Matthys Jansen van Keulen
The Patroon of Zwaanendal

Updated 13 Aug 2000

Main Family page | Van Keuren Family

The first Van Keuren in America was Matthys Jansen van Keulen, the Patroon of Zwaanendal. (The name was sometimes also spelled "Ceulen".) He was one of the lord-directors of the Dutch West Indies Company, which bought Manhattan Island from the Indians.

Matthys Jansen was born in London in 1601 or 1602, and was baptized in the Austin Friars Dutch Reformed Church there on 2 Feb. 1602. He was the son of Jan Mathijs van Keulen, who was from the Netherlands, and of Annetje Jans of Amsterdam.

Matthys traveled to America, possibly several times, around 1630-35, apparently with two of his brothers. Some documents mention him helping defend the Dutch forts on the coast of Brazil. One fort was named Van Keuren Fort. In America in about 1630, with about ten other investors, he helped found a colony which they named "Zwaanendal", which means Swansdale, Swans Valley, or Valley of the Swans. Zwaanendal is in what is now the town of Lewes in southeast Delaware. Indians destroyed the colony a year later. It was rebuilt later on, and became the basis for the existence of Delaware as an independent state. As a part of the creation of the colony, Matthys was "granted the armorial bearings of an earl". Matthys eventually settled around the Hudson River near what is now Kingston, NY.

Matthys married Margariet (Margarita) Hendrickse, and they had several children, including:

Matthys died some time before 1655. Some say 16 Oct 1648, but this seems early. His wife Margariet married again to Thomas "Clapboard" Chambers, the "lord of the Manor of Foxhall" at Kingston, NY. Thomas Chambers willed his coat of arms to his two stepsons, so the Van Keuren family has a second coat of arms in addition to an earlier coat of arms from Holland. The blazon for this second coat of arms is: There are two crests above the shield that have been associated with the coat of arms. One of them is: Jan Matthysen took the patrynomic Jansen and his descendants use that name today. Matthys Matthysen's sons kept the name "van Keulen", changing the "l" to an "r" for unknown reasons, and all Van Keurens in America today that we know of are descended from Matthys Matthysen and his father Matthys Jansen van Keulen.

There are several different spellings of the name, including "Keulen", "Kuren", and "Curen", but all people that we have found are descended from Matthys Matthysen Van Keuren.

Margriet Hendricks died in about 1675, and her second husband Thomas Chambers married a second time to the widow Laurentia Kellenaer Van Gassbeck in 1681, who had children by her previous marriage. Thomas and Laurentia had no children together; he died and Laurentia married Wessel Ten Broeck in September 1694. She died in 1703 and Wessel in 1704.

Robert Steven van Keuren, at [email protected]