Ordinance prohibiting the slaughtering of cattle without a permit

Scanned Document:

The director general and council of New Netherland, to all those who see this or hear it read, greetings.[1]

Whereas diverse complaints are daily made to them, which experience also confirms that now and then cows, hogs and other livestock are caught in the countryside, slaughtered, and offered for sale by Christians or at least by persons reputed to be Christians, who go under the guise and name of Indians.

Therefore, in order to prevent this as much as possible, the aforesaid director general and council do hereby most expressly prohibit and forbid that henceforth within this city and in any of the other places, villages or hamlets in the countryside belonging to this province any cows, calves, hogs, sheep or goats shall be slaughtered, not even by the owner, unless the owner first enter aforesaid animal, whether ox, cow, calf, hog, goat or sheep, on the same day he intends to slaughter it, with the magistrates of the respective place where he belongs, or with such person as shall be appointed thereto by the magistrates, each in his respective locality, and receive a permit to do so, on pain of forfeiting the slaughtered animal and double its value; for which permit to slaughter the owner shall pay to the magistrate or the collector, to be appointed by the magistrate for that purpose, for the use of the public, one stiver in the guilder of the true value of each animal, whether ox, cow, calf, hog, goat or sheep. In case of dispute, the value to be determined by the magistrates in their jurisdiction, or their deputies. Which monies shall in each city, village or hamlet be laid up and kept, to be, in time of need, employed and applied for the maintenance and protection of the public interests and the villages, either in the levying of soldiers or purchasing of necessary ammunition according as circumstances shall require. The fines for transgressing this law shall be applied and expended, one-third for the informer, one-third for the officer, one-third for the behoof of the public, as aforesaid.

Thus done at Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland, 18 January 1656.[2]


The slaughter excise for New Netherland was copied from the slaughter excise established in Amsterdam in 1645. Amsterdam’s excise was fixed at the fortieth penny, or two and a half percent, whereas New Netherland’s excise was fixed at five percent. See Handvesten, etc. vanAmstelredam, 1748 edition, folio 1:171, quoted in LO, 209.
Also in LO, 208-9.


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.