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Chapter 1: The Record, Vol. XXXVII, Jan., 1906, pp 22-26




The Skillmans of the New World are quite commonly assumed to be of Dutch descent. In one way this is a mistake, though in another clearly a fact. They are Dutch in two respects. First, the mothers of them on this continent were of Dutch or Huguenot lineage, though the father was an Englishman, an enlisted soldier under Col. Nicolls, to whom Nieuw Amsterdam surrendered in 1664, becoming thereafter New York. This conquest achieved, the ancestor, so the story goes, being specially attached to his commander, now made Governor of the Province, did not return with his comrades in arms to the home land, but soon took a wife and settled permanently in the Newtown, (L. I.) region, at Maspeth or Dutch Kills. Then the children afterwards intermarried with their Hollandish neighbors, and so the family ultimately came to be much more largely of Belgic than of British blood. But secondly, even in England, the Skillmans were of Dutch stock originally. Their paternal forebears came to Britain from the Low Countries, some of them hundreds of years before the Nicolls or Duke of York Expedition set sail from Portsmouth Harbor for America. Flemings, we know, flocked early into England and we are not surprised to find in 1299 an Adam Skileman at Norwich, and others of the name also at various points, especially scattered through those shires of the island, from Kent northwards, bordering on the German Ocean, particularly in the fen country of Lincolnshire. A John Skilman is of record in the Hundred Rolls of Edward I (1275), and a Henry Skileman is mentioned in Writs of Parliament. One of the name is found at Wymondham, Norfolk, and another at Eltham, Kent, is keeper of the King's Park. There have been Londoners of the name for centuries, and these Skillmans all, we cannot doubt, came ancestrally from the not far away Belgic coast. They were Dutch in short, as, indeed, were the Jutes, Saxons, and Angles of an earlier time. Quite surely, too, were they kinsfolk of the Schillemans to be found extendedly, even today, in the country round about Bruges and in neighboring South Holland. An immense family this, representatives of which from Sluis, Zeeland, singular to note, are, in our own generation, pioneers in the Netherlandish Settlements on Lake Michigan, in the state of that name in this country. Some Schillemans, in fact, are at this time living in Rochester, N. Y., later comers from the old to the new world, who, it is understood, now also anglicize their name, spelling it, that is, just as do the rest at us, their very, very far off cousins.

The Skillmans of America, hence, though not strictly Dutch, are yet, near the outset, really more Dutch than English. The head of the family came probably from London or from near there. He was a musician in the Nicolls forces, and all his life, tradition says, was a musician. With his commander he sailed in the Guiney, the chief of the three (possibly four) very small vessels that brought the adventurers to these shores. Down to this day he is known among his descendants always as Captain Thomas Skillman, a courtesy title, or one gained in later service in this country, or possibly it came from some militia connection merely. After that August morning when Nieuw Amsterdam became New York, we next hear of our ancestor the following year, when, Feb. 19, 1665, at Elizabeth Town, fifth in a list of 60 or more, bearing such names as Ogden, Drake, Tuttle, Dickenson, Whitehead, Woodruff, Crane, Marsh, and others, he took oath of allegiance to King Charles II; but he did not stay in that first New Jersey settlement, for the next year, in the Nicolls' Patent, dated Jan. 23, 1666, he is named as an "inhabitant and freeholder" of Newtown. Then very shortly, he took to another spell of soldiering, or was one of twenty-five men, sent apparently as a special contingent by the Governor himself, to chastise the Indians who three years previously had perpetrated the cruel Wiltwyck Massacre. The names of himself and companions (See Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York, pp. 418-19) are given, and some of them, the savages having been punished, settled down and made their future homes in that region so recently harried. Among these were Thomas Quinnell, Robt. Peacock, Fred'k Hussey, Jno. Biggs, Henry Pawling (afterwards Captain), Sam'l Oliver, Edward Whittaker, Anthony Addyson, Wm. Fisher, Geo. Hall (Sheriff later on), Cornelis Arson, and others. At all events, we find the names, presumably of descendants of theirs, in the Register of the old Dutch Church of Kingston, as the original village or settlement, after the British occupancy, was called. To these twenty-five men the Governor had promised a land bounty of ten acres each at Esopus, and subsequently these "lotts" were surveyed and laid out by Jacques Cortelleau (Cortelyou), from whom numbers of descendants are to-day found on Long Island and especially in New Jersey, the nearest neighbor of the writer's father, when he himself was a child in that State, and several of his own earliest schoolmates, being of that old-time Walloon household. But Thomas Skillman did not stay or enter upon his small estate at Esopus, nor are we told of any disposition made of it by him, He received his discharge as a soldier (Vol. II, p. 390, Court of Assizes, Dept. Hist. Records, Sec. of State's Office), and we note (Legis. Proceed's 1689-90) that he also was given "14 oz. of plate for services at Albany under Captain Lewis." This I cannot explain. Particulars other than these of the ancestor's life are of scant record. His death must have occurred about 1697, his widow afterward marrying Cornelis Breese. (Juriaen Bries and Volkert Bries, of "Brookland," are names found in the census list of Kings County taken about 1698.) At his death his estate fell, by his will (assumed) to Sara, his wife, she, however, April 1, 1699, transferring the fourth part of it, "housing, lands, meadows, and orchards, rights, privileges, advantages, hereditaments and appurtenances thereunto belonging and in any wise appertaining" to their only son, Thomas.

