Dutch colonial council minutes, 25 July - 20 September 1647

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Ordinance regulating the erection of buildings in New Amsterdam[1]

Whereas by experience we notice and observe the irregularities hereto and still dally practised by the inhabitants in building and erecting houses, in extending their lots far beyond the survey line, in putting up hog pens and privies on the public roads and streets, and in neglecting and omitting properly to build on the lots granted and given to them, the Hon. Director General Petrus Stuyvesandt and the honorable council, in order to prevent the same in the future, have thought fit to appoint three street surveyors (Roy meesters), to wit: the Hon. Lubbert van Dincklage, Paulus Leendersen, naval store keeper, and Secretary Cornelis van Tienhoven, whom we hereby authorize and empower to condemn and in the future to prevent the erection of ] all unsightly and irregular buildings, fences, palisades, posts, rails, etc. Therefore, we order and warn all and every one of our subjects who hereafter may be inclined to build, or to fence in gardens or lots, within or near the city of New Amsterdam, not to venture to do so or to undertake the same without having previously notified, spoken to and obtained the consent of the aforesaid appointed surveyors, under penalty of a fine of 25 Carolus guilders and the condemnation of what they have built or set up. Likewise it is also our intention that one and all of those who heretofore have obtained any lots shall consider themselves warned and notified that within nine months from this date they must properly build on said lots good and substantial houses according to the ordinance, or, in default thereof, such unimproved lots shall again revert to the patroon or lord proprietor, or be conveyed to others, as he pleases.

Thus done in council in Fort Amsterdam. Present: the Hon. Director Kieft,[2] Mr. Dincklage, Mr. La Montagne, Lieutenant Nuton, Paulus Leendersen, naval store keeper, and Jan Claesz Boll. 25 July A°. 1647.

The honorable Petrus Stuyvesandt, director general of New Netherland, Curaçao and the islands depending thereon, and the honorable council, having seen and examined the demand and complaint instituted by the fiscal against Willem Pietersz from Bolsaert, mason; having also seen the information secured to that end by the fiscal and heard the verbal defense and acknowledgement made in court by him, Willem Pietersen, at present a prisoner, that he on divers occasions and days, forgetting his duty and oath, has neglected his work as a mason by drinking, for which he heretofore has been repeatedly committed to jail; and whereas the aforesaid prisoner has now, nevertheless, again dared to neglect his work by drinking, whereby the honorable Company suffers loss and damage, as he draws his pay without rendering any service In return, and, being arrested therefor has, while in prison, undertaken to break the lock with a bolt of the stocks and with the aid of Jan Albertsz, smith, with a bar broken open the door of the prison; all of which, to wit, to neglect his contracted service by drunkenness and being in prison on that account to break open the same, are matters of grave consequenoe, which can not be tolerated or suffered, but deserve to be punished as an example to others;

Therefore the valiant and honorable Petrus Stuyvesant, with the advice of the honorable council, administering justice in the name of their High Mightinesses, the Lords States General, his Serene Highness, the Prince of Orange, and the honorable directors of the West India Company, have sentenced and condemned, as they do hereby sentence and condemn, the above mentioned delinquent to work six consecutive months with the Negroes and to pay a fine of three months ' wages, one-third for the Company, one-third for the church and one-third for the fiscal, as an example to others. Thus done in council. Present: the honorable General Petrus Stuyvesant, the late director, Willem Kieft, Mr. Dincklagen, Johannes La Montangne, Lieutenant Nuton, Paulus Leendersen, commissary of naval stores, and Jan Claesz Bol, captain of the ship De Princesse. The 25th of July anno 1647.

