The Will of Rem Rapelje of Pelham, Probated on November 20, 1805
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Yesterday's Historic Pelham Article provided information about the large farm that Rem Rapelje and, later, his son George Rapelje, maintained on Pelham Neck during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. See Thu., Mar. 02, 2017: 1805 Advertisement Reveals Much About the Pelham Farm of Rem Rapelje. Today's article provides images of Rem Rapelje, the records reflecting Rem Rapelje's will probated in 1805 and also a transcription of the will's text and an analysis of its significance.
Rem Rapelje was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 3, 1728. He lost his father as a young child. His mother remarried but his relationship with his stepfather was quite poor and, according to his son, George Rapelje, Rem "sought for friendly aid elsewhere." As a young man, Rem Rapelje hustled for his living. As a very, very young man, he was a ship owner. He also dealt in general merchandise and kept a store on Maiden Lane in New York City "directly in rear of his dwelling." An uncle who was in the "corn, grain, and flour business" and owned a store for the business took him into the store "which was at the fork of Maiden Lane and Crown Street." Soon, on behalf of the business, he was sent in a schooner to Curacao. He became a successful and wealthy merchant and ship owner.
Rem Rapelje was a Loyalist, but he remained in the New York region after the Revolutionary War. When the war ended, he purchased a farm known as "Glass House Farm" located along the Hudson River about three miles from New York City.
Rem Rapelje married Neeltje Hardenbroek (whom he called "Nelly"), a daughter of Abel Hardenbroek and Elizabeth Remson. The couple had at least four children: George Rapalje, Abel Hardenbroek Rapalje, Rem Rapalje, Jr., and Johannis Rapalje. Rem Rapelje's namesake son, Rem, became a faithful and dedicated vestryman at St. Paul's Church in Eastchester and, in 1833, donated the beautiful pipe organ that still is in working condition in the church building.
By 1790, according to both the 1790 U.S. Census and a plan of pews for St. Paul's Church in Eastchester, Rem Rapelje had moved to Pelham. See Wed., Aug. 15, 2007: Plan of Pews in St. Paul's Church 1790. He purchased a massive 350 acre farm on Pelham Neck and the surrounding region. He had a brother-in-law named John Hardenbrook who also resided in Pelham. He and his family lived in Pelham on that farm until his death on June 16, 1805. He is buried in the cemetery of St. Paul's Church at Eastchester.
NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.
I have written about Rem Rapelje, his son George (who succeeded to his father's Pelham Neck Estate), and the Rapelje farm on Pelham Neck a number of times. See, e.g.:
Thu., Mar. 02, 2017: 1805 Advertisement Reveals Much About the Pelham Farm of Rem Rapelje.
Fri., Jan. 08, 2016: Pelhamite Rem Rapelje, a Loyalist, Was "Rode on Rails" During the Revolutionary War.
Wed., Oct. 03, 2007: Book by George Rapelje, Pelham Resident Along With His Father, Rem Rapelje, Published in 1834.
Mon., Feb. 27, 2006: Another Description of the Farm of Rem Rapelje of Pelham Published in 1806.
Wed., Aug. 24, 2005: 1807 Advertisement for Sale of Property of Rem Rapelje in Pelham.
Rem Rapelje executed his will on July 8, 1795. At that time he owned two farms: the thirty-acre "Glass House Farm" that he purchased shortly after the Revolutionary War located along the Hudson River about three miles from New York City; and the 350-acre farm on Pelham Neck (today's Rodman's Neck) that he purchased from Thomas Pell of the town of Pelham.
One of the most significant aspects of Rapelje's will is that Rapelje bequeaths to his wife, "Nelly" Rapelje, the use of one slave named Jacob during her lifetime. Specifically, the will states: "I give and bequeath unto my said wife . . . the Use of my Negro named Jacob for and during her natural life." The will further provides that "All the Rest, Residue and Remainder of my real and personal Estate whatsoever and wheresoever I give and Bequeath unto my Son George Rapelje," thus providing for George Rapelje to inherit the "Negro named Jacob" after the death of Nelly Rapelje.
