Historic Pelham

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Dutch Authorities Decide To Station a Ship with Men Off Today's City Island on February 9, 1654 To Keep Watch on the Activities of the English

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In early 1654 the Dutch and English were at war, though most of the war was fought on the high seas. It appears that at about this time Thomas Pell was making preparations to acquire what became the Manor of Pelham from local Native Americans.

The Dutch authorities of New Amsterdam became increasingly aware of English activities in and around the waters surrounding the island we know today as City Island. On February 9, 1654, the Dutch decided to station a ship near that island with men on it to keep "watch" on the activities of the English in the area. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes a translation of the court minutes for that day with the historic reference to "Minnewits" island -- today's City Island.


City Hall, Monday P. M., February 9, 1654.

Present -- Burgomasters: Messrs. Arent van Hattem and Marten Krigier. Schepens: Poulus Leendersen vandie Grift, Willem Beeckman, and Pieter Wolfersen, together with the new Schepens Jochem Pr Kuyter and Olof Stevensen, who, after friendly greeting, took their seats with the other Schepens. [Page 157 / Page 158]

At the instance of the President Arent van Hattem an order was passed, that Jacob Steendam should deliver the cushions, made for the Board to the Court Messenger, who brought 12 cushions into Court.

Whereas Burgomasters and Schepens of this City were summoned on this day the 9th of February, 1654, to attend the Assembly of the Director General and Supreme Council of New Netherland, where the Hon ble General asked, in what manner the piracy of certain English pirates should be stopped? Which having been taken into consideration by Burgomasters and Schepens convened in Session, it is their opinion under correction, that the best means will be to station a vessel with 20 to 30 men for a certain time at and about Minnewits Island in order thus to be able to keep a watch on everything. Done in Session at the City Hall this 9 Feb., 1654.

(Signed) Arent van Hattem, Martin Krigier, P. L. vandie Grift, Wilh Beeckman, Pieter Wolfersen, Jochiem Pr Kuyter, Oloff Stevensen.

And it is resolved to send the foregoing advice to the Hon ble General.

Estimate of Expenses.

30 men at an average of 20 gl. per month . . . fl. 600

Add for provisions monthly:

20 skepels of flour . . . fl. 80
32 skepels of pease . . . fl. 128
360 lbs. of beef and pork . . . fl. 144
Liquor and other expenses . . . fl. 100

Amount per month fl. 1052"

Source: Fernow, Berthold, ed., The Records of New Amsterdam From 1653 to 1674 Anno Domini, Volume I Minutes of the Court of Burgomasters and Schepens 1653-1655, pp. 157-58 (NY, NY: The Knickerbocker Press, 1897).

It seems that the following day (February 10, 1654) the Court decided to "tax" various Dutch communities by requiring them to provide a total of 40 men to populate the ship that would watch for English "pirates". The entry for the day, in its entirety, appears immediately below.


City Hall, Tuesday P. M. February 10, 1654.

Present - Arent van Hattem, Marten Krigier, P. L. vandie Grift, Wilh. Beeckman, Pieter Wolfersen, Jochem Pr Kuyter and Oloff Stevensen.

The Court Messenger was sent, to inform his Honor the General, that the Burgomasters and Schepens were convened and that his Honor according to promise could now address them.

The Hon ble the General appeared in Court and delivered the following answer to the proposition of the Burgomasters and Schepens, to wit:

The Director General and Council consent to the advice of Burgomasters and Schepens. Dated 10th February, 1654. N. Amsterdam, N. Netherland.

(Signed) P. Stuyvesant. [Page 158 / Page 159]

Beneath was: By order of D r Gen. and Council, Corn s van Ruyven, Secretary.

Then a calculation was made in session, how to procure means to resist and prevent the piracy and how much it would cost; taxing the following places, to wit:

The Island of Manhattan for . . . 8 men
Hempstead . . . 4 men
Flushing . . . 3 men
Gravesend . . . 3 men
Middleburgh and Mespatskil . . . 3 men
Breuckelen, the Ferry and Walloon Quarter . . . 4 men
Middelwout . . . 2 men
Amesfoort . . . 2 men
Staten Island . . . 2 men
Poulus Hoeck . . . 1 man
Beverwyck . . . 4 men
Colony of Rensselaerswyck . . . 4 men

In all 40 men, whose wages and board being reckoned on an average at 40 gl. per month amount to fl. 1600 per month.

