Duryee History by Rhea Duryea Johnson

This is transcribed from a document housed on Ancestry.com. The document is also available at the Internet Archive, and also by clicking/tapping here.


From: "Our Duryea and Turner Lines" by Rhea Duryea Johnson,
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 59-11119



In order to get the background of the Duryeas, I shall quote from a few sources. Louis P. DeBoer in October 1939 wrote me that:

Sketch of Joost Duryee's House
Joost's House in Bushwick

"The DuRieux family of Walloon origin. The Walloons Guallons were Gaules, the race of Celts to which also the early Britons belonged, who by the Saxons were called 'Guels', or Welsh. Continental Gaul was, according to the distribution of its tribes (long before Julius Caesar's time) divided into three parts, of which the Northmost part was inhabited by the Belgae. These Belges are the direct ancestors of those Gauls, who by their Germanic neighbors, the Dutch (i.e., Franks, Saxons and Frisians) were called Waelsch or Walloon. Up til about two centuries B. C. the mouth of the Rhine and the Meuse, near Dordrecht Holland, was the Northern boundary of the Walloon territory. north of the Rhine's mouth lived the Frisians and related tribes. About 200 B. C. a large migration of Belgae to Great Britain took place, where they joined their brother Celts, decimated in numbers by fraternal wars. This large excursion left the shores of what is now Holland, Zeeland and Flanders almost uninhabited and wasted. Only on the islands of Zeeland a considerable number of Celtic Belgae remained behind. The vacant territory was soon by degrees occupied by offshoots of the named Germanic tribes, who mixed with the Belgic remnants thus in time forming the Hollanders, the Flemings and the Zeelanders, all speaking a Germanic tongue, the mother of the present Dutch and Flemish. As 'Franks' these united tribesmen in the early centuries of our Christian era pushed their way further into Northern Gaul, gaining supremacy there in the Fifth Century when the Roman Empire began to crumble, and giving to conquered Gaul the name of Frankland or France. Even then the Belgae or Walloons retained their racial identity in the very sections of Southern Belgium and Northern France where their direct descendants are located at present. Their Celtic or Welsh speech they had given up some centuries before, under Roman domination, adopting that special popular specification of Latin as their language which has survived as French. The French of the Walloons today still contains a good many elements of the original Celtic tongue of the Belgaes.

"Among the first Wallloon Protestant students who came to Heidelberg as a group and matriculated there on August 8, 1565, was Jacobus DuRieux - Galli Pictones - i.e., Walloons.

"In 1566, often called the 'Wonder Year' in the history of The Netherlands, a wave of open resistance began to sweep over the long-suppressed Netherlands. The very first city to rebel openly as a municipality was Valenciennes in Henault - a Walloon city. Two names are of interest - Regnier DuRieux who was beheaded for 'image-breaking', and Jacques DuRieux who was taken prisoner but managed to  escape, and was thus 'banished for life from the United Netherlands' on June 19, 1568, (Note 1.)

"Many of the Valenciennes Calvinist refugees managed to reach some sea-port and crossed to friendly England. Maximilian DuRieux was among those who settled in Norwich where a Reformed Church had been founded in which services were held alternately in Dutch and French. (Note 2.)"
William S. Pelletreau, in his Duryea Genealogy and Family History of New York (1907, Vol IV, p. 325) wrote:

"We learn from the oldest records that this family was originally from the old province of Burgundy in France. (Note 3.) The name has been spelled in various ways, as Durie, Duryee and Duryea. The original form is probably DuRyer, and a person acquainted with French pronunciation can readily understand the reason for the various forms in spelling. Some of the members of the family lived at an early date in the town of Marcigny and were in prominent positions. The religious wars and persecution in France compelled a vast number of Protestant families to seek refuge in Holland, and one branch went to Scotland about the year 1500.

"Among the eminent members of the Scottish branch of the family were the following:

  • Andrew Durie, who died in 1558, and who was bishop of Galloway and abbot of Melrose.
  • George Duryie (1496 - 1561) abbot of Melrose.
  • Sir Alexander Gibson, Lord Durie, a Scottish judge, who died in 1644.
  • John Durie, a Scottish Jesuit, died in 1587.
  • John Durie (1537 - 1600), a Presbyterian minister of prominence.
  • 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 f 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, seventh son of Sir John Boswell, of Belmute, 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 Durie. The mother of this Janet Durie was Catharine Ramsey, the daughter of George, Lord Ramsey of Dalhousie, and his wife Margaret, only child and heiress of Sir George Douglass, of Melinhill.

