Dutch colonial council minutes, 10 March 1648

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Ordinance against goats and hogs running at large in New Amsterdam ] [1]

Whereas it is daily seen and observed by the honorable director general and council of New Netherland that the goats and hogs here around Fort Amsterdam dally commit great damage in orchards, gardens and other improvements, in consequence of which not only the propagations of beautiful orchards and gardens is prevented, but considerable loss is caused to individuals; therefore, the honorable director general and council, wishing to provide herein, do from this time forward ordain and enact that no goats or hogs shall be pastured or kept between the fortification of New Amsterdam (or its vicinity) and the Fresh Water, except within each person's own enclosure, and that built in such a way that the goats can not leap over and cause damage to any person's property. Also, goats beyond the Fresh Water shall not be pastured without a herdsman or keeper, on pain of having the goats found at large on this side of the Fresh Water or beyond it without a herdsman or keeper taken up by the fiscal, and declared forfeit by the honorable director general and council. May everyone be warned hereby and guard himself against loss. Thus done in council at Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland, the 10th of March anno 1648.

Ordinance for the regulation of trade and navigation, etc. ] [2]

Petrus Stuyvesant, on behalf of the High and Mighty lords the States General of the United Netherlands, his Highness the Prince ] of Orange, and the honorable directors of the Chartered West India Company, director general of New Netherland, Curaçao and the Islands thereof, together with the honorable council;

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

Whereas, pursuant to the good intention and order of the aforesaid High and Mighty lords the States General, his Serene Highness and the honorable directors, we should like nothing better than to witness and promote the flourishing increase in wealth and population of this province of New Netherland and the general welfare and prosperity of its good inhabitants, whereto first of all are required good order and regulation in matters of trade, navigation and edification, as well as in government and legislation, we have taken, and are still taking, more closely into consideration and deliberation the petition and written remonstrance of the nine elected selectmen, our good and dear subjects, wherein they represent and by sad experience prove the daily decline and encroachment of trade and navigation, proceeding for the most part from the underselling, frauds and smuggling perpetrated by one person against another, chiefly by those who take little or no interest in this new and growing province and feel little love or concern for its flourishing state and welfare and therefore do not benefit it either by laying out farms or putting up buildings, but solely apply themselves, with small capital and little merchandise (for which for a brief period they only hire a room or house) to the beaver and fur trade and, having traded and bartered said peltries from the inhabitants or the natives at the highest price, sufficiently above their value, resort to one method or another, by night and at unseasonable hours, to convey them secretly out of the country or to the north, without paying the proper duty thereon and, having enriched themselves by these and other illicit practices and means, they take their departure and go home again without conferring or bestowing any benefit on this province or the inhabitants thereof. By this underselling and fraudulent trade, the wares and merchandise of others, who by means of farms or honest buildings which add to the importance of this place interest themselves in the country, are depreciated and remain unsold to their great loss and damage. Wishing, as far as lies within our power, to remedy and prevent the same, for the sake of the establishment of a more stable course of commerce and mutual trade, as also for the greater benefit and profit of the oldest and interested inhabitants and the promotion of the prosperity and growth of this place, New Amsterdam, we, the above mentioned director and council, do therefore hereby ordain and enact on the subject of trade as follows:

That henceforward no person shall be allowed to keep a public or private store on shore, in cellar or garret, or to carry on trade by the small weight and measure within our jurisdiction in this province of New Netherland, except our good and dear inhabitants who first have taken the oath of allegiance, own real estate of the value of at least two or three thousand guilders, and also promise to reside, or at least to keep fire and light, in their own house here in this country within this province for four consecutive years; with this exception and reservation, however, that those who are already sworn and faithful subjects, although not interested to that extent in the country or owning real estate to the above amount, may continue their undertaken trade and business for the support of their house and family and purchase wares and merchandise in large or small quantities, each according to his circumstances and means, from the wholesale merchants and traders, in order to retail them again by the pound and small measure, provided they promise and engage to remain for four consecutive years within this jurisdiction, or not to depart out of it without the knowledge and special consent of the director general in loco; also not to make use, in buying and selling, of any other ell, weight or measure, than the legal ell, weight and measure of our name-giver, Old Amsterdam, hitherto in general use here, on pain of suspension of business and, in addition, a fine of twenty-five guilders.

Item. In order to preserve and maintain trade and commerce with all new comers, whether merchants, factors or Scotchmen from the fatherland and elsewhere; also, with our neighbors of and New England, &o. and to prevent all monopoly, and the better to accomodate theinhabitants, it is permitted and allowed to those persons to supply dally, Sundays excepted, the burghers, inhabitants and strangers with goods in large and small quantities from their ships, yachts and sloops, provided that the goods and merchandise are in the first instance properly entered and the previously enacted and customary duties on what is sold correctly paid at the office of the receiver, and that in the buying and selling no other weight, measure or ell be used than that in use here, on the penalty aforesaid.

