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

Scanned Document:

The 20th of May 1658.

Honorable, Prudent, Beloved, Faithful.

We wrote your honors last by the ships St. Jan Baptista and Gulden Otter on the 22nd of December 1657,[1] since which date the ships the Waegh and the Hoop (which laid in at England the entire winter) arrived here safely on the 15th of March. We received by them your letter of the 22nd of October of last year[2] with diverse accompanying enclosures, which we shall now answer agreeably to circumstances and as far as necessary.


It gives us satisfaction, that you have made good rules against the squandering of the finances and for keeping proper accounts; nor is the reduction to be made there in receiving and paying out beavers at the Company's office at no higher rate than 6 sewant by the measure and in proportion to its quality and value against our instructions sent to you in this matter nor have we any objection to the keeping of two cash accounts in these two values, if they are finally reduced to Holland currency pursuant to the above mentioned instructions, which we recommend you to observe and follow in every part and point.


With you we consider the sending of the letter from the English Protector, undoubtedly intended for our people on Long Island, not only a matter of grave importance, but also of dangerous consequences; you must therefore keep a close and strict watch upon the doings of this nation there, that they may not in time work us some mischief or injury. People, who might make an attempt of that kind and fall into our hands, must not be spared or pardoned, (as it has been done in a manner with the traitor Baxter) but must be punished according to the exigency of the case as an example to others. Meanwhile we are not only taking steps to increase the population there by offers of free passage, but we have also submitted this matter to the government of this country and petitioned, that they might take the necessary steps with the government of England, to obtain the approval and ratification of the provisional agreement entered into by the two nations there in the year 1650. When this is obtained, we trust many difficulties arising out of the boundary questions will be obviated and therefore we shall continue to urge it and inform you of the result in due time.


Although we have in our last letter sufficiently explained to your honors our opinions and intentions concerning the unbearable conduct and insolence of the savages, we shall nevertheless add, to make them still clearer, that we are by no means willing that these commotions, robberies and violent proceedings of the barbarous tribes should be submitted to any longer, they must be suppressed by all possible means; for it is impossible, to make them desist, as long as they perceive, that we concede everything to their threats and let them pass unnoticed and do not dare to punish any one of them, who may have offended our people. And when such offenders and malefactors should have fled and are demanded from their tribe, but refused, then we think to have reasons enough and the time to have come for immediate revenge and a forcible attack on such a tribe, so that for once we may be enabled by such an example to keep others in check. Without it we consider it to be absolutely impossible and in case your honors should think themselves not sufficiently strong to carry out this plan with the soldiery now there, although we believe they are sufficient, then your honors might employ for assistance such free men, as may offer themselves, and of well-affected savages, our allies, as many as your honors may judge advisable for a safe result. We would further direct and recommend in this regard not to let pass the best and most suitable time and to undertake and carry out the plan with caution, provided that good arrangements have first been made for the people in the open country to be secured as much as possible and protected against surprises, which your honors being there on the spot will know better how to do, than we could say.


That you have sent back here the Lutheran preacher is not contrary to, but rather in accordance with our good intentions, although you might have proceeded less vigorously. The principal reason, which induced the Lutherans there to separate from the Reformed Church, was not only, so people of their persuasion here complain, because in the sacrament of baptism some words are used there, which are offensive to them and not contained in the new formulary, particularly in the second point of the questions or admonitions to the parents and witnesses, to wit, whether they acknowledge the dogma taught in the Christian Church there according to the Synod of Dort, as the true one etc; but also, because they were compelled to be present at the baptizing of their children. We do not know how this is, but we are aware that the Church here does not lay such great stress upon the presence ofthe parents and witnesses; we think also that the old formulary of baptism is still used in many churches here, as being less offensive and more moderate than the new, and therefore adopted at the beginning of the Reformation as necessary under the circumstances, in order thereby not to alienate, but rather to attract people of different belief. We shall leave it to your prudence and trust that henceforth you will use the least offensive and most tolerant means, so that people of other persuasions may not be deterred from the public Reformed Church, but in time be induced to listen and finally gained over to it.


The two women of bad reputation, Magdalena Dircx and Geertie Jacobs, whom you sent back here on account of their dissolute life, shall not again receive our permission to return to New Netherland, and if they should come there again by deceitful practices or under a false name, you may punish them, as they deserve it.


The smuggling, carried on, as your honors presume, among the Colonists and other trades people, who have come over in the ships of the City, cannot better nor more properly be stopped and looked after, according to our opinion, than by the commissary, who on behalf of the Company resides or should reside in the City's colony and who, we think, must necessarily have also the rank of auditor and consequently share in all arrested and confiscated goods, according to custom, to animate and encourage him in his duties: hereby, we trust, the smuggling will be greatly prevented and stopped, especially if an honest and clever person is appointed to it: your honors are hereby authorized to look about for one and give him such instructions as shall be necessary.


Thus far in answer to your general letter. As we have seen by the private letter of Director Stuyvesant that you need there some iron, coal and sledge hammers, we have deemed it advisable to send them herewith, as you may see in the enclosed invoice.


