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Duryée Family History

1st May 2022 in

Duryee Family Crest
Duryee Family Crest

The Duryée family in America goes back to 1675 When Joost du Rieux arrived in New York aboard a ship named De Vergulde Otter in Dutch, which means The Gilded Otter in English. Before Joost came to America with his wife Magdelena LeFevre, they lived in Holland. How they got to Holland is a wrapup of European history that while amazing in its complexity, was a very common history to be had at the time.

While I was growing up I would hear my dad tell about our ancestry and it was all about how we came from France. The spelling of the name Duryée looks about as French as you can get, and so it had been handed down through the generations that we were from France and that was our family's history.

Sometime around 2010, I had my DNA tested and was therefore quite surprised when it was revealed that there was hardly any French DNA to be found in my body. The primary region of the origin of my DNA is Scotland. I scratched my head and said "Huh." I went and poured myself a wee dram of The Famous Grouse and turned on the recording of Alyth McCormac singing Scottish folk music I happened to have open on my computer. I've always felt drawn to Scotland. Whether it has anything to do with the fact that my family originated there I don't know. It seems like there could be a tie-in though.

Today (April 16, 2023) some new information cropped up. For all of my preceding generations here in America, we have only been able to trace our ancestry back to Simon and Adrienne, the parents of Joost. Today perusing I came across two sadly undocumented generations! Apparently, Joost's grandfather was named Noel Jean Baptiste Du Rieu, and his grandmother was Louise Ann Moiroud. And then Noel Jean's father, Joost's great-grandfather, was Hierosma DuRieu (unsure of that spelling). Nothing is verified about these findings but is a quality genealogy site, so I emailed the tree owner who displayed the information about Hierosma DuRieu. Hopefully, some information will be forthcoming. Here is the basic info I found:

  • Hierosma DuRieu, b. ca. 1513 , d. 16 November 1567 in Ternay, Isère, Rhône-Alpes, France - (unknown spouse)
  • Noel Jean Baptiste DuRieu, b. ca. 1547, d. 1 June 1613 in Ternay, Isere, Rhone-Alpes, France - Louise Ann (nee. Moiroud) b. ca. 1547 d. ?
  • Simon DuRieu, b. 27 October 1592 Santes, Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France, d. 1 June 1669 Ternay, Isere, Rhone-Alpes, France - Adrienne (nee. Roul) b. ca. 1600, d. 14 March 1677 in Manheim

So, what we see from the above, besides the possibility of having found 2 new generations, is that Joost's father Simon never left France. Joost's mother, Adrienne, died in Manheim. So we see that Joost and his family left France sometime between 1669 and 1677. Joost's arrival in New York is dated at 1675, so his mother did not accompany them to the New World.

Okay, back to Joost. Interestingly, I have an old document, probably typed by my dad's sister "Aunt Bet", and it tells the history that was handed down through the generations:

"While descending primarily from French ancestors, the Duryee family in this country is essentially of Dutch origin. Joost (George) Durie, [sic], an ancestor of the family in the New Netherlands was a French Hugenot, who after the Edict of Nantes, sought refuge at Manheim of the Rhenish Palatinate.  In 1660, he married Magdelena Le Febre, and soon after that came to North America on board the Gilded Otter. As early as 1675, he was a resident of Long Island and lived for various periods in New Utrecht, Bushwick, and Brooklyn, his death occuring in Bushwick in 1727. He had seven sons and two daughters." (He actually had six sons and four daughters.)

First off, The Edict of Nantes was enacted in 1598 to give the Huguenots religious rights and freedoms in predominately Catholic France. Throughout the 1600s, tensions grew between Catholic leaders and Protestantism, and that's where the Huguenots' troubles came from. Joost and his parents, Simon and Adrienne (nee) Roul left France and settled in Manheim, which is now in Germany but then was considered part of Holland. They only stayed in Holland a very short time, leaving for America sometime around 1675. The Edict of Nantes was revoked by King Louis XIV in 1689, over a decade after Joost had emigrated to America. Sadly Joost's father, Simon, passed away in Holland in 1669.

