Laws and ordinances of New Netherland, 1638-1674/1629


Granted by the West India Company to all Patroons, Masters, or Private Persons who will plant Colonies in New Netherland. 7 June, 1629.

[N. Y. Col. Doc. I, 553.]

I. SUCH members of the said Company as may be inclined to settle a Colonie in New Netherland, shall be permitted to send, in the ships of this Company going thither, three or four Persons to inspect the situation of the country, provided that they, with the Officers and ship's company, swear to the Articles, so far as they relate to them, and pay for provisions and for passage, going and coming, six stivers per diem; And such as desire to eat in the cabin, twelve stivers, and to be subordinate and give assistance like others, in cases offensive and defensive; And if any Ships be taken from the enemy, they shall receive, pro rata, their proportions with the ship’s company, each according to his quality; that is to say, the Colonists eating out of the cabin shall be rated with the Sailors, and those who eat in the cabin with those of the Company’s servants who eat at table and receive the lowest wages.

II. Though, in this respect, shall be preferred such persons as have first appeared and desired the same from the Company.

III. All such shall be acknowledged Patroons of New Netherland who shall, within the space of four years next after they have given notice to any of the Chambers of the Company here, or to the Commander or Council there, undertake to plant a Colonie there of fifty Souls, upwards of fifteen years old; one-fourth part within one year, and within three years after the sending of the first, making together four years; the remainder, to the full number of fifty persons, to be shipped from hence, on pain, in case of wilful neglect, of being deprived of the privileges obtained. But it is to be observed that the Company reserve the Island of the Manhattes to themselves.

IV. They shall, from the time they make known the situation of the places where they propose to settle Colonies, have the preference to all others of the absolute property of such Lands as they have there chosen; but in case the situation should not afterwards please them, or they should have been mistaken as to the quality of the land, they may, after remonstrating concerning the same to the Commander and Council there, be at liberty to choose another place.

V. The Patroons, by virtue of their power, shall and may be permitted, at such places as they shall settle their Colonies, to extend their limits four leagues along the shore, that is, on one side of a Navigable river, or two leagues on each side of a River, and so far into the country as the situation of the occupiers will permit; Provided and conditioned that the Company keep to themselves the Lands lying and remaining between the limits of Colonies, to dispose thereof, when and at such time as they shall think proper, in such manner that no person shall be allowed to come within seven or eight leagues of them without their consent, unless the situation of the land thereabout be such that the Commander and Council, for good reasons, should order otherwise; always observing that the first occupiers are not to be prejudiced in the right they have obtained, other than, unless the service of the Company should require it, for the building of Fortifications, or something of that sort; the command of each Bay, River or Island of the first settled Colonie, remaining, moreover, under the supreme jurisdiction of their High Mightinesses the States-General and the Company: but that on the next Colonies being settled on the same river or island, they may, in conjunction with the first, appoint one or more Deputies in order to consider what may be necessary for the prosperity of the Colonies on the said River and Island.

VI. They shall forever possess and enjoy all the Lands lying within the aforesaid limits, together with the fruits, rights, minerals, rivers and fountains thereof; as also the chief command and lower Jurisdictions, fishing, fowling and grinding, to the exclusion of all others, to be holden from the Company as a perpetual inheritance, without it ever devolving again to the Company, and in case it should devolve, to be redeemed and repossessed with twenty Guilders per Colonie, to be paid to this Company, at the Chamber here or to their Commander there, within a year and six weeks after the same occurs, each at the Chamber where he originally sailed from; and further, no person or persons whatsoever shall be privileged to fish and hunt but the Patroons and such as they shall permit. And in case any one should in time prosper so much as to found one or more Cities, he shall have power and authority to establish Officers and Magistrates there, and to make use of the title of his Colonie, according to his pleasure and to the quality of the persons.

VII. There shall likewise be granted to all Patroons who shall desire the same, Venia testandi, or liberty to dispose of their aforesaid heritage by testament.

VIII. The Patroons may, if they think proper, make use of all Lands, Rivers and Woods lying contiguous to them, for and during so long a time as this Company shall not grant them to other Patroons or private persons.

IX. Those who shall send persons over to settle Colonies, shall furnish them with proper instructions in order that they may be ruled and governed conformably to the rule of government made, or to be made, by the Board of the Nineteen, as well in the political as in the judicial government; which they shall be obliged first to lay before the Directors of the respective Chambers.

