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New Netherland and Beyond
New Netherland
Delaware River
Colonial New York
New York State

Historical Documents, 1624-1626

Document A
Provisional Regulations for the Colonists adopted by
the Assembly of the Nineteen of the West India Company,
March 28, 1624

Provisional conditions upon which the respective colonists have been engaged in the service of the West India Company and sent out to New Netherland, to take up their abode on the river of Prince Mauritius, or at such other places as shall be assigned to them by the Commander and his Council.


The colonists shall, in addition to observing the respective articles and instructions, during the voyage and their residence, and in changing their location, be bound to obey and to carry out without any contradiction the orders of the Company already given them or still to be given, as well as all regulations received from the said Company in regard to matters of administration and justice.


They shall within their territory practice no other form of divine worship than that of the Reformed religion as a t present practiced here in this country and thus by their Christian life and conduct seek to draw the Indians and other blind people to the knowledge of God and His Word, without however persecuting any one on account of his faith, but leaving to every one the freedom of his conscience. But if any one among them or within their jurisdiction should wantonly revile or blaspheme the name of God or of our Saviour Jesus Christ, he shall according to the circumstances be punished by the Commander and his Council.


The Commander and other officers already appointed or still to be appointed over them shall, in conformity with the instructions given them by the Company, have power to make alliances and treaties with foreign princes and potentates in that country residing near their colonies, upon such conditions shall be deemed most advantageous to the service of the Company, without paying heed in such treaties to any one's private interests. Which conditions the colonists collectively, and each of them individually, shall be holden to observe, although by so doing they should be involved in war with others, their neighbors, and even be obliged to take the field.


They shall take u their permanent residence at the place to be assigned to them by the Commander and his Council and use all diligence to fortify the same by common effort, likewise erecting in common the necessary public buildings and establishing trade relations as far as possible. And if any one should be remiss herein, and the Company or the settlement through his neglect should suffer damage, he shall be corrected and punished according to the circumstances of the case.


In all public business, be it civil, military, or judicial, they shall use the Nether-Dutch language only, the penalty for not doing so being that all public dispatches and proceedings drawn up in other languages shall be [null] and void and of no effect.


The colonists shall without paying any recognition therefor receive from the Company the costs of transportation, as well as the places and lands to be cultivated by them, which, according to the size of their families and their industry, shall be allotted to them by the Commander and his Council.


Further, whereas in the beginning all necessaries will have to be transported thither from this country, the Company shall arrange to have the colonists during the first two years provided with the necessary supplies and clothes from its storehouses, and that at a reasonable price, which the colonists who receive the supplies, if they cannot pay the amount at once, shall be holden to pay and satisfy in installments, being debited with the goods received on the Company's books, and giving receipts therefor under their hand to the receiver of the Company. In regard to which the Commander and the Commissary are ordered to take good care that nothing be neglected; also, they are to give out no goods on credit, except to those who are in need, letting no prodigals or those who neglect their property enjoy this privilege, but leaving them to bear the inconvenience resulting from their own carelessness.


The colonists shall be free to carry on and prosecute the inland trade without objection on the part of any one, on the express condition that they shall sell the goods they have purchased or collected to no one but the Company's agents, and this provisionally, until other regulations, as necessity may require, shall have been made herein.


They shall also be free to engage in all sorts of sport of fowling, hunting, and fishing, and this provisionally as above.


All minerals, newly discovered or still to be discovered mines of gold, silver, copper or any other metals, as well as of precious stones, such as diamonds, rubies, and the like, together with the pearl fishery, shall be allowed to be worked by the Company's men only.


But if any one of the colonists during his sojourn there should discover anything of the kind aforementioned, he and his heirs shall receive as a reward one-tenth part of the net proceeds of the aforesaid mines or pearl fishery, and that for the period of the first six consecutive years, to be reckoned from the day on which the Company took over and commenced to exploit the same.


