Adriaen Block

Last updated
Block's map of his 1614 voyage, with the first appearance of the term "New Netherland" Wpdms aq block 1614.jpg
Block's map of his 1614 voyage, with the first appearance of the term "New Netherland"

Adriaen (Aerjan) Block (c. 1567 – buried April 27, 1627) was a Dutch private trader, privateer, and ship's captain who is best known for exploring the coastal and river valley areas between present-day New Jersey and Massachusetts during four voyages from 1611 to 1614, following the 1609 expedition by Henry Hudson. He is noted for possibly having named Block Island, Rhode Island, and establishing early trade with the Native Americans, and for the 1614 map of his last voyage on which many features of the mid-Atlantic region appear for the first time, and on which the term New Netherland is first applied to the region. He is credited with being the first European to enter Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River, and to determine that Manhattan and Long Island are islands. [1]

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands is a country located in Northwestern Europe with some overseas territories. In Europe, it consists of twelve provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba—it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.

Privateer private person or ship authorized by a government to attack foreign shipping

A privateer is a private person or ship that engages in maritime warfare under a commission of war. The commission, also known as a letter of marque, empowers the person to carry on all forms of hostility permissible at sea by the usages of war, including attacking foreign vessels during wartime and taking them as prizes. Historically, captured ships were subject to condemnation and sale under prize law, with the proceeds divided between the privateer sponsors, shipowners, captains and crew. A percentage share usually went to the issuer of the commission. Since robbery under arms was once common to seaborne trade, all merchant ships were already armed. During war, naval resources were auxiliary to operations on land so privateering was a way of subsidizing state power by mobilizing armed ships and sailors.

New Jersey U.S. state in the United States

New Jersey is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is a peninsula, bordered on the north and east by the state of New York; on the east, southeast, and south by the Atlantic Ocean; on the west by the Delaware River and Pennsylvania; and on the southwest by the Delaware Bay and Delaware. New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state by area but the 11th-most populous, with 9 million residents as of 2017, making it the most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states with its biggest city being Newark. New Jersey lies completely within the combined statistical areas of New York City and Philadelphia. New Jersey was the second-wealthiest U.S. state by median household income as of 2017.


Early life

Though spending much of his time at sea, Block called Amsterdam his home. There, on October 26, 1603, he married Neeltje Hendricks van Gelder, with whom he would have five children between 1607 and 1615. In 1606 they moved into a house called De Twee Bontecraijen ("The Two Hooded Crows") on Amsterdam's Oude Waal street, where they would live the rest of their lives. [2]

Amsterdam Capital city of the Netherlands

Amsterdam is the capital and most populous city of the Netherlands, with a population of 866,737 within the city proper, 1,380,872 in the urban area, and 2,410,960 in the metropolitan area. Amsterdam is in the province of North Holland.

In the 1590s, Block already was active in the shipping trade, transporting wood from Northern Europe to deforested Spain. He is for example mentioned delivering Norwegian timber in April 1596 in Bilbao. From there he headed for Ribadeo to buy goods for Cádiz. In April 1601, he was part of a convoy of ships leaving Amsterdam for the Dutch East Indies, at that time probably as far as the Moluccas, returning home in 1603. [2]

Bilbao Municipality in Basque Country, Spain

Bilbao is a city in northern Spain, the largest city in the province of Biscay and in the Basque Country as a whole. It is also the largest city proper in northern Spain. Bilbao is the tenth largest city in Spain, with a population of 345,141 as of 2015. The Bilbao metropolitan area has 1,037,847 inhabitants, making it one of the most populous metropolitan areas in northern Spain; with a population of 875,552 the comarca of Greater Bilbao is the fifth-largest urban area in Spain. Bilbao is also the main urban area in what is defined as the Greater Basque region.

Ribadeo Municipality in Galicia, Spain

Ribadeo is a municipality in the Spanish province of Lugo in Galicia. It has a population of 10,023 and an area of 106.2 km2 (41.0 sq mi). It is the capital of the A Mariña Oriental comarca.

Cádiz Municipality in Andalusia, Spain

Cádiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the Province of Cádiz, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia.