X. The Patroons and Colonists shall be privileged to send their people and effects thither, in ships belonging to the Company, provided they take the oath, and pay to the Company for bringing over the people, as mentioned in the first article and for freight of the goods, five per cent, ready money, to be reckoned on the prime cost of the goods here, in which is, however, not to be included such Cattle and Implements as are necessary for the cultivation and improvement of the lands, which the Company are to carry over without any reward, if there is room in their ships. But the Patroons shall, at their own expense, provide and make places for them, together with every thing necessary for the support of the Cattle.

XI. In case it should not suit the Company to send any ships, or there should be no room in those sailing thither, then the said Patroons, after having communicated their intentions, and after having obtained consent from the Company in writing, may send their own ships or vessels thither: Provided that, in going or coming, they go not out of their ordinary course, giving security to the Company for the same and taking on board an Assistant to be victualed by the Patroons, and paid his monthly wages by the Company, on pain, for doing the contrary, of forfeiting all right and property they have obtained to the Colonie.

XII. Inasmuch as it is intended to people the Island of the Manhattes first, all fruits and wares that are produced on the lands situate on the North river, and lying thereabout, shall, for the present, be brought there before being sent elsewhere, excepting such as are, from their nature, unnecessary there, or such as cannot, without great loss to the owner thereof, be brought there, in which case the owners thereof shall be obliged to give timely notice in writing of the difficulty attending the same to the Company here, or the Commander and Council there, that the same may be remedied as the necessity thereof shall be found to require.

XIII. All the Patroons of Colonies in New Netherland, and of Colonies on the Island of Manhattes shall be at liberty to sail and traffic all along the coast, from Florida to Terra Neuf, provided that they do again return with all such Goods as they shall get in trade to the Island of Manhattes, and pay five per cent duty to the Company, in order, if possible, that, after the necessary inventory of the Goods shipped be taken, the same may be sent hither. And if it should so happen that they could not return, by contrary streams or otherwise, in such case, they shall, not be permitted to bring such Goods to any other place but to these dominions, in order that, under the inspection of the Directors of the place where they may arrive, they may be unladen, an inventory thereof made, and the aforesaid duty of five per cent paid to the Company here, on pain, if they do the contrary, of the forfeiture of their goods so trafficked for, or the real value thereof.

XIV. In case the ships of the Patroons, in going to, or coming from, or sailing on the coast from Florida to Terra Neuf, and no further, without our grant, should overpower any prizes of the enemy, they shall be obliged to bring, or cause to be brought, such prize to the Chamber of the place from whence they sailed out, in order to be rewarded by it; the Company shall keep the one-third part thereof, and the remaining two-thirds shall belong to them in consideration of the cost and risk they have been at, all according to the orders of the Company.

XV. It shall be also free for the aforesaid Patroons to traffic and trade all along the coast of New Netherland and places circumjacent, with such goods as are consumed there, and receive in return for them all sorts of merchandise that may be had there, except Beavers, Otters, Minks, and all sorts of Peltry, which trade the Company reserve to themselves. But the same shall be permitted at such places where the Company have no factories, conditioned that such traders shall be obliged to bring all the peltry they can procure to the Island of Manhattes, in case it may be, at any rate, practicable, and there deliver to the Director, to be by him shipped hither with the ships and goods; or, if they should come here without going there, then to give notice thereof to the Company, that a proper account thereof may be taken, in order that they may pay to the Company one guilder for each merchantable Beaver and Otter skin; the property, risk and all other charges remaining on account of the Patroons or owners.

XVI. All coarse Wares that the Colonists of the Patroons there shall consume, such as Pitch, Tar, Weed-ashes, Wood, Grain, Fish, Salt, Hearthstone and such like things shall be conveyed in the Company's ships, at the rate of eighteen guilders per last; four thousand weight to be accounted a last, and the Company's ship's crew shall be obliged to wheel and bring the Salt on board, whereof ten lasts make a hundred. And, in case of the want of ships, or room in the ships, they may order it over, at their own cost, in ships of their own, and enjoy in these dominions such liberties and benefits as the Company have granted; but, in either case, they shall be obliged to pay, over and above the duty of five per cent, eighteen guilders for each hundred of Salt that is carried over in the Company’s ships.

XVII. For all wares which are not mentioned in the foregoing article, and which are not carried by the last, there shall be paid one dollar for each hundred pounds weight; and for Wines, Brandies, Verjuice and Vinegar, there shall be paid eighteen guilders per cask.

XVIII. The Company promise the colonists of the Patroons that they shall be free from Customs, Taxes, Excise, Imposts or any other contributions for the space of ten years; and after the expiration of the said ten years, at the highest, such customs as the goods pay here for the present.

