Dr. Ursula Acosta

PO Box 8

Hormigueros PR 00660



Translation of an Excerpt from "Puerto Rico y Curazao".

(in Atenea, U. Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, XIII, 1/2. 1993, p. 41 ff.)

The Brugman Family.

In the following part of this essay, we should like to mention in more detail various of the families that arrived in Puerto Rico from Curaçao and that left their mark on life in Puerto Rico. We would also like to acknowledge the contribution of Mr. Arthur Brugman, of New York, a great-grandson of the Matías Brugman who took part in the rebellion of Lares in 1868. Arthur Brugman provided some of the data on his family that are mentioned here, particularly about the relationship between Matías Brugman, from Lares, and his father and grandfather.

Jan Brugman enlisted as a soldier of the Dutch Company of the Western Antilles in 1685 and left Amsterdam for Curaçao on the ship "Offerande van de profeet Elias". His record shows that he was born in Neuenhaus in the county of Bentheim. Neuenhaus is located to the south of Emden in Germany, only some three miles away from the border with the Netherlands. After two years, he left the services of the Company, settling in Curaçao as a vrijman (free man): vecino was the term used in the Spanish colonies.

He was a member of the Lutheran Church and married in 1688 Catharina Geerkens, a daughter of Jan Hendrik Geerkens, Sr., and Catharina Oligh. The couple had eight children: Matthias, Adriana, Dorothea, Maria Elisabeth, Anna, Jan Paul, Jan Hendrik and Jurriaan. In 1713, Jan Brugman was a supervisor of the plantation Lelienberg that belonged to the (Dutch) West Indian Company; he suffered losses when the French Admiral Cassard sacked Curaçao and received a reimbursement of 180 pesos. He died before 1726. In that year the "Widow Brugman" had a dispute with a man by the name of Nathaniel Ellis over her use of land for her cattle on the plantation St. Kruis which belonged to Ellis. On October 18, 1735, the widow of Jan Brugman was still paying taxes. At this time she had six slaves.

Catharina Brugman's daughter Dorothea married in 1715 a descendant of one of the oldest families of Curaçao, Willem van Uytrecht. She was widowed before 1735 and died in 1774. Her son, Dirk van Uytrecht, married Adriana Raphoen and is listed as the owner of several slaves.

Catharina's son Jan Hendrik Brugman married Helena Eva Daal, daughter of Marten and Anna. It appears that Arauz Monfante (El contrabando holandés en el Caribe durante la primera mitad del siglo XVII, 1984, Vol. II, p. 58) is refering to Jan Hendrik Brugman when he writes: "A sloop under the command of Miguel Giral .... found itself compelled to moor at the landing called Agua de la Estancia, in Santo Domingo. There it was attacked by two Dutch sloops commanded by Hendrick and Ciprián Brugman [sic}, who seized Giral's vessel; it was taken to the port of Caldera where they claimed the tobacco and the mast of Brazilian wood. Not satisfied with this, the smugglers tortured Miguel Giral and his boatswain Nicolás Felipe with blows from their guns to find out if they had any hidden silver and as they denied having any, the pirates used their pistols to shoot them and then sank the sloop with the crew locked up in the lower deck. Only two sailors survived this act of piracy because they jumped into the sea before the Dutch closed the hatches and sank the ship.

We want to add that the cruelty reflected in this story horrifies us today, but it was nothing extraordinary or special during the period of the pirates in the Caribbean. Documents from different nations confirm this.

We do not know who Ciprián Brugman was. This name does not appear either for the children nor the grandchildren of the immigrant Jan Brugman. However, it is possible that we are dealing with the son Juriaan whose name must have given any Spanish scribe particular problems when he had to spell it. Certainly, it appears that the account of the loss of the Spanish sloop came from the two survivors of the attack who must have informed the names phonetically.

