Anneke Jans

Dutch Woman in New Amsterdam

Anneke Webber was an early Dutch colonist in New Amsterdam and New Netherland. She was born in Norway in 1605. She married Roeloff Jans in Amsterdam, Holland, on Friday, April 18, 1623. They had six children. Her name became well-known because of the many lawsuits concerning her farm, which was claimed by her heirs and the Trinity Church in New York City.

The Dutch West India Company founded the colony of New Amsterdam—later New York City—in 1625 as a place to defend river access to the company’s fur trade operations in the Hudson River, which extended to the colony of New Netherland—later New York state.

But the efforts to colonize New Netherland were faltering. On June 7, 1629, the rules for settlements were relaxed. The first ship of colonists arrived in New Amsterdam on May 24, 1630, the only ship to arrive that year. On board were Roeloff Jans and his wife, Anneke Jans, and their two daughters.

Roeloff was commissioned to farm in the new colony for $72 a year, and the family moved up the Hudson River to the village of Beverwyck—now Albany, New York. Their last two children were born on de Laets Burg Farm on the east bank of the Hudson.

Roeloff hadn’t been a successful farmer, and he was replaced. The family then moved to New Amsterdam, where Roeloff became an employee of the West India Company.

In 1636, Governor Wouter Van Twiller granted to Roeloff and Anneke Jans a 62-acre farm, or Bowerie, on Manhattan Island just outside the limits of the New Amsterdam Settlement, between present-day Broadway and the Hudson River. Roeloff was contracted by the West India Company to farm the plot. He died shortly thereafter and Anneke inherited the land.

Dutch women had more property rights than their other female colonists in the New World. Prenuptial agreements were common at New Amsterdam, and they enabled women with money and/or property to keep their wealth after they married. Anneke Jans wrote one of the first prenuptial agreements, and later drafted them for her daughters, as well.

In March 1638, she married Reverend Everardus Bogardus, the second minister of the Dutch Church of New Amsterdam. They had four sons. He died at sea on September 29, 1647.

After learning of her husband’s death by drowning off the coast of Wales, Anneke moved from her house near the Fort in New Amsterdam back to Beverwyck, where she had a house on land adjacent to property owned by two of her sons from her first marriage.

Anneke Jans died at Beverwyck on February 23, 1663, leaving her property to be divided among her eight surviving children. Her will includes the 62 acres on Manhattan Island. She was buried in the churchyard at Beaver and Hudson Streets.

After the English took possession of New Amsterdam in 1664, all property-holders were required to obtain new titles for their lands. Anneke’s heirs secured a new patent for the farm from Governor Nicolls on March 27, 1667.

On March 9, 1671, the farm was sold to Governor Lovelace. All of Anneke’s heirs signed the deed of transfer, except the wife and child of Cornelius Bogardus, Anneke’s son who had died in 1666. And that omission caused all the subsequent legal problems.

In 1674, the Duke of York (who later became King James II) confiscated the Jans farm. In 1705, Queen Anne granted the farm to Trinity Church (the church itself was at the southernmost tip of Manhattan), and it became known as Trinity’s Lower Farm.

In 1749, Cornelius Brower, a descendant of Cornelius Bogardus (whose heirs had not signed the deed) took possession of a portion of the farm. He was evicted, and filed suit against Trinity Church, which he lost. In 1757, he made another unsuccessful attempt.

In 1784, Cornelius Bogardus, great-grandson of Anneke’s son Cornelius, claimed one-sixth of the Lower Farm. His grounds were that no one from his great-grandfather’s family had agreed to the sale, and one-sixth of that land should belong to his heirs.

He took possession of a house on the farm and built a fence around it. The church hired men to remove and burn the fence. Bogardus then burned some of the church’s fence. He was evicted by the courts in 1786. The courts always ruled that the church held legal title to the land.

The land had been of little value when New York’s northward expansion reached it, but by 1800, the swamp on the property had been drained, and the land improved to the point that commercial buildings and private dwellings had been built on it.

Cornelius Bogardus’ son John brought suit in 1830 to obtain one-thirtieth of the farm and a portion of back rents. He raised the money necessary to carry on this suit by sending circulars to all the descendants of Anneke Jans asking them to contribute, which they did. But in 1847, a judgment was again made in the church’s favor. Several other lawsuits since then have ended with the same result.

SOURCES:
Anneke or Annetje Jans

28 comments

  1. As a descendent of Anneke Jans, and having been to Trinity Church twice, this is amazing to read and wonder what life was like back then.