The Hon ble General proposed, that the foregoing be communicated to the Director General and Council, to learn their advice also in the matter, and that then his Honor, on the first opportunity that may offer would personally, together with 1 or 2 appointed from the Burgomasters and Schepens, consult with the friends in the before mentioned places, on this matter, so that what has been commenced with good intention may not be ill interpreted, but brought to a good issue; wherupon the Court adjourned.

Copy. Kind Friends: Whereas on this date the 10th of February, 1654, by petition presented to our Court by Johannes van Beeck, he requests, that his bans with Maria Varleth may be entered and be properly proclaimed here, and we have understood, that the same Johannes van Beeck and Marya Verleth had previously to this made proclamation of their bans through your Court at Gravesend, which (under correction) is contrary to the style and [Page 159 / Page 160] laws of our Fatherland, it is our request to your Honorable Court, in case such a circumstance should hereafter occur, that we may be informed thereof in order to prevent on one side and the other all improprieties, which we on our part engage to do in like manner, especially as it is usual, according to the custom of our Fatherland, that every one shall have three publications at the place, where his domicile is, and then he may go and be married wherever he pleases; wherein we are and remain

Your affectionate friends
(Signed) Arent van Hattem

By order of the Burgomasters and Schepens of the City of N. Amsterdam.

Jacob Kip, Secretary.

Done, N. Amsterdam in N. Netherland this 10 February 1654.

The superscription is: The Worsp l the Magistrates at Gravesend."

Source: Id., pp. 158-60.

A further entry on the matter appears in the Court Minutes dated February 19, 1654. Those minutes provide, in pertinent part, as follows:

"To the Right Honorable Director General and Supreme Council of New Netherland.

The Burgomasters and Schepens of this City with all due reverence & respect represent:

Whereas at our session on the 10th of February last the Hon ble Director General Petrus Stuyvesant being present, certain verbal propositions were submitted for the purpose of providing some means, whereby the robberies of certain English pirates might be resisted, which the Hon ble Director General at thta time engaged to make known to their Honors, the Members of the Supreme Council,

Therefore the Burgomasters nd Schepens again request to be in- [Page 165 / Page 166] formed what resolutions have been adopted on this subject by the Director General and Council as it is (with submission) our opinion, that this ought to be prosecuted in the most speedy manner. Awaiting your apostil on this petition, we remain your Honors' humble servants.

Signed by the president Arent van Hattem and further by order of the Burgomaster and Schepens of the City [of] New Amsterdam.

Jacob Kip, Secretary.

Done in Session, New Amsterdam this 19 February, 1654."

Source: Id., pp. 165-66.

Four days later the Director General responded to the request. According to the Court Minutes of February 23, 1654:

"Apostil of the Hon ble Director General and Supreme Council of New Netherland, granted on the petition presented on the 19 February, 1654, by the Burgomasters and Schepens to the Director General and Council.

The Director General has reported to the Council the verbal propositions submitted by the Burgomasters and Schepens at the conference with the said Hon ble General for preventing the robberies of the English pirates, to raise forty men at the charge of the respective colonies, villages and hamlets, which according to estimate would cost about sixteen hun- [Page 168 / Page 169] dred guilders; inasmuch as the moneys can be furnished with the common consent of the respective Towns, the Director General and Council will, in virtue of their commission proceed to make the levy. Thus done in the Assembly in New Netherland this 23 February, A° 1654.

(Signed) P. Stuyvestant.

By order of the Hon ble Director General and Supreme Council of New Netherland.

Cornelis van Ruyven, Secretary.

Apostil made as before."

Source: Id., pp. 168-69.

The 17th century records do not appear to reflect any further developments regarding the decision to send a ship filled with men to Minnewits Island.

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