Godfridius Dellius

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Godefridus Dellius (baptized 28 October 1654, Cothen – 1738)[1] was a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church active in and around Albany, New York during the late 17th century, and perhaps the early 18th century. He came to the New World as a missionary to the Mohawk people in what was by then the English Province of New York (the former New Netherland).[2]

Biography[edit]

Godefridus Dellius was the son of a preacher, Godefridus Dellius Sr (ca. 1613-1687) in a small town near Wijk bij Duurstede. His older brothers Johannes (1651-1691) and Cornelis (1652–1740) also became clergymen.[1] The family's name may be a latinized version of "van Dellen".[3] He entered Leyden University in 1672 to study philosophy. He was licensed by the classis of Wijk bin Duurstede about 1680 and ordained by the classis of Amsterdam in 1682.[2] On April 10, 1683 he married Isabella de Ridder in Cothen and they emigrated to North America the same year.[1] He settled at Albany as assistant to Gideon Schaats, pastor of the Reformed Church there. He also preached to ethnic Dutch at Schenectady, about 30 miles west of Albany. He continued in this service about sixteen years.

In common with all the Reform clergy, he refused to recognize Jacob Leisler's usurpation in 1689. The latter charged Dellius with being a principal actor in the French and English tensions during King William's War, which played out in the colonies. Leisler said that Dellius was an enemy to the Prince of Orange, who had succeeded King James II. Dellius was commanded to appear in New York City to answer Leisler's accusations, but he hid in New Jersey and Long Island. Later he fled to Boston. He wrote to England describing his perception of Leisler's character.[2]

After the execution of Leisler in May 1691, Gov. Sloughter recalled Dellius, who was on the point of embarking for Europe. He returned to Albany. The government paid Dellius £60 for teaching Indians, and in 1693 he had three Indian boys boarding with him. He greatly restrained the Mohawk from practicing their ritual torture of French prisoners.[2]

On the conclusion of peace between England and France, Dellius and Peter Schuyler were sent as agents, in April 1698, to Count de Frontenac, in Canada, to announce the peace, and bring to an end the provincial hostilities. Acting under the authority of Governor Bellomont, they took with them nineteen French prisoners, and obtained the exchange of English colonists held as prisoners by the French.

Soon after Dellius' return from this mission, two Christian Indians declared on oath that Dellius, Peter Schuyler, Evert Bancker, and Dirck Wessels had, in 1696, fraudulently obtained a deed for a large tract of land from the Indians. This land, the deed of which was confirmed by Governor Benjamin Fletcher, was on the eastern side of the Hudson, north of Albany, and was seventy miles in length and twelve in breadth. Dellius also obtained a large tract of land in the valley of the Mohawk, fifty miles by four.

In an interview, the Indians told Bellomont all the circumstances of the conveyance of the deed, and the latter, in the spring of 1699, secured a bill to vacate the lands, and also a vote to suspend Dellius from ministerial duty in Albany county. The classis of Amsterdam complained to the bishop of London of Bellomont's conduct, and Albany and New York contributed £700 to enable Dellius to go to England and oppose the vacating bill before it received the king's signature. The Indians who had sworn against him afterward took counter-oaths, and, just before his departure, asked Dellius to forgive them. But, as they were his converts, and he was known to have great power over them, this circumstance loses its apparent force.

From 1700 Dellius preached in Antwerp and from 1705 in Halsteren.[4] At his death in 1738 his brother Cornelius inherited his accumulated wealth. With this Cornelis started a trust fund for the poor. This fund still exists under the name Stichting Boedel Dellius and is attended by an orphanage in Culemborg.[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d van Bemmel, Ad (2012). Het Delliusfonds (1740-2012) : de nalatenschap van predikanten in Cothen, New York, Halsteren en Culemborg. Houten : Historische Kring Tussen Rijn en Lek. ISBN 9789090271514. 
  2. ^ a b c d Corwin, Edward Tanjore (1902). A manual of the Reformed church in America (formerly Reformed Protestant Dutch church). 1628-1902. pp. 408–410. 
  3. ^ Bielinski, Stefan. "Dellius". The People of Colonial Albany Live Here. New York State Education Department. Retrieved March 14, 2016. 
  4. ^ http://wursten.be/antwerps/echt-antwerps/protestanten-in-antwerpen/de-eerste-antwerpse-predikanten/protestantse-predikanten-te-antwerpen-deel-2-1648-1797/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

References[edit]