Joris Janssen Rapalje

(Early settler of New York / Manhattan)
Joris Rapelje and Catalina Trico were married 21 January 1624, at the
Walloon Church of Amsterdam. Rapelje, an illiterate 19-year-old textile worker
whose origin was noted in the registry as ‘Valencenne’ (Valenciennes, Spanish Netherlands), and his 18-year-bride, had no family present to witness the
ceremony. Four days later, on 25 January, the couple departed from Amsterdam,
bound for North America. They were traveling aboard the first ships to bring
immigrants and workers to New Netherland.
The Rapalje family were first employed at Fort Orange, in what would eventually
become Albany, New York. Fort Orange was being erected by the Dutch West India Company as a trading post on the west bank of the Hudson River. It became
the company’s official outpost in the upper Hudson Valley. The families aboard
these ships were principally Walloons, French-speaking residents of Valenciennes
, Roubaix, Hainaut and related sites, now in Belgium’s province of Wallonia and
France’s region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, but then part of the SpanishNetherlands.
By 1626, Dutch authorities had relocated most settlers from Fort Orange to Fort Amsterdam at the southern end of
Manhattan Island. The Rapeljes established a residence near the East River, and were among the earliest purchasers of
land in Manhattan, later building two houses on Pearl Street near the Fort. In 1637, Rapalje purchased about 335 acres
(1.36 km2 ) around Wallabout Bay in what is now Brooklyn. His son-in-law Hans Hansen Bergen acquired a large tract
adjoining Rapelje’s tract. Today the land where the Rapalje’s farm stood is the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In 1641, Rapalje was
one of the Council of Twelve Men representing Manhattan, Breukelen and Pavonia. From 1655 through 1660, he was a
magistrate of Brooklyn. He died in Breuckelen, New Netherland.
Joris Jansen Rapelje and Catalina Trico were the parents of 11 children, including Sarah Rapelje, the first child of
European parentage born in New Netherland. Sarah Rapelje’s chair is in the collection of the Museum of the City
of New York, and is thought to have been brought to New Netherland by the family.
Their daughter Annetje married Martin Ryerson; they had many children including Cathalyntie who married Paulus
Vanderbeek, Grandson of Master Paulus Vanderbeeck, a DWIC ship surgeon and Brooklyn’s first resident doctor (who
was also recorded in 1645 court records as having knocked Catalina Trico to the ground).
Their daughter Jannetje married another Vanderbeek; Rem Jansen Vanderbeek, whose descendants took the name
Remsen and who became a leading New York mercantile family. The Kirton family is descended from their fourth
daughter Judith and husband Peter Nest. Because of the number of their descendants, author Russell Shorto has
called Joris Jansen and his wife Catalina “the Adam and Eve“ of New Netherland as the number of their descendants
has been estimated at about a million. Brooklyn’s Rapelye Street is named for the family.
Another family descendant, Capt. Daniel Rapelje, founded the settlement which became St. Thomas, Ontario.

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