New Netherland and Beyond
Historical Documents, 1624-1626
Further Instructions for Director Willem Verhulst
and the Council of New Netherland
April 22, 1625
* * * * *
|Further instructions drawn up by the Directors of the Amsterdam Chamber of the West India Company for Willem van der
Hulst, commissary and for the members of the Council residing on the rivers, islands, and the mainland of New Netherland, sent over by Gerrit Fongersz,1 sub-commissary, and Gerrit
Isbrantsz, skipper of the yacht "de Macreel," according to which the said Van der Hulst and those of the Council, as well as the common farmers and all others who have heretofore proceeded thither,
or who are now proceeding thither on the ships "Het Macreel," "Paert," "Koe," and "Schaep,"2 will have to conduct themselves in all obedience, fidelity, and diligence in taking up their
abode on the South or North river, or at such place as may be most advantageous to the Company and the management of the colony, with the understanding that neither the former instructions already
given or still to be given to Verhulst and to the colonists, nor even the Articles, shall hereby be rendered null and void in any particular, but that these all together shall remain intact and in
full force, except in so far as they may hereby be modified or amended, in which case we desire that these, our last, shall be obeyed. The
secretary3 is ordered to enter at once in a public register all instructions now sent or hereafter to follow and to give the members of the Council
free admission and access thereto, as well as to all public registers and papers, in order that they may be informed of our intentions. Likewise, he is to copy all commissions and whatever concerns
the public administration, which commissions every officer upon his arrival shall to that end deliver to him before he be allowed to enter upon his official duties, and, in order that a better record
may be made of the preceding documents, duplicates of the instructions for the colonists and others previously issued by us are sent herewith.
They shall before all else with all fidelity and zeal attend to the duties of the respective offices for which they are sent out by the Company, and, the officers and
head-farmers setting a good example to others, take good care that each and all diligently perform their allotted work in the manner most advantageous to the Company, earnestly reprimanding the
delinquents for their negligence and reporting important cases of default or neglect to the Council, in order that the matter may be judged and punishment, even corporal, meted out according to the
The officers and head-farmers now going over shall as soon as with God's help they have arrived in the North River', before they discharge any cargo or allow any cattle to be
landed, summon Willem Verhulst,4 our commissary, or Adriaen Jorissz Thienpont and Daniel van Cryeckenbeeck, or those who in the event of their decease occupy their places, in order by
common advice to choose the most suitable place for their dwellings, pastures, and cultivated fields, taking care that they choose the most suitable, healthful, and largest before others, it being
especially advisable that the choice were made near the entrance. of the river, preferably at a spot where some shallows secure it against approach, to which end we recommend to them in the first
place the west side, about where the runners pass from the North to the South river,5 then the hook of the Manattes, north of Noten Island, or such other spot as upon inspection they may
find most advantageous, taking care that the place chosen is well provided with water and with timber for fuel and building, and that the rivers thereabout are full of fish.
After the choice has been made, the Commissary or the person who occupies his place shall, with the advice of the Council, consisting of Willem van der Hulst, Adriaen Jorissz
Thienpont, Joost van den Boogaert, Daniel van Cryeckenbeeck, Gerrit Fongersz, Pierre Minuyt, Cryn Fredericxsz, the skippers who come there from time to time, Johan Lampo, colonist, and Franchoys
Fezard--which persons or such of them as are present we appoint general councilors, in order that from among them may be chosen councilors required in particular places, saving the order made in our
previous instructions--immediately divide the people in the most expedient manner, to the end that each one may be in his [proper place and the] work may be done and the needs be supplied by the
common labor and diligence of all.
In putting the cattle on board, care is to be taken that this is done in the most suitable. manner, forcing the animals as little as possible. Also, they are not to be landed
all together, but gradually, one lot two or three days after another. Furthermore, care must be taken that they do not overeat when put out to, grass, even if they should have to be tended for a few
days and be fed grass and hay by hand. Once landed, care must be taken that they are provided with proper water or that wells are dug for watering them.
In case any destructive animals should be thereabout, every effort shall be made to destroy them or to drive them away by shooting, beating of drums, or other means. Meanwhile,
the cattle, in order that they be not injured, shall be guarded by two or three herdsmen and shut up in a pen at night until they are safe, or the destructive animals are exterminated and the place
is freed from such dangers.