With this brief introduction we now pass to the formal record (condensed) of the Skillman Family in this country, direct and collateral, running through the first three and possibly into some of the later generations, so far as details at present date can be fairly well determined.


b. 1635-40. Soldier under Col. Richard Nicolls in Expedition of Duke of York, ordered by the King, Feb. 25, 1664, sailed from Portsmouth, May 15, and dropped anchor in the harbor of Nieuw Amsterdam (near present Fort Hamilton), Aug. 18, same year. After the surrender he stayed in this country and became "inhabitant and freeholder" at Newtown (L. I.), under Nicolls' Patent of Jan. 23, 1666. Served in Esopus War; honorably discharged April 6, 1668. (See Introduction, ante). In 1669 he m. Sara, dau. of John Petit, Newtown, of whom Huntingdon (Hist. of Stamford) says: "John Petet was here (Stamford, Ct.) early, and had children recorded to him before 1650. Inventory, dated 5, 4, 1676, made by Richd. Law and Francis Bell, mentions his widow, Sarah (Scofield), two sons (names not given), and daus. Sarah, Mary, and Bethia. Richd. Law appointed guardian of his (John Petet's) children in a court of magistrates, the Govr. being present, 14, 4, 1662. Debrow Pettit here (Stamford) in 1657. Name afterward spelled Petit." Rev. Samuel Orcutt (Hist. of Stratford and Bridgeport, p. 103) says: "John Pettit was in Roxbury in 1639, and at Stratford in 1651. Probably soon removed to Stamford, and thence to New-town, L. I." John Petit and Sarah Scofield, his wife, were the parents of Sara, wife of Thomas Skillman. Children:



Thomas2 b. 1671.



Elsje, b. 1672.



Sara, b. 1675; m. Cornelis Hendriexen, 1694. Their dau. Marytje, bap. in Ref. Dutch (Collegiate) Church, of New York, Aug. 10, 1695, Jacobus Kock and Elizabeth de Boog, witnesses.



Lijsbet, b. 1677. Sponsor at bap. (Collegiate Church) of her sister Elsje's child, Jan, Sept. 21, 1701. She m. Jan Aten, of Flatbush, brother of Thomas, settled at Jamaica, L.I., and had a child bap. there (Ref. Dutch Church), in 1705 Thomas Aten and Elsje Schilman, sponsors. In 1710-15, with other members of the Aten family, Jan removed to Three Mile Run, N. J.; an Elder in the Ref. Dutch Church there in 1717. (See Records of the First Reformed Dutch Church, New Brunswick, N.J.) Jan Aten's will, probated March 13, 1743, names his wife Elizabeth.


(Thomas1), b. 1671. Name signed with others, "inhabitants of Helgate Neck," to a petition, May 11, 1703. Was Commissioner of Highways, Newtown, 1714; joint owner also with Jos. and Sam'l Hallett, Sam'l and Jos. Moore, and Isaac Bragaw, of a plat, 30 x 22 feet for a School House, May 20, 1721. This building was at Middletown (near Dutch Kills), on the road from Hallett's Cove to Newtown Village. His name appears as witness to deed given by his son, Isaac, to Sam'1 Albertus in 1729. Subscribed 5 for erection of Dutch Ref. Church of Newtown, 1731. The first board of Kerck Meesters (wardens or trustees) of this church, chosen 1736, were Peter Berrien, Thomas Skillman, and Petrus Schenck. His pew in this church was No. 1, on the northwest side of the middle aisle and his family home (which had been his father's, the homestead) was at Dutch or Maspeth Kills. In 1693, Thomas, m. Annetje, dau. of Adriaen Hendricksen Aten (Aaten, Aate, Aeten, Atje) "immigrant, 1651, 36 y'r" (his age then), from Holland (van Doesburg), who settled at Flatbush, L.I.; was chosen Constable, Oct., 1665; sold parcels of land there, April 3, and again Nov. 5 of that year; bought house-lot at Flatbush of Jan Strycker, March 27, 1680. The father and his son Thomas, "native of Flackbush," took oath of allegiance, 1687, wife and mother being Lysbet Thomas, widow of Guysbert Lubbertse. Annetje Aten, wife of Thomas Skillman and mother of his children, was a communicant member of Newtown (Ref. Dutch) Church, 1741. Her parents, March 20, 1696, made a joint will, dividing their estate at death equally among their children, except that that Maritje (bap. at Flatbush Dutch Church, March 31, 1678) was given a double portion, she remaining unmarried and having chief care of the father and mother, perhaps. The will of Thomas2 Skillman (Records of Kings County and Queens), dated Feb.13, 1739, witnessed by Barnadus Van Zandt, John Rapalje, and Cornelis Berrien, Jr., probated July 4, 1740, names his wife, Ann, and all their then living children. Two had died young. They had:



