Ordinance for the more effectual prevention of quarrels and broils in the public streets of New Amsterdam

Scanned Document:

Whereas the director general and council of New Netherland observe daily to their sorrow, that their previously issued ordinance enacted on the subject of quarreling, fighting, beating and striking, is not according to their good intent and meaning complied with, observed and obeyed as it ought to be, but despised and violated for a mere word by some quarrelsome persons, because of the small fine imposed by the aforesaid ordinance, which is sufficiently manifest as some persons have not even hesitated to say in the officer’s presence, “It is only a matter of a pound Flemish in sewant”; being desirous to provide herein, in order to hinder and prevent further mischiefs which usually follow such fights, therefore the aforesaid director general and council do hereby most expressly forbid any street brawls or quarrels, much less beating and striking one another, since these can excite only provocations, mischiefs, indeed, murders; on pain of paying by the transgressors and violators hereof, as a fine for a simple blow of a fist, twenty-five guilders, and in case blood shall follow, four times as much, and if such happen in the presence of the officer, burgomaster or schepen, a double fine, to be applied as that behooves. Let everyone be hereby warned and take heed of loss.

Amsterdam in New Netherland, the 15th of December 1657.[1]


Also in LO, 324. Ordinances against drawing knives were enacted in 1642 and amplified in 1647 (LO, 33 and 62); however, they did not cover street brawling.


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.