Letter from the Directors to the Director General and Council

Scanned Document:

The 19th of December 1656.

Honorable, Prudent, Pious, Dear, Faithful.

Our last letter to you was dated the 14th of June 1656,[1] and sent with the ships the Otterand the Blauwe Duijf, since which, praise be to God, the ships Gelderse Blom, Waegh, Dolphijn, Bever and Bontekoe have safely arrived here and we received your letters of the 25th of March, 2nd of May, 8th, 10th and 11th of June, 7th of July and 11th of August.[2] Although many points in them have been answered by our aforesaid letter, we shall now as briefly as possible answer what remains and what we think needs a reply.

We have been in quite the same difficulty and alarm, as your honors, regarding the maintenance and defense of the South River, recovered by us with such great expense and as a result we are more ready and willing to deal with the highly esteemed lords mayors of this city over the establishment of colonies in New Netherland; and now at last we have agreed and made a contract with them, under the conditions, which your honors may learn from the enclosed written and printed copies and by which people are invited to move to New Netherland. The conditions being so reasonable and favorable in order to increase and augment the population, we can hardly doubt their success, as besides we have seen already some effect of it in the rush of people, as well as the zeal for it shown by the city or their commissioners and directors, especially appointed, commissioned and engaged to send off the aforesaid people in one ship to the South River before winter, where they intend to plant their colony, as will be laid out here in more detail later.

The reasons, which your honors bring forward in so many words to vindicate and excuse the former Fiscal van Tienhoven, cannot by any means make us retreat from our former position, to take which we were not prompted by light and unimportant reasons: we do not think it necessary to repeat them all, either to discuss them or to hear him defended, as we are confident that the charges are true. Whoever considers only his last transaction with the savages, will find that with clouded brains, filled with liquor, he was a prime cause of this dreadful massacre. Anyway, he might have prevented it to a great extent by caution and good management, either in warning the people in the country or by rendering some slight assistance; your honors ought to know this better than we and we are therefore very much astonished that your honors shield him with which we are not at all satisfied and shall be still less so, if the same Tienhoven should again be employed by your honors in one or the other service there against our strict instruction and order.

As far as we can learn from the transmitted papers and verbal reports of other private parties, also the former fiscal Van Dijck has laid the first foundation for this dreadful massacre and given the most offence, by killing an Indian woman for taking some peaches or other fruits from his garden.[3] If this is true, then we wonder that no more mention is made of it and that he has not been brought to justice as a murderer. We deem it necessary to remind your honors of it and recommend it seriously to your attention.

We would have preferred to see you keep there the detained ship the Dolphijn instead of sending her here with a cargo, because the amount of freight money earned by her has been reduced considerably by the settling with and paying of the people, whose goods were on board of this vessel and were utterly spoiled by her unfitness. It is therefore evident that it would not do to send her again to New Netherland for use there, unless we were to lay out on her more than she is worth, which you apparently have done already. As it is likely that a demand may be made here for this ship, you are directed to send us by the first opportunity the account of these expenses incurred there by you that we may make use of it in due time.

Although we are still inclined to avenge the disaster brought upon us by the Indians, by the use of arms, our situation does not yet permit giving any assistance by sendingtroops and other required necessaries. We trust however that the arrival of the City's ship and troops at the South river shall strike these tribes with awe and that consequently it will be easier to keep them in submission. Your honors must try to remain in the meantime on the former footing with them and deprive them, as far as possible, of all chances to injure our people there. We are well pleased with the order issued by your honors in that respect, also with the placat in regard to the concentration of the scattered farms, provided that it only affect the erection of new buildings and not such parties as have already built their houses, for we do not consider it just to compel these to move. In the meantime we are very anxious to hear, how the deputation, to be sent by your honors to the meeting of the Legislature of the English to make an offensive alliance with this nation, has succeeded ; we trust that your honors will have proceeded in this matter with such discretion and caution that the authority of the supreme Government of this country has not been compromised.

