Ordinance amending the laws for the better observance of the Sabbath; against the sale of liquors to the Indians, and regulating the assize of bread and the trade of baking

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

Let it be known that by daily and sad experience it is found that the previously issued and frequently renewed ordinances and edicts against the profaning of the Lord’s Sabbath; the unseasonable tapping on that day, and at night after the posting of the guard or the ringing of the bell; the very dangerous, indeed, damnable sale or bestowal of wine, beer, and distilled spirits[2]; the baking and selling of coarse as well as small or white bread, are, to the dishonor of God, to the serious damage, loss and disturbance of the peace and quiet of the inhabitants, and to the gross contempt of the authority and quality of the superior and inferior magistrates of this province, neither regarded, observed, maintained nor even enforced according to the good intention of the director general and council, and as necessity clearly requires; therefore, the aforesaid director general and council, wishing, by virtue of their office, and prompted by duty and necessity, to provide herein, do renew and enlarge their previously enacted ordinances and edicts, and hereby prohibit and forbid:

First, all persons from performing or doing on the Lord’s day of rest, by us called Sunday any ordinary labor, such as plowing, sowing, mowing, building, sawing wood, blacksmithing, bleaching, hunting, fishing, sailing or any other work that may be lawful on other days, on pain of forfeiting one pound Flemish for each person; much less any lower or unlawful exercise and amusement, drinking alcoholic beverages, frequenting taverns or tap houses, dancing, playing cards, ticktacken, caetsen, balslaen, clossen, kegelen,[3] going by boat, cart or wagon before, between or during the Lord’s service, on pain of a double fine; in particular, no innkeepers shall be allowed to set a buffet before, between or during the sermons, nor be allowed to tap, bestow, give or sell to anyone any brandy, beer, or distilled spirits, directly or indirectly, on pain of the innkeeper or tapster forfeiting six guilders for each person, and each person found drinking at the aforesaid time, three guilders; likewise, no innkeepers or tapsters shall be allowed to set buffets on Sunday or on any other day that continue on into the night after the mounting of the guard or the ringing of the bell, nor shall anyone be tapped, sold or given any wine, beer or brandy or distilled spirits, on the same penalty; the domestic guest on public business, alone excepted, authorized with the consent and order of the magistrates.

Secondly, with regard to the very dangerous, injurious and damnable sale, bestowal and giving of wine, beer or distilled spirits to the Indians or natives of this country, from which almost as many mischiefs proceed, or at least are threatened and apprehended, as there are drunken Indians, the aforesaid director general and council, renewing and enlarging their previously published edicts, do hereby order and command, that no person, of whatever capacity or profession he may be, shall sell, trade to, bestow, give, furnish or carry or allow to be carried, to or for any Indians, in or out of the house, by land or water, from yachts, barks, boats, or canoes, carts or wagons, by what ever name such vehicles may be called, either directly or indirectly, any beer, wine, brandy or distilled spirits, under penalty of five hundred guilders, and in addition to be arbitrarily punished on the body, and banished from the country. And in order that the same may be discovered, for the better promotion and maintenance of the public peace and quiet, between the good inhabitants of this province and the barbarians, all superior and inferior officers, free or hired servants of the company, and inhabitants of this province are, by their office and fealty, exhorted, required and commanded to aid in preventing, discovering and giving information of such most dangerous and damnable sale or bestowal of wine, beer, or distilled spirits, or, failing therein, to pay half the fine in case it afterward appear, or become known, that they were privy to, or had not informed of, such sale, gift or present of wine, beer, or distilled spirits to any Indians.

