Contents Updated 14 June 1998

Jan Vigne - "the first white male born in New Netherland"


  The Vigne family originated from Valenciennes, France. They had three daughters, Christine, Maria and Rachel, prior to their journey to New Amsterdam. Christine and Maria, the oldest and second-oldest, were probably born about 1610 and 1613, respectively. The youngest, Rachel, was baptized on March 16, 1623 at the Leiden Walloon Church. The Vignes sailed to America on the Nieu Nederlandt in April of 1624, and began their farm - one of the first six on Manhattan Island - by 1625.

First Born

  The year 1624 (or 1625) witnessed the birth of Jan [Jean] Vigne, the first white male born in New Netherland. He was probably born on
Manhattan Island. It is also possible that he was born at Albany, or in Connecticut or New Jersey. The Nieu Nederlandt's passengers were scattered to all of these places for a short time before returning to the safety of Manhattan. Jan's honor to be the first-born male was well-known and is recorded in The Journal of Jasper Danckaerts, [ed. by Bartlett Burleigh James and J. Franklin Jameson. New York, 1913]. Excerpt from entry of 24 Sept. 1679, translation from Dutch: "We conversed with the first male born of Europeans in New Netherland, named Jean Vigne. His parents were from Valenciennes and he was now about sixty-five years of age."

Danckaerts overestimated or miscopied Jan VIGNE'S age - he would have been about 55, and not 65, in 1679 - but the presence of Jan's wife, more than 70 years old, could have thrown them off if they were guessing. His true age is roughly substantiated by the fact that Jan was still in school in 1635, according to a prenuptial agreement in which his future step-father promised to feed and clothe him and ensure he attended school. At one time there was also a bronze plaque in the Town Hall, naming him as the first-born. The first European child born in New York was Sara RAPALJE, daughter of Joris Janszen RAPALJE and Catalina TRICO, in June 1625. By coincidence, my branch of the Fulkerson family can list her as one of our ancestors.

  Jan grew up on the Vigne farm, just north of what is now Wall Street. We know there was a precipitous falling-out among the family after his stepfather Jan Jansen Damen moved into the house. Damen evicted two of Jan's married sisters and their husbands in 1638, and a year later his presence or influence may have pushed the third sister into marrying the scoundrel Cornelis Van Tienhoven when she was just 16 years old. It's difficult to pass judgment on this situation, however, since contemporary social standards did make him master of the house.

Atlantic Crossings

  Jan may have sought an early exit from his stepfather's
realm and apparently took the biggest step in leaving - by the age of 21 he was across the Atlantic and living in Utrecht, a city in the Netherlands. Jan's brother-in-law Van Tienhoven was from Utrecht, so it is likely that he was involved and may even have recommended this venture. It's also likely, knowing the characters of Damen and Van Tienhoven, that both of these men wished the only male Vigne heir would leave New Netherland and never return.

  He married Emmerentje Gosens VAN NIEUWERZLUYS [during her lifetime there were numerous spelling variations for every part of her name] in Utrecht in 1645, when he was 21. She was the widow of Lambert WOLF and already about 40 years old. Her children by Lambert were daughter Aeltgen (1627), daughter Gysbertgen (1628) and son Herman (1631). Jan moved into her home on Oude Gracht in the Jacobsbridge section of the city. There they had three more children: Johannes in 1646 (probably died in infancy), Johannes (2nd, 1647, also died young) and Gosen (1648).

  Jan returned to New Netherland in the spring of 1647. While there, his stepfather Jan Jansen Damen entrusted him to collect on some payments from the Dutch West India Company upon his return to Europe. One bill amounted to 1000 guilders, dated at Fort Amsterdam on 15 July 1647, was signed by Peter Stuyvesant for money counted out and delivered by Jan Jansz Damen to the Director. Another amounted to 350 guilders for provisions delivered by Jan Jansz Damen to former Director Kieft. Both were chargeable to the Directors of the DWIC in behalf of "Jan Vienje."

