Explorer Henry Hudson, seeking a northwest passage to the Orient, entered what is today known as Jamaica Bay and “discovered” the Rockaway (then known as Reckowacky or “the place of our own people”) peninsula.
After wintering in lower Manhattan, Adriaen Block, Dutch navigator, sailed up the East River and through Hell Gate making it likely that he and his crew were the first Europeans to see Queens. He named the passage through the river “Hell Gate” meaning “bright passage.”
March 28, 1642
The first charter for a permanent settlement on Long Island was
granted to Englishman Reverend Francis Doughty. The Rev. Doughty patent included
the lands at the headwaters of the Newtown (Mespaetches) Creek and was named
Maspeth (Mispat). The patent covered lands that stretched to the current Jamaica
border, Flushing Creek, and Long Island City. The Doughty settlement did not last
as it was burned out during an Indian uprising in 1643. After a short stormy term
as minister in Flushing, Doughty eventually moved to Maryland and Virginia.
Richard Bruntnel receives a land grant in Dutch Kills. His farm embraces
the modern communities of Sunnyside and Blissville.
October 10, 1645
Vlissingen received a charter from Willem Kieft, the Dutch
governor of New Amsterdam and New Netherland. Vlissingen, named after a city
in the Netherlands, was later corrupted by English speakers to "Flushing."
October 19, 1645
Pieter Andriesen de Schoorsteenveger secured a ground brief, which covered much of Ravenswood. He enjoyed this land only a short time, for he was carried off into captivity by Indians during the "Indian Troubles of 1655." He was never to be heard of again.
December 1, 1652
Englishman William Hallett Sr. received a land brief from
the Dutch authorities in New Amsterdam for 161 acres in northwestern Queens.
The area became Hallett's Cove and Hallett's Point on the East River at Hell
Gate, now Astoria. This site was one of Queens' earliest settlements belonging
to Jacques Bentyn, circa 1638, but abandoned and destroyed in the 1640s. Hallett's
Cove had been a place of safety in the age of sail, as navigators often waited
there for more favorable tides to get them through Hell Gate to points east
and north. The Hallett family remained prominent in the area for over 200 years.
February 2, 1653
Queens and Manhattan are separated into distinct political
entities. New Amsterdam (specifically lower Manhattan island) is organized into
an autonomous unit. The rest of New Netherland colony (including the towns that
became organized into Queens County three decades later) would be absorbed into
the British empire in less than a dozen years.
February 6, 1655
Gov. Nicolls confirmed a patent to Daniel Denton, William
Hallett, Robert Coe, Anthony Waters and others on 'a certain tract of land purchased
for and on behalf of the Town of Jamaica.' Founded less than ten years before,
this action secured the rights to the fledgling settlement's official status
under English rule. Jamaica Township, along with Newtown and Flushing Townships,
comprises modern Queens.
December 27, 1657
Edward Hart, Town Clerk of Flushing, writes Flushing's
'Remonstrance for Religious Freedom.' When Gov. Stuyvesant orders that Quakers
are to be banned from New Amsterdam, a small group from Flushing, Newtown, and
Jamaica defied his order. Hart and Sheriff Tobias Feake are arrested after the
Remonstrance (petition) is presented. The descendants of two signers, Edward
Hart and Richard Stockton, signed the Declaration of Independence 119 years
The first court case is recorded in Newtown Township court records.
Someone stole a wheel of cheese.
September 21, 1662
Governor Peter Stuyvesant banned public worship in any form but “the Dutch Reformed worship and service.” In Flushing (Vlissingen), John Bowne continued to allow Quakers to worship in his home. This led to Bowne’s arrest and transport to trial in Holland. He defended himself at his trial using as his defense, the Flushing Town Charter of 1645 and Edward Hart’s Remonstrance of 1657. Bowne won the right of religious freedom from the directors of the Dutch West India Company
After swearing allegiance to Connecticut, Long Island makes a bid to
shake off Dutch rule and become part of New England.
December 14, 1662
The Council of New Amsterdam decreed “…for the welfare of the community…to transport from this province the aforesaid John Bowne, if he continues abstinate and pervicacious, in the first ship to sail, for an example to others.” Bowne and his wife Hannah had allowed Quakers to worship in their Flushing house, in spite of a ban issued on such worship by Governor Syuyvesant. On January 9, 1663, Bowne was deported to Holland aboard the Gilded Fox, for trial in Holland. He returned eventually, bearing with him the right of religious freedom, granted by the directors of the West India Company.
September 8, 1664
The townships of Vlissingen, Middleburgh, and Rustdorp,
later called Flushing, Newtown [Elmhurst], and Jamaica, are officially surrendered
by the Dutch to the English. Peter Stuyvesant reluctantly gave up the fort at
New Amsterdam and relinquished control over all the lands of New Netherland.
June 23, 1666
Captain Richard Betts obtained the governor's license to purchase
Newtown Township from the Indians for the amount of 26 pounds, nine shillings.
Chiefs Pomwaukon, and Rowerestco signed the deed. They were members of the Canarsee
tribe, a powerful clan that controlled Brooklyn, western Queens and the Hell Gate.
Soon, most Native-Americans left, although some lingered at Maspeth Kills for a few
June 7, 1672
George Fox, founder of the Quakers, preached before several hundred from beneath oak trees across the road from Bowne House in Flushing. The Fox Oaks survived until mid-19th century, when they measured almost 13 feet in circumference near the ground. A stone marker erected in 1907 now marks the site.
September 17, 1673
Anthony Colve, the new Dutch governor, arrives in New
York to take over the recently recaptured city and province. New York, held
by the British since 1664, was renamed New Orange. Although the new Dutch authorities
were well-received by most of the population, time was not on their side. New
Orange was again given to the British by the Treaty of Westminster in February
1674. Colve surrendered his province on October 31, 1674. New Orange was again
June 23, 1680
William Hallett is appointed overseer by Newtown Township.
The present Hallett's Cove, at Hell Gate, in Old Astoria Village marks the location
of his 1652 settlement, one of the first European homesteads in western Queens.
Later, while sheriff in neighboring Flushing, he got caught up in the religious
struggles of the time and was arrested for harboring Baptists. He died about
1706, aged 90. The Hallett family retains a presence in Queens to this day through
the Hallett Funeral Home in Flushing.
November 1, 1683
Queens County was chartered. English governor Thomas Dongan
organized the province of New York into twelve counties, ten of which exist
today. There is no evidence in documents for almost 200 years that Queens was
named for the controversial Catherine of Braganza -- the earliest mention found
only in the 1890s. Other counties created at this time were New York County
(Manhattan), Kings (Brooklyn), Richmond (Staten Island), Suffolk, and Westchester,
Duchess, and Dukes. When Queens joined Greater New York and became one of the
five boroughs in 1898, Nassau County (embracing the towns of Hempstead, North
Hempstead, and Oyster Bay), became a separate county in 1899.
November 24, 1694
The first meeting at the Quaker Meeting House in Flushing
took place. Situated at 137-16 Northern Boulevard, this house of worship was
built on a three-acre plot purchased in November 1693. The Bowne House, built
in 1661, still stands nearby. Today, the Meeting House still serves as a house
of worship on Sundays and is open to the public by appointment.