Ordinance against drinking during divine service or after nine o'clock in the evening

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Petrus Stuyvesant, director general of New Netherland, Curaçao, and the islands thereof, commander-in-chief of the Company’s ships and yachts cruising in the West Indies, to all those who shall see this or hear it read, greetings.

Whereas we see and observe by experience the great wantoness in which some of our inhabitants indulge, in excessive drinking, quarreling, fighting, and brawling even on the Lord’s day of rest, of which we, God’s children, again saw and heard sorrowful examples last Sunday in the vilification of the court, to the reproach and censure of ourselves and our office, to the scandal of our neighbors and finally to the disparagement, indeed, contempt of God’s divine laws and ordinances, which command us to sanctify this His Sabbath and day of rest, forbidding all maiming, murdering, and the means and provocations by which the same might arise.

Therefore, we, with the advice of the former lord director general[1] and our appointed council, in order, as much as it is possible and practicable for us, to provide herein, and to prevent the curse instead of the blessing of God from falling on us and our good inhabitants, do hereby most earnestly order and command that no brewers, tapsters and innkeepers shall be allowed on the Lord’s day of rest, called Sunday by us, before two o’clock if there is no sermon or otherwise before four o’clock in the afternoon, to offer, tap or serve any people wine, beer or strong spirits of any sort, and under any pretext no matter what it may be, except for travelers and day boarders, who may be provided therewith for their needs in their lodgings, on pain of forfeiting their business, and in addition six Carolus guilders for each person found in their houses at that time drinking wine or beer; and likewise, we forbid all innkeepers, tavemkeepers and tapsters, on that day and all other days in the week, in the evening after the ringing of the bell, which will take place around 9 o’clock, to allow any more general drinking, or to tap or serve any wine, beer and strong spirits, except to their own household, travelers and boarders, on the same penalty.

And in order to prevent the all too rash pulling of knives, brawling, maiming and misfortunes following therefrom, we, therefore, pursuant to the laudable statute of the most wise and esteemed council of the city of Amsterdam, do enact and order that whosoever shall in haste or anger draw or cause to be drawn a knife or sword against another, shall immediately incur a penalty of one hundred Carolus guilders, or by failure to pay, to be punished for one half a year’s hard labor on bread and water; and if he should injure anyone therewith, three hundred like guilders or to spend one and a half years at the aforesaid labor. And we also charge and order our fiscal, lieutenant, sergeants, corporals, as well as burghers, inhabitants and soldiers, to use all opportunities, social calls and appropriate diligence, without any feigning, to confront and uncover the violators hereof in order to prosecute them accordingly.

Thus done in Fort Amsterdam in N. Netherland, the 31st of May 1647.[2]


Willem Kieft was director general of New Netherland from 1638-1647.
Also in LO, 60-62. The first ordinance regarding drawing of knives was issued July 11, 1642; see LO, 33.


Translation: Gehring, C., trans./ed., New Netherland Documents Series: Vol. 16, part 1, Laws and Writs of Appeal, 1647-1663 (Syracuse: 1991).A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.