New Rochelle, Westchester County, New York – Approximately 1755 to 1760

To find Claudius, a Frenchman, in the English colonies, during the time period of the French and Indian War (between 1754 and 1763) is a tale in itself. By 1755, perhaps earlier, Claudius and Marie Boatman lived in the New Rochelle area of Westchester county, New York. New Rochelle was founded around 1689 by French Huguenots escaping persecution in France, and named for the port of New Rochelle in their “mother” country.  French immigrants were coming into the area “en masse” all the way up to 1760. i

huguenotearlyTo be free to pursue one’s own religion is something many take for granted today; in the early years of our country it was one of the prime motivations for many, if not most,  of our ancestor’s arrival.  In New Rochelle, a memorial stands, erected in 1898 by the Huguenot Association and the Westchester Historical Society, as a remembrance of the early settlers of New Rochelle. The last name of Bouteman is among the Colonial settlers listed there.

Claudius, a Huguenot, perhaps from the Lorraine, most likely allied himself more with his religion and province than his country. A Huguenot, as his Claudius’ membership in the “English” church in New Rochelle implies, would certainly, after years of persecution, have very little loyalty to the French crown. (See discussion in the comments, below.) There’s been speculation that Claudius was Waldensian, a member of the religion that originated in 12th century France, which perhaps may give some hints as to his family’s early origins.

I’d like to take a moment to thank a cousin who has generously shared so much history on the Boatmans, Dolly Cairns, who supplied this record, as well as many more, over the years: “Fanny, ‘Francoise’ Bouteman, was baptized in New York, with parents listed as Claudius Bouteman and Marie.  Perhaps other members of the family were born and baptized there as well.” ii  Some believe this membership is an indication that Marie was English, however, it simply indicates one was a member of the Protestant religion.  It’s very likely Marie was French or of French ancestry as her name, marriage and location in New Rochelle imply. iii

trinityWhile many assume the children of Claudius and Marie were born in France or Pennsylvania, the dates the Boatman family lived in New Rochelle (and later, near Warwick, New York) make that simply an impossibility. There is some controversy about Fanny (and hence, Margaret, who many believe was older) who some say was born in France, but this is very possibly because some of the English family referred to Fanny as a “French girl.”  Margaret was born about 1752, Fanny around 1755, and Mary “Polly” was born in 1757, and is documented with her birth date and location.  Claudius, Jr., was likely to have been born in 1759 or 60. Cornelius, who is somewhat controversial as a son of Claudius, would have been before 1765 and probably earlier. Jane, who was born about 1761, was born in the few years gap between the last records of the Boatman family in New Rochelle and the first records of the family near Warwick, Orange county, New York, so it’s been difficult to establish where in New York she was born. Clearly, though, New Rochelle was the most likely birth place for the older Boatman children, and a birth location of Pennsylvania would be, at best, highly improbable.

Scene of Operations French and Indian War

Scene of Operations French and Indian War

In the Colonies, all able bodied men were required to appear and “Muster,” and Claudius appears on two rolls, 1759 and 1760. From the 1759 Muster Roll“A Muster Roll of Men Rais’d and Pas’d Muster in the County of Westchester for Capt. Joshua Bloomer His Company, April 30th 1759.” “Gloude Boatman” was recorded on “April 8th, 31 years of age, from France and a Cooper by trade.”  He is enlisted under the “Company of Captain ‘Second.’ ” (this is really Captain Peter Secord) and the officer who  Claudius “Inlisted” for is Captain Bloomer.  “The above Muster Roll made up and delivered Capt. Bloomer pr me May 1st 1759 John Thomas, Muster Master for Westchester County.”  Claudius has been described as “5’10”, “light eyes, brown hair.” iv

Claudius’ birth is pinpointed as 1728, give or take, depending on his birth month. His occupation is listed as “Cooper,” a skilled trade that generally required an apprenticeship and a good number of tools. An assumption might be made that Claudius did not spend the whole of his younger days in the French army, and perhaps supported himself by this trade prior to his entry into the Colonies. v

Pierre Van Cortlandt

Pierre Van Cortlandt

In 1760, Claudius appears on a second roll: “Colonial Muster Roll: “A Roll of his Majestyes Seventh Company of Melitia in the Upper Battalion in the County of West Chester wherof William Willett Esqr is Collo., James Verplank Lievt Collo. And PiereVan Cortlandt Major.” Gload Boatman” is listed under “Privat” Men.” The Corporals above him are listed as“Ebenezer Lobdell, John Dickson, Jun., John Pardy, Jur., and Henry Wyatt” vi

According to Frederick Haacker, who compiled the information in the book, Cortlandt’s company was never called into service as a full company in 1760, although various members may have served in other companies. The only record of service for the Westchester companies as a full unit was in August of 1767 when 1200 men were called for about a week. In 1755, Westchester men were called in to be a part of the New York Regiment, and served in the Campaign against Crown Point on Lake Champlain; Claudius’ name was not found on any of the well documented indexes for that campaign. Unless new information comes to light, we may never know what battles of the French & Indian War Claudius served in, if any.

Wooden Horse

Wooden Horse

Frederick Haacker described service in the Militia during the time period. Men were required to muster four times a year and take part in one training a year: “All males above the age of 16 and under 60…were to provide himself and appear and muster with a good, well-fixed musket or fuzee, a good sword and belt and cartridge box, six cartridges of powder, a horn and six sizeable bullets. At home he must always have on hand one pound of good gunpowder and three pounds of sizeable bullets. For want of these articles, a fine of 20 shillings and prison charges were imposed till the fine was paid. At his discretion, a captain was allowed to levy upon and sell the “delinguent’s” goods. In case the offender be unable or refuse to pay, and he have no goods to distress, he shall ride the wooden horse, or he laid by the neck and heels in a public place for a time not to exceed one hour.”

