Are there one or two persons named Mathijs van Ceulen?

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On the profile for [[Jansz-67|Mathijs Jansz van Ceulen]], there are a few comments that suggest unease with the idea that a Director of the Dutch West India Company is the same person as a baker in Fort Orange.

In his 1998 book, D. G. Van Curen, asserted that they were, in fact, the same person. However, in his 2016 book, he has reversed his position and now regards them as distinct persons.

I recently signed up as co-manager of the profile with the purpose of resolving this issue.

Here is what I would regard as success. Either...

(1) Develop a documented narrative explaining how Mathijs, the Director, found his way from being governor of Dutch Brazil to a farmer/miller/baker/whatever in the wilderness of Fort Orange, or a documented genealogy that demonstrates that the two persons are the same.

(2) Develop a documented genealogy or, at least, a documented patronymic for Mathijs, the Director, that demonstrates that he is distinct from the Mathijs in Fort Orange.

I have two questions for you: (1) Do you think that these are reasonable criteria for success? (2) Do you have evidence that is not already in the profile?
WikiTree profile: Mathijs Jansz
in The Tree House by Jim Moore G2G6 Mach 1 (11.0k points)
edited by Jim Moore
Jim, could you please elaborate on D. G. Van Curen's evidence and logic for identifying two distinct persons?

Also, what does he say about their lives? (I'm imagining that you could provide a pair of short biographical outlines. Examples: Matthys 1, born about 1580, migrated to ____, occupation: ____, and Matthys 2, born about 1602, etc.)
Ellen -- The Mathijs who was the Director of the DWIC did not use his patronymic when he signed papers. (Apparently, he was too noble to have to do that.) D. G. Van Curen found a paper in the Dutch archives that he *did* sign with his patronymic -- it was Abramssen, not Janssen. I plan to write a fuller account of this.

Good idea about the two profiles! We could keep them together while we investigate and then create the distinct profile if and when we decide the persons were, in fact, distinct.
Ah, so we have (1) the Director as a high-born named Mathis van Keulen -- full name Mathis Abramssen van Keulen and (2) the baker as Mattys Jans, apparently from a place called Keuren, whose children later took the name van Keuren!

In sorting out these conflated men, I think it will be important to clearly identify and carefully document those life events for which primary records exist, to distinguish them from unsubstantiated factoids that may be nothing more than somebody's suppositions. (The current profile is cluttered with factoids that probably were imported from Internet family trees or similar sources.)

One thing I am wondering about now: Where is Keuren? Google search doesn't identify any place with that name, but there are more than a few people named van Keuren in both the Netherlands and North America. Where did the name come from?
I'm told that Ceulen or Keulen, is the Dutch name for Koln, a city that is now in Germany, and is known to English speakers as Cologne. The surname Van Keuren was apparently adopted by the American family circa 1715.
In his 2016 book[1], D. G. Van Curen, explains why he has changed his mind since his 1998 book [2] and no longer believes that Mathijs Van Ceulen, the progenitor of the US family, is the same person as Mathijs Van Ceulen, a Director of the Dutch West India Company.

Here's why the 1998 book equated the two men:

* Reputable secondary sources, such as Riker's History of Harlem, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and Olde Ulster equated the two men.

* Numerous family genealogies and family researchers did the same.

* The Director was a partner of Killaen van Renssalaer and the progenitor lived at Renssalaerwyck.

* There appears to be no overlap in time of the existing records of the two persons.

* The progenitor married a Margriet Hendrickse and a woman of that name lived in Brazil, where the Director was governor.

* The progenitor seemed to have had a level of wealth consistent with what one might expect of the Director.

Note that none of this was based on primary records. Since 1998, Van Curen has been looking for those records in Dutch archives. The search is complicated because the Director almost never used his patronymic. Apparently, he was prominent enough that he didn't need to identify himself more specifically.

In 2010, he found a record, an estate settlement, giving the patronymic of the Director. It was not Jansz--it was Abrahamsen.

I don't have an image of the record or a citation for it. In our search, I hope to find this documentation.

[1] Van Curen, D. G. The Descendants of Mathijs Jansen van Ceulen: A History of the Van Steenberghs, Peersens, Jansens, Van Keurens and Related Families, from Their Beginnings in Kingston, Ulster County, New York. 2nd edition of "Van Keulen/Van Keuren, Van Kuren/Van Curen". Chesterfield, Missouri: Mira Digital Publishing, 2016.