In the spring of 1604, after delivering goods in Liguria, Block sailed on to Cyprus buying cargo (rice, cotton, nuts, etc.) he hoped to sell in Venice. This trade fell through, and he headed home to Amsterdam. Passing Lisbon, he came upon a Lübeck-based ship returning from a trip to Brazil. He had written permission from Dutch authorities to capture enemy ships, which he put to use as a privateer, taking the ship and its load to Amsterdam. Though the ship and some of its goods were returned to its owners, Block made a lot of money, with which he probably bought the house on the Oude Waal. [2]

Liguria Region of Italy

Liguria is a coastal region of north-western Italy; its capital is Genoa. The region almost coincides with the Italian Riviera and is popular with tourists for its beaches, towns, and cuisine.

Cyprus Island country in the Mediterranean

Cyprus, officially the Republic of Cyprus, is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean and the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean, located south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, northwest of Israel and Palestine, north of Egypt, and southeast of Greece.

Venice Comune in Veneto, Italy

Venice is a city in northeastern Italy and the capital of the Veneto region. It is situated on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges. The islands are located in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed bay that lies between the mouths of the Po and the Piave rivers. In 2018, 260,897 people resided in the Comune di Venezia, of whom around 55,000 live in the historical city of Venice. Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE), which is considered a statistical metropolitan area, with a total population of 2.6 million.

Block's new world expeditions

Early voyages (1611–1612)

Following Hudson's contact with the Native Americans in the Hudson Valley in 1609, the Dutch merchants in Amsterdam had deemed the area worth exploring as a potential source of trade for beaver pelts, [3] which were a lucrative market in Europe at the time.

Hudson Valley comprises the valley of the Hudson River and its adjacent communities in the U.S. state of New York

The Hudson Valley comprises the valley of the Hudson River and its adjacent communities in the U.S. state of New York. The region stretches from the Capital District including Albany and Troy south to Yonkers in Westchester County, bordering New York City.

Cornelis Rijser, successfully returned in the St. Pieter in 1611, and Block and his fellow captain Hendrick Christiaensen returned the next year in 1612, bringing back furs and two sons of a native sachem in the Fortuyn and another ship outfitted by a group of Lutheran merchants. It took about ten weeks to sail to New Netherland, sometimes longer. The prospect of successful fur trade prompted the States General, the governing body of the Dutch Republic, to issue a statement on March 27, 1614, stipulating that the discoverers of new countries, harbors, and passages would be given an exclusive patent good for four voyages undertaken within three years to the territories discovered, if the applicant should submit a detailed report within 14 days after his return.

Hendrick Christiaensen was a Dutch explorer who was involved in the earlier exploration of what became the colony of New Netherland.

Sachem and Sagamore refer to paramount chiefs among the Algonquians or other Native American tribes of the northeast. The two words are anglicizations of cognate terms from different Eastern Algonquian languages. The Sagamore was a lesser chief than the Sachem. Both of these chiefs are elected by their people. Sagamores are chosen by single bands to represent them, and the Sachem is chosen to represent a tribe or group of bands. Neither title is hereditary but each requires selection by band thus led.

The 1614 expedition

Replica of the Onrust. Docked in Manhattan. Onrust pier 84 jeh.jpg
Replica of the Onrust. Docked in Manhattan.

In 1613, Block made a fourth voyage to the lower Hudson in the Tyger accompanied by several other ships especially equipped for trading. While moored along southern Manhattan, the Tyger was accidentally destroyed by fire. [3] Over the winter, he and his men, with help from the Lenape (La-Na-Pae), built the 44.5-foot (13.6 m) ship 16-ton Onrust (Dutch for "Restless"). [4]

In this later ship, he explored the East River and was the first known European to navigate the Hellegat (now called Hell Gate) and to enter Long Island Sound. Travelling along the Sound, he entered the Housatonic River (which he named "River of Red Hills") and the Connecticut River, which he explored at least as far as the site of present day Hartford, today's capital of the state of Connecticut some sixty miles up the river. [5] Leaving Long Island Sound, he charted Block Island, which is named for him and Narragansett Bay, where he possibly named "Roode Eylandt" after the red (Dutch rood) color of its soil. [6] On Cape Cod, he rendezvoused with one of the other ships of the expedition and left the Onrust behind before returning to Europe.

