Family History: Berrien Ancestry

Chapel at the Town of Berrien in Brittany, France (WikiCommons)

Early Beginnings

According to family legend, the Berrien family once lived in France. There still remains a town called Berrien in the Finistere district of Brittany. Following the persecution of the Huguenots in the late 1500s, the Berriens moved to the Netherlands and lived in Alkmaar, a town north of Amsterdam.

Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York (WikiCommons)

New Amsterdam

By the second half of the 17th century, Cornelius Jansen Berrien (1638-1688) had established himself in the town of Flatbush in the colony of New Amsterdam. He married Jannetje Strycker (1642-1714), the daughter of Jan Strycker, an important political figure in the early colony.

The Berriens multiplied and married into many other early New York families such as the Rikers and Scudders. One branch married into the Fish family, whose descendant Nicolas Fish, married a Stuyvesant. The Stuyvesant Fish family remained a dominant family in New York society and politics into the 20th century. 

Another Berrien descendant, William Berrian (the New York spelling) was the rector of Trinity Church on Wall Street when the current edifice was completed in the 1840s.