Terhune Family



Governor Nicholson refused to acknowledge William as King of England. The English towns in Long Island sent their militias toward New York in response to the rumors of a French Catholic invasion from Quebec, but they dispersed before entering the town. When Nicholson continued to equivocate and threatened to "sett the town on fyre," the New York militia reacted. The Fort was captured by the militia and an "association" formed to hold the city for King William and Queen Mary. Nicholson took the first boat back to England. When the Mayor, the Dutch Van Cortlandt and his council continued to stall, their authority also collapsed and he and others of his council went into hiding.

The insurgent militia was supported by the bulk of the population, including the shopkeepers, craftsmen, cartmen and laborers. Outside the city, the Long Island villagers would be staunch supporters, as well as a few well-to-do merchants in the city. The militia set up a ten member Committee of Safety to govern the province. During the summer they reopened the business of the city and dispatched an emissary to King William and Queen Mary stating that the colony was safe and being held for them. In August the committee, impressed with Jacob Leisler's patriotism and popularity, made him commander-in-chief.

Jan Albertse Terhune served in Leisler's militia, commissioned a Lieutenant in January 1691. So he was a rebel, as was his father, Albert Albertse Terhune, the immigrant who defied Governor Stuyvesant years earlier and had been imprisoned. It so happens that Jan Terhune was my husband's direct line seventh great grandfather.

As you may recall, this is the same Jacob Leisler who unsuccessfully contested the English appointment of Van Rensselaer as Dominee to Albany in 1676. Leisler was a well-to-do merchant in the fur and tobacco trade, one of the richest men in New York. He had graduated from a Calvinist Military Academy in 1660 and immediately came to New York. He was a devout Calvinist, a church deacon and a Captain of Militia. He had also been instrumental in settling French Huguenots in the city. But Leisler never got along with the innermost circle of the Anglo-Dutch merchants. His ardent Calvinism and devotion to the Dutch House of Orange (Stadholder William) set him apart. Moreover, he had a long, nasty dispute with the Bayards and Van Cortlands over the estate of his wife and he was friendly with the Dutch Governor Colve during the brief Dutch reconquest in 1673 to 1674.

Leisler's purpose was to maintain control of New York for King William and to fight against the "Papist doggs and devills" as necessary. He was bitterly opposed by the previously ruling merchant class and the prominent local Dominees. Leisler's second in command was again Jacob Milbourne, another wealthy merchant who had been with him earlier in combating the English imposing their favorite Dominees on the Dutch Church in 1676.

The period between autumn 1689 and spring 1691 was notable for changes more favorable to the common people. The Committee of Safety called for general elections and broadened the range of elected officials. Justices of the Peace and militia Captains, as well as aldermen, sheriffs, marshals, and the Mayor were voted on by the people. Monopolies and trade regulations favoring the New York merchants were struck down. Many of the officials subsequently elected were working men, carpenters, bricklayers and the like. Shades of the American Revolution a hundred years later! Perhaps this was an omen of things to come in the far distant future.

This was open class conflict, with Leisler's supporters attacking and harassing the previous local officials and jailing some. Anti-Leisler saboteurs tried to blow up the fort and a group of 30 anti-Leislers attacked Leisler himself who had to be rescued by his followers. Some of these returned to Long Island, raised a small body of troops and marched back to New York. There they were met by Leisler's militia and driven off. The leader, a Major Willett escaped to New England and some of his officers were court martialled. Leisler tried to organize a retaliatory strike against Montreal, Canada; but he could not garner enough support.

At the time of the elections in the fall of 1689, Joost Stol, the militia leader of the takeover of the fort, was selected as an emissary to London to present the Leislerians' case. However the New York merchants had already sent representatives, who convinced King William to disavow Leisler. The King commissioned Colonel Sloughter as governor with a council comprised of the wealthy New York merchants, such as Van Cortlandt, Philipse and Bayard. English troops led by Richard Ingoldsby reached New York in March 1691. Leisler and Milbourne refused to surrender the fort until shown Slaughter's commission. When Sloughter arrived six weeks later in mid April, 1691, the fort was surrendered with the presentation of the King's commission.

