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39 The Chalice

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The Blaw Family Chalice


Many families have heirlooms that are passed from generation to generation along with stories to explain their significance. The Blaw family has such an heirloom that has been passed along to ancestors since the 17th century. It is a silver chalice that was believed to be made by Jurian Blanck, Jr., a silversmith and neighbor of Jan Frederickse in Brookland (Brooklyn), NY. Jan Frederickse’s name meant Jan (John) son of Frederick. Jan’s father was named Frederick Janss. This system of naming people is known as the patronymic naming system in which names are connected with male members of previous generations.


When the British took over New Amsterdam in 1664, many Dutch adopted the naming convention used by the British, which meant adding surnames. Jan Frederickse became John Blauw/Blaw. (It appears with several spellings in old records.) The Blaw meant “blue” in Dutch. Many of his descendants took the Anglicanized version of Blaw’s name and use the surname Blue or Blew. In the genealogy of the Blaw/Blue/Blew family, John Blaw Sr. has the number 1, which means that the family considers him the first generation Blaw born in America.


John Blaw Sr. was baptized in the Brooklyn Dutch Reformed Church in 1677. It is believed that the chalice heirloom, also known as a “drink beker”, was crafted in 1676 in honor of Jan Frederickse.


John Sr. is the same John Blaw, who purchased 400 acres along Bedens Brook just a quarter mile south of what would become a village bearing his name–Blawenburg.

The chalice has the initial symbol I*F on the bottom which symbolizes Jan Frederickse’s name.

Drink Beker or Chalice

The Blaw chalice was not always called a chalice. In the 1980s, a Blue family member declared that the “drink beker” was a chalice. Others have referred to it as a silver cup or a Blue cup. While it looks copper colored in some pictures, it is nevertheless made of silver. It measures 7 3/8 inches high and has a diameter of 3 ¼ inches at the top and 3 inches at the bottom.


Passing It Along

John Blaw died in 1757, and his will, shown below, says that he was a yeoman, an old term for a farmer who owned his land and farmed it himself. However, he did have help with the farm. Blaw’s