Tjerck Claesen Dewitt1,2,3

M, #713, b. circa 1620, d. 17 February 1699/0
Father*Claes Nicholas Dewitt b. 1594, d. 7 Jun 1663
Mother*Taatje Cornelisz Van Lueven b. 1596, d. bt 1637 - 1686
Relationship7th great-grandfather of William Robert Thomas Boyd
ChartsWilliam Robert Thomas Boyd Pedigree
Marjorie Carolyn Hartle Pedigree
     Tjerck Claesen Dewitt was born circa 1620 at East Friesland, Netherlands, son of Claes Nicholas Dewitt and Taatje Cornelisz Van Lueven. Tjerck Claesen Dewitt married Barbara Andriessen, daughter of Andries Luycaszen and Jannetje Sebyns, on 24 April 1656 at Kingston, Ulster, New York, America.4 Tjerck Claesen Dewitt died on 17 February 1699/0 at New York, America.
     He Tjerck Claessen DeWitt emigrated from Grootholdt in Zunderlandt to New Netherland in 1657 and bought a house in Beverwyck. In 1660 he exchanged his house for land at Wiltwyck, possession of the land to be given him on May 1, 1661. he was actually living at Wiltwyck in 1663 for in that year his daughter, Tjaatje (later the wife of Mattys Mattysen Van Keuren) was carried away captive by the Indians. In January 1669-70, Governor Lovelace issued a permit to Tjerck Claessen DeWitt which authorized him to: "erect a house and barne with convenient outhouses for his cattle upon his own land at Esopus, lying betwixt Hurley and Kingston;" for which land the permit recites that DeWitt had formerly had a grant from Colonel Nicoll and "in confidence whereof" DeWitt "hath provided all materials ready for the same." The permit also stated that for DeWitt to build as planned would not be "prejudicial to the towns adjacent but rather in tyme might prove a benefit and relief to such as should travail that way." It is evident from the permit that occupation by the DeWitts of the farm on the road from Kingston to Hurley dates from 1670. And apparently Tjerck Claessen acted at once upon the permission to build for in 1672 the Governor gave him a deed (equivalent to confirmation of title) which covered: "a parcel of bush land, together with a house, lot, orchard and calves' pasture, lying near Kingston in Esopus."

Tjerck Claessen DeWitt died in 1700, leaving a will by which he gave to his wife (Barbara Andriessen) life use of this property. After her death (which occurred in 1714), two of his sons were directed to hold his estate in trust for appraisal, following which was to be divided equally between his six sons and six daughters.

Of the five sons (beside Andries) of the original Tjerck Claessen DeWitt, Jan and Jacob removed from Kingston to the town of Rochester, Ulster County; LUCAS died early and his sons went to the present town of Saugerties; Peek settled in Dutchess County; but of Tjerck Jr., nothing is known after the mention made of him in his father's will. in 1657.5 He In the JOURNAL OF THE SECOND ESOPUS WAR;
BY CAPT. MARTIN KREGIER it is noted that Tjerck Claesen Dewitt eldest daughter (possibly Taatje) was taken prisoner. on 7 June 1663. He When Tjerck Classen De Witt came to America, he brought with him a wax seal engraved with the coat of arms borne by Jan De Witt, the Grand Pensionary of Holland. I am not certain where this particular Jan De Witt fits into the line of patriarchs, but he was most probably an ancestor of Tjerck. RAJ

Tjerck Claessen De Witt was born at "Groatholdt" in Zunderland, Westphalia about 1620, according to the Dutch Reformed Church marriage record dated 24 April 1656.

Pronunciation of the name is as if written Cherrick. The form "Claeszen" used in the Dutch record was the formal spelling. That as well as Claessen indicates that Tjerck was the son of Claes (Nicholas).

"Groatholdt" signifies "Great Wood", and Zunderland is "probably Saterland, a district of Westphalia on the southern border of East Friesland" according to Schoonmaker's History of Kingston, page 477.

(Contradictory information below.)

