Maryn Adriaensen

Unknown-c. 1650

Maryn Adriaensen was one of the earliest colonists of New Netherland. He arrived at Fort Orange (Albany) in 1631 and around ten years later, he moved to New Amsterdam and purchased a house in the Smits Vly. He was selected as a member of Kieft’s advisory assembly, the Twelve Men.

Not long afterward, he is reputed to have attended the infamous “Shrovetide Dinner” at the home of Jan Jansen Damen. Other guests included Cornelis van Tienhoven and Abraham Verplanck. During dinner, the men discussed the Indian situation and Van Tienhoven produced a petition address to Director Willem Kieft advocating the massacre of the Native American population. All those in attendance signed the document.

Kieft readily agreed, and ordered the soldiers at the fort to destroy the Native American population at Pavonia, which they did in the dead of night on February 25-26. Eighty Native Americans were brutally massacred. Kieft ordered Maryn Adriaensen and a band of volunteers to go to Corlaers Hook to attack the refugees assembled there. Forty of the tribe, men, women and children, were killed. Retaliation was swift, and the colonists suffered greatly that winter from Native American attacks.

Maryn Adriaensen soon realized that Kieft intended to escape the consequences of his orders by focusing public blame on Adriaensen. Goaded by the recollections of all that he had risked and lost, Adriaensen armed himself with a loaded pistol and cutlass, and rushed to the Director’s residence in the Fort. There, he aimed the pistol at Kieft’s chest and demanded “What devilish lies are these you’ve been telling about me?” Counsellor Johannes La Montagne grappled for the pistol, which misfired without causing injury. Meanwhile, Robert Pennoyer, one of the Company’s soldiers, drew Adriaensen’s sword from its scabbard and flung it away from the enraged man. Adriaensen was overpowered and jailed but under pressure from Adriaensen’s followers, Kieft agreed to return Adriaensen to Amsterdam for trial. Bound in chains, Adriaensen was put on board a ship sailing for Holland.

Adriaensen returned to New Netherland some years later and on May 11, 1647, Director Kieft granted him lands on the west side of the North River, known by the name of “Awiehaken.” He died sometime before 1654, which is when his widow remarried.

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