........ Conjecture, noun, the formation of judgments or opinions on the basis of incomplete or inconclusive information. Source: Encarta Dictionary

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Conjecture #5: Penelope sailed from Amsterdam in the spring of 1648 with a stopover in Curacao.

In the previous post I conjectured that de Kath picked up Penelope and her first husband in Curaçao. How could they get to Curaçao?

Dutch West India Company
The Dutch West India Company had responsibility for the trade and protection of all Dutch colonies along the Atlantic, such as Pernambuco in Brazil, west Africa, and New Netherland (which included the Manhattan region plus the Caribbean islands of Curaçaoand nearby Bonaire with its salt pans). In 1647 Peter Stuyvesant, the new Director-General of New Netherland, sailed to New Amsterdam by way of Curaçao, partly because Curaçao was part of his domain, and partly because it made sense.

Sailing Ship Routes
The route of a sailing ship was determined largely by sailing conditions and profit opportunities. As the Pilgrims learned when sailing directly west across the North Atlantic from England to Plymouth, the prevailing westerly winds made that a dangerous voyage of 66 days. John Winthrop’s fleet sailed from Yarmouth, England (51° N lattitude) to Massachusetts Bay (42° N) in 1630 via the Azores (40° N), a more southerly route, in 6 weeks yet the winds were still often from the west. In later years his Journal recorded the length of many voyages to New England, the fastest being 5 to 6 weeks, the longest being 12 to 20 weeks.

However, the more typical sailing route to the Caribbean is by way of the Canary Islands at 28° N. Even Columbus stopped here on his first voyage in 1492. The trade winds generally deliver ships to the Windward (literally, facing the wind) Islands of the Lesser Antilles, a long arc of small islands that mark the eastern edge of the Caribbean and stretch from Puerto Rico to Venezuela. While the Spanish concentrated on the Greater Antilles (that is, the big islands of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Cuba, and Jamaica), the English and French were able to colonize Windward Islands such as Barbados, St. Lucia, and Martinique before 1650. The Dutch settled further west in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao.

According to Wikipedia, in 1644, before the workforce began to shift to African slaves, the Caribbean island of Barbados had a population of 30,000 (compared to about 23,000 in New England and maybe 1000 in New Netherland), mostly English indentured servants working the sugar fields. By 1660, when the population was 27,000 black and 26,000 white, this one island generated more trade than the rest of the North American English colonies combined. At first, Dutch traders supplied the financing and African slaves and transported most of the sugar to Europe. This information is pertinent because 1) it shows that Curaçao (about 500 miles away from Barbados) was near the trade routes in the 1640s and 2) Conjecture #3 mentioned that the New Jersey Concessions retained much of the language of the Carolina Concessions that were intended to lure small Barbados farmers who couldn’t compete with the neighboring big slave-driven plantations by 1665.

Four ships that sailed from Amsterdam to New Amsterdam in 1648
Since I published my novel, I learned from Olive Tree Genealogy (which I think took its data from Jaap Jacobs’s master’s thesis in Dutch) the names of three ships with passengers that left Holland for New Amsterdam in the spring or summer of 1648 and one that probably sailed later in the year . Those were

1. den Valckenier (The Falconer owned by the trading family Verbrugge, whose son Seth Verbrugge appears in the novel as a merchant) was detained on 23 Jun 1648 upon its arrival in New Amsterdam and searched for smuggled goods. No record on what was found. It departed for Holland after 31 Aug 1648.

2. Pijnappel (also spelled Pynappel, which translates to Pineapple and was owned by Hardenbergh) arrived in New Amsterdam before 18 Jul 1648 and departed after 23 Sept 1648.

3. Prins Willem (which translates to Prince William and was owned by the West India Company) arrived in New Amsterdam before 5 Aug 1648.

4. Jonge Prins van Deenemarcken (translates to Young Prince of Denmark, possibly a reference to Shakespeare’s Hamlet) arrived in New Amsterdam after 21 Dec 1648.

The above discussion is intended to show that there was considerable ship traffic between Holland, the Caribbean islands, and the New Amsterdam/New England area and thus it is plausible that Penelope sailed from Amsterdam to New Amsterdam by way of Curaçao.

Privateering in 1654
I just came across a detailed treatise entitled Ships and Workboats of New Netherland 1609-1674 that contained an interesting tidbit:“In June 1654 the yacht de Huen (Cock) left New Amsterdam for Curacao, her official orders being to bring back a cargo of salt. She had, however, been‘equipped with such munitions of war as she requires.’ In spite of this generous armament, she was taken by the Spanish on her homeward voyage.”

