Ordinance regulating the fees of the weigh house and the duties of the weigh master

Scanned Document:

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

Let it be known that they, in order to prevent the complaints of some ill-willed people that no order is observed in this country with respect to weights and measures, have caused to be built and furnished at the order and expense of the honorable lords directors at the chamber of Amsterdam, lords and patroons of this province, a proper weigh house, and in addition to the assized weights, to have an assized skipple and ell kept there, conforming with the weight and length of the city of Amsterdam, according to which every other weight, measure, and ell within this province shall be regulated, observed, and put in practice, on the penalty and fine prescribed by former statutes.

In order the better to bring the same into practice, the director general and council have ordered and enacted, as they hereby do order and enact that from now on all goods and merchandise subject to the measure, whether skipple or weights, which are brought in or out of this city, shall be weighed and measured by the sworn and thereto appointed weigh master and master measurer before such merchandise or goods are brought into this city or exported and carried elsewhere out of it, for which the purchasers and sellers together, or else the purchaser or seller alone, according to the conditions stipulated at the purchase, shall pay as the fee for weighing or measuring as follows:

First concerning the weigh house

For all sorts of  } 15 stivers per cento  indigo  } 10 stivers 
silk goods  preserves 
spun silk  sugar 
cochineal  Spanish leather 
saffron  all sorts of spices 
tobacco  } 5 stivers  dried fish  } 4 stivers 
sarsaparilla  salted meat 
sassafras  pork 
ivory  tallow 
all sorts of dyewood  pitch 
cotton and cotton yarn  sulphur 
wool and woolen yarn  harpuys[1]  
dried hides  cordage 
copper kettles  lead 
butter and cheese  iron 

And for all uneven weights above and below one hundred pounds, there shall be paid, from one to 25 pounds, one-fourth; from 26 to 50 inclusive, half fee; from 51 to 75 pounds, full weighing fee. However, if anyone should deliver at the same time to one and the same person more than one quantity of the same sort of goods, all the aforesaid quantities or weights of the one and the other shall be added together and payment made for it according to the product of the whole, and for each lot or draft weighed shall be paid ¾ of a stiver.

And all goods subject to be weighed, or that are sold by weight, shall pay the weighing fee as often as they are sold, transported, shipped or exported. However, to avoid the heavy charges for labor with which the goods may be burdened in carrying them to and bringing them from the weigh house, whether by cart, sleigh or boat, the delivery may be made from ship to ship or from house to house, by the shortest and quickest way; provided that before the transportation or export take place, the weigh master be notified of it and the weighing fee; on pain of forfeiting the wares and merchandise or the just value thereof, or otherwise at the discretion of the honorable director general and council.

Also, any wares and merchandise sold by the lot or parcel shall not be delivered before and until they are weighed, but the contracting parties can send for the weigh master, the sales and weights in loco, and have the wares and merchandise weighed there and so delivered upon paying the weigh master four guilders per day and the like sum for the use of the scales and weights; but if the buyer or seller have his own scales or weights it will be sufficient to pay only the weigh master.

Exempt from the weighing fee shall only be those goods and merchandise that are brought to, or are received at the weigh house belonging to the honorable company, to this city, to the deaconry and other charitable institutions, being really and tmly their property and to be converted to their use; all of which the weigh master shall have to weigh gratis and pro Deo.

Also, no one shall be allowed to weigh in his house any goods exceeding 25 pounds, on pain as aforesaid, or to keep larger weights in his house, store or cellar, unless by express consent of the impost master, on pain of twenty guilders, those who sell weights excepted.

For the convenience of everyone who wishes to have any goods weighed, the impost master or his collector shall be found in the weigh house, Sundays and feast days excepted, from 7 to 11 o’clock in the morning, from 2 to 6 o’clock in the afternoon from the 8th of April to the 8th of October; and from 8 to 11 o’clock in the morning and from 2 to 5 o’clock in the afternoon from the 8th of October to the 8th of April.

The weigh master shall not be bound to weigh any goods before, after or between the aforesaid hours, but have die freedom to record the weight etc. unless that, whenever the hour arrives to close the weigh house, some goods lie there or are in the act of being weighed, and the seller or buyer or both together offer to pay 12 stivers for keeping open the weigh house, when the weigh master remains obliged to open the place and to weigh the goods.

Also, the impost master of the weigh house shall take care that the scales or balances are kept very clean and free from dirt; in like manner, that the scales are regulated when brought out before they are used; and the same be done to the weigh house itself, and done often.

The director general and council reserve to themselves, with the advice and ratification of the honorable directors, the lords and patroons of this province, to alter, diminish, or to enlarge this regulation according to the circumstances of the time and the condition of affairs.

Thus done in the session of the honorable director general and council held in Amsterdam in New Netherland, the 27th of April 1656[2].


A mixture of tar, pitch, and resin used for caulking ships.
Also in LO, 224-27.


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.