New Netherland and Beyond
Immigrants, First Settlers
Petition of Jesse de Forest, et al.
Petition of the Walloons and French to Sir Dudley Carleton,
February 5, 1622
Translated from the French
My Lord the Ambassador of the Most Serene King
of Great Britain is most humbly supplicated to
advise and reply to us on the following articles.
I. Firstly, will his Majesty to pleased to permit fifty or sixty families, as well Walloons as French, all of the reformed religion, to settle in Virginia, a country under his obedience, and will he
be pleased to protect and defend them from and against all, and maintain them in their religion.
II. And as said families may consist of nearly three hundred persons, they would also wish to take with them a quantity of cattle as well for purposes of husbandry as for their support, and would
therefore require more than on ship; would not his Majesty then accommodate them with one, supplied and equipped with cannon and other arms, on board of which they could make their voyage with
whatever they might themselves be able to furnish, return in search of commodities for the places conceded by his said Majesty and at the same time export those of the country.
III. When arrived in said country, would he not please permit them to select a spot fit for their settlement, from the places not yet cultivated by those whom his said Majesty hath been pleased to
IV. Might they not erect a town for their security in said selected places, provide it with necessary fortifications, elect therein a Governor ∓ Magistrates for the administration both of police
and justice under the fundamental laws which it shall please his said Majesty to establish in said countries.
V. Would his said Majesty please to furnish cannon and ammunition for the preservation of said place, ∓ grant them, in case of necessity, the right to make powder, run bullets and cast cannon
under his said Majesty's arms and escutcheon.
VI. Would he not grant them a banlieu or territory of eight English miles all round, i.e., sixteen miles in diameter, which they might cultivate as fields, meadows, vineyards and in other ways; which
territory they should hold from his said Majesty, either conjointly or severally, in such fealty as his said Majesty may deem reasonable, without any other person being able to reside there unless by
taking a patent (lettre de haillette) of the land therein contained, in which would be reserved Inferior Seigniorial Rights; and wether those amongst them who could live as nobles would not be
permitted to declare themselves such.
VII. Whether they might not hunt in said countries all game whether furred or leathered, fish in the seas and rivers, cut trees of lofty and other growth beth for navigation and other purposes
according to their pleasure; in fine, make use of every thing under and above ground at their pleasure and will, (royalties excepted) and trade in all with those permitted them.
Which privileges would extend solely to the said families and their's, without any new comers being able to avail themselves of them; which means, that they wold concede to them according to and not
beyond their power, were his said Majesty not to concede to them anew.
And as they understood that his said Majesty hath established a public warehouse in London, in which and not elsewhere are to be unloaded the merchandizers coming from said countries, and considering
that it is only reasonable that those who by their labour and industry have procured for the public the enjoyment of this country, should receive the first fruits thereof, they will submit to the
constitutions established there, for that purpose, which for their better observance shall be communicated to them.
Under which conditions and privileges they would promise fealty and obedience such as faithful and obedient subjects owe their King and Sovereign Lord, submitting themselves, with all their power, to
the laws generally established in said countries.
My lord Ambassador will, if he please, give information on the preceding; likewise if it would be his pleasure to expedite said privilege in due form as soon as possible, in consequence of the
shortness of time to collect whatever is necessary form now to March, which is the convenient season for embarking. This doing he will oblige his servants to pray God for the realization of his holy
designs and for health and long life.
(signed) Jose de Forest
Documents Relative to the Colonial History of New York, John R. Broadhead, 1853, London Documents I, pg 9-10.