Wouter van Twiller

Wouter van Twiller

A painting of Wouter van Twiller by Washington Allston (detail)
5th Director-General of New Netherland
In office
Preceded by Sebastiaen Jansen Krol
Succeeded by Willem Kieft
Personal details
Born (1606-05-22)May 22, 1606
Nijkerk, Netherlands
Died August 29, 1654(1654-08-29) (aged 48)
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Wouter van Twiller (May 22, 1606 buried August 29, 1654) was an employee of the Dutch West India Company and the Director-General of New Netherland from 1633 until 1638. He succeeded Peter Minuit, who was recalled by the Dutch West India authorities in Amsterdam for unknown reasons.

Life and career

Van Twiller, who was born in Nijkerk, the son of Ryckaert and Maria Van Rensselaer Van Twiller. Kiliaen van Rensselaer was his maternal uncle.[1]

He was appointed to the position because he had made two voyages to New Netherland colony before. He was a clerk in the warehouse of the Dutch West India company. Rensselaer entrusted him with shipping cattle to Rensselaerswyck, his colonial estate on the Hudson River. Van Twiller was somewhat acquainted with the geography of New Netherlands and the condition of its affairs. Largely through Van Rensselaer's influence the Dutch West India Company chose him as the new Director-General of New Netherlands,[2] and he set sail for New Amsterdam in the ship De Soutberg.

Amid a considerable amount of land and properties, including islands known in the present day as Roosevelt Island and Randalls and Wards Islands, van Twiller purchased 'Noten Eylant', later called Governors Island[3] from a tribe of Canarsee Indians for two axe heads, a string of beads and some iron nails. While in office, settlers from New England occupied the Connecticut Valley and he was never able to oust them.[2] He was able to defend the Dutch territory in the Delaware Valley, where his soldiers captured a shipload of intended settlers from Virginia and expelled soldiers who had taken Fort Nassau.[4]

Van Twiller was able to both increase the colony's prosperity and amass a private fortune despite conflicts with Everhardus Bogardus, Dutch Reformed predikant of the New Netherland colony; and fiscaal Lubbert van Dincklagen, who didn't think much of his ability to manage the affairs of New Netherland properly. To succeed van Twiller as Director-General, the Dutch West India Company sent Willem Kieft in September 1637. Van Twiller subsequently returned to the Netherlands and assumed guardianship of Johannes, eldest son of Killian van Rensselaer, following the death of that patroon in 1644.[2] He died in Amsterdam.

See also




Preceded by
Peter Minuit
Director-General of New Netherland
Succeeded by
Willem Kieft
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