Jan Cornelisse van Cleve

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Jan Cornelisse van Cleve

Also Known As: "Hanse", "van Cleef", "Van Cleft", "Van Clief"
Birthdate: (72)
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Holland, Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden
Death: 1699 (72)
New Utrecht, Kings County, Province of New York
Place of Burial: Bensonhurst, Kings County, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Cornelius van Cleef and Neeltje Jansdr van der Meulen
Husband of Engeltje Pieterse Emans
Father of Dirck Van Cleef; Neeltje Jans van Cleef; Angelica Lowerens van Cleef; Cornelius Jansen van Cleef; Laurens van Cleef and 13 others

Occupation: emigrated in 1653, Farmer.
Managed by: Deborah Carol Boyd
Last Updated:

About Jan Cornelisse van Cleve

Jan Van Cleef/Cleve was born in 1627-28, presumably in Amsterdam, Holland. This presumption is due to his forename spelling of Jan instead of the more common Germanic spelling of Johan. Since Jan named one of his sons for himself with the Germanic spelling of Johannes (son of John) instead of using the spelling of Jan, it suggests that one or both of his parents were probably from one of the German states. Germany was not the Germany of today, which was created in 1919. It was comprised of a large number of independent counties, marks, principalities, duchies and kingdoms.

Jan died circa 1699, the last record of him being the New Utrecht Census of (presumably) 1698. He was a son of Cornelius Van Cleef/Cleve, and probably a second or younger son.

Jan arrived in New Amsterdam, New Netherlands in 1653. Because he had money to pay for his voyage, with a fair amount of cash money for business ventures after his arrival, and included in his possessions were a gun and a sheathed rapier sword, possessions not often found amongst the common farmer and tradesman, it is thought that Jan might have had a prosperous father.

Jan was only married once (circa January/February 1661, at New Utrecht, Long Island, New Netherland), to Engelje Laurens Pietersen (baptized July 15, 1646, at the New Amsterdam Dutch Church, died post-1711, the daughter of Laurens/Louwerens Pieterse de Norman and Annetje/Anetie Peiters). Jan and Engelje are known to have had the following fifteen children: Neeltje (named for his mother?), Cornelius (was named for his father), Laurens (was named for his wife's father), Jacobus (named for his father's father?), Rebecca (named for his father's mother?), Anna (was named for his wife's mother), Angelica (was named for his wife), Isabrandt (named for his wife's mother's father?), Rem (named for his mother's father?), Johannes (was named for himself), Catherine (named for his mother's mother?), Joseph and Benjamin (were twins named for the Biblical twins), Maritje (named for his wife's mother's mother?), and Ceytie (was named for his wife's sister). We have dates of birth or baptism for some, approximations of birth from census records for a few, and nothing substantial for others.

Amongst the many New Utrecht court cases involving Jan's business dealings is a case of his involvement in a bar brawl. Evidently Jan had a fair amount of free time during the day allowing him to frequent the local public house. On September 21, 1661 Jan assisted the tavern keeper during a mêlée with militia Sergeant Jans Thomaszen and his son in evicting them from the premises. Thomaszen later explained in court that while enjoying half a barrel of beer with his eighteen year-old son on the occasion of the departure of Sir Johannes Verveelen, burgher and brewer of Amsterdam in New Netherlands, he (Thomaszen), being quite drunk, had engaged in a heated argument with one Claertie de Mof (believed to be the tavern keeper). A brawl ensued with several blows being struck between the two men. During the ensuing melee Thomaszen's shirt was torn by Claertie de Mof. Jan Van Cleef then entered the fray by grabbing Thomaszen by the hair in an attempt to pull him off de Mof. Thereupon Thomaszen drew his knife slicing at Van Cleef, making four cuts to Van Cleef's jerkin, and in the process inflicting Van Cleef with a flesh wound. Jan Van Cleef then grabbed Thomaszen by his arms knocking the knife from his hand. At this point Thomaszen's son, Thomas Janssen, not liking to see Van Cleef attack his father joined in, pulling Van Cleef by the shoulders off Thomaszen. Van Cleef then turned on the young Thomas grabbing him by the hair, and with the aid of another tavern patron, Hendrick Matthijssen, who grabbed Thomas by his feet, threw the young man down on the floor. The son then grabbed Van Cleef by the hair in order to be let go of by the two men. Claertie de Mof, Jan Van Cleef and Hendrick Matthijssen were able to evict the drunken Thomaszen and his son from the premises. Thomaszen was required to pay damages to Van Cleef and do penance.

After the British took control of New Netherland, renaming it New York, Jan's name was included with others of New Utrecht being granted the title of "Patroon" in 1686.

Jan's house, known as the Van Cleef-Van Pelt Manor, stood at what was originally the old New Utrecht Village square, located on the east side of 18th avenue, between 81st street and (facing) 82nd street, in the New Utrecht neighbor-hood, of the Bensonhurst District, in Brooklyn, New York. A court record states that after he sold the house he was allowed to continue to live in it the remainder of his life. Afterwards it was sold, enlarged, and occupied by the Van Pelt family until 1910 when sold to the City of New York. It was demolished in November 1952.

A headstone has not as yet been identified for him, but he is most surely buried in this cemetery, located just down the street two blocks from his house, and associated with his church, which was established in 1677.


The Van Cleves are said to have originated from an ancestor Jan Van Cleef who was the son of Dutch nobility--the last Duke of Cleves. He is said to have come to America in 1653. Two of the Van Cleaves were Scottish Rite Masons in Chicago around the turn of the century. Jan Van Cleef, born in 1628 in Holland. Married prior to 1661 to Angelica Lawrence, daughter of Peter Lawrence. He settled at New Utrecht, Long Island, New York, as early as 1659. His name appears in a list of members of the Dutch Church of that place, 1677-1685. He owned a plantation of 24 morgans and other plots of land in the Village of New Utrecht, and also 2Ùa lots at Yellow Hook (now Bay Ridge), Long Island, New York, which he appears to have disposed of in 1691. Delegate from Bushwick Colony to the Representative Convention in New Amsterdam, April 10, 1664, to send delegates to Holland, to represent to the States General and the West Indies Company the distressed state of the country. In consequence of his old age the heirs of Nichols De Meyer agreed that he should occupy during life a farm, which their father had bought of him. A few of his descendants reside in New Utrecht and Gravesend, Long Island, New York, but most of them removed to New Jersey.


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Jan Cornelisse van Cleve's Timeline

Amsterdam, Holland, Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden
January 7, 1662
Age 35
New Amsterdam, New Netherland Colony
Age 38
New Utrecht, Province of New York
Age 38
King's County, New York
Age 43
Long Island, Province of New York
Age 45
New Utrecht, Province of New York
Age 47
New Utrecht, Province of New York
August 1677
Age 50