produced excellent sources of tobacco, dye-making material, hard woods and valued ores.

Jesse was indefatigable in exploring. He was always making long excursions and spying out the land. Splendid situations for cities and fortifications were found, and good tobacco fields, where the leaves of the plant were two and a half feet long and one foot broad. 
We have already said that Jesse was interested in all matters which pertained to the business of dyeing, and it was on these expeditions that he discovered the places especially advantageous for dyeing cotton and also various dye-woods, particularly oreillan, from the seeds of which a valuable dye was obtained. The dye itself was called annotto or arnotto and produced a vivid red color known as “bastard scarlet.” 
Perhaps the most valuable product from the point of view of the Dutch trader was the letter (or leopard - or speckle) wood. This was a very remarkable wood of a rich brown color with curious black markings, as might be inferred from its names. It was as hard as ebony and weighed about eighty pounds to the square foot. It was then worth L30 or L40 sterling a ton, but it is now exceedingly rare.
Near the mouth of the river, at both Commaribo and Carippo, valuable metals were found - golden marcasite and other ores.
These were indeed such treasures as the colonists had hoped to find when they first planned to emigrate to the Wild Coast.

Jesse visited the Caribs the following September

In September Jesse visited the Caribs in their settlement at Cayenne. They received him very kindly, undoubtedly remembering his good services at the time when he averted their fight with the Aricoures.

October 22nd, 1624 Jesse died of sun stroke and his loss was mourned by the Christians and Indians alike

Eight months had passed since the sailing of the Pigeon. Day followed day, each of them full of business, but on none did the ships arrive containing the families. Still, Jesse did not despair and he was actively exploring when on October 13th “he had a sun stroke as the sun was very strong that day.” He fell in a faint in the canoe and thus they brought him back to his home. A severe fever ensued, and two days later, under advice from those who had lived in the country and understood its climate, they bled him. This gave him some relief, but as soon as he felt a little better he became impatient to resume his activities, to “go on the sea again,” and having done so he experienced a second sunstroke with redoubled fever. Three days longer he suffered and then we find in the Journal this entry: “On the 22nd of October, 1624, our said captain died, much regretted by the Christians and Indians who had taken a great liking to him.” The same day his friends carried him to his grave, “as honorably as possible.” After the burial each of them discharged charged his gun three times over the grave and they then ended the ceremonies by firing the cannon also. 
Thus we must leave Jesse the Walloon alone in his strange sepulcher, in the land of his hopes - the new world to which he had so ardently desired to lead a colony of his countrymen. He had planned, he had petitioned, he had waited. Finally he had set forth, not as he had wished but as he could. Here too he had been honorable and resourceful and self-sacrificing. Now the end had come - an end full of the irony of a great tragedy.

The Colonists Return to Holland

Little remains to be told of the Guiana colony. With Jesse, their Captain, no longer there to lead them, various incidents occurred which show that they missed his judicious mind and steadying hand.

With barter supplies running low, the party of nine decided unanimously to build a boat and depart for the Caribbean Islands

One very wise decision they made about two months after Jesse's death. It was now almost a year since the Pigeon had left the little party of nine, including the three peres de familles, in Guiana. The Master of the Pigeon had then promised that the Directors would soon send over the families, and so the peres had waited as patiently as they could. Now, however, matters were becoming serious. Provisions and goods for barter were running low and there was no way to replace them. The Indians had been kind and helpful, but would they be as helpful when the supply of barter goods were exhausted? Their own methods were to hunt or fish when they were hungry and to gather cotton, oreillan, and other products only when they really had some immediate use for them. But the Walloons needed more dependable aid than the Indians did and had to have more systematic plans for the future. They wrote, “Fearing that in time we should be obliged to force the Indians to give us food we assembled the other Christians who were at Commaribo to consult together as to what we ought to do.”
Arawaks Guyana

The assembled colonists decided without a dissenting voice that they should take immediate steps for departure while they still had stores on hand. This decision was reached on December 20, 1624. The most important thing to do was to reach the Caribbean Islands, where European ships touched frequently. On one of these ships they could probably get passage to Holland, or, even if that were not possible, they could there await the arrival of some of the West India Company's vessels, which it was known often stopped at the islands. But how were the colonists to get to the Caribbean Islands? The pinnace had seen much service and was by this time unseaworthy. As for tools with which to make another, they had no saws - only axes and planes with which to build a seagoing craft.
Nevertheless, they were not to be daunted, and on January 1, 1625, they left Commaribo to find a suitable place up the river for building their boat.

