Ordinance regulating the assize of bread and the price of wine, brandy, etc. in New Amsterdam

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The director general and councilors of New Netherland, to all those who hear see or read this, greetings.

Let it be known that today we have received the complaints of the good inhabitants, submitted to us by the representatives[1] of this place, concerning the excessive exaction and usurious profits imposed by some, regarding both white bread as well as the dispensing of wine, brandy, and spirits by the small measure, by some tapsters and tavemkeepers, and practiced a long time to the great damage and detriment of the commonalty and many private inhabitants, wherein wishing to provide, as much as possible the director and councilors of New Netherland have made with the aforesaid representatives a computation of the present price of bread grain; also, what weight it can produce, as well as the present price of wines, brandies and spirits, and how the same is found by more than 100 percent after the initial cost.

Therefore, the director general and councilors in order to prevent such exaction and exhaustive consumption, hereby order and command that the pure white bread as well as the wheat and rye bread shall be baked and sold at its correct weight; namely, the wheat and rye bread as previously ordered and published; the whole loaf, eight pounds; the half loaf, four pounds, which shall be sold, until further orders and a better rate of grain, at fourteen stivers for a whole wheat loaf and at twelve stivers for a whole rye loaf; half loaves ] in proportion. With regard to the white bread: it is hereby ordered that the same shall be baked at its exact and correct weight; namely, whole, half and quarter pound loaves ] at the discretion of the baker, without being allowed to reduce these amounts, and the pound of bolted white bread, made from good and pure wheat, shall be sold from no more than three stivers a pound; those of more or less weight to be calculated in proportion.

Furthermore, whereas the director and councilors have been informed by the representatives as well as by various farmers that some bakers refuse to bake rye bread, and do not hesitate to offer as a reason that they can derive more profit from the white and wheat bread, whereby it comes to happen that not only are many needy inhabitants, who cannot afford white bread, inconvenienced and suffer a lack of bread, but also the farmers cannot sell the rye that they have cultivated and produced to the manifest injury of agriculture and the commonalty, the director and councilors do hereby order and command that for the convenience of the indigent as well as the wealthy, rye bread as well as wheat and white shall be baked, on pain of forfeiting their business and 25 guilders for the first time they are found in violation thereof.

With regard to the wines, brandies and spirits that some tapsters have sold for a long time by the small measure for 10,12, even 14 stivers for an ⅛th or mutsie to the great detriment of the commonalty; therefore, the director and councilors order that a can of French wine shall be sold in the taverns for eighteen or twenty stivers, Spanish wine for fourteen or twenty-four stivers, a mutsie brandy for no higher than seven stivers; and all this until further order and the occurrence of the rising or falling of the price of wines by the large measure.

And in order to accommodate and oblige the good inhabitants and arriving traders still further, with regard to payment in sewant, and if it is not convenient for the former to lay in wines, brandies and spirits, all arriving traders, Scots peddlers and merchants are permitted until further order to accommodate the commonalty by the small measure without excise for strung sewant, but at a reasonable and civil profit; namely, French wine at twelve stivers, Spanish wine at one daelder, brandy and spirits at two and three stivers a quart, solely for the convenience of the settlers who are not tavemkeepers; however, with this understanding that such wines fetched from the merchants by the small measure may not be dispensed by smaller or greater amounts ] by any inhabitants, whatever their capacity or nationality may be, on pain of forfeiting the wine and a fine of twenty-five guilders.

Thirdly, whereas it has been reported to the director and councilors that notwithstanding our previously enacted proclamation and order some brewers are dispensing their brewed beer by the small measure and quart, not only to the damage, injury and detriment of the customary excise but also to the hindrance of business of others who are making a profession of tapping and dispensing by the small measure; and whereas we experience that some brewers are practicing such dispensing by the small measure more securely under the pretense of accommodating the commonalty with small beer, our former orders and proclamations are hereby not only renewed, but in addition all such persons are expressly prohibited from dispensing either good or small beer by the small measure and the pail, under penalty expressed in the previous proclamations. In the meanwhile, so as not to subject the indigent to inconvenience, the director and councilors will, as occasion requires, give permission to some certain inhabitants, carrying the required permit, to lay in small beer without excise, and to dispense the same for a reasonable profit by the small measure.

Thus done, enacted and published in our meeting this 5th of June 1651 in New Amsterdam.[2]


gemeertts mannen, municipal officials sworn by oath.
Also in LO, 119-22. This ordinance is a reissue and amplification of several previous price regulating ordinances for bread and liquor, as well as regulations for tapping and brewing; see LWA, 22 and LWA, 18.


Translation: Gehring, C., trans./ed., New Netherland Documents Series: Vol. 16, part 1, Laws and Writs of Appeal, 1647-1663 (Syracuse: 1991).A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.