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Historical Documents, 1624-1626


Document C
Instructions for Willem Verhulst Director of New Netherland,
(January, 1625)

Instructions for Willem Verhulst, supercargo on the voyage to New Netherland and provisionally director of the colonists who are already in that country and are still to be transported thither, until the Company shall be pleased to establish another government there.1

First, he shall take care that divine service be held at the proper times both on board ship and on land, enable the comforter of the sick, Sebastiaen Janssz Crol,2 to perform his duties in conformity with the authorization and instructions given him by the Consistory,3 maintain him in proper respect, and see that the community there is properly served by him in the ministration of holy baptism, in reading sermons, [offering] prayers, and in visiting the sick, and that the Indians be instructed in the Christian religion out of God's Holy Word. He shall also prevent all idolatry, in order that the name of God and of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be not blasphemed therein by any one and the Lord's Sabbath be not violated, but that by the example of godliness and outward discipline on the part of the Christians the heathen may the sooner be brought to a knowledge of the same.

And in order that all wonton murder may be ovaided and prevented, he is to observe the tenor of the 37 articles of the Articulbrieff,4 and to expel from the colony and to send hither all adulterers and adulteresses, thieves, false witnesses, and useless persons among the Christians, likewise also the lazy persons who dray pay from the company, in order that they may be punished here according to their deserts.

He shall also see that no one do the Indians any harm or violence, deceive, mock, or contemn them in any way, but that in addition to good treatment they be shown honesty, faithfulness, and sincerity in all contracts, dealings, and intercourse, without being deceived by shortage of measure, weight, or number, and that throughout friendly relations with them be maintained.

He shall see that all misunderstandings and disputes among the Christians be settled by proper means, and if any one show an unruly, wanton, or disobedient spirit, without being willing to listen to admonition, he shall have such person again brought hither, with the evidence of his delinquencies, to be punished here according to the circumstances.

Further, he shall duly distribute over the places that are already occupied the families now going over, but he shall strengthen the population of the southern colony5 most, and in the distribution of the land he shall see to it that around the fort or the ramparts there be left for the use of the Company and the enlargement of the place a vacant space extending the range of a musket-shot all around, or so far as the situation may allow.

Also, that first of all a map or plan be made by pacing off or measuring [the land], in order that then the allotment may be more properly made, beginning first at one end and not granting pieces here and there in irregular fashion. Furthermore, he is to give each family as much land as they can properly cultivate, following herein as far as possible the accompanying map.6

The division having been made, he is to have each person draw his share by lot, reserving for the Company what is marked on the map with a C, to wit, 2 allotments, each 50 rods in width and 200 rods in length, lying next to and on both sides of the road, but all according to the situation of the place.

And it is to be noted that where there is no tide the dwellings shall be erected as far as possible down-stream, so that the produce may, be more easily brought down to the barns in barges.

[It is also to be noted] that all hilly, lands upon the which the sun, at noon, being in the south, shines perpendicularly are the best; that the hills lying on the east side of the rivers are the least suitable for being planted with vines or grain, but that those on the west side are the best, especially. those extending in a southerly direction. Therefore, he must diligently examine or cause to be examined the location of the lands and regions near the rivers and in connection with islands lying in the rivers take note whether by chance they, are subject to inundation by the sea, or by freshets or ice-flows, or in other ways.

He shall have Pierre, Minuyt,7 as volunteer, and others whom he deems competent thereto sail up the river as far as they can in any way do so, in order to inspect the condition of the land, supplying them with provisions and arms, as well as with some trading-goods, in case they should be able to do some bartering with the Indians on their way.

He shall carefully note all places where there is any appearance of tillable or pasture land, timber of any kind, minerals, or other things, having the length and breadth paced off and put down and having here and there holes dug to see whether the soil below is different from that on top, note being taken also of what products, timber, or grass grow there and what animals and birds are found there.

He shall likewise see that a note be made of all falls or affluent streams whereby sawmills or other mills might be operated and select some of the best that are most suitable and nearest to the dwellings and the timber that is to be sawn in them, remembering as a general principle, if it can be done without hindrance or inconvenience, that the mills and other places should be down-stream from the woods or dwellings.