  Jan sailed back to Holland in August 1647 with 106 others on board the "Princess Amalia." They took a wrong turn after crossing the Atlantic and were shipwrecked on the coast of Wales on 27 September 1647. Only Jan and 20 others survived the accident. However, some letters (from Stuyvesant?) required to verify the bills went down with the ship. He made it back to the Netherlands not long afterward. A subsequent ship brought new letters to verify the bills. On 23 December 1647 he signed a note giving power of attorney to Isaac Coster concerning his accounts with the West India Company.

  Jan's stay in Holland was not a financial success. About five years after his marriage the house on Oude Gracht was heavily mortgaged and had to be sold. By that time, though, Emmerentje's youngest daughter Gysbertgen had grown and married, which cleared the way for Jan's return to North America. Jan, Emmerentje, her older daughter Aeltgen and two-year-old Gosen were in Manhattan by 1651. Daughter Aeltgen was married there on 31 December 1651.

Beer Barrels and Peg Legs

  Jan lived a pretty good life after that, from what we know of him. On 19 January 1655 he
New Amsterdam City Hall in 1654
New Amsterdam City Hall where Jan was a schepen
bought 170 acres along the Hudson River, probably near Bergen. He sold this land on 25 March 1670. On 31 March 1668 he bought 30 acres on Hobookshe Creek, which was probably in the vicinity of Hoboken. He also owned a brewery or two - a very commonplace establishment in the hard-drinking colony - and owned substantial parcels of land on Manhattan through his inheritance.

Quote from a website on New York breweries: "We may now close this very incomplete list of prominent Colonial brewers with the mention of one whose name is, and always has been, of uncommon interest to historians, seeing that he was the first white male born in New Netherland. Jean Vigne held the office of schepen [magistrate] for three terms. In his private life his titles included brewer, miller, and farmer. He owned a tract of land, the site of his brewery, near the Watergate (along the East River at the present Wall Street)."

  Old Silver Nails, peg-legged Peter STUYVESANT, recognized Jan's status in the community by appointing him a schepen or city councilman of New Amsterdam from 1655 to 1663.  (It may be coincidence that Jan's uncle Dirck DE NOORMAN became the City Carpenter in 1658....)

  In May of 1665 Jan and Pieter STOUTENBURGH, as administrators of his late sister Rachel's estate, sold one of her properties at Smits Vly to a Joost CARELSEN. Jan's named surfaced again in city affairs in August 1674, during the brief period when New York reverted to Dutch control and a city government was re-elected. The old sheriff, burgomasters and schepens from the pre-English era met to nominate candidates for city offices - "the most respectable and wealthiest inhabitants." Jan was one of five named for the office of schepen, although ultimately he was not elected.

Whiskey Heights?

  Emmerentje died about 1680. Jan later married Weiske HUYTES [a picturesque name for a brewer's wife]. The new British rulers of Manhattan issued Jan's son "Goose Vigne" a travel pass to Amsterdam in 1669. Gosen returned within four years, as he joined the Dutch Church in New York City on 4 Sept. 1673, but that was the last ever heard of him. Jan Vigne died on December 21, 1689, and the Vigne name in America died with him.

Jan's Will

  Jan left shares of his Manhattan land holdings [ yes..worth millions or even billions today ] to his nieces and nephews, including Dirck and Christine's children. By the time of his death the
British had occupied and Anglicized New York for 26 years: he called himself 'John Vigne' in his will:

"In the name of God, Amen. Know all men whom it may concerne, that I, underwritten John Vigne, dwelling within this city of New York, considering the mortality of men... I leave to my cousin [nephew] Gerritt Jansen Roos, 56 pounds as a legacy before any division is made. I leave to Emmerantie Provost, daughter of Elias Provoost, procreated by Cornelius [Cornelia??] Roos, a parcel of ground, lying without the Wall of this city, in ye New Lots in ye street called Thienhoven street, whereof I have sold the first lot to Johannes Ellsworth, the second to Peter Pangborn, and this lot being the third lot in order and must be broad in front at the street and after, 25 Dutch wood feet, and long to the ground, granted to the late Governor Thomas Dongan...With this express condition that if she die in her minority, then it is to go to her sister Aeltie, and if she die, then to her brother Johanes. If he die, then to his brother Gerrit, and if he die in his minority, then to his mother Cornelia Roos, who has the power to sell it.

