Jan Cornelisse Viselaer (Gouw)


Jan Cornelisse probably was born before 1620. He sailed from Amsterdam to New Amsterdam in 1639. Quickly, he moved upriver to Rensselaerswyck and established himself in or near the settlement at Beverwyck/Albany. He was known by the surnames "Viselaer" and "Gouw."

He was said to be a master carpenter with other tradesmen under his charge. He seems to have worked for the Van Rensselaers - building a church and submitting accounts covering the years 1639 to 1647.

Over the next decades, he seems to have lived in the area around Albany - engaging in carpentry, trading, and other activities. He appeared more often than regularly before the Albany court on a variety of matters. He was involved in lawsuits and in physical altercations. In 1675, he was identifed as the co-owner of a mill on the Poestenkill.

In 1679, he was called "Jan Gaw" and identified as an Albany householder. A few years later, he was identified as a supporter of the Albany Dutch church. Perhaps he was a bachelor.

In 1684, he owed back taxes. Court minutes from 1685 stated that he had served as a roadmaster, weighmaster, and juror. Over the next two decades, he was an appraiser and performed other chores for the Albany government. In 1693, he was called a "firewarden."

In 1697, the city census placed him alone in an Albany house. Two years later, he joined with his neighbors in swearing an oath of allegiance to the king of England.

Jan Cornelisse Viselaer was last heard from in November 1702 when he was appointed fire and "way" master for the next year.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Jan Cornelisse Viselaer is CAP biography number 6511. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. At this point, we have not been able to place this apparently long-lived character in a family context. Thus, we seek information on his background and passing.

first posted: 8/30/06