Anna and Wolfert Webber
Episodes from the lives of Anna and Wolfert Webber appear in the records of both the NYC Municipal Archives and the Stadsarchief Amsterdam. A selection of episodes is excerpted below.
As you read about the Webbers, consider the following question, then post your reactions in the comments on our blog:
New Amsterdam’s court system was available to everyone in the city and residents like Anna and Wolfert Webber often found themselves appearing before the Court of Burgomasters and Schepens. From the cases included here, what can you say about the way the city court served the people of New Amsterdam?
Wolfert Webber and Anna Wallis discuss in the presence of witnesses what should be done if one of them passes away. They decide that if they do not have children, the surviving spouse receives their own possessions and the rest is to be divided among other heirs. They also arrange for a dowry of 3000 guilders and a similar widower’s grant for Wolfert of 1500 guilders.
Anna and Wolfert leave for New Netherland. Before their departure, Wolfert authorizes his notary to represent him in his business. The only other information in this short document is that Wolfert leaves his country as a free man.
Anna Webber testifies in court against Jan Willemsen Iselsteyn van Leyden, claiming that he called her a whore as she stood in her yard, then came through her gate and beat her with his gun and a crowbar, for which she was bedridden three days in pain. She shows the court her black eye and facial bruises which remain from the attack. Captain Francois Fyn also testifies to being attacked by van Leyden.
Wolfert Webber and Catalyntie Verbeeck appear before the court hoping for a settlement in a dispute over ownership of two bibles. One of Webbers's daughters was captured by the Indians (probably during the Second Dutch-Munsee War, aka the Peach War in 1655) and held captive, but apparently released. The Indians gave her two bibles which they apparently stole but rightfully belonged to Verbeeck. The court settles the dispute, recognizing Verbeeck's legal claim to the books, but requiring that she pay 5 guilders to Webber's daughter, who carried them around with her during her captivity.
Joannes Nevius demands payment from Anna Webber on account of her daughter, who Nevius hired to work in his house, but who left before the end of her yearlong contract. Webber counters that since Nevius dismissed the girl without cause, he is bound to pay. In April, the court finds for Webber, ordering Nevius to pay half a year’s wages.
Hendrick Hendricksen demands payment of 21.11 guilders from Anna Webber. She denies that she owes him money, saying that he worked for her, but that he concealed nine ells of linen and a skepel of gray peas. The court refers the parties to Solomon LaChaire and Jan Schryver for arbitration.
According to this authorization, Elisabeth Jans Corneliss, widow of Dancker Corneliss, seeks to claim payment of 114 guilders from Wolfert Webber. He had previously purchased lime and stone from Dancker Corneliss, who had a business buying and selling stone in New Netherland.