Dirck Volckertszen married Christina Vigne in 1630 or 1631. She was the daughter of Guillaume Vigne and Adrienne Cuvelier of Valenciennes, a city of northern France. The name Vigne means "vine" in French, and is most often associated with vineyards for making wine. Vigne is pronounced VIN-YEH , with neither syllable accented. A cuvelier was a barrel-maker. The names paired together paint a colorful picture of French vineyards and wooden wine barrels.


  The Walloons were French-speaking Protestants from the southern Netherlands region that is now Belgium and northern France. In the 1500's and 1600's it was subjected to protracted wars involving Holland, France and Spain.
A Quick Wiki-History of
Valenciennes was also called Val des Cygnes, or the Swan Valley, because there were many swans living there. It lies on both sides of the Scheldt, a 200 mile long river that runs through northern France, western Belgium and the southwestern part of the Netherlands.
  Valenciennes is the major city in the County of Hainaut (French: Comté de Hainaut). It was first mentioned in legal documents in 693. In the 843 Treaty of Verdun, it was made a neutral city between Neustria and the Austrasia. Later in the 9th century the region was overrun by the Normans, and in 881 the town passed to them. In 923 it passed to the Duchy of Lower Lotharingia, under the general auspices of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1008, a terrible famine brought the Plague. According to the local tradition, the Virgin Mary held a cordon around the city and this miraculously protected its people from the disease.
  From 1070 until the 1400s, the region was semi-autonomous, ruled by a series of counts, and known as Hainaut. It also formed a series of unions with other states: Flanders in 1067–71 and 1191–1246, Holland from 1299 to 1436, and Bavaria-Straubing from 1356 to 1429. In 1285, the currency of Hainaut was replaced by the currency of France. In the 1300s, the Tower of Dodenne was built by Albert of Bavaria; it's the only remaining substantial structure of the old fortified city. In the 1400s Hainaut came under the control of the Duke of Burgundy.
  In the 1500s, the Holy Roman Emperor was engaged in wars and conquests throughout Europe. One of the spoils of those wars was that Hainaut was taken from France and became part of the Spanish Netherlands. At about the same time, Valenciennes became a centre for Protestantism and the townspeople became restless in the face of Spanish oppression. Matters came to a head in 1576 when the town refused to take in a Spanish garrison. The Spanish commander declared Valenciennes to be in a state of rebellion and laid siege to it. Several leading citizens and two Protestant ministers were put to death when the town finally fell. Following the suppression of the revolt, Protestantism was rooted out and the counter-reformation brought most of the population back to the Catholic church. The Vignes fled to the Dutch Netherlands during this period of religious oppression, and later joined fellow refugees in emigrating to North America.
  Valenciennes returned to French rule in 1678 with the Treaty of Nijmegen. Although the city was by then well known for its wool and lace products, Valenciennes fell into decline until the discovery of burnable coal in 1734 and the formation of the Compagnie des Mines d'Anzin. The city then began producing porcelain – made in furnaces fueled by the new-found coal. Valenciennes became known as the Athens of the North, underlining its artistic influence. The city came under attack three times during the Napoleonic wars between 1793 and 1815, and was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. In 2001, Toyota built its Western European assembly line for the Toyota Yaris in Valenciennes.

Photos: Valenciennes at night
A 12-year truce beginning in 1609 provided some respite, but the truce was not renewed when it expired in 1621. Another unsettling factor in that region was the desire of the Catholic French monarchy to convert, drive out or kill the Protestant population living within that border region.

  Guillaume and Adrienne were born in Valenciennes, in northern France near the current border with Belgium, about 1586-1590. They married sometime around 1610, and emigrated to Holland by 1618. They lived in the city of Leiden, which was a protective and tolerant haven from war and prejudice. At that time it was also the home of the Pilgrims who would soon sail to Massachusetts.

Guillaume or Ghislain?

