Thomas Pell Accompanies Delegation of Dutch from New Haven to Hartford in October, 1663
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In October, 1663, the Dutch sent a delegation from New Netherland to Hartford to deliver letters demanding that the English abide by the terms of the Treaty of Hartford signed in 1650. That treaty, generally speaking, was intended to set an agreed boundary between lands controlled by the Dutch as part of New Netherland and lands controlled by the English as part of New England. In the meantime, in 1654 Thomas Pell acquired from local Native Americans a vast swath of land within the area that the Dutch claimed was rightfully theirs under the terms of the 1650 Treaty of Hartford.
Thomas Pell, of course, had a substantial, vested, personal interest in the outcome of the meeting between the Dutch delegation and representatives of the Assembly in Hartford. The delegations discussed whether Pell's lands and settlements on Long Island would be under the control and jurisdiction of Hartford or New Netherland. Pell actually accompanied the Dutch delegates from New Haven to Hartford as the group traveled to present letters to legislative leaders of the English colony.
A member of the Dutch delegation maintained a journal of the trip. That journal was translated and published in the mid-19th century. The journal notes that Pell traveled from New Haven with the Dutch delegation to Hartford for the negotiations. The journal is thereafter silent regarding any participation, if any, by Pell in those negotiations. However, Pell must have remained in Hartford during the entirety of the 11-day session. Moreover, journal entries certainly provide addtional strong evidence that in acquiring and arranging settlement of his lands, Pell acted -- at least in part -- at the behest of English colonial leaders. Indeed, the English proposal to the Dutch was that the all lands south of Stamford to the settlement of Westchester would be controlled by Connecticut. This encompassed Pell's lands south to Westchester, the settlement that he helped found in late 1654.
"Journal kept by Cornelis van Ruyven, Burgomaster Cortlandt and John Laurence, Delegates from New Netherland to the General Assembly at Hartford, in New England, in the month of October, 1663.
[From the Original, in the New-York Colonial Manuscripts, XV, BB, in the Secretary of State's Office, Albany.]
1663; 15th October, being Monday.
We departed, with the rising of the sun, in Dirck Smith's sloop. Though the wind was contrary, we arrived with that tide at Hog's Island, and, as in consequence of the strong ebb we could not make much progress by rowing, we cast anchor, went on shore, while the crew took in some ballast. When the ebb was passed we weighed anchor, passed Hellgate at low water, and arrived, by laveering and rowing, near Minnewits Island [today's City Island], where we stopt.
16th We weighed anchor before day-break; the wind remaining contrary, stopt during the tide, near Oyster bay. In the afternoon, the wind being somewhat more favorable, we discovered Stratford point, but the wind shifting again and the tide being gone, we cast anchor.
17th In the morning, before day-break, we again set sail, the wind ahead; however, by force of rowing and tacking, we arrived at Milfort between 8 and 9 o'clock. We directly called on Mr. Bryan, a merchant in that place, requesting him to procure us three horses to ride to Hartford, which he promised to do. He said that he proposed to go thither himself. Meanwhile, we visited the Magistrates, Mr. Treat and Mr. Fenn, but we did not find either of them at home. Mr. Treat visited us afterwards at the Tavern. After salutation, we communicated to him the cause of our arrival there and intended leaving in the harbor till we returned, so that some vagabonds, who, we were informed, were there roving about, might [Page 385 / Page 386] not cause us any damage. This he consented to. We recommended the same to young Mr. Bryan. Meanwhile, we were informed that two horses only could be obtained, unless a young man who arrived there from Hartford would hire his horse. When he arrived, we agreed to hire his horse at fourteen English shillings, but when he was to give the horse he hesitated. We inquired why? as we agreed together unconditionally. He could not at first be persuaded to disclose his mind; at last he said, he apprehended that his folks at Hartford would find fault with him for assisting us, who were not their friends. The Magistrates present at this conversation were very much dissatisfied, telling him that he must deliver his horse, in conformity to the agreement, which he at last, though reluctantly, did. After dinner, as soon as the horses were ready, we rode on towards Newhaven, where we arrived about an hour or 2 before sun-set. The horses being attended, we went to pay our respects to Mr. Gilbert, the Deputy Governor, but he was not at home; we tarried that night at Newhaven.
