Instructions for the schout and magistrates of Brooklyn and adjoining towns on the west end of Long Island

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Provisional Instruction for the Schout and Magistrates of Midwout, Amesfoort, Breuckelen, New Utrecht and Gravesend, situate on Long Island, and to the Magistrates of Bushwyck.

Art. 1. The Sheriff and Magistrates shall, each in his quality, take care that the Reformed Christian Religion be maintained in conformity to the Synod of Dordrecht without permitting any other sects attempting anything contrary thereto.
2. The Sheriff shall be present, as often as possible, at all the meetings and preside over the same; but should he act for himself as party, or in behalf of the rights of the Lords Patroons or of Justice, he shall, in such case, rise from his seat and leave the Bench and in that event he shall not have any advisory much less a concluding vote, but the oldest Schepen shall, then, preside in his place.
3. All cases relating to the Police, Security and Peace of the Inhabitants; also to Justice between man and man, shall be finally determined by the Magistrates of each of the aforesaid villages, to the amount of, and under, sixty florins, Beaver, without appeal: In case the sum be larger the aggrieved party may appeal to the meeting of the Sheriff and Councillors delegated from the villages subject to his jurisdiction, for which purpose one person shall be annually appointed from each village who shall assemble in the most convenient place to be selected by them, and who shall have power to pronounce final judgment to the amount of fl. 240 Beavers and thereunder. But in all cases exceeding that sum each one shall be entitled to an appeal to the Governor-General and Council here.
4. In case of inequality of votes, the minority shall submit to the majority; but those who are of a contrary opinion may have it recorded in the minutes but not divulge it without the meeting on pain of arbitrary correction.
5. Whenever any cases occur in the meeting in which any of the Magistrates are interested, such Magistrate shall, in that instance, rise and absent himself, as is hereinbefore stated, in the 2nd article, of the Sheriff.
6. All inhabitants of the abovenamed villages shall be citable before said Sheriff and Schepens or their delegated Councillors who shall hold their meetings and courts as often as they shall consider requisite.
7. All criminal offences shall be referred to the Governor-General and Council, on condition that the Sheriff be obliged to apprehend the offenders, to seize and detain them and to convey them as prisoners under proper safeguard to the Chief Magistrate with good and correct informations for or against the offenders.
8. Smaller offences, such as quarrels, abusive words, threats, fisticuffs and such like, are left to the jurisdiction of the Magistrates of each particular village.
9. The Sheriff and Schepens shall have power to conclude on some ordinances for the welfare and peace of the inhabitants of their district, such as laying out highways, setting off lands and gardens and in like manner what appertains to agriculture, observance of the Sabbath, erecting churches, school-houses or similar public works. Item, against fighting and wrestling and such petty offences, provided such ordinances are not contrary but as far as is possible, conformable to the Laws of our Fatherland and the Statutes of this Province; and, therefore, all orders of any importance shall, before publication, be presented to the Chief Magistrate and his approval thereof requested.
10. The said Sheriff and Schepens shall be bound strictly to observe and cause to be observed the Placards and Ordinances which shall be enacted and published by the supreme authority, and not suffer anything to be done against them, but cause the transgressors therein to be proceeded against according to the tenor thereof; and further, promptly execute such orders as the Governor-General shall send them from time to time.
11. The Sheriff and Schepens shall be also obliged to acknowledge as their Sovereign Rulers, their High Mightinesses the Lord States-General of the United Netherlands and his Serene Highness the Lord Prince of Orange, and to maintain their sovereign jurisdiction, right and domain over this country.
12 The selection of all inferior officers and servants in the employ of the Sheriff and of the Schepens, the Secretary alone excepted, shall be made and confirmed by themselves.
13. The Sheriff shall, by himself or deputies execute all the Magistrates' judgments and not discharge any one except by advice of the Court; he shall also take good care that the places under his charge shall be cleansed of all mobs, gamblers, whore-houses and such like impurities.
14. The Sheriff shall receive the half of all civil fines accruing during his term of office together with one-third part of what belongs to the respective villages from criminal cases; but he shall neither directly nor indirectly receive any presents forbidden by law.
15. Towards the time of election, the Sheriff and Schepens shall nominate as Schepens a double number of the best qualified, the honestest, most intelligent and wealthiest inhabitants, exclusively of the Reformed Christian Religion or at least well affected thereunto, to be presented to the Governor, who shall then make his election therefrom with continuation of some of the old ones in case his Honor may deem it necessary.
Dated Fort Willem Hendrick, the first of October, 1673.


Translation: O'Callaghan, E.B., trans./ed., Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New-York, vol. 2 (Albany: Weed, Parsons: 1858), pp. 569-730 (vol. 23, pp. 1-270 only).A complete copy of this publication is available on theĀ New Netherland Institute website.