Letter from Jan van Ryen to the Directors of the Zeeland Chamber of the West India
Company, Fort Nassau, Wiapoco, April 25, 1624 (1627?)
1The letter of Jan van Ryen is listed in the catalogue of Manuscrits provenant des Collecions des Chevaliers van Rappard, de M. le Pasteur H. A. F. Lutge d'Amsterdam, e.a., Frederik Muller and Cie, 16 et 17 juin 1910, No. 1795, among a group of "Documents sur la Nouvelle-Neerlande, 1624-1626," but in reality it relates to the colony established by van Ryen in 1627 on the river Wiapoco, or Oyapok, the boundary between French Guiana and Brazil, and has no connection with New Netherland. The document apparently comes from the same source as those listed in the catalogue under Nos. 1796-1798, which relate to expeditions sent out by the Zeeland Chamber of the West India Company to the Amazon, the Essequebo, and Senegal, and suggests that it, as well as the copies of the documents relating to New Netherland, printed in this volume as Documents A, C, D, E, and F, belonged originally to some person connected with the Zeeland Chamber of the Company.
Jan van Ryen, or van Rien, sailed with 36 colonists under a contract with the Zeeland Chamber signed by him on January 16, 1627, which is recorded in a volume entitled Colonien, Commissien, Instructien, Conditien van Coloniers aen en van Zout schepen, 1626-1671, which forms part of the records of the West India Company in the Rijksarchief at The Hague (W.I.C. Oude Co. No. 42). They embarked on the ships "Ter-Vere" and "Leeuwinne" and the yacht "De Vliegende Draeck," commanded respectively by Admiral Hendrik Jacobsz Lucifer, Vice-Admiral Jan Pietersz, and Captain Geleyn van Stapels, which sailed from Vlissingen (Flushing) on January 22, 1627. They sighted land near the entrance of the Amazon River on March 3 and on March 5 cast anchor two miles from Comaribo, at the mouth of the Oyapok. The next day they proceeded up the river and on the 7th they anchored before Caribote. The colony of Jan van Ryen was soon destroyed by the natives, most of his men being murdered. Two men escaped to the island of St. Vincent and two others reached Tobago, where they were found in 1628 by the colonists sent out under the auspices of the Zeeland Chamber by Burgomaster de Moor. The men could not tell what had become of van Ryen, but he must have found his way back to Holland, for on December 21, 1630, he registered a colony in "Quaro" with the Zeeland Chamber, and on July 25, 1632, the Directors of that Chamber were authorized to settle with him regarding his claims growing out of the Oyapok expedition. (See Joannes de Laet, Historie Ofte Iaerlijck Verhael van de Verrichtinghen der Geoctroyeer de West-Indische compagnie, pp 111-113, 131; P. M. Netscher, Geschiedenis van de Kolonien Essequebo, Demerary en Berbice, pp. 53-57; Report of U. S. Commission on Boundary between Venezuela and British Guiana [55th Congress, 2d Session, Senate Document No. 91]. 1:184; 2:43; Rev. George Edmundson, "The Dutch on the Amazon and Negro in the Seventeenth Century," in The English Historical Review, 1903, 18:659-60; 1904, 19:5; and Van Rensselaer Bowier Mss., p. 176.
It follows from the foregoing statements that the date of the letter as given in the copy is wrong, and that the letter must have been written in 1627. It was probably received in Holland in 1628, the year written above the indorsement.
2 Captain Nicolaes Oudaen. In Jesse de Forest's Journal of a Voyage to Guiana (Mrs. Robert W. de Forest, A Walloon Family in America, 2:259) it is stated that "On the 23d of May  there arrived at the said Tawya [on the Oyapok] the boat of a ship called the 'Green Dragon,' which was commanded by Gelyn van Stapels of Flushing, who had been with Admiral Lucifer in the River of the Amazons conveying there Captain Odan and eighty to one hundred soldiers." A circumstantial account of the fate that befel Captain Oudaen's men is found in de Laet's Historie Ofte Iaerlijck Verhael, pp 112-13, of which a translation is given in The English Historical Review, 1903, 18:659-60. In this account the name of the lieutenant referred to by Jan van Ryen is given as Pieter de Bruyne and that of the sergeant as Matruyt, in the translation incorrectly spelled "Marruyt."
3Comaribo, at the mouth of the Oyapok. (See Jesse de Forest's Journal in Mrs. Robert W. de Forest, A Walloon Family in America,2:256-59, and "Map of the River Wyapoko," accompanying said Journal, and on p. 170 of the same volume.)
4Claude Prevost, who entered into a contract with the Zeeland Chamber on December 31, 1626, to sail with the ship "Arnemuyden," skipper Adriaen Bolaert, to plant a colony on the Amazon, the Wiapoco, or the Isekepe (Essequebo), wherever the conditions might be most favorable. (See P.M. Netscher, Geschiedenis van de Kolonien Essequebo, Demarary en Berbice, pp. 53-54.)
5Vice-Admiral Jan Pietersen, commander of the ship "Leeuwinne" (Lioness). (See note 1.) Jan van Ryen must have been on this ship.
6Apparently an error and intended for April 25,1627. (See note 1.)
Documents relating to New Netherland 1624-1626, In The Henry E. Huntington Library, Translated and Edited by A.J.F. van Laer, ©1924, p 21-33, 256-258.