By Jared L. Olar
Updated May 2019
The surname Vigne is of French origin, being an occupational surname indicating genealogical descent from a vinter or a vineyard worker. Our Vigne ancestors were French Huguenots (Calvinist Protestants) from Valenciennes in Hainault, which today is in France but for a while in the 1500s and 1600s was controlled by the Habsburg Catholic Holy Roman Emperors. The genealogy of our Vigne ancestors is only known as far back as the mid-1500s, about the time the Calvinist religion was first brought to the Catholic regions of Picardy and Hainault. Conflict between the Catholics and the Calvinists led to the flight of the Vigne family from Valenciennes to Holland, where they joined the Walloon Reformed Church in Leiden. There our Vignes intermarried with Dutch Calvinists and with them emigrated to the Dutch colony of New Netherlands in North America.
The following account is chiefly based on the information and speculations that are compiled at the WikiTree biography of Ghislain Vigne (erroneously called there "Guillaume").
1. JEAN DE LA VIGNE, ancestry unknown, born circa 1550 in St. Vaast La Haute, Valenciennes, Hainault (today Nord-Pas-de-Calais), France, died perhaps after 1622 in Amsterdam, Holland. Not much is known of Jean de la Vigne other than the fact that he moved with his family from Valenciennes in France to Leiden, Holland. Some researchers have suggested that Jean may be the same as Rev. Jean de la Vigne, who was "dominie" (minister) of the Calvinist Walloon church in Amsterdam from 1585 to 1622 -- but even if they are not the same, it is likely that our Vigne ancestors were related to Rev. Jean de la Vigne, due to their religious affiliation and geographical origin. The Calvinist minister Jean de la Vigne was born in Valenciennes circa 1560 -- he belonged to a family of French "Huguenots" (Calvinist Protestants) who fled to the Calvinist city of Amsterdam when Catholics regained control of Valenciennes in 1585. Only if our ancestor Jean is the same as the Walloon minister of that name would the above listed date and place of death belong to our Jean de la Vigne. Some online family trees say our Jean married in 1581 in Frances to JEANNE LES PERONE, born circa 1560 in France, died 1594 in Holland, daughter of Robert le Perone. However, it is unclear to me whether Jeanne was the wife of our Jean de la Vigne or rather of the Walloon minister Jean de la Vigne.
Be all that as it may, our ancestor Jean de la Vigne had at least one child, a son Ghislain (known as "Guillain" in Holland):
2. GHISLAIN VIGNE ("Guillain Vienje"), born circa 1588 in St. Vaast La Haute, Valenciennes, Hainault, France.
2. GHISLAIN VIGNE ("Guillain Vienje" or "Guleyn Vienje"), son of Jean de la Vigne, born circa 1586 in St. Vaast La Haute, Valenciennes, Hainault (today Nord-Pas-de-Calais), France, died before 30 April 1632 in New Amsterdam, New Netherlands. Ghislain married circa 1609 in St. Vaast La Haute, Valenciennes, France, to ADRIENNE CUVELLIER ("Ariantje"), born circa 1588 in Valenciennes, Hainault (today Nord-Pas-de-Calais), France, died May 1655 in New Amsterdam, New Netherlands (New York), daughter of Jean Cuvellier of Valenciennes. Ghislain and Adrienne had five daughters and three sons. He and his family later emigrated to the colony of New Netherlands, where her son-in-law Cornelis van Thienhoven held several important colonial offices. Six years after Ghislain Vigne's death, Adrienne remarried on 7 May 1638 to JAN JANSZEN DAMEN, born 1610 in Holland, died 18 June 1651 in New Amsterdam, New Netherlands. Adrienne and Jan had no children together, however.
Ghislain's Christian name shows that he was named in honor of St. Gislanus, a Frankish abbot who founded a monastery in Hainault circa A.D. 680, around which grew up the town of Saint-Ghislain, Belgium, six miles west of Mons and 15 miles northwest of Valenciennes in Hainault. St. Gislanus, whose feast is Oct. 9, is the patron saint of Valenciennes, and so his name has been very popular there. In the years just prior to Ghislain Vigne's birth, however, Valenciennes and its environs were inhabited by French Huguenots (Calvinists), but Catholic Christians regained control of Valenciennes in 1585. If Ghislain was himself born of a Huguenot family, he would have had to flee Valenciennes about the time of his birth. On the other hand, Ghislain could have been born of Catholic parents and later converted to Calvinism. Henri IV, King of France, had formerly been a Huguenot and had a policy of toleration of the Protestants in his realm, but that policy ended with Henri's assassination in 1610, after which many Huguenot families fled to the Calvinist haven in Holland where Catholicism was forbidden. It seems likely that Ghislain and his wife Adrienne fled from Valenciennes to Holland during these years.
