Ordinance regulating the purchase of lands from the Indians and vacating and annulling several grants

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The director general and council of New Netherland, to all who see, read or hear these presents read, greetings.

Whereas it has been learned by experience and deed, that some inhabitants of this province, covetous and greedy of land, have (contrary to the order and intent of the honorable directors of the Chartered West India Company expressed in the charter itself as well as in the exemptions of New Netherland, and also in other subsequent orders and regulations) not hestitated heretofore and still do not hesitate, without the knowledge, order or consent of the aforesaid directors, or their deputies here, to purchase, barter or obtain by gift from the natives, and by virtue thereof to pretend actual and real possession and ownership of many and extensive tracts of land, and then again, contrary to the prohibition of the aforesaid company or other ministers here, to sell and convey to others without making or causing to be made in the office of the secretary of this province, according to the ordinance and edicts, any record of such purchased or sold lands in whole or in part; by which purchase, sale and conveyance of such lands, without the knowledge and consent of the honorable company and its government here, not only are the above mentioned directors injured and wronged in their charter and feudal right of redemption, but also the population, cultivation and planting of farms are delayed and retarded, because such lands have for long years lain, and do still remain wild and waste, without any considerable improvement and settlement having been made thereon by the pretended purchasers and proprietors; besides, there are no lands for sale except at an excessively high price, far above the value and rate at which the director general and council could heretofore obtain them from the natives; indeed, some malicious and evil disposed persons have not hesitated to inform and acquaint the Indians what sum and price the Dutch or whites are giving each other for small lots, whence have resulted within a few years past many irregularities and more are to be apprehended unless some remedy be provided for it in time.

Wherefore the director general and council of New Netherland observing on the one hand the contempt of their well-intended order, and on the other hand the irregularities and pernicious consequences which will follow such purchases and sales and conveyances without the knowledge of the lords patroons and without proper patents from the director and council; therefore the director general and council of New Netherland, after mature deliberation and written communication with the aforesaid directors of the Chartered West India Company, do hereby expressly interdict and forbid all persons, of whatever capacity they may be, directly or indirectly from buying any tracts of land from the natives of this province, much less by virtue of purchase or donation undertake to occupy, or sell or convey them to others, without the previous consent or approbation of the company or its deputy here.

In like manner also, do the director general and council of the company, or their deputy here as aforesaid, pursuant to the order and communications of the aforementioned directors, hereby dissolve, annul and make void all claimed or occupied purchases, sales, patents and deeds signed by order of the director and council and sealed with the seal of the province, of which class are the island in the Hellegat, Nooten Eylant [1] opposite the Manhatans, Roode Hoeck, both the small Flats on Long Island claimed by the former director Wouter van Twiller; the Great Rat, otherwise The Bay, or Amesfoort Flat with the lands adjacent claimed by Wolphert Gerritsen and Anderies Hudde; the maize land, flat and marshland of Canarisse conveyed by gift of the Indians to Jacob Wolphersen, to the serious damage and prejudice of the new village of Middewout; the lands of Katskil with those opposite, purchased and possessed, against the express command, order and prohibition of the director general and council, by Brant van Slichtenhorst; the lands of the Nieuwesinckx purchased by Lubbert van Dincklaegen; the lands of Chalupes and Oesterbaey, called Matinnecongh, which the natives maintain were purchased by Govert Loockermans and company;[2] the lands occupied by Thomas Chambers and lately purchased from Brant Aertsen Slechtenhorst aforesaid, the claim of property in all which said enumerated lands and in still others unknown, wherever located within the limits of this province, whether put forth in virtue of purchase or gift, is declared unlawful, null and void; under condition, however, that to the purchasers or pretended owners, shall be reimbursed and restored whatever they by fair account can show that they have paid and given for said lands, so that the director general and council aforesaid, as representatives of the commissioners of the honorable directors to the Chartered West India Company, do by right of redemption belonging to all patroons, reserve and retain unto themselves the aforesaid lands and all others of that description, and pursuant to the order and instructions of the aforesaid directors, will allot and measure out to all and every person, under proper patent and conveyance, in real and actual property, as much land as the recipient will and can cultivate and settle, on condition that he will renew the fief with the company and have the transfer of the land recorded here in the secretary’s office.

And it being further notorious and well known that, by virtue of the above stated claims, some of the above specified lands have been sold and conveyed to others, and therefore occupied, built upon and cultivated, from which possession, though illegally obtained, the director general and council are, nevertheless, not inclined to oust the actual occupant nor to frustrate his labor, but the director general and council hereby ordain and command that such occupants and others, who thus far have no proper patent and deed of the lands they possess and have cultivated, shall give in, within the term of six weeks after the publication and posting of these presents, the quantity and extent of their lands, and petition for and receive a proper patent and deed of the same, signed by the director general, as president, and by the secretary of the province, and sealed with the public seal, on pain of forfeiting his lands and the right of possession he has thereto. Let every one be warned against loss.

Thus done, resolved and enacted in the assembly of the director general and council of New Netherland, this first of July 1652, in New Amsterdam. Resumed and published the 2d of the same month.[3]


Nut Island, now Governor’s Island in New York Harbor.
Govert Loockermans was the agent for the Verbrugge trading company of Amsterdam.
Also in LO, 130-34.


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.