English Install First Mayor of New York
The 12th of June 1665 AD
In 1664 the English captured what was until then New Amsterdam from the Netherlands, defeating Director-General Peter Stuyvesant. In March 1665 the colony was given to, and renamed in honour of, the Duke of York (the future James II ), Charles II ’s brother – so it became New York City. The chance for Dutch to become the world language was gone, to the despair of throat lozenge makers everywhere.
Richard Nicholls, originally from Ampthill in Bedfordshire, was appointed the colony’s first governor, and on June 12 1665 he in turn appointed as New York’s first mayor Thomas Willett or Willet - born in Norwich circa 1605 and educated in Ely - along with five aldermen, thus establishing a system still followed in New York to this day. The office of sheriff was also instituted happily for John Wayne.
Willett, sworn in on June 14, was a good choice to bring the English and Dutch populations together: he had moved to Leyden with his dissenting family as a boy before sailing to the Americas in 1632, where he enjoyed good relations with Dutch merchants and also showed skill in negotiating with Native American peoples. He served two consecutive one-year terms.
The deaths of both Willett and Nicholls demonstrate the continuing nature of the Anglo-Dutch conflict: Willett’s end was seemingly hastened by his expulsion from New York when the Dutch briefly retook the city in 1673 – he died the following year; Nicholls predeceased him by two years, killed fighting the Dutch at the Battle of Southwold .
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