Manuel
de Gerrit de Reus
Alternate First Name(s)
Giant Manuel
ID
1,660,111 - Manuel de Gerrit de Reus
Gender
Male
User Tags:
Occupation(s):
Notes from Index to Castello Plan

Additional Reading:

Root and Branch : African Americans in New York and East Jersey, 1613-1863 by Graham Russell Hodges
http://www.amazon.com/Root-Branch-African-Americans-1613-1863/dp/080784778X

This book provides a map of the lands that were eventually granted to the slaves involved in the trial of Manuel de Gerrit de Reus

Biographical Notes:

The first slaves arrived in Manhattan in 1626.   There were 11 of them and most had Portuguese names.....Manuel de Gerrit de Reus (Giant Manuel) who probably belonged to Gerrit de Reux, a colonial settler in the 1620s and 1630s.   

When in 1641 the slave Jan Premero was murdered, eight slaves, including Giant Manuel, made a group confession to the murder.  1

Recent scholarship suggests that there were 9 slaves involved in the trial. 2


The slaves were tried before the Director and Council sitting as a court of justice.   They had to decide how to handle this situation as the Court of Burgomasters and Schepens did not yet exist at the time of the trial.

See this link for more information about Manuel from the New York Historical Society:
http://www.slaveryinnewyork.org/PDFs/Life_Stories.pdf

Please visit the New York Historical Society website for additional reading and educational materials:
https://www.nyhistory.org/web/

Historian Chris Moore provides us with more information:
On February 25, 1644, eleven Company slaves, including Manuel, successfully petitioned for their freedom, and the Dutch council granted their emancipation. Their wives received immediate freedom too, however, their children remained the property of the DWIC.  The children all eventually received emancipation too.
The newly freed men received grants of farmland in the frontier region north of New Amsterdam. According to land conveyance records it was called the "negroes land" or "the land of the blacks." 19th century historian David Valentine called it "the negro frontier."  Note the map from the I.N. Phelps Stokes Iconography of Manhattan Island, which shows the placement of some of the farms in the Greenwich Village area. Chris Moore also created a photo overlay of land documents for the New York Historical Society which is available below. In 1665, the English questioned the freedom and property owning standing of the free blacks. Their freedom and landownership was verified by then former governor Peter Stuyvesant.
Free and enslaved blacks lived in the environment of New Amsterdam. In 1653, Stuyvestant primarily relied on the slaves to build the town wall (Wall Street). In 1658, Stuyvesant ordered the Company slaves to build the ten mile road to the island's second settlement, New Harlem.


 

Biographical Notes Source:

1 New York, New Amsterdam by Martine Gosselink
2 Brothers Among Nations, 2008, by Cynthia Van Zandt