Letter from the Directors to Stuyvesant

Scanned Document:

The 14th of June 1656.

Honorable, Valiant, Pious, Beloved, Faithful.

Our last letter to you, dated the 13th of March last past,[1] was sent by the ships the Beer and the Bontekoe; we have since received by the ship Nieuw Amsterdam, Pieter Dircksen Waterhont, skipper. Your letter of the 21st of the same month,[2] to which we shall briefly reply, as several points have been answered by ours of the 13th of March that we are well satisfied with the expedition, which agreeably to our former orders you have caused to be led so discreetly and without difficulty or bloodshed against the English on Long Island, who encroached there upon the Company's territory. We approve of what has been done there and recommend that you act henceforth in the same way in regard to encroachments or usurpations by the English; but be as cautious as possible that no acts of open hostility occur, which must be avoided and harmony maintained.

As to your fears concerning the trade with Virginia, that it will not be of long duration because of the high price of all kinds of merchandise, the low price of tobacco, and because you are informed that England has forbidden the trading from Virginia to New Netherland, we are not so much alarmed as you show yourselves to be in your last letter, partly because the price of tobacco may shortly improve, which will reestablish the trade and make a better market for merchandise, partly because they in Virginia receive from their own nation in England no such goods as they need. Besides they have to buy from their own people at higher prices than from us, anatural consequence because Virginia tobacco sells in England on an average at a lower price than here. It is therefore often brought from there directly to our provinces and this, we think, should induce the Virginians to continue their commercial relations with you under all circumstances. But as no reliance can be placed upon all such and similar relations and because trade to all foreign places is brisker one year than the other, the cultivation of tobacco (which also succeeds well in New Netherland if properly cured and preserved) should be so much more promoted and fostered; that would give a firmer footing to, and vastly encourage, commerce. We shall therefore think of all possible measures and endeavor to have the import duties on tobacco removed.

We have seen and heard with displeasure that against our orders of the 15th of February 1655,[3] issued at the request of the Jewish or Portuguese nation, you have forbidden them to trade at Fort Orange and the South River, also the purchase of real estate, which is granted to them without difficulty here in this country, and we wish it had not been done and that you had obeyed our orders, which you must always execute punctually and with more respect; however, Jews or Portuguese people shall not be employed in any of the trades, (from which they are excluded in this city), nor allowed to have open retail shops, but they may quietly and peacefully carry on their business as before and exercise in all quietness their religion within their houses, for which end they must without doubt endeavor to build their houses close together in a convenient place on one or the other side of New Amsterdam-at their own choice-as they have done here.

We would also have been better pleased, if you had not posted the placard against the Lutherans-a copy of which you sent us-and committed them to prison, for it has always been our intention, to deal with them quietly and peacefully. Hereafter you will therefore not post such or similar placards without our knowledge, but you must pass it over quietly and let them have free religious exercises in their houses.

We are still negotiating with their honors, the esteemed lords burgomasters of this city here in regard to the establishment of some colonies there, which we think will soon be concluded, and shall send your honors, at the same time as the departure of these persons intended for increasing the population there, our decisions as to peace or war with the Indians there. Meanwhile you may cautiously treat with them, but you must by no means consent to a new purchase of Staten Island or any other territory surprised and ruined by them in their recent revolt. We hear that they insist upon it, but it would be a precedent for them to commit some other massacre, when at one time or the other in want of goods or for other reasons. You must therefore on all occasions try to renew and confirm the treaty of peace made with the Indians hostile to them, which we have pleased to learn, you have done with the Indians of Long Island.

We understand as well as you do that on account of the unexpected affair with the Indians and the consequent bad condition of many people in the open country, it is difficult to collect there the general tax on land and cattle, the more so, as the inhabitants of the colony of Rensselaerswijck and of the village of Beverwijck, who have not at all suffered from the late Indian outbreak, can neither by our letters nor by your persuasive reasoning be induced to pay it. We have therefore decided to direct you to act leniently, but nevertheless to demand payment from the said colony and village, without however proceeding severely, until you have our further orders.

We approve the provisional appointment of Jean Paul Jacquet as vice director of the South River and hope and trust that you have acted herein with as much caution as to have ascertained that his abilities are equal to his duties.

The foregoing is in answer to your letter: we will add divers complaints and requests, presented to us by parties there as well as living here, of which the most important says that there is no rule or order in the issuing of dispatches concerning commerce. We have therefore resolved to make a table of fees and to order and direct you to take care that henceforth not more is demanded or paid there than:

For a bill of lading and clearance for 1 to 6 casks of tobacco, 12 stivers; from 7 to 12 barrels of tobacco, 18 stivers;

from 13 to 25 barrels of tobacco 24 stivers;

from 26 to as many as anyone wishes to ship, 50 stivers;

Also for a passport for a family consisting of one or more persons who wish to return here; 24 stivers;

and for all other commercial documents in proportion.

You must also reduce the cartage and porterage fees for goods taken in and out of the Company's warehouse, which are now too high, so that the free people there, who informed us of the dishonest tax or demand of the laborers, be satisfied.