The complaints made by merchants here over the poor quality of Virginia tobacco and the frauds committed there by their factors have made us resolve to write you that this tobacco must be inspected like the New Netherland tobacco and as we understand that the inspector of tobacco there has not the necessary experience or fitness for this duty, which would not remedy this case, we recommend you to look about for another fit and experienced person, who can judge of the bad or good qualities of tobacco, by pulling some out of the cask to see whether it is well dried and cured and by whatever else is done on such occasions. Much depends also on the cultivation of the tobacco plant, for when it is cut and cured at the proper time during the growing period, it is much better and stronger and may easily fetch a higher price, as we have explained in our letter of the 23rd of November 1654,[4] to which we refer for brevity's sake.

We consider a change of the value of your currency, that is, placing the beaver at f6 instead of f8, and sewant at f8 for a stiver, instead of f6, a matter of great importance and have therefore deferred the consideration of it until next spring. Meanwhile we shall think about it and later inform you of our opinion and wishes.

We are ready to believe that the collection of the tenths is as yet of little consideration and causes much trouble, but that is no reason for neglecting it, as we have already said repeatedly, you must introduce this measure in the most suitable and lenient manner, for even though the amount collected may not be sufficient to defray the expenses of each village, as the maintenance of the preacher, schoolmaster, etc., the tenths must nevertheless be demanded and paid over on behalf of the Company to the aforesaid officers, while the community, being held to make up the deficiency by other ways of subsidy or self taxation, would then not contribute more than now.

As to the collection of the tenths in and the contribution to other burdens by the Colony of Rensselaerswijck, we must consider this matter still a while and shall advise you of our final decision in the spring. Meanwhile you must try to have the taxes paid by them agreeably to the proposition made by the resolution of June 27th, 1656.

It is undeniable that it would be exceedingly good and advantageous for our province there and the inhabitants, if a free and untrammeled commerce with our English neighbors could be established; but we have taken in consideration the animus and condition of the protector[5] and of the present English government, with which we notice you are not well acquainted, else you would have saved yourselves the trouble of drawing up so many commissions and instructions; and therefore we deemed it impracticable to carry out your proposition of sending a committee. We shall be pleased to learn, what arrangements you have been able to make in this matter with the English neighbors.

The proposition made repeatedly by you, to have the remitted 4 percent and the 8 percent return duties paid here and for the amount sent you for the required necessaries, will be taken into further consideration by us and we will inform you in about the spring of our decision and wishes. In the meantime we send you herewith in the ships the Bever and the Gelderse Blom, as large a quantity of military equipment as our treasury could possibly afford, for which see invoices. We recommend to you to distribute them fairly among those who most need them.

That the revenues of the country are hardly sufficient to pay the old debts has surprised us very much, because we have seen that you must have received for duties ƒ51,400 this year, according to the enclosed statement, besides all the other revenues in the country. How you could have got so excessively into debt is beyond our conception, unless we were to take for granted and certain that either you are making too large and unnecessary expenses or that the Company's finances and revenues there are not faithfully administered. You seem now to think the latter yourself (and should have noticed it long ago, if you had made everybody do his duty,) as regards Adrian van Tienhoven, whose brother, the late fiscal,[6] was too long spared and respected to call for an accounting of his administration as receiver general, as it ought to have been done, because, as you say, for this reason the books, so often demanded and so long expected by us, could not be closed. We shall not bother ourselves to write any more for them, but rather give such orders that we shall be saved such inconveniences in the future. But we must urge you to investigate closely the dealings and frauds of the said Tienhoven, and if he be found guilty, to punish him without mercy as an example for others. In order to be forever released from further expenditures and troubles, we consent to have the fort there surrounded by a wall of hewn rock and intend for that purpose to send you some good masons, also some carpenters, in the spring. Meanwhile we recommend you to prepare the work there and have everything ready as far as possible.

