Sentence of John Gray

Scanned Document:

The aforesaid all tends to a vilification of your honors' sentence and order, and to a disobedience of the high authorities, which, in countries where justice is valued, ought and cannot be tolerated, but must be punished for the maintenance of justice and as an example for others. Therefore, the fiscal moves that Jan Gry be taken to the place where justice is customarily administered, and there to be whipped with rods and banished from the country; in addition, after receiving the sentence and punishment, he is condemned to remain in prison until the fine imposed by the sentence of 24 March 1653 and the costs and expenses of the court have been paid.[1] Below was written: 17 August 1654, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; was signed: Cornelis van Thienhooven, fiscal.

The director-general and council of New Netherland have read the charge and motion of the fiscal, Cornelis van Thienhooven, against Jan Gry, a resident of the jurisdiction of Middelborgh on Long Island, now a prisoner, and have further read and heard the confession of the prisoner, according to which the fiscal's charge is to be approved. However, considering that by virtue of the sentence of 24 March 1653[2] the aforesaid Jan Gry, now a prisoner, was allowed to remain on his property undisturbed, if he would conduct himself properly thereafter and give no new cause of complaint, so that the magistrates of Middelburgh and his other neighbors could not find fault with him; and further that it has not been proved to the satisfaction of the director-general and high council that the aforesaid Gry has received any further summonses either from the fiscal as plaintiff or from the magistrates of Middelburgh concerning this case.

However, confession and the testimony of others only show that the aforesaid Gry has not conducted himself since that time to the satisfaction of the magistrates and his neighbors but has behaved very wickedly, insolently and disobediently against the aforesaid magistrates of Middelborgh and his neighbors, as is shown by the appended testimony of the witnesses and his own confession. It must further be taken into consideration that the aforesaid insolence and disobedience were, as he himself admits, the result of an ungovernable temper aroused by the prisoner's belief that he was not their[3] subject and that the land belonged to him absolutely by virtue of a patent and conveyance, therefore he had a right to defend and protect it. Now that the prisoner has been shown and proven otherwise, to wit, that the land claimed by him and which he bought from others had first been given and granted to the village in common, on the condition that they would surrender the patents which they had received, and, in the interest of the community, assert no claims of more right and title to the lands covered by the patents than other inhabitants, if more people should come to the village of Middelborgh and settle there, as they have done afterwards, with the first patentees, Jan Carreman, Robbeson and N. Forman[4], inviting the greater part of the present inhabitants and inducing them to come from the north.[5] The prisoner, now having been informed thereof and understanding the situation better, regrets his actions and words in this regard and humbly submits a prayer for mercy. Having duly considered and weighed all these points and everything connected with the case, and being satisfied that nearly all the troubles, threats and profanities were caused thereby, also, desiring to prevent such occurrences in the future, the director-general and council, administering justice to the best of their knowledge and experience on behalf of their noble High Mightinesses, the lords States-General of the United Netherlands and the lords-directors of the General Chartered West India Company, command and decide herewith that the aforesaid Jan Grey, at present a prisoner, as well as his neighbors shall first surrender and make no further claims on their alleged patents in conformity with the stipulated conditions and pursuant to their own request and promise given to the present inhabitants of Middelborgh; with the proviso, however, that the land which he, Gry, has cultivated, improved and fenced in shall remain the property of himself and his heirs, and as much more land as shall have been granted or allotted by the magistrates to other inhabitants of the village. For this land, he or his heirs and the other inhabitants shall in due time receive proper patents and title deeds. Therefore, the alleged patent which he already has is hereby annulled and canceled; in addition, the prisoner is condemned to pay the fine and court costs, and before the final sentence is pronounced, he is to beg God, the high administration and the magistrates of the village of Middelborgh, with uncovered head and on bended knee, for forgiveness; and furthermore, he is to pay the costs of his present incarceration and these proceedings, remaining in confinement until he has completely confirmed with the terms of this sentence or has produced sufficient sureties satisfactory to the fiscal. When this is done, the further complaint and motion of the fiscal will be denied. Thus done and sentenced at the session in Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland, 17 August 1654; present: the honorable General Petrus Stuyvesant, Mr. Nicasius de Sille, Mr. Cornelis van Werckhooven and Mr. La Montangne.


See Volume 5: 116, pages 67 and 68.
See Volume 5: 116, pages 67 and 68.
i.e., the magistrates of Middelburgh.
These patents do not appear among the land papers preserved in the “New York Colonial Manuscripts” at the New York State Archives, volumes GG and HH.
i.e., New England.


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.