LETTER from Matthias Beck, vice-director in Curaçao to the councillors of New Netherland

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Noble, Honorable, Valiant, Wise, Prudent and very Discreet Lords.[1]

My Lords. My latest to your honors was sent aboard the ship Den Gidion on the 21st of July, according to the accompanying copies to which I refer for brevity’s sake.[2] Since then, praise God, the Company’s ship De Musch safely returned here on the 6th of September, by which I duly received your honors’ letter dated the 29th of July, together with the pertinent enclosures, to which this serves as a much needed response.[3]

First of all, I was pleased to hear that the slaves and store goods sent aboard the same ship according to the bills of lading and manifest, all arrived safely; excluding the error in the bills of lading for the store goods, which your honors pointed out.[4] They have been checked and found to be the fault of the commissary, who has also corrected the same in the books here in accordance with your honors.

I have also duly received the list of the majority of the slaves who have been sold there at public auction; and I was pleased to see that they were sold so successfully and gave your honors significant relief in the purchase of provisions for the garrison, which otherwise without the aforesaid slaves would have had to have been purchased by a bill of exchange (because of the scarcity of cash caused by the continued troubles first with the savages and then presently with the English neighbors).

I have duly received the provisions together with the lumber, according to the enclosed list, which your honors have sent us consistent with the capacity of the aforesaid ship, except that the peas were found to be 9 skipples less than is shown on the accompanying receipt of Commissary Laurens van Ruyven; and because the ship had too small a carrying capacity to be able to load so much at one time as requested per submitted memorandum, I therefore have written down at this time the most essential items from the same memorandum, and if the ship is still able to take on more than is listed in this accompanying memorandum,[5] I request that your honors supplement it with whatever is most readily on hand there, according to the previous memorandum, unless your honors have sufficient fresh wheat and rye, then I would rather see (if it does not inconvenience your honor) that the ship was loaded therewith as soon as possible, even though it were the whole cargo, in consideration of the many months that I have to feed here; especially because we have been warned by private parties as well as by the most recent letters of the Company from the fatherland to be on our guard here against the English, who still are trying to play the master. However, we can only hope that they shall not be as successful in everything as they have apparently projected themselves to be.

Whatever news has come to me concerning the Company’s territories in Nieuw Neederlandt as well as in Guinea, either from the most recent communications of the Company out of the fatherland or from private sources also by way of the Caribbean islands to date, I shall for brevity’s sake refer to the detailed communication which is accompanying this to the honorable General Stuyvesant.[6]

Concerning Simon Cornelissen Gilde with the ship Den Gidion: whereas just before receipt of your honors’ latest letter he was dispatched from here, according to the orders of our lords-superiors, to take to your place 300 slaves; therefore, I hope that he has arrived safely at your honors with the slaves. And concerning these disturbances of the English: we are most anxious to learn of the general state of things there as well as your honors’ private situation; especially since I would have to alter the voyage of the Company’s ship De Musch presently here (which was otherwise ready to go to the Caribbean islands with some old and crippled slaves, and to perform other services for the Company); and I would have dispatched it over a month ago if I had not waited for communications out of the fatherland, not only concerning the English but also on account of the French whom I understand have also established a great East and West India Company in France which will be put into operation as soon as there is sufficient capital. It is to prohibit any Dutch, English and even private French ships from trading at the French Caribbean islands, except for ships of the aforesaid newly established company. The consequences thereof shall reveal themselves shortly.

We are looking every day here for a new frigate Qut of Amsterdam which was freighted for this place by private parties and by which we trust that we shall receive definite news and information about whether relations between England and Holland have erupted into a general war or whether it is a knife that the other is holding in its sheath and that we finally shall come together in a good agreement, which would be most salutary and beneficial for both nations. However, this shall not come about easily unless the English desist from their unfounded claims against the East and West India Company. However, if the Englishman does not want to resolve it, then he shall find more sea power armed against him than he could ever imagine, and it would not even be strange for us to receive word of a bloody sea battle before this coming winter. In such a case I hope that the Lord God shall bless the weapons of the United Provinces; especially since they were sufficiently forced into the war by the English.

My feeling is that the Englishman is out to deceive our state in Holland by threatening it with war, and now and then shall see what he can do on the coast of Guinea and Nieuw Neederlandt; and if he can become owner thereof, according to his notion, then he shall once again want to make peace (as in the time of Cromwell)[7] but only after he has taken many ships and goods from the Hollanders under the guise of friendship, causing pain to many. I can only hope that the mask shall be pulled off and that the Englishman’s tail might be so shortened for once that in the future he will live in peace and tranquility with his neighbors and allies.

Finally it is my most cordial and humble request that this ship be returned to this place with the necessities as soon as possible.


Noble, Honorable, Valiant, Wise, Prudent and very Discreet Lords, I commend your honors, after my humble respects, to the merciful and blessed protection of the Almighty, and remain,

Curaçao in Fort Amsterdam,
the 15th of November 1665.

My Lords, Your honors most obedient friend and servant, M. Beck


Although Stuyvesant is mentioned, the letter is addressed to the council of New Netherland because it responds to passages in NYCM 15:37, a letter from Stuyvesant to Matthias Beck.
See 17:85 & 87 for letters etc. sent on 21 July.
See NYCM 15:37 for this letter actually dated, 30 July; enclosures do not survive.
This refers to a discrepancy in amount of cloth and number of stockings sent, according to NYCM 15:37.
See 17:98. for this memorandum.
See 17:96 for this letter.
This is a reference to the end of the first Anglo-Dutch war in 1654.


Translation: Gehring, C., trans./ed., Curaçao Papers, 1640-1665 (New Netherland Research Center and the New Netherland Institute: 2011).A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.