18th Thursday. Started from Newhaven at the rising of the sun, in company of Mr. Bryan, merchant at Milford, and Mr. Pell, arrived, we suppose, about 4 o'clock at Hartford. Understanding that the Governor and Court were assembled, we resolved, in order not to lose any time, to inform the Court, without delay, of our arrival, and solicit, at the same time, an audience. This being performed, we received for answer, that we may appear, if it pleased us, either now or to-morrow morning. We requested that we might do it without further delay, which was consented to. After friendly welcome we delivered our letters. When these were read, we added: if the Governor and Court desired any further explanation, we are willing and prepared to give it directly to the Governor and Court, or to any committee authorized by them. Whereupon no direct answer was communicated. They said, they would examine the letters. Having recommended the matter seriously to their attention, we took our leave, when we were informed by Major Mason, the Deputy-Governor, that a room was prepared for us at the house of their Marshal, where we were requested to take our lodgings, which we gratefully accepted.
19th Early in the morning, before the Court met, we paid our respects to the Hon. John Winthrop, and requested him to contribute his most strenuous exertions for the removal of all misunderstandings and the continuance of peace and harmony, which he promised to do. Whereupon we desired to be informed what was the result of their deliberations upon the letter which we had delivered. He said he could not give us correct information on this subject, as he left the meeting a little while after us, being very much indisposed; but he was confident that the Court had appointed a Committee to enter into negotiation with us upon this affair. As we could not obtain a more decisive answer from him, and the time of the meeting of the Court was fast approaching, we took our leave, and presented the following request to that body:
'To the Honorable, the Governor and Court of Hartford Colony.
'The purport of these few lines is merely to thank you for our amicable reception, and the courteous acceptance of the letters which we delivered, soliciting now to be favored with a categorical answer thereto, so that we may correctly know in what manner we ought to regulate our conduct. In the meanwhile remaining,' &c.
Which being carried in, we were told by the Marshal that three persons were appointed to speak further with us, who would meet within an hour at the house of Mr. Howard, the [Page 386 / Page 387] Miller, being about half way between our lodgings and the town hall, with request that we should also be there at that time, to which we agreed and went there at the hour appointed. After waiting there about an hour in vain, the Marshal came and told us, that the Committee had been hindered by some other business intervening from waiting on us, and as it was almost noon, that the Governor and Court begged the favor of us to dine with them in the town hall; to which we answered, that it appeared strange to us that the gentlemen of the Committee excused themselves as they had appointed the time; that nevertheless we should come where we were invited. In a short time thereafter the Deputy Governor and Secretary came to excuse the Committee, as some business had happened wherein their presence was required, which we put up with. After some discourse, we went with them to the town hall. After diner, we desired that our business might be forwarded, upon which the persons who were appointed as a Committee, promised to follow us immediately to the aforesaid place, as they did. After some discourse little to the purpose, and being seated, we showed our commission, with request that they would do the same, upon which they delivered in an extract, as they said, out of their minutes, in which they, to wit: Allyne, Senior, Captain Talcot, Joyn Allyne, Junior, were qualified to treat with us, adding that the showing a commission was superfluous, as we had been informed, ourselves, by the Court that they were appointed for that purpose, upon which we let that matter drop also, and asked whether they would be pleased to make answer to the propositions contained in the letter we had delivered, to which they replied: That they would fain be informed in a summary manner what the propositions were to which we required an answer. We said, that they were briefly contained in the aforesaid letter (to wit):
First. That we desired to know whether they would be pleased to conform themselves to the advice of the other three Colonies, containing in substance that everything with respect to the limits should remain as was agreed upon in the year 1650, 'till the next meeting of the Commissioners, in the year 1664.
Secondly. Or else, that they would be pleased to appoint some persons to treat farther about the limits now in dispute.
Thirldly, If not, that the matters should then be referred to our superiors in Europe, on condition that everything should meanwhile remain as was agreed to in the year 1650. Many debates, pro and con, arose on the aforesaid points, so that the whole afternoon was spent without effecting anything. The result substantially was,
To the first: That they could not conform themselves to the advice of the aforesaid Commissioners for the following reasons:
1st That they had already given notice, on Long Island, of their Patent and of the King's grant.
2dly That the inhabitants thereof, at least the greatest part of them, had voluntarily betaken themselves under their government.
3dly That they neither could nor dared refuse them (if they would not incur the King's displeasure), as the same were included in their Patent, to which they further added that, though the fixing of the limits should be deferred to the next meeting of the Commissioners, in the year 1664, they were not to regulate themselves by the advice of the Commissioners nor of the other Colonies, but by the King's Patent; and, in case the Commissioners should do anything contrary to it, that they would much rather separate themselves from the other Colonies, as they would never permit anything to be done contrary to it, or any change made in it, except by his Majesty himself, as those who would make any such change or alteration in it, would put themselves above and lord it over his Majesty. [Page 387 / Page 388]
What we alleged against this: that his Majesty's meaning was not to give anything away which had already been so long possessed by others; also, that it could not be proved out of the Patent, &c, was in vain; they persisted in their groundless opinion.