Again the comments section awaits you. Does anyone know any good reference books on the 17th century sailing routes in the Atlantic?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Conjecture #4: Penelope sailed on de Kath, which wrecked in the summer of 1648

Margaret Thomas Buchholz’s book New Jersey Shipwrecks: 350 Years in the Graveyard of the Atlantic opens with a vignette of Penelope’s shipwreck and claims it’s the first one known along the New Jersey coast. However, she doesn’t list ships by name until 1731 and even our favorite nameless shipwreck is lifted from H. F. Stout’s book Stout and Allied Families.

Kath is the First Documented Wreck in New Jersey
But Ms. Buchholz has a point. The first documented shipwreck is the Dutch West India Company’s ship de Kath (whose name is spelled many different ways), whose salvage report is recorded in the New Amsterdam Council Minutes on 9 Nov 1648 as follows:

        “Whereas the yacht De Cath, of which Jeuryaen Andries was master, arrived here from Curaçao with a cargo inside Sandy Hook, otherwise called Godyn Point, in a safe port and, the wind being contrary, tried to tack to before Fort Amsterdam, said yacht, in tacking, stranded on a sand bank with such force that notwithstanding all effort it could not be brought off, except the effects which were in and on her, inclusive of the masts; only, by the splitting of the ship, a quantity of salt was dissolved. The effects and merchandise being calculated against the monthly wages earned by the crew of the said ship, the proceeds according to the inventory were found to amount to more than the accrued wages; and whereas the ship’s crew appearing in a body before the council request a final settlement according to maritime law, it is therefore resolved and concluded in council to furnish a proper account to all members of the crew of the yacht De Cath, who shall be paid and satisfied by the honorable directors at Amsterdam, on condition that they shall continue in the Company’s service until their bounden time shall have expired. This day, the 9th of November 1648. Present: The honorable general, Mr. Dincklagen, Briant Nuton [Brian Newton] and Paulus Leedersz.”

The Slowness of Bureaucracy
Aha, you say, de Kath wrecked in November and Penelope was already in Gravesend in September. No, the November date pertains to the salvage report being entered into the Council Minutes. There is no mention of when the wreck occurred but surely the bureaucracy of investigating shipwrecks took months, even in the 17th century.

The Stopover
Aha, you say, de Kath sailed from Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean, whereas Penelope sailed from Amsterdam. I ask, why can’t both statements be true? If you flew from Los Angeles to New York with a change of planes in Chicago, then you traveled from Los Angeles but both you and your second plane flew from Chicago. How much importance do you attach to the stopover? So, is it plausible that Penelope sailed on one ship from Amsterdam to Curaçao and took another ship from Curaçao to New Amsterdam?

Kath was a Busy Ship
Follow the career path of de Kath, as recorded in the contemporary records. Source details can be found on my website. Note: the Dutch had already converted to the Gregorian calendar; thus all these dates are in modern format.

6 Jun 1647: The New Amsterdam Council ordered the ships Groote Gerrit, de Kath, and de Leifde to voyage to the West Indies as privateers. No info on when they actually departed.

19 Feb 1648: Vice Director Lucas Roodenborch of Curaçao wrote a letter to Stuyvesant that the Groote Gerrit was severely damaged by a storm and that de Cath and de Liefde were ravished by sickness. Stuyvesant received the letter by way of Boston on April 14.

15 Apr 1648: In the Caribbean de Kath captured a Spanish ship with a cargo of hides and tobacco. Note the delay between capture (15 Apr) and official announcement (2 Jul).

2 Jul 1648: The New Amsterdam Council announced that Hans Wyer, captain of the yacht De Cath, arrived in New Amsterdam with a captured Spanish bark Nostra Signora Rosario, laden with hides, captured below Margarita in the Caribbean Islands. Note: The West India Company protocol required three public announcements for an auction of seized goods but Stuyvesant was reprimanded for issuing only one announcement.

20 Jul 1648: The New Amsterdam Council ordered a ship to Curaçao to deliver supplies and bring back salt. Author’s Note: The sale of salt to New England fishermen was a big business. Name of ship was not recorded. The Council records often documented events that had already happened. In the Council minutes for July 2, they were already planning this voyage.

9 Nov 1648: The salvage report for de Kath’s salt was entered into Council Minutes.

How Long to Sail from New Amsterdam to Curaçao and Back?
If de Kath sailed from New Amsterdam in early July, took 5 weeks for a trip to the Caribbean and back, picked up passengers in Curaçao, and wrecked in mid-August, that schedule allows four weeks for Penelope to be attacked, rescued, and delivered to Gravesend before 12 Sep 1648. This scenario assumes that she is recuperating from her injuries at the Applegate home in Gravesend when she witnessed the cow incident. This timeframe also allows a plausible 3 months for creation of the salvage report.

