Letter from Governor Eaton to Director General Stuyvesant

Scanned Document:

Mr. Eatons 4th letter.[1]

Sir: ]

By your commissarie I haue latelie received yours dated November the 15th, new stile, but finde not that satisfaction therein which I expected. My former, October the 8th, (though it came to your hands in that of the 15th, delivered by your fiscall,) you mention not, and your expressions in this, (considered with the questions betwixt us,) are att best darke and need explanation: how you can saye you desire not, in any measure, to usurp uppon our right, when you lay claime to the land, rivers, streames, etc. which justlie belongs to the English collonies, I understand not. It is well knowne, both in Europe and heere, that by auntient pattent, the Kings of Engl: have graunted (all that parte of America called New England, lyeing and being in breadth from 40 to 48 degr. of northerlie latitude) vnto his subjects for theyre incouragemt to settle & plant abroad; and accordinglie, vppon due purchase from the natives, the true proprietours of the land, (for we found it not a vacuu.,) we haue built, fenced and setled our selues heere, not hearing soemuch as of any of the least pretence the Dutch did or could make to any of this land, in many yeares after; it is true that aboute fiue yeares since, your predecessor, Mounsr Will: Kieft, grew iniurious to vs, both att Deleware and else where, wee then witnessed & protested against his course, and required satisfaction, which we still expect, & in due tyme shall offer the particulars to consideration. ]

From your selfe, according to the tennour of your first letters, wee hoped for a more neighbourlie correspondence, but yow have not only trod in his steps, but in a short tyme since your entrance, haue allready, in some respects, gone beyond him, as may appeare in this briefe account of particulars. ]

In yours of the 25th of June, to the Governor of the Massachusets collony, web yow now mention, yow pretend an indubiate right to all the land betwixt Connecticut and Deleware; in your protest dated October the 12th, yow grow in your demands, extending your limmits from Cape Codd, within Plimmouth collonye, to Cape Hinlopen towards the sowth, (a place or name to me yett unknowne;) yow charge Newhauen in particular, as vsurping your grownds, land, riuers, streames, and are offended for theyre trading first with Simson Johnson, since with Will: Westerhowse and other Dutch men; you ceise a ship in our harbour without licence, pretending title to the place, & complaine of a purpose and iust resolution in vs to vindicate our owne right in a lawfull waye; yow require us to send the Dutch merchts & theyre goods, with a recognition, etc., to the Manhataes, and if wee attend not your directions, you threaten hostilitie to Newhauen, pretending to keepe peace with the other collonies, & in your letter which came and beareth date with the forementioned (protest,) you vniustlie charge vs concerning your fugitiues, & in a commanding, threatning stile, require them from vs, & att or aboute the same tyme, in a letter to Will: Westerhowse, (as I am informed,) you threaten to fetch his goods oute of Newhauen by force; you haue imposed or taken an excessiue high custom, excise or recognition for all goods sould within your jurisdiction, with ceisures for ommissions or misentries; our vessells must anchor vnder your erected hand, a place very inconvenient, and as if you ment to shut vp the passage by the Manhataes, or by vnsufferable burthens to wearie the English oute of trade, you beginne to take recognition, etc. vppon goods traded else where, & in theyre retourne passing only by the Manhataes; I heare allsoe you threaten to bume or beate downe our trading howse, built vppon our owne purchased land, within our owne limmits, and farre from any trading howse of yours or any parte of Hudsons river, and which is yett worse, it is reported to us by severall persons and from severall ] places, that your secretarie hath indeauoured by a slanderous report to incense the Long Isl: Indians, and your selfe att Aurania fort, have attempted to trye other companies of Indians against the English. If this agree with rules of Christianitie or good neighbourhood, I doubt not but we may retaliate and when wee see cause tume the edge and point of those weapons uppon your selves. I enquire not after your grownds in sending Captaine Forrester to Holland, the English collonys may have occasion to write after the same coppie hereafter:[2]

In the meane tyme, the scope and tendenc ]ye of the premises doth directlie crosse & contradiCt your profession of peac and ami ]tie, & will in each particular afford matter of serious consideration to the English collonies, ] and vnlesse things be cleered speedilie to satisfaction, you will constreine vs either to require and ] receiue recognition in proportion to what wee paye, or to prohibit all commerce betwixt the English and ] Dutch jurisdictions in these partes; for our selves we accompt and with good warrant call our ] title to the land, Rivers, and streames, wee posesse, an indubiate right; wee know wee have as full libertie to ] trade with Dutch merchants within our harbours, & to admit Dutch inhabitants into our plantacions as ] you the English in either Case; yett wee readilie Close with your propositions to considder, examine and issue ] all differences, and though it be not usuall for one partye to Choose both arbitratours, I shall for this ] once Consent to the choice your selfe haue made: the Govemours of the Massachusets and Plimmouth coll ]onies are men approued for wisdom and integritie: nor shall I differ from you, in those circumstances] of tyme and place, supposing yow will haue due respect to Conueniencye, only by way of preparation it ] would be Considered and agreed what shall be put to referrence, wheather the title of land, rivers, strea ]mes, etc. or any parte of the forementioned trace from 40, to 48, including the Manhataes, and Newhauen, or ] only other questions and injuries which haue bynne formerlie or more latelie greiuous and are not ] yett satisfied, if you please herein to expresse your meaning fullye and cleerlie, you shall finde mee reall and readye to meet you in any peacable and just waye, in expectation of your speedy answere that occasions may be ordered accordinglie I rest,
New haven in New Engl:
November 16th, 1647. st: vete:

Your loving firend,

Theoph: Eaton


The majority of the document is missing; text has been recovered from NHCR,


The Scotsman, Andrew Forrester, appeared on Long Island in September 1647 to take possession of the towns as governor, claiming he had a commission from Mary Sterling. The council ordered that the "pretended governor" be sent as a prisoner to Holland to justify his claim. See Council Minutes 1638-1649, NYHM, 4:442-45.


A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.