One of the first slaves to arrive in Manhattan in 1626. In 1644 Manuel de Groot was granted 8 acres of land and was still living there 20 years later. His widow, 660,076-Christina inherited the property, as recorded in a 1667 document signed by the new British Governor, Richard Nicolls. New Amsterdam, New York by Martine Gosselink
One of eleven slaves who were emancipated on February 25, 1644.
See the link below for an image of the document and a transcription:
The image above is provided with compliments of The Mark E. Mitchell Collection of African American History (www.blackhistorymatters.com).
Here is a transcription:
1667 Manhattan Land Grant -- Richard Nicolls, first Governor of New York (1626), affirms and
grants the assignment of a 1644 land parcel in Manhattan held by Groote (Big) Manuel, a free Negro.
ONE OF THE FIRST ELEVEN
BLACKS IN NEW YORK (1626)
RICHARD NICOLLS, THE FIRST GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK, AFFIRMS AND GRANTS THE ASSIGNMENT OF A 1644 LAND PARCEL IN MANHATTAN HELD BY GROOTE (BIG) MANUEL, A FREE NEGRO, TO HIS WIFE FOLLOWING HIS DEATH. MANUEL WAS ONE OF THE FIRST ELEVEN BLACKS IN NEW YORK (1626), AND PARTICIPATED IN THE FIRST BLACK LEGAL PROTEST IN AMERICA (1644)
Autograph Document Signed
Richard Nicolls (1624-1672)
(re: Groot Manuel - Free Black Man, deceased)
Fort James “in New Yorke”
October 19, 1667
Document Signed with seal. 1 page. 16 ½” x 12 ½”. Professionally restored and removed from old backing boards, and fold splits and holes have been immaculately filled and repaired to the finest standards possible. Given the very small number of Blacks in the Colony at this time (about 500), in all probability, this rare document remains as one of the earliest of its type in America detailing land ownership by free Blacks.
The document reads, in full:
“Richard Nicolls, Esq. Governor Generall, und his Royall Highnesse, James Duke Of York and Albany &c, of all his Territoryes in America; To all to whom these presents shall come, sendeth Greeting. Whereas there was a Patent or Groundbriefe, heretofore graunted by the Dutch Governour, William Kieft, unto Groote Manuell, a Free Negro, for a certaine Parcell of Land, lying and being upon this Island Manhatan, betwixt the Lands of Manuell Trompetter, and Swagers Land, Stretching next to the said Trompetters Lands, South, South East, it Conteines ninety Rods; Then East, South East, Eighteene Rods, and west, some what Southerly to the first descent, Thirty nine Rods; Amounting in all to about twelve Acres, or six Margen, and three hundred, Eighty Seven Rods; Which sd. Patent or Groundbriefe, so graunted as aforesaid, beares date the 21th day of December 1644. Now the said Groote Manuell, being deceased, and the Title and Interest in the premises, devolved upon Christina his widdow and Relict; for a Confirmed and unto her the said Christina, in her Possession and Enjoyment of the premisses, Know yee, That by vertue of the Commission and Authority, unto me given by his Royall Highness, I have Ratifyed, Confirmed and graunted, And by the sd. presents, do Ratify, Confirme and graunt, unto the aforementioned Christina, her heires and Assignes, the afore recited Parcell of Land and premisses, with all and singular the Appurtenances. To have and to hold, the said Parcell of Land and premisses, unto the said Christina, her heires and Assignes, unto the proper use and behoofe, of the said Christina, her heires and Assignes for ever: Rendering and Paying, such Dutyes and Acknowledgments, as now are, or hereafter shall bee, Constituted and Established, by the Lawes of this Governm’t, under the Obedience of his Royall Highness, his heires and Successors: Given under my hand & Seale, at Fort James in New Yorke, the 19th day of October, in the 19th yeare of his Ma’ties. Reigne, Anno. Domini 1667.
Recorded by Ord. Of the Governo’r.
the Day and yeare above written./
Matthias Nicolls Secr’y