Now, "Joost" bears no relation to the names "George" or "Joseph", however, Joost was born in France, so his name could indeed have been George, and he assumed the name Joost in Holland. The French pronunciation of George is "zhazh". Regardless, Joost is a male Dutch first name. It derives from the name Jodocus, which can ultimately be traced back to St. Judoc, a Breton saint of the 7th century: Jodocus → Josse → Joos → Joost (the addition of an end-t is a peculiarity of the Dutch language, especially some local dialects). Sometimes the (originally Ancient Roman) name Justus was used to represent Joost. This may have led to confusion between Justus and Jodocus as the origin of Joost.) Sometimes Joost is also seen as being related to Justin, given its similar sound to "just".

So, back to the beginning, or at least back to the family of Joost du Rieux. They were Calvinists, meaning that their religious beliefs were tied to the Protestant Reformation that swept Europe throughout the 15th and 16th centuries. Calvinist believers in France were labeled with the term Huguenot and there was a very large population of Huguenots in Southern and Western France, reaching close to 2 million by the mid-1600s. It's also interesting that there was a heavy concentration of Huguenots along the northern slope of the western Pyrenes Mountains. That's where the Basque people have lived for centuries, and they found Basque DNA in me as well.

There seem to be two episodes where people from Scotland might have emigrated to France and from there have emigrated as Huguenots to New Amsterdam, (now familiarly known as New York), aboard the De Vergulde Otter (Gilded Otter) in 1675:

The first, least likely but still possible episode, begins in 1560 with the Scottish Reformation. There was a mass exodus of Catholics from Scotland to Poland and France. The DuRyers could have converted from Catholicism to Protestantism while living in France during the 100+ year interval between the 1560s and 1670s.

A little more realistic, if only from a timeline perspective, is the following:

The Hundred Year's War between France and England brought many Scottish soldiers to France from 1337 through 1453. These would have been Catholic Scots, but that time frame gives them 200 to 300 years to settle in France, change their name's spelling, convert from Catholic to Protestant, and become involved in the Huguenot movement before jumping on the Gilded Otter and coming to America.

The original family name in Scotland was probably something like Durie, DuRyer or Duryer; spelling wasn't a "thing" in Scotland until the late 1700s. No doubt the name morphed in France as well, so now we have the spelling Duryée, which evolved from du Rieux, which screams French but echoes Scotland and Durie from so many centuries ago. I wish that my DNA had called in more generations previous to Joost's parents. That would have been fascinating, but there the trail ends.

Here's something interesting. It's taken from a history written in the 1950s about the descendants of Charles Duryee, one of Joost's sons. Discussion of the family history starts the piece, and Scotland makes a strong show. I had no idea people were aware of the Scottish tie-in before DNA tests. The document continues on for many hundreds of pages about children born to Duryee families for many generations. I've just included the information about Joost at the beginning of the document, along with a family history discussion and mention of Scotland:

The Charles Duryee Family

A Geneology of the Descendants
of Charles Duryee, son of Joost,
of Bushwick, Long Island, New York

Compiled by Harold T. Duryee

According to the old records, the Duryee family originated in the Province of Burgundy, France. The history and Genealogies of the family were published in Nice, France, and reference is made in them to some of its members having been born in the Town of Marcigny. The family was prominent, representatives of it having been distinguished as judges, advocates, men of letters, and Divines.

Originally spelled Durie, the name sometimes appeared as Duryer, and in a very remote period as Du Ryer. The spelling "Duryea" or "Duryee" is, of course, a more modern variation of the same name.

Among the earliest French records appears the name of Andre Duryer, who was born in Marcigny in Burgundy. He lived in the first half of the 17th century, and was a gentleman of the King's bed chamber, the French diplomatic agent at Constantinople, and the Consul for France at Alexandria, Egypt. He lived for many years in the East and published a translation of "The Gulistan of Taade" in 1634, and the first French translation of the Koran in 1647. His name is listed in both the Grand Dictionnaire Universal du XIX Siecle, as "Sieur de la Gardo-Malozair," à French orientalist of the 17th century; and in the Biographio Universallo, Ancionno et Moderno. His life in the East made him one of the most accomplished Oriental scholars of his time.

Pierro Duryer, born in Paris in 1605, was a French dramatist and man of letters and was a competitor of the celebrated Corneille when the latter was admitted to the French Academy in 1646. His father, Isaac, is listed as a Poet by the two publications listed above and died in 1631. Pierro died in 1658.


There has been some difference of opinion among genealogists as to whether the Durie family originated in France or Scotland. Records show that as early as 1500, there was an extensive family of Durie's in Scotland.

