Robert Willemze

Robert WILLEMZE (1669 – 1750) was Alex’s 9th Grandfather; one of 1,024 in this generation of the Shaw line.

Robert Willemze was born in 1669 in Tarrytown, Westchester, NY. His parents were Hope WILLEMZE and Mary [__?__].  He was the first inhabitant of Croton Point New York. He married Greesje CERANT (Grace Serant) or Haring 19 Feb 1689 in at Kitchawan Point NY (now Croton Point Park). The  marriage was recorded in the Dutch Church in New York City. Banns were first read on 2 Feb 1689. Robert died in 1750 in Philipsburgh, Westchester, NY (now Tarrytown).

Gressje Cerant (Grace Serant) was born in 1667, perhaps in France. She first married John Beselie in 1684.  Gressje died in Tarrytown, NY.

Jean/John Besly/Beselie (c.1645, Rochelle, France – bef. 1689, Croton Point, NY), a fugitive Huguenot from the Isle de Re, two miles off the coast of Rochelle, France, possible, but unproven, son of Jean Besly & Louise Sauton, [Alternatively, it has been postulated that Jean was brother of Oliver Besly of Isle de Re.] With presumed brother or cousin, Etienne (c.1650), he emigrated to New York in 1681.    Our Huguenot ancestor Rene REZEAU from the Miller line also fled the Isle de Re in 1685, eventually, arriving with his family in New York City. Here they joined the French Church, finally, they moved permanetly in Staten Island.

Gressje Cerant’s husband Jean Besley had to sell his home in St Martin, Isle de Re and flee to America.

“Jean Besly marchand demeurant cy devant en la ville de saint Martin en L’isle de Ré, est aussy fugitif du Royanne et a laissé. -Une maison, une piece de terre y joignant situeéan lien des prises en l’Isle de Ré…”

“Jean Besly, merchant living formerly in the city of St. Martin in Isle of Re, is also a fugitive of the crown and at large. -One house, one piece of land there adjoining the seizure on the Isle of Re…”

Jean married c.1670 Grace (Grees) Cerant of/or Heering, presumably of French birth. Because no record of this marriage can be found in the early New York church records, it is likely that they were married before they embarked for America. Upon arrival, they moved north along the Hudson and settled “among the aborigines” near Croton Point, just north of the Croton river.

Children of Gressje and John Beselie:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Jane Beselie Francois Guillaumes
2. Jan Beslie  1684 Annetji “Antie” Hercksen/ Syboutsen c. 1707
3. Francis Beselie 1688 Hilletje Sybout/ Syboutsen/ Hercksen-Cranckheit c.1709  1750

Robert and Grace put off having their children baptized.  Finally on 2 Aug 1698 they had three children baptized in the Sleepy Hollow Church at Tarrytown — Maria, Robert, and Helena.   The godparents were Isaac Sie, Jan Fouse, Frans Giljon and Rosul Giljon.

The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow and its burying ground are the setting for Washington Irving’s 1820 Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Children of Robert and Gressje:

Name Born Married Departed
4. Maria Maritje Willemze (Williams) 1690?
2 Aug 1698
Engel Hoff of Cortlandt Manor,
(son of Englebert Huff born in Norway)
c. 1706
Hopewell, Dutchess, NY
Sleepy Hollow, NY
5. Robert WILLEMS 1693?
21 Apr 1697 Philipsburg, Westchester, NY
Maraitje JURKSE
28 Mar 1714 Philipsburg, Westchester, NY
Jannetje van Wert
28 Aug 1723
Sleepy Hollow, NY
1750 Philipsburg
6. Grace Williams 1696
Kitchewan, NY
[__?__] Miller 1751
7. Helena Willemse baptized
2 Aug 1698
Jan Bulyea (Beljee) (son of Louis Boulier born Saintonge, France)
29 Nov 1719
Sleepy Hollow (Tarrytown), NY
8. Rachel Williams 24 Nov 1700
Johannis Jurckse (Son of Johannes Paulusen JUROKSEN)
5 Oct 1723, Tarrytown, NY
Hendrick Van Tassel
29 Dec 1750 Philipsburg, Westchester, New York
Anthony Miller
Aft 1751
30 Aug 1761
Dutchess Co. NY
9. John Williams 1700
Kitchewan, NY
Sarah Gerretson
Kitchewan, NY
10. Cornelius Williams 1701
Maria Storm
16 Dec 1722 Phililpsburg, New York
11. Jan Williams 1704

