Laws and ordinances of New Netherland, 1638-1674/1640

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Of the Director and Council of New Netherland, against Trespassing.
Passed 15 March, 1640.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 58.]

Whereas many complaints are daily made to us of the damage and loss done to the Cornfields by the Goats and Hogs, against which Fences and Rails are of no avail, which tends to the injury of the cultivation of Corn and to the Company's damage; And whereas throughout the world the custom is for those who own Cattle to herd or take care of them, so in case any Goats or Hogs are found in the Cornfields, there shall be paid for the first time for each Goat or Hog, ten stivers; for the second time one guilder, and for the third time 40 stivers, and in addition the Farmer's damage shall be made good before the Goats are released.

Thus done in our Council and published in Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland, this 15th of March, Anno 1640.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland, against Trespasses
on Indian Maize Lands. Passed 9th May, 1640.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 60.]

Whereas many complaints are daily made by the Indians that their Corn hills are trampled under foot and uprooted by Hogs and other Cattle, and consequently great damage is done when the Maize is growing, whence it will follow that the Maize will be dear at the time of the Harvest and our good people suffer want, the Indians be incited to remove and to entertain feelings of hatred against our Nation, and thus through our perverseness, combine the one with the other, which we are most expressly ordered by the Honble Lords Directors to prevent; Wherefore, having duly weighed the matter, We the Director and Council of New Netherland, hereby charge and command all our Inhabitants, whose lands lie contiguous to Indian plantations, to take due care of their Horses, Cows, Hogs, Goats and Sheep, and prevent them, by fences or otherwise, damaging the corn of the Indians, on pain of making good the damage, and of incurring the penalty, payable to the Fiscal, according to the Edict published on the 15th March last. Let every one be warned and take heed against loss.

Thus done and ordained on the Island of Manhattan, in Fort Amsterdam, the 9th May, 1640.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland, providing for the
Arming and mustering of the Militia in case of danger. Passed
9 May, 1640.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 61.]

The Honble Director and Council have considered it advisable to ordain that the Inhabitants residing at and around Fort Amsterdam, of what state, quality or condition soever they be, shall each provide himself with a good gun and keep the same in good repair and at all times ready and in order; and as they live at a distance the one from the other, every warned person is placed under his Corporal in order that in time of danger he may appear at his post with his gun. Should it happen, which God forbid, that any mischief occur either from enemies or traitors at night, the people will be notified by the discharge of three cannon fired in quick succession; and if by day, means will be found to give warning to every one, who is commanded thereupon to repair instantly to his Corporal at the place appointed and then to adopt such measures as the exigency of the case shall require, on pain of being fined Fifty guilders.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland, against Fugitives
from Service, and providing for the proper drawing up of Legal
Instruments. Passed 9 August, 1640.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 73.]

Whereas many Servants daily run away from their Masters, whereby the latter are put to great inconvenience and expense; the Corn and Tobacco rot in the field and the whole Harvest is at a stand still, which tends to the serious injury of this country, to their Masters' ruin and to bring the magistracy into contempt, We, therefore, command all farm and house Servants faithfully to serve out their time with their Masters according to their contracts and in no manner to run away, and if they have any thing against their Masters, to come to Us and make appliration to be heard in due form of Law, on pain of being punished and of making good all losses and damages of their Masters and serving double the time they may lose.

We do, also, forbid all inhabitants of New Netherland to harbor or feed any of these Fugitive Servants under the penalty of Fifty guilders, for the benefit ⅓ for the Informer; ⅓ for the New Church and ⅓ for the Fiscal.

And Whereas many abuses daily occur in consequence of the writing of Promissory notes and other instruments by Private persons, We do therefore declare from this date annulled all Obligations and other Instruments which shall not be drawn up by the Secretary here or by other person appointed here unto.