It is not necessary to wait for the required sailors, because the Company's negroes are sufficient to bring and fetch the needed material. We were surprised to learn that altogether too many of these Negroes are employed in private service. We shall investigate this matter and then issue our orders accordingly.

As to the dissatisfaction of the burgomasters of New Amsterdam, because the schout presides, we have drawn up instructions for him, which have already been sent to you. We desire and direct that they be carried out and obeyed.

We see no other means to prevent the sale of muskets and ammunition to the Indians or to natives of the country than the strict execution of the placats concerning this matter, for it is not feasible, to prevent any one from taking with him for his own use a matchlock. Well, it must remain as it is, since the people of the City's colony have no other rule and we would suggest to you to make herein the best and safest arrangements, to find out and stop such smuggling.

Your proposition, to build a trading house near the former colony of the lord of Nederhorst for the accommodation of the Sinnequens, who have brought and sold there about 4000 beaverskins, does not meet with our approval, because the trade with this nation will apparently not be of long duration or of importance,[7] the more so as by the establishment and planting of the City's colony on the South River, occasion will be given to them, to come there with their peltries and trade, the place being nearer and more convenient. Even if at first it should be otherwise and they were to come back there again, then you must issue such orders and limit the liberties of this nation in such a manner that it will result neither to the dishonor nor to the disadvantage and danger of the province and its inhabitants.

The report made to you there that some Frenchmen with a Jesuit from Canada have come into the country of the aforesaid Sennequens, and begun to make a settlement there, was not agreeable news to us, for it can only be to the disadvantage of our province and the inhabitants. However we have not as yet deemed it advisable to come to a final resolution in this matter, as being premature and the matter perhaps of small consequence only, before we are not better informed about it. We desire you to make a close investigation and report the result of it to us, while you must take care and make arrangements for the security of Fort Orange that no mishap befall us there.

As you have given permission to the commissary of the aforesaid fort, Johan de Deckere, to come to Holland on private business, we trust that you have provisionally filled the place with a proper and honest man, until the said de Deckere shall have returned, which he will undoubtedly do in the spring.

We should have sent you, as requested by the inhabitants of Fort Orange and Beverwijck, the little bell for their new church, also two others for the villages of Midwout and Heemstede, but as they could not be found ready-made and the time for making them is too short, you will have to wait till the spring.

Whereas their honors, the lords burgomasters, as mentioned above, have established their colony on the South River near Fort Casimir, now called New Amstel and whereas, for the garrisoning and defending of the colonists going there and other free trades people (altogether about [left blank] souls) they send there also a company of soldiers under Captain Marten Krijger, whom upon your honors' good report we had recommended thereto, therefore we have deemed it necessary, not only to inform your honors of it, but also to order hereby that you, as being specially authorized thereto, deliver and convey in due form to the honorable Mr. Jacob Alrichs, who comes over as director and commissary general of their honors' colony and whom your honors will assist with advice and deed, the said fort with the land around it, belonging to and acquired by us by purchase and conveyance, also all the ordnance and what might be left there in the said fort on behalf of the Company: all this properly inventoried and receipted for by the said Director Alrichs that in due time we may make use of it.

What regards Fort Christina and New Gothenburg, (now called Altena by us and the island of Kattenburgh), your honors will have to occupy them provisionally with 8 or 10 soldiers each, as well for the safety of the Swedes, now our subjects, the moreso to instill fear and circumspection among the natives and other nations and above all not to neglect giving us by the first opportunity your opinions, how and in which manner, matters might be best managed there. The remaining soldiers, taken out of Fort Casimir, shall be employed and placed by your honors as it may be found necessary.

