Traditional Biography Edit
In the 1920s a Charles Cornelius recorded a history of the Cornelius family, stretching back to one "Captain Aaron Cornelius," who was reported to be an Englishman and a former privateer, the commanding officer of the "Canary Bird." After a life at sea Aaron finally settled in Flushing on Long Island where he lived out his days. The story was augmented by a conch shell, said to have been used as a horn on this ancient ship.
Modern Revisions Edit
The Aaron Cornelius described by Charles Cornelius never actually existed. In reality he was known as "Arien Cornelis" (sometimes Adrien instead), changed to "Aron" or "Arent" after the English took over New Amsterdam in 1664. The spelling of the name is consistent with Dutch speelings for the name, rather than English. Furthermore, the names Aaron and Cornelius, regardless of spelling, are very rare in England in the early 1600s, but are extremely common in the Netherlands in that timeframe.
On the other hand, Flushing (where Arien lived out his life in the Americas) was an English settlement in New Amsterdam, but the English residents of Flushing had their names recorded by the Dutch government with the English spelling, while Arien's was recorded in the Dutch.
Arien at one point was recorded as being an Ensign in the militia of New Amsterdam, an honor unlikely afforded to an Englishman in an age when the English were rapidly settling lands on the edges of the Dutch colony. It is also unlikely that a man with little or no sailing experience would be given a rank in the militia, though common sailors and soldiers were occasionally employed as officers or trainers of militia in the New World in the early years of settlement (as was Arien's father in law, Captain Daniel Patrick). This may also be the origins of the legend of "Captain Aaron Cornelius," even if it only affirms the likelihood of a maritime past.
(write about Dutch city where he is reputed to be from, center for Dutch East India Company)
Another source is in a secondary source document which appears to quote Arien as having taken linen as a prize, apparently in a privateering action (though that expression appears in quotes it's source is not stated). This seems to affirm some experience as a privateer, though a small amount of linen hardly seems to be the booty a captain might claim as his share of the take.
However, land records made in Flushing record the land, livestock, slaves, and family members of all residents of Flushing, and by comparing Arien's holdings to others in the settlement it becomes clear he is not comparably wealthy. Certainly a sea captain would have had greater holdings to speak of.
Thus, by pulling the evidence together, it seems very likely that Arien was a sailor employed by the Dutch East India Company, who chose to settle in the New World. At some point Arien,
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