Jochem Pietersen (Kuyter)

c. 1597-1654

Jochem Pietersen Kuyter, a seafaring merchant originally from Darmstadt in Hessen, Germany, was born around 1597. He served with the Dutch in the East Indies and arrived in New Netherland on a private ship, The Fire of Troy, in July 1639. He was a man of means who brought with him farmers, herdsmen and laborers to open up the new land. Director Willem Kieft granted him 400 acres of land along the Harlem River where he built a home for himself and his wife, enclosed by palisades. In addition, he had a residence on Pearl Street, like other leading men of his day.

Kuyter became an influential member of the community and served in the assemblies of the Twelve Men, the Eight Men, and the Nine Men. Kuyter severely condemned Kieft’s massacre of Native Americans in February 1643 and when Director-General Pieter Stuyvesant assumed control of the colony in 1647, Kuyter and another member of the Eight Men, Cornelis Melyn, sought compensation for losses they sustained during Native American retaliations. In response, former Director Willem Kieft accused the two men of slander and sedition, and Director-General Stuyvesant ordered their arrest. They were tried, found guilty, fined and banished from the colony. Both men departed for Holland on the Princess Amalia which, during the voyage, became shipwrecked off the coast of Wales. Melyn and Kuyter survived the disaster and brought an appeal in the Dutch parliament challenging Stuyvesant’s arbitrary exercise of power and the sentence imposed on them by the New Netherland Court of Justice. The parliament reversed the sentence, and Kuyter returned in honor to New Amsterdam.

Jochem Kuyter was appointed a Schepen in early 1654 and the Dutch West India Company commissioned him as Schout. However, he died in March of that year, before assuming office. Some sources say that his death in March 1654 took place while he was on a tour of exploration in the northern part of New Netherland but others state that he died in an attack on his bowery in Harlem.



Martha J. Lamb. History of the City of New York: Its Origin, Rise and Progress (1921)

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