No one shall be permitted to let any Indians or natives of the country ride on the Company's horses, much less to teach them to ride or to raise horses, on pain of forfeiting
his property and wages and of being in addition, together with the. person who has learned to do so, expelled from and forever abandoned by the colony.
The cattle, horses, and other animals shall remain undivided during the voyage and in that country be distributed by lot, under the direction of the Council, to the
head-farmers, to wit., Walich Jacobsz,6 Jacob Lourensz,7 Mattheus de Reus,8 Wolffaert Gerritsz,9 and Jan Ides,10 with which drawing of lots each
one shall have to be content, it being his duty to care for the allotted animals to the best of his ability, without disputing about the matter in the least, on pain of being punished therefor by
judgment [of the Council]. To each head-farmer and his family shall be allotted four horses and four cows to be selected from the best that are being sent over, and the rest and the others belonging
to the Company shall be dealt with as explained hereafter.
No manner of cattle sent thither from this country, nor yet any that may have been bred there, whether cows, oxen, bulls, horses, calves, sheep, hogs, lambs, or pigs, shall be
slaughtered or stuck by any one, be they higher or minor officers, head-farmers, or any other persons, to serve them for food, but the same shall, each according to its kind, be properly used in
their labors and be made to breed to supply the daily want, under penalty, if any one should be found to have acted contrary hereto, of being for the first offense holden' to make fourfold
restitution of such animal, or paying the equivalent of four times its value, for the benefit of the Company, of which the Fiscal11 (who for the present and until further order from the
Company shall be chosen and appointed by the Council from among the most competent there, and who for the performance of his duties and the arrest of the delinquent shall be given a helper) shall
receive a third part for his seizure; and upon committing such an offense for the second time, the delinquent shall, in addition to forfeiting the whole of his earned wages, inclusive of tithes,
etc., be punished by the Council as a common thief and be kept in prison until by the first ship returning to the fatherland he can be sent back as a rogue, together with a pertinent account of his
delinquencies and the sentence passed upon him.
Provided, however, that by advice of the Council it shall be permissible to slaughter the yearlings and rams that are in excess, whereof one-tenth shall be kept by the person
who raised them or the head-farmer according to the terms of his contract for his own benefit, and the remaining nine-tenths shall for the benefit of the Company be disposed of at a reasonable price
to be fixed by the Council to those who desire any part thereof, but without such [payment no one, except sick or destitute persons, shall receive [any meat] thereof Of the poultry and other fowls
one-third shall be placed at the disposal of the Council, who shall take special care that they are not driven away or rendered wild by shooting.
The animals that die of disease, or are devoured by wild beasts, or that perish through natural and unavoidable accidents, shall not be skinned or buried until notice has been
given to the superior officer or his representative in the colony and the animals have been exhibited to him by the person to whose, care and supervision they were entrusted by lot, which officer
shall, then make a careful note of the cause of death and the nature of the animal, or cause a record thereof to be kept by the secretary, if there be one; and the same shall also apply to all
implements and tools in general belonging to the Company.
None of the horses shall be employed otherwise than for farming and breeding purposes, unless the Company, in the opinion of the Council, should require their services for
hauling logs or other materials for the fort or dwellings, or for any other purpose, which decision every head-farmer and every one else is enjoined promptly to obey without demur, on pain of being
punished as a refractory person and of being nevertheless held to perform and carry out his allotted task and duty. The Council on their part, however, are admonished to use such discretion in this
matter that without favor or injustice to any one they shall as far as possible observe a uniform basis herein, without imposing too much on one person and exempting another, but properly
distributing the burden over all according to their respective capacity.
By every ship that returns to the fatherland there is to be sent us by the Council, together with a pertinent account of the colony and of what is going on there, an explicit
report about the animals, their number, increase, and condition; also, how much pasture land there is for additional cattle, in order that the Company may take proper measures for keeping up and
increasing the stock.
To that end we deem it advisable that the ship "den Orangenboom"12 should stay there until about the end of August, unless the Council should judge it to be
advantageous to the Company to have it stay longer or leave sooner, shipping in it the goods obtained by barter and the useless people, and that the yacht t'Macreeltgen"13 should remain,
there, in order to sail to and fro from one river to the other, and, when not required for that purpose, to stay near the place where the farmers shall settle and the fort is to be built, for greater
security, as also the "Orangenboom" until the end of August.
