Letter from the directors at Amsterdam to the council of New Netherland

Scanned Document:

[By the ship de Jager, skipper . . . Thomassen,[1] we have duly received your letters of the 22nd of September 1646 with divers documents and specimens of minerals. In accordance with the said letter and accompanying list we find copies of your Honor's last letter, dates 25th of November 1645; sent hither by the special messenger Arent Corssen, who until this day has not appeared nor have we been able to hear from him in England, although we sent letters to Plymouth, where the ship belonged, before it sailed from . . . .[2] We apprehend therefore, that the said ship has met with mishap on the way.]

Having meanwhile received the copies, we shall answer their contents point for point, if necessary and state, that we were especially glad that not only peace has been made with the savages there, but that it will probably be lasting ] and firm; as however the bad disposition of ] these savages has before this shown them to be deceitful, we on our side will always have ] to keep a watchful eye on them and their doings and therefore (every occasion to re-open the war must be avoided and all injuries presented.) We would have been pleased, if the conditions or articles of the said peace (which we trust have been made in writing) had been sent over and we expect them now at the return of the former Director Kieft. ]

We were no less pleased to hear that there are signs of progress that some villages are springing up and that fine buildings are being erected around Fort New Amsterdam. We trust your Honors' administration will have the tendency to promote all such undertakings, we on our side shall not fail to manage matters with that view, so that our conquests may be brought in such a flourishing state, that at last we can reap the long expected benefits therefrom.

Concerning the request of the Englishmen for permission to come and settle among us, on which your Honors await our decision, we have not found ] any very great objections, to allow them for the present to come in in reasonable numbers, but the appointment of the Magis ]trates must absolutely be left to our Director, at least in the same way as ] it is done among our own people and according to ] the established regulation.

The specimens of New Netherland minerals ] sent over, have been examined, but, we are told ] no metal has been found in [them; we can nevertheless only deem it advisable, to order the continuation of the search for minerals by your Honors and wish to know, what kind of mineral may be obtained from the greatest depth especially, we desire also a description of the place, where it is found. We expect also more information about the iron mine on Staten Island and in the meantime we shall endeavor, as we have already been doing, to find and send over people, who understand how to assay ores and to judge of their value.

We see that the English from Virginia and New England have found their way to Curaçao and ventured to go there with their products. Although this has been of great assistance to the people of Curaçao in their time of need, yet we hope, especially now, that with your Honor's arrival there the causes for it shall be removed. We ought to prevent the continuation of this intercourse, because it destroys all the cattle and causes the horses to be exported for the benefit and use of strangers, or else the facilities, which the Company does not enjoy], should be taken advantage of ] and turned ] to its service. ] We would therefore recommend to admit individuals ] of this nation on payment of certain taxes, ] to be determined by the state of affairs there. We should like to have ] your Honor's opinion on this matter. ]

Thus far we have considered it necessary to reply ] to the above mentioned copy of the letter, dated the 25th of ] November 1645. We come now to the second letter of the 22d of September 1646 which begins with the smuggling, which the ships from here are enabled and contrive to carry on at their arrival in New Netherland, [because of the opportunities offered there during the sail up the river before reaching Fort Amsterdam, for which they usually take the night, in order to discharge on the way up their contraband goods. We understand perfectly well how it can be and is done. Your Honor must consider, whether we cannot get people to go on board of these ships when they make the land, who could watch with the supercargo, until the ship comes to anchor before Fort Amsterdam. Your Honor must also do everything and endeavor by all possible means to put a stop to this defraudations.

Further information ought to be gathered about the English tradinghouse[3] ten leagues from Fort Orange, also concerning the right, claimed by the savages, to sell the ground to the English; for it is within our boundaries and we must prevent their locating there by all means, which your Honor does not consider too dangerous, to involve us in a war with the English. Their doings and arrangements must be carefully watched in the meantime and invasions or trespasses by them as well as by others must be prevented], if possible.

We shall look out for Symon Jansen from Durgerdam, who has again been over ] there without our knowledge or consent and expect your Honor will send any new evidences against him, brought forward in the meantime.

We have seen that more negroes could be advantageously employed and sold there than ] the ship Tamandare has brought. We shall take care, that in future ] a greater number of negroes be taken there. [We shall also endeavor to send a veterinary surgeon, who understands the treatment of horses.

As to matters relating to the church, which Director Kieft has not managed to our satisfaction, we shall wait for your Honor's report thereon, before putting them in order.

Not finding anything else to reply to, we come upon general remarks. We notice principally, that Director Kieft has ordered the duties on beavers and other goods, sent here from New Netherland, to be paid there against our wishes. The consignees of the ship Jager arrived from there last year, have informed us and proved, that they have not been able to sell beavers here at the same price, as Director Kieft had appraised them for export duty, under which appraisement f l274 16 st. more had been paid for duty, than according to their contract, which stipulates for their return freight a duty of] eight per centum, they ought to have paid. After due consideration, we could not well refuse to refund ] this amount, but as the mistake had not been ] committed here, but in New Netherland and we did not ] know, what other charges may have been made ] against this lot, we promised to the said consignees ] to write to your Honor as we herewith do, that what has been paid there in excess shall be refunded to their agent or factor, after the matter has been duly examined.

[We have made a new contract with the same consignees, a copy of which we send your Honor herewith. It stipulates, that they shall pay the duties on their return cargoes on arrival here. Your Honor will be governed thereby.

Enclosed is a list of free men going over in this ship; the purpose and intentions of each man going there are stated opposite to his name. We had intended to let these people sign the covenant on the same paper, but finding that nearly all of them go as "Scots" and not meaning to remain there, we considered it advisable to let them sign there before your Honor, when they take the oath of allegiance as faithful subjects. As to those, who shall return, we see no reason why they should be bound by an oath or constrained any more, than the free men going to Brazil.

Jan Willemsen and Jan Wyffrinck, who pretend to be experts in minerals and assayers, also to have knowledge of mining, have received permission to go to New Netherland under the conditions stated in the annexed copy. You will give them board and lodg]ings, also the use of the sloop ] for such a period, as stated therein, subject to the exigencies of the Company's service.[4]

The bills for the freight of this ship de Valckenier are enclosed.


Willem Tomassen; see Register of the Provincial Secretary, 1642-1647, NYHM ,


According to Adriaen van der Donck, Corssen set sail from New Haven; see ADescription of the New Netherlands, T. F. O'Donnell, ed. (Syracuse, 1968), 36.
Springfield, Massachusetts.
The copies of contracts, list of freemen, and freight bills no longer exist. NYCM, vol 11, 2a [burned] . An excerpt appears in NYCD, 12:39.


A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.