Laws and ordinances of New Netherland, 1638-1674/1644


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland, emancipating certain
Negro Slaves therein mentioned. Passed 25 February, 1644.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 183.]

We William Kieft and Council of New Netherland having considered the petition of the Negroes named Paulo Angola, Big Manuel, Little Manuel, Manuel de Gerrit de Reus, Simon Congo, Anthony Portugis, Gracia, Peter Santomee, Jan Francisco, Little Anthony, Jan Fort Orange, who have served the Company 18 a 19 years, to be liberated from their servitude, and set at liberty, especially as they have been many years in the service of the Honble West India Company here, and have been long since promised their Freedom; also, that they are burthened with many children so that it is impossible for them to support their wives and children, as they have been accustomed to do, if they must continue in the Company’s service; Therefore, We the Director and Council do release, for the term of their natural lives, the above named and their Wives from Slavery, hereby setting them free and at liberty, on the same footing as other Free people here in New Netherland, where they shall be able to earn their livelihood by Agriculture, on the land shewn and granted to them, on condition that they, the abovenamed Negroes, shall be bound to pay for the freedom they receive, each man for himself annually, as long as he lives, to the West India Company, or its Deputy here, thirty skepels of Maize, or Wheat, Pease or Beans, and one Fat hog, valued at twenty guilders, which thirty skepels and the hog they, the Negroes, each for himself, promises to pay annually, beginning from the date hereof, on pain, if any one of them shall fail to pay the yearly tribute, he shall forfeit his freedom and return back into the said Company’s slavery. With express condition, that their children at present born or yet to be born, shall be bound and obligated to serve the Honble West India Company as Slaves; Likewise that the abovenamed men shall be obliged to serve the Honble West India Company here, by water or on land, where their services are required, on receiving fair wages from the Company.

Done 25 February, 1644, in Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland, for the Construction
of a public Inclosure on the Island of Manhattan. Passed 31 March, 1644.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 186.]

Whereas the Indians, our enemies, daily commit much damage, both to men and cattle, and it is to be apprehended that all the remaining stock which will be driven out will be destroyed by them, and that the lives of many Christians will be lost who daily would go out to look the cattle up, It is, therefore, decreed by the Director and Council that there shall be constructed a Fence, Palisade, or Clearing, beginning from the Great Bouwery to Emanuel’s plantation, and every one who owns cattle and shall desire to have them pastured within this clearing, is warned to repair thither with tools on next Monday morning, being the 4th of April, at seven o’clock, in order to assist in constructing the said Fence, and in default thereof, he shall be deprived of the privilege of pasturing his cattle within said inclosure. Let every one take notice hereof, and communicate it to his neighbor.

Thus published and posted on the day aforesaid.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland, against depositing
Ashes, or committing any nuisance within Fort Amsterdam. Passed 7 June, 1644.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 191.]

The Honble Director General and Council of New Netherland having observed that Soldiers and others, residing in Fort Amsterdam, deposit ashes and other filth within the Fort. We, therefore, make known unto all and every one that from now henceforward, Ashes and other dirt shall be conveyed outside the Fort and that no one shall make water within the Fort, and if any one be caught by the sentinel in the act, he shall pay to him or the Provost three stivers for each offence, and if he refuse to pay, the sentinel or Provost shall be empowered to levy execution on the offenders.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland for Levying an Excise
on Liquors and Beavers. Passed 21 June, 1644.

[Hol. Doc. III. 130.]

Whereas the general War which we have been forced to wage against the surrounding Indians hath obliged us, in order to preserve the Country, to employ an extraordinary number of Soldiers, who must necessarily be paid, as well as other heavy expenses caused by the War; to accomplish which we have spared none of the available means of the Honble West India Company, but have, in addition, been obliged to raise as much money as we could obtain on Bills of exchange drawn on the Honble Directors; and Whereas, We are now devoid of all means, and despair of immediately receiving any assistance from Holland, in this our necessity; Therefore We are constrained to find out some plan to pay the Soldiers, or else We must dismiss them, which according to all appearances, will lead to the utter ruin of the country, especially as the Harvest is at hand whereby people must live and fodder be procured for the remaining cattle; for neither grain nor hay can be cut without Soldiers. These matters being duly considered, and all things being duly weighed, with the advice of the Eight Men chosen by the Commonalty, no better nor more suitable means can be found in the premises, than to impose some Duties on those articles from which the good inhabitants will experience least inconvenience, as the scarcity of money is sufficiently general.

Therefore We have enacted and Ordained, and do hereby enact and Ordain, that there shall be paid on each half barrel of Beer tapt by the Tavern Keepers, two Guilders, one-half payable by the Brewer and one-half by the Tapster; the Burgher who does not retail it, to pay half as much; on each quart of Spanish Wine and Brandy, four Stivers; French Wine, two Stivers, to be paid by the Tapsters; on each merchantable Beaver, purchased within our limits, and brought here to the Fort, one guilder; the three-quarters and halves in proportion. All on pain of forfeiture of the goods, to be recovered by the Officer or Collector to be thereunto appointed; one-third for the Informer, one-third for the Officer and the remainder for the Honble Company. All this provisionally, until the good God grant us Peace, or We receive sufficient succor from Holland.

