Dutch colonial council minutes, 28 September - 10 October 1647

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The 30th of September 1647

In council was examined the person of Michiel Piquet, at present a prisoner regarding the accusation made by the fiscal that the prisoner intended to shoot the honorable Director General Stuyvesant between his farm and the Manhatans when his honor rode to his farm, which four witnesses swear he did say. Therefore, he, Piquet, was asked whether he had anything to say in his defense; if so, to say and produce it now; also, if he had anything to say against the witnesses, who confirmed their testimony on oath in his presence, why they should not be believed. Michiel Piquet gives for answer that the deponents stole watermelons and some boards and were, therefore, unworthy of belief. Being asked if he could prove it, he says that he has no proof, but that God was his witness.

Opinion of the honorable General Petrus Stuyvesandt

Having seen the sworn affidavits and testimony of four persons, who were not challenged or objected to by the accused, nor held by us as being anything but honest persons and therefore worthy of belief, and who moreover have taken the proper oath; therefore, it is my opinion that proper sentence may be pronounced upon the evidence without its being necessary to subject the prisoner to torture. The reasons are:

First — According to God's word as a general basis of law, all truth shall be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Here there are four and in addition we have their oath.

Second — The Imperial statutes of Charles the Fifth, which are in force in our country, state in Tractatu Crim. chap. 21, fl. 12, "when a judge is to pronounce sentence involving a man's blood, life or limb, he is to observe this rule, that he sentence or condemn no man to so dire a punishment unless the guilty person, that is the evil-doer, be convicted of the crime with which he is charged, either on his own confession or the corroborating testimony of his accomplices, or other striking proof as clear as day." A majore ad minus valet consequentia: if he may without his own confession be punished or put to death on the sole sworn testimony of his accomplices who are accessory to the crime, how much the more so on the sworn affidavits and testimony of persons, who up to that time were acknowledged as men of probity, whom the accused himself does not challenge except by general denial. With this agrees Damhouder, in Tractatu Criminalibus, chapter 49, fo. 88. "Two competent, irreproachable and unobjectionable witnesses, giving direct testimony to the fact, either from what they have seen or of which they have certain knowledge, constitute proof, the same as the confession of the criminal or the acknowledgment of parties in court, voluntarily, without torture."

Third — Independent of the evidence the case is clearly enough proved by the circumstances.

Fourth — The delinquent, having suffered torture, would according to legal opinions be free from punishment and have the right to institute an action for slander or defamation against the four witnesses for having unjustly accused him out of hatred, and who therefore, according to the imperial ordinances, quoted above in Tractatu Criminalibus, chap. 15, fb. 15, would be liable to the penalty which the delinquent or accused would have incurred.

I, therefore, conclude that where there are three witnesses, no further proof or certitude is required to arrive at a definite judgment, although the accused has not confessed the deed, of which opinion I remain, until I am better informed either from God's word or the imperial statutes. This 30th day of September 1647. Was signed: P. Stuyvesant.

Opinion of Mr. Dincklagen

If Michiel Piquet is to be punished as he deserves it must be on his own confession, either voluntarily or by torture, as he is accused by four witnesses of having said that he would shoot the honorable director and the fiscal. Nemo in auditus et sine propria confessione facile condemnatur. This 30th of September 1647. Was signed: L, van Dincklaghe.

Opinion of Lieutenant Briant Nuton

Lieutenant Nuton says that the offender, Michiel Piquet, to the best of his knowledge, may be sentenced to be punished by the court on the testimony of four witnesses, who at the request of the fiscal have testified against him, in such manner as the crime shall demand according to law, provided that the witnesses are irreproachable. Was signed: Brian Newton.

Opinion of Paulus Leendersz, commissary of naval stores

Having heard the fiscal's demand, it can in my opinion not be allowed, unless he be first brought to the rack and make his own confession; or else, in my judgment, he cannot be put to death. But if he be not subject to capital punishment, then there is no need of the rack, for on the evidence of these four persons he can be banished from the country and punished corporally. The last of September 1647. Was signed: Pouwelis Lendersz van die Grift.

Opinion of Commissary de Keyser

Having heard the complaint of Fiscal Hendrick van Dyck, concerning the offense committed by Michiel Piquet in threatening the honorable director general and the honorable Mr. Kieft, it is my opinion that the offender should first be tortured, because the threat is clearly proved by four witnesses, who attest the fact; and when he confesses he ought to be condemned, and if he does not confess he may for his former crimes be banished from the country. Done at Manhatans, this last of September 1647.

Was signed: A. Keyser.

Resolved in council that the honorable director and each of the councilors shall separately give his advice and vote how each of them individually thinks the offender, Michiel Piquet, ought and deserves to be punished according to God's word, the written law, his conscience and the best of his knowledge, and that as the majority of votes shall agree the sentence shall be rendered and pronounced.

The honorable Director General Petrus Stuyvesandt judges that Michiel Piquet deserves to be put to death. Was signed: P. Stuyvesant.

Mr. Dincklagen says that Michiel Piquet should forever be banished from this country and in addition be confined for 25 years in the house of correction. Was signed: L. van Dincklaghe.

Briant Newton says that the delinquent should be sent to Holland and be confined for ten years in the house of correction at Amsterdam.

