On this day: Thomas Willett becomes the first New York Mayer in 1665

Thomas Willett: New York City's first mayor

Thomas Willett: New York City's first mayor

In 1664 British ships sailed into the harbor of New Amsterdam, the capital of the Dutch colony New Netherland.  But the city's residents, the majority of whom where not Dutch, put up little resistance.  Many hoped the British would be better rulers than the Dutch West India Company.  The city was named after James Stuart, the Duke of York.

On June 12 1665 the merchant Thomas Willett was appointed the city's first ever mayor.  He had lived in New Netherland for years and was friendly to many of the Dutch businessmen who remained in the city and still held great influence.  He served a one year term and was reappointed mayor again in 1667.  Willett remained in New York until 1673 and retired in Swansea in modern day Massachusetts.  He's buried in Little Neck Cemetery in East Providence, Rhode Island.  The headstone still survives. 

The current New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, is the 109th mayor of the city.  In 1908 the FDNY named a fireboat the Thomas Willett after the city's first mayor.  The boat was in service until 1959. 

The fireboat Thomas Willett in the foreground.

The fireboat Thomas Willett in the foreground.