At a spot along the Wyapoko River they crafted a boat using only axes and planes and their bare hands

There were ten of these amateur shipwrights, six of the company that had been left by the Pigeon and four other “Christians” who had joined them. They chose a place where the conditions were good for shipbuilding and natural provisions plentiful, and there they worked so industriously that in six weeks they had hewn “150 planks 20 feet long and 1 foot wide, with prow, knees and other necessary things.” Then, while some of the men gathered gum with which to pitch the boat, others stripped the bark off certain trees to make ropes. Meanwhile new sails were made from the men's hammocks, for necessity, as we know, is the mother of invention and the cotton hammocks (“hamaka”) which the Indian women made were wonderfully fine and strong.

Some of the peres de familles left the group temporarily to take sides in an Indian conflict; this was ill-advised and they returned disillusioned

In the midst of this important work a number of the builders went off to help the Yaos fight their enemies. We, for our part, shall not leave the shipbuilding, in which we are so much concerned, in order to follow them for the tale of the war is quite another story. Besides that, had Jesse been there, he would certainly not have approved of the peres de familles risking their lives thus needlessly at a time when so much depended on each one.
Other colonists had suffered seriously from aiding one Indian tribe against another and the year that the Pigeon went to the Amazon some prosperous settlers there who had done this very thing had to be taken back to Holland through fear for their lives. Our colonists came back from their warlike expedition rather disgusted with the bloodthirsty natures of their friends the Yaos.

3 weeks from the completion of their new boat a Dutch boat commanded by a van Stapels of Flushing arrived to take them back to the Fatherland

After their return the boat building went bravely on. The keel was thirty feet long and the boat was to be thirty-six feet over all and twelve feet wide -about the proportions of the pinnace. When their boat was so far advanced that its builders hoped to launch it in three weeks, there suddenly appeared at their landing on May 23rd a boat full of Dutchmen! What was the meaning of this? Had they indeed not been abandoned? It transpired that this was the pinnace of the Flying Dragon, a ship belonging to the Zeeland Chamber of the West India Company and commanded by Gelyn van Stapels of Flushing.
Van Stapels, who was immediately called “our Master,” told the boat builders that he had been with Vice-Admiral Lucifer on the Amazon, where they had been engaged in that greatly heralded Conquest of Brazil. But although the conquest was not as yet fully accomplished, he had come according to the orders of the West India Company, to take the party left by the Pigeon sixteen months ago back to the Fatherland if they so desired. This as the colonists said, “gave us great joy.”
As the new boat was not ready for launching, a raft was made from some of the left-over planks. On this the boat-builders placed all their clothing and the irons from the dilapidated pinnace, and so it was floated down the river. At Commaribo they collected the remainder of their stores, and after, let us hope, bidding farewell to the friendly Indians, they gladly set sail on May 28, 1625, from the Wyapoko on the Flying Dragon.

The colonists depart on Board the Flying Dragon, and then, after receiving a 500 pound turtle as a gift from the Caribs, are transferred to the Black Eagle for the return home

The ship sailed to the north along the coast to join Admiral Lucifer, then awaiting them on the Essequibo River. As they passed Cayenne, their friends the Caribs brought them some of the precious “letter wood” and a turtle which weighed five hundred pounds. On August 3rd they reached Surinam, where they learned that the Admiral was still at Essequibo, and thither van Stapels went for orders. The Admiral then decided to transfer his command to the Flying Dragon, and to send his own ship, the Black Eagle, back to Holland with the colonists and all the accumulated merchandise which his people had derived from trade.

On board the Black Eagle they return to Flushing on November 16th, 1625

After all this unloading and reloading had been accomplished, our friends, with Gelyn van Stapels still their Master, were put aboard the Black Eaglethatch to return to their homes. The two ships sailed northward together past Tobago and through the Leeward and Windward (or Caribbean) Islands. At St Vincent Admiral Lucifer and the Flying Dragon parted from the Black Eagle, the latter pursuing her northerly course with the eager band of returning voyagers on board.
September 24th found the Black Eagle to the east of Sombrera Island and the note to this effect is the last entry in their record except the final one: “On the 16th of November 1625 we arrived at Flushing …. for which God be praised.”

