Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions
|Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions (1629)
, translated by Arnold Johan Ferdinand Van Laer
Freedoms and Exemptions for the patroons, masters or private persons who will plant any colonies in, and send cattle to New Netherland, drawn up for the benefit of the General West India Company in New Netherland and for the profit of the patroons, masters and private persons.
Such participants of the said Company as may be inclined to plant any colonies 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, pay for board and passage, going and coming, six stivers a day (such as desire to mess in the cabin to pay 12 stivers) and agree to give assistance like others, in cases offensive and defensive. And if any ships be taken from the enemy, they shall receive pro rata their portions with the ship's company, each according to his quality, that is to say, the colonists messing outside the cabin shall be rated with the sailors and those messing in the cabin with those of the Company's servants messing at table who receive the lowest wages.
However, in this matter, those persons shall have the preference who shall first have declared their intentions and applied to the Company.
All such shall be acknowledged patroons of New Netherland as shall agree to plant there a colony of 50 souls, upwards of 15 years old, within the space of four years after they have given notice to any Chamber of the Company here or to the commander or council there, one fourth part within one year and the remainder within three years after the sending of the first, making together four years, to the full number of 50 persons, to be shipped hence, on pain, in case of wilful neglect, of being deprived of the privileges obtained. But they are warned that the Company reserves to itself the island of the Manhattes.
From the very hour they make known the situation of the places where they propose to settle colonies, they shall have the preference over all others to the free ownership of such lands as they shall have chosen: but in case the location should afterwards not please them or they should find themselves deceived in the selection of the land, they may, after memorializing the commander and council there, choose another place.
The patroons, by their agents, may, at the place where they wish to settle their colonies, [fix] their limits [so that the colony shall] extend four leagues along the coast or one side of a navigable river, or two leagues along both sides of a river, and as far inland as the situation of the occupants will permit; with the understanding that the Company retains for itself the ownership of the lands lying and remaining between the limits of the colonies, to dispose thereof when and at such time as it shall think proper, but no one else 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 shall order otherwise; always observing that the first occupants are not to be prejudiced in the right they have obtained, except in so far as the service of the Company should require it, either for the building of fortifications or something of that sort, and that (outside of this) the [patroon of the] first settled colony shall retain the command of each bay, river or island, under the supreme jurisdiction of their High Mightinesses the States General and the Company; but the later colonies on the same river or island may appoint one or more councilors to assist him, that in consultation they may look after the interests of the colonies on the river or island.
They shall forever own and possess and hold from the Company as a perpetual fief of inheritance, all the land lying within the aforesaid limits, together with the fruits, plants, minerals, rivers and springs thereof, and the high, middle and low jurisdiction, rights of fishing, fowling and grinding, to the exclusion of all others, said fief to be renewed in case of demise by doing homage to the Company and paying 20 guilders per colony within a year and six weeks, either to the Chambers here or to the commander there, each to the Chamber whence the colony was originally sent out; however no fishing or fowling shall be carried on by any one 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 authority to appoint officers and magistrates there and to use such tides in his colony as he sees fit according to the quality of the persons.
There shall likewise be granted to all patroons who shall desire the same, Venia Testandi, or liberty to dispose of the aforesaid fiefs by will.
The patroons may also to their profit use all lands, rivers and woods lying contiguous to them, until such time as they are taken possession of by this Company, other patroons, or private persons.
Those who shall send over these colonies, shall furnish them with proper instructions in order that they may be ruled and governed conformably to the rule of government, both as to administration and justice, made, or to be made by the Assembly of the Nineteen, which [instructions] they must first lay before the directors of the respective Chambers.
The patroons and colonists shall be privileged to send all their people and effects thither, in ships belonging to the Company, provided they take the oath and pay the Company for bringing over the people according to the first article, and for freight of the goods five per cent cash of the cost of the goods here; without including herein, however, cattle and agricultural implements, which the Company is to carry over free, if there is room in its ships, provided that the patroons, at their own expense, fit up places for the cattle and furnish everything necessary for their support.
In case it should not suit the Company to send any ships, or there should be no room in the ships sailing thither, then the said patroons. after having communicated their intentions and obtained consent from the Company in writing, may send their own ships or yachts thither, provided that, going and coming, they depart not from their ordinary course, give security to the Company for the same and take on board an assistant at the expense of the patroons as to his board and of the Company as to his monthly wages, on pain, if doing contrary hereto, of forfeiting all right and title they have obtained to the colony.