Be that as it may, by the autumn of 1618 Ghislain and Adrienne were certainly members of the Walloon (Belgian/French Calvinist) congregation at Leiden, Holland, where five of their children were baptised. The Register of Baptisms in the Walloon Church in Leiden includes these entries:
2 Sept. 1618 Rachel, daughter of Ghilain Vignier and his wife. Witnesses: Antoine Hardewin and his wife, Ghilain Hardewin and Gertrude Quinze. 26 Sept. 1619 Abraham and Sara, children of Gileyn Vinoist and Adrienne Cuvelier. 26 Dec. 1621 Abraham, son of Guillain Vivier and Adrienne Cuvelier. Witnesses: Charlie Bailieu and Jean Collas and the wife of Jean Adam. 19 March 1623 Rachel, daughter of Guillain Vigne. Witnesses: Henri Lambert, Pierre de Fache and Marguerite Vigne.
Prior to the births of the children listed in the Leiden baptismal register, Ghislain and Adrienne also had two daughters, Christina and Maria, who were born, respectively, circa 1610 and circa 1613, probably in Valenciennes (though Maria may rather have been born after her parents' flight to Holland). Of the children of Ghislain and Adrienne who were born in Europe, only their daughters Christina, Maria, and Rachel survived to adulthood.
Ghislain with his wife and three daughters were one of the thirty Walloon families chosen by the Dutch West India Company to establish a permanent settlement in the Dutch colony of New Netherlands, which was made up of territory in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut. Earlier writers claimed the Vignes were among the colonists who arrived on the Tiger, which caught fire off shore in New Netherlands circa 1613, but the Vignes were still living in Europe at that time. In fact the Vignes emigrated from Amsterdam to New Netherlands in 1624, sailing aboard either the Nieuw Nederland or De Eendracht. If it was the latter ship, they would have left Amsterdam on 25 Jan. 1624 and arrived in America in April of that year.
It is unknown whether the Vignes spent their first year at the Albany, Connecticut River or Delaware River settlements, but by 1625 Ghislain was a farmer on land north of what is now Wall Street in Manhattan along the East River. Ghislain built his cabin on an East River beach at the spot where Wall Street now intersects with Pearl Street. His farm was one of the first six on Manhattan Island, and the New York Stock Exchange today sits on land that had been owned by Ghislain's widow Adrienne and their children.
Ghislain and Adrienne had additional children after their arrival in New Netherlands, but only four adult children are ever named in colonial records -- Christina, Maria, Rachel, and a son Jan. Their son Jan (Jean, i.e. John) was born shortly after their arrival, probably on Manhattan or perhaps at Albany or in New Jersey or Connecticut. Jan is noted in New York history as the firstborn male child of the New Netherlands colony -- this fact was recorded in The Journal of Jasper Danckaerts (edited by Bartlett Burleigh James and J. Franklin Jameson, New York, 1913). Danckaerts' journal includes this entry on 24 Sept. 1679 (translated from Dutch): "We conversed with the first male born of Europeans in New Netherland, named Jean Vigne. His parents were from Valenciennes and he was now about sixty-five years of age." (In fact, Jan would have been closer to 55 years of age in 1679.)
Ghislain Vigne's date of death is unknown, but he must have died in New Amsterdam (New York) before 30 April 1632, which is the date of his widow Adrienne's prenuptial deposition that she made as she was about to marry Jan Jansen Damen, a wealthy citizen of New Amsterdam who served as a warden of the Dutch Reformed Church and owned a large tract of land west of the Vigne's land.
