Collapse of a Colonial Society

Church and Sunday in Old New York,
page 15 of 16

In 1744 Domine Rubel and Domine Van Sinderin were sent to Flatbush, the last ministers sent from the Classis of Amsterdam to any American church; but at their death the Dutch tongue was not silent in the Flatbush church; for their successor, Domine Schoonmaker, lived to be ninety years old, and never preached but one sermon in English. With his death, in 1824, ceased the public use of the Dutch language in the Flatbush pulpit. Until the year 1792 the entire service in his church was “the gospel undefiled, in Holland Dutch.” Until the year 1830 services in the sequestered churches in the Catskills were held alternately in Dutch and English. Until 1777 all the records of the Sleepy Hollow church were kept in Dutch; and in 1785 all its services were in Dutch. In September of that year, a little child, Lovine Hauws, was baptized in English by the new minister, Rev. Stephen Van Voorhees. This raised a small Dutch tempest, and the new domine soon left that parish.

In New York City the large English immigration, the constant requirements and influences of commerce, and the frequent intermarriages of the English and Dutch robbed the Dutch language of its predominance by the middle of the eighteenth century. Rev. Dr. Laidlie preached in 1764 the first English sermon to a Dutch Reformed congregation. By 1773 English was used in the Dutch school, and young people began to shun the Dutch services.

The growth of the Dutch Reformed church in New York was slow; this was owing to three marked and direct causes:—

First, from 1693 until Revolutionary times Episcopacy was virtually established by law in a large part of the province,— in the city and county of New York, and in the counties of Westchester, Richmond, and Queens; and though the Dutch Reformed church was protected and respected, people of all denominations were obliged to contribute to the support of the Episcopal church.

Second, the English language had become the current language of the province; in the schools, the courts, in all public business it was the prevailing tongue, while the services of the Dutch Reformed church were by preference held in Dutch.


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