To the second point they made no direct answer, only proposed, by way of question, Whether the General had sufficient qualification from the Prince of Organe and the States-General. To which we answered that the commission of the States-General sufficiently qualified the General for that purpose, and dropped that point; and proceeded
To the third. To which they answered, that they were willing that matters should be referred to our mutual superiors, on condition that the English towns on Long Island and Westchester should, by proviso, be under the government of Hartford. This being thus proposed, ol Mr. Allen made a long harangue to this effect: That he was well assured that the English towns would no longer remain under the Dutch government, and in case we should compel them, that they were resolved to defend themselves to the uttermost; that he was, therefore, of opinion, that it would be more to our advantage, to prevent further mischief and bloodshed, that the said towns should remain under the government of Hartford 'till such time as his Majesty and the States-General should be agreed (to wit), those who had formerly submitted themselves to their government.
To which we answered: That it would not now nor ever be allowed. They replied, that for the present they could not act any further with us, nor hinder the aforesaid towns from betaking themselves under the obedience of his Majesty. We answered, that they were the cause of it, since they had, by different deputations, encouraged and excited the towns to it. They replied, that they were bound to make the King's grant known to them. We answered, that they might do it to the King's subjects, but not to their High Mightinesses and the Company's subjects. To which they again replied, that they were subjects of his Majesty, as they dwelt according to the Patent upon his Majesty's territories. Upon which proposition we asked them, In what light they looked upon the Provisional settlement of the limits in the year 1650? They answered, absolutely as a nullity and of no force, as his Majesty had now settled the limits for them, the other being done only provisionally, &c. Whereupon we again appealed to the advice of the other Colonies, to which was answered: That they (to wit, the other Colonies) could make no alteration unless they assumed to themselves an equal authority with the King; saying, that they had, in that respect, nothing to do with the other Colonies. The time being spent with many such like propositions and answers without effecting anything, we concluded, from all these circumstances, that the acts of Richard Mills at Westchester, of Coe, Pantom and others on Long Island, were committed and executed at their instigation, and that they now only sought to put a spoke in the wheel, and to keep matters in agitation till such time as the towns, namely of Westchester, Middleburgh and Rustdorp revolted (whose Deputies we daily saw here before our eyes, having free access to the principal men); as they openly declared that, in case the towns who had freely betaken themselves under their government and protection should ask assistance, they neither could nor might deny it them. All these matters being duly considered by us, and, moreover, that if we should depart without reducing things to some certainty, the English towns on Long Island would apparently have revolted before our arrival at the Manhatans; to prevent this and the danger which might ensue therefrom, and to show that we would contribute, as much as possible, to prevent bloodshed, we resolved to make the following proposal as the last: To wit, [Page 388 / Page 389]
That if they would firmly and faithfully keep the provisional settlement of the limits made in the year 1650, 'till such time as his Majesty and the High and Mighty States-General were agreed about the limits, and would not presume to take any of the English settlements belonging to this government under their protection, nor assume to themselves any jurisdiction over the same, we, on our part, would, in like manner, 'till that time, assume no jurisdiction over Oostdurp, otherwise called Westchester, to which we added: That if they would not acquiesce in this our proposal (having now contributed all possible means in our power to settle peace and unity), we declared ourselves and our constituents innocent, before God and man, of all the calamities which should arise from their unjust proceedings. After a few debtes, little to the purpose, it being now late in the evening, they said, they would take until to-morrow morning to consider the proposal, and took leave.
20th October. Between 9 and 10 o'clock, according to appointment, the abovementioned gentlemen of the Committee came to our lodgings. We went with them to the aforesaid place at the house of Mr. Howard. After some introductory discourse, we asked them whether they had considered our proposal, and what their answer was to it. After some frivolous exceptions, that the English on Long Island would not stand under us, and that if we should compel them to obedience, it would be the cause of much bloodshed, they expressly said that they could not agree with us unless the English townships, viz., Ooostdurp, Middleburgh, Rustdurp and Hamstede were under their government; if we would comply with this, they would defer the matter, and not proceed further 'till another convention, but that we, in the meantime, should not in the least interfere nor exercise any right or jurisdiction over them, and if we could not, that they also could not hinder the aforesaid towns (being by his Majesty of England included int their Patent) from betaking themselves under their protection, and consequently that they should be obliged to defend them, in case they were attacked. We answered hereunto: That his Majesty had more discretion than to include in their Patent the subjects and lands of their High Mightinesses, which they had possessed for so many years; that such was an erroneous explanation; that the Patent contained a tract of land lying in America, in New England, and, consequently, not in New Netherland; that Governor Winthrop had declared, in the hearing of us all, that it must be so understood; and that it must be understood in this case like the Boston Patent, in which it is expressly mentioned: On condition that the lands shall not have been previously possessed by any Prince or Potentate. Long Island being now so many years possessed by the subjects of their High Mightinesses, therefore the English could not, by reason thereof, claim any right or title to it. In short, what amicable proposals and inducements soever we made use of, we could not proceed any further with them. In the meantime, it being noon, we were again invited by the Governor, together with the gentlemen of the Committee to dine with him, which we did. After dinner, we complained to the Governor and Members that we did not advance in our business with the Committee on account of their unreasonable and unanswerable demands; such as giving up our right to the English towns, &c. We desired, therefore, that they would be pleased to answer the letter delivered them and the neighborly and friendly propositions contained in it, which they promised to do, but nothering was concluded upon this afternoon, as it was Saturday, And some of the Members were obliged, before dusk, to go to Windsor and Weathersfield.