With the understanding that all costs of exploitation and of the necessary tools pertaining thereto shall first be subtracted and deducted, and that as the first discoverer shall be regarded he who first reveals the same to the Commander [there], or the general Company here. And if any such discovery be made by any one and deliberately concealed, such person shall, if the fact become known, be arbitrarily punished according to the circumstances of the case - yes, even corporally.


They shall not be permitted to exercise [themselves] or to teach others any handicraft to which trade attaches, especially dyeing,2 except by special consent of the Company or its agents, upon pain, should any one act contrariwise, of being expelled as a perjurer and arbitrarily punished according to the circumstances of the case.


They shall not permit any strangers (whereby are understood all persons who are outside the jurisdiction o the Company or its commissaries) coming to their shores to do any trading, nor hold any intercourse with them whereby they in any way may learn the profits, needs, or situation of the place, on pain of being punished therefor according to the circumstances of the case.


Furthermore, the colonists shall solemnly promise upon oath to keep secret all transactions and affairs of the Company which may in any way come to their knowledge, and they shall not be at liberty to divulge the same after they [have withdrawn themselves] from the authority of the Company; [likewise, they promise that they shall at no time hereafter] associate themselves [with any but those of the Company] to come within the limits of the charter, wherever it may be.


They shall also be bound to remain at the place of their destination with their families for the space of six consecutive years, unless a change be made herein by order of the Company, but at the expiration of their bounden time, or sooner, in case of removal by order of the Directors of their honorable agents, they shall be permitted to trade or to sell their houses, planted fields, and cattle to some one else among the remaining colonists.


They shall at first plant and sow on the lands allotted to them such products and crops as the Commander and his Council shall order, without making any change therein for any private reason, on pain of being punished by the Council for any contravention thereof, according to the circumstances.


They shall take especial care, whether in trading or in other matters, faithfully to fulfill their promises to the Indians or other neighbors and not to give them any offense without cause as regards their persons, wives, or property, on pain of being rigorously punished therefor.


The Directors shall at all times have the right to transport thither as many people as they shall deem expedient.


Finally, they shall take the oath of allegiance and obedience to the High and Mighty Lords the States General and to this Company, and shall in all things comport themselves as good and loyal subjects are bound to do.


The foregoing articles having been read to the colonists going over in the ship "Nieu Nederlant," they took the oath of allegiance this 30th day of March, anno 1624. Underneath was written: Before Dr. Claes Petersz and Gharrard Schep. Was signed: D. Mostaert.

