Wolphert Gerritsen (Van Couwenhoven)

c. 1583-1662

Wolphert Gerritsen was born around 1583 in Amersfoort, Netherlands. In June 1625, Gerritsen and his wife immigrated to New Netherlands, one of the five “head-farmers” first sent out by the Dutch West India Company. He and his family lived in Bouwerie No. 3 until his return to the Netherlands in 1629.

On May 24, 1630, Gerritsen arrived back in New Amsterdam under contract with the patroon, Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, to manage his estate in Rensselaerwyck. In January 1632, Gerritsen wrote to Van Rensselaer in Amsterdam, asking to be released from his contract and Van Rensselaer did so in a friendly letter, dated July 20, 1632, addressed to “honorabel, discreet Wolfert Gerritsz” and stating “I had hoped that you would have settled in my colony, but, as I am told, your wife was not much inclined thereto.”

Shortly afterward, Gerritsen leased Bouwerie No. 6 in New Amsterdam and managed it until 1636, when he was granted a patent to a 3,600 acre estate on Long Island. Wolphert called his “plantation” Achterveldt, and it is shown on the Manatus map as Farm 36. It was located near the Indian long house of the Keskateuw tribe, and he farmed it until his death in 1662.

In 1643, Wolphert Gerritsen served in the assembly of the Eight Men. His son, Jacob Van Couwenhoven, was a member of the Nine Men and his other son, Peter Van Couwenhoven, was one of the first schepens in New Amsterdam.



A document described as the oldest surviving land deed for Long Island land confirms the purchase of 3,600 acres from the Lenape Indians to Wolphert Gerritsen and Andries Hudde. The land is known as Keskachauge, and constitutes a large portion of present day Brooklyn. It was signed by Director Wouter van Twiller at “Eylandt Manhatans” on June 6, 1636. It was amended and confirmed in 1658 to Wolphert Van Kouwenhoven as sole owner by Director-General Pieter Stuyvesant.

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