We also know that Aaron was a privateer or private person commissions and authorized by ‘investors’ in Holland to engage as a commerce raider to interrupt enemy trade. His ship was hired by the British government which was then under rule by Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603). It has long been argued that privateering was a less destructive and wasteful means of warfare because the overall goal was to capture enemy ships rather than to sink them. Any captured cargo, as well as the vessel itself, would be sold off at auction with the proceeds being distributed among the privateer's owners, the officers and crew. We know that Aaron Cornelius was Captain of such a vessel and initially I was hoping to discover that he was Captain of a ship whose career might be well documented; a ship whose name inspired fear in the hearts of all who heard that it was sailing the seas in their vicinity - a true pirate. In my youth I though about having a pirate as an ancestor could be really neat. Unfortunately I learned that the ship carried the dreadful name of The Canary Bird and, although during its time it was a noble name, I often wondered how such could inspire fright. All I could picture was a sailor leaning over the port side of his vessel screaming in total fear, as he pointed to some brightly painted yellow ship that had appeared on the horizon, “Help us dear lord it’s the dreadful Canary Bird!” So much for my Hollywood images of a privateer. I did learn that Aaron sailed the seven seas flying a flag under British Colors, which is probably where the confusion of birth originates but little is told of his exploits.
Elizabeth Ist died in March of 1603. She was succeeded by King James the Ist (1566-1625). Although a staunch Protestant, James was the son of the Catholic Queen of Scotland Mary I and her husband Henry Stuart. He had succeeded the ‘virgin’ Queen because she died without an heir and because his mother was Elizabeth’s half sister. It was during his reign that privateering was disbanded and no longer permitted which put people like Aaron Cornelius out of business. After King James Ist died he was succeeded by his eldest of eight children, Charles Ist (1600-1649).
We know according to historical records that Aaron first visited the new world around 1635 and that his new occupation was now that of transporting pilgrims. It is believed that Aaron fell in love with America around this period. Ten years earlier, in 1625 and just five years after the Mayflower had landed at Plymouth Rock which was in December of 1620, the Matinecock Indians had sold the New York land to the Dutch at the rate of one ax for about every fifty acres. These early colonies became known as Vlissengen or New Amsterdam and were placed under the authority of Governor William Kieft. The Matinecock Indians also fed these early colonists in the harsh winter of 1637. They would have starved otherwise. However, something went tragically wrong. For a brief span of time the settlers and the Indians fought bitterly, with bloody reprisals on both sides. It is said that peace was finally restored to the area with the arrival of more English settlers in 1645. This is when Aaron Cornelius returned with a final cargo aboard The Canary Birdor about 90 people, exiled British families, who had fled to Holland to escape the religious persecution by King Charles Ist (1600-1649). It is no secret that religious conflicts permeated Charles’ reign, as it did during his father’s. Many Protestants had come to believe that the Church of England was no better than Roman Catholicism. Charles attempted to force religious reforms onto them but many, who had become known as ‘separatists’, simply fled England to Holland, rather than submit. Captain Aaron Cornelius was now bringing some of them to their new home. Governor William Kieft had granted them a land patent to begin a new colony. The patent was dated October 10th, 1645 and was given to four individuals and their families who would remain in charge of the new colony. They were John Hicks, John Lawrence, Thomas Farrington and Aaron Cornelius. Their land grant would later be known as Flushing and was located at the farthest western edge of Long Island. It would later become part of the New York City borough known as Queens.
Aaron would later move, buy the land of David Esmond and build an estate which historically became known as The Homestead. It is located a few miles west, just outside of Freeport on the Montauk Highway.
We learned that Aaron was married twice during his life. His second wife was Patience Patrick. She was the daughter of Daniel and Anna (maiden name: van Beyeren) Patrick (sometimes Kirkpatrick) who had already been living in the Massachusetts Bay Colony years before his own arrival in America. They arrived aboard the ship Arabella with John Winthrop who would be the first Governor of Massachusetts. Within the early 1630s these colonies began expanding into the rich Connecticut River Valley in order to accommodate the steady stream of emigrants from England. The only major obstacle to these new settlements were the Pequots who lived in the desired areas. The settlers had many confrontations with these Indian which finally precipitated in the first all-out war between Native Americans and English settlers in northeastern America. Historically it is called the Pequot War and it occurred in 1637. Both sides seemingly had their own agenda, both sides were neither right or wrong. It was simply two totally opposite cultures clashing. The turning point to this war happened on May 26th 1637 under the leadership of Captain John Mason from Connecticut and Captain John Underhill from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This is when the Colonial troops with the help of the Mohegan and Narragansett Indians as allies, attacked and burned the main Pequot village on the Mystic River in Connecticut. They killed an estimated 400 to 700 Indians; men, women, children, young and old, and even babies, no one was spared. They butchered everyone. It is a date that will forever live in the infamy of American history as being the first truly barbaric act done upon native Americans. Done out of greed for their land and to 'purify the heathens' in the name of Christ by burning many of them alive, or so the Puritan Underhill so proudly claimed. In the end these early settlers boasted a great victory but the greater tragedy of their actions is that it would forever change the attitude of how Europeans dealt with the American Indian. As for the Pequot leader Sassacus, he fled and sought refuge with the Mohawks but instead of granting him asylum they executed him. This occurred on May 28th 1637. They sent his severed head to the English as tribute. Those Pequot Indians who were captured by the British were sold in the West Indies as slaves. Those Pequots who managed to escape, fled to surrounding Indian tribes and were assimilated. Daniel Patrick fought in the Colonial troops under Mason and Underhill. He aided in the total annihilation of the Pequots, a once a powerful Indian nation whose land now became colonized by new settlers. On April 24th 1638 one of the new settlements became known as New Haven. In the following years, in July of 1639, Daniel Patrick moved his family down into the Greenwich, Connecticut area and set up homestead. It is reported that he was killed by a Dutch soldier named Hans Frederick at the house of Captain John Underhill in nearby Stamford, Connecticut in 1644. As to why, I don't know.