Further, the aforesaid director general and council, being credibly informed and told, that wine, beer and distilled spirits, are peddled and retailed up and along the rivers, from up-going and returning yachts, barks, boats, ships and canoes, do hereby not only interdict and forbid such peddling and retailing, but ordain, enact and command that no skippers, sloop owners, canoemen or boatmen, or any other free or bound inhabitants, of whatever name, nation, capacity or occupation they may be, shall from this time forth, either for themselves or for others, embark, load, take with them, in any bark, yacht, boat, canoe, or another vessel, any wine, beer, brandy or distilled spirits in large or small casks, or even in cans, jugs or demijohns, without having first entered the correct quantity with the officer of the place where the wine, beer or distilled spirits, in large or small quantities, are embarked, shipped or loaded, and received from the officer a certificate or permit, on which shall appear the quantity and quality of casks and other measure of the wine, beer or distilled spirits to be taken along, for whom shipped, and to whom consigned, and shall bring back a proper certificate or proof of the delivery to such person, signed by the officer and the receiver thereof at the place of delivery; and all that on pain of forfeiting the concealed wine, beer or distilled spirits, and a fine of five hundred guilders for the first time, and forfeiting in addition, for the second offense, the bark, yacht boat or canoe.

Thirdly, in regard to the baking and selling of coarse and white bread, neither of lawful weight nor at the fixed price, the director general and council renewing and enlarging the previously published order on that subject, do hereby ordain and command that all bakers and all other inhabitants who make a business of baking or selling bread, whether for Christians or barbarians, shall be obliged, as well for the accommodation of Christians as to derive profit thereby from Indians, to bake at least once or twice a week both coarse and white bread, as well for Christians as Indians, of the stated weight and at the price as follows:

The coarse loaf shall weigh.

The double, 8 lbs., and cost  14 stivers. 
The single, 4 lbs., and cost  7 stivers. 
The half, 2 lbs, and cost  3½ stivers. 

The white loaf shall weigh,

The double, 2 lbs., and cost  8 stivers. 
The single, 1 lb., and cost  4 stivers. 
The half, ½ lbs., and cost  2 stivers. 

All bread found to be of less weight or sold at a higher price, without the previous knowledge, order and consent of the inferior court, shall be forfeit, and there shall be paid in addition a fine of twenty-five pounds Flemish for the first time; for the second time, double as much, and for the third time, six hundred guilders, and their trade be absolutely prohibited.

Further, no bakers or persons who make a business of selling coarse or white bread to Christians or Indians, shall be allowed to mix any sifted bran either wholly or in part with the coarse bread, but bake the coarse bread as the flour comes from the mill; or to make any other sort of coarse or white bread either for Indians or Christians, than is herein previously specified, on the aforesaid penalty. The inspection thereof remains subject to the respective courts, each within its jurisdiction, and those whom, as better judges of bread, they shall adjoin to themselves.

Fourthly, the director general and council, being further informed and considering, that frauds can creep in, both in the matter of tapping and baking, for the concealment whereof excuses may be set up and invented, because no guild or association is hitherto known; to prevent such, as much as possible, the director general and council ordain and command that, from this time forward, no person shall make any profession of baking or tapping unless he first apply to the court in the respective jurisdiction and receive from it, or its agent, a license for that business, which all tavemkeepers and bakers shall renew every quarter of a year commencing the first of November, next and pay for it each time one pound Flemish for the benefit of the respective court, on pain of suspension of his business for notorious and obstinate neglect.

The fines and amercements specified above are to be applied one-third for the officer who shall enter the complaint; one-third for the church or the poor; one-third for the public benefit.

In order that all this may be the better known, practiced and obeyed, and that no one pretend ignorance hereafter on this subject, the director general and council do hereby ordain and command that this shall be published and posted everywhere that it is customary to have publication made, and that after publication they be observed and executed without any favor, affection, simulation or respect of persons, as we find such to be for the public service and for the better and greater peace of the good inhabitants.

Thus done, renewed and amplified in the session of director general and council of New Netherland, the 26th October, 1656.[4]


For previous ordinances see LWA, 17-19 and 22-23.
The phrase “to the Indians” was inadvertendy left out.
These games (in italics) were popular seventeenth-century pastimes, especially in and around taverns. They can be loosely described as: ticktack or tricktrack, a cross between backgammon and checkers; caetsen, a sort of handball played in the open; balslaen, a game similar to caetsen', clossen, bowling; and kegelen, nine pins.
Also in LO, 258-63.


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.