Ecclesiastical Records, State of New York

Collection Category: Religious Records|Collection Type: OCR|Location: All NY Counties

This book was written by Rev. Edward T. Corwin, qualified by virtues of his time in Holland and his “thorough knowledge of the Dutch language,”. Corwin begins with a lengthy introduction to establish the nature of his sources.


He begins by establishing the desire to have a recorded history that struck in the early 1800s. The circumstances of the country meant that much of the vital records for charting its history would be in foreign archives. That fact, along with a general lack of resources, paved the way for the New York Historical Society to expand its inquiry towards Europe, namely France, Holland, and England. In 1841, Rev. J. Romeyn Brodhead.


Corwin writes that Brodhead would acquire four thousand pages of manuscripts from Holland, seventeen thousand from England, and six thousand from France, accounting for twelve thousand dollars in expenses not accounting for private expenses. During his travels he would be petitioned by Rev. Dr. Thomas de Witt to gain access to some ecclesiastical archives in Holland, which fell under the purview of his travels. In this inquiry he would find seven bundles--five from the Dutch Churches of New Jersey and New York and two from the German Churches of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania--which were then given to Brodhead on loan to the General Synod of the Reformed Dutch Church in America for a period of four years (1842-6). At the end of this period, at the request of Rev. de Witt, ownership was transferred over to the General Synod.


With the French and Dutch manuscripts being translated by Dr. E. B. O’Callaghan in 1845, these documents would be the foundation in “scores…of local histories being written…from this material.”


The book itself is organized by administration, that being;

  • Peter Minuit, 1626-32
  • Wouter van Twiller, 1633-37
  • William Kieft, March 1638-47
  • Peter Stuyvesant, No Date
  • Col. Richard Nicolls, No Date
  • Governor Francis Lovelace, No Date
  • Gov. Anthony Colve, Aug. 9, 1673-Nov. 10, 1674


Those are then organized into dated entries of notes and correspondence sourced from ecclesiastical records. For example, under the Minuit Administration, there’s a translated letter between Rev. Jonas Michaёlius, First Minister of Manhattan, and Adrian Smoutius, one of the ministers of the Collegiate Churches of Amsterdam and a record of Smoutious himself after. Holland itself and its American and Asian territories are all mentioned, with some records being of goings-on of Synods within Holland, or records of events in or correspondence from the colonial territories.


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