Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pirates in the Family (via the Southards)

Yea! real pirates in the family! I love it! Unfortantly, I can only claim them through my brother-in-law, Larry. The following is the tale:
From:  "Pirate Utopias:  Moorish Corsairs & European Renegadoes", Author:  Peter Lamborn Wilson; 2nd Revised Edition, Autonomedia, Brooklyn, NY; 1995, 2003.
"Anthony Jansen van Salee (or van Faes)41 (Note 41: Presumably Anthony had lived for some time in both Sale' and Fez) was born in Sale', Morocco, the son of Jan Janz a.k.a. Murad Rais [a.k.a. Jan Janszoon van Haarlem van Salee], the amazing Dutch renegado who raided Iceland and Ireland and served as Grand Admiral of the Corsair Republic of Sale'.  Murad Rais had a Dutch wife and family, but also married an unnamed "Moorish princess" or "Spanish girl" after his apostasy.  Anthony was clearly Murad's Moroccan child, since he was later called a "mulatto" in the New World.  Anthony arrived in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island a few years before 1638, when his name first appears in the records.
"Anthony was born sometime in the decade following 1600 (since he was said to be "about seventy" in 1669, and died in 1676).  Murad Rais must therefore have visited or even settled in Sale' before 1610 at the latest.  Castries's "Sources inedites de l'histoire du Maroc" actually mentions Anthony's presence in Sale' in 1623/4, by which time he would've been a young man.  Therefore he would have been around 30 years old when he arrived in Manhattan; perhaps a few years older.
"By 1638 Anthony had already purchased a small farm in Manhattan and married Grietse [Grietje] Reyniers, a former barmaid from Amsterdam [or Germany], a boistrous and quarrelsome woman.  Anthony himself must have been rather daunting, not so much for his complexion but because he "was a man of great vigor...prodigious stature and strength" (even his descendants were said to be giants who performed feats of strength) and obviously quick-tempered.  His manner was piratical, in fact.
"The newlywed couple burst into New Amsterdam legal records with a rambunctious bang.  In the years 1638/9 they were involved in fifteen of the 93 cases heard by the Courts, over 10% of the crime-rate.  The Dutch of old Manhattan (about 2000 of them) devoted a huge amount of time to quarreling in Court, but the Jansens stand out even in such unruly company.  Anthony's enemies called him a rascal and horned beast, and he was generally known as the Troublesome Turk (i.e., Moslem).
"The Jansen van Salees made their legal debut in a case involving an unpaid debt to Domine [Preacher] Bogardus, concerning which Grietse accused the Domine of lying, and Anthony was quoted as saying, "If the Domine will have his money at once, then I had rather lose my head than pay him in this wise, and if he insist on the money, it will yet cause bloodshed."
[After some research, it appears that Anthony's complaint may have been that because he was a Muslim, he did not accept the community-borne obligation to provide an income for the Protestant preacher]
"Lysbert Dircks, a midwife called as a character witness, testified that she had assisted Grietse at her recent confinement.  After the birth, Grietse asked Lysbert whether the baby resembled one Andries Hudden (a Council member, one of the gentry) or Anthony, her husband.  The midwife replied dryly, "If you do not know who is the father, how should I know?  However the child is somewhat brown."
"The Jansens lost the case and were soon in trouble again.  Anthony for slander and Grietse for mooning the Fleet.  Sailors of the Fleet had called out from shipboard to Grietse on shore:  "Whore, whore, two-pound butter whore!" -- whereupon "she lifted up her petticoat and turning to the crew pointed to her behind," or slapped her backside and shouted, "Blaes my daer achterin".  To round off this portrait of Mrs. Jansen, other witnesses quoted her as saying (on another occasion), "I have long been the whore of the nobility; from now on I shall be the whore of the rabble!"  The Jansens lost the case.
"More cases followed:  Anthony's hog killed someone's dog.  Debts went unpaid.  A pistol was waved about.  Firewood was stolen.  Drunkenness.  Slander.  More debt.  Unsavory stories were told of Grietse's tavern-maid days in Old Amsterdam.  In New Amsterdam "she pulled the shirts of some sailors out of their breaches and in her house measured the male members of three sailors on a broomstick."  Finally it was too much for even the litigious colonials, and the Jansen menage (now including several little girls) was exiled from Manhattan by order of the Court.
"By today's standards they didn't go far -- just to Brooklyn.  But at the time Brooklyn scarcely existed, and they were the first non-Indian settlers in the Gravesend/New Utrecht section of the future city.  Anthony also owned land on Coney Island.  He bought all the land from the Indians.43 His estates were known as Turk's Plantation.  (Note 43:  According to the tribal maps of New York City in "Native New Yorkers" by Evan T. Pritchard (San Francisco, 2002), the area of Brooklyn where the Jansens settled was then occupied by the Canarsies, the Makeop, the Mocung and the Mannahaning.)
