Letter from the Directors at Amsterdam to the Director General and Council

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Honorable, President, Pious, Dear, Faithful.

Since our last letter of the 19th of December, 1656,[1] sent by the ships Bever and Prins Maurits, we received here the disagreeable news of the wreck of the Otter on the coast of England; by this misfortune we are now deprived of your general letter and other papers, of which you very carelessly did not send the duplicates by the Duyff, this must be done in the future, whenever there is a opportunity, while at present we are embarrassed and puzzled by many things; so that we can hereby only reply to some points deferred in our last letter until now and a few others for your instruction and information.

Concerning the proposed change of the value of your currency or reduction of the beaver and the sewant, we have after due consideration come to the conclusion that depreciation of the currency means destruction of the commerce and consequently ruin of the country. To prevent this we have decided, to make no sudden change, but to proceed gradually beginning with the sewant, which is to be reduced from 6 to 8 for the stiver; it being well understood that this reduction shall not take effect before the beginning of next year, 1658, and in the meantime, upon the receipt hereof, the people must be informed of it, as such measures are published here in all well-governed republics and kingdoms, to cause the least possible inconvenience and loss to the commmunity. We shall wait with reducing the currency value of beavers from 8 to 6 guilders, for we see difficulties in making these changes simultaneously and would rather have once more your opinion on this subject.

That the remitted 4 percent are not of great advantage to you has not surprised us; it is therefore our intention to collect them·here from the first ships sailing hence after this and to send you for the amount the required commodities; the same would have been done with the 4 percent on goods shipped now, if you could spare the money and return it to us. Should you be in a position do the same, by sending us from time to time half or less of the 8 percent of return duties, then we would not fail, to provide you properly with goods in exchange; while the low state of our funds prevents us as yet to lay in a large stock.

In regard to the collection of the tenths and other taxes from the Colony of Rensselaerswijck, we have not yet discovered any other measure, etc. to proceed by way of composition, as your resolution of June 27, 1656, proposes it; hence we approve of it and recommend that if it has not already been done you deal with the said Colony in that manner.

We would have liked to send you now two masons and as many ship carpenters, if they could have been engaged at fair wages, but we had to defer it until the departure of the next ships, when you may certainly expect them. We are in doubt however, whether instead of ship carpenters you do not mean house carpenters, who we think are more required, because of the small shipping owned there by the Company. To engage such people is expensive for the Company and therefore trades as carpentering, bricklaying, blacksmithing and others ought to be taught to the Negroes, as it was formerly done in Brazil and now is in Guinea and other colonies of the Company. This race has sufficient fitness for it and it would be very advantageous; therefore we recommend it to you most earnestly.

We send herewith the small bell, which the inhabitants of Fort Orange and the village of Beverswijck requested for their newly built little church; as the 25 beavers, brought over by Dirck Jansen Croon to pay for making a pulpit, have arrived much damaged and therefore the proceeds therefrom were not sufficient, we have at his request advanced for this purpose the sum of ƒ75 as an encouragement to the community there. As to the other two bells for the villages of Midwout and Heemstede, we shall have them made here also and send them to you by the first ships, when ready.

We enclose the duplicate of a letter from Matthyas Becx, vice director at Curacao, the original of which we received by way of the Caribbean islands, you will learn from it, among others, how aggrieved he is because of the empty condition of the warehouse there. This will be improved however by the arrival there of our ship the Bontekoe, in which besides clothing we also sent victuals, as we are doing again now by the private ship the Vogel Struys, specially chartered by us to take out provisions and necessary materials. You must not omit to keep up on all occasions a good correspondence with the island and whenever possible provide for it. We intend for this purpose to send you the ship the Hay, if she is considered seaworthy and can be fitted out with small expenses. If in the meantime private parties there desire to bring away from the Island in their own vessels a quantity of salt, of which they have a large stock, also horses and other animals, permission may be given them under fair and just conditions.

Upon this or any other occasion you must not fail to send one or two hundred mulberry tree seedlings or shoots (not grown trees, for that would surely require a rather large ship) put into earth in one or two barrels or hampers; in order to see, whether with eggs of the silkworm brought there in due time, they cannot be hatched out and silk advantageously produced there.

We think this industry is likely to have much greater success in New Netherland, where nature has already planted the food of these animals. Our English neighbors have not failed to observe this and lately a few bales of silk arrived here, produced in Virginia This has induced us to send you herewith a small box with eggs, so that the experiment may be made there also. The season is rather well advanced and if therefore as we fear these eggs might be spoiled on the voyage, you must try to obtain a new supply from the said English neighbors or better still some silkworms, to make a beginning and see how it will turn out. We recommend it to you most seriously.

We have by no means the intention, to grant to the Lutherans any more liberty regarding the exercise of their religion than stated in our letter of June 14, 1656, by which we still stand.[2]

We do the same in regard to our order, formerly issued, not to separate the office of schout from that of the fiscal and still desire that the duties of both be performed by one person. This is for your information and guidance.

Very little information could be gathered from the books sent over, which contain only entries of debit and credit of many persons. The origin of these entries must be looked for in the daybook or else should have been given substanstantially in these books. The consequence is that after waiting so long, we are not wiser than before. If we cannot obtain any better satisfaction out of the accounts of the former receiver Tienhoven, we shall be compelled to try another tack, for we cannot believe, that everything was done in good faith. In the ledgers sent us we find, among others, that one Christian Remmingh, who deserted like a villain, as proved by the book of monthly wages lit. W., and thereby forfeited all his pay, has nevertheless had the pay due him credited to his account with ƒ52,2,12 and this amount transferred to the credit of Hendrick Hendricksen van Elbingh, who has procured an authenticated extract of it and sent it over, to collect the amount from the Company here. You can imagine what impression such and similar errors and studiously perverse practices make on us and you must give us a detailed report about it by the first opportunity.