The legacy of the Wild Coast settlement is the small modern Caribbean country of Guyana, the only Commonwealth country in South America rich in environmental and bio-diversity

Guyana, officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, and previously known as British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana has been a former colony of the British, Dutch, French and for 200 years the Spanish. It is the only state of the Commonwealth of Nations on mainland South America, and is also a member of the Caribbean Community, which has its secretariat headquarters in Guyana's capital, Georgetown. Guyana is also one of the few Caribbean countries that are not islands. Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom on 26 May 1966 and became a Republic on 23 February 1970.
Historically, the region known as "Guiana" or "Guayana" comprised the large shield landmass north of the Amazon River and east of the Orinoco River known as the "Land of many waters". 

Historic Guyana is made up of three Dutch colonies: Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice. Modern Guyana is bordered to the east by Suriname, to the south and southwest by Brazil, to the west by Venezuela, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean. Guyana is one of the four non-Spanish-speaking territories on the continent, along with Brazil (Portuguese), Suriname (Dutch) and French Guiana (French).

The Wild Coast was deemed to hold far greater promise than New Netherland on the Hudson

Given the contrast of present day Guyana vs New York it seems at first glance surprising that Jesse de Forest should have emigrated in person to the former instead of to the latter. But to the Hollanders of 1623, northern South America promised to be of vastly more importance than the country of the Delaware and Hudson. From New Netherland they hoped to draw nothing more than furs, tobacco, and building timber. From the Caribbean Islands, Guiana and Brazil they expected dye-woods, coffee, gold and perhaps spices and jewels. To the Hudson they sent but two vessels, the New Netherland and the little Mackerel. To South America they sent a fleet of twenty-six sails, bearing thousands of mariners and soldiers, besides colonists. Such evidently was their idea of the relative value of the two regions to Holland. Doubtless Jesse de Forest when he sailed in latter December, 1623, for eastern Guiana, believed that he had chosen wisely in preferring the basin of the Oyapok to the land of the Mohicans and Mohawks. He might help to found Greater New York, but how could he foresee it.

Emmigrants to New Netherland who were enrolled by Jesse de Forest include our du Trieux ancestors

Let us turn to the emigrants, presumably of Jesse de Forest's enrolling, who sailed for the Hudson some ten weeks after he sailed for Guiana. John William de Forest found the following statement on page 11 of volume 7 of Wassenaer's contemporary narrative as translated by Mr. George R. Howel:
The West India Company having been chartered to explore rivers, did not neglect the same, but in the spring (of 1624) equipped a ship of 130 lasts (260 tons) called the New Netherland, whose master was CornelIs Jacobsen Mey of Hoorn, with a company of thirty families, most of whom were Walloons, to plant a colony there. In the beginning of March they sailed and directed their course for the Canary Islands and steered for the Wild Coast; and a favorable wind happily brought them in the beginning of May into the River formerly known as the River of the Mountains, now called the Mauritius River lying in forty and one half degrees The Hudson.” (The Hudson).

Again, questions remain about the reason for the ship filled with Walloons stopped over and at the Wild Coast

Once again we are left with more questions than answers. One guesses that Mey, having reached the Canaries, pushed across the Atlantic to Guiana, not because this was the easiest way to get from Holland to the Hudson, but because he had direct need to reach Oyapok. Did he transport reinforcements and supplies there?

The du Trieux were on the the original Walloon ship to the Hudson

Charity’s 4x great grandparents Philippe Antoni du Trieux and Susanna du Chesne were married in 1621. No list of Mey's emigrants has survived, but we are certain that two of them were Philippe and Susanna. Shortly after arriving in New Netherlands they became the proud parents of Sarah du Trieux (1626- 1692). She grew up to marry Jesse’s son Isaac de Foreest (1616-1674) married. Issac and Sarah were Charity's 3x great grandparents. 
Two others who may have been aboard the original Walloon ship to the Hudson may have been Simon de Rapalje and his wife Catherine Tricot better known as Caterina Trico.

Defining a place for Jesse de Forest in American history

In the mouth of the Hudson, Mey found two craft, a Dutch armed yacht called the Mackerel, and a Frenchman who was about to land for the purpose of setting up the arms of France. “But the Hollanders would not permit him,” relates Wassenaer, “opposing it by the orders of their High Mightinesses the States General and the Directors of the West India Company.” And to make sure of the legality of their case they manned a pinnace carrying two guns and convoyed him out of the river. The incident is notable, as showing that there was then no Dutch garrison, or official occupancy, on the shores of New York Bay, and that the Protestant Walloon colony had arrived just in time to save the region from preemption by a great Catholic power. If Jesse de Forest's repeated petitions and persevering recruitments were efficient in bringing about this result, though only this, he deserves a niche in American history.