The French & Indian, or Seven Years war was a particularly brutal time period in American history. Atrocities were committed by both sides, people huddled together in hastily constructed “forts“ or sturdier homes. One historian describes the time period:  “Perhaps no subjects more engaged the thoughts of the New York colonist in the decade before 1763 than the encroachments of the French upon the frontiers of several of the English colonies, his own included, and then the seven years’ war which was the consequence. The names on the muster rolls, which, have been so wonderfully preserved, indicate how largely Westchester County contributed to swell the armies sent forth in several campaigns. As the fortunes of the several battles, sieges and marches varied, the firesides of these country homes were illuminated or darkened…” vii

One Mile to Bushy Station by Robert Griffing

One Mile to Bushy Station by Robert Griffing

The French & Indian war ended in 1763, and exactly when the Boatman family left New Rochelle for Warwick, Orange county, New York is a bit unclear;  The last record in New Rochelle is in 1760, the first record in Warwick, 1765, but at some point the family left New Rochelle, crossed the Hudson and made the 60 mile or so journey to their new home near Warwick.

I’ve had a lot of fun researching Claudius, and am pleased to share everything I’ve learned, much of it due to other researchers before me – please feel free to use anything on this site – I do ask you to source it, though, so others may find it. And please, share what you know in the same spirit this has been shared – I welcome all corrections, comments and discussion. mvkirby – I can be emailed directly at


i Columbia University, History of New Rochelle

ii BOYER, CARL, 3RD, editor Ship Passenger Lists, New York and New Jersey (1600-1825) Jan 1, 1978, 333 pages:  page 147; this record is also shown in the “Biographical Sketches and Index of the Huguenots Settlers in New Rochelle, author Morgan H. Seacord, published by the Huguenot and Historical Association, 1941, page 15.

iii At the time Claudius lived in New Rochelle, the Protestant Church would have been the “Church of England,” hence the term “English Church.”  In 1709, the French Calvinists, Huguenots, agreed to conform to the Church of England. There were two dissenters who attempted to operate their own Huguenot church in New Rochelle, but had no pastor and the struggling community was annexed to the closest “French” churches or Huguenot Churches in New York, 17 miles away. “Toward the Revolution” the church dissolved. The church was torn down and the congregation merged into the Presbyterian church.

iv Annual Report of the State Historian, New York New York State, State Historian, January 1 1897, Wynkoop, Hallenbeck Crawford Company, state printers, page 961. also:   NYGenWeb’s Westchester County, New York, Muster Rolls

v Collections of the New York Historical Society for the Year 1891, by Edward F De Lancy; Daniel Parish, Jr.; Charles Isham, New York: New-York Historical Society, 1892, vol. XXIV, pages 188-193, in copy available Fort Stockton Public Library, Fort Stockton, Tx 432 336 3374– note: my searches on this muster roll have revealed, so far, no documentation for the height and eye color of Claudius; perhaps the original records or another edition reflect this.

vi “Westchester, New York and the French and Indian Wars, 1755-1762” by Frederick O. Hacker, 1952, Self Published, typewritten, page 108

vii “A History of Westchester County, New York, by John Thomas Scharf.” History of Westchester county, New York, including Morrisania, Kings Bridge, and West Farms, which have been annexed to New York city; (1886) Author: Scharf, J. Thomas (John Thomas), 1843-1898, ed Volume: pt. 2 Subject: Manors Publisher: Philadelphia, L. E. Preston & co. Year: 1886, page 167

3 thoughts on “New Rochelle, Westchester County, New York – Approximately 1755 to 1760

  1. My thought re Cooper trade: If he had immigrated from the port of LaRochelle, France to the port of New Rochelle, NY he may have developed his trade before coming to the Colonies and that, in addition to it being the place where thousands of other Huegonots had settled, may have been his reason for coming to this port of New Rochelle.

    Great detail on religion and military research – those are areas where I need to know and understand more about.

  2. I’ve thought the same thing about the Cooper trade – this was a trade that required skill and tools – it would have been something that would require some type of apprenticeship – skilled work.

    While I’m thinking about New Rochelle, someone asked about why New Rochelle would be named after an area in France, the Mother country, when ppl were escaping from there. From what I understand, the Port of LaRochelle was one of the areas a lot of Protestants lived in. There were a number of cities “given” to the Protestants in the Edict of Nantes – LaRochelle was one of them, and the King actually paid 180,000 ecrus a year in support for LaRochelle. The other 150 “strongholds” were maintained at the expense of the “Reformed” population (Huguenot)

    Huguenots in France made up a great deal of the trades, and when the Edict of Nantes was repealed, even though emigration was forbidden, France lost a lot of their skilled labor and assets. The country was nearly devastated so many Protestants poured out to different areas.

  3. I have read some about New Rochelle and LaRochelle too and agree with what you are saying – though you have certainly digested many more details and reframed it very well! From the heart – I always try to put heart into my interpretations – renaming new homeground after the place of origin (one has left) – it was still their home of “roots” where they had a love and a bond for family and friends as well as memories from their tragic circumstances. I cannot begin to know how many towns and cities in New England are named after towns of origins in England, by those who came to the Colonies to escape religious persecution. Even New England is named after the very country that made their lives miserable! So, not surprising they would do the same, I think.

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