21st ditto. Sunday. Went to church and supped in the evening with the Governor. After supper, being in discourse with his Excellency, among other things, he expressly declared: that the latest of the Patent was by no means to claim any right to New Netherland, but that [Page 389 / Page 390] it only comprehended a tract of land in New England, &c. We begged the favor of his Excellency to indulge us with such declaration in writing, that we might avail ourselves of it; but he declined, shaying that it was sufficiently plain from the Patent itself. We said that a different construction was put on it by others, and that such declaration would give much light; but as we observed that the Governor still adhered to his first saying, after some more discourse, we took leave.
22d ditto. Monday. We desired by the Marshal an answer in writing to the letter we delivered and the propositions contained in it, which was promised us. We dined with Mr. Wels, whose father had been Governor of Hartford. Nothing was done this day, as we expected the promised answer, but did not receive it.
23d ditto. Tuesday morning. We were told that the aforesaid Committee would meet us at Mr. Howard's. We went there. The aforesaid Committee being also come, we demanded an answer in writing to the propositions contained in the delivered letter. They said, that they were come once more to speak with us about the aforesaid towns, as they had endeavored to persuade the Deputies of those towns to remain quiet under our government till farther determination, but that these would not consent to it. That it would therefore be best for as not to claim them, in order to prevent farther mischief. We answered that those of Hartford were the cause of it, as they had, by frequent deputations, drawn the subjects of their High Mightinesses from their oath and allegiance, and had encouraged them to revolt, &c. They did not deny it, but said: It is so now, and we would fain have them remain quiet, but what can we do now that they are included in our Patent, and desire to be received and protected by us, which we cannot deny them? Much was said against this; that they were not included in the Patent; that the Patent mentioned a tract of land in New England and not in New Netherland; that the Governor so understood it himself. They answered, the Governor is but one man. We and more besides us understand it so that our Patent not only takes them in, but extends Northward to the Boston line and Westward to the sea. We asked, in case another Royal Patent should intervene, where would New Netherland then lie? They answered without hesitation: They knew of no New Netherland, unless a Patent for it from his Majesty could be produced. We said, that we had no need of a Patent from any Prince or from their High Mightinesses, by which such a tract of land was given. We appealed to the Charter and to the approval of their High Mightinesses of the Provisional settlement of the limits made at Hartford in the year 1650. They answered, that the Charter is only a commercial Charter, and the said settlement of the limits was only conditional, &c. If you can't show a special Patent for the land, it must fall to us. We said, that the right of their High Mightinesses was indisputable, as appears by first discovery -- purchase from the natives -- most ancient possession, &c. They answered, that they would let us keep as much as was actually possessed and occupied by our nation, but that we could not hinder them from possessing that which was not occupied by our nation. Many objections were made to this, that the possession of part was taken for the possession of the whole, &c., but it availed nothing. They said, we had no right to hinder them from possessing unlocated lands which were comprehended in their Patent, and we could show no Patent from any Prince or State. After many debates pro and con, we asked them, how they would have it for the present, as they had not as yet answered our reasonable proposals. In the mean time, it being noon, they promised to acquaint us, after dinner, with their meaning; [Page 390 / Page 391] whereupon we went with them to the Town Hall, but before we got there a few propositions were shown us by young Mr. Allen and one Willets, a Magistrate of Hartford, containing in substance that, if we would give up all right and title first to Westchester, with all the lands as far as Stanford and, further, divest ourselves of all authority and jurisdiction over the English towns on Long Island, they would then agree farther with us. As these propositions were full of blots (it being the rough draft), we desired that the same might be copied fair, which they undertook to do. In the meantime we dined; after dinner we desired that they would expedite matters, as we had been there so long without effecting anything, upon which they promised to make an end at present. After some talk the following unreasonable articles were delivered to us:
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