La Montangne says that Michiel Piquet should be confined for ten years in the house of correction. Was signed: La Montagne.

Paulus Leendersz says that Michiel Piquet should be confined for 25 years in the house of correction at Amsterdam and be banished forever from New Netherland. Was signed: Pauwelis Leendersz van die Grift.

Andriaen de Keyser says his advice is that Michiel Piquet be banished forever from New Netherland and be confined for twelve years in the house of correction. Was signed: A: Keyser.

Whereas Michiel Piquet, a native of Rouen in France, has on the [      ] of June, at the house of one Pieter Montfoort, allowed himself to be induced to slander the former director general, Mr. Kieft, with his tongue and to call him a traitor, rascal, and a betrayer, at the same time threatening the said honorable director that his legs would not carry him out of the country; and also his successor, the Honorable Pieter Stuyvesant, unless he behaved better, as by the informations and sworn testimony more fully and clearly appears. And whereas the aforesaid Piquet, at present a prisoner, at the time obstinately denied and refused to admit this, it is nevertheless, aside from the sworn testimony and depositions, sufficiently verified and proved by his flight, violation and breaking out of prison, notwithstanding he was cited and summoned on three successive court days to defend his case and to hear all such charges as the fiscal in his official capacity was instituting against him, for which grave and criminal offenses and crimes, he, Piquet, having been banished by the director and council from this government and jurisdiction of New Netherland, was afterwards, on his own humble petition and that of other our dear subjects, graciously pardoned and granted remission of the aforesaid banishment, only with this reservation that henceforth he was to conduct himself honestly and to absent himself from the island of the Manhatans and our capital and place of residence, New Amsterdam. Not being satisfied and contented herewith, he has afterwards de novo threatened to shoot the new director general, Petrus Stuyvesant, between Fort New Amsterdam and his farm and also Fiscal van Dyck and, after having committed the deed, to go to the savages, or natives, of this country and territory, to offer himself to be their captain and war chief against the Dutch nation; also, to murder and slay the former director, Willem Kieft, in whatever land he should find him, whether in Holland, France, or elsewhere, the prisoner being sorry that he had not bought the pistol which he saw in Jan Botser's sloop in order therewith to shoot the fiscal, as more fully appears by the repeated and sworn depositions of four, as far as we know and it does appear, honest and credible witnesses, entered in the record of Fiscal Van Dyck.

All of which acts and threats, although not carried into effect, are of evil consequence and cannot be tolerated in a land of justice. Therefore, the honorable Petrus Stuyvesant, director general of New Netherland, Curaçao, etc., administering justice with the advice of the honorable council in the name of the High anti Mighty Lords the States General, his Serene Highness the Prince of Orange, and the honorable directors of the General Chartered West India Company of the United Netherlands, have condemned and sentenced, as we do hereby sentence and condemn, the aforesaid Michiel Piquet, at present a prisoner, to perpetual banishment from this their government of New Netherland, to be sent in the ship De Valckenier to the most wise and honorable council of the city of Amsterdam, in order with their consent for the term of eighteen consecutive years to earn his living and passage money by rasping in their work house, or otherwise according to their honors' pleasure, dismissing the fiscal's further demand. Thus resolved by a majority of votes in our council at New Amsterdam in New Netherland, the 4th of October 1647. Was signed: P. Stuyvesant, L: van Dincklaghe, La Montangne, Brian Newton, Pouwelis Leendersz van die Grift and A. Keyser.

Whereas there lately arrived from New Haven, situated within the limits of New Netherland, a ship named St. Beninjo, of which Cornelis Claesen Snoy is master, Mr. Willem Westerhuysen merchant and owner, and the merchant named Samuel van Goedenhuysen a passenger, who through Commissary Carel van Bruggen and Secretary Tienhoven made a verbal request to us, the director general and council, for permission to come personally to the Manhatans with their ship and cargo, offering to pey thB honorable Company here the regular duty, this was granted to them on the [      ], as can be more fully seen by the entry in the Resolution Book. Said permission was handed to them by Govert Aertsz at New Haven, whereupon the above named Goedenhuysen came here at the first opportunity with the said Govert Aertsen, arriving at this place with his sloop on the [      ], without bringing hither a penny's worth of his, the skipper's, or said Westerhuysen's goods, or paying any duty, or bringing with him any invoices or writings. The said Goedenhuysen also reported that the ship Beninjo lay ready to sail for Virginia, from which we, the director and council, see, perceive and notice their deceitfulness and false pretense, and whereas the opportunity now presents itself to capture the said ship Beninjo without arousing suspicion as to our intention, inasmuch as the ship Swol, being sold, must be conveyed to New Haven; therefore, it is unanimously resolved and concluded in council to provide the ship Swol with men and ammunition and to instruct and command Paulus Leendersz, the commissary of naval stores, to bring the ship hither if possible, either voluntarily or by force, in order that proper proceedings may be instituted against said skipper and those whom it may concern, all according to the order and instruction of the honorable directors. Thus done in council in Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland, the first of October 1647. Was signed: P. Stuyvesant, L: van Dincklaghe, la Montangne, Brian Newton, Poulus L: van die Grift and A. Keyser.


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.