Laws and ordinances of New Netherland, 1638-1674/1642


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland, prohibiting the pur-
chase of produce raised near Fort Hope Passed 3d April, 1642.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 119.]

Whereas our territory which we purchased, paid for and took possession of, provided in the year 1633 with a Blockhouse, Garrison and Cannon, on the Fresh River of New Netherland, a long time before any Christians were in the said River, hath now, for some years past, been forcibly usurped by some Englishmen and given the name of Hartford, notwithstanding we duly protested against them; who, moreover, treat our people most barbarously, beating them with clubs and mattocks, even unto the shedding of blood; cut down our corn; sow the field by night which our people ploughed by day; haul home by force the hay which was mowed by our people; cast our plough into the river, and forcibly impound our horses, cows and hogs, so that no cruelty, insolence nor violence remains which is not practiced toward us, who, yet, have treated them with all moderation; Yea, even at great hazard, have redeemed and sent back home, their Women, who were carried off by the Indians; And although we are commanded by the States General, his Highness of Orange and the Honble West India Company to maintain our Limits and to assert our Right by every means, which We, also, have the power to do, yet rather have We chosen patiently to suffer violence, and to prove by deeds that we are better Christians than they who go about there clothed with such outward show, until in its time the measure shall be entirely full.

Therefore, our order and command provisionally is, and We do hereby Ordain that our Inhabitants of New Netherland be most expressly forbidden from purchasing, either directly or indirectly, by the third or second shipment, or in any manner whatsoever, any produce which has been raised on our land near Fort Hope on the Fresh River, on pain of arbitrary correction, until their rights, are acknowledged and the sellers of the produce which shall arrive from our Fresh River of New Netherland and from New England shall first declare upon oath where the produce has been grown, whereof a certificate shall be given them, and thereupon every one shall be at liberty to buy and to sell. All persons are hereby warned, so that no one may hereafter plead ignorance, and let all be on their guard.

Thus done in Council and published at Fort Amsterdam.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland, imposing certain
Import and Export Duties. Passed 3d April, 1642.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 120.]

Whereas all the subjects of the High and Mighty Lords States General, who pursue their trade or commerce here in New Netherland, are bound to pay, before they can ship their goods, a duty of Ten per cent to the West India Company in Holland, which was granted said Company by their High Mightinesses in consideration of the great War which the Honble West India Company is carrying on and the heavy expense it has to bear; And the Honble Directors have learned that many goods are brought hither from divers places which have not paid the Duty, which tends to the serious injury of the Honble Company and the great damage of the good Inhabitants of New Netherland who have to bear a heavier burthen than even Foreigners; Wherefore we are peremptorily commanded to collect said Duty here from all imported Goods which have not paid any thing in Holland, Brazil, Guinea or the West Indies, and from exported Goods what is authorized by the Freedoms granted to this Country.

Therefore, we have Ordained and enacted, as we do hereby Ordain and enact, that from now henceforth all persons who import here any Wares for sale, shall enter their Goods and pay a just Tenth part either in the kind of Wares or in Money, and on the exported Goods, according to the List set forth in the Freedoms, to the Receiver of the Company’s revenues, or whomsoever shall be appointed thereto, on pain of the forfeiture of said goods not only by the seller but by the purchaser or the parties in whose hands they may be found.

Thus done, published and affixed in Fort Amsterdam. Dated as above.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland, against harboring
Fugitive Servants. Passed 13 April, 1642.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 122.]

Whereas many persons come here in New Netherland daily, both from New England and Virginia, who frequently carry their passports under foot and have run away from their Masters, and afterwards occasion much trouble here, as appears by several instances within a short time; Therefore, to prevent all disorder, We have interdicted and forbidden, as we do hereby most expressly interdict and forbid, all our good inhabitants here, from this time henceforward, lodging any Strangers in their houses, or furnishing them more than one meal and harboring them more than one night, without first notifying the Director and having their names recorded, so that it may be known what sort of people are here, and whence they come; upon the penalty of Fifty guilders and being responsible for what the person whom they harbour may commit. Let every one be warned hereby and save himself from damage.

Thus done in Our Council and published in Fort Amsterdam. Dated as above.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland, against drawing a
Knife and inflicting a Wound therewith. Passed 11 July, 1642.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 129.]

Whereas we hear daily, God help us, of many accidents, caused for the most part by quarrels, drawing of knives and fighting, and the multitude of Taverns and low Groggeries, badly conducted, together with the favorable opportunities which all turbulent persons, Murderers and other Lawless people have for running away and consequently escaping condign punishment, wherein we would willingly make provision so as to prevent, as much as possible, all harm;

Therefore, We hereby Ordain, decree and enact, agreeably to the Ordinance made last year in Holland by the High and Mighty Lords States General, that no one shall presume to draw a knife much less to wound any person, under the penalty of fl. 50, to be paid immediately, or, in default, to work three months with the Negroes in chains; this, without any respect of persons. Let every one take heed against damage and be warned.

Thus done in Council and published. Dated as above.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland, against Defaults.
Passed 16 October, 1642.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 143.]

Whereas much loss of time occurs in Suits on the part of defendants, who for trifling reasons neglect to appear, thus leaving Default to be entered against them, which tends to bring the Court into disrepute, We, therefore Ordain, as we do hereby Ordain, that from now henceforth there shall be paid for the 1st default 6 stivers; for the 2d default 12 stivers, and for the 3d and last default, condemnation.

Thus done in Council. Dated as above.