  The records of the Walloon church in Leiden tell us the Vignes were members there from 1618 to 1623, and had five children baptized during that time. The first three spellings of Guillaume's name in those church records appear to give a soft-G pronunciation, as though his original French name was 'Ghislain' (zheez-len). Adherents of this theory say he was named after the Catholic Saint Ghislain (who was from the region of Valenciennes), but totally overlook the fact that the Vignes were Protestant and had fled from Catholic persecution. The later spellings -- possibly written after the church got to know him better -- indicate his given name was pronounced with a hard G. Further, two posthumous legal documents (from 1639 and 1658) used a hard G to spell his name as 'Gulyn.' Below are the entries from the Leiden Walloon Church:

[BAPTISMS SOURCE: Article by William Parry in New Netherland Connections Quarterly, Vol 3 No. 1, Jan-Feb-Mar 1998. Dorothy A. Koenig, Editor. Please note that the article indecisively called him "Guillaume or Ghislain."]

  Based on the evidence, it continues to appear that his French Walloon name was Guillaume, and his nearest corresponding Dutch name was something like Guillain. Other known spellings of that Dutch name included Guiliam, Guiliame, Guillam, Guillaum, Guilliam, Guilliaem, Guilliame and Guillian. [SOURCE: Dictionary of Flemish First Names with Translation in Latin & French] Another spelling of his name, 'Guleyn,' has appeared in genealogical records since 1856, but is not known to have originated in the 1600s. Historian John H. Innes surmised in his 1902 "New Amsterdam And Its People" that Guillaume's acquaintances simply called him the more familiar 'Willem.'


  The Vignes were one of 30 Walloon families selected by the Dutch West India Company to establish a permanent settlement in New Netherlands [New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Connecticut]. The original Company plan was to send only five or six men to set up a fur trading post on Manhattan Island. The addition of the Walloon families may have been a late change to the plans. Perhaps the families volunteered when they heard of the colonization plans. After all, the Walloons were a displaced people who had become refugees in crowded little Holland. There was no land available to them - the Dutch had run out of land and had just started to reclaim land from the sea. It is possible that Adrienne and Guillaume may have had advance information about the New Netherlands region, according to the "New Netherlands Connections" published by Dorothy A. Koenig:
  "Nancy Fulkerson Hill wrote to the Algemeen Rijksarchief in the Hague [to find] whatever documents exist in The Netherlands about the ship Tijger [Tiger] known to be in New Netherland waters in 1614 under the command of Adriaen Block...[they referred her] to notarial documents held by the Gemeentearchief in Amsterdam."

  "Pim Nieuwenhuis investigated these notarial documents only to discover that they had already been translated into English and published in 1959 by the City of Amsterdam Press under the title, The Prehistory of the New Netherland Company: Amsterdam Notarial Records of the First Dutch Voyages to the Hudson by Simon Hart ..."

  On page 22 Dr. Hart asks rhetorically, Who were the merchants in the [Van Tweenhuysen Company] which sent Adriaen Block on his voyages? Besides Arnout Vogels and Francoys Pelgrom, there were Leonard, Paulus and Steffan Pelgrom -- brothers of Francoys ... [The] four Pelgrom brothers were children of Gheeraert Pelgrom ...[whose] first wife Anthonia van Dijcke died...[and who]... remarried to Susanna Cuvelier. From this marriage Paulus and Steffan Pelgrom were born..."

  If Adrienne Cuvelier was related to Susanna Cuvelier, she and Guillaume could have had first-hand information about the DWIC's New Netherland settlement plans through her relatives.


  The Vignes are believed to have sailed from Holland in April of 1624 on the "Nieuw Nederlandt" [or possibly on the "Eendracht," which means "Unity"]. Some of the other colonists, including Joris Janszen Rapaelje, were also from Valenciennes. The Vignes had three daughters, Christina, Maria and Rachel, when they sailed to America. Most of the 30 families must have had children, as the total number of new colonists was about 120. Upon reaching the Hudson River in mid-May, they found a French ship that was trying to claim the territory for the king of France. With the help of a smaller Dutch ship that arrived from the West Indies, they politely aimed their cannons and escorted the French ship out to sea. Cornelis May, captain of the "Nieuw Nederlandt," became the first Director of the New Netherlands colony.