For years I have been piecing together some of the tragic history regarding slavery in the early years of Pelham's history. Indeed, on June 8, 2007 I presented an academic paper on the topic to the 28th Annual Conference on New York State History. The paper was entitled "Slavery in the Manor of Pelham and the Town of Pelham During the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries."
Immediately below is a bibliographic list of prior writings I have prepared on the topic including the 2008 conference paper.
Bell, Blake A., Slavery in the Manor of Pelham and the Town of Pelham During the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries (paper prepared for and presented to the 28th Annual Conference on New York State History on June 8, 2007).
Thu., Jan. 07, 2016: The 1790 U.S. Census and What It Reveals About Slavery in Pelham.
Wed., Dec. 16, 2015: The Will of Joshua Pell Sr. of the Manor of Pelham Dated March 1, 1758.
Wed., Apr. 12, 2006: 1712 Census of Westchester County Documents Slave Ownership in Pelham.
Mon., Apr. 03, 2006: 1805 Will of William Bayley of Pelham Included Disposition of Slaves.
Fri., Feb. 17, 2006: Runaway Slave Notice Published by John Pell in 1748 Comes to Light.
Wed., Jul. 19, 2006: Pelham Manor Runaway Slave Notice in June 30, 1777 Issue of The New-York Gazette; And The Weekly Mercury.
Mon., Jul. 18, 2005: Pelham Manor Runaway Slave Notice in August 29, 1789 Issue of The New-York Packet
Bell, Blake A., Records of Slavery and Slave Manumissions in 18th and 19th Century Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 27, Jul. 9, 2004.
Jacob, the man Rem Rapalje enslaved, does not seem to appear in the 1790 U.S. Census. Indeed, until research revealed Rem Rapelje's will, there was no record of a slave named Jacob owned by Rem Rapelje previously known to this author. Though the will does not indicate where Jacob worked, it is virtually certain that he worked, at least at times, on Rem Rapelje's farm in Pelham.
Rem Rapelje named his son, George, an Executor and his wife, "Nelly," an Executrix under the will. Rapelje bequeathed a life interest in the Glass House Farm to his wife, as well as "the use" of household furniture, farming utensils, livestock, and other such property during her life. He further bequeathed three thousand pounds to his wife with any remainder at the time of her death due to the couple's son, George.
Rapelje's will further bequeathed an annual payment of "two hundred pounds current money of New York" to his granddaughter Maria Rapelje, a daughter of Rem Rapelje's deceased son Abel Rapelje. The money was to be paid to her "out of the Rent Income or Profits" of the 350-acre farm on Pelham Neck. Maria Rapelje died in 1817 and is buried in the cemetery of St. Paul's Church of Eastchester.
The remainder of Rem Rapelje's real estate and other property went to his son, George Rapelje, including the large farm in Pelham. George Rapelje, who married Susan Elizabeth Provoost (a daughter of Samuel Provoost and Maria Bousfield), lived on that farm for many years thereafter.
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Below is the text of Rem Rapelje's last will and testament. Thereafter are images of the record of that will with each followed by a citation and link to its source.
The People of the State of New York by the grace of God Free and Independent. To all to whom these presents shall come or may concern send greeting
Know Ye that at the Town of White Plains in the County of Westchester on the twentieth -- day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five before Edward Thomas Esquire Surrogate of our said county the last will and testament of Rem Rapalje deceased (a copy whereof is hereunto annexed) was proved and is now approved and allowed by us; and the said deceased having whilst he lived and at the time of his death goods, chattels or credits within this State by means whereof the proving and registering the said will and the granting administration of all and singular the said goods, chattels and credits and also the auditing, allowing and final discharging the account thereof now belong unto us: the administration of all and singular the goods, chattels and credits of the said deceased and any way concerning his will is granted unto George Rapelje as Executor in the said will named he being first duly sworn well and faithfully to administer the same and to make and exhibit a true and perfect inventory of all and singular the said goods, chattels, and credits and also to render a just and true account thereof when thereunto required -- In Testimony whereof we have caused the Seal of Office of our said Surrogate to be hereunto affixed. Witness Edward Thomas Esquire Surrogate of the said county at White Plains in the said county the twenty third day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five and of our Independence the thirtieth.