Life in the colony

Block's exploration would lead to the eventual colonization of Connecticut. The life was hard, as it was settled in the winter as a result of the Connecticut River turning to ice. Block sailed upstream, and established the Dutch base that later became Hartford.

He is credited with naming Fishers Island (Vischer's Island) after a shipmate. Though it lies physically closer to Connecticut than New York, the island is a part of Long Island's Suffolk County.

New Netherland company

Upon returning, Block compiled a map of his voyage together with known information of the time. The Block map was the first to apply the name "New Netherland" to the area between English Virginia and French Canada, as well as the first to show Long Island as an island.

On October 11, 1614, Block, Christiaensen, and a group of twelve other merchants presented to the States General a petition to receive exclusive trading privileges for the area. Their company, the newly formed New Netherland Company, was granted exclusive rights for three years to trade between the 40th parallel north and the 45th parallel north. [3]

After his return to Amsterdam in July 1614 he would not return to the New World again. In 1615, Block was Commissary-General of three men-of-war and eleven whaleships sent to Spitsbergen by the Noordsche Compagnie. He remained sailing until his death in 1627. He was buried in Amsterdam's Oude Kerk in a grave next to his wife.


A multimillion-dollar redevelopment on the Connecticut River in Hartford, Connecticut is named "Adriaen's Landing" after Block. Adriaen Block has a middle school in Flushing, Queens (NYC) named after him.

Related Research Articles

New Amsterdam historical Dutch colonial settlement that became New York City

New Amsterdam was a 17th-century Dutch settlement established at the southern tip of Manhattan Island that served as the seat of the colonial government in New Netherland. The factorij became a settlement outside Fort Amsterdam. The fort was situated on the strategic southern tip of the island of Manhattan and was meant to defend the fur trade operations of the Dutch West India Company in the North River. In 1624, it became a provincial extension of the Dutch Republic and was designated as the capital of the province in 1625.

New Netherland 17th-century colony of the Dutch Republic that was located on the East Coast of North America

New Netherland was a 17th-century colony of the Dutch Republic that was located on the east coast of America. The claimed territories extended from the Delmarva Peninsula to southwestern Cape Cod, while the more limited settled areas are now part of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut, with small outposts in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Henry Hudson English explorer

Henry Hudson was an English sea explorer and navigator during the early 17th century, best known for his explorations of present-day Canada and parts of the northeastern United States.

Dutch colonization of the Americas

The Dutch colonization of the Americas began with the establishment of Dutch trading posts and plantations in the Americas, which preceded the much wider known colonisation activities of the Dutch in Asia. While the first Dutch fort in Asia was built in 1600, the first forts and settlements on the Essequibo River in Guyana date from the 1590s. Actual colonization, with the Dutch settling in the new lands, was not as common as with other European nations. Many of the Dutch settlements were lost or abandoned by the end of the 17th century, but the Netherlands managed to retain possession of Suriname until it gained independence in 1975, as well as the Netherlands Antilles, which remain within the Kingdom of the Netherlands today.

Tyger was the ship used by the Dutch captain Adriaen Block during his 1613 voyage to explore the East Coast of North America and the present day Hudson River. Its remains were uncovered in 1916 during the construction of the New York City Subway on land that is now part of the World Trade Center complex.


The Onrust was a Dutch ship built by Adriaen Block and the crew of the Tyger, which had been destroyed by fire in the winter of 1613. The Onrust was modeled on a Dutch yacht, and was the first ship to be built in what is now New York State, and the first fur trading vessel built in America. The construction took four months in the winter of 1614 somewhere in New York Bay. Help from the local Native population is surmised based on the relationship developed by Jon Rodriquez, left on the island during a previous voyage. The Onrust was 44.5 feet long and capable of carrying 16 tons.

