The story of our family...for my sons

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nicholas Pierre Gouverneur

Nicholas Pierre Gouverneur immigrated to New Netherlands (New York) from France, married a girl from Holland and became active in the community. He helped the poor, and joined Jacob Liesler in a rebellion that divided New York (the poor vs. the rich). He was captured during the rebellion and sentenced to death. Escaping to Boston, then finally to Holland he eventually made it back to New York, and became a freeman and landowner of large tracts of land in Harlem and Brookland.

The Rebellion

Jacob Leisler (ca. 1640 – May 16, 1691) was a German-born American colonist. He helped create the Huguenot settlement of New Rochelle in 1688 and later served as the acting Lieutenant Governor of New York. Beginning in 1689, he led an insurrection dubbed Leisler's Rebellion in colonial New York, seizing control of the colony until he was captured and executed in New York City for treason against William and Mary.

Leisler was born in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, in March 1640, the son of Calvinist French Reformed minister Jacob Victorian Leisler. He went to New Netherland (New York) in 1660 as a soldier in the service of the Dutch West India Company. Leaving the company's employ soon after his arrival, he engaged in the fur and tobacco trade, and became a comparatively wealthy man. He married Elsie Tymens, the widow of Pieter Cornelisz. van der Veen in 1663. While on a voyage to Europe in 1678 he was captured by Moorish pirates, and was compelled to pay a ransom of 2,050 pieces of eight to obtain his freedom. Previous to this voyage he engaged in a theological dispute with the Rev. Nicholas van Rensselaer in Albany, who had been appointed to the Reformed pulpit by James, Duke of York (later King James II). Leisler had also endeared himself to the common people by befriending a family of French Huguenots that had been landed on Manhattan island so destitute that a public tribunal had decided they should be sold into slavery in order to pay their ship-charges. Leisler prevented the sale by purchasing the freedom of the widowed mother and son before it could be held. Under Thomas Dongan's administration in 1683 he was appointed one of the judges, or “commissioners,” of the court of admiralty in New York, a justice of the peace for New York City and County, and a militia captain.

The English Revolution of 1688 divided the people of New York into two well-defined factions. In general, the small shopkeepers, small farmers, sailors, poor traders and artisans allied against the patroons (landholders), rich fur-traders, merchants, lawyers and crown officers. The former were led by Leisler, the latter by Peter Schuyler, Nicholas Bayard, Stephen Van Cortlandt, William Nicolls and other representatives of the aristocratic Hudson Valley families. The Leislerians claimed greater loyalty to the Protestant succession.

In 1688, Governor Dongan was succeeded by Lieutenant-Governor Francis Nicholson. In 1689, the military force of the city of New York consisted of a regiment of five companies, with Leisler as one of the company captains. He was popular with the men and was probably the only wealthy resident in the province who sympathized with the Dutch lower classes. At that time, much excitement prevailed among the latter, owing to the attempts of the Jacobite office-holders to retain power in spite of the revolution in England and the accession of William and Mary to the throne. When news of the imprisonment of Governor Sir Edmund Andros in Boston was received, the Leislerians took possession, on May 31, 1689, of Fort James (at the southern end of Manhattan Island), renamed it Fort William, and announced their determination to hold it until the arrival of a governor commissioned by the new sovereigns.

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