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1The Provisional Regulations for the colonists going to New Netherland were drawn up by a committee of the Amsterdam Chamber of the West India Company and ratified by the Assembly of the XIX on March 28, 1624. They are entered under that date in a volume of extracts from the Resolution Book of the Assembly of the XIX, covering the sessions held at Amsterdam from August 3, 1623, to December 24, 1624, which was received in 1872 by the Rijksarchief at The Hague from the descendants of a member of the Zeeland Chamber of the Company, and which now forms No. 1 of the records of the West India Company in the Rijksarchief. In that volume the text of the regulations is preceded by an extract from the minutes, which reads as follows: "And whereas the colonists who go to New Netherland for the Chamber of Amsterdam are to be mustered to-morrow, there is read an articulbrieff, drawn up by Messrs Albert Coenraets, Samuel Godyn and Johan de Laet (heretofore appointed thereto by the Chamber of Amsterdam), which is approved and hereby ratified, as follows." The regulations and the extract from the minutes as they appear in the copy of the Resolution Book were published in 1917 in I. N. Phelps Stokes's The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 4:55-56.
The manuscript which is published in the present volume is a contemporary, but somewhat defective and apparently unofficial, copy of a document which must have belonged to the Amsterdam Chamber, and which was probably destroyed in 1821 when, by order of the then minister of the colonies, the books and papers of the West India Company that were stored at Amsterdam, of a date prior to 1700 were sold as waste paper.
The manuscript lacks the introductory extract from the minutes giving the date of the adoption of the regulations, but in a final article, which does not appear in the record in the Rijksarchief, it contains the important statement that "The foregoing articles having been read to the colonists going over in the ship 'Niew Nederlant,' they took the oath of allegiance this 30th day of March anno 1624." This statement definitely settles the fact that the articles were drawn up for the thirty families of Walloons who, according to Nicolaes van Wassenaer, sailed on the ship "Niew Nederlant," under the command of Cornelis Jacobsen May, in 1624, and who, as far as known, were the first colonists sent out by the West India Company who made any permanent settlements in New Netherland. That the articles were intended for these colonists had heretofore been supposed, but was nevertheless somewhat uncertain from the fact that Wassenaer, in referring under date of April 1624 to the equipment of the ship "Nieu Nederlant," says that it sailed "in the beginning of March." (J. F. Jameson, Narratives of New Netherland, p. 75.) The discrepancy between this date and that on which the colonists took the oath must probably be explained by the difference in time which as a rule elapsed between the departure of a vessel from the harbor of Amsterdam and its final sailing from the island of Texel, where the colonists went on board.
It is to be noted that in the description of the present copy of the "Provisionele ordere," under No. 1795 of the auction catalogue of Frederik Muller and Company of Amsterdam, entitled Manuscrits provenant des Collections des Chevaliers van Rappard, de M. le Paseur H. A. J. Lutge d'Amsterdam, e.a., 16 et 17 juin 1910, the name of the ship, which in the document is appreviated as "nieu Nederlt," has by mistake been printed as "Nieu Verdriet." This error, combined with the fact that in the catalogue the date of the document is given as "30 mars 1624," has led to the supposition that immediately after the departure of the ship "Nieu Nederlant," there sailed another ship, called the "Nieu Verdriet" (New Sorrow), Dr. Wieder, in the abovementioned Iconography, 2:106, having even suggested that the instructions to Verhulst (printed in this volume as Document C), which are not dated, were sent by this ship. Now that the document is available and the entry in the auction catalogue is shown to be erroneous, the name "Nieu Verdriet" need not be considered further in connection with the question of the early settlement of New Netherland. (Cf. statements by Mr. Stokes in regard to the ship "Nieu Veerdriet," in the Iconography, 4:57, 63-64.
At the end of the document it is stated that the colonists took the oath of allegiance before Dr. Claes Petersz and Gharrard Schaep. Both men, therefore, were schepens of the court of Amsterdam, so that their names are readily identified.
Dr. Claes Petersz was the well-known physician Dr. Nicolaes Petersen Tulp, the central figure in Rembrandt's famous painting called The Lesson in Anatomy, which hangs in the Mauritshuis at The Hague. Dr. Tulp was from 1622 to his death, in 1674, a member of the council and at different times schepen and burgomaster of the city of Amsterdam. Hans Bontemantel says that he never called himself otherwise than "Claes Pieterss," and that "Tulp" was a nickname derived from the tulp, or tulip, which was placed over his front door. (See Hans Bontemantel, "De Regeeringe van Amsterdam, soo in't Civiel als Crimineel en Militair, " 1653-1672, edited by Dr. G. W. Kernkamp, in Historisch Genootschap te Utrecht, Werken, third series, No. 8, pp. 491-92.)
Gharrard Schaep was Dr. Gerrit Schaep, lord of Kortenhoef, a member of the city council from 1624 to his death, in 1666, schepen in 1624, and burgomaster of Amsterdam in 1637, 1641, 1644, 1648, 1652, 1657, 1658, 1661, 1664 and 1665. (See about him, Johan E. Elias, De Vroedschap van Amsterdam, I:355-56.)

2In the text of the "Provisionele ordere" published by Fr. Jessurun the word is weverijen (weaving).

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Documents relating to New Netherland 1624-1626, In The Henry E. Huntington Library, Translated and Edited by A.J.F. van Laer, ©1924, p 1-18, 255-256.

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