Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

April 19, 1655 Dutch Protest Against Thomas Pell's Efforts To Settle Englishmen on Lands the Dutch Called VreedLandt

On April 19, 1655, the Dutch issued a protest against Thomas Pell complaining of his efforts to settle Englishmen on lands known by the Dutch as VreedLandt. It is believed that the settlement was near the head of today's Westchester Creek in the area that once was the Village of West Chester. Pell had acquired the lands as part of his massive purchase on June 27, 1654 that eventually became the Manor of Pelham. Below is a transcription of an English translation of the "Protest"


19th April 1655.

Cornelis van Tienhoven, by virtue of his commission as Fiscal for the Province of New Netherland and Attorney for its authority and jurisdiction, etc etc.

To you, Thomas Pell or whom else it may concern.

Having been directed to proceed to and upon the lands of VreedLandt, taken possession of during the time of the late Hon ble Director-General Kieft and bought from and paid for to the actual owners and proprietors, natives of this country, as the Book of Deeds and their signatures prove, I inform and warn you and all, whom it may concern, herewith, that you and your associates have not only settled upon lands, bought many years ago by the Dutch nation and occupied by the late Hon ble Director Kieft by virtue of the title deeds, but that you also occupy it by usurpation, contrary to the agreement made at Hartford and to the peace concluded between the two nations in Europe, against the will and consent of the Director-General and High Council of New-Netherland.

Therefore, I, the Fiscal, give you and all, whom it may concern, this public notice in th name, and on behalf of their Noble High: Might: the States General and the Lorde Director of the Priv. W. I. Company by the bearer hereof, Claes van Elslandt, Court Messenger, chosen and appointed to execute this errand, to warn you not to proceed with building, clearing, pasturing cattle or cutting hay or whatever else may be necessary for the cultivation of the soil upon the aforesaid purchased and long possessed lands contrary to the agreement made at Hartford and to remove within fifteen days after the service of this notice from the lands within the jurisdiction of New Netherland with your people, servants or bound slaves, furniture, cattle, implements and everything brought there by you or yours as your property, under the penalty, that if you or any of you shall be found after the date aforesaid to have acted contrarily, of being prosecuted, you and all whom it may concern, according to law. In the meantime I protest against all damage, [Page 38 / Page 39] injury, mischief and trouble, which through your actions may arise, while we declare before God and the World to be innocent thereof.

Done at Amsterdam in New Netherland on the date as above.

Whereas the present situation does not permit, that the Fiscal of N. Netherland should serve the foregoing notice and protest in person, therefore the Court Messenger, Claes van Elsland, is authorized to do it. Done at Amsterdam in N. N. date as above."

Source: Fernow, Berthold, Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York, Vol. XIII, pp. 38-39 (Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons and Company 1881).

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