Letter from the directors at Amsterdam to Director Stuyvesant

Scanned Document:

[1] Honorable, Valiant, Pious, Dear and Faithful ]

Our last letter to your honor was aboard the small ship Anna , which was (God preserve) captured by the English. It was dated ] 6 August of this year. In it we not only informed your honor of the present state of affairs with the English here, advising your honor on how to conduct yourself there, but also sent your honor a substantial quantity of munitions, for your honor's use in time of need, as can be seen by the enclosed copy ]. Since that time (praise God) the ships Romeyn, 't Huys van Breda , and Gelderse Blom have arrived here and we received by them various letters, documents, and other papers, which your honor sent to us. Because time is short, and the ship has been chartered, which is departing immediately herewith to inform your honor of the English War, we are unable to prepare fully, so that your honor can expect now only piecemeal replies and only with the next ship our complete responses, also, some soldiers and sailors, if they are to be had; the soldiers on the same conditions as those recently sent, with whom, according to circumstances, your honor can, with a show of appreciation, fill the places of the veterans raised in the country and who undoubtedly earn a considerable salary, and attempt to encourage them to settle there.

Last year we would have liked to have furnished your honor some sailors and one or two ship's carpenters, but notwithstanding all our efforts, we could not engage any on account of the extraordinary preparations for war made here; we did not lack the good will and have ] no doubt that it will be better now and that we can engage some when ] the ships are outfitted and ready to sail for New Netherland. ]

With the next ship please forward the enclosure to Director Rodenborch and write him immediately not to cut down any more dyewood trees except for the Company, or allow any to exported from the island, because we perceive that the colonizer, Jan de Illan and his companions, do not now intend, as they pretended, to cultivate the land and plant tobacco, indigo, cotton, and other crops, but simply to clear it of the dyewood and carry on a trade with it and horses in the Caribbean islands. We certainly do wish that he had not been so encouraged herein initially nor allowed him to transport horses with the ship St. Joris, skippered by Joris Janssen, because we no longer desire that any more horses be exported from Bonaire, Curaçao, and Aruba, but be kept there in order to serve in the territories of New Netherland in due time. We are informed that the islands are daily being stripped of horses, and in the end there will remain nothing but a bunch of broken down animals. For this reason, we shall also not grant any more colonies there.

By the next ships we will send your honor the requested placats concerning the building lots on the Manhattans near the fort or in the city of Amsterdam already granted, as well as the uncultivated lands that your honor may govern himself accordingly, and see that the latter ] be cultivated. It has never been our intention, nor is it now, that anyone through our mere consent ], which we give to everyone who desires to travel there, would be made master, in proportion to his family, of a piece of land of two hundred or more morgens, and then leave it untouched, in order to obstruct another thereby, who would often be inclined to do so, and cunningly make them acquire it at a high price; but rather the requested land must be taken possession of within a year, the promised people brought in after the appointed time, and then hand put to plough. By default thereof it returns to us so that others may thereby be accommodated.

Either your honor has not understood our intentions or not read the exemptions well regarding the colony of the lord Van Werckhoven, whose two sanctioned colonies your honor construed as running 20 miles in a straight line; whereas all colonizers may not go farther than four miles on one side of a navigable river and two miles on both sides. The lord Van Werckhoven had his choice thereof and could have taken the same from those lands; but because he has not done so, desisting therefrom, and moved to Nijack, the same place was granted him for half so that he may settle thereon and act in his own best interest. Henceforth we shall grant no more colonies, seeing that people seek such large tracts. [      ] directions [      ] therein furnished with style [      ] we shall [      ] false letter may come [      ] take heed.

We are greatly surprised that contrary to our previous directions and against our orders your honor has raised the value of ] the money in New Netherland and especially that your honor has asked some private parties here for 25 to 30,000 guilders in Holland shillings and double stivers. We are certainly not pleased about it for we have not come to the point that our officials need to seek credit for us, and pledge our territories for it. If anything needs to be done here, your honor is to write to us concerning it and to no one else. We shall then take up the matter in due time.

With regard to your honors complaints, we shall pay close attention to the bills oflading in the future; may your honor be pleased to do the same and not process them in such a sloppy manner, as have been done with these last ones, of which copies are enclosed, for in many places there is no other way to tell whether some parties have satisfied the recognition fee, and when the people come for their goods, and the same is requested, they begin to protest and complain to have paid the same to your honor, of which there is no evidence.

Also, various goods have arrived here not entered in the manifests or specified in such a manner so that its obscurity occasions a good deal of trouble between us and the consignees, as your honor may see by the enclosed extract  ]

Also, the merchants here complain greatly over the collection of the quit rent of four stivers above the eight percent on each merchantable beaver. We find it quite strange because we previously had ordered your honor not to collect more than eight percent, and to return the balance to those from whom your honor had received fifteen stivers per beaver. And whether it is in the giving away of some farmsteads or the collection of the aforesaid 15 stivers for each beaverskin, such has nevertheless not been our intention; although Director Kieft cites various articles thereon. Therefore, it is better to proceed with caution therein, so that commerce, which is precarious in this situation, not be discouraged and the people not take a dislike to it. Otherwise, according to all probability, it would cause a loss of population and remove the means to enable transport of persons over there. We shall inform your honor of our intentions as soon as possible, by which your honor is to regulate himself.