Leisler and Milbourne, with six others, were arrested, tried by Sloughter's appointed court, and convicted of treason. The trial was a "show trial," a sham and a farce. There was no defense or defense lawyer. The "Jury" was composed of appointed "judges" who just happened to be men such as Leisler's New York enemies William Smith, Major Richard Ingoldesby, who was rebuffed by Leisler; and the prosecutors, James Emmott, George Farewell, and William Nichols. The verdict would be a foregone conclusion; the intent being to cut off the head of the common peoples' leader and send a draconian message to them. The court directed they be hanged, disemboweled, decapitated, drawn and quartered. They were supposed to await approval of this sentence from England, but Leisler's principle enemy, Bayard, convinced Sloughter to sign an immediate death warrant. It was later alleged that Sloughter was plied with liquor to help his decision making. All except Leisler and Milbourne were paroled when riots broke out. The sentence was carried out on 16 May 1691 and the two were buried on Leisler land near the spot of their execution.

The events in 1689 to 1691 are popularly termed "Leisler's Rebellion." But Jacob Leisler was a wealthy merchant enjoying his business, his church, and his property when this all started. He was appointed by the Militia's Committee of Safety to lead and he did so. The British had a "Glorious Bloodless Revolution" and crowned a new King. The British went to war with France. The French Canadians attacked near Albany, burned a small village and killed 60 people. Leisler supported the new King and opposed Catholic France. This was hardly rebellious or revolutionary in light of the new Dutch Protestant King at war with Catholic France. A more proper name for these events might have been the "Militia/British Bloodless Revolution/British-French War" action. But we are forgetting the fundamental mores of the times, Absolutism and Class. Under Absolutism and Class, the common people taking charge is a "mortal sin", regardless of any mitigating circumstances. And the winners write the history.

Later, about 1695, the English Parliament reviewed the trial and executions. The Parliament ordered the return of Leisler's and Milbournes's property to their families, passed a bill legalizing their rule, and removed the attainder of treason. In 1698, their bodies were disinterred from the spot near the gallows where they lay and placed to lay in state for several weeks. They were then buried at the Dutch Church on Garden Street on 20 October 1698. It is said that the funeral was attended by 100 men at arms and over 1000 people. This was out of a total New York population of about 4000. Leisler and Milbourne were heroes and venerated by a large segment of the Dutch community. Many of the merchants and well-to-do absented themselves at the time of the funeral, fearing for their security but there was no trouble.

Dominee Henricus Selyns, of New York City, (see page 17) and Dominee Rudolphus Varrick, of Long Island, had opposed Leisler from the beginning, as had Dominee Godfridus Dellius of Albany. Varrick had been incarcerated and Dellius had fled to Boston during the rebellion. Selyns had been confronted in his church by Leisler and required to read a statement that discussed the personal attack on him by anti-Leislerians. These Dominees had, from the time of the English takeover in 1673, taken the position of close cooperation, even complicity, with the English rulers. And they had not been pleased with the brief Dutch recapture of New Netherland in 1674. They apparently believed that ingratiating themselves, and hence their church, with the English would lead to more tolerance for the Dutch Reformed Church. This would ultimately prove to be a fatal error, but we will talk about this later.

The English Governor Sloughter was quick to assemble a council and assembly which passed numerous Acts and laws imposing draconian retribution on the common Dutch people who had supported Leisler. For example, legislation provided that anyone disturbing the "peace, good and quiet" of the government would be guilty of high treason. Also the Judiciary set up a legal system based on English Common Law which allowed sheriffs and justices of the peace to prosecute "moral", as well as civil and criminal offences. This was a license to homogenize local custom and culture and thence Anglicize the Dutch. They also passed laws regulating apprenticeships, the privileges of freemanship and licensing the men driving wagons.

A new Governor, Benjamin Fletcher, appointed in 1692 continued operating in the same vein. In 1693, he forced the Assembly to pass the "Ministry Act", which required public election of church wardens. They were empowered to tax and pay the salaries of the "Protestant" ministers, which meant the Anglican ministers. There was no Anglican church in New York and an Anglican congregation of only about 90 people. Very shortly, in 1697, Trinity Church, the first Anglican Church was under construction. The Dutch Dominees were mollified by a Charter or Act exempting them from supporting the Anglican church and autonomy in the appointment of their clergy, but this proved to be only a temporary illusion of security. It would prove to be subject to the whims of succeeding governors. This Act effectively designated the Church of England as the established religion of the colony. Dominee Selyns became a strong supporter of. Fletcher, even donating to him a silver plate "worth 75 pounds!" Selyns bragged to the Classis of Amsterdam (Ecclesiastical Records) of his "most friendly relations" with the English and said "this promises much advantage to God's church."