In case there cannot immediately be found a suitable place, abandoned by the Indians or unoccupied, at least 800 or 1000 morgens in extent, fit for sowing and pasture, we do not
consider it advisable to construct so strong a fortification or so large an outer ditch as are called for by the specifications which the surveyor has with him, but desire that then only a temporary
settlement shall be made. Meanwhile, Commissary Verhulst, assisted by the surveyor, Cryn Fredericxsz--who is to make sketches and take rough measurements of the places that deserve chief
consideration--and with such further assistance as they may need, shall investigate which is the most suitable place, abandoned or unoccupied, on either river, and then settle there with all the
cattle and build the necessary fortification. And finding none but those that are occupied by the Indians, they shall see whether they cannot, either in return for trading-goods or by means of some
amicable agreement, induce them to give up ownership and possession to us, without however forcing them thereto in the least or taking possession by craft or fraud, lest we call down the wrath of God
upon our unrighteous beginnings, the Company intending in no wise to make war or hostile attacks upon any one, except the Spaniards and their allies, and others who are our declared
And whereas there are many wars and enmities between the natives there, our settlers shall in no wise interfere therein, but so far as in any way possible maintain peace with
one and all. But if any tribe were on our account to have war imposed upon it or to be otherwise disturbed, they shall by friendly intercession on both sides seek to settle the trouble, and, if
unable to accomplish this, then use such means either of assistance or otherwise as our circumstances will admit, above all taking care to avoid or to refuse to make efforts the success of which they
have reason to regard as doubtful.
Should the English and French visit them there, they shall not allow themselves to be drawn into any dispute nor yet themselves, give cause for any trouble with these our allies
and friends; but should they be improperly and unreasonably treated by them, they shall seek to obtain satisfaction by the most suitable means that nature affords each person for his own defense.
However, if the matter permit it, and if it can be done without danger, they shall await our orders therein.
If any of our people suffer violence or be wronged by any Indian or native either in his person or with regard to the property entrusted to him, they shall notify the tribe to
whom such Indian belongs of the wrong done and the person who committed it, demanding that he be punished therefor and that our people be notified of the punishment [and advising them] that in
default thereof we shall, for our protection and the maintenance of justice, seek to get hold of the delinquent and have him punished by the Council according to his deserts and as will be right and
If, on the other hand, any one on our side commits any wrong against the Indians or the natives, he shall be punished as the circumstances of his crime require, in order that
the Indians may see that both in civil and criminal cases we do justice without regard to persons, whether the matter concerns our own people alone, a stranger and our own, strangers alone living
under our jurisdiction, or even our allies; all of which is most earnestly enjoined and commended to the oath and honor of the Council, on pain, if they fail to do so, of themselves receiving
corporal punishment therefor, as persons who have violated their oath.
No remission of sentence or pardon for offense shall be granted except provisionally and subject to our approval, and the delinquent shall not be purged or acquitted of his
offense until after the Company has approved such remission or pardon here and notified the Council thereof in writing.
In the administration of justice, in matters concerning marriages, the settlement of estates, and contracts, the ordinances and customs of Holland and Zeeland and the common
written law qualifying them shall be observed and obeyed in the first place; also, namely in cases of intestate estates, the placard issued by their Great Mightinesses the States of Holland in the
year 1587, some copies of which are sent to him herewith.
They shall not be permitted to pass any new laws or ordinances or to sanction any new custom, unless such have previously been sent over to us, together with the reasons why
under their conditions they consider their adoption advisable, whereupon, the same having been examined by the Assembly of XIX, they shall follow our orders and instructions as regards their
confirmation or rejection.
All wills, marriage settlements, contracts, and other instruments upon which any one might base a claim to title or mortgage of real estate shall be duly entered by the
secretary in a public register and be executed by at least two members of the Council who together with the secretary shall sign the same, in default whereof such wills, marriage settlements and
other instruments shall be held to be null and void and not entitle one to the enjoyment of any right or claim that might be based on them there or in this country, it being understood that promises
and debts made in this country before the colonist's departure and whereof notice was given to the Directors or any one of them shall there be given preference over all other lawful debts.