In the New York Dutch record of the baptism of at least two of his children, the form Tierck is used. In Dutch, the letters i and j, at least when preceding a vowel, are interchangeable. Tierck Classen himself wrote Tierck, as appears from signatures in the Albany County Clerk's Office. The parties themselves signed the early records of conveyance and other instruments. A signature of Tierck Classen appears in a firm hand, some of the characters resembling German script, appears in Book of Deeds No. 2, Page 263, Albany County Clerk's Office.

The first mention in America of Tjerck Classen De Witt, the ancestor of the De Witt family, is found in the "trouw boeck" or Register of Marriages of the Reformed (Collegiate) Dutch Church of New York City, where it is recorded that on the 24th day of April 1656, "Tjerck Classen De Witt van Grootholdt en Zunderlandt" married "Barbara Andriessen van Amsterdam."

It seems from the records that Tjerck was connected with the distinguished De Witt family of Dordrecht, Holland. He had a wax seal engraved with the coat of arms borne by Jan De Witt, the Grand Pensionary of Holland. Undoubtedly, he brought the seal to America, and it may have belonged to some forefather.

For a short time after his marriage, he lived in New York. His first child Andries was born there, but in the spring of 1657 he moved to Albany, where he purchased a house and lot. In accordance with Dutch custom, the first son was named Andries, baptized in New York in 1657, for Barbara's father, and the second son was named Klaes, baptized in 1664, for Tjerck's father. (A younger son Lucas was named for Barbara's brother.)

In September 1660 he exchanged his Albany property with Madame de Hutter for land in Wiltwyck (now Kingston), "possession to be given May 1, 1661." He probably took possession at that time, as in September of 1661 he appears as plaintiff in an action at law before the Schepens Court of Wiltwyck, and on October 11th the same court ordered the Sheriff (Roeloff Swartwout) to pay him three and a half schepels of wheat in eight days and seven more in one month.

From this time until his death, Tjerck resided in Kingston and Hurley, and some of the land that he purchased is still in the hands of his descendants. He was apparently a man of considerable means, as in 1661 he was taxed 125 guilders (about $50) to pay for a new church building in Esopus. In 1662 he owned No. 28 of the "new lots."

On 7 June 1663 when Kingston and Hurley were almost entirely destroyed by Indians, his eldest daughter Taatje was taken prisoner, but was soon rescued. She afterward married Captain Matthys Matthyssen.

During the winter of 1664 there was much sickness in Esopus (Kingston).

Fever took hold of the people and prostrated half the town. During that time Tjerck bought a horse from Roeloff Swartwout, who became dissatisfied and secretly took the horse from Tjerck's barn. The ex-sheriff was sued for the property.

In 1667 when the British sent Captain Broadhead and 13 soldiers to take possession of Kingston, Tjerck was one of those who opposed the British occupation and among the complaints made afterward by the burghers was the following: "Capt. Broadhead has beaten Tjerck Claezen De Witt without reason and brought him to prison. Ye reason why Capt. Broadhead abused Tjerck De Witt was because he would keep Christmas Day on ye day according to the Dutch and not on ye day according to ye English observation." He refused to take the Oath of Allegiance required of heads of families by the English in 1668.

Tjerck appears to have been well to do; he brought servants to Kingston.

The records of Ulster County, New York show that he owned Negro slaves and possessed two sloops that sailed the Hudson and along the Atlantic Coast, carrying on trade at various places, and that he left about $8000 in personal property. On 8 April 1669 he was given permission to build a house, barn and stables between Kingston and Hurley.

Because he refused to pay an Indian wages due, Tjerck was banished by the court and fined 600 guilders; but the banishment was rescinded, the fine remitted, and he was ordered to pay a reasonable sum to the complaining Indian- about 80 cents.

25 June 1672 Governor Lovelace deeded him "a parcel of bush-land, together with a house, lot, orchard and calves pasture, lying near Kingston, in Esopus."

8 October 1677 Governor Andros deeded Tjerck a piece of woodland, containing about fifty acres at Kingston in Esopus, "to y' west of ye towne."