The remainder of the estate is left in 6 shares. To the children of my deceased sister Maria Ver Planck, the children of my deceased sister Christina Dircksen, the children of my deceased sister Rachel Van Thienhoven, Harme De Wolf, the children of Claas Wouterse Visser and the children of Aeltie Lamberts Wolf, on the express conditions that the three last shares, viz. Harme De Wolf, and the children of Claas Wouterse Visser, and the children of Aeltie Lamberts Wolf, shall be in room of 100 guilders made to them by the testament of my deceased wife, Emmerantie Van der Sluys, in case they will accept for it, which is left to their free choice.

I leave to my cousin [nephew] Isaac Ver Planck, my black cloth coat, and to my cousin Johannes Roos, my coat with silver buttons. And to the end that this my last will may be better performed, I have nominated and appointed my three cousins [nephews] Geritt Jansen Roos, Lucas Van Thienhoven, and Johanes Roos, executors. These present I declare to be my last will and testament, desiring ye same may be irrevocable. J. Vinge

Witnesses: Johanes Kip, Wm. Bogardus, Notary Public. Recorded in the Book of Wills, Per me Abraham Gouverneur, Clerk."

  [Note.-Jan Vigne or Vinge owned land which is now the most valuable in New York. The lot left to Emmerantie Provost, is now No. 61 Pine Street. The lots mentioned as sold to Peter Pangborn and Johanes Ellsworth, are Nos. 63-65 Pine Street. The term "cousins" in this will meant nephews.]

  The will was proved Dec. 10, 1689. Gerritt Jansen Roos, Lucas Van Tienhoven and Johanes Roos were confirmed as executors, Jan 18, 1690:

"An inventory of goods and estate of John Vigne, who died in this city the 21 of December, 1689, and taken by us, Geritt Jansen Roose, Lucas Van Thienhoven, together with John Roose, absent, living at Albany, December 30, 1689. A Parcel of land lying in the Clack Hook, by the Fresh water, 60 pounds. A Parcel of land lying without the Fortifications of the city of New York, 140 pounds; 1 ditto garden; 1 ditto Bastine [ bastion? ], 120 pounds; 1 Silver beaker, engraved with the name of Guysbert Lamberts, 1 pound 10 shillings. Double Gold Ducat, 1 pound 5 shillings. Total, 352 pounds, 2 shillings 4 pence."

Fulkerson branch descended from Sara RAPALJE

1. Joris RAPALJE, m. Catalina TRICO, both from Valenciennes, FR
2. Sara RAPALJE, b. June 1625, New Netherland, m. (2nd) Tunis Gybertse BOGAERT
(with her 1st, Hans Hansen BERGEN, a Norwegian ships carpenter, she had eight children)
3. Neeltje BOGAERT, b. 1665 (3rd of 7 children), m. Cornelis TEUNISEN (b. ca. 1652, New Amsterdam) on 27 Aug 1687
4. Cornelius TUNISON b. 20 Jan 1694 nr. Somerville, NJ, d. 25 Aug 1775, m. Rebecca FOLKERTSON (daughter of Dirck's grandson, Philip Volkerse, b. 3 Apr 1698) by 1720
5. Philip TUNISON, b. 1720, d. 9 Mar 1777, m. Deborah DE LA GRANGE (b. 1729, Schenectady, NY) on 30 Jan 1748
6. Deborah TUNISON, bpt. 27 July 1772, d. 28 Dec 1859, m. Caleb FULKERSON
(b. 17 Jan 1762, d. 4 Mar 1848) on 6 Apr 1787.