    1. Me too my brother and I are descendants of Anneke Jans.

    2. Lisa N
      as a descendant of Anneke Jans Have you had a DNA test done I also am a descendant of Anneke Jans by way of Daughter Sarah Jansen and Dr. Hans Keirstead a DNA test would prove this to be true.
      Wayne E. DeLong

      1. My grandfather was Robert Bogardus Snowden

    3. I just found out by my great grandma that I’m also related to Anneke Jan’s- Bogardus it’s so interesting to find out that I’m related to someone like her.

  2. Being a descent of Anneke myself. My family has the complete book written about Anneke Jan’s family from Holland and history of the Farm in New York. It contains the Maps and drawings of the farm. The book is HUGE it called”the Trinity”. Very few copies were make.

    1. Me too.

    2. Fascinating. Have you posted any parts of the book? Especially parts having to do with what their daily lives were like? Any of her words?

    3. I’d love to locate a copy of the book. Im a descendant of her daughter Sarah.

    4. I’d love to read the book. Is it available anywhere? Even a portion of it? I too am a descendent and live in Manhattan.

    5. Thank you, Martha. Have any electronic copies of “The Trinity” been made? If not, I would be happy to scan them electronically for you. Anneke Jans is my 14th Great-Grandmother.

  3. Thank you for this! Anneke is my 11th great grandmother. This was an excellent/interesting read!

  4. Lisa N
    as a descendant of Anneke Jans Have you had a DNA test done I also am a descendant of Anneke Jans by way of Daughter Sarah Jansen and Dr. Hans Keirstead a DNA test would prove this to be true.
    Wayne E. DeLong

    1. Hello to all my cousins from what i know there are a estimated over 3000 cousins .im very proud to know she is one of my great grand mothers .if it weren’t for her none of us would be here ..my grandmother was born Elaine Bourgeois..hugs to you all !!!

  5. How cool. I am also supposed to be a descendent of Anneke Jans. Our family apparently left the US as Empire Loyalists at the time of the American Revolution and settled in New Brunswick, Canada. I have little other information at this time.

  6. I am also a descendent of Anneke Jans and Everardus Bogardus. I happen to own the book, Trinity: Break Ye Thy Commandments. I inherited from my grandfather. It is a large book with a number of maps and etc as inserts. The first part of the book covers the history, and the second part concerns the lawsuit.

  7. She was my 9th great grandmother.

  8. My family history says annika married a commoner so her royal father shipped her to manhattan with husband and land grant. Her inheritance delayed to tenth generation. Anyone else been told this?

    1. Sadly, the royal lineage was just a myth started by a family genealogist about 100 years ago.

  9. So nice to know I have so much family all over the country, I have an original typed genealogical and biographical records dated back 3oo years and I know not every name is listed but hugs to all my family of Anneke

  10. William Bogardus was married to Sarah Cregier of New Amsterdam, New York. Sarah was sister of my direct ancestor, Catherine Cregier (Mrs. Hoagland)

    Bogardus (this name should properly be written “Bogart”, but because of his ministerial orders, his name was Latinized as “Bogardus.”)

  11. I also have a copy of that book! My grandfather tore one of the maps, I was so disappointed, but it was accidental. He and I are also descendants of Anneke.

  12. She is my 8th great grandmother. I am proud to know that I am a descendant of such a strong intelligent woman who obviously tolerated no nonsense. She wrote the first pre nuptial agreement in this country and insisted her daughters have them as well.

  13. I have taken a DNA test and would like to compare with other descendants of Anneke . Pieter Bogardus was my 8th great grandfather.My DNA is on 4 different sites.
    Doug

  14. Hey! She’s my great Granny too!

  15. Wonderful enthusiasm. I am also a descendent of Anneke Jans and Everardus Bogardus. My mother always spoke about this dispute over original ownership of Trinity Church land.

  16. Does anyone have a copy of Trinity: Break Ye Thy Commandments you’d be willing to part with?

    Would any of you who have a copy be willing to share it with a publisher like Higginson (higginsonbooks.com) so those of us who are also descended could be able to purchase a copy? Copyright will expire in 2025 for this book, I believe.

  17. I am also descended from Annette and Roeloff Jans. There is a miss calculation on the size of the farm they own on the corner of Wall and abroad. It is stated it was 62 acres, but it was actually 62 morgans or roughly 124 acres.

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