11 February 1679 Tjerck was one of the signers of a renewal of the Nichols treaty with the Esopus Indians.

In 1684 he signed "the humble petition of the inhabitants of Esopus in the County of Ulster" praying that there might be "liberty by charter to this county to choose our owne officers to every towne court by the major vote of the freeholders." This petition was addressed to Col. Thomas Dongan, Governor-General. It greatly offended the authorities, and the signers were arrested and fined. Thus early in the history of the country arose the questions of local self-government and the right of suffrage.

They were easily answered then.

13 February 1685 one hundred and eight-nine acres of land were conveyed to De Witt by the Trustees of Kingston.

6 June 1685 Tjerck claimed two hundred and ninety acres of land lying upon the north side of Rondout Kill, and known by the name of "Momboccus" in the town of Rochester in Ulster County. This was laid out for him by Phillip Welles, a surveyor, and was granted to Tjerck by patent on 14 May 1694.

4 March 1689 he was chosen as one of the magistrates of Ulster County, having previously held other offices.

Tjerck Classen De Witt died at Kingston, Ulster, New York on 17 February 1700.

By his will, which bears the date "the fourth day of March, 1698" and which is written in the Dutch language, he leaves his property to his wife for life; at her death one-half to go to his oldest son Andries and one-half to go to his youngest son, Tjerck, in trust, "provided that the same shall be appraised by impartial persons on oath," and divided into twelve equal shares, one share to be given to each of his children, their heirs or assigns. In addition to the equal share, he gave to Andries some lands at Koksinck and Kleine Esopus, to Jan and Jacob each five hundred bushels of wheat, and to Lucas one half of a sloop, which he had he had built the year previous. The legacy to his daughter Rachel is subject to the condition "that my said daughter's share shall be decreased one hundred pounds for the benefit of my heirs, which is what my daughter's husband, Cornelious Bogardus, owes me for one-eighth of a brigantine, desiring, however, that the child of the said Bogardus, named Barbara, shall receive out of the aforesaid hundred pounds, fifty pieces of eight." The legacy to his daughter Jannetje, the wife of Cornelius Swits, is "with these conditions, that if my aforesaid daughter shall die without leaving any children, then all of the said part shall be the property of my heirs, to be equally divided between them."

A copy of his will appears in Volume 8 (1912), page 18, of "Olde Ulster" (10 volumes) in the library of Holland Society, 90 Wall Street, New York, New York.

Per DeWitt-Peltz, a supplement to DeWitt-Peltz (1948), page 346: Mr. A.

J. F. van Laer, a native of Holland, for many years State Archivist, recently retired, supplies the following valued information:

"When I revised Jonathan Pearson's translations of the two volumes of Notarial Papers in the Albany County Clerk's Office (published in 1918 by the State Library under the title 'Early Records of the City and County of Albany, Volume 3 - History Bulletin 10') I made an effort to locate the birthplace of Tjerck Classen De Witt, which in the marriage records of the Dutch Reformed Church of New York, is given under the date April 24, 1656 as 'Grootholdt in Zunderlandt', and which according to Schoonmaker's History of Kingston, page 477, is 'supposed to be Saterland, a district of Westphalia, on the the southern border of East Friesland'.

I conclude this is a mistake and that Zunderlandt has nothing to do with Saterland, but is a misreading of Emberland. In the first place, Tjerck Classen had a sister Emmerentje De Witt, who in the record of her intended marriage in 1664, at New Amsterdam to Marten Hofman is given as 'from Esens in Embderlt', and secondly, in a power of attorney dated June 9, 1661, given to his brother-in-law Jan Albertsen, Tjerck Classen speaks of land inherited by him at 'Oosterbemus in Oost Vriesland'.

The latter is a small place on the coast of East Friesland, opposite the island of Baltrum, which on the map of 'Emden & Olderborch, Comit' in Mercator's Atlas of 1619, is given as 'Oosterbeus'. This place is situated near Esens, only a few miles N.E. of Emden, and accounts for all the places mentioned in the various documents and also accounts for the fact that the first known ancestor of the De Witt family had the Frisian name Tjerck, which is equivalent to the Dutch name Dirck or Diederick.

It would be interesting to see whether the original marriage record of 1656 in the Dutch Church at New York actually has the name 'Zunderlandt' or whether this mistake was made by the clerk who transcribed the record for the printer.

