Grietje Reyniers was fancifully described as the first prostitute of New Amsterdam. "Manhattan's first and most famous prostitute." (See "Sex and the City: The Early Years. A bawdy look at Dutch Manhattan." It paints a picture of her being less a woman of ill repute and more a liberated woman. Also see "The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of the Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America")
Historical literature dealing with the Dutch settlements on Long Island describes Grietje as “a disagreeable foul mouthed old woman”.
Grietje Reyniers was born 1602 in Amsterdam, Estates-General of the United Provinces (Netherlands) to Johannes Rieniers and Jannetje. Some sources have her first name spelled Grietjen or Grietse.
The records of the Gemeente-Archief in Amsterdam show that on 26 September 1626 Grietje Reyniers of Amsterdam, aged twenty-four years, parents unnamed, assisted by her cousin, Heyltge Gerrits Schaeck, married Aelbert Egberts, from Haarlem, a tailor, aged twenty years, having no father, and assisted by his mother, Hillegond Cornelis.
The records further show that on 15 December 1629 Grietje Reyniers, from Wesel, Germany, widow of Aelbert Egberts for over two years, and Anthony Jansz, seaman from Cartagena, aged twenty-two years, parents not named, received a certificate allowing them to get married "on board." Thus Grietje was about five years Anthony's senior.
The decision to marry on shipboard could have been the result of a sudden decision to marry, or the preference of Anthony, either a Mohammedan then, or influenced by that religion, to be married by a sea captain rather than by a Dutch minister. Sailing in December 1629, they would have reached New Netherland in 1630. Thus Grietje did not come on the Soutberg with Van Twiller and Bogardus.
Most stories claim Grietje and Anthony got married enroute across the Atlantic, though some say they met in New Amsterdam and simply went aboard to get married. Those that claim they met in New Amsterdam say she came aboard the Soutberg but even these stories contradict themselves with some saying she filled suit against two sailors who used 'crude' languague at her, while others (the Van der Zee's) say "... she was not mean with her favors, so I assume she travelled first class and a witness testified that as the Soutberg left to return to Amsterdam he had heard the crew call out to Grietse, "Whore, Whore two pound's butter whore" whereupon she lifted up her petticoat and [turning to] the crew pointed to her behind and slapped her backside saying: "Blaes my daer achterin."
Other stories of testimonials say that Grietse had previously entered Fort Amsterdam and announced: "I have long enough been the whore of the nobility; from now on I shall be the whore of the rabble, and having two children with her said: I shall take these bastards right away and dash their brains out against the wall."
She apparently worked in a tavern in the Netherlands as a young woman, but she was fired for acting inappropriately. She was also an argumentative woman, so perhaps was the perfect match for Anthony, who enjoyed a good lawsuit against his neighbors. Anthony and Grietje had four children together. Grietje possibly had two more children not from marriage.
The fictional novel, "The Drowning Room" by Michael Pye (Penguin Books, NY 1995), Is based on her. It was an excellent, if at times confusing (in a good way) story, I would recomend it for any mature reader unless you are going to be researching her yourself. The only reason for that caveat is because he did such an excellent job of blending fictional elements with historically confirmable facts, that makes it dificult after reading it to keep straight which parts were fiction and which facts. The story begins after the death of Anthony "The Turk" (though he actually outlived her in reality, but it makes for an interesting psychological starting point) and the wait for the spring thaw to bury him, during which she tells her life story.