Captain Mey established 4 settlements in New Netherland with one at “Muderer’s Island that may have been the precursor of Manhatten

Four settlements were established by Mey. The principal one was at Fort Orange, long since known as Albany. Another of much strategic importance was established on the lower Hudson. Fort Nassau was another on the Delaware a little below the site of Philadelphia. The fourth small and temporary settlement was near the mouth of the Connecticut. 
From the contemporaneous account of Wassenaer we learn that the upper fort in the country of the Maykens, or Mohicans, had four bastions and a topping of palisades. A smaller work was Fort Wilhelmus, situated on Murderer's Island, a spot as yet not identified. “ It was for the defense of the lower river,” explains Wassenaer. “On leaving there you lay your course for the west wind, and having got it to the Bermudas, whence homeward by the current.”
Obviously a spot within easy reach of the sea. It might even be Manhattan Island, for we learn that Murderer's Island was at one time called Prince's Island, a suggestion that it must have been one of the nobler islands of the bay. Strange indeed would it be if the warlike and maritime Hollanders should have failed to perceive that the site of New York city was the strategic and commercial centre and key of their New Netherland, including under that term all the lands between the Connecticut, the upper Hudson and the Delaware.

The first harvest was abundant, an auspicious historical milestone for Jesse de Forsest’s Walloon recruits

The forts being built, or partly so, the colonists “forthwith put the spade into the ground,” says Wassenaer, “and before the Mackerel sailed the grain was nearly as high as a man, so that they were bravely advanced.”
A great historical event was unconsciously chronicled in these simple words. The first permanent, cultivating town-building settlement of New York had been accomplished by a handful of French-speaking Protestants, recruited and enrolled by Jesse de Forest of Avesnes. Since then civilized man has not for one moment relinquished his hold on the shores of the Hudson, but has prospered there beyond all other colonizing example, developing millions of population and uncountable wealth.

The Walloons were “much charmed” by the new World

The settlers wrote home in good spirits by the Mackerel, which reached Amsterdam in August. “We were much charmed on arriving in this country,” they said. “ Here we found beautiful rivers, bubbling fountains flowing down into the valleys, basins of running water in the flat-lands, and agreeable fruits in the woods, such as strawberries walnuts and wild grapes. There is considerable fish in the rivers and good tillage land. Especially is there free coming and going without fear of the naked natives of the country. Had we cows, hogs and other cattle fit for food (which we daily expect in the first ships) we would not wish to return to Holland.

First cargo of furs sent back to Amsterdam worth 28000 guilders

The good ship New Netherland recrossed the Atlantic in 1624, bearing a cargo of furs and other articles worth over 28,000 guilders, which was sold in Amsterdam on the 20th December of that year.

Mey was the first Director of the tiny colony, followed by van Hulst and Minuit

Who was in charge of this feeble colony, so magnificent in its destinies, during the early stages of its existence? “Cornelis Mey of Hoorn was in 1624 the first director there,” wrote Wassenaer in 1626. Willem van Hulst was the second in the year 1625. The Honble Peter Minuit was the director following van Hults.

Death and Legacy

Although death found him beside the Oyapok and not beside the Hudson, this fact imports little to his deservings of remembrance. No matter what alien stars look down upon his grave, he had aroused and directed the emigrants who founded New York, as well as those others who established a dwelling place in Guiana and among the Caribbean islands. 

Jessé de Forest died before reaching what is now New York, but his family settled in Long Island, where it is remembered by the name of Forest Hill. By developing the legal authority for the 1st colony in New Netherlands, Jesse de Forest is regarded as the driving force behind the inception of the settlement that ultimately became New York. 

Jesse De Forest was the motivating force in moving the family to the New Netherlands. He must have been a very persuasive person and a wonderful organizer. Not only was he the one who firmly advised the move to the Americas, but he was also afforded some authority by his fellows although he never arrived here. ix

Children emigrate in 1634 to New Amsterdam

Jessé de Forest’s daughter Rachel and his sons Isaac and Henri and other family members joined New-Belgium ten years later in the territories surrounding the future New York City.

