Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Possible Service of Pelham Founder, Thomas Pell, with English Forces in the Siege and Capture of Bois-le-Duc in the Netherlands in 1629

Historians believe that Pelham founder, Thomas Pell, served with English forces during the siege and capture of Bois-le-Duc in the southern Netherlands in 1629.  “Bois-le-Duc” is the French name for a city and municipality known, formally, by the Dutch as ‘s-Hertogenbosch (meaning “The Duke’s Forest”).  It is the capital of the province of North Brabant in the southern Netherlands.  See’s-Hertogenbosch” in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia (visited Jan. 11, 2015).

"Thomas Pell" by Thom Lafferty from an Original
by an Unknown Artist Who Imagined Pell as He
Would Look. There Are No Known Images of Thomas Pell.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

In 1629, during the so-called Thirty Years War, about 4,000 English troops in a Corps led by Sir Horace Vere were assigned to support Frederik Hendrik of Orange to lay siege to Bois-le-Duc.  At the time, it was thought that a conventional siege against the town would be impossible because the town was surrounded by marshes.  The attacking troops, however, diverted the rivers Dommel and Aa, built dykes to create a polder (essentially a giant holding tank surrounded by dykes), and then used mills to pump out the water of the marshes into the polder.  After emptying the marshes that protected the town, they began a three-month siege at the conclusion of which the town surrendered in a blow to the House of Habsburg.

There is strong circumstantial evidence that Thomas Pell volunteered to serve with Horace Vere’s Corps in the lowlands of the Netherlands and that he may have participated in the siege and capture of Bois-le-Duc.  The evidence comes from references to Pell in the so-called “Buccleuch papers” at the Scottish Record Office.  The papers are named after the third Duke of Buccleuch, Henry Scott. According to one Pell biographer:

“At this writing we have no record of Thomas Pell’s role in the siege and capture of Bois-le-Duc.  We know from the Buccleuch Papers that he left London in the early spring of 1629/30 with a letter from Lord Holland introducing is ‘cozen’ to Sir Ralph Winwood, the English Ambassador to The Hague.  We know that he was commissioned an Ensign in Sir Horace Vere’s Corps at that time.  We know that all the English volunteers arriving in Holland were rushed immediately to the front at Bois-le-Duc.  Looking ahead, we know that Thomas Pell signed a deed in The Hague two year later as Adelborst, or Ensign, and that some time in the third year after the siege of Maastricht he was promoted to Lieutenant.  Finally, we know that in 1634/35 he enlisted for service in America at Fort Saybrooke [in today’s Connecticut] as Lieutenant and Surgeon.  These are hard facts. The rest is surmise.”

Source: Pell, Robert T., PELLIANA: PELL OF PELHAM - THOMAS PELL First Lord of the Manor of Pelham Westchester Co., New York, p. 15 (Privately Printed by Robert T. Pell, 1962) (digital copy available for check out via Internet Archive).

Horace Vere, Baron Vere of Tilbury,
a Painting by Michiel Jansz. van Miereveldt (died 1641).
Source:  Wikimedia Commons.
NOTE:  Click to Enlarge Image.

Thomas Pell’s service in Horace Vere’s Corps of English troops in the lowlands of the Netherlands is significant because there he likely met two important men who shaped his future in America: the future Captain John Underhill, and the Engineer Captain David Lion Gardiner. Underhill and Gardiner emigrated to America where, together with Thomas Pell, they served at Fort Saybrook in the Saybrook Colony (now part of today’s Connecticut). While there, all three were involved in the force that destroyed the fortified Pequot village at Mystic in May 1637.

Portion of Engraving Depicting the Attack on the Pequot
Fort at Mystic in May 1637.  Source:  Underhill, John, "The Figure of
the Indian's Fort or Palizado," Illustration in Newes from America;
or, A New and Experimental Discoverie of New England (London: 1638).
NOTE:  Click to Enlarge Image.

*          *          *          *          *

I have written about Pelham founder Thomas Pell and various aspects of his life on countless occasions.  For links to more than sixty articles and one book dealing with the topics, see the following.

Thu., Oct. 30, 2014:  Did Thomas Pell Act on Pangs of Remorse After Witchcraft Persecution Involving His Family?

