There has been considerable confusion over the years
over the identification of Claes Janse Romeyn. Much of the confusion
is due to the Dutch use of patronymic names rather than set surnames.
The second source of confusion is the commonness of the name "Claes Jansen".
John Reynolds Totten in an outstanding article published in the NY Genealogical
and Biographical Record points out that the name "Claes Jansen", without
an identifing surname, was as frequent in occurrence in New Netherlands
from 1639-1656 as is the name of John Smith now. In his article he identifies
as many as 11 different individuals of that name in that short time period.1
Our Claes Janse has been frequently confused with Claes Jansen van Purmerend also known as Kuyper or Cuyper. Claes Jansen van Purmerend first appears in the records as the purchaser on 20 Aug 1657 of a tract called Pembrepoick, along Hudsons River, which he sold in 1658. He married by banns published 11 Nov 1656 to Anneken Cornelis Van Voorst. He died, intestate, 30 Nov 1688 at Ahasymus, Bergen Co, NJ and his wife, Annatje, died 12 July 1725. That is was Claes Janse van Purmerend who in later years adopted the usage of Kuyper has been well documented. Because the two men have so often been confused, I have included this brief biography to help keep them seperate. Please note that Claes Jansen van Purmerend also lived in Bergen Co. This means that any records which may have followed the Dutch custom of using just the personal name, i. e., Jan, and the patronymic, Claesen or variations, have to be evaluated very carefully in order to make sure that further confusion is not being created.
Parentage (and the purpose of these pages)
The parentage of Claes Jansen IS STILL UNPROVEN. A possible clue has been found. These pages are thus the first attempt to develop at least a circumstantial case which may support the clue.
As the slender thread of evidence is presented, it should become obvious to the reader that much of the claims made by Rev. Theodorus B. Romeyn, as reported by Harvey, have yet to be substantiated and that some of them are in error.2 Since it cannot even be proven who the father of Claes Jansen was, at this point, it is impossible to then make the jump to a Jan Romeyn who moved from England to Netherlands at an undetermined point in the past.
Our clue, then, is found in the records of Flatbush. So far two sources, both abstracts of the original have been found. This researcher has not yet located either the original or an exact, complete translation of the passage. This record refers to an Leysabet Jans, widow of Christofell Schaets and Jan Claesen and currently (1661) married to Auke Janse. It names her son by the first marriage as Johannis Cristoffels and her children by the second marriage as Leysabet, Stoffel and Claes Janse. The passage gives no surnames and this, then, is the first problem. Short of finding another document which gives relationships and uses surnames, other sources must be found which support the idea that this passage refers to the early American Romeyn family. Another problem is that the passage appears to have a scribal error in that "Schaets" is probably a mistake for "Schaers". No place has been found in the known Schaets family for Cristoffel and his grandchildren used either the Schaers surname or Christoffel/Christoffelsen, derived from their father, Johannis Cristoffels.
In the records of the Dutch Reformed Church of New Amsterdam is the record for the baptism on 21 July 1752 for Claes, son of Jan Claesen. No mother is listed. Witnesses were Jan Pieterszen and Tryntie Pieters. Again the records give no surnames. In fact, the passage gives no clues that this is our Claes, except it is about the right timeframe for his birth and thus his baptism. I have not yet identified the two witnesses.
The next reference that I have found is more helpful. It is for the baptism in Flatbush on 23 July 1678 of a child name Aeltje, daughter of Johannes Cristoffels and Maritje Willemse (Bennet). Witnesses were Catherina van der Beek and Nicolaes Jansen. Catherina van der Beek was a half-sister to Maria Willemse (Bennet), Aaltje's mother. Johannis Cristofels is probably the Johannis Cristofels mentioned in the passage as being a son of Leysebet Jans and Cristofel Schaets. Niclaas Jansz. could be our Claes Janse Romeyn and thus an uncle to the child being baptised.