The honorable Director Petrus Stuyvesant, director general of New Netherland, Curaçao and the islands thereof, and the honorable council, having seen the charge of Fiscal van Dyck against Jan Albertsz, smith, and the information secured by the fiscal and heard the confession of Jan Albertsz, from [      ], smith, in the service of the Chartered West India Company, at present a prisoner, who, forgetting his oath and duty, has dared to neglect his work through drunkenness, thus dishonestly drawing his pay, for which he was put in prison, and having at the request of Willem Pietersz loaned his knife to pick the lock of the stocks in which they were both confined, which could not be done, and after Willem Pietersz, mason, had broken the lock with a bolt he, the prisoner, undertook to break open the public jail, assisting Willem Pietersz aforesaid to break open the door of the prison with an iron bar, which is a matter that cannot be tolerated in countries where it is customary to administer and maintain justice and must be punished as an example to others;

Therefore the valiant and honorable Petrus Stuyvesant, with the advice of the honorable council, administering justice in the name of the high and mighty Lords the States General, his Serene Highness, the Prince of Orange, and the honorable directors of the West India Company have sentenced and condemned, as we do hereby sentence and condemn, the above named delinquent to be locked for three months to an anvil and in addition to forfeit three months' wages, one-third for the honorable Company, one-third for the church and one-third for the fiscal, as an example to others. Thus done in council. Present: the honorable P. Stuyvesant, the late honorable director, Kieft; Mr. Dincklagen, Lieutenant Nuton, Paulus Leendersen, commissary of naval stores, and Jan Claesen Bol, captain of the ship De Princesse, the 25th of July anno 1647, in New Netherland.

On the 11th of August

Hendrick van Dyck, fiscal, plaintiff, vs. Jan Dollingh, defendant. The written complaint of the fiscal having been examined, it is ordered that Jan Dollingh shall be provisionally released on his promise, confirmed by clasping of hands, to appear on the first court day. He is also expressly forbidden to enter the house of Sara Willet or to molest her pending the suit and the fiscal is ordered provisionally to produce his witnesses at the next session of the court.

Resolution to send Secretary van Tienhoven to Hemstead to inquire into the truth of a report of Indian troubles there ] [3]

23d of August, A°. 1647

This day appeared in council certain deputies from the village of Heemsteede, situated on Long Island, who report verbally and in writing that they had been reliably informed by two Indians (one named Adam) that Mayawetinnemin or, as he is now called, Antinome, son of the chief Mecohgawodt, had by seawan invited and thereby excited some Indians to war against the Dutch and English, and that it is certain that the Indians were resolved to kill the English at Heemsteede, under the jurisdiction of this government, in the field when they were harvesting their grain and hay, and then cut off their entire village, to which wicked plot the chief of Catsjajock and his brethren at the east end of Long Island had agreed. And whereas this is a matter of very great importance and we very much suspect that this report is invented by the English, as they have long coveted the above named Antinomy's land, it is unanimously resolved to send Secretary van Tienhoven, who understands the Indian language, with one or two of those of Heemsteede, equally conversant with the Indian tongue, to the east end of Long Island in a sloop to enquire of the chief and his brethren, who were always friends of and offered their service to our nation, whether the above report be true or not, and the reason which induced them to undertake such mischief against us. It is also resolved and concluded that the said chief of Gatsjajock and his brethren shall be presented with three cloth coats and some trifles in the name of the honorable Company, with an offer of our friendship, which the late Director Willem Kieft had formerly promised them when peace was concluded. All of which being done and investigated, this matter shall be disposed of as the exigency and circumstances of the case shall demand. Thus done the 23d of August A°. 1647, In Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland. Was signed: P. Stuyvesandt, L. van Dlncklage, La Montagne, Briant Nuton, Poulus Leenders van die Grift.

26th of August anno 1647

Honorable Gentlemen: We are ordered and instructed by the honorable Company to fortify and repair in a proper manner the dilapidated fortress of New Amsterdam and for the lessening of the expense to induce the commonalty to lend a helping hand thereto; also to encourage the soldiers by a small compensation and reward to assist. And now being ready to make a beginning therewith the question is: "How is the fort to be repaired?"

With sods or, as the directors order, with stones, as it was first begun? And how to induce the community to lend a helping hand.