  Eight men were left at Manhattan to "take possession." A dozen families were deposited at the Delaware and Connecticut Rivers, and 18 families were taken up the Hudson to a site near present-day Albany. The first news back to Holland was that, "Everything was in good condition. The colony began to advance bravely, and to live in friendship with the natives." However, most of the families began their residence in the new land by digging seven feet into the ground to make wood-lined, bark covered shelters. We don't know whether the Vignes spent their first year at the Albany, Connecticut River or Delaware River settlements, or on Manhattan Island itself.

  In 1625, the Company sent over another ship with 103 head of cattle and off-loaded them on Manhattan Island. Along with the cattle came some home builders and more settlers, who were directed to establish six bouweries [farms] on Manhattan. Engineers began constructing Fort Amsterdam near the southern tip of the island, and laying out the streets for the town of New Amsterdam. The colonists who had been deposited at the Connecticut and Delaware Rivers were brought back to Manhattan Island. They were too few in number to be in such isolated locations. Over the next three years, all of the Albany settlers trickled back to Manhattan. In 1626 Peter Minuit [also a Walloon] arrived as the new Director. He brought more colonists and bought the rest of Manhattan Island from the Indians for 60 guilders' worth of minor trade items. By the end of 1628 there were roughly 275 people in and around New Amsterdam.


  The Vignes established their Manhattan farm north of what is now Wall Street, along the East River. In 1624 or 1625, not long after their arrival, their son Jan was born. He was the first European male born in New Netherlands. [The first European girl born in New Netherlands was Sara Rapaelje, in June 1625.] At some point after their arrival in the New World, or perhaps back in Holland, their surname was given the Dutch pronunciation, 'Vienje.' [The "-je" ending in the Dutch version of their name was pronounced as "-yeh."]

Guillaume died about 1632. His two oldest daughters had already married by that time, Christina to Dirck Volckertszen, and Maria to Jan Roos. He left his wife with two minor children.


  Ariantje married Jan Jansen Damen on May 7, 1638. Damen, sometimes referred to as "Old Jan," was a warden of the Dutch Reformed Church and also had a sizable tract of land west of the Vigne's. The following information recently came to light:
HNN., 1:434-5 gives the following item:
  "Jan Jansen Dam (or Damen) married Ariantje Cuvel. He removed subsequently to New Amsterdam [where his name appears on the records as early as April 19, 1638 (CDM:1)]; He was elected one of the Twelve Men and also of the Eight men (NNR. 52,54). He amassed a considerable wealth and was one of the owners of the privateer La Garce ("The Wench") from about 1643 to 1646." [A 'privateer' was a pirate ship that flew a national flag instead of a skull and crossbones. The other owner was reported to be Jan Labaddie, a carpenter from France, who was Commissary of the Patroon up the Hudson River at Rensselaerwyck.]

In this case, the La Garce, with six cannons, a crew of fifty and captained by Willem Blauvelt, had the blessings of the Dutch West India Company to cruise the Caribbean and seize Spanish ships. Blauvelt brought her back to New Amsterdam in April 1645 with two Spanish ships carrying tobacco, wine, sugar and ebony wood. It returned in 1646 with the St. Antonio of Havana, with a cargo of sugar and tobacco, taken in the Bay of Campeche off the Mexican coast and subsequently sold at New Amsterdam. The ship's owners sold it to the company of Christiaen Petersen Rams late in 1646, but it continued to sail under Blauvelt and prey upon Spanish ships and raid Spanish Caribbean ports until 1651. In 1652 the La Garce began privateering under a commission by a French Caribbean governor. Interestingly, a www.google.com translation of a French web page about the ship translated the ship's name as "The Bitchy Girl".