The plan of the South River, given by the director general to Walewijn van der Veen, has been lost along with other papers in the ship de Otter, so that we expect a like draft on paper by the first chance from there, in order to be of use to us.

The enclosed copy of a petition[3] has been from the merchants trading to New Netherland will inform you what complaint they make to us, among which we find some to be justified by good reasons, principally that you demand the remitted 4 percent in beavers at 6 instead of at 8 guilders or in silver coin, Holland valuation; this is entirely against our intention and wish, as you may have learned from the conditions sent you, which we made with this city for the establishment of colonies there. If therefore the receipt of these 4 percent duties could not be missed by you the last time and returned to us (as we have proposed above), you shall demand them only in New Netherland valuation and the beaver at 8 without compelling the merchants to make up the difference out of their cargoes at an advance of 50 percent; for such a measure can only tend to ruin the trade, which must be unrestricted. We have deemed it necessary, to urge this upon you with much earnestness, so that we may not be troubled with any more such complaints in the future.

In our last letter of December 19th 1656, we not only reminded you, but also directly charged you, not to take imposts or duties on goods sent within the jurisdiction of the Company either to the South River or elsewhere, as being something quite unheard of and contrary to custom here; but as we now observe that the trade to Virginia and New England is in danger of being diverted by the heavy taxes which you are imposing upon merchandise going out of the Company's territory, we have decided that to prevent it the old rules must be followed again and only one percent demanded from outgoing merchandise. We therefore recommend that you do it henceforth, charging you to pay close attention to the collecting of these and other royalties and revenues of the Company.

However, it is not necessary, we think, to farm it out, which as you state in your letter of June 8th, 1656,[4] is now done for ƒ3,000 per year. This sum appears very small to us, considering the complaints made to us over excessive duties on outgoing goods, as for instance ƒ3,- and more for an anker of distilled water and all other measures in proportion. Either the farmer of the revenue goes beyond his instructions or the Company loses by the farming out and is defrauded. You will report to us by the next opportunity, how it is.

Complaint is also made here that 6 stivers are paid as fee for weighing each hundred pounds of tobacco. This is indeed too much and unbearable in so early a beginning and it must be changed. Remember this.

Jan Withart, the agent of the owners and freighters of the ship St. Michiel, has complained to us, that on account of some powder in the cargo he as agent has been condemned to a fine of ƒ1500, which had been reduced to f1,000 by composition and the decision of arbitrators. He paid this latter sum long ago, but after the payment and entire settlement of the case the former fiscal Tienhoven has pressed out of him ƒ500 more. He therefore demands that it be refunded to him, to which we could not consent, as we are ignorant of the case. However, if his statement is correct, he has been greatly wronged. Send us a report about it.

We are also importuned here by a certain Pieter Luycassen, formerly skipper of the Abrahams Offerhande about the payment of monthly wages to his crew, whom you engaged there. As we refused to pay, which we told you in our letter of September 25th, 1655,[5] we must ask that you satisfy the man or his attorney there. Remember, however, that out of pity, we have paid here to the carpenter, Doucke Huyckens, the sum of ƒ100, so that he has only ƒ142 coming to him now.

There sailed from here in the ship the Waegh as soldier one Leendert Claesen van Rijpen, whose wife has since died here and left three children, now maintained by the overseers of the poor. These officers have requested that the said Claesen might be induced to live frugally there, so that they could receive part of his pay for the maintenance of the children (the oldest of whom they are willing to send over, if the father is in a position to keep him), as their mother received for the same purpose ƒ90. We wished to call your attention to this matter and recommend it to your consideration.

The city of Amsterdam or its commissioners and directors, appointed for the management of the southern colony,[6] have just now lying ready for sea the warship the Waegh, which will sail with several families and other free colonists in 3 or 4 weeks. Also, a preacher for the said Colony will be sent and as the aforesaid city spares as yet no expenses, we would like to see that they should be encouraged by all possible assistance and that the said ship might be returned here with a cargo of tobacco. We recommend that your honors earnestly give them the most effective assistance in this matter.

Accompanying this goes the list of passengers and the bills of lading of private goods,[7] shipped in the Goude Moolen, to the discharging of which the fiscal must pay proper attention. Herewith etc. etc. Relying thereon, we hereby, Honorable, Prudent, Pious, Beloved, Faithful, commend your honors to God's blessed protection, and remain,

Isaack van Beeck
Abr. Wilmerdonx

Amsterdam, this 7th of April, 1657.

Post Datum:

Cornelis Martsen, factor, whom we have placed as supercargo on the Goude Meulen, has asked this board for compensation for two half aams of Spanish wine, illegally confiscated there with two half aams of brandy by the former fiscal Tienhoven. If this is true, and we presume it to be so judging from your resolution of the 8th of November 1656, it is not more than just that he should be indemnified and satisfied, which we recommend to you herewith.

Ab. de Decker de Jonge


To Director Stuyvesant and Council in New Netherland.

This per the Goude Meulen, the original received by the Vogelsangh.


See 12:45 for this letter.
See 12:39 for this letter.
See 12:54 for petition.
This letter does not survive.
See 12:31 for this letter.
New Amstel on the South River.
Passenger list and bill of lading no longer exist.


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