Dutch colonial council minutes, 23-25 July 1647

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On the 23d of July anno 1647

Jan Dollingh from Bristol, aged about 32 years, being legally summoned to court, declares that when Mr. Bratton's bark a short time ago was about to sail, it was found that Mr. Bratton aforesaid must pay 50 Carolus guilders duty on the goods which were sold by him here. Fiscal van Dyck came and demanded the aforesaid duty and said to Mr. Bratton: "Fifty fuilders is too much for the honorable Company; give the Company 30 guilders and me ten guilders." The deponent declares that he paid the said ten guilders to the fiscal in seawan in the Great Tavern and handed him a note for 30 guilders for the Company in payment of the duty. The deponent declares that he heard from Joris Wolsey and Ritchert Clof that Mr. Tomas Willet made the above named fiscal a present of a veaver on condition that he should not inspect his bark. Thus done in council in Fort Amsterdam, dated as above.

Ritchert Clof from Manchester, aged 40 years, being legally summoned to court, declares that he heard Mr. Willet say that the honorable fiscal came to inspect the bark of the said Willet. The aforesaid Willet said in the deponent's presence in the house of Isaack Allerton that he said to Fiscal van Dyck when he came on board to make his inspection that it was too much trouble to open the hold and to overhaul things and that in doing so he would lose much time. He promised to give Fiscal van Dyck a beaver if he would not inspect. Deponent further declares that Ge ]orge Wolsey carried a veaver. The deponent asked where he was going with it. Wolsey answered, he was going to take the beaver to Fiscal van Dyck. July 23, 1647.

Sentence pronounced on Cornelis Melyn[1]

Whereas Cornelis Melyn, born at Antwerp, aged about forty- five years, inhabitant and burgher of the city of New Amsterdam in New Netherland, has been pleased (according to the trustworthy and sworn affidavits thereof), on the 2d of May 1645, to oppose and obstruct the execution of justice, threatening the Hon. Director Kieft, at that time his lawful governor and superior, with the gallows and the wheel, or, as the delinquent, according to his own confession, without torture or irons twisted the words of the fiscal and others ordered to execute judgment and said: "Let those who have given you orders see to it that they do not reach the gallows and the wheel," and has further resisted justice and the order of the Hon. Director Kieft aforesaid, so that the fiscal was obliged to enter a protest of contumacy and opposition against him, Melyn, as likewise, according to divers other affidavits taken the sworn to at various times, he, Melyn, stands convicted of having slandered justice and the court here, saying that there was no justice here; that he was not subject to the iurisdiction of the honorable director; that the honorable director might occupy himself with the Company's servants; that he was a headstrong fool (een duyvels Cop), with many mutinous and seditious words uttered against this one and that, as well soldiers as freemen, advising the Company's servants to leave its service, as they would receive neither money nor pay; that the director, like the biggest liar in the country, gave fair words and plenty of promises, which bore no fruit, &c.; in order to instigate the freemen not to pay anything, as is apparent to us by divers collected affidavits and credible testimonies, with name and surname, duly read in his, Melyn's, presence; also, that he, by his servants, endeavored, even before, or in the beginning of the war, to purloin either secretly or forcibly, the maize belonging to the Indians of Long Island at that time not yet at war with our nation, for which they even killed an Englishman; whereof, contrary to two witnesses, he denies. It appears, however, by his own confession made in our presence, on the 16th of July of this year, without torture or irons, that he had a knowledge thereof; confessing that his servants with soldiers had attempted to do so, but contrary to his order and command, whereof he, however, has neither before nor since complained nor given any information, which is proof enough that he connived at and" silently assented to it. Moreover, that he exacted and took by force from the Indians, when they were hunting on Staten Island, a portion of their game, according to the sworn affidavit dated the last of July anno 1645; all of which are matters of very dangerous consequence, tending to mutiny, defamation of justice and supreme authority, to force, violence and exaction. To this is also to be added that he, Melyn, with one Jochom Pietersz Kuyter forged, conceived, drafted and wrote on the 28th of October 1644, in the name of the Eight Selectmen, a most false and calumnious letter and caused it to be transcribed and sent to the honorable directors of the Chamber at Amsterdam, thereby clandestinely and most scandalously charging, defaming, criminating and accusing the Hon. Director Kieft, then in loco their governor and superior, of divers grave and criminal errors, as is and can be further seen and read at length in the original and in the authentic copy thereof.

Which having been investigated and inquired into by us and our council at the request of said Director Kieft, said calumnious letter has been found to consist in many points of false and defamatory lies, as is apparent and proved by our own experience, by the testimony of others heard to the number of fifteen, and also by the declaration and answers of the co-signers.

Whereupon the fiscal instituting criminal action and suit, charged, accused and convicted said Melyn of having here committed in writing against the honorable director general and justice the crimes of insult, defamation and falsehood, and consequently is declared guilty of laesae majestatis.

Which documents and proofs having been examined, investigated and inquired into by the honorable director general and council, and everything material having been duly weighed, the case was found to be of very bad consequence and ought and cannot be tolerated in a law abiding and well regulated government, but must be punished as an example to others.

Wherefore, the Hon. Director General Petrus Stuyvesant, with the advice of his council, administering justice in the name of the High and Mighty Lords The States General, his Serene Highness the Prince of Orange, and the honorable directors of the General Chartered West India Company, has sentenced and condemned, as he does hereby sentence and condemn, the aforesaid Cornelis Melyn to be banished for seven years from the district and jurisdiction of New Netherland and also to depart by the first ship, revoking all previous granted benefits, rights and pretensions which he may have obtained, or yet claims from the honorable directors and, moreover, to pay a fine of three hundred Carolus guilders, to be applied, one-third for the poor, one-third for the fiscal, and one-third for the church; dismissing the fiscal's further demand.

Thus done and enacted in council, in Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland, the 25th of July A°. 1647. Was signed: P. Stuyvesandt, L. van Dincklaghe, Brian Newton, Poulus Leendersz van die Grift, and Jan Claesen Boll.


Revised from Doc. Rel. Col. Hist. N. Y., 1:349-50.


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.