"Members of the various branches of the Scottish family of Durie have, it is seen, allied themselves in marriage to some of the most prominent noble families of that kingdom. The identification of this branch of the family with that of the French line is complete and unmistakable through the records of ancient chronicles and documents and the blazons of heraldry.

"Andre Duryer, or DuRyer, who was born in Mercigny, Burgundy, 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 many years in the east, was one of the most accomplished oriental scholars of his time, and published a translation of the 'Gulistan of Saadi' in 1634, and one of the Koran in 1647.

"Pierre Duryer, born in Paris, France, 1605, was a French dramatist and a man of letters, and a competitor of the celebrated Corneille when the latter was admitted to the French Academy in 1646. From him was probably descended Charles Henry Duryer, born in Paris, France, in 1830, chief of the Ministry of Justice and Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.

"Joost Durie, the ancestor of the family in the New Netherlands, was a French Huguenot, who after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, sought refuge at Manheim, of the Rhenish Palatinate, and came to America about 1675, being among the first of the Huguenot emigration. He settled at New Utrecht, Long Island, where he purchased a farm, which he sold, on October 5, 1681, for thirty-two hundred guilders 'and a wagon'. From the price (kd: about $72,000 in 2023 dollars) we conclude that it was an estate of considerable value for those days. He left New Utrecht and settled in the disputed lands between Newtown and Bushwick; he was living in Bushwick in 1683, took the oath of allegiance (kd: to England) in 1687, and died there about 1727, at an advanced age. He married Magdalena LeFevre, whose name, like that of her husband, shows that she was of French origin. They were the parents of eleven children: Joost, Peter, Jacob, Abraham, Cornelius, Simon, Jacques, Antoinette, Charles, Magdalena, and Phillip. (RDJ's note - There were two other children who were born in Manheim. Note 6)

"From these were descended a very large number of descendants in whose names are inseparably connected with the history of Kings County and the various branches of the family are to be found in many of the states of the Union. The arms of the family are, Azure, a chevron between three crescents, argent."
In the memorial discourse (Note 4) on the life of the Reverend John Hudson Duryea, D. D. (Note 5), there is some repetition of the previous history, but an interesting story is included:

"Dr. Duryea was descended from a highly honored and respected ancestry. On the paternal side his lineage is traced to the Huguenots, forever memorable in the history of France, the French Protestant Christians to whom, in the sixteenth century, the name was given in contempt by their religious enemies, but the ignominy of which, like the reproach of the Cross, has long since been wiped away by the holy lives, the patient sufferings and the heroic deeds of those by whom it was borne. The most honorable men of their fatherland and the most practically useful, they were driven from their native soils and scattered by the intolerant bigotry of their countrymen, like choice and precious seeds, among the nations of the earth, augmenting the moral wealth and increasing the prosperity of the communities in which they established their homes.

"Like the history of the Holllanders in their conflict with Philip II of Spain, the history of the Huguenots in France is a history of the triumph of truth and faith over the evil plottings of men mighty in power, and exhibits the most heroic devotion to religious principles, and the most dauntless following of conscientious convictions, the love of God ever wrought in men, or the grace of Jesus Christ achieved.

"If tradition be correct, the progenitor of the Duryee 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 manners and noble in his actions'.

"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 home, in which they had been accustomed to assemble for the worship of God, resolved to leave home and property and city and France itself, and seek a home, where, in accordance with the dictates of an enlightened conscience, God might be worshipped without fear of persecution or peril f death.

"Under cover of the night, their souls filled with horror by glimpses of the slain, they fled to Manheim in the Palatinate of the Rhine. Through fear of discovery and detention and probable death, they traveled only at night, but with all their precautions 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 quietly away, fugitives for conscience's sake. At Manheim they found, at least for a time, a safe retreat; but here it is thought Monsieur Duryee, 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'.

"Joost Duryee, his son, emigrated from Manheim, with his wife Magdalena LeFebre, his mother, and his children and setting sail for the New World with these fondly loved ones, was wafted in safety to the picturesque shores of Manhattan Island where the vessel cast anchor sometime in 1675. During this year he appears on record as the purchaser of a farm in New Utrecht, Long Island, upon which he resided until the autumn of 1681, when he occupied a farm between Newtown and Brooklyn, in what was subsequently known as the town of Bushwick, Long Island. He died about 1727."