This identification seems to be support by yet another baptism, years later. On 31 Oct 1716 in New York, Aeltje Staff, daughter of John Staff and Aeltje Schaers was baptised. Witnesses were Claes Jansen Romeyn and Styntie Albertse. Thus it appears that Claes was the godfather of one of the daughters of his niece. That this arrangement seems to be important is shown by yet another baptism because on 4 Feb 1719, Claes Jansen and Stintje Alberts were again the witnesses to the baptism of a second daughter of Aeltje Schaers and John Staff. This second daughter was also named Aeltje, indicating that the first daughter had died. While the importance of having Claes as the godparent for this child may stem from the possibility of his being the uncle to the mother, it could also simply be from the fact that he was the mother's godparent and for sentimental reasons she wanted to honor him by making him the godparent of her own namesake.
Prior to her marriage to Claes, Stintje Alberts was a witness to the baptism of David van Barkelow, son of Lysbeth Jans and Willem Jans van Barkelo. The baptism took place 31 March 1679 in Flatbush. The other witness to this baptism was Stoffel Jans Romeyn. If our passage is correct, Lysbet Jans and Stoffel Jans were brother and sister.
On 9 March 1684, Stintje Alberts and Jan Pieterse were the witnesses to the baptism of Cornelius Romeyn, son of Stoffel Janse Romeyn and Grietje Pieterse.
From this list of baptisms, we can see that there was some interaction between the families but that it was not extensive. So we are left without real proof but a grounded suspicion that Leysebet Jans, Claes Janse and Stoffel Jans may have been indeed been brother and sister and half syblings to Johannis Cristoffels. But we still don't have conclusive proof.
If the above mentioned baptism in 1652 is indeed that of our Claes Janse Romeyn, then the account of Theodorus B. Romeyn that Cristoffel and Claes had sailed with their father to Brazil in 1650 is dubious. It would appear that Claes, at least, was born in the New Netherlands. The account as given in Harvey is further in doubt because it was Count John Maurice, a prince of Orange, who went to Brazil to be the governor there of the Dutch holdings, and not Prince Maurice, if Harvey or Romeyn were thinking of the Prince who was one of the leaders in the Netherlands struggle with the Spanish.
According to Bergen, Claes was of New Amersfoort (Flatlands) in 1679 and 1692. I have not yet found copies of those tax lists. There is a Clause Johnson listed in Gravesend for 1683 who may be ours.
Harvey says Claes bought land between Saddle River and Hackensack River (east of the Saddle) but did not locate there and instead returned to Greenwich district of New York. Children released or sold land to those who actually settled the land. This is not entirely accurate. Claes did settle in Bergen Co area as his participation in the elections of 1695 and 1698 shows. At that time he had to have been a resident of the area in order to participate. So it would appear that Claes did move to NJ, probably shortly after he purchased land there in 1690. He is still "of Bergen County" in 1715 when he sells his land to his son, Jan Claesen. This sale may have been in preparation for his return to New York.
By 1719 he appears to have returned to New York as that was his residence at the time he wrote his will. His will mentions only land on Long Island so he had disposed of all of his land in New Jersey by the time the will was written.
Claes Romeyn wrote his will on 31 Oct 1719. It was not probated until 16 Nov 1730 in New York. The probate date more likely reflects the date of the death of his wife rather than his own as it provides for her to hold everything for her lifetime as long as she remains his widow. Only after her death is the estate to be divided. The exact date of his death has not yet been found.
Claes Jansen Romeyn and Styntie Albertse Terhune had the following children:
1. Gesbrechtje "Gertrude" Claes
4. Albert Claesen
5. Jan Claesen
6. Daniel Claesen
The list given by Bergen is inaccurate in that it includes a Rachel, married to Joris van Giesen; lists Saertie (Sarah) as a supposed daughter instead of a proven daughter and omits Samuel. Harvey gives the same list, with the same mistakes. Samuel and Saertie (Sarah) are both proven as children by Claes' will. Rachel is not mentioned in the will and is actually a daughter of Jan Claesen and a granddaughter of Claes.
1. "Editorial Iconoclastiana: Who was the Claes Jansen Who Married Aechtje Cornelisse Cool the Daughter of Cornelis Lambertszen Cool?" New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. January 1934. p. 21-
2. Most of the documents referred to in this narrative can be found on the sources page, linked from the bottom of this page.
Janse Romeyn timeline
Claes Janse Romeyn Sources
Page created by Renee L. Dauven
Last updated: 5 Nov 2001