 Don’t buy it? Then counter with a better idea. But first look at the previous blog entry Conjecture #3: Penelope and Richard Stout married in late 1648/early 1649.

 The Chain of Circumstances
Too unlikely? Every unusual event has a long chain of circumstances leading to it. Why was a particular passenger on the Titanic? If a child is hit by a stray bullet on the streets of Chicago, why was that particular child in that particular location at that particular time and why was the shooter there at that time? If my daughter hadn’t moved away from Brooklyn in Feb 2001, then my wife might have been waiting for discount Broadway tickets in the World Trade Center lobby eight mornings after Labor Day in 2001.

Comments , Please
Please use the comments section to express your opinions about my conjecture and the logic behind it or to ask questions that might spur further research.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Conjecture #3: Penelope and Richard Stout married in late 1648/early 1649.

When did Penelope marry Richard Stout? This date is often associated with the date of the shipwreck but let’s save the shipwreck for next week and argue these two controversial events independently.

Two Marriage Opinions: 1644 or 1648
The popular answer is circa 1644 and the minority opinion is soon after the slander trial on 12 Sept 1648. Let’s deal with the minority opinion first because its argument is simply that the trial record lists her name as Penellopey Prince because she was a widow (See Conjecture #1) and thus hadn’t yet remarried. If she had remarried, she would have been referred to the wife of Richard Stout or possibly as Mrs. Stout.

The 1644 Argument
The argument for a marriage date of 1644 was introduced by Dr. John Stillwell in 1916 and relies on A) the documented fact that the two eldest sons of Richard Stout (namely, John and Richard, Jr.) were awarded full land grants of 120 acres based upon residence in New Jersey before 1 Jan 1665 as adults, not minors, and assumption B) that the sons were thus eighteen years of age in 1664. Because no one suggests that Richard had sons from a prior marriage, assumption C) is that the first son was born about one year after the marriage date of Richard and Penelope and the second son between two and three years after the marriage date.

Working backwards, the math is
Before 1 Jan 1665 = ages of sons are 19/20 and 18
Before 1 Jan 1647 = second son’s birth
1645 = first son’s birth
1644 = Marriage date

A marriage date much earlier than 1644 is implausible because Gravesend was settled in 1643, then abandoned because of Indian troubles and resettled in 1645. Also it is generally accepted (without proof) that Richard Stout arrived in New Amsterdam around the spring of 1643.

Two Challenges to Majority Opinion
I challenge the interpretation of both the date 1 Jan 1665 and the legal age of eighteen.

The Concessions Document
The charter that the new governor of New Jersey brought with him in 1665 designating the requirements for land grants to settlers was a little more generous than the one announced the same year for the Carolinas. The concessions for New Jersey and Carolina had three things in common:
1. They encouraged rapid settlement by reducing the size of the land grants in later years.
2. They required settlers to physically occupy the land to eliminate speculators.
3. They gave the largest grants to heads of household, wives, and able-bodied men ready and able to defend the colony against Indian attack and half-grants to “weaker” servants.

The section of the New Jersey Concessions under which the Stouts claimed land stated, “To every master or mistress that shall go before the first day of January, which shall be in the year one thousand six hundred sixty-five; one hundred and twenty acres of land. And for every able man servant, that he or she shall carry or send, arm'd and provided as aforesaid” [which an earlier section explained as arm'd with a good musket, bore twelve bullets to the pound, with ten pounds of powder, and twenty pounds of bullets, with bandiliers and match convenient, and with six months provision for his own person], “ and arriving within the time aforesaid, the like quantity of one hundred and twenty acres of land: And for every weaker servant or slave, male or female, exceeding the age of fourteen years, arriving there, sixty acres of land.”
Challenge #1: The Day After 31 Dec 1665 is 1 Jan 1665 
According to Wikipedia the English legal year began on March 25 until the conversion from the Julian to Gregorian calendar nearly a century later in 1752. Therefore the legal date of 1 Jan 1665 is the day after 31 Dec 1665, or 1 Jan 1666 as we would think of it. To reduce confusion, a date between 1 Jan and 24 Mar was often written in the format of 1 Jan 1665/66 but not in legal documents.