Mon., Mar. 31, 2014:  Inventory of the Estate of Pelham Founder Thomas Pell Taken Shortly After He Died in Late September, 1669.

Wed., Oct. 7, 2009:  1656 Native American Deed for Fairfield, Connecticut Lands Signed by Thomas Pell as a Witness.

Fri., Apr. 24, 2009:  Dutch Authorities Remove the Settlers At West Chester in March, 1656.

Tue., Apr. 07, 2009:  1666 Record Containing "Observations" on the Patent Granted to Thomas Pell.

Thu., Dec. 20, 2007:  Two 17th Century Fairfield Probate Records Referring to Thomas Pell.  
Tue., Dec. 18, 2007:  1648 Commercial Record Involving Claim Against Thomas Pell for Three Hundred Pounds.

Mon., Dec. 17, 2007:  1649 Record Whereby Thomas Pell Appointed Agent to Recover Bond Due From Pewterer Ambrose Adlam of the City of Bristoll.

Fri., Dec. 14, 2007:  Additional 17th Century Shipping and Commercial Records Mentioning Thomas Pell.  

Tue., Nov. 27, 2007:  Thomas Pell Was Elected a Freeman of Connecticut on October 9, 1662, the Day the Crown's Connecticut Charter Was Read to the Public.

Wed., Oct. 24, 2007:  July 3, 1666 Letter on Behalf of the Governor of the Province of New York To Thomas Pell.

Tue., Oct. 23, 2007:  1664 Petition of Inhabitants of Westchester to Commissioners for the Affairs of New England Mentioning 1654 Purchase by Thomas Pell.

Mon., Oct. 22, 2007:  Dutch Authorities Demand That Thomas Pell Halt His 'Intrusion' at Westchester in 1656.

Fri., Oct. 19, 2007:  Thomas Pell Was Feared Drowned or Lost at Sea in 1656.  

Thu., Oct. 18, 2007:  April 19, 1655 Dutch Protest Against Thomas Pell's Efforts To Settle Englishmen on Lands the Dutch Called VreedLandt.

Wed., Oct. 17, 2007:  1669 Map of Lands in Dispute Between Thomas Pell and John Richbell.

Tue., Oct. 16, 2007:  Information About Thomas Pell's Treaty Oak Published in 1912.

Wed., Oct. 10, 2007:  Thomas Pell Accompanies Delegation of Dutch from New Haven to Hartford in October, 1663.

Tue., Aug. 14, 2007:  Biographical Data About Thomas Pell, His brother, John, and His Nephew, John Pell of the Manor of Pelham.  

Tue., Jul. 24, 2007:  Article About the Pell Treaty Oak Published in 1909

Mon., Jul. 23, 2007:  1906 Article in The Sun Regarding Fire that Destroyed the Pell Treaty Oak.

Wed., May 2, 2007:  Information About Thomas Pell's Treaty Oak Published in 1922

Mon., Apr. 2, 2007:  More Evidence That Thomas Pell Paid 500 Pounds Sterling for the Lands that Became the Manor of Pelham.

Wed., Mar. 07, 2007:  Published Abstract of 1669 Will of Thomas Pell, Followed by Entire Text of Will of Thomas Pell.

Wed., Feb. 07, 2007:  Information About Thomas Pell in the Catalogue of the Names of the First Puritan Settlers of the Colony of Connecticut Published in 1846.

Fri., Feb. 02, 2007:  1670 Letter from John Winthrop, Jr. to William Lord Brereton, Describing the Arrival of John Pell in America to Receive Thomas Pell's Estate.

Thu., Jan. 11, 2007:  More 17th Century Commercial Records Involving Thomas Pell and Edmund Leach.

Wed., Jan. 10, 2007:  17th Century Commercial Records Involving Thomas Pell and Edmund Leach.

Tue., Jan. 9, 2007:  1648 Notarial Record by Boston Merchant Providing Power of Attorney to Collect Debt From Thomas Pell of New Haven.

Mon., Jan. 8, 2007:  Dutch Authorities Decide To Station a Ship With Men Off Today's City Island on February 9, 1654 To Keep Watch on the Activities of the English.

Fri., Dec. 22, 2006:  Brief Biographies of Thomas Pell, First Lord of the Manor of Pelham, and His Nephew, John, Published in 1912.