Regardless, according to Arauz Monfante (p. 267), the act of piracy of the two Brugmans had consequences. He wrote that, "On the eve of the outbreak of the Anglo-Hispanic war, specifically on October 14, 1739, the General States (of the Netherlands) with sufficient elements for the evaluation of the position the Spanish government would adopt to maintain neutrality at all costs, published a resolution in which they responded to the charges made by (the marquess) San Gil against the inhabitants of Curaçao. They accepted as fact the piracy committed by Henry and Ciprián Brugman on the coasts of Santo Domingo .... but they declared that the primary and principal accused had escaped to St. Thomas, and that the authorities of Curaçao had exciled them forever from the jurisdiction of the Company of the West Indies.

Although the Dutch in reality may have passed such sentence against Jan Hendrik Brugman, no direct evidence is found in the documentation. Having lived a long life, Jan Hendrik Brugman died in Curaçao in 1789. However, there is a possibility that he was away from the island for a time because in 1740 it is his widow and not he himself who complained about the high taxes the family had to pay. Was this complaint about the high taxes made because the husband was absent and she alone had to maintain the family with their four children?

Matthias Brugman, another of the children of Jan Brugman and his wife Catharina, married on August 24, 1717, Perina Weyna or Veyns. By 1727, when his widow married Gebhard Lupke, he had already died. Matthias Brugman had three children: Jannetje, Catharina and Pierre.

Pierre Brugman married on November 24, 1754, Martha Gijsberta Beek, the widow of Cornelis van der Burgh. Among their children were Maria Susanna, Matthias, Johanna Wilhelmina (born 1755), Jannetje Abigail and Pieter Beek Brugman. Their son Matthias died in 1787 at the age of 32, apparently without ever having been married.

Pieter Brugman married on April 26, 1783, Matje Poulina Webb, daughter of Willem Webb. The couple had six children: Pierre, Willem, Matthias, Wigboldus Reinink, Johanna Wilhelmina and Pieternella Beek Brugman. Pieter Beek Brugman died in Curaçao in September, 1795, and his widow in January, 1813.

From here on the ancestry of the Brugman family from Puerto Rico is unclear. We thought at first that Pierre Brugman (Webb), born in 1786 in Curaçao, had been the father of Matías Brugman, of the Grito-de- Lares fame. However, Arthur Brugman found the baptismal record of his great-grandfather Matías Brugman who was born in New Orleans. According to this record, dated January 3, 1811, Matías' paternal grandparents were Matthias Brugman and Luisa Levi while his father was Pierre Brugman, born about 1780 in Curaçao, who was married to Isabel Duliebre. Obviously, this was not one of the children of Pieter Beek Brugman and Matje Poulina Webb.

If the information in this record is correct, then the Matthias Brugman, who was previously mentioned, who was a brother of Pieter Beek Brugman and supposedly died single at the age of 32, may have been the grandfather of the Puerto Rican Brugman despite his being listed in the death record as unmarried.

The baptismal record from New Orleans indicates that the grandmother of Matías Brugman was Luisa Levi. Levi is a well-known surname of one of the Jewish families of Curaçao, the Levi Maduro. In Curaçao, marriages between Jews and Christians were formalized by a notary since the Christian churches did not marry a Christian with a Jew unless the Jew converted.

It is possible that that is why Matthiads Brugman appears to have been unmarried before the ecclesiastical authorities and why the Lutheran Church makes no mention of a wife in the death record of January 3, 1783. This would also explain the absence of the mention of any possible children in the documents of the Brugman family in Curaçao. It is said that Pierre Brugman (Levi) married Isabel Duliebre in Haiti, but to date there are no documents to prove this.

However, there does exist evidence of a Pierre Brugman and his activities as a French privateer from New Orleans. He was the captian of the corsair Entrépide, registered in St. Martin. However, this boat was confiscated, but two years later, Brugman was the captain of the French corsair Général Morlot, commissioned by King Josef, a brother of Napoleon. The report says, "Out of thin air and other ingredients are created Captain Pierry and his Cartagenan privateer Nuestra Señora de la Popa, ... carrying a crew of one hundred men."

