Joachim Gijsen, 1578 - c. 1642, Father of Trijntgen Jochemse

Who were Trijntgen’s parents? A Staats family legend holds that a Vice Admiral Joachim Gijsen (or Ghyse) captured a ship full of gold and that the Staats name originated with this Vice Admiral. That the legend was known in 1885 is well documented.  In that year, George Washington Schuyler, who questioned this legend, wrote: “Family traditions are oftentimes curious and interesting but seldom trustworthy,” with a note reading

Another and probably equally veracious tradition is that the Staats family are descendants from a certain Rear Admiral Joachim Ghyse, who captured a Spanish fleet and as a recompense was given the name of Staats and a Coat of Arms engraved on a gold gorget.19

  In this case, the legend is based on an historical figure, Joachim Gijsen. References to Gijsen are found in Johannes De Laet’s 1644 history of the Dutch West India Company from 1623 to 1636, with mention of Gijsen’s progression in naval rank, in works by naval historians Johannes Cornelis de Jonge, M. C. Mollema, and G. Engelbert Gerrits, in a letter of Hugo Grotius, and by Hessel Gerritsz, a seventeenth-century cartographer and friend of Johannes De Laet and interviewer of Dutch navigators and sea captains.20 A history of the West India Company in the seventeenth century mentions Gijsen and his stuursmen, Rinke Pieters van Amelandt, citing a 1626 work describing the string of islands from the Antilles to Puerto Rico.21 The above sources show that Gijsen captured a Spanish ship or ships, received a gold medal and chain for bravery and courage, was shipwrecked on Grand Cayman Island in 1629 and saved all 122 lives of his crew, and built a new ship and sailed them to safety.22 It is stated that the new ship sailed to “Virginia” (New Netherland) and was sold there, although this particular incident has not been corroborated by primary sources. Further reading of De Laet’s text suggests an alternative end of the leaky Cayman.

  In his wedding banns in 1612, Joachim Gijsen states that he is from Hamburg and was born in about 1579.23 His bride, Trijntgen Gerrits, states that she is twentyeight years old, an age confirmed in banns of her previous marriage to Bartelt Barteltsen seven years earlier. In the earlier wedding banns, she states her age as twenty-one.24 In Joachim’s 1612 wedding banns with Trijntgen, Gijsen states his occupation as “boatman” and that he is thirty-three years old. Petrus Brunick presents written permission from Gijsen’s family in Hamburg for the wedding.  Gijsen purchased a house on Gouldabostraat in Amsterdam in 1623 and reports his occupation as Stuursman, or steersman, which translates in period naval terms as first mate, or assistant to the captain.25 The wedding banns, purchase of house, and sale of house are evidence of his personal life and his occupation working at sea.

  It is at this first historic intersection when Joachim Gijsen’s personal history and his naval career are proven. Neatly, Joachim Gijsen is reported to be a Stuursman by Johannes De Laet (1644). Mollema lists Joachim Gijsen on the Roll of Honor in 1636. Whether Mollema meant that Gijsen had died or retired is not understood, as the “Roll of Honor” in Dutch seaman’s language refers to the time of the actual roll of the ship from starboard to port and back to starboard, during which all hands respected a fallen comrade.

  By the end of his naval career, Joachim Gijsen apparently reached the rank of vice admiral.26 His rise to this position in light of his German origins must be kept in perspective. Germans were considered foreigners in the Dutch Republic and, as such, were excluded from higher offices within the Dutch military forces. But, as Dutch historian Th. van Deursen notes, “German seaman quickly became so numerous and consequentially indispensable that they were sometimes placed on the same footing as Netherlanders.”27 Gijsen did indeed fight in many battles and captured treasure and prize ships for the West India Company. In 1639, when his daughter, Nelletie, married, Gijsen is present as a witness at the wedding. In 1640, when his son, Gerrits, marries, Gerrits’s mother, Trijntgen Jochemse, states her husband is in the “employ of the Company.”28 This suggests that Gijsen was still alive in 1640. Some accounts say he fought in the Battle of the Duins in 1639 and 1640. By January 12, 1642, when Trijntgen marries Abram Staes, Gijsen, however, is not present.