Cornelis Jacobsen Mey was a Dutch explorer, captain and fur trader. Cape May, Cape May County, and the city of Cape May, New Jersey, are named after him.

Juan Rodriguez was the first documented non-Native American to live on Manhattan Island. As such, he is considered the first non-native resident of what would eventually become New York City, predating the Dutch settlers. As he was born in Santo Domingo to a Portuguese sailor and an African woman, he is also considered the first immigrant, the first person of African heritage, the first person of European heritage, the first merchant, the first Latino, and the first Dominican to settle in Manhattan.

Adriaen van der Donck lawyer and landowner in New Netherland

Adriaen Cornelissen van der Donck was a lawyer and landowner in New Netherland after whose honorific Jonkheer the city of Yonkers, New York is named. In addition to being the first lawyer in the Dutch colony, he was a leader in the political life of New Amsterdam, and an activist for Dutch-style republican government in the Dutch West India Company-run trading post.

Kieft's War, also known as the Wappinger War, was a conflict (1643–1645) between settlers of the nascent colony of New Netherland and the native Lenape population in what would later become the New York metropolitan area of the United States. It is named for Director-General of New Netherland Willem Kieft, who had ordered an attack without approval of his advisory council and against the wishes of the colonists. Dutch soldiers attacked Lenape camps and massacred the native inhabitants, which encouraged unification among the regional Algonquian tribes against the Dutch, and precipitated waves of attacks on both sides. This was one of the earliest conflicts between Native Americans and European settlers in the region. Displeased with Kieft, the Dutch West India Company recalled him and he died in a shipwreck while returning to the Netherlands. Peter Stuyvesant succeeded him in New Netherland. Because of the continuing threat by the Algonquians, numerous Dutch settlers returned to the Netherlands, and growth of the colony slowed.

House of Hope, also known as Fort Good Hope, was a redoubt and factory in the seventeenth-century Dutch colony of New Netherland. The trading post was located at modern-day Hartford, Connecticut.

History of Hartford, Connecticut

The History of Hartford, Connecticut has occupied a central place in Connecticut's history from the state's origins to the present, as well as the greater history of the United States of America.

Fort Nassau was the first Dutch settlement in North America, located beside the "North River" within present-day Albany, New York, in the United States. The factorij was a small fortification which served as a trading post and warehouse.

New Netherland settlements

New Netherland was the 17th century colonial province of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands on the northeastern coast of North America. The claimed territory was the land from the Delmarva Peninsula to southern Cape Cod. The settled areas are now part of the Mid-Atlantic states of New York, New Jersey, and Delaware, with small outposts in Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Its capital of New Amsterdam was located at the southern tip of the island of Manhattan on the Upper New York Bay.

Fortifications of New Netherland

New Netherland, or Nieuw-Nederland in Dutch, was the 17th century colony of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands on the northeastern coast of North America. The claimed territory included southern Cape Cod to parts of the Delmarva Peninsula. Settled areas are now part of the Mid-Atlantic states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Its capital, New Amsterdam, was located at the southern tip of the island of Manhattan on Upper New York Bay.

History of Albany, New York (prehistory–1664)

The history of Albany, New York prior to 1664 begins with the native inhabitants of the area and ends in 1664, with the English takeover of New Netherland. The area was originally inhabited by Algonquian Indian tribes and was given different names by the various peoples. The Mohican called it Pempotowwuthut-Muhhcanneuw, meaning "the fireplace of the Mohican nation", while the Iroquois called it Sche-negh-ta-da, or "through the pine woods". Albany's first European structure was a primitive fort on Castle Island built by French traders in 1540. It was destroyed by flooding soon after construction.

Cornelius Hendrickson was a Dutch mariner and explorer, who charted the North American coastline near present-day New Jersey.

Adriaen Jorissen Thienpoint or Tienpoint was a Dutch sea captain-explorer who commanded several ships to the newly developing colonies of New Netherland and New Sweden as well as other holdings of the Dutch Empire in North America in the early 17th century.

Treaty of Hartford (1650)

The Treaty of Hartford is a treaty concluded between New Netherland and Connecticut on September 19, 1650 in Hartford, Connecticut.