XIX. They will not take from the service of the Patroons any of their Colonists, either Man or Woman, Son or Daughter, Man-servant or Maid-servant; and, though any of these should desire the same, they will not receive them, much less permit them to leave their Patroons, and enter into the service of another, unless on consent obtained from their Patroons in writing, and this for and during so many years as they are bound to their Patroons; after the expiration whereof, it shall be in the power of the Patroons to send hither all such Colonists as will not continue in their service, who until then shall not enjoy their liberty. And any Colonist who shall leave the service of his Patroon, and enter into the service of another, or shall, contrary to his contract, leave his service, we promise to do every thing in our power to apprehend and deliver the same into the hands of his Patroon or attorney that he may be proceeded against according to the customs of this country, as occasion may require.

XX. From all Judgments given by the Courts of the Patroons for upwards of Fifty guilders, there may be an appeal to the Company’s Commander and Council in New Netherland.

XXI. In regard to such Private persons as on their own account, or others in the service of their masters here (not enjoying the same privileges as the Patroons), shall be inclined to go thither and settle, they shall, with the approbation of the Director and Council there, be at liberty to take up and take possession of as much Land as they shall be able properly to improve, and shall enjoy the same in full property either for themselves or masters.

XXII. They shall have free liberty of Hunting and Fowling. Fowling, as well by water as by land, generally, and in public and private woods and rivers about their Colonies, according to the orders of the Director and Council.

XXIII. Whosoever, whether Colonists of Patroons for their Patroons, or free persons for themselves, or others for their masters, shall discover any shores, bays or other fit places for erecting Fisheries, or the making of Salt-ponds, they may take possession thereof, and begin to work on them as their own absolute property, to the exclusion of all others. And it is consented to that the Patroons of colonists may send ships along the coast of New Netherland, on the Cod fishery, and with the fish they catch, trade to Italy or other neutral countries, paying in such cases to the Company a duty of six guilders per last; and if they should come with their lading hither, they shall be at liberty to proceed to Italy, though they shall not, under pretext of this consent, or leave from the Company, carry any goods there, on pain of arbitrary punishment, and it remaining in the breast of the Company to put a Supercargo on board each ship, as in the eleventh article.

XXIV. In case any of the Colonists should, by his industry and diligence, discover any Minerals, Precious stones, Crystals, Marbles or such like, or any Pearl fishery, the same shall be and remain the property of the Patroon or Patroons of such Colonie, giving and ordering the discoverer such premium as the Patroon shall beforehand have stipulated with such colonist by contract. And the Patroons shall be exempt from the payment of duty to the Company for the term of eight years, and pay only for freight, to bring them over, two per cent, and after the expiration of the aforesaid eight years, for duty and freight, the one-eighth part of what the same may be worth.

XXV. The Company will take all the Colonists, as well free as those that are in service, under their protection, and them defend against all foreign and domestic wars and powers, with the forces they have there, as much as lies in their power.

XXVI. Whosoever shall settle any Colonie out of the limits of the Manhattes Island, shall be obliged to satisfy the Indians for the land they shall settle upon, and they may extend or enlarge the limits of their Colonies if they settle a proportionate number of Colonists thereon.

XXVII. The Patroons and Colonists shall in particular, and in the speediest manner, endeavor to find out ways and means whereby they may support a Minister and Schoolmaster, that thus the service of God and zeal for religion may not grow cool and be neglected among them, and they shall, for the first, procure a Comforter of the sick there.

XXVIII. The Colonies that shall happen to lie on the respective rivers or islands (that is to say, each river or island for itself), shall be at liberty to appoint a Deputy, who shall give information to the Commander and Council of that Western quarter, of all things relating to his Colonie, and further matters relating thereto, of which Deputies there shall be one altered or changed in every two years; and all Colonies shall be obliged, at least once in every twelve months, to make exact report of their condition and of the lands thereabout to the Commander and Council there, in order to be transmitted hither.

XXIX. The Colonists shall not be permitted to make any woolen, linen or cotton cloth, nor weave any other stuffs there, on pain of being banished, and being arbitrarily punished as perjurers.

XXX. The Company will use their endeavours to supply the colonists with as many Blacks as they conveniently can, on the conditions hereafter to be made, in such manner, however, that they shall not be bound to do it for a longer time than they shall think proper.

XXXI. The Company promise to finish the fort on the Island of the Manhattes, and to put it in a posture of defense without delay.