The confidence, which we have of the progress and increase in population of this new colony and of which we hope to see some signal proofs next spring, as according to all appearances many of the exiled Waldenses,[8] who will be notified of it, will desire to go there, has induced us to resolve to direct your honors hereby that you try immediately, before it is done by any other nation, to acquire by purchase the country beginning at the South and up to the cape of the North River, to settle there these people and to secure and strengthen by such neighbors both parties.

Many are of the opinion that upon the establishment of this colony, some of our inhabitants there will be found quite willing to move into it, seeing the great advantages and the exemption from taxes during the first years. As this point is well worth considering, it must be prevented by all imaginable means and the said colony taken as an example herein as much as possible. And further, all causes for complaints must be removed, which are being given to the people, if their goods are taxed in excess of the contract made here with them, which we understand has been done, even in regard to such goods, as are sent into our own district on the South River. We demand peremptorily that this shall not be done henceforth. Also, when the goods are bought, if not extorted from them (we do not know whether this is done for account of the Company, as the books are withheld from us) and they can get neither an accounting nor a liquidation, much less payment and especially if, for a word wrung from the people by oppression, their hands are pressed into their purses and a seal upon their mouths. We leave it to all sensible statesmen to judge what connection there can be between such proceedings and a lawful administration.

Although we have in several of our letters directed you to pay in New Netherland the debts made there, we find that nevertheless divers creditors are again referred to the Company here, which causes us and the people great inconvenience and bother. We charge you therefore herewith once more very expressly to obey our orders in this regard without any evasion and to satisfy generally the people to such an extent that the increase of population may not be prevented or obstructed. Otherwise we shall certainly be compelled to make such other arrangements, as shall be found most advantageous for the service of the country and for our inhabitants.

As we understand that their honors, the commissioners and director, appointed and commissioned for this colony of the city in New Netherland intend to come with their ship, called Prints Maurits, to Fort New Amsterdam, that they may with so much less trouble and expenses receive the goods and merchandises, shipped on account ofthe smallness of the said vessel in the ships the Bever and Gelderse Blom, therefore we considered it proper, to order your honors hereby that you not only assist herein the said director of the said colony, but also help him in everything with advice and deed, despatch him in a short time and not prevent or delay him, as the said ship and cargo are not subject to any inspection whatever; but arrived at its destination on the South River, the goods shall be discharged in presence of the commissary, appointed or to be appointed by your honors for the service of the Company there and stored in the warehouse, pursuant to the tenor of articles 34 and 35 of the above-mentioned printed conditions, agreeable to which the instructions of the said commissary must be framed.

As we have heard that there lives on the bouwery of the late Mr. Werckhoven a certain party, being well versed in engineering and surveying, who consequently might be of service to the said new Colony as well in laying out the lots chosen for the dwelling houses of the colonists as in other ways, therefore your honors will, upon request, persuade the said engineer thereto and let him go there to make a good beginning and living there.[9]

At the request of Baron van der Capellen, who now again is sending over some people for the advancement of his bouweries, we have decided to recommend to you especially that in times of need care be taken and orders issued for the safety of his honor's people and farmers on Staten Island by assisting them in such occasions with 5 or 6 soldiers, who however being in the Company's pay shall not demand from the people more than their quarters, as it is customary here. You are also directed, to make the aforesaid farmers do their duty and fullfil the conditions of the contract made with his honor.

Whereas Marritje Fransen, mother of David Jacobsz van der Linde,[10] who sailed as boatswain in the ship the Waegh and remained there, has urgently requested us to discharge her said son from the service of the Company, we have granted her request, in case her son wishes to leave the service, which we tell you for your instruction.

You will inform us by the first opportunity, whether you know anything of the whereabouts of Nicolas Tenier from Bergen op Zoom, who sailed from here as supercargo in the ship Prins Willem in 1647, and how his account stands, as we have to make use of this information.