Peter,3 bap. in Brooklyn (Ref. Dutch Church), March 4, 1694. Witnesses: Elsje Skillman and Elizabeth Booth; also bap. Nov. 4, when Elsje Skillman with Pieter Siraech, and Cobus Pietersen are sponsors. He d. in infancy.



Elizabeth, twin with Peter, bap. at same dates with same witnesses and church; m. 1717 Hendrick Van de Water, N. Y. City. Infant dau. Ann, bap. (Collegiate Church), Aug. 29, 1718, Thomas2 Skillman and Baafje Van de Water, sponsors. Both mother and child died. (See Annetje, post.)



Jan, b. 1696.



Mary, b. 1698; m. Johannes Bant (Band, Bandt, Bondt, Bond) of N. Y. City. With Jacobus Skillman (Brother) was sponsor at bap. (Collegiate Church), Aug. 4, 1726 of Maria; third child of her sister Annetje, second wife of Hendrick Van de Water. At baptism Nov. 18, 1733, of Pieter, babe of Pieter Bond and Catalyntje Meijer, the witnesses are Geo. Lamb and Maria Schilman, wife of J. Bond. Also, and in same church (Collegiate) at bap. Nov. 12, 1735, of Elizabeth, eighth child of Hendrick Van de Water and Anna Skillman, the sponsors are Cornelis Klopper and Maria Skillman, wife of Johs. Band.


Mercy. Bap. in Brooklyn (Ref. Dutch Church), Feb. 2, 1701, Isaac Brockaar (Brokaw) and Mercy Van Hove, sponsors. She m. John Fijn (Fine), son probably of Jan Fin and Aaltje Jans, bap. (Collegiate Church) May 18, 1698, Thomas Lourens and Meltje Paro, sponsors.



Annetje, b. 1703.



Abraham, b. 1704.



Isaac, b 1706.



Jacob, b. 1708.



Benjamin, b. 1710.



Joseph, b. 1712.


(Thomas1), b. 1673; m. 1694, Thomas Aten, "native of Fflackbush," b. 1770,? Son of Adriaen Hend. Aaten and Lijsbet Thomas, his wife. Took oath of allegiance (see ab.) at Flatbush, 1687. Elsje was sponsor at bap. of Elizabeth and Peter, twin children of her brother, Thomas2, in Brooklyn, March 4 (and Nov. 4), 1695. Family removed to Somerset Co., N.J. (Valley of the Raritan), 1710-15. Rev. Dr. Abraham Messler (Somerville) gives names of Dutch families (Hist. of Somerset Co. N.J.), who secured lands on the Raritan River, and settled there between 1681 and 1720. Among these Thomas Aeten and Jan Aeten (near New Brunswick) are noted. "In the list of Families of the First Ref. Ch. (N. Brunswick) from 1732 to 1735," says Rev. P. T. Pockman, pastor 1898, appear the names of Jan Aeten Jr., and Thomas Aeten. Jan Aeten and Thomas Aeten were members in 1717. Jan Aeten, Jr., joined on confession, May 17, 1734. Also Catalyntje, dau. of Jan Aeten, Jr., and Jannetje (his wife), was bap. Oct. 10, 1736, and Jan, son of Thomas Aeten and Elizabeth, was bap. Dec. 31, 1738. These last are evidently of a later generation. Known children of Elsje Skillman and Thomas Aeten:



Adriaen Aten, bap. Sept. 4, 1695 in the (Collegiate Church) Ref. Dutch of New York, with grandparents, Adriaen Hend. Aten and Lijsbet Thomas, sponsors. About 1721, Adriaen removed to Readington, N. J, and there lived his life. His will, dated Dec. 8, 1757, and proved Feb. 28, 1758, names Jacobje Middagh, his wife, and her brother Pieter, executors. They had 10 children.



Jan Aten, bap. in Brooklyn (Ref. Dutch Church) Sept. 21, 1701, Jan Aten (father's brother) and Lijsbet (mother's sister) standing sponsors.



Jannetje Aten, bap. in Ref. Dutch Church, Brooklyn, April 18, 1704, Thomas Skillman (mother's brother) and Marijtje Aten (father's sister) sponsors, and "Marijtje" here may be a blunder in the record for her sister "Annetje," the wife of Thomas Skillman.

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