Laws and ordinances of New Netherland, 1638-1674/1649

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Of the Director and Council of New Netherland fixing the duty on
New Netherland Tobacco. Passed 21 April, 1649.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 436]

The Honble Director General and Council of New Netherland,

To all those who shall see these Presents, or hear them read, Greeting, make known;

That the Honble Directors of the Incorporated West India Company, in order to assist and encourage this their dependency of New Netherland above all others, have, upon our earnest Remonstrance to them respecting the heavy duties on Tobacco, notified and made known to us by their last despatch, dated the 29 January, that henceforth no higher nor greater duty shall be imposed on New Netherland Tobacco cultivated and raised within the limits of their jurisdiction and this government entrusted to Us, than on the poorest Tobacco of the Caribbean Islands, to wit: Forty-five stivers ~ 100, whereby the aforesaid Honble Directors, our Patroons not only signify and manifest their favorable disposition towards this their dependency, seeing that this Tobacco is much more valuable and dearer than the other, but also evince their good intention and hope through this privilege to attract others and to encourage Population, Agriculture and husbandry, which we have thought necessary to publish and make known to the end that those who have already settled under, or should still wish to come into our government during this favorable season may have a knowledge thereof. We, therefore, command that this adopted Resolution of our Lords Patroons be published and affixed not only here at the Manhattans, but also in all other Colonies and Villages within this Jurisdiction, to the end that every one may know how to govern himself to his advantage in his Farming and Agriculture.

Thus done the 21 April, A° 1649, New Amsterdam.[1]


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland further providing for
Brazil and the proper drawing up of Legal Instruments. Passed 8 May,

[N. Y. Col. MSS. IV. 437.]

Whereas it is daily observed that, contrary to the Law and Ordinance of the Lords States General, and the Edict published 12 June, 1646 by the late Director General and Council, grave mistakes are committed in the writing and drawing up of evidences by private persons who are neither qualified thereto by Oath, nor called thereto by authority, whereby frequently many things are written to the advantage of those who have the papers drawn up, interspersed with sinister, obscure and dubious words, oftentimes contrary to the meaning of the witnesses, to the great prejudice and damage of the parties, and in order to prevent this result, dangerous in a Republic, and to strengthen the knowledge of the truth necessary in all Courts, Therefore we annul and declare invalid, as we do hereby annul and declare invalid all Affidavits, Interrogatories, or other Instruments serving as evidence, which are written by private Individuals and not confirmed by oath before the Court here or other Magistrates, as we do also from now henceforth annul all Affidavits which will not be written by the Secretary or other authorized person, likewise all Contracts, Testaments, Agreements and other important documents, unless by necessity it should be impossible to call on such person.

Thus on the 8th May 1649 in Council it is resolved that the above Ordinance published on the 12 June 1646, should be renewed.

The minute is signed by P. Stuyvesant, H. van Dyck, fiscal, La Montagne, Briant Nuton, A. Keyser. Mr. Dincklage refused to sign.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland to enforce the Law
respecting Weights and Measures. Passed 19 July, 1649.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. IV. 443]

The Honble Director General and Council of New Netherland daily observing that their Ordinances heretofore made and enacted respecting Weights and Measures, is not duly complied with by some, but greatly violated by the good Inhabitants, Therefore the Honble Director General and Council notify all wholesale and retail Traders, also Bakers and all others who sell any thing by the Ell, Measure or Weight, to use no other Ell, Weight nor Measure in delivering or receiving, than the legal Amsterdam Ell, Weight and Measure, and to the end that every thing may be done in order, the Honble Director & Council will hereby give notice to all Inhabitants and Traders to procure and provide themselves between this date and the first of August next, with the legal Amsterdam Ell, Weight and Measure. Meanwhile whoever has at the present time any weights shall bring them into the Company's warehouse in the Fort, to be there weighed and measured, so that in future no subject may suffer loss thereby. And in order that every thing may be carefully attended to and followed with greater zeal by all and everyone, the Fiscal Hendrick van Dyck is hereby commanded and authorized after the expiration of the first of August next, to inspect all Ells, Weights and Measures as often as he shall think proper, and whosoever shall then be found not to use the legal Ell, Weight or Measure, shall pay such fine as is thereto prescribed by law in our Fatherland. Let each be warned hereby and take heed against loss.

Thus done in Council the 17 July ; resumed and posted the 19 July 1649. New Amsterdam in New Netherland.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland to prevent frauds on
respecting Weights and Measures. Passed 8 November, 1649.

[N. Y. Colonial MSS. XVI. 18]

The Director General and Council of New Netherland,

To all those who shall see these Presents or hear them read, Greeting.

Whereas we see and observe by experience that the Ordinances heretofore enacted against the Frauds and Snuggling which are committed in regard to the Beer which is sold by the Tapsters and Tavernkeepers, also that notwithstanding our previous Ordinance some few Inhabitants still follow the business of tapping and brewing at the same time, whereby not only the customary Excise (pacht) is defrauded, but also other Tapsters, who follow the business of tapping only, are injured in their trade, which being desirous to remedy in conformity with the public law of Fatherland, We hereby Ordain and command that no Inhabitants who make a business of Brewing shall, out of meal times, tap, sell or give away by the small measure any Beer, Wine or Liquor, not even to Boarders who they pretend go to eat with them; under which guise, we remark, no trifling fraud is committed; to prevent both the one and the other, We again Ordain that henceforth no Beer nor Wine shall be removed from the Breweries, Cellars or Storehouses, or placed and put into the houses of the Tapsters unless they have first entered the same at the Secretary's Office, and the Carters or Porters thereof have taken out a permit therefor signed by the chief clerk of the Secretary, which shall be shown and exhibited, on the same day that it is taken out and signed, to our Fiscal Hendrick van Dyck or, in his absence, to his substitute; notifying, at the same time, all Brewers not to deliver any Beer they may sell, nor to let Carters or Beer-carriers or Tapsters take it away, unless a permit therefor be previously exhibited to them, on pain of forfeiting the Beer and Wine and all appurtenances whether Horses, Sleighs or any other vehicles wherewith the same are removed, and an arbitrary correction of such as lend a hand thereto.