  The following is the translation of the prenuptial agreement by Adrienne and Jan, concerning her children by her deceased husband, Guillaume Vigne:

  "Dirck Volgersen Noorman and Ariaentje Cevelyn, his wife's mother, came before us in order to enter into an agreement with her children whom she has borne by her lawful husband Willem Vienje, settling on Maria Vienje and Christina Vienje, both married persons, on each the sum of two hundred guilders ... and on Resel Vienje and Jan Vienje, both minor children, also as their portion of their father's estate, on each the sum of three hundred guilders; with this provision that she and her future lawful husband, Jan Jansen Damen, shall be bound to bring up the above named two children until they attain their majority, and be bound to clothe and rear the aforesaid children, to keep them at school and to give them a good trade, as parents ought to do." This agreement was dated "the last of April 1632," but was not recorded until 7 May 1638. [New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, Volume 1, ed. and trans. by Arnold J. F. Van Laer. Baltimore, 1974, The editor, Van Laer, was of the opinion that the year 1632, given as the date of the document, is probably wrong and should be 1635 or later. The document was certified by William Wyman, blacksmith, and Jan Thomaisen Groen, and witnessed by Jacob Albertsen Planck who arrived in New Amsterdam in 1634 on the "Eendracht."]

  Upon moving into the Vigne household, Damen found he had married into an extended family. Christina and Dirck were living there with their two young daughters. Maria's husband Jan Roos died in 1632, and she had married to Abraham Ver Planck in 1634. By mid-1638 they had 3 or 4 children. Altogether the household consisted of six adults and 7 or 8 children, and possibly a few slaves. On June 21, 1638, Damen sued to have Abraham Ver Planck and Dirck Volckertszen "quit his house and leave him the master thereof." Dirck countered with a charge of assault and had witnesses testify that Jan tried to "throw his step-daughter Christina, Dirck's wife, out of doors." In the following year, the third Vigne daughter married and left the household. She was only 16 when she married Cornelis Van Tienhoven, the 28-year-old Secretary to the Director.

  The marriage of Jan and Adrienne combined their previously-held properties, giving them ownership of a very large bouwerie [farm]. They continued to acquire property on Manhattan. In 1642 they purchased a tract in Smit's Vly, "occupied by Hendrick Jansen Snyder," from Maryn Adriansen. In 1644 they took possession of "land on Manhattan Island, near the land of Tymen Jensen." In 1646 they bought 20 morgens of land at "Calck Hoek" [Chalk Hook] from Governor Kieft. By that time their holdings extended from Pine Street north to Maiden Lane, and from the East River to the Hudson River. (Maiden Lane, which still exists, was presumably named after the three maidens whose family originally owned the land: Christina, Maria and Rachel VIGNE.) [Innes]. Hundreds of years later their land would be occupied by New York's Financial District, the Soho and Tribeca districts, and the World Trade Center.


  In 1641 Damen and Ver Planck were members of the 12-man council assembled by Director Willem Kieft to "advise" him on Indian affairs. He was really only trying to drum up popular support for his plans to eliminate the local Indian tribes. In the following year Kieft disbanded the council because it disagreed with his military ambitions. Abraham had such a falling out with the Director that he was threatened with banishment if he continued to insult the Company's officers.

  In February 1643 Damen hosted a dinner at which the alcohol flowed steadily. The attendees were Maryn Adriansen, another former member of the council of 12, and step-sons-in-law Abraham Ver Planck and Cornelis Van Tienhoven. At a ripe moment Van Tienhoven pulled out a petition and had the others sign it. It was a petition to Kieft, urging him to attack a neighboring Indian tribe. Van Tienhoven took the signed petition to Kieft and then personally led the attack on the Indian village. That action led other tribes to retaliate and burn New Amsterdam. Abraham later denied knowledge of the incident, and Adriansen even tried to kill Kieft. [He had to pay a fine and was banished for 3 months.] Kieft appointed Damen to an 8-man council in 1644, but the other council members refused to accept him.

FOOTNOTE: The June 27, 2004 edition of the New York Times carried an extensive article on the history of the property where the World Trade Center was located. The article stated that, "...Damen, for example, its first European owner, played a critical role in a decision by the early Dutch colonists to massacre Indians living at two nearby settlements, igniting two years of warfare." It went on to state, "Damen died about 1650. His heirs sold his property to two men: Oloff Stevensen Van Cortlandt, a brewer and one-time soldier in the Dutch West India militia, and Dirck Dey, a farmer and cattle brander. Their names were ultimately assigned to the streets at the trade center site. Damen's was lost to history."