In the matter of weights and measures the Amsterdam standard (some samples of which are sent by this fleet) shall be used by our people and by those under jurisdiction and every
endeavor shall be made to get the natives to conform thereto also, and any one acting contrary thereto shall be punished as a defrauder according to the circumstances of the case and the judgment of
the Council; and in order that this article may be better observed, all who wish to use any weights or measures for retailing or purchasing any goods shall be bound to have them marked or sealed each
year by the Council or their commissaries, on pain, if they fail to do so after the expiration of one year, of being for some time deprived by the Council from carrying on any trade or business, or
punished otherwise, according as the circumstances of the case may require.
Having secured a suitable place and taking up their abode, they shall in the first place by the common effort of themselves and others in the Company's service who may be found
thereabout make a plan and stake off the boundaries of the plot where they wish to locate their houses and lots, taking care that on one side thereof there runs a river, following herein the
particular instructions and orders issued by us, which we intend to have observed as far as possible, and not permitting any one to construct anything special that another has not, not even excluding
from this rule the Commissary, whose house in front on the street must be in line with the others, in order not to break up the general arrangement, but who may build out somewhat farther in the
All implements that are required for farming or cattle-raising, and which by reason of their scarcity or quality cannotbe distributed so that every one may have his own, the
Council shall first for so far as they may be needed let people have the use of by lot, ordering them afterwards to be passed successively from one person to the other, provided that the user who
refuses to comply with this order shall, in addition to making good the loss to the Company and his fellow colonist, be punished therefor according to the decision, of the Council and nevertheless be
held immediately to turn over to his successor the implements retained by him, whatever their nature may be.
The remaining implements, whereof each head-farmer can have one, be they carts, plows, or other things, shall upon their arrival be drawn for by lot before the Council and be
distributed to every one accordingly, and with such allotment every one shall be holden to be content.
No one shall be permitted to cast aside any implement, whether it be old, worn out, or broken, and demand a new one in its place from our overseers, without having first shown
the same to our Council, who shall decide whether he is to use it any longer, and whose orders in such case he is to obey, or shall order the overseers to give him a new implement in its stead, in
which case a record of such grant shall be made by the secretary.
One and all are most strongly enjoined and charged, in addition to performing their ordinary work, to make faithful inquiry whether near their dwelling-place there is no
suitable location for planting vineyards, for making salt-pans, for burning charcoal, for burning brick for building houses, for making staves, or for planting tobacco; also, what fisheries there are
in the vicinity, or any other resources that might be developed in that country, advising us thereof at the first opportunity.
The Council shall inform us from time to time regarding each one's conduct, in order that we may be guided thereby in recalling or continuing persons there.
Whosoever shall contract marriage on sea or land shall immediately be discharged from the Company's service, cease. to draw monthly wages, and from that moment be regarded as a
free man and colonist, enjoying the privileges granted to others by the former instructions, unless he, being competent, should with his family wish to enter the Company's service and employ, in
which case the Council shall be permitted to engage him at reasonable wages and distribute and employ him and his family in the same way as other farm laborers.
The head-farmers' men and others who have served out their bounden and stipulated time and who have faithfully acquitted themselves therein shall at the expiration of the said
term of service be permitted to stay, and from that time forward also be declared free men and colonists, enjoying the freedom granted to colonists by our previous instructions, unless they again
enter the Company's service.
Lastly, one and all, in addition to obeying these instructions, articles, ordinances, and directions already issued by us or that may hereafter be sent over, shall promise the
Council upon their solemn oath that they shall, each in the matters entrusted to his care, look after the Company's interests, manage their farm, exercise their trade and perform their labor with the
greatest profit and least expense, warn the Council of all loss reported to them or to be feared, and conduct themselves in all things as faithful servants and obedient subjects are bound to do,
which oath shall be taken before any distribution or allotment of lands is made, with the understanding that those who violate the same shall be punished as perjurers and breakers of their sworn
Thus done by the Directors of the West India Company at the Chamber of Amsterdam, this 22d of April, anno 1625.
And was signed:
Kiliaen van Rensselaer.16
Continue to - Explanatory and Biographical Notes for Document D
Documents relating to New Netherland 1624-1626, In The Henry E. Huntington Library, Translated and Edited by A.J.F. van Laer, ©1924, p 81-129.