Dutch colonial council minutes, 28 March 1643

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Whereas Maryn Adriaensen, a resident of this place and formerly one of the freebooters and sailors of Compaan,[1] has at different times behaved very insolently here, as in endeavoring to force his way on board ahead of the Company's sloops when ships arrive and in accosting the director three times with an unbearable arrogance and abusing his good will and affection for the community, it has at last come to pass that the said Maryn in the afternoon of the 21st of March 1643, under the pretext that some member of the community had called him "murderer" and had reproached him for being the cause of the damages now committed by the Indians in the country, because he with some others had signed the petition praying that they might be permitted once to avenge the Christian blood which was so treacherously shed by the Indians and of which it was said that the director now disavowed the responsibility and shifted all on the signers of the petition, which, however, was not true, left his house in a rage, armed with a sword and a loaded and cocked pistol, and came to the house of the director and went to his bedroom. Pointing his pistol at the director to shoot him, he said: "What devilish lies are you telling of me?" Monsr. La Montagne, being at the time with the director, caught the pan with such quickness that the cock snapped on his finger, preventing thus through God’s mercy this atrocious design. Meanwhile, the fiscal and several others having come into the chamber, they disarmed Maryn, and Jan Harmensen from Lemmet, each armed with a musket and a pistol, came to the fort, where the director was walking up and down. He was informed of their coming and retreated to his house, which he had barely entered when Jacob Slangh fired at him, so that two bullets passed through the gate into the wall. The sentry before the door immediately fired at Jacob Slangh and killed him, God having in his mercy saved the director a second time within an hour and a half and preserved the community from a cruel massacre. Shortly after this fearful event about 25 persons, residents of Manhattan, among them some of said Maryn's accomplices, appeared at the door of the director; advised to delegate a few of their number to present their petition, they sent four men to the director to ask pardon for the criminal, to which the answer was given that the director would be satisfied to leave the matter in the hands of the community, who should decide according to their conscience; they might choose some men for this purpose (as may be seen by their petition, marked No. -). But instead of communicating with the community, numbering more than 500 men, they showed it only to the aforesaid 25 or 30 men, who immediately demanded the freedom of the prisoner. This having been refused for good reasons, they elected eight men, of whom one had been convicted of a crime, who without having been presented to the council for confirmation promptly pronounced sentence that the criminal should pay fl. 500 and be set free on condition of remaining away from Manhattan for three months. When they submitted this sentence to us, we represented to them that it was impossible that they had judged with a clear conscience according to our answer, as they had acted without having heard the complaint of the assaulted party, the motion of the fiscal, the confession of the criminal, the depositions of the witnesses and other evidence necessary in such proceedings; that this case was of too great importance to be figured out on the fingers (as the saying is). We admonished them to consider the matter more deliberately and we would furnish them with all the evidence. Instead, however, of correcting their hasty action, they contented themselves with arguing some points in the director's complaint which were explicit enough to be understood, traversing the motion of the fiscal, written by himself, and making other irrelevant remarks, as may be seen under No. -, in such a way that we were compelled for the sake of maintaining the respect due to justice, as being the foundation of a republic, to take the case in our own hands and to reinforce the council, numbering only two members in criminal cases. But we could find nobody willing to assist us and in order to avoid the charge of being moved by passion, having through God's mercy sufficient papers to Holland, to await there his trial, I mean sentence, as the courts may decide.

Done In council at Fort Amsterdam, the 28th of March A°. 1643.


Claes Gerritsen Compaen, a notorious freebooter.


Translation: Scott, K., & Stryker-Rodda, K. (Ed.). New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, Vol. 4, Council Minutes, 1638-1649 (A. Van Laer, Trans.). Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.: 1974.A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.