To further confirm the deadline of 1 Jan 1665/66, consider the timeframe of relevant events, including the fact that the document itself didn’t arrive in New York until July 1665:
8 Sept 1664—Col. Nicholls captured New Amsterdam for the English and renamed it New York.
10 Feb 1664/65 – Lords Proprietors of New Jersey, John Lord Berkley and Sir George Carteret (both of whom were also among the proprietors of the Carolinas), signed the Concession and Agreements document with the 1 Jan 1665/66 deadline.
29 Jul 1665—the new governor Philip Carteret (relative of Sir George Carteret) arrived in New York with the documents, the first English ship since the conquest.
Aug 1665—Governor Philip Carteret accompanied the first settlers to found Elizabethtown, the capital of New Jersey. These able-bodied settlers accompanying the governor received 150 acres.
1 Jan 1665/66—deadline for other settlers to receive maximum land grants of 120 acres.

Challenge #2: Able Man Servant or Weaker Servant

Secondly, how do you distinguish “able man servant” from “weaker servant or slave, male or female, exceeding the age of fourteen years”? I claim that a “weaker servant” is one not “arm'd with a good musket, bore twelve bullets to the pound, with ten pounds of powder, and twenty pounds of bullets, with bandiliers and match convenient.” Thus, a weaker servant is anyone whom the master would not trust with a musket, such as an African slave, a feeble old man, or an untrustworthy servant brought along to claim and work the land, whereas an able man servant is any male over the age of fourteen who can handle a musket. The inclusion of slaves may seem odd but there were numerous slaves in New Amsterdam/New York and the language was copied from the Carolina document intended to lure slave-owning sugar planters from the Caribbean.

Also consider the history of Gravesend. Attacked and burned by the Indians in 1643 before it was properly built. Resettled in 1645 with a town charter that required residents to maintain a section of the palisade wall and to stockpile musket, lead, and powder. In fact, a person could not buy a lot in Gravesend without an armed, able-bodied man to live on it. Plus the story about Tisquantum warning Penelope to flee from an impending Indian attack. And the Peach War of 1655. In those circumstances do you think it likely that a fourteen-year-old boy knew how to handle a musket?

The New Math
Therefore the revised math is
By 31 Dec 1665 = ages of sons are 15/16 and 14, satisfying Concessions requirement.
By 31 Dec 1651 = second son’s birth
1650 = first son’s birth
After 12 Sep 1648 and before mid-1649 = Marriage date
Thus a marriage around 31 Dec 1648 would allow a plausible thirty-six months to birth two children, sons luckily enough, and would allow Penelope to still be an umarried widow  on 12 Sep 1648.

Just Wondering
I wonder if the descendants of other New Jersey settlers have better documented ages of their ancestors’ children who claimed land under the same provisions.

Comments Please
Please use the comments section to express your opinions about my conjecture and the logic behind it or to ask questions that might spur further research.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Conjecture 2: Penelope’s first husband was English and his surname was Prince.

Today I argue against the commonly accepted idea that Penelope’s first husband was a Dutchman with the surname Vanprincis.

A Contemporary Record, 1648
The only contemporary record of Penelope is the September 1648 slander trial about milking a cow in the Gravesend Town Records, which recorded her name as Penellopey Prince. Notice how the other women in the trial are mentioned: wife of Tho. Aplegate; his wife; Ambrose his wife; wife of Ambrose London; Aplegate’s daughter; and Ambrose his wife. Under the English legal doctrine of coverture, as the saying goes, “husband and wife were one person as far as the law was concerned, and that person was the husband.” The fact that the English clerk wrote her name as Penellopey Prince strongly implies that she had passed from the legal status of feme covert (literally, covered woman in archaic Anglo-Norman French legalese, meaning married) to feme sole (single woman) because she was a widow.

In a Dutch context, one might reasonably argue that Penelope Prince was her maiden name, but the list of Gravesend founders was all English. Being mostly Anabaptists, they picked a location at the southwestern tip of Long Island that was as far as practical from the Dutch government, Dutch Reformed Church, and New England Puritans. Therefore, I find it implausible that Englishmen would apply Dutch naming conventions to an English woman.

17th Century Writings
I would like to know how other women (single, married, or widowed) were referred to in the rest of the Gravesend Town Records but, I as far as I know, the book has never been published nor put on the Internet. Instead I skimmed 300 pages of the John Winthrop’s Journal (1630-1640, Massachusetts Bay Colony) and found two women mentioned by their full name: “one Abigail Giffor, widow” and “Dorothy Talbye was hanged at Boston for murdering her own daughter.”