Among the most eminent members of the Scottish branch of the family have been Andrew Durie, who died in 1558, and who was Bishop of Galway and Abbot of Melrose; George Durie, 1496-1561, Abbot of ile lrose; Sir Alexander Gibson, Lord Durie, a Scottish Judge, who died in 1644; John Durie, a Scottish Jesuit, who died 1587/1600; a Presbyterian Minister of prominence, and Robert Durie, 1555-1616, also a Minister of the same denomination.

Sir Robert Bruce of Clackmore, who had the honor of knighthood conferred upon him by King James VI of Scotland, married for his second wife, Helen, daughter of Robert Durie, by whom he had one daughter who became the wife of Alexander Shaw of Sautrie. Andrew Boswell, the seventh son of Sir John Boswell of Balmuto, had a daughter Janet, who became the wife of her cousin, John Durie of Grange. Andrew, the fourth earl of Rothes, married for his third wife, Janet, daughter of David Durio of Durie. The mother of this Janet was Catherine Ramsey, the daughter of George, Lord Ramsey of Dalhousie, and his wife Margaret, the only child and heiress of Sir George Douglas of Melinhill.

Members of the Scottish branch of the family allied themselves in marriage to some of the most prominent noble families of that Kingdom. The identification of the Scottish family with the French line was made through the records of ancient chronicles and documents and the blazons of heraldry.


The arms of the family according to Burke are: Azure, a Chevron between three crescents, argent.

According to Crozier's Armory, the arms for Joost Durie, who emigrated to America in 1675, (Manheim) Azure, a chevron between three crescents, argent; Crest - a dove reguardant, holding in the beak an olive branch all portrayed in natural color.

According to Bolton's American Armory, the bookplate of Samuel Browne Duryea, Brooklyn, New York, bears the following arms: argent three boar's heads gu each holding a ball; Crest- a boar's head of the field; Motto - Fido et fortudine. In the same publication, the bookplate of George Van Wagenen Duryce and Margaret Van Nest, engraved by French in 1899, is listed as bearing the arms: argent a chevron between three crescents; Croest - a bird holding a twig; Motto - La Promesse du futur. The coat-of-arms as displayed on the letterhead of Sacket Levorich Duryee, Washington, D.C., bears the motto, Gages (sp?) Futur. In meaning, the latter two mottos are the same, "The promise of the future".


The latter half of the 16th century and the early part of the 17th were full of religious wars in France. The Edict of Nantes gave a measure of freedom to the Protestants, known as Huguenots, but the bitterness between them and the Roman Catholics found expression in intermittent persecutions on both sides. It is little wonder that the Durie's decided to abandon their native land to seek the liberal refuge of Manheim, in the Palatinate of the Rhine. It is assumed that the family left France in the middle of the 17th century.

A rather fanciful account of the move from France to Manheim is given in the Pastor and the Church, a memorial discourse by the Rev, Dr. Theodore Welles:

If tradition be correct, the progenitor of the Duryea family of America was a dry goods merchant in the city of Paris, a member of the Reformed Church of France, a staunch and steadfast Huguenot, "firm in his principles, benevolent in his disposition, bland in his manner, and noble in his action."

Because of the persistent persecutions of the Huguenots. he and a few friends, having escaped massacre by hiding themselves in a small apartment of the cellar of his house in which they had been accustomed to assemble for

the worship of God, resolved to leave homo and property and city and France itself, and seek a home, whore, in accordance with the dictates of an enlightened conscience, God might be worshiped with out the fear of persecution or peril or death.

Under the cover of night, their souls filled with horror by glimpses of the slain, thoy fled to Manheim in the Palatinate of the Rhine. Through fear o? discovery and detention and probably death, they traveled only at night, but with all their precaution barely escaped. Weary and hungry, after many fatigues, they stopped for refreshment at a small cottage occupied by a friend. In response to their knocking, a woman opened the door and whispered, "Hush! The King's officers are sleeping on the floor. Keep perfectly quiet and I will aid you." She kindly brought them a goodly quantity of milk, which they drank in silence, and whispering their thanks, stole quickly away, fugitives for conscience sake. At Manheim, they found, at least for a time, a safe retreat; but here it is thought Monsieur Duryea, the dry goods merchant, was called to receive the fulfillment of the Savior’s promise, "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of Life".”

