Ordinance regulating the ferry

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Ordinance concerning the Ferry.

To all those who shall see or hear this read, greetings. The director-general and high council of New Netherland let it be known that great confusion and disorder prevail more and more among the ferrymen on both sides of the ferry of Manhattan, to the great disservice of the passengers and inhabitants of this province, so that those needing to be ferried across often have to wait whole days and nights, and then not without great extortion of double and even more excessive fares, quarreling and other unmannerly practices, forcing cancellation of their trip to the great expense and detriment of foreigners and the good inhabitants of this province.

THEREFORE, the director-general and high council of New Netherland, wishing to prevent all such confusion and irregularities, henceforth, and for the service of the passengers as well as the inhabitants of this province, order, for maximum service and accommodation and minimum expense, as follows:


First, from now on, no person, no matter his capacity, except for the farmer of the ferry thereto authorized by the high administration, shall be allowed to keep or have any ferryboats to carry over any foreign passengers or inhabitants of this province or livestock, goods or anything else (his own property excepted) on pain of paying one pound Flemish for the first offense, two pounds Flemish for the second, and for the third offense forfeiture of the boat and arbitrary punishment, of which the farmer shall receive one third, the officer one third, and the remaining one third to be at the discretion of the judge; therefore, it is ordered that no one shall keep any boat at the ferry for the purpose of conveying over therewith any persons or goods, his own family and goods excepted, or be allowed to lo an it to anyone or hire it out, directly or indirectly, to any other persons, his own family and goods excepted, on pain of the afore­ said punishment.


Second. The farmer shall be bound to keep his ferry constantly provided with proper boats and experienced men, and to maintain on both sides of the river for the passengers and inhabitants of this province a covered shed or shelter to protect them from the rain, cold and so forth.


Also, the farmer shall be allowed to build, for his convenience, a punt to convey across wagons, carts and draft animals, and receive:

For each wagon or cart with two horses or oxen  f2:10 
For a cart or wagon with one horse  f2 
For a cart or plow  fl 
For a hog, sheep or goat, 8 stivers for two, and 3 stivers for each one above that amount. 
For each man or woman, Indian male or female  f0:6 
For two or more persons, each one  f0:3 
For a child under ten years, half fare. For a horse or four footed horned animal  f 1 :10 
For a hogshead of tobacco  f0:16 
For a barrel of beer  f0:16 
For an anker of wine or spirits  f0:6 
For a tub of butter, soap or the like  f0:6 
For a mudde of grain, 4 stivers, and what exceeds that ½ stiver per skipple. 
Bundles of goods and other articles not specified herein are to be agreed upon by the parties proportionally. 


Also, the farmer shall not be bound to convey any person over or to carry any goods, unless he so desires, until he has received the specified fee.


Also, the farmer shall only be bound to accommodate passengers for the aforesaid fees on summer days from 5 o'clock in the morning until 8 o'clock in the evening, provided the windmill has not been shut down.[1]


Also, he shall be allowed to ask for a double charge or fee at night, before or after the specified time.


Also, the farmer shall receive regular fees during the winter from 7 o'clock in the morning until 5 o'clock in the evening; however, he shall not be bound, unless he so desires, to convey anyone over in bad weather or when the windmill has shut down as a result of a storm.


Also, no one shall be exempt from paying a fee, whosoever he may be, except for the honorable director-general and high councilors, as well as warrant officers or court-messengers or others sent over by the high administration with a pass from the secretary.


In order that no one may plead ignorance hereof, we order and direct the farmer to post a copy of this in plain sight on both sides of the ferry in the ferry houses, because we have deemed such to be for the service of the travelers and the good inhabitants of this province. In witness whereof we have caused our seal to be appended hereto. Done in Fort New Amsterdam, 1 July 1654; below was written: By order of the honorable director-general and high council; and was signed: Cornelis van Ruyven, secretary.


During stormy weather it would have been necessary to shut down the windmill by removing the canvas from the sail-frames, indicating conditions too dangerous for the operation of the ferry. The windmills west and southwest of Fort Amsterdam would have been visible from the ferry slip on the Manhattan side (near present-day Fulton Street), serving as an indicator of weather conditions.


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.