  In 1649 Jan Jansen Damen went to Holland with Cornelius Van Tienhoven, to help defend Stuyvesant against the complaints of Van der Donck and others. He died upon his return, on June 18, 1651. He does not seem to have had any children. He had three brothers: Cornelius Jansen Cuyper, Cornelis Jansen Damen and William Jansen Damnen; and two sisters: Neeltje and Hendrickje. He adopted [in 1648] the son of the last named sister - Jan Cornelis Buys - who assumed his name, having been left 600 Car. guilders. Jan Jansen, at his death, willed 400 Car. guilders to the poor of Bunick, in the province of Utrecht. The inventory of his personal property fills 10 folio pages in the records.

Following Jan's death there were several lawsuits concerning his estate. In 1653 there was a successful suit against his estate for unpaid goods bought at auction. In 1656 there was a suit by Adrien Blommart for his share of the inheritance, brought against the administrator, Thomas Hall, which the court ordered into arbitration. Adrienne Cuvellier died about 1655. Two years later, when the Wall that gave Wall Street its name was run through her property, her son Jan and sons-in-law Dirck and Abraham filed a claim with the City "for breaking of fences, and injury of grain, etc. in consequences of running the Walls of this City through their land, to have been damaged as much, as arbitrators shall in fairness estimate."


  "...it has been said of Adrienne Cuvellier that when one of her sons-in-law returned from the massacre of the Pavonia Indians in February, 1643, with thirty prisoners and also heads of several of the defunct enemy, she, 'forgetful of those finer feelings that do honor to her sex, amused herself in kicking about the heads of the dead men which had been brought in as bloody trophies of the midnight slaughter.'" For the most part, New Amsterdammers had opposed this conflict with the Indians. Many who witnessed her behavior saw it as disgusting....and also directly blamed her family for the war. ["Cuvellier-Cuvilje" Herbert F. Seversmith, 21 May 1947]



  Christina was born about 1610-1613. This would have made her somewhere between ten and fourteen years old when she arrived in America. Little has been written about her, other than that she married Dirck in 1630 or 1631, and bore eight children. Dirck and Christina lived in her parents' household until 1638. She was a sponsor in baptisms at the Dutch Reformed Church in 1643 and 1650. The rest of her story must be inferred from what we know about her husband and children. Her last child, Jennekin, was born in 1653. There was no further record of her after 1663, although she may have lived into the 1670's.


  Maria was born about 1613, probably in France but possibly in Holland. Maria married Jan ROOS about 1631. Jan died about 1632. They had one son, Gerrit Jansen ROOS.

  In 1634 she married Abraham VER PLANCK. Abraham may have just arrived that year [he was possibly a cousin of J.A. PLANCK, who witnessed the antenuptial agreement above]. Maria and Abraham lived at the Vigne household until Damen took over. They bought land across the Hudson at Paulus Hook [now Jersey City]. They had a farm and two cows, and leased four acres to two tobacco planters.

  The 1643 Indian war forced Maria and Abraham to seek the safety of the fort at Manhattan. The family continued to own the land at Paulus Hook until 1699, but never went back there to live. They bought a lot from brother-in-law Van Tienhoven at Smits Vly in 1649, near Pearl Street and Maiden Lane, and built a house there. They no longer farmed, but leased their land holdings and entered into the fur trade. This business took Abraham up the Hudson and down to the Delaware River. In 1664, when the English fleet showed up on the Hudson River, Abraham was one of the signers of the petition requesting that Peter Stuyvesant surrender. A fight with the English would have destroyed New Amsterdam. The people were more interested in keeping their homes than keeping Stuyvesant as their leader. He fell onto financial hard times in the 1680's, although he still owned lots in New York City which his heirs sold in a 1699 indenture. Maria died in 1689, and Abraham in 1691. She had ten children, the first by Jan ROOS:


  The youngest daughter, Rachel, was born in Leiden, Holland, and was baptized on March 16, 1623 at the Leiden Walloon Church. Translation from French: "Baptized 16 March 1623 [n.s.], Rachel daughter of Guillain Vigne'. Witnesses Henri Lambert, Pierre de Fuche, and Marguerite Vigne'."