In 1910, General Hiram Duryea wrote to my correspondent, Mrs. Grinnan, that he had found the Duryea name spelled in forty different ways. I have found more, and they folllow: deRea, Derey, Derie, DeRieu, deRieu, Derije, Derje, Derret, Derri, Derieu, DerRoy, Derry, deRy, DerYei, Deyea, Dirjee, Dore, Dorie, Dorije, Dorje, Duerje, Dure, Druee, Durey, DuRis, Durie, Durie, Drien, Durieu, DuRieus, DuRieux, Durieux, Durije, Durijes, Durjee, Durrie, DuRuin, Dury, Duryay, Durye, Duryea, Duryear, Duryee, DuRyer, Duryer, Duryete, Duys. (Note that "j" was pronounced as "i")
Of course, there are numerous pronunciations. I understand that the Duryea Building in Washington, C. C., is commonly pronounced Doo-rye-ah,  with the accent on the second syllable. Distant cousins, using the same spelling as ours, pronounce their name as De-yay with the accent on the last syllable. The Duryee spelling is pronounced Der-yee with a slightly heavier accent on the first syllable. our family has always used Der-yay with the accent the same on both syllables.
In my correspondence, the tradition has been mentioned frequently that three Duryea brothers had come to these shores, but to my knowledge, this tradition has not been verified. Mrs. Grinnan told me that her grandfather had this impression and that the brothers were named Joost, Jean, and Jacques. We have proof that Joost had a brother Jacques (Note 6), but did he come to America? "Jean DuRie came ot the Colonies prior to 1686" and settled in New Jersey (Note 7), but was he a brother or a relative of Joost's? Bergen (Note 8) wrote that there was a "Jan Dorie or Durie" and a "Pieter deRy or deRea" of Hackensack, "who had children baptized in 1720 and 1724, whose descendants now write their names Duryea or Durje, and are numerous in that locality. This Jan and Pieter were probably grandsons of Joost but of this no positive evidence."
Our immigrant ancestor was Joost (pronounced Yost) DuRieu, and our earliest date for him is that of his marriage, February 28, 1672, to Magdelena LeFevre which is recorded in the records of the church founded by the Protestant Refugees in Manheim (Note 6). Ruth Duryee believes that this was Joost's second marriage. There his name was given as Joses, son of Simon DuRieu. The church records also have the births of three of their children, one of whom was Jean born in 1679. This latter date is after the migration of Joost with his family and mother, and Ruth Duryee advances the very plausible theory that the news of the birth of the infant son was sent "home" by the proud parents, and that the name probably should have been entered "Jacques", who was baptized in New York July 13, 1679 - born June 6.
Bergen stated that Joost Durie, who "emigrated about 1675 from Manheim, in the Palatinate of the Rhyn, was a respectable French Huguenot. He settled at first in New Utrecht where he bought a farm, which he sold October 5, 1681, for 3200 Guilders and a new wagon to Garret Cornelisen VanDuyn, as per page 148 of Liber AA of Flatbush town records. Left New Utrecht and settled on the disputed lands between Newtown and Bushwick (as per Riker's Newtown) where he died about 1727. His name appears on the assessment rolls of Bushwick of 1683 and 1693, and the census of 1698; he took an oath of allegiance in said town in 1687." (Note 9)
On this Bushwick property, Joost Durie built a house, and there many of his children were born.
The New York Sun, January 4, 1903, had this article:
"Homesteads Left in Town - Ancient Dwellings now in Greater New York - Starting Point of the Duryeas and Duryees

"On the meadows along the stream known as the Kills, from which Dutch Kills in Long Island derives its name, are many old homesteads of the original settlers of Long Island. A number of them will probably soon be wiped out of existence by the Pennsylvania Railroad improvement.

One of those quaint structures stands in a sharp triangle formed by the intersection of Borden and Bradley Avenues, in the Blissville district of Long Island City. It is the original homestead of the Duryea family whose progenitor was Joost Durie.

"He was a French Huguenot and came from Manheim in the Palatinate. After coming here the family became connected by marriage with the DeBevoise family and the homestead has been known by the names of both families.

"In its more than two centuries of existence this old homestead has never been unoccupied, and today children play around its 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.