Robert Williams was the earliest settler on the shore north of Tarrytown.  He settled in Kitchewan (Croton) Point where he married in 1689 Grace Cerant  widow of John Beselie. Shortly after he moved down into Philipsburgh and lived on a leasehold a little below the Croton River. Some time between 1711 and 1714 his step-son Francis Beselie settled on a leasehold just north of his.

Croton Point Map

Named for the Indian sachem, Kenoten, which means “wild wind”. Also for the Croton River which presents the finest river delta in the Hudson River on the south side of the Croton Point. The oldest oyster shell middens on the North Atlantic Coast uncovered by archaeologists on Croton Point confirm that the peninsula was inhabited by Native Americans as early as 9,000 years ago.   In the 17th century, Indians of the Kitchawan tribe of the Wappinger Confederacy occupied a large fortified village on the high flat at the neck of Croton Point which they called Navish. This Indian fortress was one of the most ancient and formidable fortresses south of the Hudson Highlands. The marsh separating the Point from Croton Neck was called “Senasqua” by the Indians. A plaque marks the spot where a peace treaty was signed with the Kitchawank.

Croton Point Park

Today Croton Point Park is a 508-acre park situated on a peninsula on the east shore of the Hudson River. This park offers year-round events and activities and has facilities for camping, hiking and swimming.  Croton Point is especially known for bird watching.

Nineteen families are on record as living in Philipsburg  in 1698 – Lourens Matthys Bankers (7), Deliverance Conklin (4), David Davids (3), Barent de Witt (5), Abraham de Revier (3), Wolfert Ecker (5), Jan Ecker 94), John Foseur (4), Francois Guiliamse (6), Jan Harmse (3), John Hyatt (7), Thomas Hyatt (2), David Storm (4), Peter Storm (3), Isaac Sie (5), Peter Sie (2), Jochem Woutersz Van Wert (6), Gerret Van Wert (5) and Robert Williams (5). The number in parentheses are the number of persons in each family as determined from church and other records, totaling 83. A few other families who were definitely here shortly after 1698 may have come before that date. The census of 1698 lists twenty one families living in Yonkers, Lower Yonkers.

The settlement before 1700 would seem to have been confined to the shore of the Hudson except for the See family at Nanegeeken, now Thornwood, and David Storm at East View. The earliest Dutch, Huguenotand Walloon families were located chiefly in the vicinity of Tarrytown and Irvington, with a few to the north of Tarrytown.

Fromm: Dorothy Koenig <>

In my opinion the minister just made a slip when he called Grace “Heering” at the birth of her son John Beesly in 1687.

I could find no record of her first marriage, but her second marriage was recorded in the Dutch Church in New York City. Banns were first read on 2 Feb 1689.

“Robbert Williamszen, young man from Old England, and Grees Cerant, widow of Jan Beesly, both living at Kigtuangs Point”. They were married at the Point on 19 Feb 1689.

Robert and Grace put off having their children baptized! Finally on 2 August 1698 they had three children baptized in the Sleepy Hollow Church at Tarrytown — Maria, Robbert, and Helena. There were 5 baptismal witnesses — Isaac Sie, Jan Fouse, Frans Giljon and his wife Rosul [elsewhere “Resulla”], and Engeltje Davidze.

I think the French surname “Giljon” is *not* an alternate spelling of the French given name “Guillaume”. I think it more likely that it might be the French surname GUION.

