The Drowning Room

The Dutch Vrouws,
page 3 of 9

Over the purchase and equipment of this ship arose a great quarrel, for “those miserable, covetous people Margaret and her husband “tried to take away the Charles’long-boat because timber for a new one was cheaper in New York than in Falmouth, England. Naturally, the passengers objected to crossing the Atlantic without a ship’s-boat. Dankers complained further of Margaret’s “miserable covetousness,” —that she made the ship lay to for an hour and a half and sent out the jolly-boat to pick up a ship’s mop or swab worth six cents; and the carpenter swore because she had not furnished new leather and spouts for the pumps. Dankers explained at length the enhancement of the Philipse profits through some business arrangement and preferment with the Governor, by which Frederick Philipse became the largest trader with the Five Nations at Albany, had a profitable slave-trade with Africa, and, it is asserted, was in close bonds with the Madagascar pirates. Whether “Margaret” favored this trade with the pirates is not known; but it could probably be said of her trade, as of many others in the colony, that it was hard to draw the dividing line between privateering and piracy.

Her calling was not singular in New Amsterdam. The little town abounded in women-traders.

Elizabeth Van Es was the daughter of one of the early Albany magistrates. She married Gerrit Bancker, and on becoming a widow removed to New York, where she promptly opened a store on her own account, and conducted it with success till her death, in 1694. In the inventory of her effects were a share in a brigantine, a large quantity of goods and peltries, as well as various silver-clasped Bibles, gold and stone rings, and silver tankards and beakers, showing her success in her business career. The wife of the great Jacob Leisler, a Widow Vanderveen when he married her, was a trader. Lysbet, the widow of Merchant Reinier, became the wife of Domine Drisius, of New York. She carried on for many years a thriving trade on what is now Pearl Street, near Whitehall Street, and was known to every one as Mother Drisius. The wife of Domine Van Varick also kept a small store, and thus helped out her husband’s salary.


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