  In 1654, Trijntgen Gerrits, “widow of Joachim Gijsen,” is forced to sell the house on Gouldabostraat.29 In this type of document, the transport of real estate before the court (because one could not pay one’s debts) was given to the buyer (and usually also to the seller). Before this took place, deeds of forced real estate transports were registered by the copying of the contents by the town in their registers without signatures. Trijntgen had been sentenced on April 20, 1655, by the Commissarissen van Kleine Zaken (Commissioners of Small Cases) to pay 190 guilders to a Jacob Adriaensen Swartepaert. Obviously, on April 20, 1655, Trijntgen was alive, as she was tried as a person. Hence, she was also alive on January 17, 1654. The sale is made to Hendrick Hendriks. It is known that Trijntgen Gerritsz was alive when this sale was completed, since she was served the documents.”30

  The documentation gathered on Joachim Gijsen was presented to Dr. Jan Boomgaard, director of the Amsterdam City Archives. In response to the question “How many men in Amsterdam were named Joachim Gijsen during the chronological period of time from 1579 to 1654,” he wrote that only “one man [who] was named Joachim Gijsen would fit this chronology.”31 This information, primary references of Gijsen’s naval career, marriage, and other records, prove Gijsen’s relationship to Abram Staes as his father–in-law and not as the progenitor of the Staats family. Hence, the Staats family legend is true, with one correction: Gijsen neither received the name Staats nor gave it to the family.

Frontispiece from G Engelbert Gerritsz Gedenkstuk van Nederlands Heldendaden Ter Zee Amsterdam 1831

19 George Washington Schuyler, Colonial New York (Volume 2): Philip Schuyler and his family (New York, 1885), 173n.
20 Johannes De Laet (1644) reprinted in 1930-1936 by Honore Nabor Deel I, II, III, IV. Het Iaerlyck Verhael van Joannes de Laet 1624-1636, J. C. de Jonge, Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche zeewezen, 2 vols. (Haarlem, 1858-1862), 1: 218, M. C. Mollema, Geschiedenis van Nederland ter Zee, 4 vols. (Amsterdam, 1939-1942), 4: 13 (appendix), G. Engelbert Gerritsz, Gedenkstuk van Nederlands Heldendaden Ter Zee (Amsterdam, 1831), 293, Hugo Grotius, 3 January 1639 (3921), Briefwisseling van Hugo Grotius. Deel 10, B. KL. Meulenbroek, editor (Den Haag, 2009), 20n10, and Hessel Gerritzs, Journaux et Nouvelles tirées de la bouche de marins hollandais et portugais de la navigation aux Antilles et Sur Cotes du Brésil. (1626), Archives of Brazil, Rio De Janeiro.
21 Henk J. den Heijer, De Geschiedenis van de WIC (1621-1791) (Zutphen, 1994; revised ed., 2002).
22 R. C. Smith, The Maritime Heritage of the Cayman Islands (Gainesville, FL, 2000).
23 On July 21, 1612, “appeared before Albert kornelis and Joh[annes] Mathijssen, commissioners, Jochim Ghisen of hamborgh, sailorman, old 33 years, living in the Haerlemmerstraet, presenting his father’s permission by the hand of petrus brunick, notary in hamborgh, on one side, and Trijn Gerritsdr. ,widow of bartel bartelsen, living as before, declaring having been widow for 4 years, on the other side . . . ,” DTB 416, p. 228, GAA.
24 1st Wedding Banns of Trijntgen Gerrits gives her age. 1605 DTB Marriages DTB 411 p. 441
25 “We Symen van Der Does and Jacob Reael, aldermen in Amstelredamme, make known that Setge Pieters, sailor, appeared for us and states to have sold, charged and remitted to Jochum Ghijssen, steersman, a house and yard standing in the Goutbloemsstraet adjacent to him the appearer on the westside and Hans Dircxsen on the eastside, reaching from the street in front backwards unto marritge cornelis, widow of Posgen (?) de visscher . . .”, Barent Claessen Turcxscheboer and Reynier Hilles, boatman, (also appearing) as guarantors, dated May 23,1623, toeg. nr. 5062, inv. nr. 30, folio 154-154v] A1: (folio 154), GAA.
26 “Roll of Honor,” Mollema, Geschiedenis van Nederland ter Zee , 4: 13 (appendix).
27 A. Th. van Deursen, Plain Lives in a Golden Age: Popular Culture, Religion and Society in Seventeenthcentury Holland (Cambridge, 2003), 32-33.
28 DTB 454 p. 230 (1640).
29 Registers van kwijtscheldingen van bij executie verkochte huizen, schepen en obligatiën (toeg. nr. 5061, inv. nr. 2168) The certificate made July 10, 1655, of the executiekwijtscheldingen is a deed of forced sale.
30 Communication with A. Stoop, translator, Stadsarchief Amsterdam, November 2009. Registers van kwijtscheldingen van bij executie verkochte huizen, schepen en obligatiën (toeg. nr. 5061, inv. nr. 2168). toeg. nr. 5061, inv. nr. 2223, pp. 104-106.
31 Communication from Dr. Boomgaard, November 2009.