Words in modern Dutch that begin with the two letters “Ce…” all appear to be loan words, and the “C” is pronounced like an “s”, e.g. celluair, cellulose, cement, cent, centrale, etc.

At Tarrytown on 21 Apr 1719 Aert Aertse and his wife Maria [Williams?] had their daughter “Grees” [Grace] baptized. The witnesses were Jonas Gersen and Grees Williamse. I imagine that the mother is Grace (Cerant) Williams’ daughter “Maria” who was baptized in the same church in 1698.

Even 40 years later you can see the Beasley/Williams family connection holding. On 18 Sep 1760 in the Tarrytown Church Abraham Beasely and his wife Catrina have their son “Johannis” baptized. The witnesses are Robert Williams, Jr. and Maria Artse, whom I believe to be brother and sister (both baptized on 2 Aug 1698).

There are 5 Beasely/Beesly/Beselie men showing up in the 1700s Tarrytown records — Abraham, Frank, two Johns, and a Sybout. There is no way to know how many claim Grace Cerant as their ancestor from her first marriage.

You may be able to piece together more by studying all the early Tarrytown marriages and baptisms, but I feel it in my bones that a true Haring connection will never turn up :-).

From: “RMH” <>

I note that even when baptizing Grace Cerant Williams’ granddaughter the name written by a Dutch dominie is “Grees” – which I still maintain is the Dutch way of writing the English name Grace. The dominies are quite good about spelling the name Grietje or Grietie, and they carefully distinguish the name Geertje. I feel sure that “Grees” results from a very deliberate
desire to record a different name, one with no Dutch equivalent.

There are some references to Rockland, in particular Haverstraw, that I came across in searching these records. Haverstraw is right across the Hudson from Kigtuang, or Croton, though at that point, Haverstraw Bay, the river is
at its widest, four miles. There are very many Baisleys in north
Rockland/Haverstraw and I wonder if these are descendants of the same family?

The mystery still remains regarding the name Cerant, especially when the first name is Grace.

The name Haring is attached to her because of this baptism from Ted Brassard’s New Amsterdam record for 1687:

16 Mar; John Beesly, Greast Heering; John; Johannes Kip, Lucas Kierstede, Blandina Kierstede

Also see MDC p. 66 where she is called Grees Cerant, widow of Jan Beesly at her marriage to Robbert Willemszen.

Does anyone searching KIP or KIERSTEDE have a clue as to why they would be  sponsors for this child?

“RMH” <>

I would guess this Johannes Kip would be the Johannes-3 (Jacob-2, Hendrick-1 Kip)  who married Catharina Kierstede. Catharina was a sister to Lucas and Blandina. They were all children of Hans Kip and Sara Roeloffs, who was in turn the  daughter of Anneka Jans and her first husband Roelof Jansen. But looking at these and all the other children of Hans and Sara, I do not see any connection to Beesly (Beasley?), Heering, or Cerant. Nor do I see a connection on the Kip side.

Perhaps John and Grace didn’t know anyone and the Kierstede clan volunteered to be witnesses?

Sharilyn Whitaker <>

Jan Beselie and Grace having been socially challenged and the
socially prominent Kierstede/Kips mercifully having come to the rescue is certainly one possibility.

I also found that Samuel Kip married Annetje Herring, (daughter of Elbert Herring b. 1705 bpt. Tappan) and Elizabeth Bogaert, Elbert Herring was son of Pieter Jansen and Grietje Bogaert. Elbert also married Catherine Lent who apparently died in 1731.

14 December 1726 NY DRC
1726 14 Dec; Elbert *Herring; Catharina Lent, tot Haarlem.
4 Oct; Elbert *Hearing, Catharina Lent; Catharina; Elbert
Lieversen & wife Catharina Bogert
(*note spelling of the name)

Samuel Kip’s father Samuel Kip was the brother of Johannes Kip
born about 1655, the one in this baptism, and also brother to Rachel Kip who married the Lucas Kierstede in this baptism.
Blandina Kierstede, was the sister of Lucas.

