Ordinance for regulating taverns and granting licenses

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Petrus Stuyvesant, director general of New Netherland, Curaçao, etc. and the honorable lords councilors, to all those who read, see or hear this read, greetings.

Whereas we see and experience that our former ordinances enacted against inappropriate drinking to excess, both at night and on the Lord’s Sabbath, to the scandal and shame of us and our nation, are not being observed and obeyed according to our intent and meaning, we hereby renew, order and proclaim the same so that they shall henceforth be held, maintained and carried out in stricter observance and execution pursuant to the tenor and content set forth therein.

Meanwhile, the cause and reason why these our good orders and well-intentioned ordinances have not been obeyed according to their tenor and content, are that this manner of business and the profit easily derived therefrom diverts and seduces many from their original and first vocation, trade and business to resort to tavern keeping, so that almost one fourth of the city of New Amsterdam is becoming brandy and beer taverns and tobacco shops, by which excess not only honest occupations and trades are neglected and disregarded, but also the common man and Company’s servant are notably corrupted; and what is still worse is that the youth, seeing the improper example of their parents and following [      ] from the path of virtue, is brought up in a totally disorderly manner, from which derives cheating, smuggling and fraud, and the clandestine sale of beer and brandy to the Indians and natives, as daily experience, God help us! shows, from which nothing but new animosities are to be feared between them and us; and, moreover, some honest inns established and licensed for the use and accommodation of travelers, strangers as well as inhabitants, which honestly and sincerely pay their taxes and excise, and own or lease proper houses that carry heavy taxes, are seriously injured in their licensed and lawful business by these underground saloons. Wherein we want to provide according to the demand of affairs, opportunity and our ability; therefore, we the aforesaid director general and council do order and enact on the subject of the tapsters and innkeepers the following regulations and bylaws:


First, that henceforth no new taverns, inns, or saloons shall be opened or established except with special prior knowledge and consent of the director and council, unanimously granted and expressed.

2 .

The inns, taverns, and saloons already established, shall be allowed to continue at least another four consecutive years; however, in the meantime they are obligated and bound to provide themselves, as do ] other honest businesses in this place, with proper and civil dwellings for the adornment and esteem of this city of New Amsterdam, each according to his condition, ability and circumstance, pursuant to the ordinance and building regulation made by the director and council with the advice and knowledge of the building surveyor.


That the innkeepers and tapsters, who are permitted these businesses, for certain reasons, for at least another four years, may change their trade; however, he may not convey this his prior business of tapping or keeping tavern to another, or lease or sell his house and dwelling to anyone for this purpose, except with the prior knowledge and full consent and permission of the director and council.


Also, the tavemkeepers and tapsters shall henceforth not be allowed to sell, barter or present to the Indians or natives any beer, wine, brandy or spirits, whether providing such by the first, second or third hand, on pain of forfeiting their business and arbitrary correction at the discretion of the court.


Also, for the prevention of all fighting and mischief, they are obligated to notify the officer immediately if anyone is injured or wounded at their house, on pain of forfeiting their business and one Flemish pound for each hour the wound or injury has been concealed by the tapster or innkeeper.


The ordinances heretofore published against improper carousing at night and immoderate drinking on the Sabbath, shall be obeyed with more strict attention and care; namely, that they shall not keep tavern in the evening after the ringing of the curfew bell, or sell or present any beer or spirits to anyone on Sunday (except for the traveler and boarder) before three o’clock in the afternoon when divine service is over, on penalty established thereto in the ordinance.


Also, they shall be bound not to receive directly or indirectly into their houses or cellars any wine, beer or strong spirits before they are reported at the receiver’s office and a permit is obtained for them, on pain of forfeiting their business, beer and spirits, and also a heavy fine at the discretion of the court.


Finally, all innkeepers and tapsters, who are so inclined to continue in their business, shall, within the period of eight days after the publication and posting of this, present themselves and report their names to the director and council; also, while there, solemnly promise to obey at once that which has been enacted on the subject of tapsters and innkeepers, in all its parts, or hereafter may be enacted, and to conduct themselves honestly in their business.

Thus done at a meeting in Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland, the 10th of March 1648.[1]


Also in LO, 93-96.


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.