The crew called their captain, "Captain" Pierry, but the official documents show that Pierre Brugman was co-owner if the ship. It is suspected that the Dutch colony of Curaçao, home of the Venezolanean admiral, Luis Brion, may have been another part-owner of the vessel.

The documents make it clear that Brugman fought against the Spaniards from a base in Cartagena and that he had a commission as corsair which the Supreme Court of the United States accepted as a valid document during a trial in 1819. In 1815, Brugman captured the vessel Nuestra Señora de la Caridad and another Spanish ship, the Cleopatra, that was on her way from Havanna to Cadiz.

La Popa, as the crew called their ship, ran the Spanish blockade. Brugman and his crew had the honor of taking Simón Bolivar from Jamaica to Cartagena and, when a corsair informed them that Cartagena was in the hands of Spanish forces, Brugman took the Liberator to Aux Cayes in Haiti.

In the following venture, Pierre Brugman captured another Spanish ship whose cargo was transferred to an American ship thus saving the cargo from falling into the hands of the Spaniards. Later he sold 2,000 muskets that Brion had dropped off in Haiti for the rebel commander of Vera Cruz. In April of 1815, Brugman entered the port of New Bern, North Carolina. There is no other record that indicates that Brugman may have had further participation in the struggles against Spain.

We would like to add some commentaries that were published about Brugman and that is in contrast to the behavior of his relative Jan Hendrik Brugman from a prior century. It was written as follows, "Captain Brugman having taken Spanish prizes off the coast of Haiti set his Spanish prisoners free on the coast of Cuba despite the order of republican officers that the captives should be executed."

We ignore how many children Pierre Brugman may have had, but we know that his son Matthias Brugman arrived in Puerto Rico and established himself in Mayagüez. He married a Dominican woman by the name of Ana María Laborde and was killed during the Rebellion of Lares in 1868. And thus, both father and son fought against the Spanish dominance in the Caribbean.

Finally, a brief mention of a certain Joost Brugman who lived in Curaçao at the beginning of the 18th century and was married to Jantje Jansz: The documents from Curaçao indicate that Joost was not related to the Brugman family discussed here or to have left any descendants.

Additional Comments by Julia Sosa with New Evidence

At present there is no evidence that the Pierre who married Isabel Duliebre and who was the father of the Puerto Rican Matías Brugman and the privateer Pierre Brugman are one and the same. There are documents showing that Pierre Brugman was an alias for Renato Beluche. Therefore, the information on the privateer Pierre in the above article is actually that of Renato under his alias. Information regarding Renato's ancestry and descendants conflicts with what we know of Matías' genealogy according to his and his siblings baptismals records.

However, the time when Renato was using the alias of Brugman, is also the time when we can track our Pierre Brugman and his family. Furthermore, Renato's history makes no mention of his being involved in a relationship during this time period having abandoned his wife of six months in 1809. It is possible that Renato under the alias of Pierre got together with Isabel Duliebre and fathered Matías, Clara Marie and Pedro Henrique, especially as the documents in New Orleans indicate that Pierre Brugman and Isabel Duliebre were not legally married. Maybe that was because Pierre alias Renato was still married.

Comments by Ursula Acosta

I have not seen the original baptism records from New Orleans, but according to Arthur Brugman the grandparents were given as Matthias Brugman and Luisa Levi, pointing clearly to the Brugman family from Curaçao. I may add that the name Pedro Henrique does too as this is a name that appears in the Brugman family. I therefore think that Matías Brugman was a descendant of the Curaçao family, but may not have been the son of the privateer Pierre Brugman.

Also, if the parents Pierre and Isabel were not considered legally married, the reason may be that the church did not have the pertinent records. Pierre was apparently part Jewish and may not have been baptized at all. We have to remember that according to the Jewish faith, a child is Jewish if the mother is Jewish which would apply to Pierre Brugman. Besides the marriage was said to have taken place in Haiti.

Thus while "our" Pierre Brugman may not have been the corsair, he seems to have been the father of Matías Brugman, from Lares.