Ted Brassard’s New Amsterdam record for 1687:
16 March 1687; John Beesly, Greast Heering; John; Johannes
Kip, Lucas Kierstede, Blandina Kierstede

Lucas Kierstede and Blandina Kierstede were siblings of
Catherine Kierstede the wife of Johannes Kip. Goodness, do I have all that straight?

I don’t know what, if anything at all, this has to do with “Greast Heering” but it was the only link I was able to find.


1. Jane Beselie

Jane’s husband Francois Guillaumes was born in 1671 in Flatbush, Long Island, New York. His parents were William Cornelis Guiliamse and Margaret Polemus. He first married Ursula (Resulla) Davids.  Francois died in Ossining, New York

They lived in Newtown, Long Island until they moved to Philipsburgh, Westchester Co. some time before 1697.

2. Jan Beslie

Jan’s wife Annetji “Antie” Hercksen/Syboutsen was baptized 19 Mar 1684. Her parents were Hercx/Herckse Sybouts (b.1644) and Marytje Rycken Van Lent Ecker (b.1649) of the “Poor Bowery”, Newtown, NY.

The membership roles of the Philipsburgh Manor (Sleepy Hollow) RDC (1697-1778) show Antje Sybout, wife of Jan Beesly, a member from Cortland Manor.

Jan and Jannetji Beesly were listed on 16 Jun 1707 as sponsors at the baptism of Greesje Hoff, daughter of Engle & Maria Hoff. Tarrytown RDC, Tarrytown, NY.

3. Francis Beselie

Francis’ wife Hilletje Sybout/Syboutsen/ Hercksen-Cranckheit was born 30 Apr 1693. Her parents were probably Hwecx/Herckse Sybouts and Maritje Ryken/Lent., of “Poor Bowery”, Newtown, NY. Hilletje died before 1750.

Some time between 1711 and 1714 Francis Beselie settled his family on a leasehold in Ossining, just north of that of his mother, Grace, and step-father, Robert Williams.

In the second half of the 18th century, most of the Philipsburgh Beselies were Loyalists. Francis’ son Abraham was a scout for Gen. Burgoyne’s troops in the Hudson Valley. At the time that the British troops were escaping or surrendering in the vicinity of Saratoga, Abraham contracted small pox and died. Several Philipsburgh Beselies moved to Brooklyn.*

On 15 July 1783  Abraham’s wife Catherine fled to New York City and on 24 September 1783 embarked for Annapolis, Nova Scotia, with two of her sons, Francis and William, on The Peggy mastered by Abraham’s brother, James.

Annapolis Nova Scotia the 5th of January 1786
A true statement of the Estate of Catherine Beasley
Late of the Province of New York Taken and Confiscated in
Consequence of the Deceased Husband[s] loyalty and attachment to the British Government &c &c &C

…To the Honorable Commissioners appointed by His Majesty for looking into the losses and Confiscations of Loyal Subjects, &c &c  &c

Catherine Beasley late of Westchester County in the Province of New York but now of Annapolis in the Province of Nova Scotia, Maketh Oath and saith that She resided in the City of New York from 15th of July 1783 till the 24th of September. Then embarked for Nova Scotia…

The Memorial of Catherine Beasley Widow of Abraham Beasley of Westchester County and Province N York, who became a Guide to Some of General Burgoyns Army making their Escape in N York, at various times, by which means your Memorialists Husband, took, the small pox and leaving her; in the greatest want, and destitute of any help, to assist her, and two helpless Children, your Memorialist, having four sons Grown to the state of Manhood, all entered into His Majesties Service, two of whom was taken by the Rebels, and can not hear whether they are living or dead, the other two, since the Peace Came to this place, where your Memorialist took refuge to–as She could not remain Peaceable, upon her own possessions, Most humbly begs that She may be assisted by His Majestys Most Gracious Act &c &c &c