Knowing what Daniel Patrick had done at Mystic River I can only say that I am proud that he is not a Cornelius by blood for I consider the date of May 26, 1637 as being the single most tragic moment in my family's history. I only mention Daniel Patrick because his daughter, Patience, would marry my direct descendant, Aaron Cornelius. Together Aaron and Patience had two children, Elias and Mary. Between Aaron's two marriages he had five children.
3. Aaron & Paitience Cornelius
1. Elias born 1683 died 1718
2. Mary born .......... died ..........
It is recorded that Aaron Cornelius died in Flushings, Long Island peacefully on February 28th in 1695. His Last Will & Testament, dated November 25th 1694, gave his entire estate and property to his eldest son John, by his first wife. As for John, he had married Mary Yates twelve years earlier on August 2nd 1682. We know they had eight children. It appears that John had his father's 'love of the sea' and he didn't wish to settle down, or at least in America. So in May of 1696 John signed over his father's estate in Long Island to his stepbrother Elias for a mere pittance of nine pence. It is from Elias that I am descended. Somewhere between 1700 and 1705 John sailed back to England with his family and their slave whom was called, believe it or not, Sambo. As for The Homestead, it was passed down from one generation of Cornelius to another, until the early 19th century. Books which discuss the history of this house all claim it is very haunted. With regret, very little is known of John or that particular branch of the Cornelius family tree once he left for England. We do know that John settled his family somewhere near London. Some historians even claim one of his descendants known as Joseph Cornelius returned to America around 1835 and settled near Graysville, New York.
The rest of my family seems to be typical and almost boring, although I'm only guessing. Who knows what lies in the closets. To give a brief, but completely accurate genealogy of my blood line in America is as follows. When Aaron's son Elias took a wife in 1701 he married a young woman named Sarah Harned of Amityville. She was the daughter of Jonathan Harnett [Harned] and Rebecca Jones, who had five children, three boys and two girls. Sarah was the oldest and was born in 1684. ... Together, Elias and Sarah had three children.
4. Elias and Sarah Cornelius
1. Elias II born Nov. 5th 1703 died June 25th 1743
2. Mary Elizabeth born 1705 died May 13th 1750
3. Mary born .......... died ..........
Elias died peaceably in May of 1718 in Oyster Bay, New York. His wife had died the year before. When his son, Elias II grew up, he married a twenty two year old woman from Flushing, Long Island by the name of Elizabeth Rock Smith. This took place on December 3rd in 1725. Elizabeth was the daughter of Jonathan and Elizabeth Smith. She was born on August 12th 1703 in of Oyster Bay, New York. In her marriage to Elias II, Elizabeth had six children according to The History of the Cornelius Family in America (1926).
5. Elias II and Elizabeth Cornelius
1. Elias III born March 12th 1729 died 1762
2. Jane born July 20th 1731 died November 12th 1815
3. Patience born April 22nd 1734 died [spinster]
4. Jonathan born January 26th 1736 died 1820
5. John born Dec.22nd 1739 died April 10, 1814
6. Moses born April 21st 1743 died September 1796
We also know that Elias II died on June 25th 1743 in Oyster Bay, New York and about two years later on April 25, 1745 Elizabeth remarried to a gentleman named Ezekiel Matthews. Some sources have her giving birth to two more daughters, Jane and Hannah.
2. Aaron born May 9th 1610 died February 28th 1695
There have been a few different books written about the Cornelius family and it is from these that I draw some of the earliest accounts of my family in the United States. In one of these books, The History of The Cornelius Family in America Volume 1 (1926), it states that although all the exact dates are not known, around 1610, two brothers were born in 17th Century England by the name of John and Aaron Cornelius. We now know that this is incorrect, both boys were not born in England but in Streefkerk, Netherlands.
A picture of the 'Homestead' with later addition added on.