Dutch interest in the Americas sprang directly from their struggle to achieve independence from Spain. For example, after raiding Spanish ships and settlements in the Caribbean, the Dutch set up colonies of their own in places like Curacao, St. Maartin, and–briefly–Brazil. Whereas the Dutch colonies in the Caribbean emphasized sugar production, by the 1620s their New Netherland colony along the Hudson River combined a hunting economy around Albany, which supplied furs to the European market, with an agricultural economy in the Lower Hudson Valley, which supplied foodstuffs for the Dutch West Indies. Dutch influence in North America waned following the British invasion/usurpation of New Netherland in 1664.
While much is known about the lineages of the thousands of Netherlanders who settled in the Americas during the 17th and 18th centuries, David Dobson’s new book is derived from European records that generally have eluded the grasp of North American researchers. During the course of his researches in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, London, Barbados, and other archives, Mr. Dobson gathered a considerable amount of information concerning Dutch individuals who ventured to the New World between 1615 and 1815. Many of these references were found in obscure sources.
In the style of most of his directories, Mr. Dobson has arranged these Dutch emigrants alphabetically by surname. Typically, the notices provide a date and place of residence in the New World, the individual’s occupation, and a citation. Some, like the one that follows, furnish quite a bit more:
“Ackerman, Peter, from Hackensack, New Jersey, a Loyalist in 1776, a refugee, petitioned Sir Henry Clinton on 30 November 1779, settled in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, by 1786.”
Mr. Dobson provides information on 1,300 Dutch inhabitants of the New World, including, we trust, a number whom we have not heard from before.