Jan Strycker

Jan Strycker was born in Holland, in the year 1615. He emigrated from Ruinen, a village in the province of Drenthe, with his wife, two sons and four daughters, and arrived at New Amsterdam in the year 1652. Leaving behind him all the privileges and rights which might be his by descent in the old world, he sought to start his family on new soil in habits of industry and honesty. He was a man of ability and education, for his subsequent history shows him to have been prominent in the civil and religious community in which his lot was cast.

His first wife in Holland was Lambertje Suebering, and by her all his children were born there or in this country. She was certainly living in 1663. Jan Strycker remained in New Amsterdam a little over a year after his arrival there, and in the year 1654 he took the lead in founding a Dutch colony on Long Island, at what was called Midwout, probably from a little village of that name in the province of North Holland. It was also called Middlewoods. The modern name of the place is Flatbush.

On the 11th of December, 1653, while still in New Amsterdam, Jan Strycker joined with others in a petition of the Commonalty of the New Netherlands and a remonstrance against the conduct of Director Stuyvesant. The petition recited that "they apprehended the establishment of an arbitrary government over them; that it was contrary to the genuine principles of well regulated governments that one or more men should arrogate to themselves the exclusive power to dispose at will of the life and property of any individual; that it was odious to every freeborn man, principally so to those whom God has placed in a free state or newly settled lands. We humbly submit that 'tis one of our privileges that our consent, or that of our representatives is necessarily required in the enactment of laws and orders."

It is remarkable that at this early day this indictment was drawn up, this "bill of rights" was published. But these men came from the blood of the hardy Northmen and imbibed with the free air of America the determination to be truly free themselves next, on the present state of the country.

To turn from the civil and military man we find him in the first year of his residence at Midwout, one of the two commissioners to build the Dutch church there, the first erected on Long Island, and he was for many years an active supporter of the Dominie Johannes Theodorus Polhemus, of the Reformed Church of Holland, in that edifice.

After raising a family of eight children, every one of whom lived to adult life and married, seeing his sons settled on valuable plantations and occupying positions of influence in the community, and his daughters marrying into the families of the Brinckerhoffs, the Berriens and the Bergens, living to be over eighty years of age, he died about the year 1697, full of the honors which these new towns could bestow, and with his duties as a civil officer and a free citizen of his adopted country well performed.

In connection with this purchase of Jersey land it is well to note that the Dutch land owners in and around New York thought the rule of the British Crown very oppressive. Looking across the harbor they saw the fine farms and the benign rule of the proprietors. In the year 1654 Jan Strycker was selected as the chief magistrate of Midwout, and this office he held most of the time for twenty years. The last time we find notice of his election was at the council of war holden in Fort William Hendricks, August 18, anno 1673, where the delegates from the respective towns of Midwout, Bruckelen, Amersfort, Utrecht, Boswyck and Gravesend selected him a "Schepen."

In Dr. O'Callaghan's Colonial History of New York, Volume II, page 374, we find a letter to the Right Honorable Petrus Stuyvesant, Director General and Council of New Netherlands, from the same Long Island towns just mentioned, "naming Jan Strycker as one of the embassy from New Amsterdam and the principal Dutch towns to be sent to the Lord Mayors of Hollands; they complain that they will be driven off their lands unless re-enforced from Fatherland."

On the 10th of April, 1664, he took his seat as a representative from Midwout in that great Landtag, a general assembly called by the burgomasters, which was held at the City Hall in New Amsterdam, to take into consideration the precarious condition of the country. This meeting was presided over by Hon. Jeremias Van Rennselaer, and Governor Stuyvesant was presant at this august and memorable council. (See Mrs. Lamb's History of New York, Vol. 1, pp. 205, 206 and 207. Also O'Callaghan's New Netherland Register, p. 147.)

Director Stuyvesant, August 28, 1664, addressed a letter to the Dutch towns on Long Island, calling upon them "to send every third man to defend the Capital from the English now arriving in the Narrows." This the court of commonalty of the town of Midwout unanimously answered by Jan Strycker that it was impossible to comply with his demands, as "we must leave wives and children seated here in fear and trembling, which our hearts fail to do, as the English are themselves hourly expected there."

He was one of the representatives in the Hempstead convention in 1665, and he appears as a patentee on the celebrated Nichols patent, October 11, 1667, and again on the Dongan patent, November 12, 1685.

On October 25, 1673, he was elected captain of the military company at Midwout, and his brother Jacobus was given the authority to "administer the oaths and to install him into office."

On March 26, 1674, Captain Jan Strycker was named as a deputy to represent the town in a conference to be held at New Orange to confer with Governor Colse "on Monday, of Jersey, and they resolved that at least some of their descendants should settle there. The exactions of the English in the matter of their town governments, and more especially the establishment of the Church of England among them, made them long to remove further away from their conquerers. Various parcels of land were purchased by companies, and the Strycker family selected the fertile soil of Somerset county for their future home.


Jan Strycker
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