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The One or Two Mathijs van Ceulens

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Location: New Netherlandmap
Surnames/tags: van Ceulen New_Netherland Jansz
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This page is motivated by a question on G2G: https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/766851/are-there-one-or-two-persons-named-mathijs-van-ceulen?show=768069#c768069 . The research summarized on this page makes it clear that the two were distinct persons: Mathijs Jansz van Ceulen and Mathijs Abrahamsz van Ceulen The remaining text on this page is written as if the question were still open. I've simply added this conclusion here at the top. -- JWM, 13 February 2019

The Research

The page investigates the possibility that Mathijs van Ceulen, director of the Dutch West India Company, was a different person than Mathijs Jansz van Ceulen, the New Netherland Settler. The idea is to amass evidence and assign it to one of three columns: (1) if the data can be reliably assigned to the New Netherland Settler; (2) undecided; (3) if the data can be reliably assigned to the Director of the DWIC. Of course, all evidence must be cited. When enough evidence is gathered, we should be able to decided if these are one person or two.

Side by side comparison of evidence
New Netherland Settler Undecided Director of DWIC

Mathijs typically used his patronymic, Jansz or Jansen. In particular, a 2 July 1667 Court of New Netherland probate document "Land Valuation and Division of Patronomial Estate of Mathijs Jansen van Ceulen" includes his name. [1]
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. [2]

Parents Parents

The Director almost never used his patronymic, so it's difficult to determine it. [3]
D. G. Van Curen found one document, an estate settlement, that included a patronymic--Abrahamsen. [4]
On Oct 1 1632, Maria Seulijns, Pieter Seulijns and Mathijs declare before a notary that Maria and her late husband, Abraham (Mathijs's father) had drawn a will on 14 July 1624, naming Pieter, Herman Aria, and Mathijs as executors. (Pieter Seulijns was married to Sara van Ceulen (Collen). He married 2nd Maria van Collen.) Herman Amia had died. Mathijs, about to depart for Brazil, named his replacement. Maria Seulijns is presumed to be Mathijs mother, unless he was the child of an earlier marriage. [5]
See section below for skeleton trees of family members cited in the inventories. [6]


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. [7]

Birth Birth

Married Margriet Hendrickse, abt 1641 [8]

Marriage Marriage

Married Margrieta Huijckgelaers, 15 Dec 1620, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands. [9]
Married Margaret Heuchelaen, daughter of Carel Heughlaen. She died before 11 Oct 1631, the date of the inventory. [10]
28 Nov 1620, Mathijs van Ceulen (signs as "Ceullen"), from Aachen, merchant's employee, assisted by his father, Abraham, was betrothed to Margarethe Heuchelen, from Aachen, assisted by her father Carel Heuchelen. [11]


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).

Margriet's second husband, Thomas Chambers, himself childless, granted his family coat-of-arms to stepchildren, Jan and Matthys. [13]


Possible families in Holland... All records come from two FamilySearch datasets [14] and [15] Each entry is annotated with the FS record identifier:

  • Mathias van Ceulen + Helmick Vellerns, 7 Oct 1675 [FN3P-KQ2]
  • Matijs van Ceulen + Anna Stevens
    • Geertruit, 26 Mar 1651 [QLDG-KGLQ]
    • Joannes, 25 Jun 1653 [QLDG-YGR4]
  • Mattheus Jansoon van Ceulen + Grietjen Claes, 3 Mar 1594 [QLTM-5N8L]

All records come from two FamilySearch datasets [16] and [17] Each entry is annotated with the FS record identifier:

  • Matheus van Ceulen + Margrieta Huijchgalaers/Seugelaers/variants, 15 Dec 1620 [FN7Z-RTG]
    • Abraham, 7 Nov 1621 [Q2DR-HGQK]
    • Marija, 27 Apr 1623 [Q2DT-NG7N]
    • Angniet, 20 Oct 1624 [Q2DT-Q6N9]
    • Margriet, 9 Aug 1626 [Q2DR-H1KN]
    • Abraham, 30 Jul 1628 [Q2DB-QS4B]