[2] Van Curen, D. G. Van Keulen/Van Keuren, Van Kuren/Van Curen: A Family History. Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, 1998.
Here is a summary of what D. G. Van Curen [DGVC, pp. 2-4] says about Mathijs Jansz Van Ceulen, the progenitor of the American Van Keurens. (In his 1998 book, he talks about the Mathijs van Ceulen who was a Director of the DWIC--I will summarize that in another note.)

* First known record, about 1639, concerns a parcel of land on Manhattan known as Van Keulen's Hook [see Riker]. The land patent identified Conraet Van Keulen, relationship unknown, as the original claimant.

* Mathijs purchased land known in 1646 as "van Ceulen's Bouwerie" [Riker] in Haarlem. This parcel was listed in a probate document in 1667. The document also mentioned land in the Esopus area of now-Ulster county.

* Because his patronymic was Jansz or Jansen, we know that his father's name was almost certainly Jan. He had daughters named Annetje and Catryn, suggesting that his mother's name was one of those. There is a record of a Jan Jansen van Ceulen and wife Annetje Janz, baptizing a daughter, Annetje at St. Niclaaus DRC in Amsterdam, 12 Oct 1606. Considering that these are all common names, the connection is far from sure.

* Disproved: Some have cited a baptism of a Mathijs at Austin Friars DRC in London, 1602. However, an examination of the record shows that the father's name was Mathijs, not Jan.

* There's no record that he ever lived in Manhattan or Esopus. Instead he appears to have lived at Fort Orange.

* Killaen van Renssalaer's journal says that Mathijs died 13 Oct 1648. Court records on 15 and 22 identify his widow as Margriet Hendrickse. Two months later she is identified as the wife of Thomas Chambers although she is pregnant with Mathijs's child, Matthys.

* Baptism records at the Fort Orange (Albany) DRC are missing for that period. A subsequent rector destroyed the old records. However, other records allow us to infer the following children and approximate dates of birth: Catryn about 1642 (so as to be 18 at time of marriage, 3 October 1660); Annetje about 1644 or 1645 (so as to be more than 21 at a 1667 estate division); Jan abt 1646-47 (as he was noted to be under 21 at the estate division); and Matthys soon after his father's death).

* Renssalaer's journal mentions that Mathijs had been paid for baking bread.

* Margriet's second husband, Thomas Chambers, himself childless, granted his family coat-of-arms to stepchildren, Jan and Matthys.

[DGVC] Van Curen, D. G. The Descendants of Mathijs Jansen van Ceulen: A History of the Van Steenberghs, Peersens, Jansens, Van Keurens and Related Families, from Their Beginnings in Kingston, Ulster County, New York. 2nd edition of "Van Keulen/Van Keuren, Van Kuren/Van Curen". Chesterfield, Missouri: Mira Digital Publishing, 2016.

[Riker] Riker, James, Henry Pennington Toler, and Sterling Potter. Revised History of Harlem (City of New York.): Its Origin and Early Annals Prefaced by Home Scenes in the Fatherlands; or Notices of Its Founders before Emigration. Also Sketches of Numerous Families and the Recovered History of the Land-Titles. With Illustrations and Maps. Revised and enlarged. New York, NY: New Harlem Publishing Company, 1904. https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-90100-97234527/revised-history-of-harlem-ny?s=273564081.
Nice explanation, Jim. I think that the fact that the Director didn't normally use a patronymic is important evidence that he wasn't the baker/progenitor, who seems to have always used a patronymic (and no last name). And that estate settlement where the Director did use the patronymic Abrahamsen is even better evidence that he wasn't Matthys Jansz.

To cite that estate settlement, say that (in his book) D. G. Van Curen reported finding it, and tell where he said he found and what he said about it.

But I'm still curious about the origin of the name van Keuren. It does make sense that van Ceulen means "from Koln," and of course there are many genealogies that treat van Ceulen and van Keuren as the same name because everyone assumed that the Director van Ceulen and the baker/progenitor Matthys Jansz were the same person. However, unless there is evidence that the descendants of Matthys Jansz used the name van Ceulen, it seems very possible that the name van Keuren had a completely different origin. Did Riker faithfully record the name spelling from the original records, or is it possible that he revised it to support the theory that this man was the Director?
Here is a summary of what Riker says about Mathijs Van Ceulen, keeping in mind, however, that he believes that the Director of the DWIC and the landholder in New Amsterdam are the same person:

[pp. 131-133] In 1638, Cornelis van Tienhoven, the provincial secretary, acting as the agent of Coenraet van Keulen, a merchant living in Amstersdam, purchased the Otter-Spoor farm (on Harlem opposite the current Wards Island [p. 119]) for 2900 gilders. Riker speaks of the van Keulen family as being highly interested in New Netherland. He Matthys mentions that Matthys was a principal partner in DWIC, but he only "presumes" a relationship between Matthys and Conraet. This two-hundred acre [p. 106] part of Harlem became known as Van Keulen's Hook.