Edward Thomas Surrogate."
In the name of God Amen. I Rem Rapelje of the Seventh Ward of the City of New York in the State of New York in North America being of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding Thanks be to Almight God for the same and considering the uncertainty of life do make this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say First I recommend my Soul to Almighty God who gave it to me and my Body to the Earth to be intered in a Christian like manner and as touching such worldly Estate whereof I am possessed I give and dispose thereof in manner as follows First I will
and direct that all my just Debts and funeral charges be truly paid and satisfied within some convenience time after my decease. Item I give and bequeath unto my dearly beloved wife Nelly Rapelje the Farm I now live on which I bought of William W. Adams
containing about thirty acres Land and which is called and know [sic] by the name of the Glass House Farm with the Land thereunto adjoining which I bought of the Heirs of one Manderville and others containing on or about thirty acres to have and to hold to her for and during her natural Life.
Item I give and bequeath unto my said wife the use of all my Household Furniture, farming utensils, Horses, Cows, Waggon, [illegible] Slay Chare and also the Use of my Negro named Jacob for and during her natural life --
Item I give and bequeath unto my said loving wife the interest of three thousand Pounds which is to be set apart out of my Bonds or money out of my Estate which together with the beforesaid real and personal Estate is for and in lieu of her Dower for and during her natural Life and at her Death I give the said real and personal Estate with the three thousand pounds unto my son George Rapelje to Have and to Hold to him, his Heirs and assigns for ever --
Item I give and bequeath unto my Grand Daughter Maria Rapelje Daughter of my Son Abel Rapelje deceas'd the Sum of two hundred pounds current money of New York annually and to be set apart and to be paid to her out"
out [sic] of the Rent Income or Profits of the Farm I bought of Thomas Pell on the Manor of Pelham Every Year during her natural life and at her Death to revert to my Son George Rapelje his Heirs and assigns for ever -- And I hereby nominate and appoint my son George Rapelje trustee well and truly to perform my Bequeath to my Grand Daughter Maria Rapelje
Item All the Rest, Residue and Remainder of my real and personal Estate whatsoever and wheresoever I give and Bequeath unto my Son George Rapelje to Have and to Hold to him, his Heirs and assigns for ever. Lastly I hereby nominate and appoint my loving Wife Nelly Executrix and my Son George Executor of this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking and disannulling all former Wills by me heretofore made. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and Seal this Eight day of July in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety five. Rem Rapelje LS [LS Appears within indication of seal at this point] Signed, Sealed and delivered by the said Rem Rapelje as his last Will and Testament in the presence of us. The word and in the 6th Line first erased & the word pounds between 23 & 24 Line first interlined. Mangle Minthorne, Joseph Stringham, Frank Child. --
Westchester County ss. Be it Remembered that on this twentieth day of November in the Year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five personally appeared before me Edward Thomas Surrogate of the said County of Westchester, Mangle Minthorne Esquire -- who being duly sworn upon his Oath declared that he did see Rem Rapelje sign and seal the preceding written instrument purporting to be the will of the said Rem Rapelje bearing date the Eighth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety five and heard him publish and declare the same as and for his last Will"
and Testament that at the Time thereof he the said Rem Rapelje was of sound and disposing mind and memory to the Best of the Knowledge and Belief of him the Deponent and that Joseph Stringham, Frank Child and the Deponent severally subscribed the said will as witnesses thereto in the Testator's presence.
23d November 1805. I delivered to George Rapelje the original will of his father Rem Rapelje of which the preceding is a Copy. It was delivered to him at Harlem Bridge with Receipt for same --
Edward Thomas --"
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Below are images of the record of Rem Rapelje's will, the text of which appears immediately above. Each image below is followed by a citation and link to its source.
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