  In 1639 Rachel had the misfortune to marry Cornelis Van Tienhoven. Although he was a highly-placed Dutch West India Company official, he turned out to be a murdering, philandering scoundrel. Cornelis drowned or absconded in 1656, leaving Rachel a 33-year-old widow with three young children and pregnant with a fourth. He also left a great deal of property and three houses. One of those houses, on "Potbaker Hill in Smith St." was advertised for sale in John Peter Zenger's New York Weekly Journal on 6 Jun 1734.

  In 1657 Peter Stuyvesant initiated the Burgher system [long used in Holland] which established 2 privileged classes: the Small Burghers and Great Burghers. Small Burghers had the right to engage in business. Great Burghers could conduct business and were exempt from common arrest. Many citizens [including Abraham Ver Planck] paid the 20-guilder fee to become Small Burghers; Rachel was among the 20 who paid 50 guilders and passed Stuyvesant's scrutiny to become Great Burghers. By 1660 she may have known that she was ill. On 20 Aug 1660, court records indicate "Raghel Van Tienhoven requests to have appointed administrators of her estate, Daniel Van Danck, Joarmes Van Brugh, Jacob Hendrickzen Varevanger and James Van der Meulen." She died in 1663 at the young age of 40, per the records of the Orphans' Court: "Thursday, February 22, 1663. Schepen [magistrate] Jan Vinge and Pieter Stoutenburgh announce the death of Ragel Van Tienhoven. Jacques Cousseau is appointed guardian." The childrens' names were listed as Lucas, Johannes and Janneken. A Metje GREVENRAET boarded the children. [Stoutenburgh was Rachel's brother-in-law.] On 10 May 1664 the Orphans' Court learned that Janneke HEERMAN owed Rachel's estate 425 guilders. She had paid part of the debt in tobacco. The orphan masters ruled that 35 pounds of tobacco were worth one beaver pelt.

Rachel had two children who survived childhood:


  Jan Jansen Damen died on June 18, 1651. Adrienne Cuvelier died in 1655. Most of her property was divided among the Vigne children and their families. On March 8, 1658, Dirck and his sister-in-law Maria Ver Planck were sued by Claes Van Elstandt, elder of the Dutch Reformed Church, for not paying for her grave. They said they had given the money to Van Tienhoven, who had disappeared 16 months earlier. All of the remaining heirs were then ordered to pay for the grave.

Meanwhile, back in the Old Country...

  Two other Vignes are mentioned in Leiden Walloon Church records. Margrite Vigne, wife of Jacques Collet, was listed as a member of the church in Leiden in 1652. Richard Vigne and his wife Susanne Lambert joined the church at Leiden, by certificate from the church at Mets, in Oct. 1648. If you look back up the page at Rachel's baptism record, you'll see these Vignes probably were relatives of our Vigne family.

  One of our Vigne cousins searched an index of Baptisms at the Catholic Parishes of Valenciennes, France, looking for records of the Vigne family. There are four or five parishes, but only one [St. Nicholas] has records extending back into the Sixteenth Century [it starts in 1567, and may be incomplete]. The only Vignes listed were two children of a Piere Vigne [Jacque and Marie Joseph], both baptized 7 July 1694.


"Ariaentje Cuvilje [Adrienne Cuvelier], Matriarch of New Amsterdam," by Herbert F. Seversmith, National Genealogical Society Quarterly, vol. 35 [1947], pp. 65-69

"New Netherland Ancestors of Aeltje Van Laer," by David Riker, De Halve Maen, vol. 58, no. 4 [1985], pp. 4-6

Narratives of New Netherland, ed. by J. Franklin Jameson, New York, 1909,