Ady 21 June, Aº 1644, in New Netherland.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland for Further levying
an Excise on Beavers and Beer. Passed 4 August, 1644.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 198.]

Whereas by this War which We are obliged to wage and still carry on against the Indians, We find ourselves wholly without goods and effects, not knowing of any means to feed or to maintain the Soldiers; and Whereas a goodly number of Soldiers have been sent to our assistance from Curacao, whom, indeed, we might well have excused ourselves from accepting, were it not that the necessity of the Country demanded their aid, and the Commonalty insisted on it; Therefore it is deemed adviseable to retain a large number of them here, and as it is impossible for the Director to provide them with Clothing, the Store being entirely empty, the Winter at hand, and as nothing can be effected with naked Men, who, on the contrary are a heavy burthen on us, no other means are, therefore, found available than to impose some Excise on Goods wherein those deal who only attend to their business whilst others suffer most serious losses.

Wherefore it is Ordained provisionally (until succour is obtained from Holland) that each Merchantable Beaver being at, or coming here to the Fort, shall pay fifteen stivers once for all. And in order to prevent all frauds, all the Beavers on which the duty is paid, shall be marked with the Company’s mark by the Officer thereunto appointed, and such Beavers as shall be discovered, three days after the publication hereof, to be unmarked, shall be confiscated. When they are exported, a certificate will be given to the Merchant that the Duty on them has been paid to the Company.

Also, that from now henceforward there shall be paid on each tun of Beer, three guilders, payable by the Brewer, on condition that he shall be allowed to sell his beer at fl.22 to the Tavern Keeper, and the Tavern Keeper again at nine stivers for two quarts (de vaen).

And all the Brewers shall be bound to inform the Receiver how many tuns of Beer they have brewed each time, before it is removed from the premises.

Thus done by the Honble Director, Johannes La Montange, the Fiscal, Capt. William Cornelissen, Bastiaen Crol, and Capt. Jan de Fries, and published the day and year aforesaid.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland against Harboring
certain persons. Passed 25 August, 1644.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 200.]

The Director and Council of New Netherland make known to all persons that they shall not harbor nor give any food to Huybert Jansen and Michiel Christoffelsen on pain of forfeiting One hundred guilders, and the aforesaid persons are summoned to make their appearance within four and twenty hours to prove their innocence. Ady 25 August, 1644.


Granted by the Director and Council of New Netherland to the Town
of Hempstead. Passed 16 November, 1644.

[N. Y. Deed Book III. 100.]

Know all men whom these may any wayes concerne, That Wee, William Kieft, Esqr Governor Genall of the Province called the New Netherlands, with the Councell of State there established, by Vertue of a Commission under the hand and Seale of the High and Mighty Lords, the Estates Generall, of the united Belgick Provinces, and from his Highnesse, Fredrick Hendrick, Prince of Orange, and the Right Honoble Lords, the Lords Bewint Hebbers of the west India Company, Have given and graunted, and by vertue of these prsents, Wee do give and graunt unto Robert Fordham, John Stickland, John Ogden, John Garman, John Laurence and Jonas Wood, with their Heires, Executors, Administrators Successors or Associates, or any they shall joyne in associacon with them, a certaine quantity of Land, with all the Havens, Harbors Rivers, Creekes, Woodland, Marshes, and all other Appurtenances there unto belonging, lying and being upon, and about a certaine place, called The Great Plaines on Long Island, from the East River to the South Sea, and from a certaine Harbor now comonly called and koowne by ye name of Hempsteed Bay, and so westward as farr as Mathew Garretson’s Bay, to begin at the head of the said two Bayes, and so to run in direct Lines, that there may bee the same Latitude in breath on the South side as on the North, for them the said Patentees, Actually, really, and perpetually to Enjoy, in as large and ample manner as their own free Land of Inheritance, and as farre Eastward, in case the said Patentees and their Associates shall procure One hundred ffamelyes to settle downe wth in the said Limitts, five years after the date hereof;

Giving and Graunting, And by Vertue of these Prsents, wee do give and graunt unto the said Patentees and their Associates, with their Heires and Successors full Power and Authority, upon the said Land to Build a Towne or Townes with snch necessary ffortifications as to them shall seem expedient, with Temple or Temples, and to use & Exercize the reformed Religion, which they professe, with the Ecclesiasticall Discipline there unto belonging;