Emden, the seaport in East Friesland which was heavily bombed in the last war, was in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a refuge for Dutch Protestants, who fled there from Spanish inquisition. The place was under the protection of the States General of the Netherlands, who maintained a Dutch garrison there. The place looks like a Dutch city and has a large Dutch Reformed Church, where some of my own ancestors, the immediate descendants of Hohan van Laer, who in 1533 fled from Oldenzaal in the province of Overyssel, Netherlands, are buried. I visited their tombs in 1910, but fear they were destroyed in the last war.

The Frisians in the Middle Ages settled all along the Dutch coast. They were predominant in the northern part of the present province of Noord, Holland, which for a long time retained semi-independence, and became known as West Friesland, in contradistinction to the Provence of Friesland on the east side of the Zuider Zee, of which Leewarden is the capital, and (also in contradistinction to) the territory in Germany which is known as East Friesland. In the seventeenth century, West Friesland was combined with the northern part of the Provence of Holland, but still retained administrative independence and became officially known as 'Holland and West Friesland'.

When the Netherlands became a kingdom in 1813, the name West Friesland was dropped, and the territory of Holland and West Friesland was named Noord Holland, and the remainder of the ancient county or province of Holland, in which the cities of The Hague, Rotterdam, Leiden and Delft are located, being named Zuid Holland.

West Friesland, therefore, was never a separate province of the present Kingdom of the Netherlands." (Tjerck Classen De Witt Genealogy Home Page)

I conclude from the above information provided by A. J. F. van Laer that the birthplace of Tjerck and his sister Taatje was Groatholdt by Esens in Emberland, northeast of Emden, East Friesland, Netherlands. Also, all of the 13 children of Tjerck Classen De Witt listed in the Jenni genealogy appear on the Tjerck Classen De Witt Genealogy Home Page, although some approximate birth dates differ. RAJ on 6 August 2012.6


Barbara Andriessen b. c 1637, d. 6 Jul 1714
Last Edited1 Jul 2013


  1. [S56] Unknown author, On-Line Family Tree, one world tree
    George Nicholas De Witt
    Born: 1629
    Grootgolt, Westphalia, Zunderland, Holland
    Died: 17 Feb 1700
    Widewyck, Ulster, New York, USA.
  2. [S28] Edmund West, "FamilySearch Individual Records", Ancestral File,

    name:George Nicholas Tjerk_Claessen DE_WITT
    christening:Kingston,Ulster,New York
    death:17 FEB 1700Widewyck,Ulster,New York
    AFN: 2KX5-7WL
    father:Nicholas DEWITT (AFN: 2KXJ-FD2 )
    mother:Tjaatje CLAESSEN (AFN: 2KXJ-GP3 )
    Marriages (1)
    spouse:Barbara Andriessen (AFN: 2KX7-D2K )
    marriage:24 APR 1656Reformed Dutch C,Nyc,New York.
  3. [S28] Edmund West, "FamilySearch Individual Records", Ancestral File,

    name:Tjerck Claessen /De Witt/
    birth:1620Groatholdt by Esens in Emberland, northeast of Emden, East Friesland, Netherlands
    birth:1620Groatholdt, Zunderlandt, Netherlands
    death:17 FEB 1699/00Kingston, Ulster, New York
    will:4 MAR 1686/87
    AFN1R94-S7; 1H9D-54B; X55W-H4
    immigration:BEF 1656Holland
    father:Nicholaes /De Witt/
    mother:Taatje Cornelisz /Van Leuvan/
    Marriages (1)
    spouse:Barbara /Andriessen/
    marriage:24 APR 1656Dutch Reformed Church, New Amsterdam, New Netherlands

    "Pedigree Resource File," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 August 2012), entry for Tjerck Claessen /De Witt/.
  4. [S18] Various, Ancestory Dot Com,
    one world tree.
  5. [S34] Various, Internet.
  6. [S28] Edmund West, "FamilySearch Individual Records", Ancestral File,
    "Pedigree Resource File," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 August 2012), entry for Tjerck Claessen /De Witt/.