Dutch colonial council minutes, 3 July 1647

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The honorable director general and council of New Netherland, having seen the criminal charges of the fiscal against Jan Seno de St. Germain, at present a prisoner, which charges the fiscal supports by affidavits; and having also heard the prisoner's confession that contrary to the injunction served by the fiscal in the presence of the witnesses, he removed seawan and other goods from the house of Michiel Piquet, who was arrested for a crime committed by him, broke jail and escaped from prison; therefore, the aforesaid case having been duly considered and it having been found that the same tends greatly to the contempt of justice, the aforesaid Germain is ordered to beg pardon of God and of the court and to acknowledge that he did wrong; furthermore, he is condemned to work with others six weeks at the fort when said Germain is restored to his previous health.

Thus done and sentenced in court. Present: the honorable director general, the late director, Willem Kieft, Mr. Dincklaghe, Captain Lieutenant Nuton, Mons. La Montange, Commander Jacob Looper, Paulus Leendersz and Jan Claesz Bol. The 3d of July anno 1647, in New Amsterdam.

[1] Petrus Stuyvesant, director general of New Netherland, Curaçao and the islands thereof, and the honorable council;

To all those who shall see these presents or hear them read, Greeting:

Whereas we by dally experience find, see and observe the frauds, abuses and smuggling which our people as well as those of other nations daily commit in the exportation of beavers, otters, bear skins, elk hides and other peltries which, without being entered and consequently without paying any impost or duty, are shipped or sent away beyond this our jurisdiction and government to New England, Virginia and other regions, whereby the granted concessions and revenues of our honorable directors are seriously impaired; as also in the importation of some English goods and merchandise in return, which often are entered at half the value, whereby we, and through us the honorable directors, are not only defrauded of the import duties on the English goods and merchandise and the export duties of the beavers and peltries, but also the goods and merchandise of our good and loyal inhabitants, merchants, factors and traders who pay or have paid just and proper duties thereon in the fatherland or here at our custom house are greatly depreciated, trade and commerce corrupted and we deprived and defrauded of our income and revenues.

Therefore, being desirous to prevent the same as far as it is feasible and possible for us, we, the above mentioned director general and council, do most emphatically ordain, order and command both our own subjects and strangers and foreigners that no one of them shall presume to sell,barter, trade, or remove, or ship, or export, directly or indirectly, any wares or merchandise of whatever nature or quality they may be within our government, as well here in New Netherland as at the island of Curaçao and elsewhere, without due entry being first made of such merchandise and the quantity, quality and value of the same being presented to us or our agents; which being done it shall be lawful for each and every one, both strangers and inhabitants, to dispose of, sell and barter their wares and merchandise in the usual course of trade to anyone according as it shall be expedient or profitable to the owners or sellers; provided that the seller remain bound, whenever it pleases us, to show by his books or accounts to whom they have been sold or what goods have been bartered for them, so that after delivery and receipt the proper duties and impost may be faithfully paid and received before he leaves the country, under penalty of confiscation and forfeiture of all concealed goods that may be found in the first instance or afterwards and in addition a fine of five hundred Carolus guilders.

We likewise ordain, interdict and forbid all persons, of whatever nation or quality they may be, any elk hides, bear skins, otters, beavers or other peltries to remove, exchange, export, transship or to transfer from one vessel into another or to land the same, directly or indirectly, under any pretext whatsoever, unless first of all such elk skins, bear skins, otters, beavers or other peltries are entered with us or our deputy, without fraud or delay, as to their quantity, either here at the Manhatans, or at the places where they have been bartered, negotiated or traded, or at least at the nearest place where we have stationed our commissary, resident, or deputy, on pain of confiscation and forfeiture of all the peltries and accompanying: goods and merchandise which afterwards shall be found smuggled or concealed. And in order that all frauds and smuggling may be for once stopped and prevented, it is further by us, the director general and council, ordained, enacted and decreed as we hereby do ordain and enact and decree, that henceforth, or at least after the sending away of the beavers and peltries on the ship De Princes, elk hides, bear skins, otters, beavers and all other furs shall be marked and stamped with a certain mark thereto ordered or yet to be ordered by some person here in New Amsterdam, to be sworn for that purpose on behalf of the honorable directors, in order that at the proper time a regular duty may be received or caused to be received on such bear skins, elk hides, deer skins, otters, beavers and other peltries, so that they may be shipped or sent beyond or within the limits of our government to New England, or to the Swedes in the south, to Virginia, or to the fatherland, under penalty of confiscation of all beavers, otters, bear skins, elk hides, deer and fox skins, which shall be found here or hereafter in the fatherland unmarked and not stamped.

Moreover, for the further prevention of all sorts of smuggling, inasmuch as the duty is not and cannot be immediately paid in beavers, all merchants, factors, peddlers, traders and other commercial persons, whether inhabitants or foreigners, are warned and commanded by us to show clearly, whenever it shall be our pleasure, by their accounts and books to whom they have bartered and traded such marked and stamped beavers, otters, bear skins, deer skins and other peltries, under a penalty of payment by the last receiver or purchaser thereof who remains in default or neglect of a double duty on the furs which are missed and not entered on his books; and within three days after the departure of the ship De Princes all merchants, traders and inhabitants at the Manhatans shall duly enter their beavers, otters, and other peltries and have them marked, on pain of confiscation and fine as aforesaid. Thus done and enacted in council at Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland, the 4th of July anno 1647, New Style. Present: the honorable director general, Mr. Dincklagen, the honorable ex-director, la Montange, Captain Lieutenant Nuton, Commander Looper, Jan Claesz Bol, captain of the Princes, and the superintendent of naval equipments Mr. Poulus Leendersz.[2]


Revised from Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland. pp. 65-68.
The preceding law was disapproved in Holland, as shown by extracts from letters of the directors of the West India Company, dated Jan. 27, 1649, and Feb. 16, 1650, cited by E. B. O'Callaghan in Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland, pp. 68-69.


Translation: Scott, K., & Stryker-Rodda, K. (Ed.). New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, Vol. 4, Council Minutes, 1638-1649 (A. Van Laer, Trans.). Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.: 1974.A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.