In the 1620s, Manuel was a sailor on a Spanish or Portuguese ship. West Africans sometimes worked on European ships, and they sometimes had European names like Manuel. One day, Manuel's ship was captured by the Dutch. These captures were a hazard of life at sea. Crew members were killed, abandoned, or forced to work on the new ship. Sometimes they were sold as slaves to plantations in the Caribbean or Brazil. Manuel and the other crew men on his ship had a different fate. They were brought to Manhattan Island as slaves. He was renamed Groot (Big) Manuel.

For more about Manuel link to "Life Stories: Profiles of Black New Yorkers During Slavery and Emancipation"