The “"Monsieur Duryea" referred to by the Rev. Dr. Welles was Simon Durie, father of Joost, who was the first of the family to settle in America (Joost was first, not Simon). Other accounts of Joost and his family refer to him as a member of the nobility. Lillian Duryee Osmun, in her Duryee Genealogy, 1638-1917, states: "The first ancestor of the Duryee's in this country is Joost, who was a resident of the Province Du Norde, France, and who suffered religious persecution on account of being a Huguenot. He was a minor nobleman of much means, and fled to Manheim, Germany, where he resided for several years."

Miss Ruth Duryee writes that her uncle, Dr. Charles C. Duryee of Schenectady, New York, makes a similar statement to that quoted above, adding further that the family derives its coat-of-arms and crest from his rank.

Tunis G, Bergen in a history of the family published in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, merely says that Joost Durie was a "respectable French Huguenot."

It matters little, really, whether or not our ancestor was a nobleman or a dry goods merchant. The important matter is that he had the courage and the character to stand up for his beliefs, to the point of leaving his homeland and his friends to seek religious freedom.


The name "Joost Durie" is in itself an indication of the dual background, French and Dutch, of the Duryee - Duryea family in America. The “Durie” provides us with our French heritage. The name Joost, a typical Dutch name, is the French or American "George," (Incorrect - kd) and was probably changed as the family assumed the ways of their neighbors in Manheim, and later in New York.

Joost Durie, as his name usually appears, was born in France about 1635. We know little about his parents, except that his father was called Simon. Joost married first in France, about 1659, but the name of his first wife is unknown. It is assumed that she died before the family moved to Manheim, since her name does not appear in any of the Manheim records. To this marriage were born four sons, Joost, born c. 1660, Peter, born c. 1663, Charles, born c. 1665, and Cornelius, born c. 1668. It is also assumed that those four sons were born in France, and traveled with their father and grandfather to Manheim.

Joost's first wife died between 1668 and 1671, either shortly before or shortly after the family left their homeland in 1670. Safely settled in their new home in the Palatinate of the Rhine, Joost married for the second time, February 28, 1672, Magdalena, daughter of Isaac and Fannetje (Bordorich) Le Fevre. The marriage is recorded in the records of the Manheim Church. Two daughters wore born of this union before the Durie's set sail for America: Magdalena, born 1672, and Elizabeth, born 7674. Both of these daughters are thought to have died before the family sailed, since neither is listed among the names of those who emigrated.

About 1675, Joost and his wife, his mother, and his four sons, set sail for New York on the "Gilded Otter". The family settled on a farm in New Utrecht, Long Island, during 1675 and associated themselves with the Reformed Dutch Church in Brooklyn. Joost Durie was approximately forty years old when he made the journey to America.

In New Utrecht, a son Jean was born, 1679, and the proud parents sent word to friends and relatives in Manheim reporting the birth of their first son. His birth is recorded in the Manheim Church. This is probably the son Jacque who was baptized in New York, on July 13, 1679. The name may have been changed at the time of baptism, after sending the word to the pastor of the Manheim Church, or may have been entered erroneously or deciphered wrongly there.

After making many improvements in his New Utrecht farm, Joost sold it "to Gerrit Cornelison Van Duyn on October 5th, 1681, for 3200 gilders and a new wagon." He then bought land in the disputed territory between Bushwick and Newtown, where he built the family homestead and lived the remainder of his life. The homestead remained in the family for over two hundred years, until it was torn down in 1903, to make room for improvements by the Pennsylvania Railroad. An article in the New York Sun, dated January 4, 1903, pictured the house, and described it as located in a sharp triangle formed by the intersection of Bordon and Bradley avenues, in the Blisseville district of Long Island City:

In its more than two centuries of existence this old homestead has never been unoccupied, and today children play around the door as other children did 200 years ago. Modern fireplaces have replaced the old open hearths and many of the old quaint furnishings have been carried off. If left unmolested and kept in ordinary repair, the old homestead is good for another hundred years.”

In this home were born the seven youngest children of Joost and Magdalena, Antoinette, 1681, Abraham, 1683, Jacob, 1686, Magdalena, 1687; Philip, 1689, Charles, 1690, and Simon, 1693. Magdalena and Charles were named for other children of the same names who had died young.

To be continued...


  1. A List of Early Emmigrants to New Netherlands:
    Front page of a ProQuest article - serves  as a clue as to where t find more info.

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