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Matthias Hatfield (1635-1687) and Maria Mariken Melyn (1637-1694)

Matthias Hatfield and Maria Melyn are our 9th great grandparents by the following path:  RWA → Vera Esler Abbott → Martha Tappan Esler → Emily Harned Tappan → Abigail Acken Harned → Phebe Hatfield Acken → Moses Hatfield → Matthias Hatfield → Matthias Hatfield → Isaac Hatfield → Matthias Hatfield and Maria Mariken Melyn


Maria Mariken Melyn was the sixth oldest of the eleven children of Cornelis Melyn and Janneken Adriaens.  Maria was born in Amsterdam and emigrated with her parents and siblings around 1641.  Cornelis Melyn was a prominent figure in New Netherland and was the subject of an earlier profile.

The “Peach Tree” War

Maria was first married to Claes Allertson Paradys on 18 June 1655.  This marriage had a tragic end in September 1655 when Claes was killed in the inaccurately named Peach Tree War.  On 15 September 1655 a coalition of various Indian tribes attacked four of the New Netherland towns killing about 50 settlers, took about 150 settlers captive, and burned much property.  The house of Cornelis Melyn was burned and he and his family were held captive for several weeks. 

The name Peach Tree War derives from the idea that the attack was a retaliation for the killing of Tachinki, a young Wappiinger woman, by Hendrick van Dyck who caught her stealing peaches.  However, further historical analysis concluded that the attack was much more likely a response by the tribes to Peter Stuyvesant ordering the surrender of New Sweden on 1 September 1655.  As part of negotiations with settlers, tribes reached mutual protection agreements with settlers.  One of the leaders of the September 1655 attacks was the chief of the Minquas, a tribe along the South River near New Sweden, and it would make sense that the attack would come in response to New Netherland taking over New Sweden.  In any case, Maria Melyn’s new husband and her brother Cornelis were killed in the attack.  Maria was pregnant at the time of her husband’s death (and likely pregnant at the time of the marriage) as their son Claes was born November 1655.


Uncertain Origins of Matthias Hatfield

The origins of a Matthias Hatfield are uncertain.  For a long time, it was thought that Matthias's father was an Englishman who had traveled to Leiden with the Puritan migration.  There is now some thought the he was Dutch and not related to Thomas Hatfield the Englishman (with a long line of noble, landed gentry).  But there is a lot of disagreement about this by the experts.  In fact, the same primary genealogist on the Hatfield family first made the case that Matthias was the son of Thomas the Englishman and 20 years later made the case the Matthias was Dutch and not related to Thomas.  So, who knows?


Matthias and Maria and Early Elizabeth, New Jersey

It is clearer that Matthias Hatfield came to Staten Island from Leiden, Holland (pictured at the top of the page) under the Patroon Cornelis Melyn.  Matthias married Cornelis Melyn's daughter Maria in 1664 at New Haven.  Matthias settled first in New Haven, where Melyn had gone, but after the first of their children, the family relocated to Elizabeth Town, New Jersey (later Elizabeth, New Jersey).  Elizabeth Town was founded by the English in 1664 as part of the whole English takeover of the area that had been New Netherland.  Matthias and Maria Hatfield were among the first settlers there.  Matthias took the Oath of Allegiance with sixty-four others on 19 February 1665.


In December 1673, Matthias Hatfield bought a stone house from Abraham Lubberson on the corner of what is now Pearl Street in Elizabeth.  That house stayed in the Hatfield family until 1914, but has since been demolished.  Matthias Hatfield was a man of considerable means.  He worked as both a boatman and a weaver and owned tanneries along the Elizabeth River.  He held several positions in the town including High Sheriff and tax collector.  He was the owner of the land on which the Presbyterian church was later built and is believed to have been responsible for the donation of that land to the church.


Matthias and Maria had six known children, and a seventh child has been suggested but not proved.  Our ancestor is the second oldest child Isaac (1667-1709). 


A Young Bride Maria Paradys Raises Eyebrows

There is this story from the New Haven Colony Records which illustrates some of the restrictions of early colonial life.  Sarah Tuttle went one day to visit the Melyn family at their home in New Haven.  Mrs. Melyn sent her into the room where her daughters Maria (our ancestor) and Susanna were.  Jacob Melyn, the brother, came into the house and went into the same room, and while there he kissed Sarah Tuttle, for which action her father brought him into Court.  The justices reproved Maria Melyn Pardee "a married woman" for allowing such as thing to occur in her presence.  (The Hatfields of Westshester, p. 8)


Hatfields and McCoys?

There is an idea that one of the children of Matthias and Maria is the progenitor of the line that wound up in West Virginia-Kentucky as one-half of the Hatfield-McCoy feud.  I have not tracked that down accurately but will let you know if those turn out to be our cousins.


Family Group Sheet for Matthias Hatfield and Maria Melyn:



Hatfield, Abraham. (1935).  The Hatfields of Westchester:  A genealogy of the descendants of Thomas Hatfield. New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.  (accessed through the Hathi Trust)

Hatfield, Abraham. (1954). The Descendants of Matthias Hatfield. New York: Genealogical and Biographical Society.

Hatfield, Edwin. (2010).  History of Elizabeth, New Jersey.  Applewood Books.

New Netherland Council. (1995). Council Minutes 1655-1656. Syracuse University Press. (available through Google books)

Shorto, Russell. (2004).  The Island at the Center of the World.  New York:  Doubleday.


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