[p. 142] [New Amsterdam Director] Kieft, acting as an agent for [Conraet?] Van Keulen contracted for the construction of a fine residence on the Otter-Spoor land. Riker does not know who was intended to live there.

[pp. 147-148] 18 August 1646, "Another Hollander, Matthys Jansen Van Keulen" was given a patent on fifty morgens of land in the Papparinamin, near the northern tip of Manhattan, but appears never to have occupied it. Later the patent was "confirmed" to his children from whom are descended the families of Jansen and Van Keuran of Ulster County. [Footnote] "Matthys Jansen became a trader on the Hudson, removed to Fort Orange, and thence to Esopus, where he died prior to 1663." Riker goes on to describe his wife, Margriet Handricks, and her second husband Thomas Chambers as well as Matthys's children. He describes the children of Matthys Matthysen, Mathijs's grand-children, and states "It was these six sons of Matthys who, says an old manuscript, 'changed their names of Matthysen to Van Keuren'".

[p. 149] Van Keulen never made any attempt to improve the land at Van Keulen's Hook. Riker speculates that the land was traded for the Papparinamin land. However, it must be noted that this speculation is based on the presumption that Conraet van Keulen is somehow related to one or both of Mathijs, the resident of Fort Orange, and Mathijs, the Director of the DWIC.

[pp. 168-170] The Van Keulen tract was to be incorporated into a village. [Interestingly, the public notice of the plan included this: "For the better and greater promotion of neighborly correspondence with the English of the North, the Director-General and Council will ... authorize a ferry ... near the aforesaid Village."

Source:

Riker, James, Henry Pennington Toler, and Sterling Potter. Revised History of Harlem (City of New York.): Its Origin and Early Annals Prefaced by Home Scenes in the Fatherlands; or Notices of Its Founders before Emigration. Also Sketches of Numerous Families and the Recovered History of the Land-Titles. With Illustrations and Maps. Revised and enlarged. New York, NY: New Harlem Publishing Company, 1904. https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-90100-97234527/revised-history-of-harlem-ny?s=273564081.
I have now created a free-space page, https://www.wikitree.com/index.php?title=Space:The_One_or_Two_Mathijs_van_Ceulens&public=1 , to gather and record evidence on this question.
I found some records related to Mathijs van Ceulen on FamilySearch and have added them to the freespace page.
I found the smoking gun!

A Director of the Dutch West India Company in 17th century Holland was sure to have owned art. If there is anyone who values provenance more than a genealogist, it's an art historian, because the provenance makes the difference between a $2 garage sale item and a $2-million auction item at Sotheby's.

The "Montias Database of 17th Century Art Inventories" [http://research.frick.org/montias/home.php] at the Frick Collection contains information from inventories of art owned by 17th century Dutch in Amsterdam. Most of the inventories were created for estates, auctions, or bankruptcies. They were compiled by Prof. John Michael Montias of Yale, sponsored by the Getty Art History Program and the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie (Netherlands Institute for Art History).

In searching for "Ceulen", I got seventeen hits, most of them simply person who happen to be from Ceulen. However, some are to the point.

Two of the inventories relate to the death of Mathijs's wife and the death of Mathijs himself. With the information in the commentaries on the inventories, I can reconstruct the dates of some of his trips to Brazil and I can provide a skeleton of his family tree, including the name of Mathijs's parents.

I'm still dealing with secondary records, but this provides independent confirmation of D. G. Van Curen's claim that the Mathijs van Ceulen, who was the Director of the Dutch West India Company is a different person than the Mathijs who immigrated to Fort Orange and established the Van Keuren family in New York.

I'm ready to make the call on this one. They were definitely two different people.
Wow! That was a wonderful inspiration you had. This is looking like a great story.

1 Answer

+2 votes
The accumulated evidence makes it clear that Mathijs Jansen van Ceulen (Jansz-67), the Dutch settler in Fort Orange, was a person different than Mathijs Abrahamsen van Ceulen (Abrahamsz-17), the Director of the Dutch West India Company. As of now, it is unknown whether the two men had a family relationship or both families simply came from Ceulen (modern Cologne). I have created distinct profiles for the two men and populated those profiles with the results of the research to date.
by Jim Moore G2G6 Mach 1 (11.0k points)
edited by Jim Moore

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