Inasmuch as it is the intention of the Company to people the island of the Manhattes first, this island shall provisionally also be the staple port for all products and wares that are found on the North River and lands thereabouts, before they are allowed to be sent elsewhere, excepting such as are, from their nature, unnecessary there and such as can not without great loss to their owners be brought there; in this case the owners thereof must give timely notice in writing of the difficulty attending the same to the Company here, or the commander and council there, that such measures may be taken as the situation of affairs shall be found to require.
All the patroons of colonies in New Netherlands and colonists living on the island of the Manhattes shall be at liberty to sail and traffic along the entire coast from w:Florida to Terra Neuf, provided that they do first return with all such goods as they shall get in trade to the island of the Manhattes and pay five per cent duty to the Company, in order that if possible, after proper inventory of the goods in the ship, the same may thence be sent hither. And if it should so happen that they could not return, whether from contrary currents or otherwise, the said goods may be brought nowhere but to this country, in order that they may be unladen and inventoried with the knowledge of the directors at the place where they may arrive and the aforesaid duty of five per cent paid to the Company here, on pain, if they do otherwise, of forfeiture of their goods obtained, or the true value thereof.
In case the ships of the patroons, in going or coming or in sailing along the coast from Florida to Terra Neuf and no further, within [the limits of] our charter should conquer any prizes from the enemy, they must bring them, or cause them to be brought, to the Chamber of the place from which they sailed in order that their honors may have the benefit thereof; the Company shall keep the one third part thereof and the remaining two thirds shall belong to them in consideration of the expense and risk at which they have been, all according to the orders of the Company.
It shall also be permitted the aforesaid patroons, all along the coast of New Netherland and places circumjacent, to trade their goods, products of that country, for all sorts of merchandise that may be had there, except beavers, otters, minks and all sorts of peltry, which trade alone the Company reserves to itself. But permission for even this trade is granted at places where the Company has no agent, on the condition that such traders must bring all the peltry they may be able to secure to the island of the Manhattes, if it is in any way practicable, and there deliver them to the director, to be by him sent hither with the ships and goods; or, if they should come here without having done so, then to unload them with due notice to the Company and proper inventory, that they may pay to the Company one guilder for each merchantable beaver and otter skin; the cost, insurance and all other expenses to remain at the charge of the patroons or owners.
All raw materials which the colonists of the patroons shall have obtained there, such as pitch, tar, potash, timber, grain, fish, salt, limestone and the like, shall be conveyed in the Company's ships at the rate of 18 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 10 lasts make a hundred. And, in case of lack of ships or of room in the ships, they may send it over in their own ships at their own cost and enjoy in this country such freedoms and benefits as have been granted to the Company; but in either case they must pay, over and above the duty of five per cent, 18 guilders for each hundred of salt that is carried over in the Company's ships.
For all goods not mentioned in the foregoing article and which are not carried by the last there shall be paid for freight one daelder for each hundred pounds weight; and for wines, brandies, verjuice and vinegar, there shall be paid 18 guilders per cask.
The Company promises the colonists of the patroons not to lay any duties, tolls, excise, imposts or any other contributions upon them for the space of 10 years; and after the expiration of the said 10 years, at the highest, such dues [only] as the goods pay here at present.
They will not take from the service of the patroons any of their colonists, either man or woman, son or daughter, manservant or maidservant; and, though any of these should desire it they will not receive them, much less permit them to leave their patroons and enter into the service of another, except on written consent obtained previously from their patroons and this for and during so many years as they are bound to their patroons; after the expiration whereof, the patroons shall be at liberty to bring hither such colonists as will not continue in their service and then only to set them free. And if any colonist runs away to another patroon, or, contrary to his contract, leaves his service, we promise to do everything in our power to deliver the same into the hands of his patroon or commis that he may be prosecuted there according to the customs of this country, as occasion may require.
From all judgments given by the courts of the patroons above 50 guilders, there shall be appeal to the Company's commander and council in New Netherland.
And as to private persons who on their own account, or others who in the service of their masters here in this country shall go thither and settle as freemen in smaller numbers than the patroons, they may with the approbation of the director and council there, choose and take possession of as much land as they can properly cultivate and hold the same in full ownership either for themselves or for their masters.