On 17 March 1632, Matys Van Ceulen, merchant, presented his four children to the Orphan Chamber: Maria, 8; Margareta, 5; Agnes, 7(?); Abraham, 3--all children of Margrieta Heuchlers. He brought 9,600 f. [guldens?] for their mother's inheritance. [18]
9 Aug 1626, Mathijs and Margarethe baptized daughter Margriet, witnessed by Elias van Ceulen, who was the son of Mathij's uncle Nicolaes. [19]


There's no record that he ever lived in Manhattan or Esopus. Instead he appears to have lived at Fort Orange. [20]

Residence Residence
Van Keulen's Hook Van Keulen's Hook

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 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. [21] [22]
[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. [23]
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. [24]

Van Keulen's Hook

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. [25]
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'". [26]
The early history of Mattys Jans is enveloped in obscurity. It appears that Director Kieft in 1646 granted him 50 morgens of land at Harlem, but whether he ever occupied it or not is uncertain. The grant was afterward confirmed to his heirs in 1667 by Gov. Nicholls. He was a resident of Albany [Fort Orange] before coming to Kingston. [27]

Papparinamin Papparinamin

"Mathijs Jansz is credited in the accounts with wages for baking at the house of the patroon and with beer furnished between 1644 and 1646. He died before Oct. 13, 1648." [28]

Occupation Occupation

Lord-Director of the Dutch West Indies Company at age 20. He joined with Killaen Van Rennsalaer and others to introduce a tenant farming colony along the Delaware River. Numerous entries in Van Rensselaer's personal journals [29] relate to Mathij Van Keulen. He assumed control of the Dutch effort to overthrow the Portuguese in Brazil. His decisive victory in 1633 secured his standing in The Netherlands. In September 1634 he left Brazil and returned to Amsterdam.[30]
From 1636 to 1641, Mathijs Van Ceulen served on the governing council of Dutch Brazil. A collection of letters with his signature can be viewed at [31]
8 October 1632, Mathijs departed via Texel, arriving at Pernambuco on 5 December. He returned to Holland on 6 Nov 1634. [32]


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. [33]

Death Death

Mathijs died in Amsterdam, before 4 May 1644, the date of his estate's inventory. [34]