Thus done and after reconsideration enacted, in Our Council in Fort Amsterdam, this 8 November, A° 1649.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland prohibiting the
exportation of Grain and Bread from New Netherland. Passed 8
November, 1649.

[New Amsterdam Records.]

The Director General and Council of New Netherland having remarked the scarcity of the crops of the past year, and also that there is great complaint among the good Inhabitants that there is already scarcely enough of Bread to be had of the Bakers for themselves and their children, and it is to be feared, if there be not a seasonable interposition, that there will be a further deficiency of Breadcorn and a greater advance in price.

Therefore, the Director and Council do by these presents Ordain that from this time forth until further Order and a larger supply of grain, no Brewer shall be permitted to malt or brew any Wheat on pain of forfeiting the wheat so malted, and an arbitrary penalty. And they do, furthermore, by these presents interdict and forbid the Exportation out of the Province of New Netherland of any Wheat, Rye, or baked Bread until, after a more exact estimate of the quantity of grain and yearly consumption, our necessary consent to such shall be given.

Thus done and approved in Our session this 8th day of November, A. D. 1649.

(Signed,) P. Stuyvesant, L. Van Dincklagen, H. Van Dijke, La Montague, Brian Newton.


Of the Director and Council of New Netherland regulating the Baking
and Sale of Bread. Passed 8 November, 1649.

[N. Y. Col. MSS. XIV. 20.]

The Director General and Council of New Netherland,

To all those who see, read, or hear these Presents read, make known.

That upon the manifold complaints made to us by a number of our Inhabitants both as to the poorness of the coarse Bread and the light weight of the White Bread with which the good people cannot be provided by the Bakers for the common currency, in consequence of the Indians, or Natives of this country buying the Bread, without examination and inquiry as to the weight or price, from the Bakers for stringed Wampum, which the majority of the Inhabitants cannot do for want of stringed Wampum, whence it consequently follows that, through a lust and desire of great profit, the Indians and barbarous Natives are provided with the best, in preference to the Christian Nation; the Director and Council aforesaid, being desirous to provide therefor in the most proper manner, according to their ability and existing circumstances, to the best advantage of the Commonalty, do hereby Ordain and command, that, from now henceforward until our further Resolution, no Bakers shall be at liberty to bake or sell to the Natives or Christians any fine bolted or white Bread, or Cakes for presents, on pain of forfeiting all the baked white Bread and Fifty Carolus guilders in addition, to be applied according to circumstances, provided nevertheless that no Inhabitants are hereby prevented baking or having baked for their own household, or for grand entertainments, such quantity of white Bread as occasion may require; for their Honors of the Council will hereby only interdict and forbid, as they do hereby interdict and forbid the useless consumption and general sale of white Bread and Cakes as Well to the Inhabitants as Natives, so as thereby to prevent and put a stop, by this means, to what is committed in regard to the Bread generally on sale.

And in order that neither the good Inhabitants nor the Natives be herein incommoded by over and short weight, the aforesaid Director and Council Ordain, that the Bakers who henceforth make a business of baking Bread for sale, shall manufacture it either of pure Wheat or of pure Eye, as these come from the Mill, in loaves of eight, four and two pounds weight, at such price as shall be fixed by their Honors of the Court from time to time, according to the value and rate of purchase of the grain.

Thus done, resumed and enacted in Our Council, this 8 November, 1649


  1. The dispatch mentioned in the above Ordinance is dated 27th January, 1649, and the alteration in the Duty on Tobacco was made at the suggestion of Director Stuyvesant as appears by the language of the letter and for the following reasons:
    “Your complaint of the heavy Tax on Tobacco grown in the country there induces us, in the hope of encouraging the People to cultivate it, hereby to consent, that the Tobacco produced in our conquests there, shall pay no more than the Tobacco coming from the Carribean islands to wit, 45 stivers ~ hundred, whence you can well conclude that our object is to benefit those our possessions beyond all ether places, especially as this Tobacco is much better than any ether product coming from the Islands. We have been able to arrive at this resolution the sooner, because we understand the Swedes employ all means to stimulate their subjects to cultivate Tobacco in those parts [viz., on the Delaware], and have, therefore, bestowed large privileges on them, and have even granted an exclusive right that no person shall import Tobacco into that Kingdom without their consent on pain of confiscation of all the property; with the view that even no other wares may be imported into Sweden than what this Corporation [the Swedish W. I. Company] should grow in the Swedish Virginias. Under this privilege some great men, it is said, are concealed, namely the Lord Chancellor of the Kingdom [Oxensteirn] and somebody else residing in this country on the part of that crown, whose name, for reasons, we do not mention.” N. Y. Col. MSS. XI. 14.
    On the 4 April, 1652, the Directors at Amsterdam notified Director Stuyvesant that they had abolished the Duty of 5 per cent, on Tobacco, the growth of New Netherland. Ibid, 53. Tr.