They shall also have rights of hunting, as well by water as by land, in common with others in public woods and rivers and exelusively within the limits of their colonies, according to the orders of the director and council.
Whosoever, whether colonists of the patroons for their patroons, or free men for themselves, or other private persons for their masters, shall find any shores, bays or other places suitable for fisheries or the making of salt pans may take possession thereof and work them as their own absolute property to the exelusion of all others. The patroons of colonists are granted permission also to send ships along the coast of New Netherland on the cod fishery, and with the catch to go directly to Italy or other neutral countries, provided they pay to the Company in such cases a duty of six guilders per last; and if they come to this country with their lading, they shall be free, but they shall not, under pretext of this consent or [leave] from the Company, carry any other goods to Italy on pain of peremptory punishment, it remaining at the option of the Company to put a supercargo on board each ship as in the eleventh article.
In case any of the colonists, by his industry and diligence should discover any minerals, precious stones, crystals, marbles or the like, or any pearl fishery, the same shall be and remain the property of the patroon or patroons of such colony, provided the discoverer be given such premium as the patroon shall beforehand stipulate with his colonists by contract. And the patroons shall be exempt from the payment of any duty to the Company for the term of eight years, and for freight merely shall pay two per cent; and after the aforesaid eight years, for duty and freight, one eighth part of what the same may be worth in this country.
The Company will take all the colonists, free men as well as those that are in service, under its protection and help to defend them against all domestic and foreign attacks and violence, with the forces it has there, as much as lies in its power.
Whosoever shall settle any colonies out of the limits of Manhattes Island must satisfy the Indians of that place for the land and may enlarge the limits of their colonies if they settle a proportionate number of colonists thereon.
The patroons and colonists shall in particular endeavor as quickly as possible to find some means whereby they may support a minister and a 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.
The colonies that shall be established on the respective rivers or islands (that is to say, each river or island for itself), may appoint an agent, who shall give the commander and council information about that district and further matters before the council relating to his colony; of which agents one shall be changed every two years; and all colonies must, at least once in every 12 months, send an exact report of their colony and of the lands thereabout to the commander and council there.
The colonists shall not be permitted to make any woolen, linen or cotton cloth, nor to weave any other stuffs there, on pain of being banished and peremptorily punished as oath breakers.
The Company will endeavor to supply the colonists with as many blacks as it possibly can, on the conditions hereafter to be made, without however being bound to do so to a greater extent or for a longer time than it shall see fit.
The Company promises to finish the fort on the island of the Manhattes, and to put it in a posture of defense without delay. And to have these Freedoms and Exemptions approved and confirmed by their High Mightinesses the Lords States General.
FINIS. AT AMSTELREDAM.
Printed by Theunis Jacobsz. Anno 1631.
These notes are taken verbatim from the source of this document, which is a translation of the original charter. See source listed below.
- The first translation of the Freedoms and Exemptions, made by Abraham Lott, jr, in 1762, appeared in Moulton, History of New York, 1826, pt 2, p. 389-98, and was reprinted in Dunlap, History of New York, vol. 2, app. H, and in N. Y. Historical Society Collections, ser. 2, 1:370–77. With slight changes, the same translation has appeared in O'Callaghan's History of New Netherland, 1:112–20; Doc. rel. to Col. Hist. N. Y., 8:553–57; Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland, p. l–10; MacDonald's Select Charters, p. 43–50; and Index to the Public Records of the County of Albany, 1630–1804, Albany 1902, pref. p. 1xiii–1xv. The present translation is revised from that printed by O'Callaghan. from which it will be found to differ materially.
- The Dutch of the first part of this article is defective. Literally translated, it reads: And shall be acknowledged as patroons all such who within the space of four years after they shall declare themselves to any Chamber of the Company here or to the commander or council there that they agree to plant there a colony of 50 souls, upwards of 15 years old.
- A supercargo; see art. XXIII.
- Hundred; an old measure for coarse salt, equal to 248 hectoliters, about 704 bushels.
- Smaller number than that required by a patroon by art. III.
- Note in manuscript: Passed June 7, 1629.
- Van Laer, A. J. F. (translator) (1908). Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts. Albany: University of the State of New York, 137–153 (odd pages only; the original Dutch text is on the even pages).
|This is a translation and has a separate copyright status from the original text. The license for the translation applies to this edition only.|