The children of Ghislain and Adrienne were:
-- CHRISTINA VIGNE, born circa 1610 in St. Vaast La Haute, Valenciennes, France, died 21 Feb. 1663 in Bustwyck, New York, md. Dirck Noorman Volkertszen. -- MARIA VIGNE, born circa 1613 in France or Holland, died 1689 in New York, md. 1st Jan Roos, md. 2nd Abraham Isaacsen Ver Planck. -- RACHEL VIGNE, baptised 2 Sept. 1618 at the Leiden Walloon Church, Leiden, Zuid-Holland, the Netherlands, died in infancy. -- ABRAHAM VIGNE, baptised 26 Sept. 1619 at the Leiden Walloon Church, Leiden, Zuid-Holland, the Netherlands, died in infancy. -- SARA VIGNE, twin sister of Abraham, baptised 26 Sept. 1619 at the Leiden Walloon Church, Leiden, Zuid-Holland, the Netherlands, died in infancy. 3. RACHEL VIGNE, baptised 19 March 1623 at the Leiden Walloon Church, Leiden, Zuid-Holland, the Netherlands. -- JAN VIGNE ("Jean"), born circa 1624 in New Amsterdam, New Netherlands, died 21 Dec. 1689 in New York City, married twice. -- GULEYN VIGNE ("Ghislain"), born circa 1625 in New Amsterdam, New Netherlands.
3. RACHEL VIGNE, daughter of Ghislain and Adrienne Vigne, baptised 16 March 1622 at the Leiden Walloon Church, Leiden, Zuid-Holland, the Netherlands, died 1663 in New Netherlands (New York). Rachel married CORNELIS LUYCASZ VAN THIENHOVEN ("Cornelius"), born circa 1601 in Breuckelen, Utrecht, Holland, disappeared 18 Nov. 1656 in New Amsterdam, New Netherlands, and subsequently declared legally dead. Cornelis and Rachel had five children -- two daughters and three sons. Dutch Reformed Church records in New Amsterdam (New York City) record the following baptisms of their children:
1646 10 June Jannetje, Cornelis Van Tienhoven, Secrts. Wit.: De Hr. Willem Kieft, gouvneur, Adriaen Nuvielle, Jannetje Adriaens. 1649 17 Jan. Lucas, Corn. Van Tienhoven, Secretaris. Wit.: Jan Janszen Damen, Adriaen Van Tinehoven, Adriaentie Kuypers. 1653 12 Jan. Cornelis, Cornelis Van Tienhoven, Fiscael. Wit.: Cornelis Van Werckhoven, Brion Nuton, Capt., Sara Roelofs. 1655 1 Jan. Johannes, Corn. Van Tienhoven, Fiscael. Wit.: Jan Vinge, Maria Vinge. 1657 20 May Jannetie, Cornelis Van Tienhoven, Fiscael, Rachel Vinge. Wit.: Olof Stephenszen Van Courtlt., Pieter Stoutenburg, Tryntie Rodenburg, Marritie Varrevanger.
Cornelis, an employee of the Dutch West India Company, held several important offices in the colonial government of New Netherlands, including bookkeeper for the Company 1633-1647, the Company's surveyor 1647-1652, and Receiver General 1649-1652. Cornelis was appointed Secretary of New Netherlands in 1651, and held office as colonial Schout-fiscael of New Netherlands and New Amsterdam during the years 1652-1656. Though he was a man of influence and authority in New Netherlands, morally he was deeply flawed and thus his life in the New World is a long, unremitting tale of inhuman cruelty, sexual debauchery, and drunkenness. The Historical Society of the New York Courts supplies a biographical sketch of Cornelis' life and career. An even more lurid account of Cornelis van Thienhoven's crimes, debauches, and sickening, violent atrocities against the Native American tribes may be found in Tobias Seamon's article, "While He Flatters He Bites", published in The Morning News (WARNING: Seamon's account is not for weak stomachs!).
Cornelis and Rachel had five children:
-- JANNETJE VAN THIENHOVEN, baptised 10 June 1646 in New Amsterdam, New Netherlands, died young before 20 May 1657 in New Amsterdam, New Netherlands. -- LUIJKAS VAN THIENHOVEN ("Lucas"), baptised 17 Jan. 1649 in New Amsterdam, New Netherlands. -- CORNELIS VAN THIENHOVEN, baptised 12 Jan. 1653 in New Amsterdam, New Netherlands. -- JOHANNES VAN THIENHOVEN, baptised 1 Jan. 1655 in New Amsterdam, New Netherlands. -- JANNETJE VAN THIENHOVEN, baptised 20 May 1657 in New Amsterdam, New Netherlands, married John Smith.
Vigne Genealogy Resources:
"While He Flatters He Bites," profile of Cornelis van Theinhoven published in The Morning News, with information on his family. We Relate: Guillaume Vigne (sic)
Return to Website Index