  1. Van Curen, 2016, p. 2.
  2. D. G. Van Curen, 2016, p. 2.
  3. Van Curen, 2016, p.1.
  4. Van Curen, 2016, pp. 1-2; citing Rijksarchief in den Haag.
  5. Montias, inventory 165, http://research.frick.org/montias/browserecord.php?-action=browse&-recid=1363
  6. Montias, inventories 165, 1259 and 1306, http://research.frick.org/montias/browserecord.php?-action=browse&-recid=2460 , http://research.frick.org/montias/browserecord.php?-action=browse&-recid=1363 , http://research.frick.org/montias/browserecord.php?-action=browse&-recid=2509
  7. Van Curen, 2016, p. 2.
  8. Van Curen, 1998, entry 1.
  9. "Netherlands Marriages, 1565-1892," FamilySearch, (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FN7Z-RTG : viewed 10 February 2018).
  10. Montais, inventory 1259, http://research.frick.org/montias/browserecord.php?-action=browse&-recid=2460
  11. Montais, inventory 165, http://research.frick.org/montias/browserecord.php?-action=browse&-recid=1363
  12. Van Curen, 2016, p. 3.
  13. Van Curen, 2016, p. 4.
  14. "Netherlands Marriages, 1565-1892", FamilySearch.org, records as indicated.
  15. "Netherlands Archival Indexes, Vital Records", FamilySearch.org, records as indicated.
  16. "Netherlands Marriages, 1565-1892", FamilySearch.org, records as indicated.
  17. "Netherlands Archival Indexes, Vital Records", FamilySearch.org, records as indicated.
  18. Montias, inventory 1259, http://research.frick.org/montias/browserecord.php?-action=browse&-recid=2460
  19. Montias, inventory 165, http://research.frick.org/montias/browserecord.php?-action=browse&-recid=1363
  20. Van Curen, 2016, p. 2.
  21. Riker, pp. 131-133. At first glance, this seems to belong to the Director's column, but that is because Riker thinks that both of them are the same person.
  22. Van Curen, 2016, pp. 2-4.
  23. Riker, p. 142.
  24. Riker, p. 149. 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.
  25. Van Curen, 2016, p. 2
  26. Riker, pp. 147-148.
  27. Van Benschoten, p. 21
  28. Van Rensselaer Bowier manuscripts
  29. It should be noted that Van Renssalaer never visited his estate in New Netherland. Source needed for my claim.
  30. Van Curen, 1998, p. 8-9
  31. D. G. Van Curen, "Mathijs van Ceulen Letters," (http://www.angelfire.com/id/vancuren/letters.html : viewed 12 Feb 2019); citing documents of the West Indische Compagnie at the Algameen Rijckarschief in Den Haag.
  32. Montias, inventory 165, http://research.frick.org/montias/browserecord.php?-action=browse&-recid=1363
  33. Van Curen, 2016, p. 3.
  34. Montias, inventory 165, http://research.frick.org/montias/browserecord.php?-action=browse&-recid=1363


  • Montias, John Michael, PhD. "Montias Database of 17th Century Dutch Art Inventories." Database. Frick Collection. http://research.frick.org/montias/home.php.
  • 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.
  • Van Benschoten, William Henry. Concerning the Van Bunschoten or Van Benschoten Family in America: A Genealogy and Brief History. Second Edition. West Park on Hudson, New York, 1907.
  • Van Curen, D. G. RTF file on CD accompanying book, Van Keulen/Van Keuren, Van Kuren/Van Curen. Baltimore : Gateway Press, 1998.
  • 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.
  • "Netherlands Marriages, 1565-1892." Database. FamilySearch. https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1500716 : 14 June 2016. Index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City.
  • "Netherlands, Archival Indexes, Vital Records." Database. FamilySearch. https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/2704829 : 14 November 2017. Citing OpenArchives, Netherlands.
  • Van Rensselaer Bowier manuscripts: being the letters of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, 1630-1643, and other documents relating to the colony of Rensselaerswyck. Kiliaen van Rensselaer, Arnold J. F. Van Laer, Nicolaas de Roever, and Susan de Lancey Van Rensselaer Strong. New York State Library, 1908. Albany, N.Y.: University of the State of New York.

Skeleton Family Trees related to Mathijs Abrahamsen van Ceulen

All information comes from the Montias inventories cited previously. Some has been confirmed with records found on FamilySearch.

Mattheus Seulijn
..+ ?
....Pieter Seulijn (See A)

Carel Heughlaen
..+ ?
....Margaret Heuchlaen (See B)

unknown van Ceulen
..+ ?
....Nicolaes van Ceulen
....Abraham van Ceulen (? - bet 14 and 25 Jul 1624, Amsterdam)
......+ ?
......+ Maria Seulijns (? - living 1 Oct 1632)
........Sara van Ceulen (? - bef 9 Apr 1614)
..........+ Pieter Seuljins (See A)
........Maria van Ceulen (? - living 14 Apr 1626)
..........+ Pieter Seuljins (See A)
..........+ Pieter Carlier
........Johannes van Ceulen
........Mathijs van Ceulen
..........+ Margaret Heuchelaen (? - bef 11 Oct 1631) (See B)

Reasons Why They Might be the Same Person

In his 2016 book, D. G. Van Curen, explains why he has changed his mind since his 1998 book 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.

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