Some private complaints have also been made to us concerning the anchorage fees paid there, about which we would like to know the details, as to when they were first exacted and on what grounds they are demanded, how much is paid for a large ship or a smaller one in proportion, so that we may act thereon; and whereas one hundred pounds of powder are sent over in this ship as anchorage fee for the ship St. Maria, already paid there for her or for which security was given to the amount of 150 guilders, we recommend to you to refund upon receipt hereof the money paid or to release the securities from their obligation.

We enclose two particular quittances or patents for land apparently bought on Long Island by Cornelis van Werckhoven, who died last year, for which the guardians of his minor children have asked our consent and approval. We refused, partly because the patents were executed privately before the notary, Schelluyne,[4] contrary to the Company's orders, partly because we first desired to have your opinion about it and we await your report on the quantity and quality of the land, how many persons they have there, how much land they can keep in good order and cultivate and everything else relating to it. We expect to receive this information by the first opportunity, so that we can give a final decision. As the said guardians are now sending over their attorneys to manage the affairs of the late Mr. Werckhoven and have asked us for letters of recommendation for them, we could not well refuse their request and recommend that in everything just and fair you assist them, without however granting them more land or allowing them to enter upon more, than for which proper papers of conveyance have been executed before the director and council there as usual pursuant to the Company's rules.

We need here very much at present the patents or briefs for Staten Island, for which please have a search made in the secretary's office or wherever they may have been deposited and then send them to us directly, adding a statement of the manner in which the Company obtained possession of them, of who were the purchasers and who the sellers, what price was agreed upon, who paid it and all other circumstances relating to it, upon which we have to act. Look out meanwhile that Cornelis Melyn, who, we understand, is now up north and in negotiation about the Island, does not sell or deliver it to a foreign nation, not subject to our jurisdiction; in such a case you must secure and hold it for the Company, as having the best title and endeavor cautiously to inveigle said Melyn to New Amsterdam, arrest and keep him and then send him well treated, but also well secured, to this country, if the above rumor proves to be true.

Now and then we are much embarrassed here by the lack of copies of divers patents or conveyances of lands, houses, gardens and like real estate, of the daily and secret minutes as well as all other public documents concerning the country. You will send them to us by the next ship and continue with it hereafter.

The wife of Domine Polhemius[5] goes over in the ship the Gulden Otter; we gave her permission, as to all other private parties, to gothere as cabin passengers, the Company paying the fare for her and her children on condition that the amount shall be deducted from the salary earned by her husband in Brazil.

Also going over in the ship the Blauwe Duyff is Thomas Lodeijckxsen, carpenter, for whom the Company also paid the fare, on condition of his remaining in New Netherland for three years or if he leave before he must refund the passage money to your honors in Holland money or its equivalent.

It appears strange to us that you prevent Abraham Jacobsen van der Pot from returning to this country, under pretext of his not having paid his passage nor the freight for his goods, although it is apparent from the receipt given by the cashier, Hontum, that he paid his passage, while the freight for his goods was remitted.

Some requests and complaints are made here now and then, of which we intended to inform you, but as we have no time, the wind being favorable and the ships ready to sail from Texel, we decided to refer you for information to the enclosed extract[6] from our daily minutes, with the recommendation again that your honors take appropriate action on the petition submitted by Pieter Claessen Mes.

Lucas Rodenborgh, late vice director of the island of Curacao, departs from here as a freeman with his wife, one child and one Negro in the ship Vergulden Otter; there is due him yet as balance of his salary from the Company the sum of ƒ6000, which on account of scarcity of money in the treasury we have not been able to pay in full. We allowed him therefore, pursuant to our resolution of the 16th of March, last past, to balance it there with Negroes, horses and whatever else may be of service to him; you are to act accordingly.

In the same ship goes Gerrit Swertsen van Twiller, engaged by us as mason at a monthly salary of 12 guilders, and it was agreed with him that he should go from there to Curacao to build a new oven. Your honors can arrange this, when an opportunity offers.

We were distressed in settling the accounts of the lately returned soldiers, because they could not exhibit any papers, but simply declared that they had delivered to you the arms brought from here. You will therefore hereafter give to the soldiers returning home, whose arms you retain, a receipt for them to serve our own records.

We would have liked to send you with these ships 24 or 25 soldiers, but could not engage them, so that only those go whose names you will find on the enclosed muster roll.[7]

Herewith, Honorable, Valiant, Pious, Beloved, Faithful, shall we commend your honors to God's holy protection and remain,

Eduard Man

Amsterdam, this 14th of June 1656.

Herewith also the invoices of the lately arrived ship Nieuw Amsterdam; from the marginal notes thereof you may learn how great the depredations committed there by the customs inspector Adrian van Tienhoven have been and the quantity of merchandise, the weight or measures of which have been falsified; on account of these defalcations we have been summoned before the Court of Admiralty by their fiscal for the direction- money and steps have been taken for the confiscation of it. You must make there proper arrangements that henceforth such falsifications cannot be perpetrated, for not only we, but also private parties, suffer great loss thereby. We hope that it will be stopped now, else the Company would by such a manner of doing business acquire a bad reputation with the government, which must be avoided at all costs.

Eduard Man
Abr. Wilmerdonx


See 12:36 for this letter.
This letter does not survive.
Letter no longer exists.
Dirck van Schelluyne, notary.
Johannes Polhemius, became domine on Long Island after leaving Brazil in 1654.
Extract no longer exists.
Muster roll no longer exists.


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