He shall in all convenient places note the inlets, depths, shallows, rocks, and width of the rivers and indicate and write to us where it would be most suitable to build a fort for defense, keeping in mind that the fittest place is where the river is narrow, where it cannot be fired upon from higher ground, where large ships cannot come too close, where there is a distant view unobstructed by trees or hills, where it is possible to have water in the moat, and where there is no sand, but clay, or other firm earth.

Should the places where forts have been erected not be in fitting locations or in a proper state of defense, he shall consider well, before any more labor or money be expended upon them, whether it is not advisable to choose other and more suitable places. But if the families who are already there wish to stay there, he shall allow them to do so, looking out nevertheless for other suitable places for future settlers. And if the location of the fort up the North River should be such that the colonists by reason of the inundation of the river had difficulty in supporting themselves, then it were better to transport the said colonists to the fort on Noten Island,8 and only keep a post up there for the maintenance of the trade with the Indians. But if in the North River a still more suitable place than Noten Island should be found for a fortification and the dwelling-places of the colonists and farmers, then he must by the first opportunity inform us of what they shall there decide to do in the matter and together with pertinent drawings send us a statement of the reasons why the change is necessary.

Whereas we have received and examined a report about the condition of a certain island to be called the High Island,9 situated about 25 miles up the South River, below the first falls, we deem it expedient, unless a still more suitable place be found, to settle there all the families together with the hired farmers and the cattle that will be sent thither in the ship "Den Orangenboom"10 and the following ship,11 since the said island is in itself a level field with a fertile soil and on both sides has much suitable arable and pasture land as well as all kinds of timber, so that a large number of families could support themselves there better than on the North River.

For this purpose, at the most suitable place at the lower end of the said island, such a provisional fortification is to be built as will best protect the people and the cattle, the dimensions to be taken rather somewhat too large than too small.

In case any Indians should be living on the aforesaid island or make any claim upon it, or upon any other places that are of use to us, they must not be driven away by force or threats, but by good words be persuaded to leave, or be given something therefor to their satisfaction, or else be allowed to live among us, a contract being made thereof and signed by them in their manner, since such contracts upon other occasions may be very useful to the Company.

And for the better security of the trade and the exclusion of foreign nations, he is to consider whether it would not be practicable so to contract with the natives of the country in various districts as would make them promise us to trade with no one but those of the Company, provided that we on our part should bind ourselves to take all the skins which they could bring us upon such terms as would be considered reasonable, or at such price as we have hitherto brought them.

And whereas those tribes are very quarrelsome among themselves, suspicious and vindictive, he shall be very careful not lightly to embroil himself in their quarrels or wars, or to take sides, but to remain neutral and to pacify and reconcile the respective parties by the most suitable means.

He shall by small presents seek to draw the Indians to our service, in order to learn from them the secrets of that region and the condition of the interior, but not feed them in idleness or give in too much to their wanton demands.

He shall also as far as feasible avoid getting into any dispute with the French or English, and especially avoid all acts of violence, unless he be obliged to defend himself and those who are committed to his charge against open aggression.

But if any persons belonging to a foreign nation come there, he shall take away their commission, or at least procure a copy thereof bearing their signatures, and send it to us, keeping copies there, and if they attempt to trade with the Indians, he shall spoil the market for them by [outbidding them].

With regard to the farmers to be sent thither in the service of the Company with the cattle and the implements belonging to the Company, under special contracts made or still to be made with them, special instructions will be sent with them, of which upon their arrival they are to give a copy to the Commissary and his Council, in order that they may keep a record thereof and cause the contents thereof to be executed and observed.

Whereas by this and the following ships divers trees, vines, and all sorts of seeds are being sent over, he shall take care that the same be planted and sown in their proper season on the lands that are cultivated for the Company, distributing some at his discretion to the colonists and charging them to their account, and of each sort of fruit he shall successively send us samples.