And she will ever Pray
Catherine  X  Beasley (Her Mark)
Annapolis [Nova Scotia]  January 19th 1786

Elizabeth’s claim for assistance was rejected by the Crown. The hardships in Annapolis were more than she could endure. She returned to New York, accompanied by Francis and William, on the vessel “Peggy“, again mastered by James Beselie. They settled in Brooklyn to rebuild their lives, living, it appears from the 1790 census, in the household of her son, William and his wife, no children. The 1800 census shows William (under 45), and suggests his wife and mother (both over 46), a daughter and a son both under ten. The 1810 census indicates the absence of William and his mother, but his widow and two daughters are listed.

4. Maria Maritje Willemze (Williams)

Maria’s husband Engel Hoff was born 1687 in Norway. His father Englebert Huff was  born in Norway.  Engel died 21 Mar 1765 in Fishkill, Dutchess, New York.

They settled in Cortlandt Manor before 1704.  They moved down to Philipsburgh about 1708, probably living on his father-in-law’s leasehold.

Robbert Willemze and Maria Cenniff were godparents to Engel Hoff and Maria’s daughter Maria, baptized 25 Mar 1712 in the Sleepy Hollow DRC.

Robbart Willems and wife Jannitie Van Weert were godparents to Engel Hof and Maritie’s son Abram; baptized 29 Mar 1729 in Sleepy Hollow DRC.

5. Robert WILLEMS (See his page)

6. Grace Williams

Grace might have been the wife of Johannes Jurckse and Henrick Van Tassel rather than her sister Rachel.

7. Helena Willemse

Helena’s husband Jan Bulyea (Beljee) was born 1698 in Long Island, New York.  His father Louis Boulier was born 1662 in Saintonge, France.  His mother Antje Konninck was born 1672 in Der Groede, Holland.   Jan died 1766 in Philipsburg, Westchester, New York.

In 1723 they were living on a leasehold just below his father-in-law’s land.

Robbert Willemse and his wife Janitie Van Weert were godparents to Jan Beljee and Helena’s daughter Rachel; baptized 13 Aug 1726 in the Sleepy Hollow DRC.

  • 1760 Listed on Rent Roll as John Bolyje.
  • Between 1733 and 1736 Deacon at Old Dutch Church, Sleepy Hollow, NY
  • After his marriage he lived about 10 miles up the Hudson River from Tarrytown, at Ossining, NY
  • 1723 Living on a leasehold just below his father-in-law’s land.
  • Occupation: Tenant farmer

8. Rachel Williams

Rachel’s first husband Johannis Jurckse was born 24 Nov 1700 in Haverstraw, New York. His parents were Johannes Paulusen JUROKSEN and Antje Jochems Van Wert.  Johnannis died 1750 in Tarrytown, Westchester, New York.

Rachel’s second husband Hendrick Van Tessel was born 1716 in Philipsburgh, Westchester Co., NY . His parents were Jan Van Tassel and Catharina Springsteen.

9. John Williams

John’s wife Sarah Gerretson was born in 1704 in New York.

John’s son Jan was baptized 27 Apr 1728.

10. Cornelius Williams

Cornelius’ wife Maria Storm was born in Philipsburg, New York.  She was baptized in Sleepy Hollow Reformed Church, on 20 Aug 1700. Maria, daughter of Hendrick & Niessje Storm, witnesses Dirk Storm & wife Maria [grandparents].

Cornelus and his wife were witnesses at the 1753 baptism of their granddaughter Maria, daughter of William Van Tessel & Susanna Willemse.

11. Jan Williams


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8 Responses to Robert Willemze

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  8. Maggie Merrill says:

    Have you read the Indian deed to Robert Willijams? (C416 in 1706) In the family search land papers for Westchester you will find it under Deeds 1698-1718 Vol. C-D Image 197. “and the upland all around the above said land and meadow all lying about six miles from Bedford in the County of Fairfield in the Colony of Connecticut in New England.”

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