Secondly, we are daily informed and understand from the reports of the commonalty in general as well as by the Indians that at the making of the truce the Indians were promised presents — some of our Dutch people say several hundred fathoms of seawan; the Indians say a parcel of cloth and a bag full of seawan, in compensation of their blood which had been shed. Dally experience shows that they are restless and dissatisfied.

Some of the most prominent citizens have repeatedly been to see us; they dread a new war in case the Indians are not made content by presents, for which purpose we are not provided either with money or goods. Further, if we allow the uneasiness of the Indians and the counsel and advice of the commonalty to go unheeded and we be now or hereafter involved in a new war with the natives who are little to be trusted, the fickle commonalty will lay the blame on us because we have not provided in time against it when the Indians could and ought to have been pacified by the presents which have been promised them.

Thirdly, as some apply to us for the little red-wood[4] that remains, what is the honorable council's advice? Shall we sell it or keep it for the Company for some future occasion, as I have also advised them?

The honorable director general and council having considered and debated the aforesaid propositions and paid attention to everything connected therewith, the result is: If the fort isto be repaired and rebuilt as it ought to be, that is, all around with stones laid in mortar, by which means alone it can be hereafter maintained, the soil hereabout not being suitable for building up the fortress here with sods, unless every year new and nearly as large sums be expended thereon, it will require a considerable sum of money in wages alone, both in laying and hauling the stone and burning the lime, for which the honorable directors command us to request the commonalty to lend us a helping hand who, in consequence of the loss suffered by the war, are also not sufficiently prosperous to be compelled ] thereto by our authority. We find it advisable, however, to submit the proposition to them in general and to hear their answer thereto, but as it is difficult to bring so many heads under one hood or so many different votes to unanimity, we deem it expedient and wise to propose to them to elect from among themselves the double number of nine of the most respectable and experienced persons as select men and their representatives to confer, speak and consult with us on these and other burdens which concern the commonalty; from which double number of nine persons we shall select a single number, who shall always in the future, whenever invited to, assist in seeking and promoting with us the interest of the country in general in matters of like character; provided, nevertheless, that they shall not have power of their own authority to constitute or convene any assembly, but must wait until they are summoned by us and the honorable council, as is customary in our dear fatherland and elsewhere.

2. As to the troubles and difficulties with the Indians, we deem it necessary to observe the orders of the honorable directors to prevent by all means in our power that on our part no cause be given them for any discontent or for a new war, which, should it again break out, would utterly ruin the farmers just beginning. The last would be worse than the first and destroy all hope of those who should come after them. We consider it therefore advisable and necessary to confirm the peace formerly concluded by a present to the Indian sachems, but in no wise to offer it to them as a bounded duty, much less by virtue of a previous promise, as they together claim that in making the peace the promise of compensation for bloodshed was made to them which according to their demand would mean entirely too much. We advise, therefore, that this present be offered to them as being sent by the honorable directors as a renewal and continuation of the ancient alliance and friendship and that they be told at the same time that we are not responsible for the last war which the old Sachem who has gone away may have caused; also, that we have no desire for new trouble and war, but wish to live with them in peaceful alliance and as good neighbors; in token and in confirmation of which we offer them this present.

As to the third and last point, concerning the sale of the remaining red-wood, we consider it not only advisable, but highly necessary, to obtain certain means, as well for the construction of the fortress and houses that have fallen into decay and for the payment and discharge of the debts that were left and have already been incurred, as for using a portion thereof for the present to be offered to the Indians; all of which the commonalty, which scarcely begins to recover its breath, cannot contribute. And as we have little or nothing on hand and hardly anything is to be expected from the fatherland as long as the Company remains in its present condition, we are against our will and inclination urged and obliged to effect this sale to place ourselves on a firm basis and to restore this province. We also find it necessary to retain half the proceeds of the red-wood for the repair of the fort, without using it for any other purpose, and the remaining half for the incurred debts.

Thus done in council in Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland, the 27th of August 1647. Was signed: P. Stuyvesant, L. van Dincklagen, la Montangne, Brian Newton and A. Keyser. In the margin was written: Present, the honorable general, the honorable Dincklagen, Lieutenant Nuton, Mr. La Montangne, Paulus Leendersz, commissary of naval stores, and Commissary d'Keyser.