De Forest legacy honored by Walloon Monument in Battery Park, NYC

Today, there is a Monument in Battery Park, New York City called the Walloon Settlers Memorial. That monument was given to the City of New York by the Belgian Province of Hainaut in honor of the inspiration of Jessé de Forest in founding New York City.
This nearly ten-foot-tall granite stele at the northwest corner of Battery Park by the Castle Clinton National Monument was designed by noted architect Henry Bacon. 

The monument and its gilded inscription commemorates the Walloon Settlers, a group of 32 Belgian Huguenot families who joined the Dutch in 1624 on the ship Nieu Nederland (“New Netherland”) to colonize New Amsterdam. Bacon also designed Washington's Lincoln Memorial and Williamsburg's Metropolitan Pool.
The Walloons were natives of the County of Hainaut in Belgium who had fled to nearby Holland to escape religious persecution. Made to feel unwelcome in Holland, the Walloons, led by Jesse de Forest, first appealed to the British in 1621 for permission to settle in Virginia. When was denied, they petitioned the Dutch West India Company to allow them to settle in the Dutch-controlled colony of New Amsterdam. Their application was granted and the Walloons left Holland in March 1624, landing in New York on May 20, 1624.
The piece was dedicated May 20, 1924, the 300th anniversary of the Walloon settlers’ arrival in New York. The monument was a gift of the Conseil Provincial du Hainaut and is made of Hainaut granite, a Belgian stone. 

That year Governor Alfred E. Smith and the New York State Senate issued an official proclamation recognizing the Walloons’ place in New York history and the Federal Government issued three commemorative stamps and a silver 50-cent coin to mark the anniversary. The monument was relocated from the northeast part of the park to its current location as a result of the construction of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel during the late 1940s and early 50s.iv

The stamps and coin celebrate the earliest efforts at Huguenot migration to the New World.  Gaspard de Coligny secretly focused on protecting his co-religionists, by attempting to establish colonies abroad in which Huguenots could find a refuge. He organized the expedition of a colony of Huguenots to Brazil, under the leadership of his friend and navy colleague, Vice-Admiral Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon, who established the colony of France Antarctique in Rio de Janeiro, in 1555. They were afterwards expelled by the Portuguese, in 1567.  Coligny also was the leading patron for the failed French colony of Fort Caroline in Spanish Florida led by Jean Ribault in 1562.
Monument in Jessé de Forest's honor in Avesnes
This monument was erected at the same time the monument in New York City was erected in May of 1924. Both monuments honor the Walloon settling of NYC in 1624. I must also point out that Avesnes, which is located in the Province of Hainaut, was actually part of Belgium at the time Jesse lived in Avesnes. Avesnes is now a part of France.v
Here is the translation into English:

Here is a picture of a plaque which is on a building in Avesnes that indicates where Jesse de Forest and his family once lived. The original building is no longer standing on this site, it just indicates the spot where they lived.

France, the College Jesse de Forest
Home to a well regarded Hotel and Restauraunt School, "The College of Avesnes” in France took the name of “College Jesse de Forest” in The effort to rename the College was led by a Mr. Cross. The municipality agreed and the Board of Trustees of the College published a decree in the Official Journal of 4 March, 1938 conferred the name on the institution that is now called "College Jesse de Forest”.vii
We know that avesnois Jessé belonging to an ancient and honorable family home was the promoter and organizer of the expedition in 1624 which led to the founding of the City of New York. The name of this brave pioneer who died before the task of the successful efforts but whose work was continued with success by his companions and his children deserved to be commemorated by his fellow citizens with dignity. In giving his name to their magnificent institution, the finest, largest, most healthy whole region, Avesnois have only made ​​a fitting tribute to the memory of Jesse de Forest.”
Jesse de Forest Avenue.
De Forest, John William The De Forests of Avesnes (and of New Netherland): A Huguenot thread in American colonial history, 1494 to the present time (New Haven, CT: The Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Co. 1900)
De Forest, Emile Johnston A Waloon Family in America; Lockwood De Forest and His Forbears; in Two Volumes. Together with a Voyage to Guiana, Being the Journal of Jesse De Forest and His Colonists 1623-1625 (The Apple Manor Press. 2007, originally published in 1914)
Griffis, William Elliot The Story of the Walloons at Home, in Lands of Exile and in America (Houghton Mifflin. 1923)
Bayer, Henry G. The Belgians, First Settlers in New York and in the Middle States (Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1987, c1925)

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