We have seen in a statement of monthly wages earned there by Jacob Hendricks Barbier that you have credited him with an item of ƒ455,4 for expenses incurred by him, while living in the Company's house. We perceive, it is your intention to shove all your expenses there upon our shoulders, but as this item could easily have been balanced against the rent of the house, which said Hendricks undoubtedly owes, we have absolutely refused to pay the sum here as well as the balance of an account ofwages earned by Gerrit Titis Trompetter engaged there, which you will have to pay there, after examining an item in the last account of ƒ167,12, the origin of which cannot be discovered here, as you may see from the enclosed copy of the account.

We have also referred to you the payment of an account of a purchase of slaves, imported there by the ship the Welcomst as such things cause us and the people the greatest inconveniences, we warn you as before to prevent them and give all proper satisfaction to the creditors there.

We had written so far and were about to close this letter, when the ship the Duyff arrived here in 29 days from New Netherland. We received by her your letter of the 12th of November last, intended principally, as the general letter is to come by the Otter, to accompany the long-awaited account books, which we shall now thoroughly examine here. Time will show how much satisfaction we shall derive from them, which we will communicate to you.

Enclosed is a letter sent us among others from Curacao by Vice Director Beck[11] to be forwarded to you. The enclosed lists show what passengers and free people are coming over in the ship the Bever.

We are sending in the the Bever also a small cask containing drugs and other medicines demanded by you for the sickness of horses. When required, make use of them and observe whether they have such an effect, as the Englishman and veterinarian imagines.

We have forgotten to mention that, when the ship Prins Maurits shall have discharged her cargo at the South River and returned to the Manhattans to get there a freight of tobacco, your honors must assist as much as possible, which we desire to impress upon your honors most earnestly, as the same will lighten somewhat the incurred expenses and give great satisfaction to their worships the lords burgomasters, who will thereby all the more be encouraged to take to heart the progress of their colony, which cannot but tend to the maintenance and preservation of the whole territory of New Netherland.

Herewith, Honorable, Wise, Prudent, Pious, Beloved, Faithfull, we commend your honors to God's protection and remain,

Paulus Timmerman
Abr. Wilmerdonx

Amsterdam, the 19th of December 1656.

Captain Day has asked us to assist him in obtaining possession of or payment for a small cask of black lead, sent formerly to New Netherland for Cornelis Bicker, then commissary on the South River, as it is said to have been kept or used in the Company's warehouse at the Manhattans. If this is so, we recommend you to satisfy the demands of the captain or his attorney.

We enclose the invoices of private goods shipped in the Bever; when they are being unloaded, the fiscal must pay close attention to prevent as far as possible all smuggling, upon which we rely.[12]

Ab. de Decker de Jonge

ENDORSED: ] By the ships Mauritius and the Bever.


See 12:39 for this letter.
Letters of 10 June and 11 August can be found summarized in SI, 4: 169 and 181, respectively; the other letters referenced do not survive.
This is in reference to the so-called Peach War with the Indians.
See 12:17 for this letter.
Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, 1653-1658.
Cornelis van Tienhoven was presumed dead after his hat and cane were found floating in the East River. He may have fled the country as his brother had.
Sinnequens is reference to the other nations in the Iroquois confederation west of the Mohawks. In 1656 a party of presumably Onondagas approached Manhattan overland carrying packs of furs with the intention of circumventing the Mohawk Valley. They petitioned Stuyvesant for a trading post on the lower Hudson with the assumption that they wished to avoid the Mohawks as middlemen in the fur trade. See SI, 4:169, for a summary of a letter dated 11 August 1656 from the council to the directors concerning this event.
The Waldenses were followers of Peter Waldo, a French heretic in the thirteenth century. In 1655 they were horribly massacred by Charles Emmanuel II of Savoy.
A marginal notation indicates that this is Jacques Corteljou who is "recommended as engineer to lay out the lots of the colonists in the South River.
A marginal notation reads: "Jacob Davidsz van der Linde, discharged."
Stuyvesant installed Matthias Beck as vice director during his visit to the island in 1655.
The invoices do not survive.


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