Tue., Dec. 12, 2006:  Did Thomas Pell Avoid Taxes by Maintaining a Medical Practice?

Fri., Dec. 08, 2006:  An Interesting Power of Attorney Executed in Favor of Thomas Pell on October 29, 1651 Plus Other Records.

Thu., Dec. 07, 2006:  Additional Authorities Supporting Assertions that Thomas Pell Conducted Trade by Ship Along the East Coast.

Wed., Dec. 06, 2006:  When Did Thomas Pell Arrive in America?

Wed., Nov. 22, 2006:  Young Thomas Pell Unjustly Accused of "Extortion or Sinfull Unrightousness".

Mon., Nov. 06, 2006:  The Source of Confusion Over the Date Thomas Pell Acquired the Lands That Became the Manor of Pelham.

Tue., Oct. 24, 2006:  Thomas Pell's and John Pell's Land Dispute with John Richbell in the Late 1660s and Early 1670s.

Mon., Oct. 23, 2006:  More Early Evidence That Thomas Pell Had a House Later Used by His Nephew, John Pell, on Rodman's Neck

Fri., Oct. 06, 2006:  Additional Evidence That Thomas Pell Acquired His Lands At the Behest of English Authorities.

Thu. Oct. 5, 2006: Additional Evidence That Thomas Pell Paid 500 Pounds Sterling for the Lands That Became the Manor of Pelham.

Wed., Oct. 04, 2006:  Did Thomas Pell, First Lord of the Manor of Pelham, Act as an Attorney?

Fri., Aug. 25, 2006:  Thomas Pell, First Lord of the Manor of Pelham, Traded Tobacco Along the East Coast by Barque.

Mon., July 24, 2006:  A Statute Enacted in 1666 Seems to Have Prompted Thomas Pell To Seek a Royal Grant Confirming His June 27, 1654 Land Acquisition.

Fri., July 7, 2006:  The Involvement of Thomas Pell's Family in the Witchcraft Persecution of Goody Knapp.

Mon., July 3, 2006:  Where Is Thomas Pell's Handwritten Copy of the Treaty Signed With Local Native Americans on June 27, 1654?

Wed., Jun. 28, 2006:  A Biography of Mathematician John Pell, Brother of Thomas Pell (First Lord of the Manor of Pelham).

Tue., Jun. 27, 2006:  Land Owned by Thomas Pell and His Wife in New Haven, Connecticut in the Mid-17th Century.  

Thu., Apr. 13, 2006:  Rumors in 1657 That Thomas Pell Manipulated Local Native Americans To Protect His Land Acquisition From Incursions by the Dutch.

Fri., Mar. 03, 2006:  1666 Letter from Thomas Pell to John Winthrop, Jr. Regarding Pell's 1654 Purchase of the Lands That Became Pelham.

Thu., Feb. 16, 2006:  Evidence of the Use of Thomas Pell's Insignia To Seal a Letter from Lion Gardiner in 1636.  

Fri., Jul. 29, 2005:  Has Another Piece of the Treaty Oak Surfaced?

Bell, Blake A., Thomas Pell and the Legend of the Pell Treaty Oak (Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2004). 

Bell, Blake A., How Much Did Thomas Pell Pay for the Manor of Pelham?, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XV, Issue 43, Nov. 3, 2006, p. 10, col. 1.

Bell, Blake A., Thomas Pell's Feud With the New Haven Courts, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 14, Apr. 2, 2004, p. 10, col. 2.

Bell, Blake A., Thomas Pell: The Historical Context, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 12, Mar. 19, 2004, p. 10, col. 1.

Bell, Blake A., Pelham History: The Involvement of Thomas Pell's Family in the Witchcraft Persecution of Goody Knapp, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 4, Jan. 23, 2004, p. 11, col. 1 through p. 12, col. 2.

Bell, Blake A., Pelham History: Why Did Thomas Pell Buy the Lands That Became Pelham?, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 2, Jan. 9, 2004, p. 11, col. 1 through p. 12, col. 3.

Bell, Blake A., Thomas Pell's Treaty Oak, The Westchester Historian, Vol. 28, Issue 3, pp. 73-81 (The Westchester County Historical Society, Summer 2002). 

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