B. 28 Apr 1604 in Valenciennes, Spanish Netherlands (now France)
M. 21 Jan 1624 in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Wife: Catalyntje Jeronimus Trico
D. 21 Feb 1663 in New Amsterdam, New Netherland
Emigrated: 1624 on the ship Eondracht
In 1624, Joris Jansen Rapelje was one of a handful of men who signed up to leave the Netherlands on a venture in the New World; it would place him at the birth of what would one day become New York City.
Joris was born on April 28, 1604 in Valenciennes, a region in the Spanish Netherlands (part of present-day France). At age 19, he was a textile worker in Amsterdam when he married Catalyntje Jeronimus Trico on January 21, 1624 in the Walloon Church, Amsterdam, Netherlands. He was illiterate and had no family members as witnesses. Joris had agreed to a contract with the West India Company, which needed young men with wives to help start a colony in America. Joris and Catalyntje sailed to America on the ship Eondracht, just four days after their wedding, arriving in the spring of 1624.
The settlers sailed past Manhattan and up the Hudson River (then called the North River) to Fort Orange (which is present-day Albany). Joris was put to work building and securing the fort. There his daughter Sarah was born on June 9, 1625, making her the first European child born in the colony. Joris and Catalyntje would have ten more children. Because of the number of their descendants, they have been called "the Adam and Eve" of New Netherland, with the number of their descendants today estimated at about 1 million.
After two years at Fort Orange, a new leader, Peter Minuit, ordered the settlers move south. He had just made his infamous deal with the natives to secure Manhattan. Joris and the others boarded a ship that sailed down the Hudson. Once settled at the southern tip of the island, Joris acquired a plot of ground at what is now the foot of Pearl Street, his property abutting the east wall of Fort Amsterdam at the present Battery. He built two houses there.
On Jun 16, 1637, Joris bought 167 morgen (335 acres) of land from the Kakapeyno or Pewichaas Indians in what is now Brooklyn. On Jun 17, 1643, Governor Kieft patented his purchase. His woodlot was on a hill where Fort Greene Park is now located, and his meadowland where Commodore J. Barry Park is today, between Flushing, Park, Navy, and Edward Streets. A creek ran through a part of the property and emptied into Wallabout Bay, known as Ronnegagonck. Today there is little left of the creek which has been filled in.
Joris was appointed on August 29, 1641 to be a member of the Council of Twelve Men who conferred with Governor Kieft regarding the conflict resulting from the murder of a man by the Indians in revenge for the death of one of their people. They did not recommend war, but proposed a friendly request to be sent to the Indians to surrender the murderer. Because Governor Kieft wasn't happy with the recommendation, he disassembled the Council of Twelve Men on February 8, 1643. Although the council was temporary, it was considered to be the earliest form of democracy in the Dutch colony.
Joris was a magistrate of Brooklyn in 1655, 1656, 1657, 1660, and 1662, and elected as a church deacon in 1661. He was listed as an inn keeper and tavern owner. On Aug 25, 1662, he became a member of the Reformed Dutch Church of Brooklyn. On Mar 1, 1660, Joris and his son-in-law Teunis Bogaert petitioned to start a settlement just across the East River from Fort Amsterdam, but the petition was denied. Bogaert owned the lands there. The location of the proposed village was between Brooklyn and Bushwick. Around this same time, an order had been issued for everyone residing outside villages to move to the fortified villages for safety from the Indians and Joris petitioned to be allowed to keep his house standing on his farm. This application appears to have been denied.
Joris died at an election of church officers Feb 21, 1663. He was buried in the Flatbush Reformed Dutch Church cemetery, the earliest known grave there.
Famous descendants of Joris Jansen Rapelje include Humphrey Bogart and Howard Dean.
1. Sarah Jorise Rapalje – B. 9 Jun 1625, Fort Orange, New Netherland; D. 1685, Brooklyn, New York; M. (1) Hans Hansen Bergen, 1639, New Netherland; (2) Teunis Gysbertse Bogaert (1625-1699), 19 Aug 1654, New Amsterdam, New Netherland
2. Marratie Jorise Rapelje – B. 16 Mar 1627, New Netherland; M. Michiel Pauluszen Van der Voort
3. Jannetie Jorise Rapelje – B. 18 Aug 1629, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; M. Rem Jansen Van der Beeck
4. Judith Jorise Rapelje – B. 5 Jul 1635, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; D. 21 May 1726, Somerset County, New Jersey; M. Pieter Pieterszen Van Nest
5. Jan Jorise Rapelje – B. 28 Aug 1637, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; M. Marie Fredericks Maer
6. Jacob Jorise Rapelje – B. 28 May 1639, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; D. about 1643
7. Catalyntje Jorise Rapelje – B. 28 Mar 1641, New Amsterdam, New Netherland
8. Annetje Jorise Rapelje – B. 8 Feb 1646, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; M. Marten Reyersen
9. Jeronimus Jorise Rapelje – M. Annetje Teunise (~1646-?)
10. Elizabeth Jorise Rapelje – B. 27 Mar 1648, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; M. Dirck Cornelissen Hooglandt
11. Daniel Jorise Rapelje – B. 29 Dec 1650, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; M. Sarah Abrams Clocq
Joris Jansen Rapelje [Wikipedia article]
The Island at the Center of the World, Russel Shorto, 2005
"14 Generations," New York Newsday, 23 Nov 1997
Genealogies of the New Jersey Families: Families A-Z, pre-American notes on old New Netherland families, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1996
The Council of Twelve Men [wikipedia article]
GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]