Proposition submitted by the honorable Director General Petrus Stuyvesandt to the honorable council in session on the 20th of September anno 1647

1. The report of Secretary Tienhoven and Commissary van Bruggen, respecting their mission to the east end of Long Island and the passage of an authentic document on the subject.

2. Their report concerning the ship Beninjo, or Hercules, which they say sailed from the chamber of North Holland or Medenblick and comes to trade within the limits and territory of our jurisdiction, to the prejudice of our merchants here who have paid the proper duty. The aforesaid secretary and commissary declare on this point that the skipper and merchants of said ship had requested them to urge us to grant them permission to trade here, on condition of paying the proper duty on their cargo and returns, from which it sufficiently appears that they are smugglers and therefore that their ship and cargo are liable to confiscation if they can be reached, of which in my opinion there is little chance and expectation, as they are on guard and well armed, to wit, with 10 guns and 27 men, and as there is no vessel ready to reduce them. Furthermore, they would in advance be informed by some one or other of our designs and run away and probably likewise they would be aided by the English of New Haven, where the merchants have their store on land, so that it ought to be well and carefully considered what is to be done in the matter. I understand that fraud has been committed therein and that therefore the ship and cargo would be subject to confiscation if here, but I fear that he, the skipper ], would slip away, as heretofore Symon Jansz did, and that meanwhile most of the goods would be sold here In this country under the name of English merchandise, which would then greatly prejudice our traders, who are already complaining of the matter. I think it would not be unwise to admit the merchandise, provided they oblige themselves over their signatures to pay proper duty on the whole capital, as it is customary in the fatherland and pro rata of the cargo.

3. As to the ship Swol, which is laid up at great expense and cost to the Company and at the same time more and more deteriorates as to its standing and running rigging, it was heretofore resolved to sell it to the best advantage of the Company, which I still consider to be most advantageous for it. Now, we are offered 9000 guilders, payable in produce of this country, to wit, provisions and seawan, for said ship with twenty iron pedreros, four of which are lying among the ballast and are unsuitable for said ship, with an old set of sails, running and standing rigging, anchors and cordage as per inventory. This, in my opinion, is 1000 to 1500 guilders too low, but as no higher price and bid can be obtained and it is to be feared that if the ship lie over next winter the rigging, cordage and other effects will receive still further damage and injury, the question is, shall we let her go at that price or haul her on shore and as occasion offers sell the top-hamper or salvage the same for our sloops and burn the hull for the iron work?, it being necessary that one of the two courses be adopted before winter.

4. Govert Aertsen requests permission to go to New Haven to purchase some goods from the ship that has arrived there and to sell them here, on which he promises to pay 16 per cent. Shall he be allowed to do so?

5. An end ought to be put to the criminal proceedings against Michiel ] Piquet which have now been pending for nearly five or six weeks and are not carried on by the fiscal. As regards my opinion of his previous crimes and sentences, I have granted him pardon by the advice of the council. What has occurred since or between the two concerns me most as an individual, to wit, being threatened to be shot between this place and my Bouwery, as the complaint alleges. Therefore, being a party to the case, I scruple to assist in pronouncing judgment and sentence. I therefore request the council to be pleased to pronounce a proper judgment according to law and equity and to terminate the case, inclining, if proper and allowable, more toward mercy than to the rigor of the law; the more so as the prisoner, whilst holding ray pass and pardon, has been de novo placed under arrest, from which he would otherwise apparently have escaped.

6. To propose whether Andries Hudden shall continue on the South river or who else to send there, as it is highly necessary that a proper person be stationed there. Was signed: P. Stuyvesandt.


Revised from Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland, pp. 74-75.
Thus in the record.
Revised from Doc. Rel. Col. Hist. N. Y., 14:79.
Stockvisch hout, or logwood, from the West-Indian islands, used as a dyestuff, to produce dark red colors.


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.