Joris Jansen Rapelje

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Joris Jansen Rapelje
Born circa 1604
Died circa 1662 (age 63)
Known for Council of Twelve Men
Religion Dutch Reformed
Spouse(s) Catalina Trico (1605-1689)
Children Sarah Rapelje
Maretje Maria Rapelje
Jacob (shot by Indians)
Relatives Hans Hansen Bergen
Michael Pauluzen Van der Voort

Joris Jansen Rapelje (28 April 1604 – 21 February 1662/63) was a member of the Council of Twelve Men in the Dutch West India Company colony of New Netherland. He and his wife Catalina (Catalyntje) Trico (1605–1689) were among the earliest settlers in New Netherland.


The Rapalje Children, 1768, John Durand, New-York Historical Society. Descendants of Joris Jansen Rapelje

Joris Rapelje and Catalina Trico were married January 21, 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.[1] 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 residences 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 Spanish Netherlands.[2]

By 1626, Dutch authorities 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, Joris Jansen Rapalje purchased about 335 acres (1.36 km2) around Wallabout Bay in what is now Brooklyn. Rapelje's son-in-law Hans Hansen Bergen acquired a large tract adjoining Rapelje's. Today the land where the Rapalje’s farm stood is an industrial park under the direction of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In 1641, Joris Jansen Rapalie was one of the Council of Twelve Men representing Manhattan, Breukelen and Pavonia. From 1655 through 1660, he was a magistrate of Brooklyn.[3] He died in Breuckelen, New Netherland.[4]


Rapelye Street sign

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. Annetje, who married Martin Ryerson and had many children one of which was Cathalyntie who married Paulus Vanderbeek, Grandson of Master Paulus Vanderbeeck, a DWIC ship surgeon and Brooklyn's first resident doctor, who is also known to have struck Catalina Trico to the ground according to court records from January 1645. Jannetje, another of Joris Jansen Rapelje's daughters, married another Vanderbeek; Rem Jansen Vanderbeek, whose descendants took the name Remsen and who became a leading New York mercantile family.[5] 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. The spelling of the Rapelje family name varied over the years to include Rapelye, Rapalje, Rapareilliet, Raparlié, Rapalyea, Raplee, Rapelyea, Rapeleye, Rappleyea as well as others.[6] Rapelje, Montana is named for a descendant, and an early descendant, Capt. Daniel Rapelje, founded the settlement which became St. Thomas, Ontario.


Property of the Rapelje family, Brooklyn, ca. 1835
Home of the Rapelje family, foot of 34th Street and the North River. Drawing by Eliza Pratt Greatorex

Other sources[edit]

  • Bayer, Henry G. The Belgians: First Settlers in New York and in the Middle States (New York: The Devin-Adair Company. 1925)
  • Bryan, Leslie A. Rapalje of New Netherlands (The Colonial Genealogist, vol. 3, no. 3, pages 157-159. January 1971)
  • Gehring, Charles T. Annals of New Netherland. The Essays of A. J. F. van Laer (New York: New Netherland Project. 1999)
  • Gibson, James E. Some Ancestors of the Rappleye Family ( The Utah Genealogical Magazine, vol. 28, pages 9–13. 1937)
  • Koenig, Dorothy A. & Pim Nieuwenhuis. "Catalina Trico from Namur (1605-1689) and her nephew, Arnoldus de la Grange," New Netherland Connections 1 (1996): 55-63, 89-93 (addenda).
  • McCracken, George E. Catelyntje Trico Rapalje (The American Genealogist 35: 193-200. 1959)
  • McCracken, George E. Joris Janzsen Rapalje of Valenciennes and Catelyntje Jeronimus Trico of Pry (The American Genealogist 48: 118-20. 1972)
  • Ryerse, Phyllis A., & Ryerson, Thomas A. The Ryerse-Ryerson Family 1574-1994 (Ryerse-Ryerson Family Association, Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada, pages 7–9. 1994)
  • Sharpin, Armida. Rapelje Rasters: A Genealogy (Valparaiso, IN, 1994)
  • Shorto, Russell The Island at the Center of the World. The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan, the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America (New York: Doubleday. 2004)
  • Van Winkle, Donald J. Rapalje of New Netherlands (The Colonial Genealogist, vol. 4, no. 3, pages 152-157. Winter 1972)
  • Zabriskie, George Olin. "The Founding Families of New Netherland, no. 4: The Rapalje-Rapelje Family," De Halve Maen, vol. 46, no. 4 (Jan. 1972): 7-8, 16; vol. 47, no. 1 (April? 1972): 11-13; vol. 47, no. 2 (July 1972): 11-14.
Early view of one of the farms belonging to descendants of Joris Jansen Rapelje

Further reading[edit]

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