"After a few years Anthony began showing his face in Manhattan again, and soon acquired property there as well.  His farm prospered.  Some of his family (eventually consisting of four grown and married daughters with children) settled in Brooklyn, some in Manhattan, and Anthony maintained his interests in both places.  The fiery couple, the Turk and the barmaid, seem to have mellowed somewhat during their years of rustification, and gave up some of their more egregiously piratical mannerisms.  Slowly, they became gentry.
"Perhaps not quite respectable gentry, however.  Anthony doesn't disappear from Court records, although now most of the disputes concern property boundaries in Brooklyn.  Anthony was kept busy sailing back and forth to Court in Manhattan, but now he sometimes won his lawsuits and cases.
"Around 1669 Grietse died at Gravesend, and old Anthony remarried, a Manhattan widow named Metje Grevanraet.  Anthony moved with her into a Manhattan house on Bridge Street (to be seen depicted in "Iconography of Manhattan Island," a delightful collection of old maps and cityscapes.)  By this time of course New Amsterdam had fallen to the English and become New York.
"Metje may have been a Quaker; certainly she caused Anthony to be fined by the Court (the sum of one beaver) for harboring an English Quaker overnight at their house on Bridge St. (which was also at times run as an inn).
"'April 16, 1674.  Fragment of an affadavit setting forth that Samuel Forman of Oyster Bay came to the city where he lodged at the house of Anthony Jansen from Salee, and, by inspiration of Christ Jesus, intended to repair to the [Dutch] church during divine service and exclaim:  "O cry wrath shall I cry, all flesh is grass, grass is the flower of the field, the flower falls and the grass withers but the word of God Obeids [abides] forever." -- Calendar of Historical Manuscripts in the Office of the Secretary of State (Albany), XXIII/2/331'"
"This case raises the question of Anthony Jansen's religion.  He and his first wife Grietse were not known for piety and churchliness; it seems that Anthony was assumed to be a Moslem, a "Turk".  Since he had grown up in Morocco this would appear likely enough.  Later in his life he apparently conformed to the Dutch Church, and even petitioned (unsuccessfully) for a minister to be sent out to Gravesend.  But in his youth Anthony might have been influenced by sufism, and certainly by the rough spirit of toleration and radicalism amongst the Renegadoes.  He and his second wife might well have entertained Quakerish notions.  In this context it's interesting to note that Jansen's nearest neighbors in Brooklyn after 1643 consisted of a small colony of English Anabaptists led by the eccentric Lady Deborah Moody, expelled from Plymouth Bay Colony for heresy.  Lady Moody was a friend of Governor Stuyvesant, and Jansen was on good terms with her.
"Anthony brought a few precious items with him from Morocco:  an engraved brass tray and "tea kettle", and a copy of the Koran.  He was illiterate in Dutch and English; he signed depositions and deeds with his "mark":  [depicted on page 211 is an Arabic-looking "A" and diagonally slanted "I", stating "This is the mark made by the own hand of Anthoni Jansen van Fes".
"But he may have been literate in Arabic.  This Koran -- perhaps the first in the New World -- was passed down in the Van Sicklen and Gulick families, descended from Jansen, till in about 1886 it was sold to one Richard M. Johnson "for a trifling sum".  (Johnson may himself have been a descendent of Jansen's as well, since the family had changed their name to this English spelling.)  Johnson later sold it to an old Jewish dealer in Trenton known as "Jerusalem".  Johnson had no idea what the book was, but Jerusalem recognized it and offered $50 for it.  Johnson received only $25 however, because the dealer died before making the second payment.  At this point the Koran disappears from view and is lost to history.
"Anthony Jansen van Salee lived out his last years in Bridge St. and died in March, 1676.  His second wife survived him by 10 years, and lived in the house till her death."


Anonymous said...

What neat history. Hard to imagine Manhattan having Ya know?

blueviolet said...

Good thing the pirate tendencies have been watered down through the generations. ;)


in a more direct line, i have found characters that have been written about by others. such grand fun!


Info for the nieces: Thomas IV Sourthworth Southard (1615-1674), married Annica Jansen. Annic was the daughter of Anthony "The Turk" Jansen Van Salee. The Turk's father was Jan Jansen VanHaarlem who was born about 1565 in Holland, Reusel-de Mierden, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands and died in 1641 in Fez Salee, Morocco, Africa. Thus entered the pirate into the family!

ANTHONY "The Turk" Jansen Van Salee '
Birth AFT 1607
in Salee, Morocco, North Africa
Death Mar 1676 in Long Island, Kings, New York, USA