He shall also pay special attention to see whether the grapes which are there in abundance are of good flavor and suitable for making wine or being dried as raisins. In such case, he shall have some planted and cultivated in the most suitable place where they receive the most sunshine; and if they are not suitable for such purposes, he shall try by experiments whether by transplanting or other means they may not be improved or at least be used for making brandywine, vinegar, or verjuice, and if not, he shall advise us accordingly in order that we may send all kinds of vines thither. He is also to see whether he can procure some vines from Spain, the Canary Islands, or other places.

And with regard to the aniseed and cuminseed which is sent over to make a trial with, he shall sow the same at different times and places, observing at what time and in which place it grows best and yields most. If the families have any grain, hay, flax, hemp, or other things in stock which the Company can use and stands in need of such stock is to be bought of them at a proper price and to be credited to their account; and if they, their wives or children, are fitted to be employed in any particular service of the Company, they shall be so employed with their consent at a proper salary, to be placed to their account as aforesaid.

For the collection of the general products belonging to the Company, he shall order suitable barns and storage-places [built], in order that all needless waste may be prevented. Forthwith and hereafter regularly every year he shall send a roll of the names of all the colonists, their wives and children, as well as of the farmers and all those who are in the service of the Company, whether on land or water, together with their accounts of what is due to or by them.

And whereas Joost van den Boogaert12 requests permission to come over on a visit, he shall allow him to do so, but first have him draw up the account of his entire administration, both of the trading-goods sent with Jan Brouwer13 and Cornelis Jacobsz Mey14 and those that came over for Pieter Courten,15 and advise us distinctly of whatever fault he may have to find with the said account.

He shall make a neat account and inventory of all the remaining trading-goods that were formerly sent over as well as of those now going over, also of the common implements already sent and still to be sent by the Company, both in one river and the other, and give an accurate account as to whom he delivered them, where they were bartered, and what was received for them in exchange, likewise of provisions, sloops, ammunition, and other things, sending us a copy thereof, in order that it may be entered in our counter-book here.

And in order that the Company may the more speedily be relieved of the heavy expenses of supporting the colonists,he is to pay especial attention to idlers, leaving them to suffer want if they are unwilling to do their duty, so that they may thereby be compelled to devote themselves more to work.

And whereas he, Willem Verhulst, is to have his usual place of residence on the South River,16 the skippers being present there are joined unto him as councilors, with whom he shall deliberate and act upon all matters of importance.

He, Willem van der Hulst, shall also from time to time, as occasion may require, betake himself to the North River to regulate matters there, leaving there in the North River in his absence Adriaen Jorissen Thienpont17 as vice director and Daniel van Cryeckenbeeck18 as sub-commissary of trading-goods. These, with the skippers present and Franchoys Fezard19 and Johan Lampo,20 are to serve as councilors, with whom he, Van der Hulst, when present, shall deliberate and act upon everything as above, but in his absence the aforesaid Adriaen Jorissen Thienpont shall preside. All this provisionally, until the Company shall otherwise provide herein.

He shall endeavor to increase the trade in skins and other articles that are obtained in the country, and at the place of trading with the Indians have a cabin erected so that the goods may be stored therein, and at a suitable time he shall send one or more sloops thither to carry on trade, taking for that purpose such persons as are most competent and as are able to write, in order that they keep a record thereof. He shall not neglect to send as a sample some deerskins and other skins that are prepared by the Indians, also such things as the Indians make of them according to their ingenuity.

He shall give the colonists and other free persons full permission to trade in the interior and to catch the animals with the skins, but they must deliver up the said skins and goods to the Company at the price for which we obtain them at the trading-place from the Indians, and he shall not permit them, by selling the skins [to others], to make the Company pay a higher price for them.

He shall at every opportunity send over to the Company the trading accounts and the goods received in exchange, advising us what goods are most in demand and what merchandise should in the future be sent over, not permitting any one, whoever he may be, to send [for?] any trading-goods to the fatherland outside the Company, but compelling him to take them from the Company at the price they are traded for with the Indians, advising us of all the details and circumstances in regard to what is hereinbefore mentioned.

He is to take good care that the stock of hatchets, mattocks,21 knives, and other hardware does not rust, but is kept clean, and that other goods do not spoil through neglect.