All of the events we have discussed, at least from the time of the brief Dutch recapture of New Netherland during the Leisler rebellion and during the decade following had totally alienated the majority of the Dutch population, except the merchants and clergy, from both the English government and their Dutch Dominees. Church attendance was reduced by 75 to 80 percent. During this same period one might note that the church membership rosters actually increased, but this is misleading. Many only went to church the day of the year to elect church officers, and by 1698 the majority of officers were "Leislerians". The community was consumed with hostility between the "Leislerians" and the "anti-Leislerians", often resulting in violence and open opposition to authority in the outlying areas. There was a migration of the Dutch population out of the New York City and Long Island areas into New Jersey and upstate New York. From a large majority, the Dutch population of New York City and environs rapidly became a small minority by the turn of the century. New Jersey became the center of Dutch settlement and culture.

When the English took over in 1664, there were 13 Orthodox Dutch Reformed congregations. Within ten years after Leisler's rebellion, there was only one left that was totally Orthodox, Selyns in New York City. Many of the rest were populated by disaffected "Leislerians" that held the Orthodox Dominees in contempt and a few were serviced by Dutch Pietist ministers who had no "baggage" of supporting the English in the Leister affair. We will discuss the Pietist movement later. In fact, after Leisler's rebellion there were few Dutch Reformed ministers in the area, either Orthodox or Pietist. There was Selyns in New York City, Varrick on Long Island, Guiliam Bertholf serving New Jersey, Harlem and Staten Island, John Nucella in Kingston and Dellius in Albany. Varrick died in 1694 to be replaced by Wilhelmus Lupardus for a few years. Obviously, many congregations were serviced only a few times a year by visiting Dominees.

A number of the Dutch Dominees were quite affluent in their own right. Selyns married a rich widow and was able to dole out many thousands of guilders to friends at his death, in addition to leaving most of his estate to his wife. He also came upon extensive debts from common people through his wife's inheritance. His successor, Gualtherus DuBois in 1703, came from a rich Rotterdam family. Others of more meager means, such as Dominee Lupardus, used their position in the church to elevate their social status, and perhaps ultimately their economic status. The ordinary working Dutch looked on these things with great disdain, coupling them with the Dominees' close relationship with the English and their fervent opposition to the people's hero, Jacob Leisler.

Fletcher, the English governor in the 1690s distributed vast real estate holdings to the wealthy merchants to secure their continued support. (See map on page 18) They received enormous land grants. Van Cortlandt, former mayor, received about 100,000 acres in Westchester County, and on Long Island, Chief Justice Smith received a huge land grant in northern Long Island. Philipse received about 100,000 acres and the right to operate a toll bridge. And there were many more including Dominee Dellius of Albany who accepted about a one-half million acre grant in the Albany area. However, Dellius' grant was revoked by the next governor and Dellius subsequently converted to Anglicanism!

At the same time, Fletcher instituted a strange business in New York, not connected to the Dutch church, but interesting nonetheless. King William's war with France was occurring at this time and New York was made a hub for privateers and pirates. Fletcher welcomed the pirates, allowing them to enter New York, dispose of their treasure, and refit for another voyage, all accompanied by kickbacks to him and his wealthy friends. Van Cortlandt, Philipse, Bayard, Smith and other wealthy merchants bankrolled the pirates and shared the spoils of their thievery. It is estimated this activity garnered 100,000 pounds a year for the city. Famous pirates, such as Thomas Tew and Captain Kidd strolled about the city with impunity and socialized with the establishment. The English Whig party eventually became embarrassed by this activity and put an end to it in 1700.

A new Governor, Richard Coote, Lord Bellomont, was appointed in 1698. This represented a change in England from a Tory Parliament to a Whig Parliament. It also brought about huge change in the colonies. Bellomont was a strong supporter of the Leislerians and undid many of Fletcher's actions, appointing many Leislerians to government posts. As previously mentioned, he put an end to the support of the pirates and literally went to war to nullify the huge Fletcher land grants which he stated "amounted to fully three fourths of the colonies' acreage." Additionally he characterized the executions of Leisler and Milbourne as "one of the most depraved acts in English history." He was fought tooth and nail by the New York council in nullifying the land grants since several of their members were recipients of the grants themselves. They had also benefited from the pirate trade and fought Bellomont both in New York and in England over this matter.

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