We have brought to an end here the lawsuit concerning the sugar prize Nostre Signore de los Remedios, captured by the Waterhont, and succeeded therein. If similar cases occur in the future, your honor must be careful to gather the most reliable information as to where the ship has been loaded, by what signores either of the refineries or of the sugar mills and take the greatest care with the papers and invoices, which are of ] the utmost importance to us. The cargoes often ] belong to Portuguese who owe ] the Company a large sum and and from whom we can [demand such ] with good reason.

We are very surprised that the confiscated ship de N. Nederlantse Fortuyn was sent here by way of English Virginia, as it was well known that the lord van de Cappellen had inherited a large interest in it. The aforesaid lord has had it attached by mandamus and tied up at shore. He has instituted proceedings against it in the Hague, which by all indications will not be resolved quickly, and which is being pursued vigorously by the aforesaid lord who is unconcerned with expenses. There is little concern about the difficulties involved, however, the expenses and loss of time will be felt heavily. All this might ] have been prevented, had your honor sufficiently considered the same and had thorough knowledge thereof not to let it come here ] and have it sail off to other waters. With the same ship, various goods belonging to Gerrit vande Voorde, Pieter Haeck, Isaack Melijn, and Christoff el van Gangel, were confiscated, although they paid duty to the Company on entries in the manifests and were granted bills of lading, by which your honor has brought down upon the Company and yourself the hatred, reproach, and condemnation of many people. Neither you nor any otherjudge can be blamed, if after having passed sentence and then receiving contrary evidence they make a change in their sentence; that happens here and at the Hague every day and there can be no doubt that if anybody's goods entered in the ship's manifest and he can prove it, he may reclaim his property when the merchandise of the skippers or consignees are confiscated. ] That is the rule in all Christendom where any shipping is carried out. Therefore, the directors are of the opinion that your honor is to restore the merchandise and are not at all pleased that it was not done last year upon their order, and that in the first instance your honor has not deposited the money in court, because the loss or failure to produce bills of lading gives no right to confiscate.

We have been pleased to learn that your honor has not experienced any disharmony with the English over there, and we hope that your honor will not have any, but apply all honest and equitable means to continue the previous harmony and to cultivate commerce with one another, espcially with Virginia. This will surely cause Manhattan to flourish, increase in population. Such growth will cause the equipping of more ships, giving promoters more capacity to transport over there. However, beware that your honor is not misled, but rather attempt to strengthen the fortresses as much as possible, keeping always a watchful eye in order to be on guard at all times, and then employ such means that God and nature has granted your honor.

As you desire a good farrier as much needed, we will do our best to find one and send him to you in the next ship. ]

Having been made aware of some letters written to us by Director Kieft, we find ] that he considers the fishing of sturgeon and cod there very important, and that sturgeon can be caught in such large quantities that the production of caviar could be carried on there as in Moscovy. If this be so, it would be of great importance and might lead to an extensive trade in salted fish, caviar and other products. May your honor please give us information about this, and if there is any possiblity, encourage some capable persons therein, in order to stimulate commerce in all regards.

We understandthat the catching of whales could also be undertaken there certain times of the year. If it can be done profitably, it would be a desirable enterprise. It would promote commerce in the country, and would encourage many people to seek their fortune there.

Also, private parties tell us that many mulberry tree are growing there in the country and large quantities of these trees could be planted for the cultivation of silkworms. Your honor be pleased to report to us thereon and all further speculation about the welfare of the country, for we hope that out of them we may gather something to bring advantages and profit for the Company and the country. ]

Accompanying this is a copy of the protest given to us by the notary Vande Venne on behalf of Jan van Renselaer, colonizer of Renselaerswijck, from which your honor will be able to see what complaints are being brought against your honor. In such matters your honor must proceed with caution and spare us here from any difficulties as much as possible. Pursuant to the answer given by us we shall expect your honor's further report and reply as soon as possible; also, the accounts of the receipts and expenditures, sales of ships, hides, dyewood etc, made during your honor's tenure. Your honor is to continue doing this through the Company's subordinates there, so that we may know and can justify our actions there.

Herewith, Honorable, Valiant, Pious,
Beloved, Faithful, we commend
your honor to God's protection
and remain,

Paulus Timmerman
Jacob Pergens

Amsterdam this 13th of December 1652

Herewith goes a copy of our resolution concerning the dispatch of the ship Elburgh, for your honor's information.

By order of the same
Q. van Seventer


Missing material supplied from ibid., 192-95.


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