In like manner, also, are hereby given and granted to the strangers and inhabitants a weekly market-day, to wit Monday, and annually a free market for ten consecutive days, which shall begin on the first Monday after Bartholomew's day,[3] new style, corresponding to the legal Amsterdam Fair, on which weekly and annual days the neighbors and strangers, as well as the inhabitants, are allowed and permitted to supply the purchaser from a booth, by the ell, weight and measure, wholesale and retail, according to the demand and circumstances of each, in conformity to the weight, ell and measure as aforesaid, and no other.

With regard to the navigation, which is the chief means whereby commerce, trade and traffic are preserved and sustained, the director general and council are informed and see by experience that considerable fraud, smuggling, abuses and illegalities have for some time past crept in and are taking deeper root dally, through the illicit gain by which many, being misled, abandon their usual business, occupation, employment and trade, and invest all their means in one vessel or another, in which they not only lodge and board, without conferring any benefit on this place or country, but, under pretext of procuring maize or other grain, corrupt, defraud and ruin the trade both in seawan and peltries with the natives, to the great loss and damage of the honest traders, merchants and inhabitants of this place. For the redress and prevention thereof the honorable director general and council do hereby ordain and enact, that no person shall henceforth be at liberty to frequent, navigate, or trade at the South or the North River, or in any bays, kills and creeks situated at and between them, except only the burghers and inhabitants of this city who possess real estate therein to the aforesaid amount of two or three thousand guilders, whereunto, however, they, pursuant to an old ordinance and custom, shall previously week and obtain from the director general a certificate and commission and at each voyage a clearance, to be exhibited to the commissary and officer there, and apply to him again for another to be shown to us or our deputy here, on which shall appear and be entered the correct quantity and quality of the shipments, wares and merchandise and returns, without concealing anything In the least thereof, on pain of confiscation of all concealed merchandises and peltries in said ship, yacht or sloop, whether they be shipped and conveyed on private account or on freight. We likewise order our fiscal here, and commissaries, officers and servants residing at Fort Orange, Fort Nassau, and elsewhere, to pay strict and close attention to drawing up, examining and exacting of such clearances, on pain of dismissal.

Item. In order that the intent of these presents be the better understood and cleared of all cavil and obscurities, the director and council aforesaid reserve to themselves the power to grant at their discretion and pleasure, for a few months, commission to trade at said rivers, streams and trading posts, but only to such as are actually sworn inhabitants and vassals in this place, having taken the oath of allegiance and entered into bonds to continue under our government for four consecutive years, although they have not in fact invested the aforesaid sum nor own a domicile in the country; provided that they promise and engage, in the meantime, to adorn this place with a decent and burgherlike building and invest in the country according to their rank and means; but no other person shall be permitted or allowed to have built or to buy new yachts, sloops or vessels, unless he own real estate in the aforesaid city of New Amsterdam, below the Fresh Water.

Item. They reserve to themselves, in order to promote greater intercourse and mutual commerce both between the colony of Renselaerswyck and other places annexed and subject to this government, to admit such colony into these civil exemptions and privileges for one, two or three vessels, according to circumstances and the exigencies of the case, provided that the persons own real estate there or here to the amount aforesaid, and remain subject to the regulations previously made or hereafter to be enacted in the matter.

The navigation of the East River, toward this place as well as to our neighbors and allies and to English Virginia, is left open and free as heretofore to all persons of whatever quality or nation they may he, on condition that all our inhabitants whether of this or other places under our government, shall apply for and obtain a new commission and permit and correctly enter with the fiscal, or in his absence at the office of the receiver, the goods and merchandise which they transport hither and thither; and such persons are hereby warned that all merchandise, goods and returns, with the exception of firewood, clapboards, lime and stone, which are not entered, shall be liable to confiscation, together with the boats, barks, lighters and canoes in which the same may be found.

We ordain and enact that the previous ordinance and regulation respecting the anchoring of large and small vessels, being published and posted anew, shall be strictly enforced, respected and obeyed; to wit, that no yachts shall be allowed to anchor except at the appointed anchorage and shall not remove thence until, having been inspected by the fiscal, they have received from the director, or, in his absence, from the fiscal, a written permit to discharge elsewhere.

We also ordain and enact, for the prevention of scandalous smuggling, that no boats, barges, yawls or canoes shall, in the evening after sunset and in the morning before sunrise, board or leave any vessel, or discharge or land any goods or merchandise, under a penalty of one pound Flemish and forfeiture of all goods and merchandise found in them, unless, on account of great haste and hurry or some pressing circumstance, a special permit be previously asked for and obtained from the honorable director, or, in his absence, from the vice-director or fiscal.

We also command our fiscal strictly to enforce and execute this our regulation and ordinance together with the other, after the publication and posting thereof, and to proceed against the contraveners thereof without any exception, according to the tenor of these presents.

Thus done in council, the 10th of March, anno 1648, in New Amsterdam in New Netherland.


Revised from Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland. p. 85. The same ordinance is entered on page 372, with the statement: Thus passed the 10th of March and published the 16th of March anno 1648, in New Netherland.
Revised from Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland, pp. 86-92.
The 24th of August


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.