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Item of the Week: A Letter From Holland, 1707

Wed, 07/03/2024 - 11:01

From the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection


Daniel Moors, a Dutch notary and administrator, wrote this letter to Cornelia Molyn Loper Schellinger (1627-1717) regarding the last will and testament of her brother-in-law, Daniel Schellinks (also spelled Schellinger), in 1707.

Cornelia Molyn (also spelled Melyn) was born in 1627 to Jannetje Adriaens Melyn and Cornelis Melyn (1600-1674) in Amsterdam. Cornelia and her family moved to the Dutch colony of New Netherlands in 1641, after her father received patroonship of Staten Island. He served as chairman of the council of Eight Men (1643-1647), which made administrative decisions for New Netherlands.

In June 1647, Cornelia married Jacob Loper (1616-1652), a Dutch colonist and commander of a Dutch man-of-war. Loper died in 1652, leaving Cornelia with two children, James (1648-1691) and Jannetje (1650-1743). In 1653, Cornelia married a merchant named Jacob Schellinger (1625-1693), and they had six children.

After the English claimed New Netherlands in 1664, the family moved to East Hampton, where the children were raised and the youngest, Cornelius, was born. Jacob Schellinger and his stepson, James Loper, succeeded in offshore whaling here.

James married Elizabeth Howell, granddaughter of Lion Gardiner, in 1674. While Cornelia and Jacob were the first Schellingers in East Hampton, James’s marriage to Elizabeth resulted in four children, establishing the Loper family in the area. Despite East Hampton’s origins as an English settlement in New York, Dutch families like the Schellingers and Lopers were also among the early colonists.

After Jacob Schellinger’s death in 1693, Cornelia received two letters in East Hampton from the Netherlands regarding the will of Jacob’s brother, Daniel Schellinks (1627-1704). The first letter, in 1698, told Cornelia that the joint will of Daniel and his wife, Constantia van Rijssen Schellinks, allotted one-sixth of their estate to Jacob and Cornelia’s children.

In 1707, Cornelia received a second letter from the Netherlands. It outlined how the Dutch government taxed the inheritance from Daniel to help pay for the country’s involvement in the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1714). The letter and will were translated from Dutch into English by Arnold Van Laer (1869-1955), an archivist at the New York State Library, and can be viewed on

Megan Bardis is a librarian and archivist with the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection.


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