Ordinance for the stricter observance of the Sabbath

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Petrus Stuyvesant, on behalf of their High Mightinesses, the lords States General of the United Netherlands, his Highness the honorable lord Prince of Orange, and the honorable lords directors of the General Chartered West India Company, director general of New Netherland, Curaçao and the islands thereof, together with the honorable lords councilors.

Whereas we see and find that, in spite of our well-intended regulations and ordinances, heretofore promulgated for the celebration and sanctification of the holy Sabbath in conformity to God’s holy command, they are not observed and obeyed according to our good intent and meaning, but that it is still profaned and desecrated in various ways to the great scandal, offence and reproach of the commonalty and foreign neighbors who frequent this place, as well as to the contempt and disregard of God’s holy word and our ordinances emanating therefrom.

Therefore, we, the aforesaid director general and councilors, in order to avert, as much as possible, from themselves and their subjects, God’s wrath and punishment, which is to be feared from these and other misdeeds, do hereby renew and amplify their previous proclamations and ordinances, having for the stricter observation thereof and with the prior notification of the servant of the divine word, deemed it advisable that henceforth one shall preach from the word of God and the usual Christian prayers and thanksgiving offered in the afternoon as well as in the forenoon; for which we request and command that all our officers, subjects and vassals to frequent and attend the same; forbidding in the meantime, in conformity with our aforesaid proclamations, all tapping, fishing, hunting and other usual avocations, crafts and trades, whether it be in houses, cellars, shops, ships, yachts or on the streets and in markets, on penalty of such wares, merchandise and goods or the redemption thereof, plus the sum of ƒ25, to be applied until further notice to the poor and the churches; in addition thereto one pound Flemish to be forfeited by the buyers as well as the sellers, by the lessees as well as the lessors, to be distributed half to the officer and half at the discretion of the court. In like manner, we also hereby prohibit and forbid all persons on the aforesaid day from spending their time, to the scandal and shame of others, in intemperate drunkenness and excess, on pain, if so found, of arrest by our fiscal and any higher or lower officer, and arbitrary punishment by the court.

Thus done and, after reconsideration, enacted and published the 29th of April 1648 in New Amsterdam in New Netherland.[1]


Also in LO, 98. This ordinance was renewed and enlarged to include ordinary labor and games on October 26,1656, and renewed again in 1657, 1658, and 1663. See LO, 258-59, 310, 344, and 448.


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.