NYC - East Village: St Marks Churchyard - Peter Stuyvesant Vault
Pieter Stuyvesant (c. 1612 – August 1672), or Petrus Stuyvesant, often Anglicized to Peter Stuyvesant, served as the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland from 1647 until it was ceded provisionally to the English in 1664. Stuyvesant's accomplishments as director-general included a great expansion for the settlement of New Amsterdam (later renamed New York) beyond the southern tip of Manhattan. Among the projects built by Stuyvesant's administration were the protective wall on Wall Street, the canal that became Broad Street, and Broadway.
Born in Scherpenzeel, Peperga, in southern Friesland in the Netherlands, to Balthazar Johannes Stuyvesant, a minister, and Margaretha Hardenstein. The year of Pieter's birth is not known. He was the son of a minister, and he studied in Franeker, and entered military service in the West Indies about 1625, and was director of the Dutch West India Company's colony of Curaçao from 1634 to 1644.
In April 1644, he attacked the Portuguese island of Saint Martin and was wounded. He returned to the Netherlands, where his right leg was amputated and replaced with a wooden peg. In 1645 he was selected by the Dutch West India Company to replace William Kieft as Director-General of New Netherland. He arrived in New Amsterdam in 1647 and was appointed a council of representatives.
Stuyvesant became involved in a dispute with Theophilus Eaton, the Governor of Connecticut, over the border of the two colonies. In 1648, a conflict started between him and Brant Arent Van Slechtenhorst, the commissary of the fort of Rensselaerwyck. Stuyvesant claimed he had power over Rensselaerwyck despite special privileges granted to Van Slechtenhorst in the charter of 1629. In 1649, Stuyvesant marched to Fort Orange with a military escort and ordered houses to be razed to permit a better defense of the fort in case of an attack of the Native Americans. When Van Slechtenhorst refused, Pieter sent a group of soldiers to enforce his orders. The controversy that followed resulted in the commissary's maintaining his rights and the director's losing popularity. Because of the controversy with Van Slechtenhorst, the States-General of the Netherlands commanded Stuyvesant to return to Holland; but Stuyvesant refused to obey, saying, "I shall do as I please."
In September 1650, a meeting of the commissioners on boundaries took place in Hartford, Connecticut. The border was arranged to the dissatisfaction of the council, who declared that "the governor had ceded away enough territory to found fifty colonies each fifty miles square." Stuyvesant then threatened to dissolve the council. A new plan of municipal government was arranged in Holland, and the name "New Amsterdam" was officially declared on February 2, 1653.
In 1665, he sailed into the Delaware River with a fleet of seven vessels and about 700 men and took possession of the colony of New Sweden, which he renamed "New Amstel". In his absence, New Amsterdam was attacked by Native Americans.
In 1664, Charles II of England ceded to his brother, James II of England, a large tract of land that included New Netherlands. Four English ships bearing 450 men, commanded by Richard Nicolls, seized the Dutch colony. On August 30, 1664, George Cartwright sent the governor a letter demanding surrender and Stuyvesant signed a treaty at his Bouwerie house on September 9, 1664. Nicolls was declared governor, and the city was renamed New York City.
In 1665, Stuyvesant went to Holland to report on his term as governor. On his return, he spent the remainder of his life on his farm of sixty-two acres outside the city, called the Great Bouwerie, beyond which stretched the woods and swamps of the village of Haarlem. A pear-tree that he brought from Holland in 1647 remained at the corner of Thirteenth Street and Third Avenue until 1867.
The churchyard at St. Marks-in-the-Bowery Church houses many burial vaults. The West Yard is known as the Healing Garden, providing an oasis from city life. Some of the ancient maples in the yard were lost to the Asian Longhorn Beetle in 2000. This area was a proposed (and rejected) site for two 18-story apartment towers designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1929. Among the famous buried here are Daniel Tompkins, who abolished slavery in New York; New York Mayor Philip Hone; and Peter Stuyvesant. Department store pioneer A.T. Stewart, whose store filled the block between 9th and 10th streets east of Broadway, was buried here in 1876, but on November 6, 1878, his body was snatched and held for $200,000 ransom. The widow eventually regained possession of the corpse in 1881, after bargaining the kidnappers down to $20,000. He now rests elsewhere.
Saint Mark's-in-the-Bowery Church was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1966.
National Register #72000885 (1972)