Sarah Rapelje

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Medallion given to Sarah Rapelje on occasion of her marriage to Hans Hansen Bergen, 1639. Later inserted into tankard, donated by descendants to Brooklyn Museum of Art, 1926

Sarah Rapelje (9 July 1625 - 1685) was the first European Christian female born in New Netherland.[1]


Sarah Rapelje was the daughter of Joris Jansen Rapelje (1604-1663) and Catalina Trico (1605-1689), who were Walloon Calvinists who sailed on board the ship Eendracht from the Dutch Republic in 1624.[2] The Rapeljes arrived at a site along the Hudson River where they helped build one of the first Dutch settlements, Fort Orange, where Sarah Rapalje was born on July 9, 1625. Fort Orange would eventually become the fur-trading town of Beverwijck, which itself would later become Albany, New York. In 1626, Manhattan Island near the mouth of the Hudson River was bought by Dutch settlers from local Native Americans, and the Rapelje family were sent to help with the settlement of New Amsterdam on the island's southern tip. Joris Rapalje later bought land on Long Island, across the East River from New Amsterdam, in the village of Breuckelen (the basis of modern Brooklyn) and eventually moved to Wallabout Bay. [3]

Sarah Rapelje married Hans Hansen Bergen in 1639 with whom she had eight children, seven of whom lived into adulthood, until Bergen died in 1653. In 1654 Rapelje married Teunis Gysbertse Bogaert (b. 1625, Heicop, Dutch Republic - d. 1699, Breuckelen, New York) with whom she had seven more children. Through their youngest child and only son, Guysbert, she is the 7th-great grandmother of actor Humphrey Bogart. On April 24, 1660, New Netherland Governor Peter Stuyvesant named Bogaert a magistrate of New Amersfoort and Midwood. In 1663, Bogaert was appointed a magistrate in Breuckelen, succeeding his father-in-law Joris Jansen Rapelje, serving in that capacity until 1673. Bogaert also served as a magistrate of Bushwick between 1664 and 1665, and was a representative of Breuckelen in the Hempstead Convention of 1665.[citation needed]

Rapelje died in 1685 in Boswijck, a village that became the modern Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. By the time Rapelje died the New Netherland colony had been ceded to the English in 1664, and was rebranded the Province of New York.


Rapelje's chair is in the permanent collection of the Museum of the City of New York, a gift of her Brinckerhoff descendants.[4] Brooklyn's Rapelye Street is named for the family.[5] Sarah Rapelje herself was granted a large tract of land in the Wallabout in Brooklyn by Dutch authorities for being the first European Christian female to be born in the New Netherland. The family owned extensive property in the area of present-day Red Hook.[6]


  1. ^ 14 Generations: New Yorkers
  2. ^ The Bogart Family: the descendants of Tunis Gysbertse Bogaert, by John Bogaert
  3. ^ Island at the center of the world, by Russell Shorto
  4. ^ Russell Shorto, The Island at the Center of the World. The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan, the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America (Doubleday, 2004.)
  5. ^ Brooklyn by Name: How the Neighborhoods, Streets, Parks, Bridges, and More Got Their Names, By Leonard Benardo, Jennifer Weiss, Published by NYU Press, 2006 ISBN 0-8147-9946-9
  6. ^ Winter Scene in Brooklyn, Museum of the City of New York

External links[edit]

Related Reading[edit]

  • Bergen, Teunis G, (1866) The Bergen Family: or The Descendants of Hans Hansen Bergen, One of the Early Settlers of New York and Brooklyn (New York City: Bergen & Tripp)
  • Fosdick, Lucian John (1906) The French Blood in America (Boston, Mass.: R. G. Badger)
  • Ross, Peter (1902) A History of Long Island: From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Volume 2 (Lewis publishing Company - Long Island, N.Y.)
  • Stiles, Henry Reed (1867) A History of the City of Brooklyn, Volume 1 (Published by subscription in Brooklyn, NY)