He is first of all to have a temporary water- or windmill22 for sawing lumber put up by Franchoys Fezard, giving him such assistance as he may need.

He shall see that meanwhile the other carpenters are distributed to cut timber to erect a barn for the cattle and dwellings for the farmers in the service of the Company, it being for the present sufficient if they are tight and dry, without ornament, in order that no time may be lost.

He shall see that the timber be cut where it stands ready and nearest to hand, and the best first, which can yield most, in order to lighten the expense.

He is especially to look out for elm trees, from which to saw lumber for gunrests and gun-carriages, five inches thick and ten to thirteen feet long, and if it cannot be sawn so quickly, to send over the logs, and further to load the vessels as far as possible with all kinds of lumber, in order not to have them return empty, even if they should, for want of better, be laden with axe-handles and firewood. Nor shall he omit, if there be plenty of hazelnuts, to send some over, and if there be walnuts, to see whether some oil cannot be pressed out of them.

He is also to look out for a suitable place in which ships, sloops, or barges could be laid down or be repaired or caulked.

He shall distribute all the people who are not in the public service of the Company to do such work as they are best fitted to and have most knowledge of, and if he has too many or too few people of any kind, he must advise us, but not let any one go idle. He is to distribute the provisions among the sailors, colonists, and others in the service of the Company according to the ration list given him, reckoning children pro rata, and he shall not allow any one not desiring some particular article to take something else in its stead, as he would thereby have certain victuals left on his hands and be short of others. And he shall each month place to the account of the colonists and others what they have had, charging those who are at their own expense as to board such prices as are indicated in the accompanying schedule.

With regard to the mess and the table for the persons in our service, he, Verhulst, and his family, the comforter of the sick, and those who belong to the Council, and such others as he shall deem fit, shall sit at one table, and rations shall be dealt out to the farmers and their families and other persons, until other arrangements therein shall be made by the Company.

He shall see to it that the stock of powder and lead, guns, and other arms be well preserved, so as to be ready for use in time of need, and also to prevent, accidents from happening therewith.

He shall have Pierre Minuyt and others whom he shall deem fit investigate what minerals and crystals there may be both on the North River and on the South River, and to that end have the mountains in which such are supposed to be inspected all around, causing holes to be dug, first at the foot, then half-way up, and finally at the top of the mountains, in order to see what they contain, sending us several samples of each mineral that looks promising, and likewise of dyes, drugs, gums, herbs, plants, trees, and flowers.

He shall cause diligent inquiry to be made among the Indians whether there are no sulphur or-salt mines, or whether any of the Indians have anything that looks like metal, such as gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, etc., asking them where they got it. Also, question them whether farther in the interior there are no lakes or other great waters, and what notion they among themselves have thereof, and when our cattle arrive, ask them whether they have ever seen or heard of any animals like them.

He shall further note whether in the sea, in the bays, or in the entrances to the rivers there are no suitable fish to be caught that could be dried or salted, writing us about it and sending over some of each sort, dried or salted. Also, whether no oysters are caught there in which pearls might be found, and whether there are no suitable places for making salt-pans.

Finally, he shall take care to have charcoal burned so as to be able to dispense with the smith's coal, and also find out whether there is any smith's coal found in the mountains.

Whoever may find anything, whether on land or water, or on the beach, shall be holden to bring it to him, to the councilors present, or on shipboard, on pain of forfeiting his wages.

All officers and sailors shall in yonder country be holden to help cut or saw timber for the benefit and service of the Company, and this willingly, without complaint or objection, and whoever refuses to do so shall forfeit one month's pay.

In case he and the Council shall deem it advisable and necessary, for weighty reasons, to alter any article or articles of these instructions, they shall after mature deliberation, but not without great and pregnant reasons, be permitted to do so.

And it is our intention that these instructions shall in no wise be taken as restricting or annulling the preceding ones,23 but that those shall in every part remain intact and be observed and obeyed wherever and in so far as they are not contrary to these.


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Continue to - Explanatory and Biographical Notes for Document C






Documents relating to New Netherland 1624-1626, In The Henry E. Huntington Library, Translated and Edited by A.J.F. van Laer, ©1924, p 35-79.







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