Winthrop used the customary English format for real ladies, that is, the title and first name, such as “the Lady Arabella,” for whom Winthrop's ship was named, and "Mr. Humfrey and the Lady Susan, his wife." Two married women who were personally accused of religious crimes were designated “Mrs. Hutchinson” (20 mentions because of her infamy) and “Mrs. Dyer.” Every other time that a female was mentioned in conjunction with a man’s name, Winthrop used phrases such as James Sagamore's wife, wife of one William Dyer, one Hawkins's wife, wife of one Scott, Faber's wife, his wife (numerous times), gentlewoman and two daughters. This are the same techniques cited above in Gravesend Town Records and confirm the tradition of coverture that a married woman’s Christian name was not written except in special circumstances.

Smith, 1765
The second written record of Penelope is in Samuel Smith’s 1765 The History of the Colony of Nova Caesaria, or New Jersey, where she is not mentioned by name but described first as the wife of a young Dutchman and later as “marrying to one Stout.” This phrasing sounds familiar. I realize Smith describes the husband as a Dutchman but the account uses the word Dutch five times including the historically inaccurate statement that the Dutch settled Middleton. The New Netherland Project website comments that “most histories of early colonial America either dismiss New Netherland in a few lines or rely on English sources, which portray the Dutch colony from an adversary's viewpoint.” Therefore, it is difficult to know which histories to trust, such as the next example.

Edwards, 1790
The third written record is my favorite description despite its inaccuracies, Morgan Edwards’s 1790 Materials Towards a History of the Baptists, repeated by Benedict in 1813 and Nathan Stout in 1823 and Mayes around 1890 where I first read it: “Mrs. Stout was born in Amsterdam, about the year 1602 (sic). Her father's name was Vanprinces. She and her first husband (whose name is not known) sailed for New York (then New Amsterdam) about the year 1620 (sic).” Notice that here the Dutch name belonged to her father, not her husband. Therefore, the common practice of calling the husband Vanprinces appears to mistakenly combine Smith’s description of Penelope as “wife of a young Dutchman” with Edwards’s “her father’s name was Vanprinces.”

Other versions
Nathan Hale Streets’s version in 1897 quotes Benedict as saying “her father's name was Vanprincis” with the “is” ending.

In 1916 John Stillwell  quotes Mrs. Seabrook in calling her ancestor “Penelope van Prince.”

I have heard that Kent or Lent is the traditional maiden name for Penelope, perhaps from a newspaper article at the Spy House Museum Complex in Port Monmouth, New Jersey. As far as I can tell, Deborah Crawford invented the maiden name of Thompson in her book Four Women in a Violent Time.

Is Vanprincis a real name?
I believe that Vanprinces is the result of “dutchifying” the English surname Prince to be better fit the story that Penelope and her first husband sailed from Amsterdam. If her descendants can’t remember the guy’s first name, how much should we trust their memory of the last name? Other commentators have pointed out that “van,” meaning “from,” and thus should refer to a place as the German “von” does. But no one has found such a Dutch place like “Princes” to be from.

Searching WorldConnect database
I searched in the WorldConnect databases and found numerous records for Vanprincis (60), van Princis (446), Vanprinces (17), van Princes (212), Vanprincess (11), van Princess (229),  Vanprincen (1), van Princen (53), Vanprincin (22), van Princin (143), Vanprince (16 plus 2 obvious errors) and van Prince (35 including some errors). Every valid record (except a Martin van Buren Prince sometimes listed as Martin Van Prince) referred to either Penelope, her first husband or her father. I feel sure that other genealogy repositories will produce the same results. If this were a real name there would be other relatives, as occurs for the name van Prins (16 different Dutch names in 39 records after 1764).

A Challenge to Researchers
Here is my challenge as to whether Vanprinces or Vanprincis is a valid name. Find another person in 17th century Holland with that name. What the heck--in the history of the world with that surname.

Real Dutch Surnames
I found a Dutch website purported to determine the frequency of Dutch surnames:  http://www.meertens.knaw.nl/nfb/   Using the Google translator, I chose the “starts with” option for “van prin” and got a couple of hits for "van Prinsenbeek" and “van Prinsenhof” and several for Her Royal Highnesses because Queen Juliana of Holland had four daughters and “prinses” translates to “princess.” I still think Penelope marrying a baron is cute fiction but poor genealogy. But no hits for the Dutch versions of Prince that I have discussed.

The Question
The question boils down to which is the more plausible source for the surname of Penelope’s first husband: A) a contemporary legal document or B) family stories decades after her death, which disagree with each other, some assigning a non-Dutch Dutch name to Penelope’s husband and some to her father.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

Sponsored by Jim's website  and the book Penelope: A Novel of New Amsterdam