Answer of director and council to a remonstrance of the burgomasters and schepens

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The honorable director-general reported to the council that both of the mayors and a majority of the schepens had appeared before him on the 25th of this month, stating their complaint that the director-general and council had issued without their knowledge an interdict or ban against some farm servants to ride the goose at the feast of Bacchus on the eve of Lent for reasons known to the director-general and council; in addition, during their tenure, it has never been the custom in this country and it is considered completely frivolous, needless and disreputable by subjects and neighbors to celebrate such pagan and popish festivals and to introduce such bad customs into this country, even though, as the mayors and schepens claim, it may be tolerated in some places of our fatherland or winked at. The interdict or ban was communicated to the farms servants by the court-messenger, Claes van Elslandt, on the day before the act, but nevertheless they disobeyed it in contempt of the government. Consequently some of the malefactors ] were summoned before the director-general and council by their fiscal in order to be heard on the charge against them and punished according to the law. Two or three of them, who behaved themselves very insolently and improperly by threatening, cursing, vilifying and ridiculing their superiors in the presence and in the hearing of the director-general and council, were committed to prison. This the mayors and schepens regarded to be a great infraction of their authority, because the director-general and council had acted without their consent and knowledge, as if without the advice, consent or knowledge of the mayors and schepens no orders could be issued or regulations established or a rabble be forbidden to celebrate the feast of Bacchus, and as if without the knowledge and consent of a lower court of justice, such persons (disobeying a Christian and decent order) should not be punished. As the director-general and council understand their position, authority and instructions better than other people, they herewith inform the mayors and schepens that the establishment of a lower court of justice under the name and title of either "Schout, Mayors and Schepens" or "Magistrates" does in no way infringe upon or diminish the power and authority of the director-general and council to pass ordinances or issue interdicts, especially if they are for the glory of God, the welfare of the inhabitants or the prevention of sin, vice, corruption and misfortunes, and the correction, fine or punishment according to the law of those who wantonly disobey them. The authority of "Schout, Mayors and Schepens" and why they have been appointed is sufficiently shown in the instructions given to them and continue to do so without further troubling the director-general personally and inconveniencing him on account of some orders and regulations or fines and punishments made against violators thereof. However, if the schout, mayors and schepens or magistrates are asked by a subject or subjects to mediate and intercede for the modification of an interdict, order or punishment decreed against one or another by the director-general and council, then the mayors and schepens or magistrates of this city and of other lower courts of justice may by respectful petition remonstrate and inform the director-general and council of their own grievances and those of other subjects, giving their reasons for it; whereupon the director-general shall make such decisions, either renewing or mitigating their orders, as justice and the nature of the case may require. Thus done at the session of the director-general and high council held at New Amsterdam, 26 February 1654; was signed: P. Stuyvesant, Nicasius de Sille, C. van Werckhoven, La Montangne.


Translation: Gehring, C., trans./ed., New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, Vol. 5, Council Minutes, 1652-1654 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.: 1983).A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.