Whereas Secretary van Ruyven has requested that one or two experienced clerks be sent over from here to assist him, therefore we have engaged two, namely Hendrick van de Wal and Jan Adriaensen Duyvelant, who are now going over in these ships, bringing some blank books and sealing wax, which he also required.


Domine Drisius has repeatedly expressed to us his opinion that he thought it advisable, to establish there a Latin school for the instruction and education of the young people offering thereto his own services. Although we have no objection to this project, we communicate it to you, so that, if you too consider it desirable, you may make an experiment by opening such a school there; but you must not fail to inform us, how such an institution can be managed to the best advantage of the community and kept up with the least expense to the Company.


To encourage the said Do. Drisius in the performance of his duties, we have increased his board money from ƒ250 to ƒ300 yearly and granted him besides a house rent free or instead of it ƒ200 yearly, the same amount, which is allowed or paid to his colleague Do. Megapolensis. This for your information and guidance.


We found among the enclosures, sent by you, an extract from your resolutions, which informs us that at the request of the congregation of Fort Orange and Beverwijck you have engaged the former pastor of the Colony of Rensselaerswijck, Do. Gideon Schaets, as their pastor at a salary of f100 monthly; we do not disapprove it, for the greater part of this salary must necessarily be paid by the said congregation, as it is proper, but we expect you to report by the first opportunity and without delay, how this can and ought to be done in the most convenient manner.


Several merchants, trading to New Netherland, have previously and again now complained to us, that the extensive smuggling carried on in private vessels sailing to the Manhattans, ruins their and other honest merchants' trade, because they cannot compete with their wares against such smugglers. Although we would like to take measures here for the prevention of the smuggling, we cannot see that it could be done as effectively as there. For as the contraband goods are put aboard ship, when the ships drop down from here to the Texel, it would require their unloading there upon a presumption or a certainty of fraudulent shipment and that would cause great inconvenience to us and to the shippers; besides here, where the swindlers have their friends and the Company no jurisdiction, it would not be possible to proceed against them in case of discovery and confiscation, as it might be necessary under the circumstances to deter others. We have therefore deemed it necessary and advisable to call your attention to this most serious matter and to direct that you take such steps, as you may think best to discover and prevent this smuggling either by posting at the Santpunct Sandy Hook ] (where as we understand the ships upon arrival from here send ashore their smuggled freight) a suitable person, to whom as an encouragement for the good performance of his duties the rank of auditor might be given, or by such other measures, as you deem best and most efficacious, so that the Company may not longer be defrauded of their revenues and the complaints of all honest merchants and traders prevented and obviated. As this smuggling and the discharging of contraband goods at the Santpunct can hardly be done without knowledge of the supercargoes, this matter should be closely investigated there and whoever is found guilty of corruption and connivance must not be spared, but punished for his faithlessness as an example to others according to the exigencies of the case.


We are informed on good authority that also many contraband goods are sent in these ships there, which endanger the safety of the country and its inhabitants. We have therefore resolved to submit the matter to their High Mightinesses and obtain the issue of strict and rigorous placate, by which persons breaking the law here or in New Netherland after having been discovered may be punished without mercy. We expect to send you these placards by one of the four ships now preparing for the voyage.


The amount of clothing, powder and bullets for the soldiers, which we have resolved to send over, is stated in the enclosed lists and the bills of lading and invoices[3] will tell how much of it is sent in the Moesman. You may expect the balance by the Bruynvisch, which will sail in 8 or 10 days.


Although several families and a number of free men (of whom you must keep an account and demand the money advanced to them and the passage, when they remove or are in prosperous circumstances) are coming over at the expense of the Company in these ships, we have nevertheless thought it advisable to send in the same ships a detachment of 25 to 30 soldiers, in case we should be able to engage them. We do this, to promote the safety and well being of the country by increasing the population. You see therefore, that nothing is left undone by us, but that we contribute as much as we can, so that it only and principally depends upon a good administration and government there, of which we entrusted to you the management. It is your sacred duty not to relent in your exertions either in discovering measures benefiting the country and its inhabitants or in lifting or diminishing unnecessary taxes. Economy must always be to you a matter of the greatest importance, so that the Company, to whom the province has cost so much, may at last reap some benefit.

The duplicate of our letter of September 15, 1657, per the Wasbleecker, which we believed to have been sent by the ship St. Jan lately, but which was left behind by mistake, is enclosed herein, as the Wasbleecker has been shipwrecked near the islands. The two copies of the Maritime Laws of Washy are also enclosed for your information and guidance.[4]

Accompanying this goes the manifest of the private goods loaded in the ship the Moesman . [5] The fiscal is seriously advised and instructed to inspect this cargo closely so that the smugglers can be apprehended and punished as an example to others.

Herewith, Honorable, Prudent, Beloved, Faithful, we commend your honors to the protection of the Almighty and remain,

H. Bontemantel
Abr. Wilmerdonx

the 20th of May 1658.


To the Honorable Petrus Stuyvesant, Director General and Council in N. N.

Received by the Moesman.


See 12:69.
See SI, 181 for a summary of this letter in the Bontelmantel Collection of the New York Public Library.
These papers no longer exist.
See 12:66 for letter; copies of maritime laws do not survive.
This manifest does not survive.


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