Dutch colonial council minutes, 11 - 24 February 1648

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The 11th of February anno 1648, in New Amsterdam

The council, being met ] in plenary session to consider the information taken about sodomy alleged to have been committed by Harman Meyndersz vanden Bogaert with one Tobias, a Negro boy slave of the honorable Company at Fort Orange, they have, at the request ] of the honorable director general to take the matter of this heinous crime into further consideration, unanimously thought it advisable to delay the sentence until spring, when further information can be secured from Fort Orange.

The 18th of February

The council having heard the complaint of the fiscal against Willem Gilfoort, at present a prisoner, about violation and rape of a young girl named Maria Barents and having seen the information seoured by the commissaries appointed for that purpose,

It is ordered that the midwives and some reputable women shall examine the said girl, now about eleven years old, and make a proper report of their examination, whereupon the matter shall be disposed of by definite sentence.

A certain petition of the selectmen being presented to the council, the director and council note in the margin that they approve for the present of what the selectmen propose from a sense of well meant duty and, as they claim, for the promotion of the public interest, and will take the same into further consideration and make and issue such order thereon as they shall consider to be to the public benefit and advantage, consistent with their commission and instructions. Meanwhile, they wish to warn the selectmen in the future to keep within the bounds of their commission, to hold no meeting or assembly except with the knowledge and consent of the director, and not to draw up any propositions, much less to pass any resolutions, except in the presence of and before a deputy from the honorable council; also, that in their future petitions they must observe more respect in submitting their requests, that is, that they must not presume to dictate to the director and council what they ought to do. Thus done and noted in the margin of their petition, the 18th of February A°. 1648, in New Amsterdam.

Whereas Willem Gilfoort of Westcontrey, aged 30 years, at present a prisoner, has been pleased in May last, at the house of Isaack Allerton, by force and violence to uncover a girl named Maria Barents, aged eleven years, to throw her down in the cellar and, having untied his breeches, to place himself on the said girl, attempting for about a quarter of an hour to have carnal conversation with her, but, as the girl was too young, was unable to accomplish his evil purpose, as will more fully appear from the information thereof and as has also been confessed by the said prisoner without torture or irons; and whereas this is a matter of very serious consequence, which in a country where justice prevails can not be suffered or tolerated, but ought to be severely punished, in order that the children of honest people may not be dishonored and led away from the path of virtue by such evildoers ]; Therefore, Petrus Stuyvesant, director general, and the honorable council administering justice in the name of their High Mightinesses the lords States General of the United Netherlands, his Highness of Orange, and the honorable directors, condemn the aforesaid Willem Gilfordt, as they do hereby, to be brought to the place where it is customary to execute justice, to be severely flogged there with rods and thereafter to be banished forever from this jurisdiction, as an example to others. The delinquent deserves greater and severer punishment, but in consideration of the fact that it has appeared to the director and council that shortly after the said crime one Willem Gerritsz Wesselsz with the will and consent of the said Maria Barents has had conversation with her, the delinquent is freed therefrom, provided that he is to suffer the above mentioned punishment and banishment. This day, the 24th of February A°. 1648.


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.