Likewise giving and graunting, and by vertue of these prsents wee do give and graunt, to the said Patentees, their Associates, Heires and Successors full Power and Authority to Erect a Body Politique, or Civill Combinacōn, amongst themselves, and to nominate certaine Magistrates, one or more, under the number of Eight, of the Ablest, discreetest, approved honest men, and him, or them, annually to present to ye Governor of this Province, for the time being, for him the said, the Governor Genall for the time being, to Elect and Establish them, for the Execucōn of Governmt amongst them, as well Civill, Politicall as Juridicall, with full Power and Authority for them, the said Magistrate, or Magistrates, to call a Court, or Courts, so often as they shall thinke expedient, and to hold Pleas in all Cases, as Criminall as Civill, and to make an Officer under them to keepe a Record of their proceedings, with Power likewise for them, the said Magistrate, or Magistrates, with the consent of their associates or ffree Inhabitants, to make and Establish Civill Ordinances amongst themselves, Likewwise to make an officer of Justice under them for ye Execucōn of their warrants, precepts and injunctions; Likewise to Examine upon Oath, or by way of Interrogatories, all witnesses, concerning matters depending before them, and to give the first Sentence for the deprivacōn of Life, Limbe, Stigmatizing or Burne marking of any Malefactor, if they, in their Consciences, shall adjudge them worthy, and to cause the Execution of the said sentence, if the party so condemned maketh not their Appeale to the Chiefe Court, most commonly holden weekly in the ffort Amsterdam; In which Cases of deprivation of Life, Limbe, Member, Stigmatizing or Burne marking, the party so condemned, shall have free Liberty, of his or her Appeale to our Court as aforesaid, And bee thether conveyed, by Order of the Magistrate or Magistrates, for the time being, of the Towne of Hempsteed; And their Magistrate, or Magistrates, shall have Power to sitt in our said Court, and to Vote in such Causes;

Likewise giving and graunting, And by vertue of these presents, wee do give and graunt, to the above said Patentees, their Associates, Heires and Successors full Power and Authority absolutely to determine without appeale, all Actions as well for Debt, Trespasse or ffine, not exceeding ffifty Holland Guildrs and to Arrest the Body or Goods of any that shall (in the Penalty of the said Summe) refuse to stand to their Award, But in causes exceeding the said Sume, prties have likewise Liberty of Appeale to our Court as aforesaid;

Wee do likewise give and graunt unto the above said Patentees, their Associates, Heires and Successors to use and exercize the free Liberty of Hunting, Hawking, ffishing and ffowling within the abovesaid Limits, And to use and exercize all manner of Commerce, according as the Inhabitants of the Province may, or can do, by Vertue of the Priviledges graunted to them, induing all and singular the said Patentees, their associates, heires and Successors wth all and singular the immunityes and Priviledges graunted to the Inhabitants of this Province, or hereafter to bee graunted, as if they were natives of the united Provinces;

ffurther given and graunting to the said Patentees, their Associates, Heires aud Successors That in case they cannot procure One hundred ffamilyes to settle down within the abovesaid Limitts, within the abovesaid time of five yeares, to have and Enjoy in as ample manner, sufficient Land Ratum pro Rato, the like quantity of Land, according to the number of ffamilycs they shall procure, with all the Priviledges above written;

Likewise binding my selfe and Successors for and in the behalfe of the High and mighty Lords, the Estates Generall of the united Belgick Provinces his Highnesse, ffrederick Hendrick, Prince of Orange, and the Right Honoble Lords, the Lords Bewint Hebbers of the west India Company, and their Successors that in case the Title of propriety, to the said Land, shall bee controverted by any other Prince or State, to make all damages that may thereby accrew unto them, Always Provided the said Patentees, their Heires, Successors and Associates, shall reverently respect the abovenamed High and Mighty Lords, the Estates Generall of the united Belgick Provinces, his Highnesse, ffrederick Hendricke, Prince of Orange and the Right Honoble the Lords Bewint Hebbers of the west India Company, and their Successors for their Superior Lords and Patrons, so long as they shall Inhabit in the Jurisdiction of the said Province, And at the Expiration of ten yeares, to begin from the day the first generall Peace with the Indyans shall bee concluded on, to pay or cause to bee paid to an officer there unto deputed by the Governor of this Province for the time being, the tenth part of all the Revenue that shall arise by the Ground manured wth the Plough, or Howe, in case it bee demanded, to bee paid to the said Officer, in the ffield, before it bee Housed, Gardens or Orchards, not exceeding one Hollands Acre, being excepted;

And in case any of the said Patentees, their Associates, Heires and Succesosrs shall onely improve their Stock in grasing or breeding of Cattle, then the Party so doing shall at the end of the aforesaid ten yeares, Pay, or cause to be paid, to an Officer there unto deputed as aforesaid, such reasonable satisfaction in Butter or Cheese, as hee and the said Officer shall Agree unto, with the advice of the Magistrate or Magistrates of ye said place for the time being; injoyning likewise, the Patentees, their Associates, Heires and Successors in the dating of all Publique Instruments, to use the New Stile, with the Weights and Measures of the place.

Given under my Hand and Seale of this Province, this 16th of November, 1644, Stilo novo.

By order of the Governor and Councell,