"It was from Joost Durie that the Duryeas and Duryees of today are descended..."
This family homestead was undoubtedly the birthplace of our first American-born ancestor, Charles Derier (also spelled Derije, Durje, Duryea, and Duryee).
Throughout the years, many have summarized their lines as descendants of Joost Durie. For that reason, I shall not attempt to repeat the entire line. I quote directly from Ruth M. Duryee's data for the children of our immigrant ancestor:
     I. JOOST DURIEU, Immigrant, so of Simon DuRieu
         b. about 1637
         d. before June 9, 1727
         m. (1.) February 28, 1672 in Protestant Churh at Manheim - Magdelena LeFevre b. ? d. 1705 (Note 11)
            (2.) Cornelia (Monfoort) Schomp, daughter of Peter and Margaret (Haff) Monfoort, widow of Joost Schomp. Bp. May 3, 1719; d. before May 31, 1771 (Note 12)
            1. Joost Durie b. about 1660; d. about 1727; was a farmer and resided in Bushwick (Note 13)
                 m. April 17, 1681 Helen (or Lena) Folkerteen b. 1663; dau. of Hendrick and Gaertje (Glass) Forkertsen (4 children)
            2. Peter Durie b. about 1663; supposed to have settled in Esopus (Kingston) N. Y. m. Agnietje Nicque (or Luquier) (one son)
            3. Cornelius Durie b. 1668; was not mentioned in his father's will, but Bergen stated that he was living in Flatbush in 1729.

         Issue (by second wife):
           4. Magdeline Durie b. november 11, 1672 in Manheim - believed to have died young.
           5. Elizabeth Durie b. September 28, 1674 in Manheim - believed to have died young.
           6. Jacques (or Jean) Durie b. June 6, 1679; bp. July 13, 1679, Dutch church in Flatbush
           7. Antoinette Durie bp. December 11, 1681 Dutch Church in Brooklyn. m. ? Luquer (or Luquier)
           8. Abraham Durie b. 1683/185; d. 1753/1763 m. Elizabeth Polhemus bp. November 5, 1693, dau. of Theodorus and Asrtje (Bogaert) Polhemus (Note 14) (9 children)
           9. Jacob Durie bp. November 21, 1686, Dutch Church in Brooklyn; d. 1758; resided in Bushwick and Brooklyn. Will dated February 20, 1756. m. about 1708 Catrina Polhemus, supposed daughter of Daniel and Neeltje (Vanderveer) Polhemus (8 children)
           10. Magdelena Durie bp. October 19, 1687 Dutch Church in New York m. (1) Jan Okie (or Auke) (2) ? VanNyyse
           11. Philip Durie b. about 1689 m. December 14, 1714, Belje Coverts
           12. Charles Durie 1690-1753
           13. Simon Durie bp. November 26, 1693, Dutch Church in Brooklyn; was a farmer in Bushwick m. May 20, 1715, Annetje Sprung, daughter of Gariel Spring (or Sprong), issue one son
     II. CHARLES DERIER, son of the immigrants Joost and Madelena (LeFevre) Durieu, was a farmer and resided at Bushwick. He served in the King's County Militia in 1715. In his father-in-law's will, he was called "Captain Charles Derje". b. October 15, 1690; bp. October 19, 1690. d. July 3, 1753. m. (1) Cornelia Schenck, daughter of Johannes and Marie Magdelena (deHaes) Schenck (2) June 9, 1743, in New York City, Maria (or Mary) Roberson (widow); living at the end of 1768. Issue (by first wife):
          1. Joost Duryea b. about 1709; d. June 1781 m. Willimpijie Terhune d. 1782; daughter of Roelof and Maretje (Wychoff) Tehune (10 children)
          2. Helena Duryea m. Garret VanZandt
          3. Johannes Duryea resided in New York City (joined Reformed Church there in 1750) m. April 3, 1748 Antje Voorhies of Gravesend (8 children)
          4. Jacob Duryea b. March 5, 1730; d. September 19, 1796; m. December 23, 1752, Cornelia Schenck (his cousin), daughter of Peter and Elizabeth Schenck, b. November 15, 1734; d. March 3, 1793 (12 children)4;
          5. Cornelia Duryea m. June 11, 1757, Frans Titusse (or Titus) (one daughter)
          6. Charles (or Charel or Carol) Duryea
          7. Elizabeth Duryee b. 1750; d. June 3, 1780 m. Joost VanBrunt of jamaica (6 children)
          8. Tunis Duryea lived in Bushwick m. May 18, 1753 Anna Rapalje, daughter of Tunis and Annetje (Suydam) Rapalje
          9. Derick (or Dirk) Duryea was living in New York in 1764;  m. June 1, 1754 Elizabeth Tutus (3 children)
          10 Abraham Duryea b. November 19, 1737; d. April 12, 1764; resided in Roundout, Dutchess County, N. Y. m. Sarah VanWyck (one son)